Sunday, May 3, 2015

No Thanks, But Thanks

I'm a big believer in gratitude. I think it matters when people say "thank you" at the end of a long day of work. I like receiving a thank-you card, even if it contains just a sentence or two of writing. I believe that whatever I have, even when it doesn't quite measure up to what I thought I'd have, is a lot.

I'm finding, however, that freelancing, and more important, intermittent work, can do a number on the gratitude meter. On the one hand, you see, a freelancer must always be grateful--grateful for a day of work, grateful for a paycheck that comes quickly, grateful for a higher-than-expected rate. On the other hand, however, the freelancer is faced constantly with images of what others might have--steady work with steady pay, ready answers about work hours and money for afterschool treats, decisions about long-term expenses. So, while the freelancer may be grateful for every minute of work, he or she also struggles to remain grateful in the face of the unknown, and to explain gratitude to the people sharing the journey. And sometimes, explaining is hard.

When I was first out of work after my time at ABC ended, I remember explaining cutting back. I remember making choices about how to spend and how to think. I remember trying to get my kids to understand that things were changing, at least for the moment. What I have discovered over the last few years is that the "moment" passed, and things are still changing. Can we still be grateful? Yes. We have ridden the ups and downs and haven't gone under yet. Is it still worth saying "thank you"? Yes, and maybe even more so, as sometimes, "thank you" is the only thing that stays the same. Do I wish that things were different? Sometimes. But then I think of the things I'm grateful to have learned, and the people I'm grateful to have met. And I realize that if I have to learn (and teach) some new ways to say "thank you," maybe that's just part of the job.

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