Alyson Madrigan and Kate Billing are two people who've taught me something about gratitude over the past few years. Alyson is a friend here in San Francisco I get to see every few months, while Kate is a consultant in New Zealand I've tweeted at but never met, and they've both made an effort to express and share their gratitude for things in life that most of us typically take for granted.
Alyson's nearing the end of a year-long project on #littlejoys, one post each day on something that brought her joy, like a view from a mountaintop in South Africa:
Kate's often posted about #3goodthings, usually accompanied by a photo of a note on which she describes three positive things that happened to her that day. One of my favorites includes 1) "Having our fab bus driver save us from certain death," 2) a "crazy intense thunder, lightning and hailstorm while I'm tucked up," and 3) a memorable Class of '84 reunion. I love it:
The Thanksgiving holiday is a perfect moment to be reminded of Alyson and Kate as I look back on this past year, because it's been a difficult one for me and Amy. We've both dealt with with physical ailments, professional challenges and personal frustrations, and we frequently just wanted 2013 to be OVER.
But while I can certainly get caught up in my mini-tragedies, I'm well aware of all the things I have to be thankful for on this day, which include...
- Waking up without intense pain, a gift I never appreciated until it was taken away from me and, six months later, restored.
- The full (if imperfect) use of four limbs, two eyes, two ears. My knees, my sight and a shoulder are fading, but they still get me through the day.
- A childhood that instilled me with self-confidence and self-compassion.
- The opportunity to enjoy an adult relationship with my parents and to see the world through their eyes.
- Two brothers and their families who I love so intensely, who I am so proud of, whose success and happiness mean more to me than my own.
- An astounding number of teachers and mentors, from high school to post-MBA, who took an interest in my growth and development.
- The opportunity to be of service as a coach, to help others feel more fulfilled and effective in their professional lives.
- My clients and students, who welcome me into such meaningful conversations and who provide a sense of purpose in my own professional life.
- My own coach, Mary Ann Huckabay, who has made the difference in my life at so many important junctures.
- And Amy, without whom none of the rest would matter at all.