While the original Thanksgiving did not resemble anything like what we celebrate today, folks worldwide of different faiths have understood the importance of gratitude for millennia. We are thankful for families, for friends, for good health, for a successful harvest—in other words, for the very life we have been given and that we get to enjoy in its most elemental form.
This past year has been one of great change for me. I left Massachusetts where I lived for 38 years. I left a successful educational consulting practice. In leaving, I dragged my husband along from the place he was born and where he had lived his entire life. I left to join a dynamic team in a different part of the country to take on a different role at a time when other folks might have been happy to slow down or even stop and enjoy their current life status. Last week at the annual Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) Conference in Washington, DC, my colleagues and friends asked, “Why?” To me, the answer is less opaque than you might think.
A former client wrote a wonderful and heartfelt note when she heard I was leaving my practice:
After reading about your departure…I paused to consider the tremendous impacts your skills and genuine interest in equalizing education for students like my daughter, T… Without your dyslexia diagnosis, she could never have achieved the academic honors she currently enjoys. Not everyone is so lucky to have truly had such important accomplishments for their life’s work. Good luck in your move and future pursuits!
I think of young ladies like T (who by now is preparing her college applications) with whom it has been a privilege and a joy for me to work. When I look at our students, I see so much life. So much wonder. And so many challenges and complexities of feeling and experience that come with being human. We all have a life’s journey, yet for some of us it is filled with ruts and rocks and hard times. Still, there is still so much to be thankful for—a kind word, a friend, the opportunity to be useful. Like all of my fellow humans, I have experienced heartache and sadness along with personal failures and disappointments. I have had much to be thankful for as well. I chose this opportunity because I needed the chance to apply my knowledge and skills in a new way and to be an active part of the lives of young people in a different role. I knew that there would be life affirmation and renewal in it for me—and there has been!
As you reflect on your life, my hope for you is that you will find something or someone in your life who inspires gratitude in you. For me, all I can say is that I am grateful for this life, and to be a part of the life’s journey for Auldern and the families we serve.