Tag Archives: challenge

When Privilege is Grateful

In light of the spotlight on humanitarian crises and injustices across the world this Thanksgiving, I’m finding it really hard to be grateful.

On the one hand, I feel like I should appreciate that most of these atrocities are not directly impacting me or my loved ones. I should be grateful not to be searching for safety like a Syrian refugee family. I should be happy that I know where my loved ones are, ecstatic that they all have homes, food, and relatively healthy bodies. I should be glad that my family and many of my friends are not targets of violence and hate that has been perpetuated by terror attacks and brutal police misconduct.

But, I’m not really grateful for those things.

I refuse to look at my privilege as something to be grateful for. I know and appreciate the advantage that I have been given, just because of my skin color and the family I am a part of. But, I appreciate it the same way I appreciate the ocean–a powerful, sometimes scary presence in my life that I can only interact with when I come from a place of seeking to understand.

To be grateful for things that so few people have in this world just feels off to me somehow. I want so much more for the beings that inhabit this earth, and so much of what makes my life ‘good’ and ‘safe’ comes at the expense of others who are less fortunate–humans, animals, and planet alike.

So how do I answer the quintessential Thanksgiving Day question? What can I say I’m thankful for without feeling the words eroding away beneath me before they’re even spoken?

I’m amazingly grateful for connection. I’m grateful for the beings in my life that have opened me up, taken me in, shared with me, created with me, touched me and others’ lives in beautifully spiritual and human ways. I’m thankful for the beauty of the mountains, the strength of the wind, the patience of trees, the quiet of midnight, the questions in the sky. I’m grateful for music, for dance, for prayer, for communities that share those gifts with one another. I am grateful for hope.

There are so many things in my life that are good, and a lot of them are the direct result of luck. But what I am grateful for has little to nothing to do with who I am or the advantages I have.

I am grateful, above all else, for the wonderful, awesome, exhilarating parts of existence and for the fact that, with or without me, these wonders are shared and loved among people everywhere. On the days when we hear so many negative news stories reminding us of all the things in this world that are grim, I can only hold on to the potential of the utterly simple beauty surrounding us and hope that with all this light out there, we’ll one day figure out how to lift everyone above the clouds.



I’m not sure where I am in this days of happiness journey. For the record, I keep another blog where I do post a bit more regularly about this.

Last weekend, a friend of mine drove with me up to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. It was a beautiful day, and I was once again blown away by the beauty of this state. Mountains, flowers, water, sunshine… There is really only one place I’ve been that’s better, and that’s only because Alaska and Washington are actually very similar in their beauty.

But I think what made this day really special to me was the fact that I’ve been to the Tulip Festival 3 of the last 4 years. Each time, I’ve come with different friends, and every time, it’s a unique experience. The flowers and the food are always the same, but I share different stories, different observations, and even different pictures, with each year. It’s one of the few traditions I’ve begun in my adult life, and I think it’s one I’ll keep.

Because, tradition isn’t just about doing the same thing repeatedly. I think it’s about having landmarks in your life where one element is the same, if only so you can more astutely realize just how much has changed.

Day #2

This isn’t a great picture, but I didn’t have many options for what made me happy today. I have always found strength and intrigue in the wind. It actually makes me really happy to see and feel strong wind, and there were some great gusts today. I sat watching them for quite a while and reveled in the power of the earth. Sometimes remembering that I’m not that important in the grand scheme of the universe makes me very, very happy.

Oh, Happy Day: Day 1 of the 100 Days of Happiness Challenge

To give a little background: there is this great little movement on the internet (100happydays.com) that encourages us all to find little things to be happy about each day. The challenge is to post a picture of something that makes your life brighter every day. The challenge lasts 100 days, which is actually quite a long time, particularly for those of us who don’t have instagram and have to carry our cameras around… But I’m going to do my very best to keep this up. Because after all, happiness is a choice–sometimes a very hard choice, but a choice nonetheless. So here we go.

Day #1

Happiness has a lot to do with love, and it has a lot to do with hope. Nothing says love and hope more to me than my two beautiful little nephews. They are the best part of my life right now, even though they are so very far away from me physically. This is the perfect bright spot in my day.