by Angela Noel
November 24, 2016
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”- John F. Kennedy
It’s harder than you would think to talk about yourself for an hour or two. We’ve all been on job interviews, but being asked to tell your personal story, to expose the core of who you are and what you care most about is quite different. The nine individuals in 2016 who’ve embodied the spirit of the You are Awesome blog, inspiring creativity, passion, and adventure in real life, have shown tremendous courage in allowing me to profile them.
They’ve been open and vulnerable, trusting and honest. They aren’t celebrities, but they deserve to be celebrated. Their stories, and other posts over these seven months, have been viewed almost 7,000 times. Friends, family, and strangers feel the magic of their contributions because these nine dared greatly in sharing their lives.
I’m grateful for many things this Thanksgiving. But this post is dedicated to the people who entrusted me with their lives in this very unique way.
On May 31, 2016 I published my very first blog post featuring singer-songwriter Matthew. Matt was just beginning to discover how to sing words to strangers that he didn’t quite know how to say otherwise. He took a leap of faith with his music and with me, sharing his story and trusting that I’d see and honor the best within him.
Julia was next. She too, sparkly-bright human that she is, agreed to share her journey: her dad’s quirky humor, her families’ experiences, her own vulnerabilities. While I dove into discomfort in my own life, Julia helped me see my way to “yes” when new adventures knocked on my door. She felt the weirdness of being celebrated for the best in herself, when she knew she had flaws and foibles too.
These stories aren’t about perfection, they’re about celebrating the best in ourselves so we can give more of it, more of the time.
No one felt this more keenly than Doug. Unwilling to see himself as extraordinary in any way, Doug submitted to my questions (and my admiration) with characteristic humility. Through him, not of him, good things happen. Celebrating family, faith, community, and love, Doug missed no opportunity to highlight the gifts and contributions of all who’ve helped him along the way.
Mel, used to following an expected path stepped out on her own. She found a passion and chased it, matching her actions to her intentions. The threat of being laid off meant updating her own definitions of what she wanted, clarifying her senses and her intuition to what mattered most. Today, she’s embarked on a new adventure with Marcus Buckingham (of Strengthsfinder fame-a dream job).
Angela grew up in middle-class Colombia observing the people around her. Maybe she didn’t always fit in, but she understood why. She sought a life undefined by race or language, beauty or power. Angela seeks to contribute to something bigger than herself, and in doing so brings out the strengths in others.
My next profile was Joe. Career goals matter to him, but family and success–defined by creating an environment for mutual benefit, rather than ascending a ladder–matter more. His generosity of heart and spirit, sense of fun and playfulness permeate his relationships at work and at home. His gentle reminders, seldom in words, but always in his actions, resonate with his former teammates months after his daily presence among us ceased.
Every one of my profile subjects has a shining goodness about them, and Jenelle is no exception. Practicing goodness with deliberate precision in words and actions takes care and thoughtfulness–two attributes Jenelle has in abundance. Anyone who can show extraordinary kindness to a squirrel, while fighting off a cold, serves to show us all what it means to engage with the world, rather than simply exist upon it.
While perhaps not the most interesting man in the world, Dipanjan is pretty close. Undaunted by opposition, this innovation maven sees no obstacle creative tinkering can’t solve. Entrepreneurs seem, at times, like long-suffering souls who finally break through. But Dipanjan offers a different view. An entrepreneur can be anyone willing to see a problem and find a creative way to solve it. Unwilling to sacrifice a well-lived life for a single objective, Dipanjan sees possibilities percolating all around.
For Jayme, my delightful travelling companion, friend, and IronMan finisher, no mountain is too high, no challenge too hard, no beer-filled shoe too. . . well, beer-filled, to ignore. Her indomitable spirit inspires me to ask more of myself while celebrating every accomplishment, big and small, with an “I love life!” on my lips.
I’m grateful for these extraordinary everyday heroes, who bring out the best in me and in those whose lives they touch.
One of those lives, I hope, is yours.
Susie Lindau, an awesome blogger, adventurer, and writer, invited readers of her blog to participate in a project to celebrate why we feel blessed. This post is my contribution. Make a list of your own, and, if you’re a blogger, participate in the #blessed project.
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