We are lucky. We are afforded the opportunity to take a day, to stop everything and simply be grateful for the people, experiences and things in our lives. The problem is that it is harder and harder to truly stop and be grateful in the midst of premature holiday shopping and festivity planning. It is harder to really be present and feel gratitude to the extent that we should.
I feel when Thanksgiving comes around we resort to the (unofficial) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Thanks – our family, our jobs, having not to worry about food and shelter. It is true that these simple, yet most important things are where we should all start to be grateful. However, these are the things we most often take for granted.
This year I feel a deeper sense of gratitude for the most important things, and in ways I never quite expected.
The past year hasn’t been easy, in fact, it has probably been the hardest in my life. I have found that sometimes walking the darkest of paths helps us appreciate when things are going well or – if we are lucky – better than well.
I have seen too many of my friends lose parents, and siblings already in their life. It has made me appreciate the presence of my parents and siblings every day, not just on Thanksgiving. As I dare to dream of what my life could be, I see the incredible sacrifices my parents made for myself and my siblings. I see how their life’s work is dedicated to making the most for us and has afforded us the best opportunities. I see how my siblings have become my best friends and have been the ones to check in when they knew I wasn’t feeling my best. Growing up, you’re always in a rush to be away from your family and to be with your friends, but now as I have started to build the life I want for myself, I see how my family has been the best support system I could have asked for and have truly made me who I am today.
A new blessing I am thankful for is being the godfather to the newest addition to our family, my niece Tori. I am beyond thankful for my niece. She’s the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of getting me out of my rut. Her presence has been the greatest joy of my life and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with her and being her uncle. As I’ve said in a previous blog, she makes me look forward to things again. While I know that when you make plans God laughs, I can’t help but look forward to what the future looks like because of Tori’s addition to our family.
My “rut” has definitely been broken because of Tori, but also because of my new job.
I love my new job, but what I’m most thankful for is the happiness my job brings me. I now feel I am where I am meant to be professionally. I work with an incredible team of creative thinkers, open collaborators, and ambitious motivators. The best part is, while I feel I am learning new things, I’m still able to contribute in meaningful ways, all the while having laughs and fun along the way. I have hit the trifecta when it comes to my career, and when I knew it was time for an new opportunity, I never thought I could walk into a place and be as happy as I am every day. I’m always thinking of where and when I will hit the pinnacle of my career. But I’m grateful that in this present moment, I am simply happy to be where I am, doing what I’m doing.
Speaking of doing what I’m doing, for the latter part of 2016 I wasn’t writing. Months went by with no blogs being published, no journal entries – my writing was suffering. In many ways it was tough to write about what was happening in my life because it was so surreal. However, I picked up my pen, and got typing away on my laptop and realized that while it was difficult to do, it was the best thing for me. I love to write, and this blog while to many may seem like a hobby, has been something that has possibly saved me. I’ve been able to share countless stories from my young life and it has been a way of growing in my own self-awareness, confidence and creativity. I am unexpectedly grateful for my love of writing and the many ways it has impacted my life. Even more so it has been a therapeutic catharsis that has connected me with so many people in this world.
My “rut” as I have called it was the result of losing my best friend last year. I’ve blogged about it now a few times but it hasn’t been the easiest topic to talk about. His friendship is one I am grateful for and one that has opened my heart to feel gratitude to every friend that has entered my life. I believe that every person who enters our life does so because of a purpose and as I reflect on that loss and our friendship, I realize that many of my friends have arrived in my life serendipitously and brought with them countless blessings. Matt’s friendship made me realize I want to be a better friend. While it has been easy this past year to cocoon myself away and let my social calendar fall apart, I’ve been realizing how important it is to be present for our friends and let them know we are here for them. I am grateful for having been able to lean on my friends in my time of need and want to be able to return that favor. When you realize that at any ordinary time of seeing a friend could be the last, it makes you appreciate the simple power of friendship.
I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I feel life I’m starting to swim again. I’m no longer drowning, or even treading water. I feel like I’m starting to get things moving again and that is a wonderful feeling. I’m simply thankful that life seems to be good again. That isn’t to say that times will always be good from now on, or to say I’ve had my struggle and I’ve paid my dues. I know times will be tough once again, but I’ll simply reflect on this post and remember, and be thankful for the times that life has treated me kind, and better than I have deserved.
When you get to a point in your life when you are thankful for things not just for their stereotypical meaning, but for their influence and power, then you truly understand gratitude and it permeates itself into making you healthier and happier. I am thankful for the people and the experiences that have helped me heal, have reminded me that life is beautiful and good, but most of all, have made me happy once again.