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A Half-Century of Gratitude

I received my AARP letter in the mail just days after my 50th. How do they know? It's remarkable, isn't it? I'm thrilled to have made it this far and am reminded of so many friends and family members who weren't able to reach this milestone.

The adage that "gratitude changes all things" certainly rings true for me. I'm so thankful for my parents, my dear husband, and my wonderful kids. Good health is such a blessing that I don't take lightly after surviving a global pandemic.

To mark my 50th, I reached another bucket list milestone -my first TEX talk. Thanks to the wonderful folks at TEDXBoston, including John Werner and Nora LaTorre, I spoke about "Think Like An Awesome Ancestor: A Daily Practice to Ease Eco-Anxiety." I also interviewed my dear friend and Eco-Hero Laura Turner Seydel on climate action. She spoke about soil health, regenerative agriculture, and Gen Z's passion for climate advocacy.

I loved hearing the other talks and connecting climate leaders from around the globe, including Kelsey Wirth of Mothers Out Front, Jon Foley of Project Drawdown, and Leah Penniman of SoulFireFarm. Be on the look out for the talk by cartographer Molly Burhans on her work with the Catholic Church. This talk will inspire you! Check out her profile in the New Yorker for a glimpse of what's to come.

Key themes emerging for the conference were the following:

  1. We can do this. We CAN create a greener, healthier, more equitable future.

  2. We have made enormous progress.

  3. Climate justice must be central to all our work.

Photo credit: John Werner Photography & Katherine Taylor Photography @TedXBoston November 2022

Since the conference was in Boston, I spent time with my brother, his lovely wife and niece and was surrounded by friends to celebrate the big day. My best friend from law school Mindy Simon cheered me on and presented me with "50 Green Things" to celebrate. My friend Emily Fowler, Chief of Start Up of OneGreenThing, and collaborator with Heather White Strategies, LLC gave me a cherished gift, a sweatshirt with the simple expression "breathtaking gratitude." Once my talk goes live, you'll understand why. If you've read my book, you'll remember.

Photo credit: Katherine Taylor Photography @tedxboston November 2022

Boston is one of my favorite cities and I'm blessed to also have my aunt there and dear friends from college I haven't seen in years. Surrounding myself with all this good energy made the big day such fun!

Photo Credit: Katherine Taylor Photography via @TedXBoston November 2022.

And now, some wisdom to share.

Five quick takeaways from my 50 years:

1. In the end it's friends, family, and the good things you do that matter.

My grandpa used to say this all the time. (Yes, the grandpa that I write about in the book.) It's a powerful statement to gain perspective and channel your inner Elsa and "let it go." Life is short. Make time for friends and family. Be intentional about creating memories. Look at old home movies and at photos. Tell stories of resilience. Laugh as much as possible. And that job you put so much of yourself into, it's NOT who you are. It's just a job. Your real life is with your family and friends.

2. Movement is medicine.

Seriously. Move. Exercise is a privilege. Being able to move our bodies in whatever way we can is a way to express ourselves, care for ourselves, and experience this stunning planet.

When you get really stressed out, it's time for a dance party. Blare Prince at high volume and get down!

3. Finding the right partner makes a big difference in your happiness. It's worth the wait.

Don't get me wrong. There are scarier things than being alone. Getting in touch with you is essential because you're the only person you'll wake up with for your whole life. Choosing the right partner, though, means a lot. If you're lucky enough to find that love, don't throw it away. Cherish it. As my mom told us at our wedding, "tie a knot and hang on."

4. When they go low, you go high.

God bless Michelle Obama for this wisdom. Other people's opinions of you are none of your business. Usually, too, it's not personal, even if it feels like it is. Take epic chances. Know that unexpected plot twists are preparing you for something else -- even if it's a greater understanding of who you are and what matters to you.

5. Nature heals.

When you're struggling and we all do, get outside. Connect with nature. Spending time in the great outdoors will underscore that we're not just a cosmic accident. There is so much more.

I'll of course be celebrating my half century the whole year. Stay tuned for more. In the interim, embrace "breathtaking gratitude" and revel in every moment.


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