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My 2018 A-to-Z Gratitude List

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, people keep asking what I am grateful for this week, and my mind has been whirling. People, places and things – I  banged out a long list of experiences in 2018, that I am grateful for.  And, I realize this list is not nearly complete… my life is full.  I am truly blessed, humbled and grateful by this incredible year.

A- Attending the 2nd annual “Leading with AIR” leadership conference was a magical retreat for me.  The AIR stands for AUTHENTICITY, Integrity and Respect, a formula that is frequently missing from most leaders in politics and business. I spent a lot of time ruminating on my own leadership style, and reveled in being surrounded by like-minded, heart-centered business people, Jeff, Jack, Julia, Bob, Dave, Sal, Fred, Candy, Chris – you guys are quite a tribe!
B– Grateful for Lori, Nancy, David, Josephine, Jenna, Jess, Tom, Hannah, Rebecca and the day we all spent on Lori’s classic wooden Hereshoff sailboat, eating food and drinking BOURBON on the BAY. And, also grateful for Lori’s help in pulling me back into the boat when I fell off…don’t blame the bourbon, it was all me.
C– I felt a peaceful CONTENTMENT being surrounded by people I love, and who love me that weekend we spent with my mom’s side of the family at my cousin Elizabeth’s baby shower in beautiful Bar Harbor Maine this summer.
D –  I am grateful for the DARKNESS of that first night at The Experience Farm, for without it, I would not have seen the hundreds of magical fireflies lighting up the field surrounding my glamping site.
E – Discovered ELATION on both sides of my long-awaited road trip – day 1 to dive into the dream of  freedom to roam, explore the people, places and things along the way and day 17, to feel the elation of relief to finally be home with my family in our home that I love.
F – Feeling the heart-racing FEAR as I stepped into the ring of Fight Club, felt my palms get sweaty as I drove through long mountain tunnels, felt my heart stop as I listened to large animals breathing right outside my glamp site.  I survived all three, and am eager to do more scary things in 2019: 1) Singing in public, 2) Financing a new business, 3) overcoming Disposophobia.  (Never heard of that?)
G – Grateful for the GENEROSITY of friends – Anastasia and Jen – who dedicated their time and talent to a focus group session and cooking class – to build community around Lyme Disease and educating ways to cook amazing meals that don’t trigger harmful inflammation in our bodies. (blog to come!) Also, friends from home, at the gym, the schools, the church, my clients  (you know who you are!) so generous with their time, talent and treasure.
H – I was moved to tears by a 5th grade boy in my church school class, who had been excluded in previous years from our church’s gingerbread house event (which was formerly a mother-daughter only tradition)  I had to make a hard decision to disappoint some older church members in order to please some younger ones, and hoped I had made the right decision. As he stood before me, smiling and holding the candy-laden gingerbread house he had just finished, he said “Mrs. Girasole, you made this happen for me and I am grateful to you for that.”  HAPPINESS, so simple.
I – When my INTERNS chose not to join me on a company cross country road trip, I almost scrapped the trip, but didn’t, and was delight at the people and places I met along the way because I decided to go anyway, and modified my original plans.  Turns out I also  needed some solitude, and so my interns have my gratitude for the shift, and their talent and energy, of course!  I learned as much from Jess, Jenna and Samantha as they did from me.
J – Memories of a group of 16 of us (parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends) on a “pedal bus” on the main street in Nashville at 9pm – JOYfully pedalling, singing, laughing, drinking and thoroughly enJOYing each other and the silliness of it all. Celebrating the college graduation of my youngest cousin on Mom’s side – Matt McCarthy.  
K – So many proud moments with our KIDS – my daughter Jessie getting her drivers license, working hard in three jobs this year, and being part of the plays and musicals. Also, so proud of my son Nicholas for taking high school geometry as an 8th grader, getting into the high school engineering academy, nailing the kneeling role of Lord Farquaad in the play, and doing lots of community service with the Scouts.  I am proud of both of our kids for being good friends, responsible pet owners, and exploring their interests, while helping us to hold down the fort at home.
L – Realizing I had LUCKed into some cool seat mates on a flight from Nashville to LAX, film maker Marshall Lee and the guy from the Ancient Aliens show on the History Channel. Sometimes the universe works in mysterious ways.
M – Ridiculous fun with the MERMEN of Wickford, MERMAID queen friends, and too many fun photo shoots and moments to mention. IT takes a village to throw a Sea Creature Parade and Quahog Festival and a group of volunteers has never been so whimsical.
N – On a whim, I asked my vivacious friend NEKO to do my hair and makeup for a gala event at the Purium Rise Convention, and she applied her  time, talent, and a lot of makeup to turn me from ‘tired traveler’ to ‘glamour girl’. So grateful for my entire Purium tribe – I feel most alive when I’m with you and your vibrant plant-based energy, Lori, Pi’i, Chris, Neko, Geralyn, Gina, Khym, Rhonda, Amy, Dave, David, David, Dana….
O – Yes, I grateful for the OVERWHELMING moments – too many dishes to wash, too many projects to finish, too many emails to answer, too many invitations to attend them all – because it feels good to serve a purpose in life.  I have learned to be grateful for what I can do, and not worry about what I cannot.
P – Celebrating all the July birthdays with my beautiful townie girlfriends’ at a very silly themed “Christmas in July” POOL party, complete with pink flamingo pool float, lively conversation and birthday cake.  And, for our PARENTS, without whom there would be no birthdays.
Q – Imagine dressing like a 70’s style mermaid, with 3” heeled, white patent-leather boots, line dancing with a choreographed flash mob to the Mamma Mia soundtrack version of “Dancing QUEEN”, led by your amazing friend Lori, and followed by a slew of girl scouts, also dressed as mermaids, in a Sea Creature Parade down the Main Street in your hometown.  (Yup, that happened. I also walked in the Bristol parade in 95 degree heat dressed in a cow suit, but I am not as grateful for that one and nearly getting heat stroke…)
R – Proof that you can turn bad into good, I turned REPULSION into RELIEF yesterday when my dog disappeared into the woods for 15 minutes, after he found the carcus of a rabbit (two back legs and a cottontail, ugh!).  My panic ended as I discovered him wagging his tail outside our deck sliders, waiting to come inside with his newly found chew toy.  Oh, boy – dogs!
S – Remembering how traumatizing 9/11 was for those who lived through the shocking events of that awful day, when I visited the Flight 93 memorial SHANKSVILLE, PA.  That exhibit was so well done, but brought that tragic, emotional day back like it was yesterday. #NeverForget
T – I thoroughly enjoyed the TASTING experience, with my Bourbon Badass friends, Linda and Fred Ruffenach, sampling bourbon and whisky from around the world, and dreaming of bringing their brand from Louisville to faraway places (like Rhode Island!).
U – I’ve learned to embrace being UNCOMFORTABLE, from feelings, to conversations, to unsettled moments I just had to live through.  In 2018, I went on a solo cross-country trip, stepped into a Fight Club ring, and went white water rafting in Class I-II-III-IV rapids.  (I can’t wait to try Class IV rapids in the spring!)  I witnessed gun fire a mile from my AirBnB in Knoxville, shot a gun, got lost in the woods one day, and felt unnerved by big semi trucks flying by me at 75+ mph on winding mountain highways in torrential downpours.  I learned to keep my wits about me, stay focused on a positive outcome and survived it all.  The best growth is outside the comfort zone.
V – To linger longer on VACATION day 2&3 at The Experience Farm, napping, journalling, cooking, eating exploring the land, learning the business model, and visioning the future potential of a really cool place, owned by really cool people, my new friends Wesley, Krystal and True.
W – When I asked Rich to replace some overgrown shrubs in the front yard, and he spent the next few weeks re-landscaping the entire front entrance to feature a beautiful new stone WALKWAY. He has enormous talent and takes great pride in our lovely home.
Gen X – because the Baby Boomers and the Miillenials get all the media attention, I am going to be grateful for all my friends who were born in 1961 to 1981. So there.
Y – I surprise my husband with an overnight stay at a “bed and breakfast” that was actually a solar-powered YURT, on an  the off-the-grid goat farm, run by circus acrobat hippies. Happy 22nd anniversary, Rich, and that you for not killing me that night. Adventure awaits us…
ZEST – equally important as an ingredient as it is in life, wouldn’t you say?  I enjoy both. And also, needed to wrap up this post, and didn’t go anywhere that began with Z, or know anyone who’s name began with Z that I was grateful for.  So, it’s a thing, zest.  Stay zesty, folks!