My year-end reflections are all about thankfulness. I felt my light rekindled by sparks from so many people known and unknown to me. That is why I must express my gratitude to everyone for a wonderful year.
Here are two quotes about gratitude that I believe:
“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” – Dr. Maya Angelou, from Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer
“Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you value or appreciate into your life.” – Dr. Christiane Northrup, women’s health expert
I chose eight reflections on thankfulness in honor of my maternal Chinese grandmother, Violet Chan Keong. Eight is considered a lucky number. Eight is pronounced as ‘Ba,’ in Chinese and sounds like the word ‘Fa,’ which means to make a fortune. Included in the definition is abundance, prosperity, success and high status. Since Grandma Vi really loved this number, I continue her legacy by doing things in series of eights too!
1. Abundance. I am grateful for abundance in many areas of my life especially for my loving husband, dear family and friends. Some years ago, I lost everything. To start over, I uncluttered my life. I let go of all negative thoughts, people and broken things. I focused on gratitude, self-love, and hard work. Slowly, I found peace and a sense of gratitude about simple things like air and water. Prosperity began to return to my life. It was not easy. I rarely slept. I worked and studied day and night for many years. I never took vacations during those times. Today, I feel grateful for the light, strength and courage to have reinvented my life several times by now. And, I give daily thanks for basics like health, shelter, clean water, air, food and freedom.
2. Civil Rights Movement. I am thankful for growing up during the Civil Rights era. The timing of my birth, at the end of Jim Crow racial segregation laws and colonialism, allowed me to witness astonishing change in my family and the world. Affirmative Action laws opened doors for me. “Put on your rhino skin and be grateful you woke up this morning,” my aunt often advised me. As a child of activist parents, I did not realize that I was learning how to be a leader. I participated in boycotts and lead protest marches. I organized strategy and held fundraisers. We survived terrorism, exploitation, racism, sexism, degradation, and marginalization. I may be thankful, but I am not satisfied with today’s unfair world. There’s still so much to do.
3. Family. I am grateful for growing up with two caring parents and an extended family and community. I wish more youth grew up like me. I had responsibilities and great expectations placed upon me. Family dinners, meals at neighbor’s homes and everyone’s stories fueled my life and career. I am grateful for the memories of all elders –Jewish, Chinese, Africans etc.—as they passed down their culture, history, language, music, dance, arts and religion. Through family stories from Africa, South American, China, Caribbean, Europe, Louisiana and Mississippi, I inherited an open mind, valuable advice, and a thirst for knowledge.
4. Food. I am thankful for my family’s food legacy. Everything I learned about life was learned at my family’s kitchen table. As a child of Southern migrants and Caribbean immigrants, conversations naturally turned around on poignant observations about American life as well as knowledge about the production and consumption of food from the South, Caribbean islands and beyond. My parents kept a garden and a large pot of beans and rice and some baked treats ready for visitors. It was considered good luck to save the last drop for unexpected guests! We never knew who was coming although we had some regulars. But if a spoon dropped, it meant that a woman and child were coming; if a fork dropped, our surprise guest would be male. These superstitions and spirit stories over meals with friends and strangers were part of a daily routine.
5. Creativity. I am thankful for my left-handedness that developed creative abilities like playing musical instruments, writing, and ‘thinking outside of the box.’ You really do need creativity to re-imagine and re-invent yourself. Thinking the unthinkable to transform your business or life is hailed today as ‘disruption’ or creative business strategy. Our ancestors who made a way out of no way were creative. Creative people possess improvisational, ingenious, and adaptability skills. How many of our mothers ‘improvised’ in the kitchen to create feasts out of leftovers?
6. Soul. I am grateful for my soul. I am thankful for soul as it relates to music and Black people as well as it relates to our spirit. In order to create and improvise anything you need to be in touch with your soul. You must look deep, beyond your physical self to find your soul, heart, faith and perhaps religion. Although I am not a church member, I am very spiritual and find myself at altars often in churches and temples. I am thankful for my family exposing me to many faiths. I grew up as a Buddhist, Catholic, Candomblé, Pentecostal/Holiness, Baptist, and Methodist in a Jewish-Hasidic neighborhood in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I was born in Harlem.
7. Gardens. I am thankful for the herb garden on my kitchen counter, a sleeping winter garden on my roof, and gardens everywhere. I love gardens for flowers, bees, butterflies, flavor, fragrance, spices, seasons, nourishment, empowerment, and beauty. Mostly, I am thankful for everyday life lessons to be learned from gardens.
8. You, the reader, current and future clients. I am thankful that you paused here to read and look at my pages. I started the year of 2014 with plans to simply collaborate and post more. I am proud that we produced stunning results and received global recognition for our projects in NYC, Brooklyn, Ohio, the UK and Japan. Because of you I have work and purpose. I hope you continue to find joy and reasons to stop by. Happy Holidays!