Gratitude Costs Nothing

Written By: Kim - May• 28•14

I ran into a fellow train commuter this week while I was coming back from a client’s site visit. He had just returned from a two-week trip to Greece. He looked glum and pouty. I told him that he should look much happier since he just returned from a two-week vacation in Greece. His reply? “Not when I had to pay off my son’s college tuition.”

Welcome to the USA where everyone is privileged and they complain about it. Welcome to the plight of the poor federal government worker (who also gets a retirement check from the US Air Force) who can afford a two-week vacation in another country, pay off his kid’s college tuition and then whines about it.

I was completely disgusted with him and by the end of our hour commute home, I had to speak my mind.

I suggested that he should stop be ungrateful and start keeping a gratitude journal; at the end of every day, he should write down three things that he is grateful for. His acerbic reply? “You are your own boss now. Of course you are happy.” In my mind, I was already smacking him, Gibbs-style.

I started keeping a gratitude journal about a year ago when a colleague (thanks Amanda) recommended it. Everything in my┬álife was good except my job. I was stuck in a no-win professional situation that was dragging me slowly into an abyss of misery. If you think that this is an over dramatization, it’s not. I love my profession and take pride in what I do. Not having this part of my life working was extremely painful. I knew that it had consumed me when my teenage son said that he “never wants to be as miserable as me in any job he holds.” Ouch.

When the right opportunity presented itself, I made the plunge and quit my job to start a consulting business. Was it a complete leap of faith? Yes. Was I freaked out by the prospect of owning a business and generating incoming? Just a little. Ok, a lot. But, being captain of your destiny is not for the faint of heart. If it were easy, we would all be business owners. But, circumstances often dictate a different course of action. You just have to see the path and be open to it. Let me repeat that: You just have to see the path and be open to it.

If you know me, you know that I often like to have the last word. And, yes, it sometimes gets me into trouble. I couldn’t let his comment slip by. My reply to the comfortable career government employee bemoaning his two-week vacation and the ability to pay off his son’s college tuition? I told him that he too could be his own boss, if he really wanted it.

“It’s easy. All you have to do is make your plan, walk in and quit your job.”

I walked off the train that evening grateful for who I was and how I handle myself, even through the miserable times. And, I walked away completely grateful that this putz was not my husband.

Giving Up a First Class Seat

Written By: Kim - Apr• 06•13

This week, my daughter and I went out of town overnight, but we were unable to secure airplane seats together. She is 12. Take offs and landing makes her a little nervous. The gate agent was unable to move us because the United flight was booked. The flight attendants said they would ask the person sitting next to her. He said yes, so I moved back to economy plus and he moved in to my first class seat. That’s right, people. I gave up a coveted first class seat to sit by my child. And please know that I don’t earn enough frequent flyer miles to even come close to any elite status. The stars simply aligned and it was easy for this trip.

photoMy daughter watched from our front row economy plus seats how the first class passengers received their drinks in real glasses; were given hot lemon-scented towels to wash their hands before and after they ate, and finally a plated real breakfast. The realization that I gave up a comfortable experience to sit next to her set in. She asked me why. The answer is simple: because you are my child and you needed me.

But the United Airlines flight attendants who helped me facilitate the switch took care of us. After the first class passengers were fed, they asked if either of us would like a danish or croissant. Did they have to do that? No. Was it a big concession for giving up a first class seat? No. But, their small act of kindness reminded me that despite our propensity to be cynical about the human race, more people are kinder than we give them credit.

And the next time I have to fly, which airline will I choose? United.