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Last week I gathered with seven of my girlfriends for a lovely Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner.  We have been having meatless dinners every two weeks for the past five months and creating delicious meals that feed our bodies, nourish our souls, and we also happen to have fabulous conversation and wine to wash it all down.  When we first began to meet, we crafted our shared mission, laid out our guidelines and thus began our journey. The thing about journeys, as we have all learned, is that there is so much that is unplanned.  And there in the life and the ish and the serendipity lies the magic.

Thanksgiving is not a Holiday that I normally feel very strongly about.  By now we know that Christopher Columbus was not a very good man and that what was done to the Native Americans was cruel and wrong on so many levels. But we Americans continue to celebrate regardless.  Hopefully most people embrace this holiday as a chance to reflect on what they are thankful for, what makes them grateful and then share these feelings with close friends and family.  I’m not sure about most families, but mine doesn’t typically reflect aloud (although I don’t believe I have ever initiated or suggested that we do). I simply take a moment and say my thanks within my mind, and maybe send a few thankful texts and a Facebook shout out.

During our Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner, my amazing friend Kat mentioned that we forgot to say our thanks.  Wait, people actually do that?  The idea excited me, but I was immediately struck with the thought Oh, crap!  Now I need to think of something quick.  How do you say on the spot what you are thankful for?  Luckily I was second to last, so I had a little time to formulate my answer.  As my friends began to speak, I couldn’t help but to hang on their every word and was completely moved by their answers. Thanks was given for friendship while husbands were away on military leave.  For friendship during breakups and makeups and hard times. For nieces and nephews.  For making new friends, having a safe place to speak and empathetic ears to bend.  For new jobs and traveling adventures. For fertility treatment and twins on the way.  For health and success in business.

While my friends were speaking, I was hit with my answer: I am thankful to be living now, in this day and age.  As a 29 year old single female, I cannot tell you how glad I am to be living in this era.  As women in America, we have the freedom to live our lives as we choose.  Up until recently, women have had to abide by the the lifestyle laid out before them.  This usually consisted of marriage, a lot of babies and tending to the home.  In the last century, women in America have been making great strides.  We can be gay, straight, bisexual, single, married, divorced, educated, fit, overweight, employed, living on welfare, vote, travel, follow whichever religion we choose, pursue whatever career we like, have children, not have children, garden, have a personal chef.  We have the technology, the freedom and the education to play a hand in our fate. We are empowered.

I can choose the life I want and pursue it with little judgment.  Obviously there is judgment in the world, but there is more acceptance and tolerance than ever before.  There is someone in your corner now, cheering you on and propelling you forward.  A century ago, I would have been considered an old hag.  Too old to marry. An outcast.  Or most likely, I would have fallen in line with the steps of society: married, working in the home and having my fourth child. I am so grateful for the life I lead.  My friends and family accept me, I pursue every passion and idea that crosses my mind and strikes my fancy, and I express myself openly and share myself fully.  I know that for every person that judges me, there is someone else reaching out to give me a hug and thank me for being my authentic self.

I am thankful to be empowered.

I am thankful to be living now, in this day and age.

What are you thankful for?

 

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

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