Be Thankful for ALL of Who You Are

The kick-off to the holiday season caught me a bit off guard this year. I’ve been so busy with my work and home management…and other commitments, that I haven’t really slowed down enough to gain perspective (nor to create a plan 😬). So, I thought I’d release a previous published post from last year to make time for some holiday prep while still having an opportunity to connect with you. 

But…

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about the menu for Thanksgiving, which always makes me think of my maternal grandmother. (She was the subject of last year’s Thanksgiving post.) Grandma was an amazing woman. And her Thanksgivings were like her love letters to our family.

Then, this rabbit hole took a turn…I began recalling other holidays and celebrations spent with my paternal family. What I affectionately call my ‘plantano’ side. The memories got me thinking about identity and the contexts that shape who I am. (I had to write about it…)

Hang in there with me…

My father was born in a small country at the southernmost section of Central America called Panama. (You may have heard that we have a Canal…?) My daddy was third from the youngest of eight children born to my grandparents. He migrated to the United States in his thirties, met and married my mother, who is from Georgia (my ‘peach’ side).

Most of my father’s siblings moved to the same region of the US. ¡Nueva York! So, our family gatherings (which weren’t just for holidays) involved multiple generations, and cousins upon cousins. It was common to meet new cousins at these reunions and to fall right into step with them. It was as if our DNAs called to one another.

Then, there was the food…sancocho and fried yuca, rice & peas and plantanos. My mouth waters at the thought of these. And I cannot forget…of course, none of these dishes could be properly digested without the music of Pedro Navaja, Celia Cruz, or Tito Puente blaring from speakers around the room.

A good song would find plates abandoned for the dance floor. Kids and grown folks alike would become entranced by the rhythmic melody of Oye Como Va or some other salsa favorite. (I still LOVE to dance…sometimes, even while I’m eating. 😜)

My parents divorced and my father moved to another state before I reached my teens. And unfortunately, over the years, many of these and other wonderful childhood memories faded into the recesses of my mind. So, I felt grateful and a warmth all over when I emerged from my rabbit hole in the middle of the night.  

I felt a deep sense of self…I could almost hear Mufasa’s words to Simba, “Remember who you are…

There are multiple facets that make up the brilliance of who I am…and who you are. We live in a world that seems to push us to choose one side over another, to fit neatly in some labeled box. Without regular touch points with different aspects and contexts that together define you, it’s easy to shrug off your multi-dimensionality. I say: Embrace the diversity and uniqueness of your journey…of you. This is part of the cultivation of a fully lived “best life”.

We often focus outward during the holidays…being thankful for those around us and our many blessings. This Thanksgiving, also turn inward…think about all of the influences of your culture, upbringing, and life experiences that contribute to who you are. Remember. Then, be grateful for them…all of them. (The good, bad, and ugly!) They are part of the unique beauty that is YOU. The ‘you’ that has great value to contribute to the world.

No one can be you but YOU…remember that and be thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time…

XO,

R

*Pictured: My father, Reginald S. Lawrence, as a young man in Panama.