There has been a flurry of gratitude/thankfulness posts on Facebook lately. In fact, some people have even challenged themselves to a ’30-day gratitude’ postapalooza. Groggy-eyed, I’d scroll through my FB feed in the morning and I’d be thinking “That’s all fine and good, but right now I’m thankful for my programmable coffeemaker” or “I’m thankful that I don’t have to go into the studio until 10 today”. But as I laid in savasana after yoga on Tuesday…and as I drove to Pittsburgh today, my mind flowed with so many things for which I’m grateful. Yeah yeah…I’m grateful for all of the usual stuff – – my family, my kids, my health, etc. But this year, these are the things for which I’m particularly grateful…

My community…my town…my home…
A little over a year ago, our town was rocked. Hard. It was literally crushed at its core. And many people, even many of us who live amidst the blue and white wondered if we’d recover. There are still many who wonder, but I’m here to tell you…we will. Our town of State College is stronger than ever, and we have a renewed sense of strength, courage and community. Communities rebuild after any disaster, and so will we.

My children…my daughters…my beautiful baby girls…
Yes, they are listed in the ‘standard’ thankful list…but they deserve a second mention. In the blink of an eye, they have grown to almost my height, their math skill are sharper than mine and their cumulative sense of humor can rival the best stand-ups out there. It may be a little cliche, but not a day goes by where I don’t learn something from them…they have taught me so much more about life, myself and human nature than I could have ever learned anywhere else. In each of them I see myself…the good and the bad…and there is no greater mechanism through which any human can grow.

Democracy…our country…our constitution
The first 30 minutes of my favorite morning news show is typically hardcore news…there’s none of the fluff that comes in the second hour. On most days my kids pay little attention other than to comment on the annoying accent of the Wall Street correspondent. But one day this week, my 14 year old was focused on the news…paying close attention to the story about recent bombings in Israel. Across the screen flashed images of school children going through the motions of their school day…all while in a bomb shelter. In that moment, I knew that she had an appreciation of the generally very comfortable life we live in this country. While we may argue on many social/fiscal/international issues, at the end of the day, we are still the best nation on earth. Later that same day, I practiced yoga next to a woman whose husband has committed his life to defending our country and I was overcome with emotion when I thought about the sacrifices that so many men and women have made, and continue to make…all for the freedom that my children enjoy…

My 37.79 years of life…
Granted, I still have a couple of years before I hit the big 4-0, but I have not a single regret about growing older. I fully understand and appreciate that as each year passes, I have gained wisdom, experience and perspective that makes my life rich beyond words. I have confidence, courage and the ability to see others in a light of non-judgement and loving acceptance. I have seen firsthand how sharing your light with the world brings about the greatest gifts and blessings…and that is worth all of the wrinkles and selective memory losses that naturally go along with the aging process…

My friends…my family…my support network…
Without a doubt, I have been shown more love and friendship than I could ever think about giving in return. This core group lifts me up when I’ve fallen down…believes in me more than I believe in myself…and sees me for who I am and what I have to offer the world. It is the family and friends who have known me for each of those 37.79 years..and it is those who I’ve adopted into my local State College family. Life is beautiful…and it is so much more sweet with the gentle souls that I’m blessed to call my family and friends…

My job…my clients…my career
I talk about this a lot…how lucky I am to be doing something that I love. My clients let me in on such an intimate part of their lives…and that is not something that I take lightly. They give me creative license, all the while I am fully letting them run the show…because it is through them that I gain my inspiration. A client recently asked me how I get inspired…or if I plan out ‘scenes’ or ‘poses’ in advance. The truth is…I don’t. I can’t. I need to be with my clients in the moment and allow their interactions and personalities drive the way my camera captures them. It is an extremely challenging job…Just this morning, I photographed 9 cousins, 6 of whom were under the age of 5. One would argue that this may not be as challenging than designing a voice recognition software program or a vehicle driven control system…but the rewards are far, far greater.

I could go on and on…the blessings are plentiful. Now let’s have some pie…

Full…

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