Monday, November 21, 2011

What Are You Thankful For?

Posted on Monday, November 21, 2011 by International Coach Federation

The below post is by Ernest Mark, a 2011 ICF Annual International Conference speaker. Watch for posts from other 2011 conference speakers on the ICF blog over the next several months.

I love Thanksgiving Weekend. I love the spaciousness and the time to share and enjoy good food, to be with loved ones, to relax with leftovers, to unwind and be thankful. In the regular bustle of life, I often feel I’m just rushing through my days, i.e. getting the kids to school, rushing to work, bouncing between meetings and then rushing to pick up the kids and getting through the night routine. Phew, it’s exhausting thinking about it… and there is so little time to smell the roses.

This week I get to experience both the bustle of the preparation and the space to smell the roses, or in this case, the food, wine and good company. I love cooking and typically throw myself into Thanksgiving preparations, it’s my vehicle for expressing love for my family and friends. Our dinner is a potluck, so it’s a collective sharing of food, love and mutual appreciation for each other. When the meal begins, there’s usually a quiet moment as everyone settles into exploring the landscape of their plates. Then the conversation comes back and time seems to slow down to match our need to take it down a notch and enjoy each other. And in the spaciousness of this holiday, there is gratitude.

In the spirit of the holiday, I’ve been thinking about gratitude and spaciousness this week and noticing the possibilities of experiencing it. When I pause, I notice the bustle slows down, my breath gets a little deeper and my heart softens. I feel the possibility opens up for me to be more present, patient and loving with my family and others around me. And in the pause, I am taking a moment to be kind to myself which creates the possibility to be truly open and gracious with others.

As we wind up 2011 and head into the holiday season, what are you thankful for? What do you notice when you take a moment to pause and feel gratitude? Who would you like to share that with?

Ernest Mark is a coach and consultant working in the non-profit social justice sector. He works with a broad cross section of leaders and organizations across the sector and brings an approach that is fiercely culturally relevant and community led. Ernest lives in Oakland, California with his wife, Mimi, and daughters, Olive and Juniper. Ernest can be reached via email at


  1. I could not have put it better myself. Thanksgiving, even stressful, should be a time to catch your breathe.

  2. I'm always thankful for when my long-time friends reach out to say hi and share what they're up to. Seems like such a simple thing, but surprisingly rare and hard to do.

  3. Enjoy this weekend! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Well said! Spaciousness and gratitude are like two peas in a pod. Your post helped me remember all I am thankful for.

  5. Love the spirit of this reminder. Love the thoughtful replies. I have never consciously connected spaciousness and gratitude in the way this has opened me up to. Thank you all!


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