As I sit on the balcony of our room in historic Shepherdstown, WV, the sun slowly rising over the landscape, the Potomac lazily winding the bend, I take pause and breathe in gratitude. The birds are singing a soliloquy and the air on my skin is tepid.
A fisherman is anchored in his canoe in the distance. What a lovely morning it is.
I have grown accustomed to traveling on my birthday. For many years it was to the beautiful beaches of Ogunquit, ME. This year we will check out South Carolina, but not until next week, so we decided to go away for the night. I wanted some place close, but still feel like it's an escape. We landed at The Bavarian Inn. Wonderful service, accommodations, infinity pool, and delectable dining. It may have been one of my best birthdays.
As I gazed over the crest of the infinity pool (that looks like is flows into the Potomac!) I met a woman and started chatting. I had observed her earlier, lent a pair of swimming goggles to her young daughter. She was gorgeous, early to mid 30's. Tall, blonde, perfect figure. I don't know what story I made up about her, but I guessed she was a single mom. Indeed she was, and also an attorney – partner in a good sized law firm in a coastal town in California. We started talking about the sacrifices we make when we are the financial support system. She shared with me that she is the youngest by far and only woman partner in her firm. The next oldest is 22 years her senior. She is routinely sexually harassed. She manages to brush it off and focus on the work, but it's a distraction, degrading, stressful, and she makes only a portion of her male counterparts. There is no one to report it to, and she knows her position would be at risk if she did anything about it. It's like a prison in many ways – few choices – stuck. She is planning her escape by venturing out on her own. Another talented woman leaving the mainstream. She wants to provide a good life for her daughter and use her God-given talent to serve her clients well.
It hit me that we still have a long way to go. I want better for my daughter. I hope for a workforce where there is zero tolerance for harassment. Where being grabbed is wrong, and being professional prevails. She said that Patricia Arquette's Oscar speech about pay equality has triggered legislation to make pay disparity illegal.
So it takes me back to gratitude. I thank God everyday for The Ermi Group. I get to help my clients everyday. It's my mininstry. I love my job and I am paid fairly for it. I can't recall the last time I was harassed. Although I had my fair share in the past.
I saw something recently that those who live with a spirit of gratitude live longer. And certainly happier.