Season 2 – epiBLOG 18:

NOVEMBER THEME – “GRATITUDE”

Naturally, November makes us all a little more appreciative of each other and the wonderful gifts that we have in our lives because we are so focused on the wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving Holiday! I mean, who wouldn’t be excited and gracious for a little turkey and homemade mac ‘n’ cheese, right?

Today’s topic is on being grateful for just who YOU are. Some of you might be thinking that this is a rather self-fish topic for such a very giving month. However, think about it: can you truly love others if you don’t love yourself? Can you truly be grateful for other people’s presence and gifts if you’re not even grateful for your own life and talents?

Artists seem to be a very special type of breed. We get to display our pains, anger, frustrations, joy, and happiness in the form of a painting, a poem, a piece of music, a book, a movie… a sculpture. Throughout all of these mediums we see ourselves as if we’re looking in a mirror. But how often do we look at ourselves in appreciation for who we really are?

I remember the time when I had to make a very life-changing decision to leave my heterosexual marriage to live my life authentically and truthfully as a gay woman without any prospects or hopes of a new relationship on the horizon. Well-intentioned loved ones encouraged me to remain in my marriage for my son, who was 10 years old at this pivotal time in my life. The reason behind their advice was for me to make a choice that showed my son that I loved him by being willing to sacrifice my own happiness for his. It was this way of thinking that caused me to doubt myself years earlier, and was part of the reason why I remained in the closet as long as I did. The happiness of my son and his father was more important than my own for a long time.

Choosing to live an untruthful life is not loving who I am, nor is it showing my son that I love him any more than humanly possible. If I can’t be happy, I can’t show him happiness, and therefore, can not instill in him what I don’t have to give. Many believe it’s more admirable to put the lives of others before your own, as if unhappiness, deceit, and self-deprecation is the higher road. My son is and will always be one of the greatest parts of my life. I hope that out of everything that I helped to instill in him – from tying his shoes, to learning to read, to going to college – that he knows how to love himself and from there will fully know how to love others with an authenticity that can’t be denied.

I will never let someone dictate to me how I should feel or how I should love. Love is not meant to be manipulative or to serve others while forsaking the giver.

Now, do I mean that you don’t compromise in relationships? That’s not what I mean at all. If your partner likes action films and you love romantic comedies, take turns with the genres that you will see at your local theater. If there’s a football game on Fox, but your 10 year old daughter has the lead in her school play at the same time on Monday night, you better go to that play. Football will always be there, but she will only be 10 years old one time. So, of course I don’t mean living a life of selfishness and ego, but instead living a life where you are truthful to the core of who you are. Do not live each day as a doormat for others to wipe off the dirt and ugliness of the day onto you. You have to remember that you are just as important as everyone else. Your needs and desires are equally as important. Communicate – and compromise when possible — while always being true to yourself.

Today’s LESSON is to live a life of both giving and receiving all of the love and happiness that you seek.

FUN ASSIGNMENT: Write down 10 of your very own accomplishments to date and/or 10 qualities that you appreciate about yourself. Afterwards, state the reasons why you’re proud of each accomplishment or why you appreciate certain qualities. Have fun and don’t “pre-edit” yourself before you can write anything down. There’s nothing wrong with feeling good about who you are.

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