Tag Archives: gratitude

Thankful for Randomness

In 1988 I went to Atlanta with a co-worker named Mark to party with some of his friends; one of them was an auto mechanic and part-time race car driver. I thought the mechanic/driver was cute, so of course I feigned an interest in cars to make conversation. By the end of the night, mechanic/driver and I had arranged for me to bring my car from Athens to Atlanta for a major service, and in return I would treat him to dinner. His name was Charlie, and we dated on-and-off for a couple years. It ended amicably, and we’re even Facebook friends today.


At Road Atlanta, 1989

The reason I mention this story is not because Charlie (the guy) was significant in my life, but because Charlie’s passion (the cars) stuck with me. Our random meeting led to my life taking a distinctly different turn. Had I not gone to Atlanta that night, I would have never been exposed to the automotive world. Though we had long since broken up, Charlie was somewhere in the back of my psyche when I told my sister in 1997, “I want to move to Augusta; watch the classifieds for me.” I told her I would sell either cosmetics (which I had done before) or cars. She kept an eye out for sales openings and in no time, I was driving to Augusta for interviews.

If you know anything about the car business, you know that there is always a dealership looking for sales professionals; it has got to be the highest turnover of any industry. In a matter of weeks, I was making plans to move to Augusta. Because of this fortuitous turn of events, my life evolved into a new career, and ultimately I would meet the most significant person in my life-Kevin. In addition to being the most amazing service manager this town has ever seen, he is the most amazing human being I have ever met.  Without the interest in cars I adopted from Charlie, I would never have met Kevin, and my life would have traveled down an entirely divergent path.


Ang with love of her life

Kevin has made so much possible in my life, and followers of my blog have heard many of those stories. One which I’ve not yet mentioned is the thoughtful surprise he arranged for me: to be a driver of a racecar at the Richard Petty experience. In terms of adrenaline, it only matches jumping out of a plane for powerful life memories. That’s an experience I wouldn’t have had without Kevin.


I’m sure the career path from cosmetics to cars is an unusual one, but I’ve loved both industries equally. I’ve been able to drive the latest cars, learn the newest technology and meet the coolest people. In my early days at Saturn, I was introduced to Dave Rosenblum, who coordinated an inner-city youth racing program in which at-risk teens worked as part of a pit crew. We brought Dave and his car to Augusta, and he spoke at Evans High School about the importance of staying clean and working hard.


Inner city youth race car, circa 1998

Meeting people like Dave and driving Richard Petty-level race cars are life moments I will always cherish, and there was a certain randomness that brought them to me. Having sensed this randomness at a young age, I’ve long been intrigued by small decisions that have metamorphic results. I often ask couples how they initially met, are there is always a similarly arbitrary set of events that led to their life-changing connection. It makes me aware and appreciative of the power of taking risks, as well as the power of making ostensibly innocent decisions.

Whether or not indiscriminate circumstances are the result of divine intervention, destiny, karma, or natural chaos is not the purpose of this blog. Regardless of the source of the coincidences which bring people together, there is an inherently magical or miraculous feeling which can inspire tremendous gratitude. While I subscribe to the theory that I must take ownership of the events in my life, I also acknowledge that I have been tremendously lucky or blessed, depending on your POV. Ever-grateful, I can say a prayer for the immense blessings of my life, but I think it is also nice to be somewhat indebted to Mark and Charlie, good guys that fortunately crossed my path at the right time, and opened up a world I never would have known otherwise.

7 Ponderings from My New Friend 47

There is an expression I like- I believe it is British- to describe when something (or someone) is stealthily hanging around: “skulking about”.  Well, the number 47 is skulking about my life, waiting to pounce on me as my birthday approaches. With full awareness of that skulking, I decided to share a few ruminations from an almost-47-year-old person.

1.  It turns out that junk food really is junk. I no longer experience pleasure in any of it, including Ding Dongs, french fries or candy. It all tastes like chemical-infused crap. I could have never imagined a time in my life when I would have no interest in anything the local Zippee Mart has to offer. I’m not saying I don’t still eat junk food. I am saying I do not enjoy it. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Food Network, or one’s palate really does change over the years, because I used to be a huge fan.

2. I appreciate honesty so much more now. I used to be the Grand Queen of sparing someone’s feelings, sugarcoating the truth, or avoiding the hard conversations. Now I realize it is not that difficult to just say what’s on your mind and move on. Things are not the big deal we make them out to be. The tendency of youth to attach emotion to everything seems like a waste of energy to me now.

3. Listening is beautiful. Slowing down, being in the moment, looking someone in the eyes and really hearing what they are saying is awesome. Even if the subject is mundane, it is such a lovely feeling to be present and just appreciate that person for who they are.  Really look at them. Hear the voice fully. It could be someone you know well, or someone you don’t know at all. Often they will say something sweet or delightful or funny, something that you would have missed if you were too busy thinking of your to-do list.

4. Sleeping in is over for me. One of my employees texted me to announce that she had slept until 11am. My reply was only one character: ! I cannot even imagine it. It’s not that I don’t want the rest; I am simply unable to pursue it. On Sundays-my one day off-I tell myself I am going to sleep in, and I’m lucky if I can slumber past 7am. It may be that I have too much I want to accomplish, or perhaps my body thinks eating breakfast is more important than dreaming. Regardless, if you see me sleeping at 11:00am, I promise you I am either gravely ill, or taking a nap after a busy morning.

5. Learning is as much fun as being entertained. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a great cat video on YouTube or a good escapist novel once in a while, but overall, I like to get something out of what I read and watch. Much to the dismay of my book club, I usually insist on reading non-fiction, preferably something enlightening. With Charity for All is the best last book I read, followed by  Emperor of all Maladies: a Biography of Cancer.

6.  Another formidable life lesson for me has been to grasp The Power of Habit . (Another great book.) Conquering the big goals is simply a matter of creating a habit of activities in small units. Weight loss, fitness, education, new hobbies, closer friendships,  enhanced skills, new attitudes-all blossom under the care of the person who is willing to invest just a few minutes each day or each week.

7. Finally, my 47-year old self admits that the best habit I can nurture is that of gratitude. The amount of blessings that have been jammed into the past 2,444 weeks of my life are ridiculous. I am wealthy beyond measure in the treasures of friends, family, memories, experiences and perspectives. I have no doubt that if I focus on nothing else for the rest of my life, just being appreciative for those blessings, and expressing that appreciation to my loved ones, will carry me graciously through the next 47 years. It would never again even occur to me that the next birthday is skulking around a corner; rather, I would visualize the next number as a welcome new friend, to whom I look forward to becoming acquainted.