Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Thanksgiving Day

I was tagged by two friends to do the Facebook gratitude/thanksgiving challenge, where for seven days, you list 3 things for which you are thankful (or something like that; I've seen a few iterations floating around). For reasons I don't want to go into, I have a general policy of not participating in any social media "challenges". But I do believe in practicing, expressing, and encouraging gratitude, and the science behind gratitude is quite compelling. Over the years I have tried to develop a habit of actively focusing of gratitude and appreciation, rather than judgment and negativity. It's a muscle that I feel pretty comfortable with, so I wanted to challenge myself in a different way. Yesterday I decided to do an hourly (or in some cases, half-hourly) gratitude check. I just took a few notes in my phone throughout the day, then elaborated on them later. 

Here is my log:

7:00 am: Ugh, waking up. This is the hardest time for me to feel anything but grumpy. But I am thankful for those last moments in bed on a perfect fall day. I am warm under my fluffy down blanket, but refreshed by the cool morning breeze coming in.

7:30 am: It's cliche, but thank goodness for coffee. It makes every morning so much better. I am also thankful for the Keurig, which I completely poo-pooed when Curtis bought it a few years ago. I am thankful he had better judgement than me.

8:00 am: People love complaining about Muni, and many days I am frustrated with it myself, but I am so thankful for the availability of public transit. I know rising fares are a big issues, but ultimately we as riders are not paying anywhere close to what it takes to operate the Muni system. I am thankful for my experience with City Hall Fellows, which taught me that.

8:30 am: When I get off the bus in Chinatown, I am always joined by children and parents on their way to school. The kids bring such a smile to my face. They are always so happy to be heading to school, holding hands with their mom or dad. I'm thankful for the reminder of what goodness and hope there is in the next generation.

9:00 am: Getting to work, I am thankful for work. Even if it's part time.

9:30 am: Ooh, one of the interns brought sweet bread with shredded pork. Don't mind if I do... Thank you, nice, thoughtful intern.

10:00 am: I work on feedback to provide one of our interns and I am struck with just how thankful I am that I have been able to learn and grow so much professionally in the time since I was an intern myself. I am also thankful for the invention of "track changes" in MS Word.

11:00 am: We receive a beautiful thank you card from a teacher whose class we presented to a few weeks ago. We don't usually get thank you cards for doing our job, so it's a very nice surprise. I am thankful for people who take time to say thanks.

12:00 pm: Lunch time! We have a tiny table in our kitchen area for lunch, yet five of us try to cram around it so we can all eat together. I am thankful to work in an environment that fosters a feeling of community and promotes a real lunch break!

1:00 pm: My boss, our interns, and I head over to UC Berkeley to do a training. On the way over, one of the interns flatters me with a kind compliment about my makeup. I genuinely appreciate it because I am really not used to being complimented on my appearance.

2:00 pm: We arrive on campus, which is beautiful and makes me miss college. We get to the class, and do our presentation. I am thankful for every training experience I get because it helps me improve my voice, my confidence, my presentation style, and my knowledge of the material.

3:00 pm: Still in class, but watching my boss do his portion. He is such an effortlessly engaging presenter. I feel blessed to have learned so much from him these past few years.

4:00 pm: After class one of my interns shares how she struggles with feeling confident about her English, as it is not her native language. I reassure her that she is doing great, and that her skills are better than she thinks. In the process I feel thankful that English IS my first language, and that I can navigate social and professional situations with ease thanks to that.

4:30 pm: We hop on BART and I again give thanks to public transit. I'm crossing under the bay in a tube. It never ceases to amaze me. 

5:30 pm: Curtis picks me up from BART, as he does every day when I commute home. He does it (almost) without complaint, which I appreciate, since it's quite feasible for me to walk instead.

6:00 pm: I hear from my friend Kelsey that we'll be able to hangout this week. I am thankful for her friendship, and really look forward to catching up.

6:30 pm: Oh, dinner. We are both feeling lazy, so we put that off for a bit and instead watch the start of season 2 of The Following. It sounds weird, but I am thankful for entertaining television. At the end of the day, it just feels nice to get absorbed into something else for a bit. I rarely take time to appreciate all the work and creativity it takes to make a good show.

7:00 pm: Rumbling stomach... fortunately we have some leftover pasta and pesto. Normally I would want to try to add some vegetables or protein to that, but nah. Good thing I am not responsible for feeding anyone a balanced diet. I am SO thankful for that freedom right now.

7:30 pm: I have a long conversation with my friend Grace. She is one of the few friends I routinely keep in touch with from high school, partly because she lives in the Bay Area too, but mostly because she is one of the kindest, most genuine people I know. I am so grateful for her constant presence in my life. She is going through some big life challenges right now, and I am thankful to be able to be there for her in small ways to encourage and support her.

8:00 pm: For the past year or more, my mentee G and I have been working on a scrapbook together, documenting all our outings together. The pages are a bit fragile, with lots of paper and pictures glued on, and washi tape coming off the edges, so I decided to scan all the pages and make them into bound photo books. As I scan each page, I am so thankful for the bond we've formed and the new perspectives she has brought to my life.

9:00 pm: Almost every night, Curtis spends a few hours studying for his PE exam. I am really proud of him and I am thankful for a partner that is dedicated to growth, learning, professional development, and long-term goals. Pass or fail, I will still be very proud of him.

9:30 pm: Is it wrong to be thankful for wine?

10:30 pm: Wrapping up the day and thankful for my wonderemployment. It means sleeping in tomorrow!

Stopping so many times throughout the day to find something positive was hard, but in a good way. Too often, especially when I'm at the office all day, it feels like time goes by without me even thinking about what's happened. Pausing for a minute of reflection every hour was a good exercise in not only gratitude, but mindfulness. I challenge you to try it! (But not in a Facebook challenge sort of way...)

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