By Jennifer Kennedy
Jennifer is IEA’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator. She has been working to spread the word about IEA and the needs of gifted children for the past three years and, in the process, has learned a great deal about herself and the gifted children in her life.
As many of you did, I spent Thanksgiving week thinking a great deal about gratitude. There are a multitude of things for which I am truly grateful – my family, friends, my wonderful job, and the comfort in which I am able to live – but they seem to fall into the category of Thanksgiving clichés. This, of course, does not render my objects of gratitude unimportant, but after decades of pondering thankfulness, my story hasn’t changed much. This year, though, I began thinking about gratitude a little differently.
The day before Thanksgiving, I took a yoga class. When the session had ended, the teacher encouraged us to think about things we were grateful for within ourselves. My mind quickly began to reel. I am grateful for my determination and hard work, I thought. I am grateful for the love I show my family and friends. I am grateful for my mind. I am grateful for my commitment to causes I believe in.
This exercise helped me to think about gratitude more deeply. Not only am I grateful for my niece and nephew who bring endless joy and love into my life, but I am grateful for the way my niece clings to me when she is tired or scared or sick – she feels safe with me. I am grateful for the smile on my nephew’s face when I walk into his house, and I even cherish the tears that pool in his eyes when I must leave, because I know he loves me and does not want to watch me go.
And not only am I grateful for my amazing job at IEA, but I am grateful for all of the enlightening things I’ve learned and experienced since starting here:
- I am grateful to know that I am not weird; I don’t have a problem; I’m not alone.
- I am grateful to know that bursting into tears for “no reason” is not a sign of an emotional unbalance that needs to be “cured.”
- I am grateful to be intense; it is this intensity that makes up much of who I am.
- I am grateful for my mind, but I am also grateful to know that I am more than my mind.
- I am grateful to have found my tribe.
- I am grateful to be able to touch the lives of kids who are like I was as a child.
- I am grateful to be able to constantly learn more about myself as I learn about the kids we serve.
- I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about how I can help my gifted nephew, who at first just seemed way too smart for his own good, and my niece, whose sensory processing issues made the world a very scary and overwhelming place for her for awhile.
- I am grateful to work for an organization that embraces my quirks and knows that many of these things are what make me good at what I do.
- I am grateful to work for an organization where my passions are encouraged and supported.
- I am grateful to be challenged each and every day.
- I am grateful for the daily variety and surprises that come with working at IEA.
- I am grateful for the amazing, talented, compassionate, supportive, and considerate colleagues with whom I work every day; we truly have an amazing team at IEA.
- I am grateful to have been encouraged to find balance in my life.
- I am grateful for the increased reach and impact of my work at IEA, and I am grateful that more families are able to find what I have found here.
- I am grateful for all of the parents who come to us because they know their children are different and require something more.
- I am grateful to be able to speak up on behalf of kids who are often misunderstood and don’t get the right attention.
- I am grateful to meet others who care about this population of neglected children as much as I do.
- I am grateful for the opportunity to have an impact on the world.
- I am grateful to be gifted.
At the Annual Bradley Seminar this year, IEA President Elizabeth Jones encouraged us to keep gratitude journals. I thought it was a great idea and began one, but I found I was always saying the same things. This Thanksgiving, I made a resolution to think deeply about gratitude over the coming year. Consider this the first entry in my new gratitude journal, and let this one reflect the empowerment that accompanies gratitude for elements of one’s self and life that are often overlooked. In addition to being grateful for my mom’s love and my niece’s smile, I will let myself be grateful for the things that make me who I am and for the circumstances I have worked hard to create for myself. I will also make gratitude a priority year-round, not just a Thanksgiving Day activity. I would encourage you to do the same.
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