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Thanksgiving for Thanksgiving

By Charlene Rayburn

Thanksgiving Dinner TableThis was my first Thanksgiving after just completing the Am I Hungry?® program.

After reading Dr. May’s Thanksgiving article about gratitude, my perspective had already settled in to a place of mindfulness and gratitude. I couldn’t have been more joyful as I held that perspective while preparing each dish.

I was thankful for knowing those who had shared their recipes from years of family traditions. I reminisced about many good times, and lovingly remembered the ones who have passed. I could almost hear my mother’s voice guiding me as I cooked. And I gave thanks for all the ingredients, and all those who made it possible to easily select these items from my neighborhood grocery store.

I love to cook, so it is no effort at all to enjoy that process, but this year there was even more lightness to it. The heavy “shoulding” was gone. Yes, there’s butter in the dressing, sugar in the pie, and fat in the whipped cream. But, these are no longer enemies I fear. Nor are they forbidden foods that tempt me over and over again to overindulge “just this once.” They are wonderful gifts.

With balance, variety and moderation on my side, they no longer threaten me. I am simply thankful that they are part of my Thanksgiving experience too. My plate reflected my more mindful and appreciative approach as well. Turkey, dressing, cranberry relish, and those wonderful fresh green beans; these are the foods I genuinely wanted to enjoy mindfully. The spinach-artichoke dip, mashed potatoes and gravy, and deviled eggs felt like invaders to the eating experience I really wanted.

I was shocked, but felt wonderfully free from that “better get it while I can” trap from years past. The small piece of pumpkin pie with a bit of whipped cream was the perfect closure to a wonderful day of mindfulness and gratitude in both eating and living.

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About the author

Charlene Rayburn, CVCC, lives her passion for mindfulness and intentional leadership by serving as a personal and professional leadership coach, by managing a department of dedicated employees for a Fortune 500 sized health insurance organization, and by facilitating Am I Hungry?® workshops and coaching sessions. She has coached extensively with individuals and groups outside the corporate world, as well as with executives, leaders, and teams in non-profit, private, public, governmental, and educational organizations spanning the globe. Charlene received her coaching certificate through the Center for Coaching Mastery at Coachville, LLC, and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Management from Davenport University. She is a member of the National Management Association. One of her most emotionally challenging and rewarding experiences was serving as a volunteer at the Center for Battered Women. Charlene currently lives in Michigan and enjoys spending time with her husband of over 20 years, reading, learning, cooking, practicing yoga, and watching her grandson grow, who lives with his dad, her stepson in Fort Worth, Texas.

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