I’m headed out the door to the commencement ceremony for my bachelor degree. If you had asked me about this moment in March 2006, the answer would have been a big, “No way!”
At that point I had no interest in a formal education and carried a pretty healthy disdain for the institution. When my boss at the time told me that I needed a degree to travel in the corporate circles I aspired to, I reluctantly enrolled at the tender age of 33.
Three years in time and a lifetime of maturity later, I finally get it… maybe.
The degree process is about a lot of things that I’m likely to spend more time on later. For now, the primary thought is, gratitude.
My life, and therefore my family’s life, changed dramatically during this leg of the journey and I couldn’t be happier about where it is. Today I get to wear a little token called, a stole of gratitude, for each person that has made a dramatic contribution to this accomplishment. There are lots of people that contributed, but the four that I am thanking were slightly different.
First and foremost is my wife, Tammy. There aren’t enough opportunities to thank her for everything she does, but this a small shot. She has given, without much complaining, and held our family together through more than homework sessions. The space I have enjoyed to grow and become more of who I am is only possible because of her quiet understanding. If she will ever believe in herself, the way she believes in me, the world will go to a knee in awe of her.
Both of our children, Ethan and Avery, will receive a stole. Quite simply, they move me. Their intellect, enthusiasm, and unquestioned love have pushed me past unimaginable personal boundaries. When I look at them I am reminded of what is good and perfect about life. I hope that they will keep the stoles as a reminder that anything is possible.
The fourth is for the head of academic affairs at our U of P campus here in Springfield, MO, Dr. Patty Duncan. With a bright smile, a word of encouragement, and a swift kick in the pants, Dr. Patty moved me from college student to life-long learner. She dedicates her time and energy to pushing others up when they don’t have the strength left to pull. The stole is a reminder, I hope, that her efforts are more than appreciated, they are necessary.
Gratitude is a wonderful. It puts us back in the frame of mind and emotion needed to make an impact. I almost feel selfish for feeling grateful because I know that it benefits me more than those that receive it. Every time I smile with the warmth of feeling grateful, more things come my way to make me grateful. The four people above are proof.
Be your best,