This past Sunday I was having a hard day. I wasn’t feeling particularly grateful for anything. Sure, I knew I was grateful for my family, the Turning Point community and my work, and my health, but it all felt general and inaccessible. I was grouchy and stuck, and to compound things I felt guilty that I couldn’t generate any gratitude when I have so much to be thankful for. It was a painful moment.
I like to greet everyone each morning. It makes me feel connected to our community and to the work that I do each day with so many talented, committed educators. I am always grateful at carpool. I wished I could just drive to Turning Point School and open car doors. But it was Sunday, so everyone was home or out and about, enjoying themselves and, no doubt, feeling grateful.
So I followed Plan B and got outdoors. I went for a steep, rigorous hike to get myself out of my head and to see the expanse of mountains and ocean. I saw downtown LA, and a tiny Santa Monica Pier, and the Malibu coast. When I looked right, there were the Santa Monica Mountains, and to the left, so much deep blue ocean, as far as my eyes could see.
Suddenly, space opened in my heart, and the gratitude rushed in. I was grateful to be in good enough shape to tackle this challenging hike; I was grateful for being part of this awe-inspiring landscape with its panoramic beauty; I was grateful for a water bottle that kept my water icy cold on a hot afternoon; and I was grateful for my family’s gift: rare time spent alone, my thoughts my own, uninterrupted.
I thought of how proud I would feel at the S.A.V.E.S. assembly, as we took in all the food we collected to share with those who have less, and I felt grateful to all of you who embrace this annual opportunity to deepen the ways we open our hearts to the common good. And I was grateful to channel what the Dalai Lama calls the “right attitude.”
In fact, the Dalai Lama says that “when we develop a right attitude of compassion and gratitude, we take a giant step towards solving our personal and international problems.” How profound to establish gratitude as a strategy for personal and global conflict resolution. We can all participate by orienting ourselves toward gratitude. I hope that you will take the time to notice the details of what you appreciate, so that you can give of yourselves with a big heart. Because what do we do when we feel grateful? We think about others. We share.
There are many of us who have shared their time, talents, and energy to ensure the success of our annual S.A.V.E.S. Food Drive. Thank you to our Parent Association Community Service Committee Chair Caro Pasvolsky and Co-Chairs Deb Magidson, Gretchen McAdams, and Orit Michel. Thank you to the parent volunteers who drove the food to St. Augustine Church. Thank you to the Community Service Learning Coordinators, Ms. Tessa Short, Ms. Tram Habib, and Mr. Matt Kline. Thank you to our new neighbors and partners in our food drive, Access Apartments and the Co+opportunity Market and Deli. And of course, thank you to our students for embracing this initiative—particularly our eighth grade students who spent hours helping to sort the donated food into meals for families’ Thanksgiving celebrations.
This morning gave me even more reason to nurture an attitude of compassion and gratitude, as we hosted approximately 250 grandparents and special friends for a morning spent sharing great food and conversation, celebrating our students’ many talents, and engaging in thoughtful classroom activities. At Turning Point, we partner strongly and positively with our families, and grandparents are an integral part of this wonderful equation. I was thrilled to have an opportunity to learn more about so many of our guests—who are so special to the students we serve.
I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that every one of our incredible staff and teachers lent a caring hand in helping to make today such a lovely and thoughtful time for our students and their guests. I also want to thank grandparents Dr. Bill Ouchi, who spoke during the program this morning, and Joel Schneider for taking on a new leadership role as Grandparent Committee Co-Chairs. If you know of a grandparent who was not able to make it today but would be interested in sitting on this committee, please get in touch with Ilise Friedman in our Development office.
I hope that you and your family have much to celebrate and be thankful for as we move into the holiday season. As I experienced last weekend, you may very well find yourself wrestling to recognize feelings of thankfulness—which is certainly to be expected in the midst of filling wish lists, planning get-togethers, and managing calendars. When you do, I invite you to think of our school, and all the ways we orient our students and ourselves towards gratitude—not just today, and not just this week or season, but throughout the year and in so many ways. Thank you for being part of it.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,
Dr. Laura Konigsberg
Head of School