Today, remember to make gratitude your prayer

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.” Maya Angelou

I have learned over the past few years what gratitude truly is and the power it yields. So much so that at times it has scared me how quickly the world can open once you allow yourself to actually know it. For me my life is a constant search for wholeness, for finding the things in life that both give and take in the same moment; which is every friend, every brief conversation shared on the train, sitting by the pond with my dogs, prepping dinner with my husband, watching my nieces, nephew and godchildren grow.

Today I am grateful for the simple traditions. I am always excited at the thought of spending time with the family. To see parents, siblings and the nieces and nephew. I only wish there were more time to visit and see more of the people I so love; I’m grateful for the time I have, but there is never enough time. I can only hope they know they are missed.

Our day usually consists of waking up to the smell of turkey in the oven and Sandy, my mom in law, getting things organized. Usually she has gotten some special sweet treat for breakfast.

I wake up, usually long before Scott, put on the strong coffee, feed the dogs and decide whether or not it’s an egg sandwich or sweet treat day…I usually save the treats for the plethora of deserts awaiting us in the garage where they’re kept to keep them cool.

Then I simply I look forward to gathering.

Bob, the dad in law tends to get up next on the holiday and Scott follows behind. We sit and chat watching some sort of tv and pumping our veins with caffeine. Around 12pm Scott and I will start helping get things ready, moving and setting the table in the living room, there’s always a festive centerpiece to excite the decor. From there we just do what is needed of us, sitting lazily in between and enjoying the day.

My mom tends to be the first to show these days, then Jeanette and Bri, the sister and bro in law. This year the kids won’t make dinner but will join us early. I always miss when they ‘re not there. The noise is always a bit overwhelming and our attention diverted in many directions. But at the same time its soothing.

As we all gather around the table for the feast there is always, for me, something purposeful in the moment. I tend to think…this is the year I’m going to give a gratitude speech and tell these people all what they mean to me, but I chicken out every-time, assuming most people don’t want to hear a sappy monologue, but I think it every year.

So instead to today I will give thanks here and maybe, just maybe get the guts to do it at the table because today and every day I am thankful for the people who sit at that table.

I am thankful for the husband whose changed my world and taught me dreams are real
I am thankful for my mom who gave me this life and whose creativity and love of nature runs in my veins
I am thankful for Ralph, Bubba as I call him, for teaching me that people will love you just because you’re you
I am thankful for my mother and father in law Bob and Sandy for making me and my mom a part of their family
I am thankful for Jeanette for being me the sister I always wanted and Brian for being a wonderful husband and father
I am thankful for Amber who always makes me laugh with her silliness
I am thankful for Miranda for her hugs and who I so get
I am thankful for Autumn whose energy lights up the room
I am thankful for Shea whose creativity can’t help but shine
I am thankful the feeling my dogs Mojo and Shyann give me in every day and every moment with a simply nubby wag and gentle kiss

For those not here at the table but at the table in my heart

I am thankful for my big brother who still moves me, my kindred
I am thankful the one woman who watched over me and protected me and who I miss everyday, Miss Pix
I am thankful my godchildren who make me proud every day and whose strength inspires me
I am thankful my Aunt Renee who still make me feel like the special one
I am thankful my godmother whose always been special
I am thankful for all my family who I miss dearly
I am thankful all my friends who fill my heart with every bit of time spent

I am grateful for those who are no longer here, both 2 and 4 leggers:

My Grandma my roommate and memory keeper, my childhood
My Auntie Bertha whose strength I am happy to have
My Dad whom I miss as I always have, we were just getting started
My Grandpa S who always made me LAUGH and feel love
Lenny who gave me so much as a child
Grandpa West who is with us everything holiday saying hello
Grandma West Who will sing New York New York?!
Grandma Allinson and my Nana

For: Buffie (my best friend and nanny), Evenrude (my first cat), Rags (an amazing Tramp), Patches, Shep (he who taught me what unconditional meant), Blackie (so much love and laughs), Vicious (love bites), Dink (mr. personality), Mama Kitty/Kiera, Rugrat, Tony, Fafu, Birdie -and by family Brandy and JoJo!

This life is such a gift and so is every connection made in every day. I am truly honored and grateful that I am here.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! And remember to make gratitude your prayer today.

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Author: The Gift of Being: On Art, Life & the Process of it All

Nichole Donje is a multi-disciplinary artist, activist and leader. A philosopher and self-exploration addict, Nichole is currently working on two books of art and poetry FINDING TRUE NORTH and LIFE POEMS. She is a visual artist and photographer. Nichole founded the highly regarded New York City based independent theatre company TAPT/The Artist’s Playground Theatre, in 2006. Serving as TAPT’s Artistic Director, Nichole works diligently to support new and forgotten works that help shape the way we view the world around us. A recognized leader, Nichole serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for The Players. The Players is the oldest theatrical club in the country founded by such luminaries as Edwin Booth and Mark Twain "for the promotion of social intercourse between the representative members of the dramatic profession and the kindred professions of literature, painting, sculpture and music, and the patrons of the arts". A key influencer of the Players current revitalization she has become an advocate for the art and livelihood of a social club. The Players not only honors yesterday’s and today’s luminaries of the performing arts, but also brings back the forgotten art of face to face relationships. Nichole is a member of SAG-AFTRA, LPTW/League of Professional Theatre Women and The Players.

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