Genuine Gratitude

gratefulThe other day I penned a list of things that I was grateful to have in my life. And while completely sincere, my tongue was firmly lodged in cheek (if you didn’t notice)(and if you didn’t notice, well, then I’ve either got to write better or find a different audience)(I kid! I kid!)(just about finding a new audience)(okay, I’m done now).

And then today, I started seeing the news stories popping up about the shooting — yet another shooting — in California and I could have cried — what the hell is the world coming to? I stopped, took a few deep breaths and started to take stock of all that I have and how lucky I am to be granted another day to enjoy life. Not everyone gets that. And so, a more serious list of things that I’m blessed to have in my life:

My Family  They may not always understand me (I joke that I was picked up as a blue-light special at K-Mart for as different as I am from them about certain things), but I know that I can always count on them to be there for me, whatever it is I may need. I have wonderful parents who are not only a shining example of how marriage should be (51 years and counting!), but also brought us kids up to be polite, empathetic and have a sense of humor about ourselves and the world — a gift, especially in these times. My brother astounds me with his patience and knowledge of all things computer and my amazing sister has the ability to teach, be a grade school principal, run her own family and STILL beat me at Fitbit step challenges. They are truly the bedrock of my life.

My Friends  When I look back on all the friends I’ve had throughout the years, I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without having them in my life. From some of my college friends who have seen me through 25 years of life changes, to the more recent friends, most of whom I share a love of all things active — you guys are the best. On a daily basis, you teach me about friendship and support and a commitment to help whenever necessary. I can’t name names because there are too many; that’s how blessed I am. Just know that I love and appreciate every single one of you for everything you bring to the world and my life.

My Co-Workers  I’ve been with the same company for over 20 years now. Unusual for someone my age, I know — only my second job out of college and it stuck. And I’m not leaving until I retire or they make me go home. The “what” of my job is good, or at least, it’s something I have a talent for. It’s generally challenging, productive work that makes me feel good about myself and the contribution I make to the success of the company. But the thing that has made me stay all these years? The people. I’ve been oh so lucky to almost always have a boss that was a textbook example of “The Best Boss Ever”. And my co-workers — we’re a team, we have each other’s back and I’m never worried about someone undermining me or sabotaging my work. I’ve got it awfully good — even through the lean years, we were treated with respect and made to feel like we made a difference.

My dogs  I’ve had three dogs that I’ve called my own — Joe, who was the best first dog ever, Clarke, the big goofball who passed away far too soon, and Belle, the current love of my life. There’s something to be learned from how pets love — with fierce loyalty, unconditional trust and with an abandon that we should all be jealous of. There’s no better part of my day than walking back into the house after work and being greeted like I’m the best person ever.

Myself  Yes, I’m glad for me, which isn’t something I’ve always felt, but now I do. It’s been a terrifically good summer and fall in terms of my mental health and I’m so thankful for it. I feel ambition and motivation seeping back into my life as I once again strive for more and live life with a curiosity that I had forgotten I had.

You  And you. Yes, you out there reading. I may not have a huge audience here, but it makes my heart all warm and fuzzy to know that there’s someone out there reading these words. I write for myself, of course, but also to reach out and build communication and community, hoping that something I write sparks a note of recognition and “me, too!”. Shared experiences — no one is ever truly alone.

And with that, I’ll say to you: what are you grateful for? Who are the people in your life that you couldn’t life without? And do me a favor — go and thank them and let them know how much they mean to you. Life doesn’t give promises or guarantees, just the present moment, so make the best of each and every one of them.

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