Grateful for Caring Leaders

I have had some really amazing leaders in the last few years. From a kind and understanding boss to church leaders that have become wonderful friends. I think we sometimes overlook good leadership. People tend to notice more when things go wrong than when things go right. Sometimes the best leaders are the ones you never hear about.

I am so grateful for the leaders I have had over the years. I am grateful for their service. I am grateful for their friendship. I am grateful that so many have taken the time to know me as an individual. I am grateful that they saw my potential and allowed me to have experiences to grow and contribute. I am grateful that they noticed when I was struggling or responded positively when I told them I was struggling with something.

I could name dozens of leaders over the years from many areas of my life that have impacted my life for the better. I am so grateful for each of them. I am grateful for all they taught me and for all they helped me become. I hope that I am that kind of leader as well. I hope that I encourage people and help them to be their best self. I hope that I give people opportunities to shine and contribute. I hope that I am as good of a leader as I have had the experience of serving under in my life because I am so very grateful for all they have done for me.

Grateful for a Best Friend

Thinking about the last two years, there is one thing (or rather, person) that I am grateful for more than anything else that has happened in that time. Becoming friends with my best friend, Shannon, is by far the most wonderful thing that has happened to me in the last two years. I cannot describe the joy and peace and love that she has brought into my life.

She taught me how to trust. She helped restore my faith in people. There is no one that I feel more safe with or more loved with than her. She has brought such a beautiful peace into my life. She has given me hope in the worst of circumstances. She has been my constant in a world of disorder and uncertainty. She has helped me make more progress individually and personally than anyone else.

Shannon, if you are reading this, know that you have changed my life. There are very few people that I am more grateful for than you. Your friendship means everything to me. Your love has made the biggest difference in my life. Thank you so much for everything.

Thank you for seeing who I really was and could be. Thank you for taking the time to get to know me. Thank you for the long nights when you were there for me in my most desperate hours. Thank you for the times you helped me or stayed with me when I was sick or hurting. Thank you for being the friend I always wanted but never knew existed. Thank you for allowing me to practice talking with you. Thank you for allowing me to be autistic with you. Thank you for letting me not be okay sometimes and not judging me or condemning me for it. Thank you for never making me feel like less than a person. Thank you for helping me to not be scared anymore. Thank you for teaching me how to love myself.

There are so many more things I would thank you for. I would thank you for every note you ever wrote me, every picture you ever sent me, every prayer you ever prayed for me, every conversation we ever had together. But I think most of all, I would thank you for every smile, for every night that I wasn’t lonely, for every breath that I felt at peace because of your wonderful, beautiful, perfect friendship. I know that you are not perfect, and our friendship is not perfect, but you have been the perfect friend to me. You have healed my heart and mind, and I could not be more grateful for all you have done for me. Thank you. Thank you for being the best friend I could have ever asked for.

Thanksgiving and Gratitude Posts

I love Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays because it is such a humble holiday. It is one of the most overlooked holidays, being squeezed in between Halloween and Christmas, but one of the most needed holidays as well. It reminds us, before we look to gifts, to look at what we have now and value it. It reminds us around the time that many are purchasing gifts that the greatest gift you can give is a piece of yourself. When we go around the Thanksgiving table saying what we are grateful for, we don’t generally mention material possessions nearly as much as we mention love and people and experiences. Thanksgiving is all about everything you can’t see or hear or touch but instead have to feel and experience.

A few years ago, I did a series of blog posts during November about what I was grateful for. I have been so immensely blessed in the last couple years that I again feel the need to share all that I am grateful for. So, for the next two weeks, I will be sharing at least one post a day about all the things I have been grateful for in the last two years.

Marveling

“Our ability to marvel is fragile.” -Gérald Caussé

I don’t know if this has anything to do with autism or if it is simply a personality trait, but I tend to not get bored of things. Life to me is a miracle. I marvel at the way things work, at the form and structure of the world. I wonder at the tiny details found in nature. Every day, every moment, every breath is a new experience for me.

I sometimes sorrow at the complacency of others. I wonder how they could lose sight of the importance or beauty of something. If you enjoy the smell of a rose once, does that mean a rose will never smell as good as that first rose? I think sometimes we just forget how to love. When we are around something for long enough, we forget how we used to feel about it.

I don’t always like the fact that I have autism. It is difficult. It makes certain things harder. But because of that, there are things I can never take for granted. Having a friend for example is such a wonderful blessing. I don’t want to ever forget or neglect a friend because I know what it’s like to have no friends. You learn to appreciate the things you do not have often.

I hope though that we can learn to appreciate the things we have every day. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it is a time when people remember to marvel at what they have in their lives. It is a time to give thanks for beauty and goodness and love. Yes, our ability to marvel is fragile. So I hope that we treasure it, that we strengthen it, that we see the goodness and beauty in the little things. And marvel at everything because this life truly is amazing.

Dear Best Friend

This letter is partly for my family because they have always been my best friends, but also for my non-relative friends who have been there for me in big and small ways over the years.

Dear best friend,
I want you to know how much I love you. I want you to know how much I appreciate you. I want you to know how much you mean to me.

Dear best friend,
I want you to know that it’s not your fault when I’m not okay. I want you to know that I don’t expect you to cure me. I want you to know that you do help more than you know.

Dear best friend,
I want you to know that you have saved my life more times than I can count. I want you to know that the dark loses its fight against me every day because of you. I want you to know that you make me a stronger and better person.

Dear best friend,
I want you to know that I would do anything for you. I want you to know that I recognize the things you have done for me. I want you to know that my life is brighter because you are in it.

Dear best friend,
I wish I could tell you how I really feel about you. I wish I could communicate how much I love you. I wish I could tell you how much you help me.

Dear best friend,

I wish I could be okay for you. I wish all my problems could just go away because I’m friends with you. I wish I could be the person you want me to be.

Dear best friend,

Thank you for loving me anyway. Thank you for being there for me over and over.

Dear best friend,
Thank you for being my friend.

A Plea

This weekend I was supposed to go with a friend to visit someone from church, but I was caught in traffic and didn’t make it. I was supposed to take a midterm that luckily was rescheduled. I was supposed to do laundry and go to the temple and finish a programming project and read talks and write in my journal. This weekend, I was supposed to pick up my dad from the airport and spend time with family and help with the kids.

I didn’t really do any of those things. Of the things that I attempted to do, I was either too overwhelmed to accomplish or circumstances prevented me from being able to finish.

So what did I do this weekend? I cried a lot. I slept a lot. I curled up in my bed or in a corner of my room and just tried to forget about the world. I broke down and just caved in to the exhaustion.

Sometimes you just have days like that, weeks like that. Sometimes you just have times when you can’t even pretend to be okay. And it’s okay. It is okay to feel like you just can’t do it anymore. It’s okay to feel like life is too hard or too much or simply that you need a break.

I hope that when those times come, you try to be kind anyway. I hope you don’t give up on the world or yourself. I always just tell myself that it will get better. I tell myself that it’s okay to know the darkness, but to not stop recognizing the light.

As much as it gets better, I have realized that there will always be days when I’m not okay. There will be nights when I will desperately long for a friend to be there for me, but will be far too afraid to ever try to reach out to someone. There will be hard times, but I am grateful that I don’t have to face them quite as alone as I once was.

This week, I went to a funeral, found out my friend was starting inpatient treatment, heard stories of heartache and pain, and as I said before, broke down multiple times. Each of these circumstances reaffirmed to me what I posted about a few days ago… That loneliness is a far greater trial than any other hard thing you can go through.

Please, if you can do anything to help someone be less lonely, please do it. I know it’s hard. I understand that you’re busy. I know we all have different priorities. But loneliness is real. It’s a feeling I understand well. If you can do anything to help someone who may be experiencing loneliness, I plead with you to act. Life is too short to struggle alone. Maybe we can’t cure loneliness, but I can make it better for you, and you can make it better for me, and we can make it better for others.

Why Wait?

I’m usually a big Christmas person. I love giving to people. I love an excuse to give. And I love loving others and showing them I love them.

This year though, I wasn’t excited like usual. It seemed useless. The presents I bought all year long sit in their boxes, unopened, untouched, unwrapped.

Tonight though, I realized something. I don’t need an excuse to be generous. I don’t need to wait until Thanksgiving to be thankful or until Giving Tuesday to give money to charities or until Christmas to give gifts or until New Year’s day to make resolutions. I can be thankful all year; I can give gifts all year; I can make goals all year. I don’t have to wait for an excuse to do good.

What I like best about Christmas is being Christ-like all the time. What I like best about Christmas is remembering Christ every day. What I like best about Christmas is it doesn’t have to be a one day or one month thing. It can be an every day thing if we just live like Christ was born every day because he was born but more importantly, he is alive. And because he was born and because he does live, every day can be Christmas.

We don’t have to be confined to one day generosity. We don’t have to be confined to one day thankfulness. We can make every day Christmas and every day Thanksgiving if we just allow ourselves to love every day. And that is a beautiful thing.

Grateful for the Like Button

Sometimes I really don’t know how to respond to people. I can’t think of an appropriate response or something that would adequately express how I really feel. This is why I’m so grateful for the Like button.

I wish there was a like button for real life. Usually when I don’t know what to say, I just smile and nod and find an opportunity to walk away quickly. It’s not that I’m not grateful or that I disagree or that I don’t want to say something back, I just can’t put it in words. Sometimes all you can express is acknowledgement. Sometimes I just let people know I heard. It might come across as rude or unresponsive, but I just don’t know how to respond.

I am grateful that I don’t always have to respond. I am grateful that sometimes I can just acknowledge, and that is enough.

Grateful for This Blog

This blog has been an amazing place for me. It has been somewhere I can go to understand myself and help others understand me. It has been a refuge when I didn’t know where else to turn in lonely or desperate times. It has given a voice to thoughts I didn’t know how to express. It has given me a reason to keep trying when I felt like nothing I do matters. It has given me a way to communicate with others. It has allowed me to express my feelings and spread awareness.

I am very grateful for this experience. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to be a voice for change and awareness and education. I am grateful to feel like I have made a difference, even if it has been relatively small.

I am not sure about the future of this blog at the moment. With the changes happening in my life, I am not sure if I will be able to maintain it or keep posting regularly. Whatever the future brings though, I am grateful for the experiences and friends and acquaintances and everything good that has come out of this blog.

Grateful for Change

I am not who I was a year ago, or 6 months ago, or even a week ago. I keep changing and growing and becoming better. I have been amazed at how much I have changed in the last year. I look back at things I wrote a few years ago and shake my head at my whining and self centered behavior.

I am so grateful that we don’t stay the same. I am grateful that I haven’t stayed the same. I look pretty much the same way as I did in high school, but I am a completely different person on the inside. I am kinder, more understanding, more forgiving, and just in general, better and wiser than I used to be. I am grateful for that change and for the opportunity I have to change continuously. I don’t know what I would do or who I would be if I wasn’t constantly changing and becoming a better person every day.