3 Things I'm Grateful for This Year
The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is often a moment when we delight in gathering with others and when many of us spend time and dollars supporting small businesses while we do our holiday shopping to show our love for friends and family. This year, things look different for many. With job losses or hour cuts, and a stimulus bill that helped us for only a few weeks this summer, for many, funds have simply run out. Some of our favorite shops have shuttered their doors. We’ve lost family members this year. And our desire to protect those we love most is the very thing that’s preventing us from being with them this season. Many are grieving. Many are fearful. Some are wondering just what there is to be thankful for.
As a small business owner whose company is built on training, yes, this year has been tough. Sincere gratitude to those who continued to purchase our training and coaching services throughout this year.
As a mom of teenage daughters, including a high school senior, yes this year has included disappointments and some sadness that things didn’t turn out the way we had once hoped.
As one of those humans who craves and is lifted up by interactions with other humans, Yes, this year of social distancing has been hard. As a lifelong hugger, I assure you, I miss hugs.
But while we will look back on 2020 as a year of challenges, let us not dwell only on the negative.
In the spirit of the season, and consistent with the relentless optimism I am so grateful to have as part of my DNA, let me tell you three things I’m grateful for this year.
There were moments this year when activity stopped. There were moments when traffic ceased and customer calls simply stopped. The hustle and bustle, the excessively long working hours, and the “daily grind” paused. While the world waited to see what would happen, we were still.
What did you do with that stillness? Perhaps you found a hobby, learned a new skill, read a great book, spent extra time with your kids, took up a new fitness routine, or acquainted yourself with the nearby trails.
I am grateful for that stillness. I’m grateful for the chance to catch my breath and have 137 dinners in a row where our family of four sat down to dinner together for 30 minutes or more. I’m grateful for the opportunity to adjust our business model and for the gaps in training that let us dedicate time to the heavy lifting behind the scenes. I’m grateful for the walk that I added to my routine, the countless sunrises and sunsets I’ve seen, and the moments I’ve felt the warmth of the sun on my skin and heard the sounds of life around me. All of this would’ve been missed without that stillness.
Reminders of the treasure of friends and loved ones.
This year gave us chances to be authentic, genuine, real, and raw; to ugly cry with friends and family; to sit in silence on the phone in shared grief. If nothing else, this year reminded us that we should not take even one moment with those we love for granted. We were reminded that it is relationships that matter, and not just thinking of other people, but telling them and connecting with them. To use technology in new ways to bring people closer, even across long distances, has been a blessing, in this season where human connection has been so important. We had conversations that challenged, that healed, that inspired.
I am grateful for the friends and family in my life. I am grateful for the chances to laugh together, to cry together, to exchange ridiculous memes together, to encourage each other; to teach each other and to learn from each other; to lift each other up in good thoughts and prayers, even if we can’t be physically close.
And I am grateful for the trials this year brought. A first century pastor named James said we should be grateful for our trials because they build perseverance. I think the modern-day equivalent is what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
I am grateful for the trials this year that pushed me beyond what I thought were my limits. I am grateful for the things that challenged my way of thinking and taught me new ways to interact. Some things I used to do out of habit, because I had always done it that way, and this year let me stretch, to re-design, to reinvent them to do them differently. I took a couple of risks this year, that I might not have taken had the pandemic not necessitated them. I took other risks this year because the pandemic inspired me to “seize the day”. Some of them have already worked out, and I am so grateful for the outcomes. Some are still uncertain, and I am hopeful. But I am supremely thankful for the chance to stretch
I am grateful that the reflection and challenges of 2020 have given me a chance to review my own priorities, my own values, my own goals for myself and for my business. And I am humbly grateful to find so much of what I believed to be affirmed. The challenges this year showed me that my North is really my North: helping others become the best version of themselves, lifting others up, helping others have better workdays, and expanding our business to include more coaches, more trainers, more teachers who share that same desire. I have been affirmed in the trials of 2020
I heard people say we’re not in the same boat – it is absolutely true how many of us are in vastly different boats. But in many ways, we shared a storm. And the trials of this year have afforded us the opportunity to realize two very important things about storms. We are not in them alone, which means if we need help, help is not far. I know we are not in them alone; there’s someone not far away that we can help. Whenever I found things I couldn’t figure out, or had personal struggles that brought me to tears, my friends, old and new, came out of the woodwork to stand beside me and help me forward. Without the trials of this year, I might’ve missed the joy that comes from letting others help when you really need help. I have spent so much of my life prizing self-sufficiency that asking for help is not a familiar thing for me to do. This year, I learned to accept help. And it has been a blessing.
And there’s another side to that comment about being in the same storm: Because we’re not alone, there’s someone we can help very nearby. One of my friends has a note at the bottom of her email signature block that reminds us that no one can help everyone, but everyone can help someone. I think the storms of 2020 have made that clear. Whether it’s by sharing a kind word, teaching someone how to use zoom for the first time, dropping by a hot dinner for a sick family, finding a creative way to welcome a new neighbor - there are little things we can do to make the world a little brighter for someone else. With the masks covering our faces, giving away just a smile takes a little more effort to make it with your eyes, but we can still do it, it doesn’t cost much, and the return is outstanding.
How about you? What are you grateful for? I would love it if you would take a moment to send me a note. Sharing someone else’s joy is just as powerful as sharing someone’s grief.