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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Meeting the "Shake Off The Grind" Thanksgiving challenge

Preface:  I want to note before anything else that this was exceptionally difficult to write.  More like "pain in the butt" to write.  But I'm glad I did.

I subscribe to frequent emails from a great website/blog/personal development resource called "Shake Off The Grind".  You can link to it HERE.

Now with Thanksgiving coming, I have a "I am thankful for..." posting basically written.  Then I received this challenge from Shake Off The Grind.  After reading it, I thought to myself "what the heck" and I'm going to take the challenge.  For purposes of simplicity, the challenge asks you to be thankful for some very specific things:

  1. List 5 people in your life you are grateful for.
  2. List 5 things you're grateful for about your home, community or where you live.
  3. List 5 things about your physical body you are grateful for.
  4. List 5 life experiences you are grateful for.
  5. List 5 personal skills and talents you possess that you are grateful for.

So here goes nothing.

5 People in my life I am grateful for
(Disclaimer - I'm going to limit this to people who are actually alive)
  • I am grateful for the joy of being the father to my oldest daughter, Katrina.  She is exceptionally bright, musically talented and passionate about her vocation.  In a world full of people who just "telegraph it in", she strives to make a difference.
  • I am grateful for the joy of being the father to my middle daughter, Korin.  Like her sister, she is exceptionally bright, shares my love of Science and has a wonderfully wry sense of humor.  
  • I am grateful for the joy of being the father to my youngest daughter, Rebecca.  Like her sisters, she is exceptionally bright, possessing a wonderful singing voice, and is the hardest working 20 year old I've ever met.  
  • I am grateful for my partner, Christine Elizabeth.  At my darkest hour I looked up and she was doesn't get much better than that.  Chris, our life together is a blank canvas, and the world is full of paint.
  • I am grateful for my brother Richard, who helped me at every step of the way as we got the house ready to sell.  Could I have done it without him?  Sure, but he made it far easier.

5 things I am grateful for about my home, community or where I live
  • I am grateful to live in the United States of America, a place where, while politically dysfunctional, you don't get shot/imprisoned/water-boarded for actually saying the government is politically dysfunctional.
  • I am grateful for the community of folks that comprise my employer, especially those with whom I work with in the Scranton office.  We have some of the best and brightest that NEPA has to offer. 
  • I am grateful for having had a home wherever I ended up roaming.  When I think about the challenges that some face just finding shelter, I am reminded of how blessed I have been in my life.  As the saying goes, "not all who wander are lost".
  • I am grateful to live in the area known as Northeastern Pennsylvania.  Be it ever so humble, there truly is no place like home.
  • I am grateful for the virtual communities of which I have been (and continue to be) a member.  I've met some wonderful people and learned a tremendous amount about subjects far and wide.

5 things about my physical body I am grateful for
  • I am grateful that my body is durable.  Despite the nutritional abuse I throw at it, my parts all seem to function well.
  • I am grateful that I have physical stamina.  Despite my inability to get much more than 6 hours of sleep a night, I am always able to get up, get going, and take care of business (and on most days that includes about 30 minutes of cardio).
  • I am grateful for my sense of smell.  While I can't see all that well and my hearing is getting worse as I get older (harmed in no small measure by too much loud music over the decades), my nose can still pick up the stench of peanut butter from a room away.
  • I am grateful that I still have (mostly) a full head of hair.  There is nothing wrong with being bald, and to be honest, if the choice came down to mostly bald or totally bald, I'd say "shave it all".
  • I am grateful for my eyesight.  Yes, while it isn't the best in the world, eye doctors have marveled at how well I've managed to adjust to not seeing well, particularly when it comes to depth-perception.  I tell people that I probably don't really know what "good" eyesight is anyway, as I only know what I have always experienced, which is okay with me.

5 life experiences I am grateful for
  • Age 16, 4H Camp - The first time when I experienced the possibilities that life had to offer was when I worked at a 4H summer camp.  I learned the value of hard work and of how wonderful independence could be.  I will be forever grateful for the opportunity that this first "real" job afforded me.  
  • Age 20, Penn State Harrisburg - While 4H Camp gave me a taste of independence, that feeling was magnified 20 fold when I spent my junior and senior years of college at Penn State Harrisburg.  For me, this is a sacred, special place, as evidenced by the small number of people who are close to me that I've taken on the "pilgrimage" to PSH over the years.  I make it a point to go back to the school from time to time and I am honored to be able to financially support the university in a small way.
  • Age 24, becoming a Dad.  I became a Dad at an early age, and on one hand it was exceedingly frightening having so much responsibility at such a young age.  On the other?  It is simply wonderful being young enough to see your "children" become fully functional adults.  Parenthood changes everything in your life, I will add ultimately for the better.
  • Age 25 (and a half), starting to work for my current employer.  I am very grateful for the opportunities that have been created for me to grow personally and professionally.  I am also very grateful for the ability it has given me to support myself and others.
  • Age 49 (in progress).  I am grateful for the experience to date of selling my home and finding a new place to live.  While it continues to test many things (patience, ability to sleep, finances, etc.), this is one of those "once in a lifetime" things that I will look back on fondly in years to come.

5 Special talents or skills I am grateful for
  • I am grateful for my inquisitive nature.  From an early age I was reading any and every non-fiction book in the house.  And I continue to do that to this very day.  I owe a special dept of gratitude to my late mother for instilling in me a desire for lifelong learning.
  • I am grateful for having a desire to write.  Note that I didn't say "being a writer", because I firmly believe that, for example, Garrison Keillor is a writer; I, on the other hand, am a person who writes.  And I write, at times joyously.  
  • I am grateful for the ability to be graceful under pressure.  
  • I am grateful for having my own sense of visual composition.  There are times when I capture something in a photo and then I end up marveling at what has just occurred.  
  • I am grateful for having a positive outlook.  This wasn't always the case, but I am living proof that we all have a shot at redemption.

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