Be comforted dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds.
~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Thanksgiving is a day of thanks, a day of praise, a day of gratitude for the fortunate. Who is fortunate? Is it the rich person? Perhaps the one with a roof over the head? Or is it purely existence?  Is the fortunate one the person present living? It’s different for everyone. My fortunate is the ability to stay present—in the now—and give thanks and praise. Present living was not always a possibility for me in the past, but now, living in this moment befriends me. Of course it’s not always so easy when life is filled with trials and tribulations. 

Is there always a light behind the clouds?

Can you sit still on this day of Thanksgiving and connect to the present even if there’s a dark cloud over you? Have you ever tried to stay quiet in the mind driven by gratitude? It’s pure heaven. The mind always wants to think about what needs to be done next or what we already did. It’s not so easy to focus on the here and now and bask in grace and gratitude when daily worries distract you from the abundance that is yours. Mortgage payments, troublesome spouses, out of control children, roofs leaking, a headache, even sour milk can interfere with your gratitude on this day of Thanksgiving, but your Higher Source (Whomever you turn to—God, Jesus, Sun, Energy, etc.) during challenging times showers continuous blessings and love down on you.

What makes me fixed on staying present when chaos surrounds me is deep breathing my way to calm—the present moment. Like you, many of my loved ones are not here on this day of giving thanks, they died or live in another state but they remain in my heart, which encourages me to sit still in gratitude for what I have in the here and now.

I took a long luxurious bike ride this morning along the Inter-coastal and Atlantic ocean with the most spectacular view before me side by side with one of my sons. As we pedaled our way up the bridge we witnessed the sun peak out over the purple/orange backdrop on the ocean shoreline breathing in the sea air.  My legs are strong and my energy abound. My bike moves with me as if we are one. A new day is about to begin. I am in the now—present.

Thanksgiving was not always a time for me to sit in gratitude. I’m a recovering food addict, and in the past, today marked the eating frenzy that launched my holiday eating. Actually, truth be told, that’s not true,  my out of control food fest began from Halloween until January 1 when I’d make my New Year’s resolution. On Thanksgiving day I’d until I could eat no more—until the food was all the way up to the rim of my throat and my pants cut into my bulging stomach—promising I’d diet come Monday. And Monday never came.

I am an addict addicted to processed foods and this holiday for most food addicts is lethal because there is no end to the eating or at least until we are so full the pain is greater than the need for that one more bite.

Food addiction is a loss of control over eating coupled with the physiological tolerance and psychological dependence that occurs when a specific stimulus (food) is ingested. Typically, this addiction can result in negative consequences for basic life functions and relationships with family; social situations; intimate relationships; the sufferers relationship God and spiritual development; or in relation to the law, health, and work life.

Early in childhood I was fixated on sugar—never getting enough and going to great extremes to obtain it: stealing, hiding and hoarding. Although I didn’t have an awareness of food addiction, I knew something was wrong. In hindsight, I realize I ate out of control and bargained with myself and God to stop—after this one last pastry. I felt shame if I got caught stealing food or money to buy food; yet, I didn’t have the mentality to understand I was compulsive eating until my adolescent years when weight began to pile on. And even then I didn’t know there was an actual eating disorder called, binge eating disorder—and that I had it.

What I did know was my friends ate when they were hungry and stopped when they had enough and didn’t hide or sneak their foods nor had shame. Food addicts have a severe and ongoing disturbance in the manner in which they handle food. The depiction of addiction to food resembles the hallmarks of any addiction. The food addict is caught in the grip of a compulsive, habitual behavior that can’t be controlled.

The binge eater begins eating when she didn’t plan to and can’t stop eating when she wants to. Addiction is the persistent and repetitive enactment of a behavioral pattern the person recurrently fails to resist and that consequently leads to significant physical, psychological, social, legal, or other major life problems. Loss of control over eating and obesity produce changes in the brain, which is similar to those produced by drugs of abuse.

Today I practice mindfulness. The dictionary defines mindfulness as calm awareness of one’s body functions, feelings, content of consciousness, or consciousness itself. I am totally conscious of my fingers dancing over the keys putting words together. I am told mindfulness is the path to liberation and enlightenment. It is the intense purpose of staying in the now. I get this. 

So, today I am present. I refuse to think about what needs to be done next or what I already did. I am present with each breath in and out. I am present to the sounds of birds singing and the whispers of the wind as it folds through the palm trees out my window. I am here and now. What makes me fixed on staying present is is the peace and tranquility it brings. And of course the whiff of turkey baking in the oven doesnt’ hurt! 

Photos by:  Dr. Lisa Ortigara Crego

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