It’s easy to find gratitude with family like my team and colleague Luis.

Every morning I start the day by reviewing right out loud the litany of my gratitude. My AM review begins with “I’m grateful for Mom and Dad and Jay (my brother) and the whole family; grateful for growing up here and having a great childhood. I’m grateful for my education, being a dentist and doing something I love and working with people I love…” I finish about a minute later with “…and for my having had the chance to help out Mom.” So if you see me heading east down Huntington in full conversation with myself, it might be the gratitude thing or it might just be Von Bulow being Von Bulow.

By the time I get to the office back door and read “You’re on stage” and “Be in the bubble”, you’d think I’d have at least a shot at being powerful, positive, and fearless for a few hours. And my being “powerful, positive, and fearless” is the affirmation I share most frequently when it’s my turn at the end of each morning huddle.

But last week, I was lucky we didn’t hire security for the back door. My resting pulse was its usual low-50s, I was pain free, and excited about our practice expansion. But I was a long, long way from being positive, powerful, and fearless. In fact, I was border-line feeling sorry for myself.

In the span of one week, we went from three great hygienists to one moved away, one on vacation, and one injured indefinitely. The contractor’s and equipment supplier’s cost numbers for the new space were escalating by the hour and the timeline was lengthening, seemingly, by the day. Patients who had had end-of-the-year appointments scheduled months ago were not happy having those hygiene appointments cancelled at the last minute. It just seemed like we were constantly scrambling, even though we proudly display service awards on the wall. I once had the tag “Smilin’ Jack.” Oh, if they could only see me now.

Over the weekend, it was inspiring seeing how much effort Team members Dani, Denise, and Dalila put into our food drive that raised some 700-pounds of food for families in need; you could practically see the dynamic threesome glowing.

When we re-grouped on Monday, I guess I felt it was my mission to share the misery of attending USC vs UCLA; even to extent that I was talkin’ mess to the freakin’ cotton candy guy. What? Me entitled? But somewhere in the dark inner recesses of my very large melon I could hear my mom’s words, “Your worst day around here is something most people around the rest of the world can’t even dream about.”

Yesterday we had our quarterly meeting. We always begin by individually sharing what happened that was great during the last 90-days. On my turn, I shared about a colleague who was a friend and an inspiration. Luis practices amazing dentistry Puerto Rico. And Luis had been without power or water at home since the hurricane hit and had only recently resumed his dental practice amid thousands of people who’d lost everything. Luis, who calls me Jacky, actually sent regrets for missing a course I’d helped organize in Pasadena. On our Invisalign chat, Luis has never stopped being a ray of positive, powerful, and fearless sunshine.

Our quarterly meetings always conclude with “I appreciate”; everyone participates. This time, the always eloquent Team Leader Dani took my spot and the floor before I could even utter a word; she appreciated Luis. Dani has a beautiful heart; in her spare time, she and a select group of friends and family created a program that helps feed the homeless in LA. Luis’ character had reminded Dani of an experience she shared with some tears…about being in line behind a man with no hands and with the stumps covered with tape appreciating the fast food he ordered with a smile…and a proverb about a man who “cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man with no feet.”

Don’t know about you guys, but today on Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for family like Dani and Luis; they remind us that appreciation and gratitude lift us up and the opportunity to be positive, powerful, and fearless is there if you’re looking for it.

Happy Thanksgiving