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With Gratitude This Thanksgiving

When my first son left home for college – I struggled. As in weeping when seeing a big blue bow on a mailbox. I knew I should be grateful that he was where he wanted to be, happy and thriving…but I could only focus on what I was missing – my son.

On a whim, I joined a yoga class. Every class ends with the instructor reminding us to be grateful – for those around us, the air we breathe, for schedules that allow us to attend class, and for bodies that allow us to practice. At first, these were just words – new-age mumbo jumbo that delayed me getting out of a hot room and back to my phone to check emails, texts, and social media.

Then a funny thing happened – those simple words began to take root, to provide a small measure of comfort and hope. I found myself being more mindful and grateful for my friends, my family, my health – and for my son who is having the time of his life even if it is not with me. It was a reminder that being grateful is good for our physical and mental health. Research has proven it time and time again – but it is easy to lose sight of in the day-to-day hustle of work, parenting, and 24-7 news and information. My yoga practice and the mindfulness and peace it brings continue to progress and I am grateful beyond words for the practice and the different teachers that have brought unexpected insights and motivation along the way.

This Thanksgiving, as we give thanks for our many blessings – I am also grateful to work with a dedicated group of professionals who take the work they do for their clients very seriously – but never forget to have fun and take care of each other. A place where you might see a senior partner riding a kid’s bike down the hallway after a toy drive, or the CEO dressed as a Christmas elf for a company holiday lunch, or where staff dress up like their advisors for Halloween.

DeLynn Zell and DeLynn Zell, Wayne Harris and L’il Wayne

We asked others at Bridgeworth to share their thoughts on gratitude: how they teach and practice gratitude with their families, or what they are grateful for this season. We hope these stories spark an idea for you and your family or help you be more mindful of your blessings.

We are immensely grateful to each of you who place your trust in us, and we wish you a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving.

Jonathan Millican, Financial Advisor and Director of Planning

Like many, I have been guilty of stating how thankful I am for my health, while simultaneously knowing I was taking my good health for granted. With the exception of a bout with the flu or occasional stomach virus, I’ve been blessed to be healthy my entire life. Then in early September, at the Bridgeworth firm retreat, I ruptured my left Achilles tendon. Doctors told me I’m at the prime age to suffer this injury. I’m a relatively active person so it makes sense I fell victim to a sports-related injury…I was playing ping-pong.

If you’ve been down the Achilles rupture path you know the fun (translation: absolutely no fun) it entails. Surgery, followed by 30 days of being non-weight bearing on my casted leg, maneuvering around a home that is the least handicap accessible structure on earth, and now I am in the midst of physical therapy with weeks ahead of me before returning to 100%. So while I may not be back to my pre-injury self, this Thanksgiving I’m thankful to simply be on two feet (literally), thankful for a talented surgeon that repaired my tendon (he also did Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s infamous “tightrope” procedure; remember, I had a sports injury!), and for a loving and patient wife that cared for me while also picking up my slack around our house while I recovered.

Erin Letts, Special Projects

Gratitude and recognition for the small things in life are consistently reminded to me through my children.  When we say our prayers before dinner, my son likes to be grateful for his family (lists all of his family and cousins), his dinosaurs, his blanket, being able to use the potty, the grass, rocks… the list goes on. This season I am grateful for many things, large and small. A new job surrounded by people who care, a healthy and loving family, and a three-year-old perspective.

Embree Deason, Director of Operations

Because life (especially with kids) goes by so fast, sometimes we forget to treasure those little (and big) moments. My family starts with an empty jar on Jan. 1st.  Throughout the year, we write memories on index cards (some can be funny, some can be sad….) Just snippets of our lives along the way.  By the end of the year, our jar is full!  And our family tradition on New Year’s Day is to sit around the table and take turns pulling out a card and reading them.  This is such a nice way for our family to reflect on the past year.  So many things to be grateful for and be reminded of.

Laura Rhoades, Financial Advisor

I had a client share with me recently that he viewed his money as a means, not an end, and he was grateful to live with that vision.  He felt blessed to use what he had saved to accomplish his goals and pursue specific actions.  It was a wonderful reminder that living life with a purpose can provide great contentment.

Patti Black, Partner

I’m the annoying wife and Mom who makes her husband and teen-agers share their gratitude moments for the day when we are eating supper. Depending on the day, someone may only be able to express thankfulness for homemade ranch dressing or for oxygen, but I’ll take it! One of my gratitude moments is family suppers. They don’t happen as often as they used to with busy high school juniors, but I’m thankful for each time the four of us gather around the kitchen table. I know this season of life is coming to an end and I want to pause and enjoy it.

Stephen Gunter, Associate Advisor

I had a client tell me that the thing he was most grateful that we were so helpful and insistent that he and his wife address their long-term care plan. His wife ended up being diagnosed with early-onset dementia at 61 years old and he said that knowing that they had a plan for how to pay for these expenses made a difficult time immeasurably easier and less stressful on him.

Like many, I could probably do a better job of practicing gratitude with my family. My wife is a teacher with a classroom of 2 ½-year-olds, half of whom have some sort of disability, so between her job, taking care of our daughter, and putting up with me – I do make an intentional effort to let her know how grateful I am for her. But perhaps I’m most grateful for all of the blessings I can see in my life that are 0% a result of any action on my part: my dad’s cancer being in remission, my little brother crushing it in his career, my wife’s heart for others, and the fact that my 2-year-old daughter may already be smarter than me.

Monica Stoudemire, Chief Compliance Officer

I am grateful for my grandchildren, especially Gianna who came home today after being in the NICU since August 2. He will remain snuggled in my arms for the next few days.

Happy Thanksgiving!