Most important things first! We WON! I want to thank everyone who voted for The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line as the recipient of the People’s Choice Award in nonfiction at the Library of Virginia’s 25th annual Literary Awards celebration. I couldn’t have been more surprised. While still in shock at hearing my name, I managed, with shaky knees, to pull myself up those stairs to the Library’s magnificent landing above the gala crowd and accept the award on behalf of those Girls.

It really is all about them, those women of the greatest generation. They served, sacrificed, and for too many years went unheralded, and without the thanks and honor they were due. I have been humbled by the opportunity to bring their stories forward and share them with this generation and the next.

The award for the Library of Virginia's 25th annual Library of Virginia literary awards.

Gratitude. There is much to be grateful for every day. I’ve been reading about the importance of starting each morning with gratitude—reflection, prayer, and awareness of how, by acknowledging it, we grant goodness great power in our lives.

My friend Mary Pat grabs her coffee and then closes her eyes, and listens to the daybreak until she can identify at least five separate sounds around her— sometimes birdsong, squirrels crunching leaves, a windchime swaying in the breeze, the dog scratching at the door, even the neighbor whistling as he walks down the street. The simple sounds of a day beginning anew.

A dog looking up at a christmas tree.

In her book, Brighter by the Day, Robin Roberts reveals she starts her day with meditation, mindfulness, and an expression of gratitude. There is always something to be thankful for, even in the midst of illness, personal troubles, grief, or loss. Life continued to present us all with challenges, difficulties, and problems. But there is also joy in our gifts.

This year, I’m grateful to everyone who has shared in the stories of The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line. It has been an honor to walk beside these women, talk about their challenges, fears, and experiences, and listen to their voices, inviting me to feel the daily rhythm of their life and times.    

They have also given me greater insight into the challenges we face today. Many of our challenges aren’t unique, and the threats aren’t new, either. But we do go on. Sometimes wiser and sometimes not.

This is the season for gratitude. For gratitude and forgiveness. For joy and hope. Wishing the very best of all those most important gifts to everyone. Thank you for coming along on this journey with me.

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