It has been a hard year.
I’ve become sickened by headlines and I’ve witnessed too many people I love lose people they love. It is challenging to understand why difficult things happen to the best people, or why terrorism is still a thing, or why we continue to destruct our planet.
Right now I am in need of a heavy dose of gratitude, and maybe you could use some, too. In a quest to seek it out, I asked 10 people what they’re grateful for right now. Out of these requests came stories of hope and love, of pain and getting beat up by the world. But throughout it all, these 10 incredible individuals have found something—many things—for which they’re grateful.
I spoke to my best friend of over two decades, a warrior woman who lost her mother to an 82-day cancer battle last month. To my stepsister, an immigrant who has been fighting ruthlessly for three years to have her citizenship finalized. To a friend who just lost his second child to cancer. To another friend who, since we’ve seen one another, has transitioned to a woman.
While collecting others’ gratitude lists, I found my own has grown substantially. A remarkable thing happens when you ask people what they’re grateful for and they are able to share such touching responses.
While collecting others’ gratitude lists, I found my own has grown substantially. A remarkable thing happens when you ask people what they’re grateful for and they are able to share such touching responses. Gratitude for having 82 days full of the most hugs, kisses, and storytelling mom and daughter have ever shared. Gratitude for community, for another day, for a functioning body and health and estrogen.
Beauty is out there; sometimes you just have to ask to see it. I hope these notes of gratitude inspire you as they have me:
I am grateful for the community of artful, musical people I am privileged to be part of! I am grateful for an appetite for truth, beauty, and growth! I am grateful for eyes, ears, muscles, legs, and arms! I am grateful for useful work. I am grateful for a comfy home filled with art made by friends! I am grateful for children to snuggle. I am grateful for comfort with adventure! I am grateful that I am comfortable traveling, eating and living alone.
– Carol Clark: Friend collector, adventurer, realtor
It is my practice, each day when I rise, to take a few moments to appreciate the gift of another day. As such, I am no stranger to the practice of gratitude. This year I am most grateful for witnessing the overwhelming love and adoration from my daughter’s friends and acquaintances when they learned of her death at the young age of 34. To listen to the beautiful tributes and kind expressions of sympathies, to wipe tears from their faces, and to feel the warmth of their embraces as we consoled one another was something I will never forget. In those moments I came to know, respect, and love my daughter in a new way as I saw her through the eyes (and hearts) of her friends. I am now blessed with an enormous sense of gratitude to all of her “village,” for they gave me a gift I will always treasure.
– Mark Cohn: Entrepreneur, mentor, traveler
I’m grateful for so many things! As my parents get older, I’ve been very conscious of the memories I’m making with them, and one I’m grateful for in particular is a weekend my dad came to visit my husband, Albert, and me. We picked blackberries, played records, walked on the beach, and talked around the firepit at night. Every time I think of it, it makes me feel warm inside. I’m grateful for my husband, Albert. We met relatively later in life, and if there’s one benefit to that long wait, it’s that I feel so aware of how grateful I am for his love, commitment, and companionship every single day. Another thing I’m thankful for this year is the support and friendship of a network of women entrepreneurs and authors. My work has introduced me to so many amazing people, and it’s been a gift to discover that so many successful women just want to lift others up too.
– Ingrid Fetell Lee: Joy promoter, designer, author
There are many things I am grateful for. But the blessing of Estrogen and how it has grounded and blessed me with new perspectives and abilities to see myself and love myself and others has been what I am grateful for most this year. Since I’ve started my hormones, I’ve built relationships and bridges in ways I never thought possible. I am forever grateful to the ways my transition has awakened me and those around me.
– Angee Ohmah Siegel: Trans woman, horticulturist, wildlife activist
My last of four children will finish high school this year. My wife and I now have the opportunity to create a new relationship after 25 years of kids. I am grateful I get to design what is next with my wife, as she’s always on the side of the best version of us.
– Tom Wiese: Business owner, skier, reader
I am grateful for hospice nurses caring for my mom with the same regard they would their own. I am grateful for my daughter’s inquisitive disposition that will carry on the memory of those no longer with us. I am grateful for my mom impressing upon me the importance of gratitude no matter the circumstances.
– Jade Johnson: Educator, mother, empath
I am most grateful for my beautiful wife and son. I am blessed to wake up every day having the ability to physically use my arms and legs, as well as exercise my mind to help others. Another thing I am grateful for is God providing me with my gifts and ordering my steps to use them the way he desires.
– Dennis Beale: Leader, mentor, motivational speaker
This has been one of the toughest years of my life, but also probably the one I’m most grateful for. Despite all the uncertainty, not being able to afford mental healthcare and having my life stuck in what seems like a dead end, thanks to my family and closest friends, I’ve been able to keep breathing and find purpose in all of it. In the midst of pain, I rediscovered my love for words, I was finally able to get rid of my insecurities as a writer and find the courage to pursue it as a carrier after long years of trying different things, with no success. My relationship with my family is at its best and I’m sure this is just the start of the best to come. It’s been a year full of fears and doubts but also embraced with hope and new beginnings.
– Andrea Mendizabal: Writer, reader, citizenship-seeking immigrant
I am thankful for technology. It keeps me connected to my friends and family and allows me to communicate with them whenever I want. Technology provides me with entertainment and has also given me a career path which I have pursued and enjoy. My life would be completely different without it.
– Matthew Johnson: Creator, IT specialist, gamer
I’m so grateful for the two little boys who call me “Mama.” I could never picture motherhood before, and I often doubted I’d be any good at it. But all that changed when Solomon was born…and I’m proud to say that I am good at it. They’ve inspired a quiet confidence in me that I never knew I had. And while I’ll spend my entire life taking care of them, they’ve already given me so much.
– Cadence Cornelius: Photographer, artist, mother
In asking these 10 individuals what they are grateful for this year, I saw superhuman resilience, joy, and the ability to let go and let live – and I am grateful for it. I urge you to write your own gratitude list or, better yet, share your gratitude with those you love.
It is a beautiful experience.
Kolina Cicero is enamored with stories – reading them, writing them, getting lost within them. Other things she loves include yoga, traveling, and taking cooking, Italian, and writing classes. Her first book, Rosie and the Hobby Farm, will be released in 2020.