I think a perfect way to start my 30-day blogging challenge is to express my gratitude to those who have been such an important part of my life.
The easiest way for me to do this will be in chronological order, so here goes!
Thank you to my parents for their unconditional love and support and instilling in me the importance of family, kindness, education, and hard work.
Thank you to my two older sisters who not only helped make my childhood such an enjoyable experience, but have been there for all the key moments of my life.
Thank you to all my relatives (grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews) for giving me a strong sense of family and connection.
Thank you to all my classmates and teachers from St. Augustine elementary school; you provided me with my first taste of friendship, my first awkward attempts at romance, and provided a great foundation for what would become a lifelong love of learning.
Thank you to my neighbors on Ivy Lane where I grew up. You provided me with a sense of community and I fondly remember the games of kickball, jacks, knuckles, wiffle ball, football and many others too numerous to mention. Such games helped teach me how to handle winning and losing.
Thank you to all my classmates and teachers from Archbishop John Carroll High School. I was a poster child for “those awkward teenage years”, but you helped me to survive and offered some great role models for being a teacher.
Thank you to all those people I met at East Stroudsburg University. In many ways, a complete 180 from my high school experience. From my roommates and dormmates, to my fellow swimmers, to the friends I made, to the woman who would become my wife, to the teachers who inspired me, you made this time a great four years. You gave me the chance to explore a variety of interests and begin pursuing those that caught my passion.
Thank you to all my swim coaches (Todd, Mack, Bill, Chris, Frank, and Paul) and my fellow swimmers. This sport has been such an important part of my life and I consider many among you as my best friends.
Thank you to all the people I met while getting my MBA at Carnegie-Mellon University. You helped me to see the power of knowledge and ambition.
Thank you to my wife Mary, who gave me one of the happiest days of my life when she said “yes”, and has been my best friend for the past 36 years and given me a lifetime of happy days. You have also been my role model for what it takes to be a great teacher and have helped me to become the best person I can be.
Thank you my wife’s family. Mary’s Mom and her sister made me feel like part of their family from day one, and it has been great to continue to feel like a part of her sister’s family.
Thank you to my co-workers at Prudential Insurance Company for offering my first full-time, professional job. I learned how business worked (or so I thought!), and what it took to succeed in such an environment.
Thank you to our first son, James. The day you were born will be something I will never forget, and you helped teach me how to be a Dad. It has been a joy watching you pursue your passion for writing and proving that it is possible to successfully meet challenges head-on.
Thank you to our “Lamaze” friends. You were the first friends we made as “grown-ups” 32 years ago and it is a testament to the power of that friendship that we continue to see each other today.
Thank you to my classmates and teachers at Drexel University. You provided the academic support network necessary to complete my degree and help me land the job I have been at for the past 28 years.
Thank you to our second son, Joey. It has been a joy watching you pursue the variety of passions you have had over the years – BMX, construction, music, filming. You are a true Renaissance Man, and you have inspired me to find and pursue my passions. Thank you also for the opportunity to coach you in baseball and basketball.
Thank you to my colleagues and students at Villanova University. You have provided an environment that has enabled me to become the best teacher I can be. It has been a pleasure watching my students grow from being unsure 18-22 year-olds to successful business people, spouses, and parents.
Thank you to my son Patrick for being such a positive, happy, kind, and funny young man who has been one of my true inspirations in life. It has been amazing to watch you accomplish things we were never quite sure about, from riding a bike to doing double-black diamonds. Spending time with you is one of my favorite things to do.
Thank you to my neighbors in Conestoga Village. The block parties, progressive dinners, Santa on a fire engine, impromptu street gatherings, and kids everywhere have made it the ideal place to raise our family. I appreciate the many friendships I have made along the way, and the support you have provided over the years.
Thank you to my classmates and teachers at Montgomery County Community College You enabled me to rekindle my passion for learning and the science of fitness. I was exposed to some of the best teachers I have ever had, which enabled me to become a better teacher.
Thank you to those I have met through Fitness Together. This was my first experience running a business, and while I made a lot of mistakes and lost money along the way, it was still one of the best learning experiences I have had.
Thank you to all the creative people and their works of art, which have brought joy, insight, and inspiration to my life:
from music: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, John Denver, Jimmy Buffett, the Eagles, Tim Moore, Cat Stevens;
from the movies: anything by Woody Allen, the people behind Chariots of Fire, Begin Again, Napoleon Dynamite, and Family Man;
from books: Herman Wouk, Harper Lee, Seth Godin, Miguel de Cervantes, Alexandre Dumas, Michael Lewis, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Steven Covey, Steve Pavlina, Malcolm Gladwell;
from technology: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk.
Thank you to all those who have helped me in my vegan journey: my son Joey and his girlfriend Megan, Arnold Kauffman, John Robbins, the Esselstyn family, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Neil Barnard, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Rich Roll, Colin Campbell, Brendan Brazier, Robert Cheeke, Scott Jurek, Matt Frazier, Kathy Freston, Ellen Degeneres, Jeff Novick, Char Nolan, Brian Wendel, Tim van Orden.
The above list is not even one-percent of the people who are owed my thanks. I could go on and on: school bus drivers, school cafeteria workers, police and fire fighters, our elected officials, health-care workers, my children’s teachers, the newpaper guy, the mailman, the trash collectors, librarians, restaurant personnel, etc.
But I hope my message is clear: I am grateful for all the help, support, and love I have received over the years, and that the best way to thank everyone is to offer my help, support, and love to others who need it.