When I look back at this year it feels like one of the most, if not the most transformative of my life. I lost my mother, my daughter was wholly on her own, I spent a great portion of the year in airports and airplanes to work in challenging locations and I had to live in the midst of a construction zone surrounded by dust, noise and workers.
I realize it’s easy to focus on what was been taken from me, what I had to endure and to lose track of my blessings. Many of us, myself included, are very fortunate but we don’t appreciate what we have nearly enough. So here and now I want to remind myself, and perhaps you, of all that I have to be thankful for.
I am privileged to not only live in a lovely house but to be able to afford to renovate and update it. In India, Cairo and Kenya I saw people living in what looked like the rubble left over from a botched demolition but which they were pleased to call home.
In Beijing, Nairobi and Cairo I spent hours in a taxi to go just a few miles, all the while inhaling noxious fumes from unregulated polluting vehicles. There were times when I couldn’t see twenty feet ahead through the thick haze of particulants in the atmosphere and was forced to breath through scarves, sleeves, tissues – anything I could find. I wasn’t the only one in the car swearing I’d never complain about traffic again. I am fortunate to live in a country where the environment has advocates and (some, not nearly enough) people care about the quality of our air, water and land. I’m also lucky to live close to work so I get to avoid the worst of the morning traffic.
In Nadi, Fiji what could and should have been beautiful beaches were eyesores covered in trash where no one dared to walk. The distant islands are post card beautiful but those are for the tourists who can afford the flights over. I don’t do it often but I appreciate that I can get in my car and in under an hour be walking on one of the most beautiful beaches in the West. I am thankful for volunteers who clean up those beaches and for organizations that fight for legislation to protect the beaches and the ocean.
In India the streets were over run with litter. I saw children playing with and in that trash. There were no parks or playgrounds for them. It makes me appreciate that when she was growing up my daughter had dozens of parks and playgrounds at her disposal. I’m grateful for the many lush public parks available for picnics, parties, BBQs and that,when the construction is complete, I will have my own lovely backyard.
Even in beautiful destinations such as Geneva, Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris which I was sorry to leave and hope to return some day there were reminders of what there is to be thankful for. It made me appreciate how rare and special is the freedom we have in the US to travel and how fortunate I am to be able to afford such a luxury.
I am thankful for my health and that of my family. I am fortunate to have a gym at my disposal and I take full advantage of it. I appreciate that I have insurance and doctors who I trust to keep me well. I am grateful that I have access to and have the money to buy good foods at farmers markets and supermarkets.
I, and I hope you as well, could go on and on listing all the ways in which I am fortunate and how much I have to be thankful for. I will do my best to spend each day of the coming year appreciating every one of those so I never loose sight of how blessed I am.
Hoping you have a safe and happy 2015 with many opportunities to be thankful.