Every November I head to that other university down the road — you know, the one we keep dominating in football — to get a yearly checkup on my heart. My heart bleeds green and white, but I do trust the maize and blue to make sure it’s beating properly. (Did I mention my awesome nurse happens to be a Spartan?)
Each year I get a little nervous about what I might hear and most years everything is just fine. Yesterday, not so much. Apparently, I’m a unicorn among unicorns when it comes to irregular heart rhythms. But the good news is my ICD offers the ultimate protection, so I’ve got that going for me.
While I’m still processing some of the options I have, I’ll admit to feeling disappointed, sad and a little bit angry. When I’m doing everything right, it doesn’t seem fair that my heart has decided not to.
This has probably been the best week possible to process this. It’s that time of year when many of us celebrate Thanksgiving. I’m doing my best to remember to give thanks for what I have instead of being angry for what I don’t.
In that spirit, I’m grateful for the technology and medical know-how that keeps me safe. Had I lived in a different time, not even that long ago, I wouldn’t even have options. I’m thankful for incredible nurses and doctors who collaborate and strategize to find the right path for me. I give thanks for family and friends who offer supportive ears and let me cry. Mostly, I’m grateful to be alive.
I’m also pretty darn grateful to be a Spartan. Being one isn’t about winning or losing on a field but being part of something bigger that makes the world a better place. It’s about using unique partnerships to engineer healthier futures by solving the problem of chemotherapy drug resistance. It’s about using innovative ways to unravel climate change mysteries and building opportunities for research and teaching on campus. It’s about changing lives and making a difference.
It’s about showing grace toward others and offering empathy. Prabu David, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, says, “In the workplace, empathy, time and generosity of spirit are some of the best gifts of gratitude.” I’m thankful for those colleagues who live by this idea. Read his Faculty voice: Reflections on gratitude to learn more about how we can support others.
Another way to support Spartans is by using the upcoming Giving Tuesday to help fund research, teaching and student programs through a gift. The best way to give thanks for what you have is to help others and support the next generation of Spartans.
Roxy Mashkawiziikwe Sprowl, a sophomore majoring in social work with a minor in Indigenous studies, is just one example of how exemplary that generation is. She’s a member of the Social Science Scholars Program, a Bridge Scholar and highly involved in the North American Indigenous Student Organization. Read her Student view: Reclaiming to learn about her journey to regain her identity.
Whatever you’re facing, find a way to make room for gratefulness in your life. Don’t just wait for one day of the year; practice it every day. Author Elie Wiesel said, “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” Show your humanity, Spartans. Give thanks. Spartans Will.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner