Being grateful and starting where you are

A Winter morning sky in Wilmington
A Winter morning sky in Wilmington

“Get grateful!”

Improving your life, many self-help and life coaches proclaim, requires a gratitude practice. Those proclamations are made, because it works. When I stop and take even 3-5 minutes to list as many things as I can for which I’m grateful, it totally changes my mood—no matter what I was feeling before. Starting the day with gratitude transforms my whole day, sets the intention to be grateful for the rest of my day. It’s like putting “gratitude” into my search engine so that seeking things for which to be grateful is built into my mental settings.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting ignorant positivity. This is about something more. A healthy gratitude practice exists despite the fact that life is challenging, exists alongside life’s challenges. For example, right now I live in the mid-Atlantic United States, where the weather this past week has been uncharacteristically warm, and it has illuminated the complexity of my gratitude practice. As someone who is an Eco-phile and embedded in the climate change science and critical theory, this weather concerns me for a lot of reasons. Yet, I am also grateful for the sun and warmth. This is an approach to life with which I feel most comfortable. It is possible to be grateful and concerned at the same time. It is possible to appreciate what feels good while also acknowledging what doesn’t. Not only is it possible. I have found it to be the best path to success, the best path to sustainable change, the best path to healthy relationships with myself, other people, and the planet.

On my own journey, gratitude is important right now, because I am seeking to shift my own reality. I want to support myself better physically, spiritually, and financially. I want more people in my immediate community whose being has the capacity to support the reality of who I am. I want to be in a space culturally and geographically where what I value and my ways of being are embedded into the dominant cultural paradigm. Over the past couple of years, I have been mired in all of the ways that Delaware and the mid-Atlantic fail to support me. And the narrative of “I don’t want to be in Delaware. I don’t have the sort of life I want. I want to be somewhere else. Nothing here is what I want. There aren’t people here like me, doing what I do” needs to go. It’s true that many of the ways of being I choose are not embedded into the culture in which I was raised. Nonetheless, to say that there is NO ONE doing the things that I value is a lie. It prevents me from attracting more of what I want into my life. Equally, it fails to honor the courage and tenacity of those attempting to go against the grain, to create a different reality.

After spending two years locked away in the library, it’s time for me to reintegrate myself back into society. It’s time for me to take those precious ideas and bring them into the world. The challenge I have faced, however, is trying to integrate myself into a society that is part of my past and resisting integration because I want to maintain the narrative of “I don’t like Delaware” and all of the accompanying narratives that anyone who knows me at all anywhere in the world can probably repeat verbatim. But I’m not comfortable holding those narratives anymore, because I know that as long as I hold onto those narratives, I fail to see that Delaware, too, has its beauty. I prevent myself from exploring this place with the same sense of adventure that I would explore another place. And who am I, if not an explorer? The people, spaces, and frameworks in which I was embedded growing up are not expansive enough to hold the reality of who I am now, but that doesn’t mean that there are not people, spaces, and frameworks that CAN hold the reality of who I am now. I just have to focus on the ones of which I’m aware and find what else exists … which is the exciting part.

Last week, the Sun moved into Pisces. In my astrological chart, Pisces is my third house. The third house is the house of one’s immediate surroundings, one’s neighborhood, one’s neighbors, one’s siblings and cousins, one’s associates, short trips, communication, early education, and divination. In conjunction with this cosmic reality, I plan to spend the next month honoring the ways in which my immediate surroundings support and resonate with the truth of who I am. It is a gratitude practice that allows me to explore the realities of the people and spaces in my immediate surroundings that exist in actuality, rather than dismiss the possibility that what I want, need, or appreciate can exist within the vicinity of where I currently reside. I will do this through Instagram (HilaryB130) and Facebook posts (Hilary Booker), a podcast, and this blog. The Instagram and Facebook posts will be informal snapshots and descriptions, whereas the podcast will take a local focus to a larger project as I continue to transform, expand, and shift the ways in which I engage with the idea of Hilary’s House. The blog will draw everything together … since the paradox of freedom is that it requires connection, or acknowledging that everything is connected.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to bringing you with me on this journey!

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