“A Mindful Leadership Story by Cathy Quartner Bailey”
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what
you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. – Oprah Winfrey
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays – we have the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on what we’re grateful for and share the day with family and friends. I wrote this story when my father was alive – it continues to stay with me – and I’d like to share it this Thanksgiving in his memory….
This year is especially meaningful for my family as my father and mother drive to New Jersey to share Thanksgiving with us. We are grateful that my dad is with us, because as he often says, “I’m damn lucky to be here ….almost bought the store, and not just once!”
Thankfully my father’s situation has improved and he is on the road to better health as he recovers from aspiration pneumonia and the complications of his illness. Now I watch this man I love find the courage to deal with life on new terms, one where he wears a “trach,” uses a feeding tube, and is dependent on oxygen – maybe for the long term, hopefully for the short. He shows gratitude for each new day: a walk around the neighborhood, a good night’s sleep, a visit from a friend, or the occasional sip of ice cold water he sneaks when he thinks no one is watching.
There is amazing power in recognizing what we are grateful for. Recently a few of my clients have expressed they were “stuck” in a negative mindset. We talked about keeping a gratitude journal.
I’ve learned from the experiences of clients, as well as my own, that writing in a journal helps bring better energy and perspective to our lives. If you feel “stuck” and are not enjoying life as much as you’d like to, try keeping a “gratitude” journal, and see what shifts for you. Over time you’ll see the impact that focusing on the things in life you’re thankful for has on improving your positive mindset.
In addition, we know based on research that going into a state of gratitude helps us gain perspective, show up happier, and be more mindful. Mindfulness is the ability to tune into one’s self and others & show up more centered.
Consider taking a few minutes each night and journaling about the following questions:
What surprised me today?
What moved me today?
What inspired me today?
My journal entry from November 25, 2007
I was surprised by how much my mother needed my father in her life; anyway she could have him. And by my dad’s courage to fight for his life, even when it meant putting aside his ego and living in a way he would have never thought he could or would have to.
I was moved by my father’s courage and wonderful sense of humor during a challenging time. On many occasions when the nurse showed up with yet another needle, my father jokingly referred to himself as a “human pin cushion.” And when one doctor told him he had lung cancer and 6 months left to live, Dad walked out, laughed, and said, “Don’t think I haven’t heard that before – if I heard it once, I’ve heard it a dozen times.” Thankfully the doctor was wrong.
I am inspired to give more to someone in need because I have learned that while I thought I was the one giving, I was really the one receiving.
I am especially grateful to my family, friends, work associates, and clients who supported me during this time so I could give to my dad what he needed and help him get stronger.
Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving!