What are we thankful for?

It’s that time of year again, when we stop, step back from the weekly grind, and remember what we’re thankful for.
And it just seems fitting that I re-post something I wrote many Thanksgivings ago, because it still fits, and it’s all still very true…

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GRATITUDE

There is a day in this country set aside for giving thanks, yet every day I try to express my
appreciation for life and love and all that comes with it

My heart is full of gratitude for the friends who see me for who I am,
know my heart,      and stand by me as I stand in my truth

And I am grateful for the lessons learned from the disillusionment of
relationships that no longer serve me
and for each step of the unabashed movement toward my    higher purpose

I am grateful for the realizations in the aftermath that
nothing is as it seems
and that sometimes reality is merely an illusion

I am thankful for the liberation that comes with letting go, with no ill will
only appreciation for the time spent on that particular path
remembering that without honest and sincere communication –
the foundation upon which relationships are built        and maintained –
there is no real relationship

I am thankful for a year of dreams realized, of unimagined spiritual moments
shared with those to whom I don’t feel the need to explain

I am thankful for the journey to the mountaintop
for the extraordinarily breathtaking display of fall colors in Vermont
reminders of the beauty that is in and around us
humble reminders to keep open our eyes and our hearts

I give thanks for the compassion felt for those who don’t have the capacity
for those who can’t or won’t open themselves enough to truly love
and for the understanding that no one can love us until they truly love themselves

I am grateful for the true friends who love unconditionally
who love through it all and give of themselves expecting nothing in return

I am beholden to the men in my life who have caused my heart to flutter
and those who mangled it and left it for dead
for either way, they cause me to stop to remember the divine feminine in each of us

And I’m glad for the time I had with the most difficult of men
the ones whose anger and rage taught me what I will and will not tolerate

I thank humankind for the daily doses of pain and heartache that come,
sometimes relentlessly
teaching me, again,
that we all have an unlimited supply of patience, tolerance and love

I am thankful for the growth that comes from leaving behind old hurts
and frustrations and fears
old scars from childhood or wounds from recent battles
because it is in the tearing down that we are built back up

I am thankful for the voices of all humanity, and of those on the other side
who talk to me, in the daylight and in my dreams
whispering the secrets of the universe to me,
knowing I will carry them close to my heart

I am grateful for strangers, who upon approaching, aren’t afraid to make eye contact
who acknowledge the divine in me, as I do in them

I am grateful for the children, the tiny messengers of hope,
who reach inside me and touch my heart and awaken my soul in ways that
bring  me  to  my   knees

I am thankful for the memories of all my friends and enemies, here and on the other
side,
because the time they gave me and the lessons they taught me
will forever be part of me, part of who I am to be

I am thankful for the dark times and the tears that have come in the night
silently slipping out of their bottomless well, reminding me that I’m human

I can’t express enough gratitude for my family, who, though I don’t see them often
remind me of where this journey began, who recognize themselves in me,
as I do in them,
and who remind me of the innate potential in every moment, in every breath

I am grateful that I am never lonely, for there are always words to keep me company
words – the gifts given to us to aid in expressing our truest selves
and I’m grateful for the gift of freedom we have in this country to use those words

I am grateful for music, that sweet universal language that often speaks without words,
in times of intense emotion, reaching in and touching the very core of who we are

I thank the universe for the still, quiet moments
those fragments of time that allow communion with all that is and all that will be

And above all, I am thankful for
trust
and faith
and love
and knowing
for these are the things that sustain me
when all else
. . . . . . . . .. . . . . . .  . . f a l l s
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . a w a y

©Sunny Stephens  /  11-22-07

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Nashville loses an icon

The news hit me hard yesterday… not because I knew him personally, but because of who he was, and how he died…

Jack Vaughn

http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2014/11/09/opryland-hotel-figure-jack-vaughn-dies/18778475/

Two words are synonymous with Nashville tourism – Jack Vaughn.

Those of us who live here tend to get complacent, and immune to the fact that people from all over the world come to Nashville – for the music, for the food, for the shopping, for the entire experience. That experience is what Jack Vaughn imagined, back in the days when the Opryland property was only a tract of dirt. A visionary, a good business man, a kind and compassionate person, he literally changed the face of Nashville.

Opryland Hotel

I worked for Gaylord Entertainment, the parent company of the Opryland hotel, and though our department served all of the Gaylord companies, I never had a personal encounter with Mr. Vaughn. But in all my years there, I never heard one person utter a harsh word about him. How could they? He treated EVERY employee, from the housekeepers to the board members, with the respect they deserved. He called employees by their name, and when he had time, would engage them in conversations.

When I worked there, there was a strong sense of family. I believe that part of that feeling came from the CEO, Bud Wendell. I actually had several interesting, personal conversations with Bud, and his warmth carried over to the entire company. He and Mr. Vaughn created an atmosphere of kindness and caring. Things have certainly changed at the company in recent years, but as anyone who worked there back in the day will tell you, when Mr. Vaughn was in charge, it was a great place to work.

I can’t begin to comprehend what Mr. Vaughn’s family is going through, and the immense loss they must feel. The days ahead will be difficult, for them and for all those who loved him.

If there’s a lesson in all this, it’s that we never know what someone is going through. Like Robin Williams, we can assume that someone’s life is going well, but unless we’re in the trenches with them, we can’t know how much they hurt…

To honor Mr. Vaughn, let’s try to be more kind and compassionate towards one another. We don’t know the burdens someone carries, and maybe a smile, or a kind word or gesture can make that burden a little lighter, if only for a moment…

Mr. Vaughn had big ideas, and he dreamed big. When you look around our fair city, think of him, and his family. We are who we are because of him.

EG's photo downtown Nashville with copyright

Thank you, Mr. Vaughn. Your legacy lives on….

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