Yes, I am a race coach. And a health coach. I have learned through experience that building a foundation of self awareness and love fully benefits the racing experience. It benefits life. And that’s really what this is all about. So, stick with me for a couple holiday themed weeks on love and gratitude. Start to build your foundation for the next season of racing and beyond. I also hope it will bring peace and joy to your holidays.

A few days ago my husband Jamie and I were up early drinking coffee. He was checking ESPN while I scrolled Instagram. I leaned over and showed him an ad for an adorable pair of silk pajamas. 

He reacted with, “What are you showing me?” 

I replied, “I thought these silk pajamas might be a Christmas gift idea.” 

Less than a minute later a look at silk pajamas reminder came through on the family calendar. 

Somehow he consistently forgets that I get all of his calendar reminders sent straight to my phone, but we laughed about it and moved on—after I reminded him that he didn’t get off that easy. I have communicated (clearly) to him in the past that it is important to me that he puts a little thought into a gift for me. He isn’t a mind reader and it isn’t a test so I offer suggestions. He appreciates it and I will appreciate his effort. 

My husband is a gift.

I heard this memorable message years ago on Christian radio on a dark, very early morning drive to open the gym I owned at the time. We were in the throws of parenting and business owning. We were both indulging in our personal stress default behaviors— he withdrawing and me randomly exploding in emotion. As everything did at the time, he felt more like a burden than a gift. 

Still, somehow this message spoke to me. I decided to try to believe it. We sought out marriage counseling where we learned how to communicate better and fight more fair. We learned acceptance and sacrifice. We saw more clearly that we still really like(d) each other and our values were still aligned. We are not and never will be perfect. We learned how to love each other anyway. 

Most of those days (and even years later) I would open my eyes each morning to a hope of a nap later that day. I would let my mind and heart fill with anxiety while deciding how it was too early and the day was going to be so hard. I loved my job and my family, but I couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling of exhaustion. I read another message that stuck. 

Opening my eyes each day is a gift.

I searched for ways to change my thinking. I learned to focus on gratitude and practiced by telling myself  “I am very thankful to be alive today” immediately each morning. I began consistent journaling, prayer and meditation. I learned to lean on gratitude, forgiveness, and humility over cynicism and pride. I am and will never be perfect, but I am thankful for the chance to be alive.

If you are a loyal reader you know that I have three teenagers, with only 2.5 years from the birth of my oldest to youngest. Parenting them daily can feel like an uphill grind. Somedays I am on my road bike with many gears to choose from and it feels a little easier. Other days, I feel more like I am on a kids’ big wheel and the pedals keep slipping every time I push a little harder to go nowhere. 

My children are a gift.

Raising my kids to be the people they are is my most fulfilling accomplishment in my life. I love parenting with intentionality, although I have and will continue to make many mistakes. I get caught up in fearful pride. I struggle with control and needing validation. They screw up too. But, I love them anyway. I accept them. I am excited for the people they are and also who they will be. 

I see so many gifts each day. 

My physical body and health are gifts.  

Laughter is a gift. Sadness is a gift. 

My family is a gift. My friends are gifts.

My faith is a gift. Creation is a gift. Humanity is a gift. 

I am a gift to the world, I believe from an amazing God.

YOU are a gift to the world. 

Many of your gifts will most likely look different than mine. They are there. And none of them are perfect.

Love yourself and treat others with compassion, understanding, acceptance, and boundaries. Circumstances might not be ideal right now. Don’t let this be your reason for building walls in your mind that block the goodness of humanity. Be vulnerable anyway. Love deeply. Slow down. Be kind. Smile, even in a mask. Forgive. Practice patience. Practice it all. 

Consider that each person is a gift to someone and to this world. They are just as special and loved as you and I. 

Give yourself. Give your heart. Give your time. Give your money. Give intentionally, thoughtfully and lovingly.

See your gifts. Then give because the world needs us all.