The anniversary of 9/11 (how can it be 14 years ago?!) always puts me in a reflective state of mind. I think about where I was when the news came in about the attacks. I remember the constant, wall-to-wall news broadcasts that made the unimaginable real. And each year I’m stunned at just how much the world (and how we interact with it) has changed since that fateful day. How we see our country. What we envision the future to look like. What really matters most in life. And somehow, wrapped up in it all, I think about the things in my life I am most grateful for.

Early Morning Quiet
In the years since the attacks I have learned to change my daily routine. I attribute it to God’s kindness and a little book written by Andy Traub called The Early to Rise Experience. I used to be a night owl, staying up to all hours of the night. I would tell myself (and others) that my most creative hours were between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. But those hours would mostly be wasted on mindless TV and snacking. As you would expect, I would pay the price for being up too late the next day. As a result of reading that book I began to set my alarm a little earlier and pry my eyes open with the sun. I now rise regularly at 4 a.m. My day begins with quiet. I have gentle music playing in the background as I wake up with fresh brewed coffee, reading and a time of prayer and journaling. The early morning quiet feeds my soul and equips me to contribute creatively at a higher level throughout the day. (And I’m usually in bed by 9 p.m. these days!)

Old Love
The singer/song writer Mary Chapin Carpenter has a song called Old Love.

I want old love, the kind that takes years
To turn to gold, love, burnished and seared
On the high wire, by rain, wind and sun
With the hard times forgiven and done

I am blessed to have been married to my best friend and soulmate for nearly 35 years. That precious relationship has truly “turned to gold” and has sustained me through all of life’s ups and downs and even “the hard times forgiven and done.”

Burnout Is In My Past
On that Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, my wife had to wake me up to see the news. I had been in bed for over week battling a severe bout of burnout/clinical depression. When I saw what was happening in New York that morning, I was sure the world was coming to an end. Looking back on it with 14 years of perspective I am almost overwhelmed with gratitude that those dark days of burnout are behind me. This morning I woke up at 4 a.m. to my early morning quiet—grateful for another day.

What Are You Grateful For?
On this day of remembering it can be hard to see the good in life. But the darkest of days will often bear the fruit of joy and gratitude. What 3 things are you grateful for today? Leave a comment and let me know.

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