It feels as if 2017 was just beginning and I was saying, “I can’t believe it’s 2017!” Now the year is rapidly coming to a close and I find myself saying, “I can’t believe it’s almost December!” For my family and me, this year has been a whirlwind filled with many positives and a handful of challenges. However, with the holidays upon us, I must give thanks for the many positives that bless my life. I’m grateful that these far outnumber the challenges, even though I often find myself expending more energy and emotion on the latter. I am trying to practice gratitude, not just during this Thanksgiving season, but as a regular practice in my life.
There will always be ongoing health issues, too many to-do’s and not enough time, tuition bills and unexpected expenses, family disagreements, loss of loved ones, or missed opportunities. But there will also always be the option to spread laughter or positivity, express a genuine heartfelt thank you or a kind word, the chance to say yes to a trip to spend quality time with family, taking the opportunity to bask in the sunlight despite the cold temperatures, taking just a second longer in a good-bye hug instead of rushing out the door because one of us is running late, appreciating the laughter of my daughter ringing loudly through the house wishing I could bottle it up as college is knocking on our doorstep, and the choice to acknowledge the many positives that truly do surround me every day. Those are all choices and I hope I learn to make them more often.
One absolute positive blessing in my life is that every day I get to go to a job that I truly love. I don’t say that in a cheesy, unappreciative way; I truly mean it. I get to go to work every day and work to better the lives of those impacted by mental illness, as well as their families. I was reminded in a horrifying way this year that my family is one of those, and through these experiences I was reminded of why I truly do the work that I do. I get to find new ways to reach others with a message of hope and healing, while building on existing practices to best serve the mental health of our community. I get to work to spread a message of saving lives and helping others in a collaborative way. Because the saying is true, it takes a village – to save lives, to better lives, and to improve the health of others. I am so grateful for the tremendous partners and collaborations we have here at The Kim Foundation, and I know that we couldn’t do our work without each and every one of our partners. I’m grateful to the strong team that surrounds me each and every day as we carry out our mission and for the welcoming environment our corporate partners at C&A Industries provide us.
Recently I read this piece by Melody Beattie to our Metro Area Suicide Prevention Coalition to express my gratitude for the work they’re doing:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
It makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
So I encourage each of you to join me in choosing gratitude, and in turn, it may lead to order over chaos and clarity over confusion, as well as peace for today and a clear vision for tomorrow.
Julia Hebenstreit, Executive Director of The Kim Foundation
Julia Hebenstreit is the Executive Director of The Kim Foundation. She received her J.D. from Creighton University in 2005, and her BS in Journalism from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2002. She has been with The Kim Foundation since 2011, and prior to that worked for local non-profits doing development, strategic planning, communications and advancement. She has a passion for helping people and improving lives, and serves on the Executive Committee for Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations, as the 2015 Hill Day State Captain for the state of Nebraska, and as an active member of the Nebraska Suicide Prevention Coalition, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, BHECN Advisory Committee, RESPECT Advisory Board, Connections Advisory Board and the Project Propel Planning Group.