Several years ago at a conference, a colleague introduced me to a simple gratitude practice. It’s so simple, I’ve kept it up for at least five years. I keep a calendar/journal and at the end of the day, I list three things I’m grateful for at that moment or from my day. Big, small, new, repetitive, none of that matters. I simply write down what I’m grateful for. And I’ve never had a problem coming up with three. No matter what the day has been like, there are always at least three things to be thankful for. Today, I decided to list three things I’m thankful for this month.
Almost nineteen years ago, I drove a staff member to the hospital because her daughter was making an early arrival. I remember driving to the hospital thinking “What in the world am I doing? This baby is on the way!” Luckily for all three of us in the car that day, she waited several more days to arrive and I wasn’t literally part of her birth story. This past weekend, I went to her high school graduation party to wish this delightful young woman luck as she heads out to her next adventure. I’m so grateful to have become part of her extended family and to have had even a teeny part in her story.
In early May, I was surprised to learn that I had been awarded the Arno Nowotny Medal by the University of Texas at Austin. The Nowotny Medal named for ‘Shorty’ Nowotny who was UT’s Dean of Students for many years, a founder of TACUSPA, and an early member and leader in NASPA is given for meritorious service to students at UT. I’m grateful for Sharon Justice, who took a leap of faith and hired me as an Assistant Dean of Students at UT very early in my career and to former President Bill Powers who invited me back to serve as Vice President for Student Affairs. Together, with all of the many other students, staff, and faculty across campus, they gave me the chance to do the work that made this award possible.
On June 1, 2019, I officially launched Gage Paine Consulting (GPC). As I have said to several people, starting a new small business nine months before a global pandemic is not a good business plan. And I must admit two years ago in 2020, I wondered if my fledgling business was going to make it through. But thanks to all of you and all of the many people who have trusted me to work with them over the past three years, GPC is still here.
For all the difficulties of the past three years, for all of the sadness so many people have experienced, there are still moments of happiness and joy in our lives. Unfortunately, we can miss those moments when we are coping with the challenges we all face. A gratitude practice doesn’t diminish the hard times. It does help us pay attention to the good that still exists.
I’m grateful for each of you and all of the people I’ve had the chance to work with the past three years and throughout my career. What are you grateful for today?