Things I’m Thankful for that I Once Took for Granted

November 22, 2011

In my younger days I obsessed on things I did not have, focusing both eyes on what was missing in my life. I believed I could achieve success by setting goals and then working hard to fill the voids, to reduce my deficits and ultimately to obtain more possessions.

Now I’m wiser and realize I have always been surrounded by vast abundance. Though it sounds like a cliché—especially at Thanksgiving time—I have so much to be thankful for, including the following items that are so obvious I have tended to take them for granted:

  1. My mom. Okay, I never took mom for granted, yet I assumed she would always be there. Just two years ago, mom sat at our Thanksgiving dinner table. She shared stories, told jokes and inquired about each of our lives. She was a great mother and I always knew that. Only since her unexpected passing, though, have I become fully aware of how thankful I am for the profound influence she had upon me and my family.
  2. My eyesight. I never thought much about my vision until a melanomic tumor on my retina claimed the use of my left eye. I share that information not out of self-pity—I don’t feel sorry for myself and neither should you. Quite frankly, I don’t spend much time thinking about what I’ve lost. Instead, I focus on what I still have—vision in one eye that allows me to drive, to take photographs and to enjoy the beautiful world surrounding me. For that, I am truly grateful. Read the rest of this entry »
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Giving Thanks in the Tough Times

March 24, 2010

If you’re like me, there are times in life when you wonder if you’re caught in a bad dream. You want to pull the covers over your head and sleep it off, hoping you’ll awake to a completely different reality.

I’ve had three such times—1) being diagnosed with cancer, 2) losing a job and 3) dealing with my mother’s unexpected death last month.

Journaling is a practice that helps me get through those rough, white-water times. As I write, I deliberately focus on positive thoughts, thinking of all the things I have to be thankful for in spite of my circumstances.

As I’ve tried to mend the hole torn in my heart with Mom’s passing, I’ve developed a lengthy list of things that I’m thankful for. This has already been an essential part of my grieving and healing process. Here’s a partial list of what I’ve come up with so far: Read the rest of this entry »


A Tribute to Mom on Her Birthday

March 5, 2010

Mom looked healthy in this photo taken less than a week before she unexpectedly died. (Photo taken by my brother Gary)

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Today would have been Mom’s 81st birthday. Sadly, last week our family gathered to bury Mom who died suddenly from cardiac failure. At her funeral, I fought back tears to read a tribute I’d written in her honor. With only slight editing, here’s what I shared with family and friends who had gathered to honor the special lady we all loved.

__________________________

Thank you for being here. Your presence means a lot to the family, especially to Dad, Gary and me.

Earlier this week we received ongoing updates on who was planning to be here. We learned that Mom’s brothers, nephews, nieces and grandchildren would be traveling from California, Tennessee, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado.

As the list grew longer, I kept thinking, “This is great! Mom will be so happy to see everyone.”

Then I’d get choked up as my new reality quickly set in. This time we were not planning another family reunion. Nor a 50th anniversary celebration. Nor the wedding of one of Mom’s grandchildren.

Sadly, this is not one of those happy events. We have come here to mourn. We have suffered a big loss, and we are here to grieve.

But we have also gathered to celebrate the joy and the love and the happiness that Mom brought into each of our lives. Read the rest of this entry »


Things I Love about My Wife

December 29, 2009

Today is my 35th wedding anniversary. Carol and I were married on a cold winter night in her hometown of Cincinnati.

We met in college and then continued dating when separated by hundreds of miles. Geography couldn’t keep us apart. I remember telling a man next to me on an airplane, “I’m flying home to Colorado from Tennessee where I attend college. My fiancée is from Ohio but she’s a university student in California and currently working as an intern in Florida.”

Now, 35 years later, we live in Kansas City and I’ve taken time to reflect on some of the reasons I love my wife more and more with each passing day.

  1. We are so much alike. We share the same priorities—family, faith, friends, finances, etc., etc.
  2. We are so different. I’m a marketing guy and she’s an accountant. Need I say more? The fact that I’m from Mars and she’s from Venus makes life much more interesting.
  3. We share so many memories. We’ve experienced so much together that I can hardly remember my life B.C. (Before Carol). We’ve lived our lives together “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer.” Read the rest of this entry »

10 Things I’m Thankful For

November 23, 2009

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I am reminded of the words of Melody Beattie who said, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” With a profoundly grateful heart, I share the following 10 things for which I am thankful.

  1. A job. I know far too many good and talented people who are unemployed. In graditude for my job, I look for ways to network with job seekers. I hope to encourage them and also to share what I’ve learned from my own career transitions.
  2. Holidays. Though I’m thankful for my job, I’m also grateful for time away from the office. Everyone needs a little downtime. I create pauses in my daily schedule to ground myself. I look forward to a weekly sabbatical away from work. And I enjoy the change of pace that a holiday like Thanksgiving can bring.
  3. My Family. Next month Carol and I will celebrate 35 years of marriage. This year we’ve welcomed two new members into our family—our son-in-law Nathan (Jennifer’s husband) and our daughter-in-law Annette (Bryan’s wife). We’re also thankful for our son Greg and his daughter Kayla, and for his new job as an elementary school teacher.
  4. My Friends. Friends are special, and thankful for each and every person in my life. I value the diversity of age, race, politics, religion, socioeconomic status, education and even personality. Together we share the adventure of life’s great journey, though we may be at different places along the path.
  5. Health. Good health is often unappreciated until it’s gone, but as a cancer survivor I want to live each day with an awareness of my health and well-being. (Living more healthfully will also be one of my upcoming New Year’s resolutions.) Read the rest of this entry »

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