My 2013 Trip Around the Sun

Andrea Chilcote, birthday, trip around the sunHave you completed your “trip around the sun” lately? Join Andrea, as she reflects on her 2013 birthday:

This Tuesday, I received the following birthday greeting from my friend Carol, an avid Jimmy Buffet fan:

“My favorite story teller and philosopher Jimmy Buffett calls birthdays “trips around the sun,” and during each year’s trip you accumulate souvenirs along the way. Souvenirs are those precious memorable moments that you want to keep with you. So my friend, what souvenirs have you collected?”

Well, that message stopped me in my tracks in the early morning. The day had begun with sweet cards and gifts, followed by a hike with friends at 6am. By 7, when Carol’s Facebook message arrived, it was already an ordinary day filled with work commitments and travel.

Surely there were countless memorable moments-but my cluttered mind couldn’t recall them. I managed to retrieve one that Carol and I shared last summer in Omaha, a dinner with another friend. It made the list because I remembered feeling so connected to, supported and accepted by those two women that evening.

I realized recalling these “souvenirs” would occupy many spare moments the rest of the week. I made it a point to refrain from prioritizing or qualifying them, and that was quite freeing. Thank you, Carol.

Here’s an excerpt from my souvenir journal:

  • Finding a giant heart rock in the middle of the trail on a crisp snowy morning hike with Kairos in Sedona on Christmas Day…
  • Hearing the news that Susan’s dog Bennie had turned the corner and would make it against all odds…
  • Spending a glorious morning with Sara and the dogs on idyllic “Cow Beach”…
  • Spotting a stunning rainbow in the Rocky Mountains, the likes of which I had never seen…
  • Having a 24-hour date with my husband, Arthur in San Diego – just the two of us…

There are more. And yes, there were even “bigger” blessings than some of these. But I noticed some common characteristics in my list. They each involved people or canines I care about, and most involved the grand outdoors.

You don’t have to wait for your birthday to have a look at your souvenirs. Take them out and admire them. The memories-sights, sounds, smells and feelings-can rejuvenate you on a busy day.


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a blogger. Enjoy it!

(Another) Gratitude Prayer

by Andrea Chilcote

The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. This summer, followers of this blog will enjoy bi-weekly archived posts that have appeared on The Spirited Woman but never before on this site. 

Many times I have written of my gratitude for a blessed life. Tonight, as I am full (and very tired) from a week of good work, good friends and good fortune, it’s all I have left to share.

At the risk of being repetitive, I wish to offer my prayers of gratitude to you today as catalysts for your own. It doesn’t matter if this has been a tough week or an easy one, a full and rich expression of life or a rather dilute or convoluted one. It’s my belief we all have something to be grateful for, and in expressing that feeling we draw more of it in.

Here is my list. Add to it as you wish, or create three new items as I did.

  1. I am grateful for the open minds and hearts my clients brought to our work this week. In what way (large or small) did your work open a small window for someone?
  2. I appreciate the small kindnesses I was shown in the midst of a busy schedule. What small kindness were you offered (or did you have the honor of contributing)?
  3. Tonight I am warmed with gratitude for the kind people who help me rescue another death row husky. And I’m even thankful in advance for all the help I’ll get with her. Is there something you did this week that felt exhausting but necessary? Look for the gifts that were given to you along the way.

I will sleep more soundly tonight having acknowledged this small yet important grace. If you are feeling anxiety, stress or even simple weariness, try gratitude as an elixir. It just might give you the boost you need.

Today I Am Thankful – Thanksgiving 2012

Join Andrea as she reflects back on Thanksgiving 2012. What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Andrea Chilcoteby Andrea Chilcote

I will officially begin celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday on Saturday when five friends arrive from Atlanta. As I prepare to enjoy time with them, I have begun to consider all of the things I am thankful for. And of all the wonderful blessings I have in my life, today I am most thankful for this one simple fact: I control my destiny.

I have been working, of late, to maintain a positive and hopeful state of mind. When small but annoying setbacks happen in my life and work, I have sought to not sweat the small stuff, and when faced with negativity seemingly all around, I have practiced management of my own energy. I’ve even succeeded in maintaining a degree of perspective in the backdrop of natural disasters and political strife.

While controlling one’s attitude is the ultimate source of control, it certainly helps to live in the land of the free.

Parrot's PerchLast weekend I met Karen Keilt, author of The Parrot’s Perch. Her book is based on her own true story, and I was stunned by the account Karen gave of her experience as a young adult in Brazil. A privileged woman living a fairy tale life, she was falsely arrested, imprisoned, raped and tortured by extortionists. Most astonishing is that the laws in that country still protect those torturers from prosecution, and the egregious offenses are ongoing.

Today I am thankful that I am a citizen of a country where success results from a marriage of effort and creativity, and flagrant violations of reasonable laws are enforced. Most of us can rest at night with a general feeling of safety and wake up each morning with an opportunity to make this day better than the one before. This foundation of freedom is, well, quite literally … freeing, in my opinion.

I am not Pollyannaish and I vow to never lose compassion for those who struggle. I am committed to remaining responsible for my thoughts, feelings and actions regardless of what’s occurring around me.

Just for a moment, step outside your present circumstances, whatever they may be, and answer this question. What are you most thankful for? What conditions or situations afford you the opportunity to choose the life you wish to live? What present factors serve as the foundation for your courageous actions as well as attitudes? Remind yourself of these in this upcoming week of Thanksgiving.


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!