…though maybe I should’ve titled this it all comes UP to gratitude, because gratitude lifts us up like nothing else.
In my heart this has been a solid perspective of mine for a long time. But I was newly reminded of the importance of gratitude when a group of my friends and I read by Mary Pipher’s book Women Rowing North.
Our lively discussion and the universally positive response our group had to this excellent read has reinvigorated my sense of the many things in my life to be thankful for. And that can mean anything — even our challenges, the hardest things we’re dealing with, can be transformed, or WE can be transformed, by finding the gratitude within them.
So I thought I would take a moment to share the things I’m more publicly grateful for. Sharing thank yous and appreciation always feels good, as good for the giver as for the receiver.
America the Beautiful
First I’m thankful to have been born into what is largely a peaceful and prosperous society.
Sure, we can debate the finer points of what constitutes “peace” or “prosperity” but on balance, compared historically and across cultures, we overwhelmingly have clean water, abundant food, good infrastructure, education, access to health care, economic opportunities, and a voice in our government.
Is it perfect? No. Does everyone have the same access? No. But the cup half full perspective shows us that we have so much that’s positive to work with that to not see the good is a failure of insight and imagination.
I’ll be 70 this summer and I can look across the decades and see that things have gotten better for women, people of color, the LGBTQ + other communities, for persons with disabilities, and for immigrants who still come to the US with a view of hope and possibility. There has been progress even as we have so much more to do.
I’m grateful for my home here in America and hopeful that it will continue to always strive to be “a more perfect union.”
I’ll be eternally grateful for my family of origin, for mom and dad and my ancestors.
I’m also deeply thankful for my husband Lou, our sons Ian and Joshua, our daughters-in-law Leslie and Deb, and our extended families. We talk, we hug, we laugh, we’re there for each other, we find enjoyment, we celebrate, and we work out the struggles and conflicts as best we can when they arise with good faith in one another.
I couldn’t be more thankful.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and that’s held me in good stead as I worked in real estate, retail, hospitality, and other endeavors over the years.
I love getting up each morning ready to tackle the day’s business, whether it’s an auction buying spree for my antiques shop Staunton Antiques Center, a pow wow with the board for my gallery The Artisans Loft, an open house on a property I’m interested in or consulting for, a welcoming of guests to one of my Air BnBs, or some side project I’m conjuring up.
I lift, I haul, I sweat, I read policy, I do paperwork, I meet with people, talk to clients, run errands, meet customers, give advice, and generally keep on keeping on with one thing after another. Thank heavens for it!
I’m grateful that my kids have the same spirit of diving in and developing their talents, whether it’s Ian’s work as a noted chef and restaurateur, or Josh’s work in music and improvisation — they try, and like me they succeed and they fail, and they get up and do it all again.
I’m thankful for that kind of creative risk taking and grateful that we live and learn and laugh about it.
I couldn’t be more thankful for the community here in Staunton. Whether it’s folks working on important political issues like electing more women to office or working against problems like too much plastic waste or dangerous and unnecessary pipelines, I simply love that people put themselves out there and are open to dialog and engagement.
Here in Staunton it’s not like the seemingly polarized high-pitched intensity of federal level politics. Not everything is easy locally, but there is usually a gentility and kindness even when parties disagree and that kind of civility and humanity is always better than hostility and strife.
Moreover being part of the downtown Staunton business community means I’ve got a group of colleagues and friends whose innovative projects and ideas help keep Staunton a thriving place for business. We work together on projects like the Queen City Mischief and Magic Weekend, as well as numerous other events for collaboration and shared purpose.
I’m so grateful for the safety, imagination, and care that this community continually provides and reflects.
Sunshine and Birdies and Nice People
And let’s not forget nature. It’s nice to wake up in the Shenandoah Valley, a beautiful part of the world if ever there was one. There are mountain views from several places in town, beautiful trees and hills here, lovely rivers, a great climate, and fabulous farmers growing yummy food!
People are just plain nice in the Shenandoah Valley and Staunton, making it a great place to simply say hi, have a conversation, and feel good.
I Could Go On and On
I could go on and on because there’s SO MUCH to be grateful for. I’ll leave it at that for now but I hope I’ve inspired you to take a inventory of your own life. To pause a moment and reflect on all you have to be grateful for. And to think about sharing that gratitude around to brighten someone’s day.
It’s nice to look on the sunny side of life. I do, and that approach alone is something to be thankful for!
— Ellen Boden, Proprietress, Staunton Antiques Center