It’s mid-afternoon Thursday and I am thankful. I am thankful other days too, however this was a planned post, or at least the topic/subject was planned. In full disclosure, I started writing earlier this morning but I wasn’t able to finish the post, proofread, edit, and publish before an appointment, so I had to finish this afternoon.
At the beginning of the calendar year I began a quest. The quest, really a task or goal, was to write a handwritten thank you note and post it in the mail to someone, somewhere, each day. I was inspired by a book I had read several years before about being thankful by John Kralik. He had written the book about writing thank you notes to people he knew and encountered and how in doing so his life changed for the better. The book, A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life was published in 2010 and I first learned of the book in early 2011. I bought the book and read it and passed it on to a couple of people…but that was several years ago.
This past December I was writing thank you notes to my students for their thoughtfulness and generosity with their Christmas gifts. Writing thank you notes is not new, I have always written thank you notes at Christmas and at the end of the year – even before I read the book. However, this year I could identify with Kohn Kralik. The past several years have been incredibly difficult – personally and professionally. If you’ve followed me for a while, you may know or remember posts about the passing of my in-laws and my sister-in-law in the brief period of 18 months. When it rains, it pours. You may also recall, I my teaching assignment shifted from teaching English Language Arts to teaching science and moved from one grade to another. The transition has not been easy – in fact it’s been incredibly difficult. However, I have persevered, been resilient, and learned from my (many) mistakes and have continued to move forward. It’s been important to remind myself – I am passionate about social studies. In 7th grade it was geography and I loved it, in 8th grade it’s U.S. History and making social studies fun and relevant for kids is my passion. But above all, I teach kids, not a subject or a content area.
Loss and grief are not easy to handle, especially when the loss or losses come unexpectedly; seemingly, out of the blue. Looking back, we shouldn’t have been surprised, but we were. The strain of loss knows no bounds.
However, the point is this – I have much to be thankful for and I realized that while I was writing those Christmas gift thank you notes in December.
I am convinced things happen for a reason. People are placed in our lives and in our paths for a purpose. Both good and bad. These folks push us to be better or remind us we should be thankful. Just as I had received a dinner invitation from a former student’s parent this past July while I was in North Carolina for a professional conference, I had received a very thoughtful e-mail from a parent of a former student a few days before Christmas. It brightened my morning and added a spring to my step that day. It was the spark I needed at that point in the school year. Their thankfulness to me was the spark I needed to realize I needed be more thankful in my own life.
It’s not that I wasn’t thankful or that I was ungrateful, it was that I wanted to be more overt with my thankfulness. It was at that moment when I decided that I was going to handwrite a thank you note each day to someone, somewhere, and post it in the mail.
I began in January, on the first of January. I purchased thank you notes and postage, though postage was not a problem – I have more postage stamps than I need, trust me. I kept track of the notes I wrote and what stamp I chose to post the note. My first thank you note was to my daughter’s youth pastor for his kind words about her, my second and third were notes to the parent and former student who had e-mailed me before Christmas. I didn’t go back in time and count the Christmas thank you notes I had written before January 1. I focused on being thankful in the present.
I wrote a thank you note almost daily in January. In February and March, I slowed down. In April and May, I really slowed down. In June, July, and in August I have slowed to a crawl. It’s not that I am NOT thankful, I’ve simply slowed my thank you note writing. I don’t know what it is or why, because I am still thankful, very thankful for the people who touch my life and make me a better person. I am thankful for the folks who help me daily on a regular basis or simply smile and pass on an encouraging word while pouring me a cup of coffee.
I am thankful for the readers who read Making the Days Count and leave an encouraging note or comment – those comments are like pure gold.
Even though the post title is Thankful Thursday, I could have written this any day, because I am thankful for those who touch my life and help me to be a better person.
Last week, while I was FINALLY cleaning my home office desk, I came across two thank you notes from parents at the end of the school year – the notes were several years old. One was from the mom who invited me dinner in North Carolina. she wrote,
Thank you for teaching with all your heart. We appreciate your leadership and patience.
Alliteration. Today’s post is my second successive post using the literary technique. August wasn’t intended to be Alliteration August. Monday’s post was really in response to O’s found photos – the photos she took Saturday of the flowers in the garden, for which I shared Monday. She beamed when I showed her the post with her photos. I have printed and framed a couple for her room.
In a couple of hours, O and I are going to Chicago to watch the Astros play the Chicago White Sox. I am excited and so is she. I took in Tuesday’s ballgame and the Astros lost 8-5, they lost again last night 7-1, and we are hoping for a better result this evening. But who knows, that the reason they play the game – it’s a long season. Tomorrow morning, we drive north to the lake for a long weekend. It’s our last trip before school begins. Next week will be a busy week, the last full week before school and we’ll have fun making the days count.
So, I had better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. In many ways, I already have. Regardless, today’s gonna be a great day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one thank you note, one reminder to be thankful.
Thank you and thank you for reading this far. This last line.