As Thanksgiving approaches with the rest of the holiday season on its heels, I tend to turn inward at this time of year for a period of personal reflection. For the most part, my family and friends are back in Oklahoma. Because of this, I miss the distractions usually associated with a busy holiday season built around endless gatherings and festive parties.
The little monkey in my brain who chats all day long wants to focus on some perceived lack of not having a quaint and idealistic holiday season for Norman Rockwell. However, I have learned to distract the little creature by putting another task in front of it. One who is inevitably healthier and more positive. What am I grateful for?
With the pandemic, I spend even more time in my own company. I have literally gotten used to communicating with nature as if they were my family and friends. I often refer to them as such and experience an overwhelming gratitude for the simplest things these days. That is, when the little monkey behaves.
Finding gratitude in nature, and especially plants, takes no time at all. As I sit here at the computer, I realize that my house, floors, and computer desk are all made of wood. While pausing for a moment to breathe consciously, I realize that without plants there would be no oxygen. I am grateful for trees.
For lunch, I had brown rice pasta with green olives and olive oil. Topped with oregano, parsley, garlic and pepper. Along with a nice cup of matcha, I ingested eight different plants just for lunch. We have access to an almost endless supply of plants with which we can make tasty, memory-filled dishes. I am grateful to the farmers.
While doing my daily dinner walk in my backyard, I enjoy watching birds, squirrels and rabbits. What would they eat without plants? Where would they build their home? I am grateful for the plants that house and nurture my animal friends.
In my bathroom there are dozens of plant-based products. Ranging from toothpaste, mouthwash and shampoo to aloe vera gel and witch hazel. But the products I enjoy most in this room are the essential oils – most of which are floral. Their scents are both magnificent and therapeutic. I am grateful for flowers.
My medicine cabinet is full of botanicals. From daily supplements to those for a specific need, I have a wide variety of tinctures, syrups and powders. I’m grateful for them.
In the end, since I do not sit here at the computer and put on a fig leaf or two, I am never so grateful for plant fibers. And, I could imagine, so are my neighbors.
So if your holiday season might seem a little dull this year for some reason, I humbly invite you to practice in plant-based gratitude. It can actually make you happier, reduce stress and improve your health. What are you grateful for?
Arianna Kelley Rawlsky has an MS in horticulture and is the director of Bringing People and Plants Together, an organization dedicated to bringing horticulture education and therapy to the community.