As I sit on a plane from Phoenix to Newark, NJ, I cannot help but think about the journey my life has taken over the past 53 years. Here I am sitting next to my 22-year-old son, Justin, as we fly out to get him situated in his new apartment in Jersey City. First of all, I cannot believe that I have a 22-year-old son, but, more importantly, I cannot believe that this man who is sitting next to me is about to launch himself out into the world. I vividly remember sneaking into his room at night after he fell asleep and putting my hand on his head giving a silent prayer to God to watch over him in his sleep. I don’t think that I could have ever pictured what it would be like to have him all grown up and ready to live his own life without me and his mother. This is what we, as parents, prepare our kids to do, but I’m not sure that we are as ready for it when it does happen as they are. All I can say is that I hope we prepared him well enough to handle both the highs and lows that a life well-lived can throw at him!
That brings me to the word gratitude. I have often thought that I have much to be grateful for in my life. But I have also thought that life can be so difficult at times—more difficult than I really think it should be or has a right to be—so how does one really go about being grateful? Do you simply say, “Thank you!” to the world for life not being more difficult. Or do you really stop and express your thanks in a way that truly reflects your gratefulness for just being alive? How many times to we say to ourselves, “I have to do this,” instead of saying, “I get to do this!” Is reframing your perspective all it takes to be grateful?
As all of you know, I hosted a Gratitude Party on February 24, 2022, at 32 Shea. This was the fourth time that I have hosted an event like this and it was the fourth time that I did it at 32 Shea. What struck me most about this time around was the community that I saw around me. I was surrounded by friends, family, clients, and strategic partners that had taken time out of their own busy schedules to come celebrate with me and allow me to express my gratitude for the help and support that each and every person that was at that event gave to me over the past year. I was so happy to talk, laugh, drink, eat, and be merry with everyone there! But what warmed my heart the most was to watch people who did not know one another talk and interact with one another, as if they had known one another for years. It was almost as if each person had decided that if you were invited to this party, then you must be okay to get to know. In addition, there were several people who already knew each other outside of any affiliation that I had with them, and it was really fun to watch them catch up with one another and rekindle those relationships independently of anything that had to do with me.
The staff at 32 Shea treated us like we were royalty. If you have not yet had the opportunity to experience the unique vibe at 32 Shea, I would highly recommend that you check them out. (Or you can always wait until the next time I host an event there!) Either way, 32 Shea has my loyalty and appreciation for the superb job that they did in making me and my guests feel welcome and important. Lastly, I was really thankful for the real unsung (pun intended!) hero of the night—James Le Grand—who sang his heart out in the background and provided a wonderful backdrop to the evening. He even loaned me his microphone, so I could say a few words of thanks to everyone who attended.
To me, this is what defines a community: People who have shared experiences or shared acquaintances that come together to celebrate a common cause, group, or individual. If that is true, then I was surrounded by my community that night and I could not have been prouder to be a member of that group!