Grateful, yes. Satisfied, no.

How many “gratitude” emails did you get today? I got a ton, which got me thinking about the way things are versus the way I want them to be. I struggle with that. Mightily. 

For Thanksgiving, I want to have so many people in my apartment that we literally have to step over each other to move around; or decide not to have anyone over and go to Bermuda for the long weekend; or spend the day in service at the food pantry near me; or visit my mom and son in California; or sit in front of the tv eating pie all day if that is what suits me. Basically, like everyone else, I don’t want to be constrained by quarantine restrictions; negative COVID tests; and limits on my freedom. However, because I know that these constraints are for the greater good and, hopefully, temporary, I can handle it. 

My husband (the mindfulness meditation teacher) would say that being grateful for the way things are is a much more peaceful way to live than wanting things to be different. 

But I’m a “fixer” who believes that if I see something wrong, I have to change it. If I’m not striving to better the world, then I am not being my full self; not realizing my full potential. So how do I reconcile that? How can I have gratitude for what is, while still wanting things to be different? 

I want gender, racial, and social equity. I long for the abundance in the world to be distributed more evenly so that everyone has access to healthy food, clean water, health- and child-care, a robust education. I want our systems to treat everyone equally so that people grow up knowing they matter, that who they are is more than enough, and that their religion, the color of their skin, their backgrounds, are all part of a beautiful and valuable mosaic. 

This is a conundrum in which many leaders find themselves: if we stop pushing forward, then we are not fulfilling our missions. But if we don’t slow down and appreciate what is, we will never get to what can be.

So, this is me slowing down … I am grateful … for women who work shoulder to shoulder to make the world a more equitable place; for colleagues (lay and professional) who put their resources – time, talent, and treasure – toward making a more just world; for friends who make me laugh and remind me to not take myself too seriously; and yes, even for family who have their own ideas of what this holiday “should” be. 

I am grateful to each of you for teaching me, guiding me, allowing me to lead, and supporting our shared vision for the effective and extraordinary feminist leadership that will change the world. 

Learning to understand the difference between being satisfied and being grateful is key for me. And if all goes well, I’ll have a few more decades to work on it. Let me know what you’re thinking about gratitude. 

My former supervisor used to say that the American secular “holiday season” lasted six weeks – Thanksgiving to New Years Day. So … I wish you a lovely Thanksgiving filled with whatever soothes your heart and eases your soul; a Hanukkah filled with light and love; a Kwanzaa devoted to reaffirming shared values; blessings for other holidays you might observe; and a secular new year that will lead us out of the pandemic by next summer (or so says my BFF, Dr. Fauci).

About the Author
Jamie is the CEO of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York – a catalyst for gender justice and social innovation. She previously worked to create inclusive Jewish communities throughout North America as Director of Strategic Initiatives for Big Tent Judaism. Jamie also served as the Director of Strategic Planning, Communications and Training at Hadassah, where she mentored and trained professionals and created and implemented a multi-year fundraising plan. Jamie has had a lifelong commitment to supporting women and girls through relationship building and leadership development.
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