Growing in 2009: Gratitude

12/07/2009 04:53 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

"Do you think you become more grateful with age?" This was a question I asked a mentor and colleague of mine, Catherine Frinier, one day recently as we were looking back on one of the most beautiful celebrations I have ever been a part of; a party she hosted for her husband, furniture designer, Richard Frinier, celebrating a lifetime achievement award he had just received for his work that also showcased a retrospective of his designs. The event was filled with his colleagues, clients, friends, and family on one special evening in November this year. I was moved by the love in the room and it reinforced the important things in life as I retraced 2009 in my life both professionally and personally. What was my life lesson of the year? It was indeed gratitude.

About nine years ago I was watching Oprah and she had an entire episode on being grateful. It made me realize that I should be more grateful for everything I have. I was in my early 20s. On her suggestion, I began to keep a "gratitude" journal most everyday, five things that I was grateful for. The first week or so it was hard but soon got very easy and often times I could write 20 or 30 things I was grateful for. I believed this exercise was to help evolve my spirit and highlight all the riches I had in my life. I kept it up for years until my baby brother committed suicide a little over five years ago and I stopped. I stopped writing in my gratitude journal.

Fast forward to this year, 2009 had so many highs and lows for us as a country and me as an individual. I am grateful. I watched Americans work the hardest ever and gain a new President. I watched people lose their homes. I watched loved ones get laid off and never find work. I watched businesses go on roller coaster rides including mine. I watched businesses close and people disappear. I watched people get sick and pass away. I watched with wide eyes all of the horrors of 2009 and grasped even tighter to what truly matters.

I do not think I am alone this year in feeling like the struggles and challenges of 2009 taught me gratitude. I think I finally and completely understand what it means to be wholeheartedly grateful for what I have in health, love, family and friendship. These are my riches and without these I have nothing. I am thankful for everything I have and live life for quality day by day. 2010 holds great things for us all and I am looking forward to sharing them. I also bought a new journal today and will once again begin a gratitude journal. Thank you 2009.