In 1989 I had the opportunity to visit many of the Eastern Block countries for a month. We went through Checkpoint Charlie – the crossing point between East and West Berlin. I was amazed at the stark difference in everything. The trip went through East Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Ukraine (USSR at the time), and Austria. People shared that there were 10-year waiting lists to get a car (and it was used), food wasn’t always readily available, military/police/cameras were everywhere, and people didn’t have much (housing, clothing, opportunities). A trip to Cuba (legally) in 2013 had many similarities. One of the interesting points made was that the ability to speak freely was only a few years old (and people questioned how much they could discuss openly). I didn’t appreciate what we have in the United States until I saw what others didn’t. I’m lucky and thankful to be living here.
In 2014, I was on an amazing trip to Turkey. Part way through, I got sick. After thinking I had food poisoning, it was soon clear that was not the case. Something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. At that point, we were on a boat off the coast near small towns. Even though I didn’t feel well, I sucked it up and kept going. Three weeks later after the trip ended and many tests to figure out what was wrong, I was told my appendix had burst and would be in the hospital for a few days. Friends stepped up to pick up my dog from the groomer, take care of her, get my underwear from home, etc. I’m thankful for good friends and for being alive.
Gratitude in all aspects of life is important. What are you thankful for? Have you made a practice of thinking about what you are thankful for everyday and sharing it with others?