When I think of the past year, the word that I just keep coming back to is gratitude. I know it’s overused. It’s a buzzword right now. Everyone preaches about gratitude and how important it is if you want to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. The thing is- the more I recognize how grateful I am for this life, for my life, the easier it is to find things in which to be grateful.
Yesterday I was talking to my sister on the way to the gym. I was grousing a bit about the workout ahead of me and she just said simply, “Celebrate your mobility, Gina.”
My sister suffered a neck injury this past year and it’s affected her immensely. And so, when I went into the gym and climbed onto the treadmill, I thought of my sister as I ran. I thought about my friend who lost her mother last weekend. I thought of the family that lost their lives on vacation in Mexico. And I prayed for these hurting people. I prayed for the loss of life. And while I prayed and mourned them and for them- I also celebrated my mobility. I thought of how grateful I am to be able to run. To be able to pay for a gym membership. To have a husband who gathers the children from multiple locations so that I might have some time to myself at the end of the workday. So that I might celebrate my abilities.
I started off 34 with a bang. Er- baby. The bang came about nine months before (sorry I had to). Bringing Eleanor into the world filled my heart in a way I cannot explain. I’d always dreamed of having a daughter. Having two sons first was (and is) icing on the cake. My dream of having three children with the man I love came true. And it is beautiful. That is not to say it isn’t incredibly hard, too.
I have many friends who suffer with infertility. I have friends who have dreamed of having families but they haven’t met someone they want to start building a life with. Some of them have found a person and yet there are roadblocks. There are always obstacles. I hope that anyone who has a dream gets a chance to realize it. To feel like their heart could explode from happiness. No matter the dream- I hope you get it.
I hope that the couple at church who requested prayers about their desire to get pregnant will get to experience the joy of parenthood. They should get to experience a little one grabbing for their hand someday. I have hope for them. And while I pray for their dreams to come true, I continually count my blessings and kiss my babies (and kiss Matty too). My heart is grateful.
Other wonderful things happened in my 34th year. I was lucky to continue to work for a company I love and who supports my efforts both inside and outside of the office. I’ve been involved in a leadership academy where I’ve learned about myself and the way others perceive me. And I hosted my first Incredible Women Party! Thirty some of my closest friends gathered in my basement and we celebrated each other’s lives. All the good things and some hard stuff, too.
That night in November when I felt all that love and energy from my friends at the #IWP, I was filled with gratitude for the many women I know and love. It also filled me with wonder and with courage. And so I did what I’d dreamed of doing for many years and I founded my organization, the Atwood Center for Women. I haven’t looked back. It’s growing. I’m growing. It’s helping me love the people around me in the ways I know how- to serve and uplift them. And it’s adding to my sense of purpose.
When I’m not baking cookies with my babies on the weekend and when I’m not leaning on my husband after a long day at the office, I’m looking up. I’m praying and thanking God for my many blessings. I’m trying to love my neighbor and remind people of their worth. I’m trying to matter. I’m trying to make people understand that they matter. And in all those things, I’m grateful.