Canadian Thanksgiving was yesterday, with a grey and rainy day in Vancouver. The trees started decorating themselves with multitude of colours, and leaves are beginning their descent, forming carpets in a variety of patterns on the ground. Fall. The season of harvesting, of gathering the fruit of our labour, and of being grateful for what we do have in our lives, rather than the perhaps-more-common lens of scarcity through which we sometimes/often/occasionally relate to the world. I stumbled upon this video this morning, and it is fitting with the theme of this reflection, where I look at my life through the lens of gratitude and appreciation.
Alison. My beloved, wife (still a bit of a funny word for me to use, even though we had our ceremony on May 18), Goddess, teacher, lover, and an incredible traveling companion on this life journey. I could have never imagined being in such a deep, loving, committed, passionate, joyful, and conscious relationship with anyone. And yet, here I am, cherishing the beauty and magic we seem to create on a daily basis.
And it was not only Alison, as I seem to have “inherited” her parents and daughters into my life as well. Having been brought up in a very different (as in, emotionally illiterate and shut-down) family, it has been a precious gift and joy to become a part of this family and be welcomed with open hearts, kindness, generosity, and plenty of love. I mean, whose parents-in-law start praying for your dog and get him Christmas gifts?!
It is an incredible blessing to be a part of the Mankind Project community and the men I am spending time with. Authentic, vulnerable, strong, loving, caring, intentional, committed, and powerful men. I was assisting at a recent initiation weekend (we call these the New Warrior Training Adventure), and one particular moment will stay with me for a very long time. We were conducting a deep and evoking process for the participants, and at some point throughout it, the leaders called for a break. We gathered in the staff room, a circle of about 35 men, for a moment to pause, ground, and get present to ourselves, as such processes evoke a lot for us as well. A few of us shared our experiences of the moment. What followed was a profound moment of being present with the individual and the collective emotions, tears, grief, and vulnerability.
There were two Right Livelihood Quests this summer. In July, we conducted one at the beautiful Channel Rock retreat on Cortes Island, and in September, we went all the way to South Oregon, to the Summer Lake Hot Springs retreat. I feel a lot of gratitude and inspiration from observing the participants, witnessing their journey of deepening their inner knowing, inquiring into some of the key questions humanity has been looking into throughout most of its history, sharing their moments of brightest light and the darkest shadows, and emerging from the process stronger, self-aware, owning their life’s journey – past, present, and future. The following is a testimonial from one of the participants that captures the magic and impact of the Quest:
“I truly can not thank you enough for the experience of the Right Livelihood Quest. The intention with which you lead the process allowed me to feel completely safe, cared for, open, and prepared to be fully present and engaged. And, in turn, the Quest provided me a way to look at my own life with all the filters off. For me, the Quest was a strong medicine that worked in a way that has transformed my understanding of my purpose. It has given me a deep sense of knowing myself and connection to others that had previously, despite my best intentions, remained superficial. The Quest allowed me to see that I have a valuable and unique contribution to make to the world; this contribution now serves as my very own North Star to guide me as I continue to learn and as circumstances and opportunities continue to change around me. This was an invaluable experience and Simon, you were the most wonderful guide. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to be a part of human evolution, through partnering with several local and international universities (Adler University/Canada, Royal Roads University/Canada, Pinchot University/USA, School of Inspired Leadership/India). They are all committed and passionate about the learning journey, which, for me – regardless of the official title of the program – is really about unleashing the hearts, minds, and souls of the learners in these diverse programs.
Grateful for a break in the rain, just when Tobi and I go for a walk, to still feel the fresh air, the change of the season, the moisture in the air, yet come home and not be completely soaked. While at it, I am deeply and utterly grateful for Tobi’s presence in my life – keeping me connected to my heart, to my playful self, to my caring and loving self, and to my non-selfish self. Even when we are completely soaked.
My coaching clients. While they are few in numbers (my passion for variety seems to prevent me from doing one thing only), the way they engage with their lives, bringing forward their passions and commitments, fills me with gratitude knowing that I was a part of their unfolding journey.
I am grateful to live near the ocean. That salty water and vast open blueness have always held a special draw and energy for me.
Friends that I seem to be attracting into my life these days. “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are,” as an old Russian proverb goes. If it is indeed true, I am very lucky and must be doing something right with my life, when I look at these kindred souls around me.
Then there are all the seemingly small things in life, which compound to a life of freedom, convenience, and joy. Having an office with enough space to do yoga or a fitness routine. A little wooden board thing that goes over the bath tub, allowing me to put a glass of wine, a book, or an iPad. A dehydrator to make delicious raw food. Homemade kombucha. The staff at the office of my naturopath, where I never have to wait for more than a minute for my scheduled appointments. Oil of oregano and medjool dates (they actually go very well in this particular sequence). The teachings of Mahamudra Buddhism. The sun that is now coming through the window.
I am grateful for it all.