Prompt:  What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

A nautical buoy is a float that marks a path, cautions against danger and provides a place to anchor when the shore’s too far away. It’s a life saver.  Of the thousands of new sights, skills, friends and insights I appreciated this year, I must single out the spiritual buoys in my life for my gratitude and appreciation.

Parenting buoys taught and reminded me that children want to succeed, want to grow, want to love and to be loved — the key is to be patient with the timing and not allow your feelings to be hurt while you’re waiting.

I once heard a story about a man who had the good fortune of watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis, wet and unable to fly. He wanted to help it along, so he blew on it to dissipate the gooey moisture. In doing so he broke one of its wings, which ultimately meant he killed the little creature.  People are like that too — there is a time and season for everything in one’s life and we dishonor and perhaps even maim or kill  the ones we love when we think we know best what the timing and outcomes of their lives should be.

Two years ago I dis-enrolled my then-16-year-old son from his high school.  Yes, it was unconventional. Yes, it was scary. I had doomsdayers and naysayers on one side and buoys on the other.  Tristan graduated from adult high school this year and finished his first semester in community college.  He took an alternative route, one that was tougher in some respects, but ultimately right for him.  Thanks, buoys, for supporting me and, through me, Tristan. Through him, your legacy of support lives on. I’m sure he’ll pay it forward.

Motorcycling buoys arrived in my life in many variations. There were those who warned me off my ambitious odyssey but who stuck with me when my mind was made up by offering tips, resources and moral support. There were those who encouraged me and didn’t speak about the risks. Then there were those who took a chance on me — with financial support, training and introductions. You each buoyed me in critical ways.  Thanks to you (and Spirit) I crossed 20 states unscathed.

Creativity buoys weren’t Pollyannas — they were people who believed I was on the right career path FOR ME.  They helped me develop my craft. They sent me clients and brought me new ideas. They had just the right words of encouragement for the moments of doubt. They referred me to workshops and introduced me to new technologies.  Writing is an occupation pursued in solitude, yet I’m an extrovert; thanks to you I’m never alone.

The second part of the prompt asks how I’ll express my gratitude. Aside from the mention here and mentions to the individuals in each category, the best expression of gratitude is to multiply the effect your support has played in my life by being a buoy to others.