4000 miles and an increased "Attitude of Gratitude"

I very recently requested a meeting with my Director based on restructuring that had occurred in my line of business. He is known for his analogies – some make sense and others I struggle to make the connection. In this conversation he talked about how you can choose your attitude when you start your day and in how you approach things. You can choose to see the frays on someone’s cuffs or you can choose to look past it and at the positive qualities in that same individual (he was using this as an analogy for situations at work).  Our discussion reminded me very much of Tony’s “Attitude of Gratitude” approach. I had 4000 miles of sitting on the back of a motorcycle mostly alone to my own thoughts and musical score so plenty of time to contemplate and practice gratitude and seeing the positive.
 219 Highway North, West Virgina
Gratitude. In our first world problems of want more and need more, I am increasingly finding the simple act of being grateful and seeing the positive in situations as the solution. I know I’m guilty at times of not living in the solution. The last two weeks on the bike forced me to practice the looking at the positive and being grateful for the simple things. Some mornings, after a short sleep after a long day sitting on the back of the bike with my back still aching from the previous day’s ride, I would have to give myself a little pep talk telling myself about the wonderful things I would see and experience that day.

It really does work as a practice. Mother Nature threw almost every negative form of weather at us over both the trip down and back. Yesterday’s weather really topped all of it though. During the high winds, sleet, hail, snow and rain that accompanied us from Pennsylvania to Toronto, I would focus on the fact that I was with a strong rider who has the patience and strength to get us through the current weather cell in the safest way possible. That helped pass the most unpleasant seven hours I can recall in recent history. Pulling up  home in Toronto to unload was an unbelievable relief. Gratitude.

Every day at that point when my body started fatiguing and my inside voice started complaining I would remind myself that I’m grateful for the winding, rural routes chosen for their picturesque landscape and quaint small towns. Taking the fastest route possible would not have brought me to Grafton, West Virginia where I learned that Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day;  Athens,  Georgia, one of the prettiest towns I’ve seen with its rows of red brick fraternity and sorority houses; Indiana, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of Jimmy Stewart as well as being the world’s Christmas Tree Capital; Asheville, North Carolina, the “Key West of the mountains”. Gratitude.

 Asheville, North Carolina
Rolling our way through these small towns and looking them up later also gave me much needed perspective. Living and working in downtown Toronto (working in Yorkville no less) makes me forget how most of North America lives. It was humbling to discover that the median household income in most of these towns is less than half of my own. Gratitude.

And finally, as we sadly made our way out of Key West on Wednesday morning, I reflected on the people I had just met and hold such a great place in Tony’s heart. Who provided Tony with the same friendship, support and open homes when he was travelling three years ago and who happily welcome him back to their world every year. Who opened their homes to us to stay and welcomed me with hugs and friendship, making me feel like a part of a family I didn’t know I had. As I was hugging everyone and saying my thank yous and goodbyes I was really thanking them for so much more than I could possibly explain. Gratitude.

Last breakfast in Key West

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