As I write the delicious earthy scent of roasting potatoes mingles with the heady aroma of fresh-made chai, tempting odors wafting leisurely and sensually through my house.  My kitchen is redolent of spices and ghee, olive oil and garlic: comfort smells from my past mingling with comfort scents of my present.  My mouth is watering in anticipation while somewhere deep in my recesses an inner smile has formed.

Since last Thanksgiving – even a few months before – I’ve been on one incredible roller-coaster ride.  There’s no way to sugar-coat it.  From a devastating breakup to recurring bouts of illness to my sister’s sudden and serious hospitalization to my mother’s decline and death to my uncle’s death days later to my thyroid cancer diagnosis to increased certainty that my job will be eliminated in the upcoming year…hell yeah, it’s been a whirlwind of chaotic and emotional messiness.  Just writing out that torturous run-on sentence – the breathiness of which befits the tidal wave of events churning one upon the other – makes me sigh with weariness.

And yet…

This post is not about indulgent woe-is-me whining.  It’s about gratitude, and about giving thanks for the goodness, the grace, the strength, the courage, the hope, and most importantly, the love, that infused this past year.  It’s about the lessons learned, and of the ups that made the downs bearable.

This is the year I finally accepted that I stand alone.  That’s not a negative; it doesn’t mean I don’t have friends, family, and a wonderful circle of people whom I love, and who love me.  It simply means I no longer hold my breath waiting…for a soul mate, an elusive partner.  I still dream, I still long, I still believe in future promise, in connections and in love of all kinds, but these thoughts no longer color my actions.  I’ve learned to live in a more fully-realized present.  And, by embracing my aloneness, I’ve firmly taken control of my own life, my own destiny: my finances, my health, my career.  For becoming empowered, I am grateful.

This is the year I made peace with the past.  I found compassion for a parent whose compassion for me had dissolved long ago; in the end, I could not turn away from a scared and dying woman who had parented me the only way she knew how, and whose actions helped shape the person I’ve become.  I looked my brother in the eyes and explained why I couldn’t forge a relationship with him, not now – maybe not ever – and he, surprisingly, seemed to understand.  And I discovered unexpected friendship in a former lover after a breakup so traumatic that I landed on a therapist’s couch, grappling with my grief; I never imagined we’d eventually refashion ourselves as loving friends.  But during the height of this crazy year, when every event seemed to converge into an unmanageable chaotic frightening jumble, he was the one who extended his arms, offered his ear and his shoulder, and opened his home, giving my bruised and battered soul a respite from the world. For learning there is sweetness and love after pain and loss, I am grateful.

And this is the year I fully comprehended how truly fortunate I’ve been, how truly fortunate I am.  I have my beautiful family.  I have my health, I have my friends, I have my yoga practice.  I have everything I need and everything I want, right here, right now, as I sit in my kitchen writing and enjoying the aromas while my children sleep; even in silence their joyful energy fills my home.  The past year has taught me to take nothing for granted, to live in the moment, to love with abandon, to let go of that which does not serve me.  And for that, most of all, I am grateful.

Many blessings to you on this day of giving thanks.  Namaste.