Thanksgiving can be all month

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November arrived, as it should to my way of thinking, on a cool breeze sweeping away clouds and leaving clear blue morning skies that melt into brilliant golden sunsets.

This is my favorite month, a transition time sandwiched between the ending of fall and the beginning of winter.

I like to think of this as a kind and gentle month, perhaps because of the beautiful days it often produces, days that invite us outside to view the glory of the changing seasons painted on the landscape in the reds and oranges of fall flowers and trees.

In the midst of nature’s loveliness, comes the celebration of a holiday about appreciation and gratitude. For me, November always ushered in thoughts of Thanksgiving and the pleasant memories it brings, pilgrims, Indians, turkey, pumpkin pie and the Macy’s parade.

But as I’ve gotten older, I associate the month more with thankfulness, as a time for taking stock of things for which I am grateful. Since it takes more than one day to count my blessings, I decided to dedicate the month to being aware of them. I can then let Thanksgiving Day be the culmination of that process, a blowout day of gratitude.

That’s what I suggested to students in my Monday night yoga class — that we set an intention to focus on joy, appreciation and gratitude for an entire month. And how do we do it?

Well, an excellent yoga teacher, Laura in Fort Walton Beach, has a good idea. She proposes a “Kindness Initiative,” described as “an experiment to see how far an act of kindness travels — both outside of you and inside as well.”

She says that it takes very little time and has the potential to change the world. Getting started is easy and here are the “Rules of Engagement.”

Start where you are. It is not necessary to change anything about yourself to get started, but everything about you will change if you do this.

This is a daily practice. You only have to do it once a day — more than that is optional.

Act without personal agenda. This is harder than we think. It’s okay; remain aware of the “why” in this practice.

Watch the power of it change lives.

Here are some of her ideas to get us started. Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger, hug someone who needs it, help someone with full hands to their car, buy a stranger lunch (as you pay your bill, pick out an unsuspecting person who looks like he or she needs a lift; then be gone before your act is acknowledged).

And here are more ideas. Really listen the next time someone talks about a problem, buy a dozen roses then give each one to passersby, bring in a grocery cart on your way into a store, pick up a piece of trash that isn’t yours, choose to forgive someone or something you don’t understand, hold a door open for someone, say thank you when people show they care …

I’m sure everyone reading this could add to the list. Laura invites us to inspire others by sharing our stories. I like that idea as well.

Yes, November arrived bringing clear skies, giving me an opportunity to enjoy the changing seasons and inviting me to spend the beautiful late autumn days in a state of thankfulness. So why not join me in a month-long celebration. Who knows Laura may be right; it could change the world, if only in our little corner of it.

And if you participate in the Kindness Initiative and want to share your experience, e-mail me at