Thanksgiving is a day where many of us pause and reflect on the things we are most thankful for.  Ordinarily, I would tell you that I thankful for my wife Nicole and all she does for me. I would tell you that I am thankful for the health of my children, the wonderful example my parents set for me, and the lovely home I am fortunate to live in.

It strikes me that many of us give thanks for those things that provide us with comfort (love, support, shelter, money, safety, etc.) but what about those things in our lives that don’t offer immediate ease yet also deserve our thanks? This Thanksgiving I’ve decided to offer thanks for 10 things in my life that I did not necessarily consider blessings the moment they presented themselves to me but were blessings nonetheless:

  1. I am thankful for the sleepless nights I spent when our triplets came home from the hospital. While I was, and this is putting it mildly, extremely grumpy at the time, 11 years later I now know that all those sleepless nights doing multiple feedings and changing diapers has brought me closer to my children.
  2. I am thankful for clients who push me well outside my comfort zone. While this causes anxiety, these clients help me grow as a consultant.
  3. I am also thankful for clients who ask for multiple rewrites of a report and/or multiple edits of a video. While in the moment they make me want to pull my hair out, by not settling for “good enough,” these clients help me accelerate my skills.
  4. I am thankful for those teachers who gave me a failing grade on a test or assignment. While I was always nervous to face my parents with a poor grade, their resulting disappointment was the negative reinforcement I needed to work extra hard to improve academically.
  5. I am thankful for the enormous hangover I had after going to a concert a few years ago.  While I could barely move the next day due to a massive headache and a queasy stomach, I was reminded to enjoy alcohol in moderation.
  6. I am thankful for the first car accident I had, November 1 1991. It was exactly one month to the day I got my license. It reminded me to always keep my eyes on the road (and never to sing along with Night Ranger).
  7. I am thankful for the first girl who ever broke my heart. Knowing that I am not Mr. Perfect was a very important lesson to learn when I was 16.
  8. I am thankful for all the times my father yelled at me when I was a child because when he lost his temper he always followed it up with an apology.  Unfortunately I have inherited his temper but because of his example I am always quick to apologize.
  9. I am thankful for the time I struck out with bases loaded during my freshman year in High School.  We were down by 2 and I totally blew it.  I’ll be honest, this memory still sucks – but it encouraged me to pursue activities outside of sports. My sophomore year, instead of baseball, I did the Spring Musical (South Pacific). I was hooked on theatre after that and my experience on stage and back stage shaped who I am today.
  10. Finally, I am thankful for the anxiety I feel when my guitar teacher, “Master” Ken Volpe, has me improvise blues solos over his simple chord progressions.  I feel a bit like a boxer attempting to get up after being knocked down during a match but even though I find this challenging, I keep on trying and every week I get a little better (although Ken may beg to differ).

What are some of the unconventional things you are thankful for this year?