Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it! May you find time to be with and appreciate those you love today, and take time to be thankful for all the good things you have in your life!

I have to admit, I am not a fan of Thanksgiving. As a conscientious vegetarian, I cringe at the word “Turkey Day” and sort of despise the fact that when Americans are the fattest people on the planet, that we celebrate food and overstuffing ourselves as a national tradition. But, I do love seeing family, connecting with people, and remembering “Thanksgivings Past” at the dinner table, so I usually keep my personal Thanksgiving politics to myself. I know that this has been a very challenging year for many, with diverse issues from politics to civil protest, to personal issues. I have been challenged by an ongoing phone and computer hacking situation that may or may not be associated with some recent personal attacks on my property, namely my vehicles, starting with huge crowbar-induced scratches on my classic car, to smashed car windows and everything being stolen from another vehicle,  someone messing with my tires and letting the air out, leaving me stranded at night while waiting for a tow truck, to our schoolbus RV being totaled when it was rammed from behind by a rented semi-truck. Whether it is all one thing or a few coincidences spread in between ‘mean people actions’, I don’t know.  But it has brought new challenges into my life as I deal with a mountain of paperwork, a sense of anger I can’t do anything about, and a realization that humans can really suck sometimes.

That being said, this year has been full of amazing moments. The schoolbus painting party was a highlight: what a fun cooperative effort to transform the scraggly graffiti-covered Sunshine the Schoolbus into a lovely RV, complete with her peacock mural of Rad the Peacock, her big painted sun on the front, and her special “Jerry” Garcia panel, the only art we were able to save off of her before she goes to the scrap yard. I am so grateful for the people who have come into my life who make it better, whether to create music and art, to share words of wisdom and support… and all who participated in the Sunshine the Bus transformation certainly did that!  I am also incredibly grateful for those who chipped in on our “Go Fund Me” Sunshine the Schoobus campaign. Because of the financial help, we were able to make five trips to see Sunshine in the tow yard a couple hours away and rescue our belongings, that were buried deep in the interior wreckage. The Sunshine campaign saved us thousands in  having to replace everything. An example of how people can be stellar and generous!

I also have ongoing gratitude for the amazing animals that have come into my life. Rad the Peacock just got his new ‘real’ adult peacock feathers. He is like walking performance art, and watching him preen and show them off gives me such a feeling of thankfulness. Rad nearly died on more than one occasion while he was growing into the adult bird he has become in the past 2 ½ years. I am happy to have such an unusual animal companion in my life, and am grateful that he has an easy going enough personality to go on road trips and bounce around with our wacky critter/human family. I adore each animal at our animal rescue, Pixie Dust Ranch, and feel eternally blessed for the time on this planet that I have with them all.

I love that our ranch’s pygmy goat, Buttercup, was involved with the antic high above Dodger stadium during a Cub’s game to break the Cub’s Curse. That was some major epicness right there, involving a group of rabid hippie Cub’s fans, a DeLorean, and… Buttercup. Fun times! These are the kinds of wacky moments that make up a life that while challenged in some areas, can be described as “magical” also. I am a firm believer in discovering the beauty in all things, in seeing the silver lining, in allowing Spirit to intervene and create magic. Sometimes, if we step out of our own way, we can just ALLOW and that is when life slips from mundane to amazing.

This Thanksgiving I feel blessed to spend the holiday with my immediate family: My mom, my kids, my brother and his lovely family, including his wonderful wife and two children whom I love like my own. Last night I drove my boyfriend downtown so he could take a bus to visit his family in Arizona. He just discovered on his way there that his nephew, his sister’s son, passed away yesterday morning, at the home we stay in when we visit Phoenix. His nephew was 21. This is the kind of devastation that life can just inflict on a person, sight unseen, no warning. I know of another family dear to me who lost their son in a similar fashion this year, as well as a couple of others in the past few years who I hold a constant lit candle for in my heart. Life can be so cruel.

But it can also be beautiful. That is why I feel that even though Thanksgiving has its downside, including a fakey-history lesson about the way it all began in America, there is much to be gleaned from an annual event that makes you stop the daily grind, hop on a plane or bus, traverse the holiday crowds, and fight to be with those you love. THAT is where the magic happens. THAT is what life is about. So today, as you gather with family and friends, take a moment. Appreciate your life and all that is in it. Remember, it does not matter if the turkey is a bit dry, your gluten free diet is being tested, your sister said something snide, or that your aunt is late (yet again). That is not what this day is about. It is about gratitude, a sense of being a part of a world that many are taken from too soon, and about love. Ultimately, love is the common denominator for us all, the way we connect and feel in this crazy existence called life. So live it. Be present. Hug someone you love tightly. You never know when these opportunities can end because someone will die or move on from your life. Today, at the dinner table, tell someone you care about how you feel. Express love. That is the way to celebrate a holiday, regardless of how you feel about the day itself. Truly, love is the answer. Be grateful to have someone to love, and let love permeate your senses today as our nation celebrates in unity, the idea of gratitude for what we have.

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