A strong feeling of gratitude washed over me as I was talking with a friend recently about how much it seems parents today do so much for their kids. Yes, my parents helped me out when they could but when I was going through college and after, I was very much on my own financially and emotionally. I worked all through college at various jobs…on-campus snack shops, a clothing store during spring break, a bagel shop across the street from campus, and at a comedy club off campus. I didn’t have a car but I always managed to get where I needed to go…whether by riding my bike, catching the bus, or bumming a ride. When I worked at Charlie Good Night’s Comedy Club in Raleigh, NC, I would ride my bike to class, go to the gym and swim laps, change for work, then I’d ride my bike to the comedy club. I have stuck with the story that I did everything on my own.

Someone was always there to help

As I was sharing with my friend about how I did everything myself and how I found a way to get where I needed to be and do what needed to be done to get to class, get to my job(s) and pay for the basic necessities of a college student, it hit me that I didn’t always go it alone. Although I had to wait anywhere from an hour to three hours to get a ride home from the comedy club, someone was always willing to drive my bike and me back to my apartment.

One story that always fills up my heart with love, appreciation, and gratitude is how my roommate, Susan Hager (now Susan Kinzie) insisted on driving me to my job at Bruegger’s Bagel Bakery at 5:30 in the morning on school day mornings. Susan didn’t have a class until much later. (Yes, you read that right…a college student got up at 5:30 in the morning when she didn’t have to). At first I resisted accepting her offer of the ride. But, she insisted. “I will drive you. You shouldn’t be riding your bike so early in the morning by yourself and when it is so dark. It isn’t safe. Come on. Let’s get your bike into the Bronco [Ford Bronco.]”

Making someone else’s life easier…even if it’s not convenient

Susan not only had the biggest car in our apartment complex, but she also had the biggest heart. When someone needed help, friendship, or a listening ear, Susan was there. Because I was far from my parents and siblings, I learned to be independent and to develop a strong sense of self-reliance. Asking for help and accepting offers of help felt awkward to me. Writing this and thinking of how my roommate and friend helped me through tough times and tough mornings has filled my eyes with tears of gratitude. Even decades later, I remember the feeling of gratitude as we would load my bike into her Bronco on those dark mornings then head to the bagel shop. I recall smiling and laughing all the way to my job.Because Susan had such a generous heart, giving to others wasn’t a chore to her. It was a joy. You could see it on her face and in her smile….even at 5:30 in the morning.

Who has made your life even just a little bit easier?

Think of who has made your life easier, lighter, and more joyful. Think of those who may have given you a leg up, made a safe path for you, or given you a ride to your next step. If you can, I suggest you reach out to them and let them know how much you appreciate what they have done for you. If you are not able to reach them whether because they have passed or you can’t find them, you can send them a thought of thankfulness. Simply close your eyes and imagine that person is in front of you. Imagine sharing your feelings of gratitude with them.

You’ll be grateful you did.

About the author: —Julie Ostrow is the First-Ever American Laughing Champion and Humor, Laughter, and Improv Coach. She coaches groups and corporations how to use humor, laughter, and improv techniques to improve communication, connection, and creativity. www.GoFindTheFunny.com


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