As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded of the gifts that arrive in my life daily, that go unnoticed. Here's a run down:
- The gift of sleep. In my inbox this morning was a note from a friend who has had a series of health problems throughout this year, leading to multiple surgeries and trips to the ER. His note talked about the feeling that Santa had arrived. He awoke in the middle of the night feeling something he hadn't experienced in seven months: rest. My friend realized that for the first time since April, he had slept more than two hours in a row. His note gave me a whole new appreciation for my body's ability to rest and rejuvenate through the gift of sleep. Photo by mayte_pons
- The gift of exercise. Last month, I returned to the gym, after dealing with a host of minor issues that kept me from exercising for weeks and months at a time. It feels good to be active again, to work up a sweat, to go to yoga class, to run. I am thankful to be healthy enough that taking a class requires nothing more than making the time and showing up.
- The gift of electricity. In touching base with friends and family on the East Coast after Superstorm Sandy, I heard stories of what life is like without power for extended periods of time--not just hours, but days or even weeks. Unimaginable is the word that comes to mind. For most of us, our daily lives would be severely interrupted without access to electricity. Yet, I know that I don't give a second thought to having heat and lights and electronic devices that allow me to do my work and communicate with others. I am now more aware of how my life is comfortable and meaningful, because of the gift of electricity. Photo by elycefeliz
- The gift of the Internet. How lucky am I that I can watch an inspiring TED talk or learn the history of a beautiful song with a few keystrokes? Using the Internet, I have access to more resources than anyone could have imagined just 10 years ago. It has become commonplace, especially with the Millennials, to expect that information is at our finger tips. But it wasn't always so. And in other parts of the world, there are censors that filter what information is available. I am living in an age where the gift of the Internet has made my world bigger, better, and richer.
- The gift of driving. In the U.S., most of us take for granted the ability to hop in a car and go wherever we want to go. Recently, with a third driver at home (my teenage son) and two cars, I've come to appreciate when there is a car for me to use. I was even more aware of this when I visited my older son at college. He doesn't have a car on campus--in an area that revolves around cars (Dallas). So it was a treat for him when I showed up with a rental car. We were able to visit an art museum and have dinner in downtown Dallas, and go to a local grocery store to stock up on supplies. All of this would be so much harder without the gift of driving. Photo by epSos.de
- The gift of fitting in. Every single day, I connect with people who "get" me and appreciate me. This has not always been the case. In my first job out of college, I took a job where I felt isolated and out of place. I was working in a nuclear power plant that was under construction, 60 miles outside of Chicago. There were 3,000 construction workers on site and 150 professional/administrative staff. I was one of a handful of women in a professional role. I supervised technicians that were decades older. And I don't recall another Asian on site. I am so grateful that I have found my tribe, where the question of fitting in doesn't even cross my mind.
- The gift of newness. Every day, we have the opportunity to approach life with "beginner's mind". I am reminded of this in welcoming a new baby into our extended famiy, a great niece, born last month. I can see the freshness and vibrancy that new life brings to my family. The gift of newness is there for me to receive, if I choose to see the world in that way.
- The gift of family and friends. This poignant set of essays, titled, The Empty Chair, reminded me of the treasure of each person who will be at the dinner table for our Thanksgiving feast. It's easy to take for granted the presence of family members who I see many times a year. And yet, I know that our time on Earth is limited. While everyone is in town for the holiday, my extended family will celebrate my stepfather's 98th birthday. 98 times around the sun! I feel blessed to have this time with my stepfather, who still plays a mean game of mah-jong, and has a peaceful and loving heart. I will enjoy the gift of family and friends tomorrow, and each day after.
Thanksgiving comes just once a year and allows us to pause, reflect, and give thanks. Make every day a day of thanks, by noticing the gifts that surround you.