Thanksgiving is this week, and so I’ve been thinking a lot about reasons to be thankful. This year, I’m really focusing on the amazing people in my life, and have been considering the qualities that make them so important. Today, I’d like to encourage you to think about who fulfills these (and other) roles in your world, and take the time to express your appreciation. Personally, I’m most grateful for:
The listeners are ready to hear it all. Your worries, your disappointments, your frustrations, as well as your opinions, random thoughts, rambles, and funny stories. They’re the people who give your their full attention, remember important details in later conversations, and always make you feel valued. Good listeners are a rare and precious thing, because let’s be honest, most people are a lot more interested in talking. My mother is the best listener I know. Just this past Friday, after an 11 hour work day, I accepted her last minute invitation to feed me and then spent an hour telling her about my crazy work week. The world was a much better place by the time I headed home. I am so blessed to have her, and other great listeners, in my life.
The encouragers are the people who are always there to pick you up when you fall. They are the helping hand when that is what you need most, and the gentle boot to the buttocks when necessary. They won’t let you get sucked into a self-pity trap, and instead remind you of how you have been stuck there before and why you were able to get out, then push you to actually take action. My friend Mike is one of the best encouragers I know, always ready to lift my spirits and get me back on track. When things get difficult, like they did back in September, my encouragers help me get through it.
The central trait of people I think of as motivators is that they are always saying “do more stuff”. I like trying new things when I’m doing it, but I rarely try things out by myself or on my own initiative. It’s the motivators in my life who take those whims and push them to actual experiences. I’ve written several times about how my best friend Katie and I have traditions of trying new experiences. That totally came from her. Without her I’d have the idle thoughts, but would probably say “maybe someday” and then sit in my house with my book. This blog exists because of another great motivator, my friend Alex, who spent over a year convincing me to try writing again, after a very long hiatus. He’s the reason this blog exists and has become such an important part of my life.
These are the people who really celebrate your accomplishments, and make sure you never miss a small victory. I will never forget my sister Audrey calling one evening and exclaiming, “Mom told me about the big increase in your team’s whatchamacallit metrics. I don’t know what it means, but I’m super proud of you!” That is a direct quote. Then she asked me to explain it to her and got doubly excited. Cheerleaders constantly remind us that we’re worthwhile people who do great things, even when the great things are also small things.
I often refer to all of my co-workers as my colleagues, but Colleague with the capital C is something totally different. These are the people we want to be working with when the pressure is on. The people who are always on the same wavelength, and often the people whose strengths balance our weaknesses and visa-versa. Not to mention the people we’d want on our team in the zombie apocalypse. My “work husband” is one of the world’s best Colleagues. I feel like we can solve any problem and tackle any challenge when we’re working together.
The Geek-Out Partners
Things I love almost to the point of obsession: Books. Comic books. Fantasy & Science Fiction. Scary movies. The circus. Coffee. Things my sister Amy loves to the point of obsession: Books. Comic books. Fantasy & Science Fiction. Scary movies. The circus. Coffee. See my point? “Hey Amy, do you want to go see the Avengers for the sixth time?” “Hey Amanda, should we watch that six hour documentary on circus history?” “Let’s go to that convention in Atlanta.” People who are into the things you love are great, because they’re always ready to talk about and pursue your shared interests.
The Problem Solver
Sometimes you want to talk about a problem. Other times you want to fix it. Still other times you want to fix it, but it seems unfixable, or you have no idea where to start. Thank God for problem solvers. The best one in my life, hands down, is my dad. If he doesn’t just know what to do (which he usually does), he will figure it out. Once, after watching a very strange movie, a group of friends and I asked ourselves the question, “What would we do if we had a car full of monster bodies?” I said, immediately, “Call my dad”. A few days later I actually asked him what he would do in that highly unlikely situation. Without a moment’s pause, he said, “Make sure there was no immediate danger, find out if there was potential legal trouble, then ask for an explanation as soon as there was time”. Whatever the issue, problem solvers jump right in to figure out and implement solutions, and make everything much easier.
Who are the people you’re thankful for? Leave a comment and brag on your amazing circle!