Aspen Princess: Yogi’s free advice helps to see gratitude in difficult times | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Princess: Yogi’s free advice helps to see gratitude in difficult times

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Princess

In yoga these past couple of weeks, Emily has been talking about gratitude.

Emily is one of these mystical fairy tale creatures who is not quite of this world. I know that might be putting her on a pedestal a little bit, which I do, because she has been a pretty big force in my life since I moved to Basalt. Yoga, as you know, is also one of my favorite things, up there with snowboarding and shopping and shoes.

Yoga has been the one constant in my life for the past 15 years, and don't worry, this whole column is not going to be about yoga, it's just taking me a little longer than usual to get to the point, which is that Emily has that super power where she always seems to say exactly what I need to hear.

I realize it could be that I'm interpreting what she says in a way I need to hear it so it feels more personal than it really is, kind of like when you read your horoscope. But she does bring a lot more to the table than your average yoga teacher. She is not one of these types who talks in this sweet, soft voice like they are addressing a bunch of kindergartners, laying it on thick with syrupy yoga innuendo, all Namaste this and om that (a phenomenon Larry David captured beautifully in the most recent episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," in case you missed it).

Anyhoo, she's been talking about gratitude (duh, obvious around the Thanksgiving holiday), but she did delve a little deeper. She talked about how resisting people and situations that cause us stress is more draining than if we to try to find gratitude for what challenging relationships or situations can teach us. It's a bit of reverse psychology, if you will.

It's been really sad to listen to stories on NPR about people who are not going home for Thanksgiving because the political rifts have become so deep that it's literally pulling families apart. The divisiveness has become so profound it's almost impossible to find any common ground now that we seem to have cultivated an "us against them" mentality in this country. I am lucky that my family is all on the same side, though that's not exactly true because I did get into it with a distant relative last year who is a staunch young conservative.

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I wrote about her in my column, and she was furious. She said horrible things about me on Facebook and horrible things to me. "This is all I need, to deal with my crazy, abortion-loving relative," she said.

I thought about it for months, arguing with her in my head and saying all the things I didn't say. Like, how I once had an abortion procedure for a failed pregnancy and it was not something I loved. Not at all.

Instead of throwing that little gem of personal history out there, I didn't try to argue with her. I apologized and reminded her that my column is intended to be somewhat cheeky and lighthearted and not CNN. I told her I admired her passion and appreciated her well-informed and carefully cultivated viewpoints, even if I didn't agree with them. I also told her that she was making my point for me, about how divisive politics have become.

I told her mom, "Love always wins." Despite her views, she's still my family.

When we do get together, we've agreed to leave politics off the table, and I wonder why that doesn't work for other people. Maybe it's too much of an elephant in the room and it comes up inadvertently, especially after a few cocktails. Maybe almost any topic of conversation can be politicized these days. Maybe the constant flood of information that runs through our lives like an overstuffed colon is so toxic, it has inflamed the core of our beings and become a social disease.

Woah, this is a way more serious column than I had intended to write on a holiday that is in fact, my personal favorite. Coming from a family of non-religious Jews, a holiday that celebrates food is something we can really get behind (despite its potential falsehoods in history, but we won't go there). And just in case you were thinking, "Wow, this is the first column in so long where she hasn't mentioned her kid," I was also going to say that having a kid makes everything more meaningful, especially holidays. (Yes, I have already planned his outfit and mine to coordinate adorably for photos that I will post all over social media with reckless abandon).

To get to my original point about gratitude, I have so very much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, and in many ways, it feels like my whole life has led up to this moment. I have a wonderful, loving husband who puts up with me and makes me laugh really hard at least once a day. I have two loving parents who have put up with me even longer than my husband has and would do anything for me. I am grateful that my parents are still married, 50 years in February, and taught me what a loving marriage looks like. I am grateful my best friend from high school and her adorable family is celebrating with us this year and that we can sit back with our full stomachs and full hearts and have that perspective of time, over 35 years. And I'm beyond lucky for my insanely beautiful son who has lit up my life in ways I could have never imagined, filling my heart with so much love and light that nothing — not politics, not hateful words, not fear — can cast a shadow over my happiness.

I am also grateful to you, dear reader. Thank you for sticking with me all these years.

The Princess wants to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. Email your love to alisonmargo@gmail.com.

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