Reflections on Gratitude
I tend to think and talk in threes. For example, when I think of how women become more effective leaders, I think of the convergence of three relationships: to self, others, and systems. When I talk about how we make the change I describe a process of recognizing how what we think impacts how we feel, and how we feel either helps or hinders our movement toward action.
So, when I think about gratitude I ask myself three questions: Who am I grateful for? What am I grateful for? And how will I express my gratitude to others?
Over the course of the last two years, I have found myself saying repeatedly “I am so grateful for” the team that has contributed so much to the launch of Lead: How Women in Charge Claim their Authority. They have worked tirelessly to bring the book into the world and to women. I know that I could not have done it without them. But the spirit each one has brought to the work has made it a team experience that I will always treasure. And above all, I am deeply grateful to and for Amy Whitaker who has been a partner extraordinaire along this journey. Her generosity, creativity, and “will do” spirit has made the launch more successful and the work meaningful and fun.
What I am grateful for is a much more personal experience. My beloved husband Richard died of cancer six days before the pandemic lockdown began. As I have grieved this incredible loss, I have also been filled with healing gratitude for his unconditional love, sense of humor, and delight in my accomplishments. He helped me find confidence in my competence that I talk about so often with coaching clients. Richard also brought great joy into my life, something that was only increased in the last year we had together.
My gratitude extends to the communities who supported and loved us through his illness, death, and the difficult months that followed as we all experienced the losses brought by the epidemic. My zoom communities were there for me week after week, forging new and powerful relationships, even at a distance. Hospice provided amazing support for both of us and accompanied us across the many stages of approaching death. And the Assisted Living staff at The Peninsula Regent where we live became family as they held us both with care, compassion, and love.
I am also humbled and grateful for the blessing to be with Richard in his final hours. As I have watched so many be separated so painfully from loved ones during the Covid pandemic, I am reminded every day of how much I have to be grateful for. The blessing of being with him in his final hours was a grace that has been an enormous comfort as I have grieved my loss.
The gratitude that has infused my life over the last two years has made me commit to being intentional about thanking others. There are so many small acts and kindness and larger acts of generosity that touch us every day. I often sign off on emails by saying “With gratitude” as a way of communicating to others that I appreciate their presence in my life. I look for opportunities to express that gratitude in unexpected moments and ways. I am finding that at a time when so many of us are struggling with loss, grief, changes,, and uncertainty, the simple act of thanking changes how we touch each other and in turn how we are touched. I am surprised to realize how grateful I am for the journey of this year and hope that as I become even more intentional about expressing my gratitude I will bring a force for good to others and my world.