Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. It’s likely a combination of the intentional gathering around the dinner table and the tradition of friendsgiving meals and “chosen family” get togethers. It’s the marked beginning of the Christmas season and just a few days from the start of advent, celebrating the arrival of a great gift. Thankfulness is meant to expand beyond a single day of the year, but today I highlight just a few of the things that I am thankful for right now.
1. Smart people.
I am thankful to be surrounded by smart people. I’m not sure what would be worse; to be in isolation or to be surrounded by people who you do not learn from or believe in. Every day I get to interact with people who know more than I do, and it’s inspiring to engage with these people on the regular. One of my favorite activities involves sitting at a table with people who know a lot about something of which I know very little. Questions start flying and my fascination begins. And in return, I may even get my own opportunity to share my own thoughts and knowledge.
2. Good coffee.
My love of coffee stems from a childhood of watching my father and grandfather drink black coffee every morning at the table and every night with dessert. I remember forcing myself to drink coffee in an effort to impress my father, taking big gulps before heading out to the woods to sit in tree stands and freeze our tails off. I always thought I wanted hair on my chest and that strong, black coffee was the means to receive it. But what once was simply a procedure has become a daily rhythm; and nothing beats a great cup of coffee. There are very few days that go by that I do not take the time and effort to prepare coffee for myself or those around me. I may even find more joy in the process of making it than I do in actually consuming coffee. But let’s be real: drinking it helps.
The Windy City has become a big part of my life this year thanks to a handful of clients and a few friends that have made their way north in a migration that is soon to create regret as the snow begins to fall. I’ve spent more time in Chicago over the last year than I have spent in the rest of my life. I’ve come to love the movement of the city, the diversity of the neighborhoods and the vast amount of fantastic food and drink to be had.
4. Great copywriting.
There is a common misperception amongst professionals that writing content is a lot like tying your shoes. You learn how to do it in elementary school and continue to do so properly out of habit. When we reach a certain age or level of experience, we all know how to tie our shoes, and it’s not a matter of capability but rather expectation. But I have come to learn that great copywriting is less like tying your shoelaces and more like performing a magic trick. A magician can not rely on one trick throughout the entirety of their career, thanks to the audience’s innate desire to understand and the competition of other magician’s seeking to advance themselves by trumping existing tricks. In the same way, writing great content takes time, effort and a commitment to continuous improvement. What we consider to be great changes often, but the process of pursuing greatness is rooted in rigorous practice. I’m thankful to be surrounded by great writers, as they stretch me to improve my own practice and challenge me to push the envelope.
In an effort to spend more time hanging out, I made a few decisions that have literally placed me into that space. One of which included buying my first home and hanging my hammock in the backyard between two trees almost immediately after moving in. That area between my two unidentified trees is designated space to just be. I listen to birds chirping and I daydream about things that get forgotten in a busy day. I’ve started and finished many days in that hammock, with more to come. As dramatic as it sounds, this has become a sacred space for me.
6. The internet.
The world wide webs can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. For me, it’s become a platform of my career. I’ve come to understand just how much access we have to new knowledge and input thanks to some wild advancements in digital. Call me basic, but I adore the interblogs.
Let’s face it. food doesn’t get much better than the taco. You can eat a taco for any meal of the day (including that lovely Fourth Meal). You can put just about anything inside a taco and they’re often small enough that you’re allowed to pick out multiple types. There are tacos for practically everyone, from vegetarians to brunch dwellers. I’ve eaten well over 100 tacos in the last few months alone. And with tacos come some of life’s finest enhancements, including great people and great spaces. And let’s not forget guac. But remember, it’s not free.
John Muir wrote, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” I saw the very landscape that inspired this writing on a visit to Yosemite this year. I’ve climbed several mountains this year, both figuratively and literally, and the view from both the peaks and the valleys keep me always eager for more.
9. Penelope Okuley
This one may sound a bit cheesy, but after many years of considering the title of “dog dad”, I’ve finally found myself loving on a puppy of my own. Penelope, my 4-month old Beabull, has taught me many lessons about patience in these last two months. It feels a lot like an advanced lesson in parenting, as I find myself waking up several times every night to take her out or clean up a mess. I’ve learned to keep my home clean and have sworn more times in the last 9 weeks than I have in my entire life, but have loved utilizing her cuteness as a way to connect with more neighbors in my community and her energy to keep me out running on the regular.
I came back to Ohio because of it, and I’ve stayed here ever since because I never want to lack it again. The people that walk my neighborhood streets and gather in our homes are the energy behind most of my days. This year I have had the opportunity to watch as many of my best friends welcomed new additions into their families. I’ve taken on uncle status with more kids than I could have ever imagined and even learned how to change a diaper because of it. Being surrounded by healthy marriages, connected families and all-encompassing great people is both redemptive and recommended.
Take the time to be thankful. And let it go beyond today and carry you through the year.