Celebration and gratitude

Celebration and Gratitude

Today, I invite you to celebrate with me! I am declaring two victories and that is celebration and gratitude!

The first one is: I received my blue belt in Tang Soo Do, the martial art I have been training in for 6 1/2 years. I’m now an official “Black Belt candidate.” When I started training, the Black belt seemed so unachievable to me. But I kept going. I looked back periodically and saw I had learned things that were impossible for me before. That gave me encouragement to keep going.

Even more important was the support and flat-out love I got from my Tang Soo Do friends! Thank you! Countless times you have patted me on the shoulder and said “You can do this!. Or you gave me a hug. And you had your moments where I could encourage you. The camaraderie and friendship are unbelievable.

The second reason to celebrate today is: For 60 days in a row, I have been writing and publishing these Brilliance Nuggets. That is on sixth of the journey I committed to: writing one Brilliance Nugget per day for a whole year. It fills me with confidence that I can do this. I am so grateful to you for reading these Nuggets, commenting on them, and sharing them with your friends and colleagues. Thank You!

Remember, I compared this journey to hiking the Appalachian Trail (2200 miles) in one year? Since, in our visualization, we hiked 6 miles per day, it has now added up to 360 miles. We started at Springer Mountain in Georgia, and we are now at Iron Mountain Gap in Tennessee. As with Tang So Doo, you can look at how far you still have got to go; or you can look back and see how far you’ve already come!

Again, I could not have done neither of these two things without YOU. Thank you!

How Often Do We Stop To Celebrate? – A Quick Story

As I write this one more question pops up in my brain: How often do we stop to celebrate our achievements? Or do we say “Cool!” and move on immediately to the next goal?

A story comes to mind. May 1994, Knoxville, Tennessee. I had spent almost 5 years as a Graduate student in the chemistry department. I had passed the classes I needed and the prelim exams many students dreaded. I had worked on my research – many times conducting experiments deep into the night.

Then it came to writing my dissertation. It was the first book I had ever written. Writing it in English, my second language was an extra challenge. After dragging my feet for a while, the deadline (set by my own ambition) pushed me into hyperdrive.
For three months, I did almost nothing but write and rewrite, make drawings, and do whatever was needed to finish the work. Toward the end, I barely ate, and I slept for 20 minutes when I couldn’t go on anymore. I don’t recommend this method, by the way. Then finally my defense date came. I passed!

A friend brought champagne. We had the first sips sitting in the back of her Jeep Cherokee. Then we went to another friend’s house and partied. At some point, after all that work and excitement, I fell asleep at my own celebration.

Then there was the official Graduation ceremony. I had rented a cap and gown. Other than that, I was pretty unprepared. What pants do I wear? Well, I guess whichever pair is clean. We went, my Ph.D. advisor and my fellow lab mates. My parents were in Germany. The graduation ceremony was on a big stage. We were to get up on stage, get recognized, and then walk off the stage, and walk through the MIDDLE of the audience. For some reason, the first Ph.D. didn’t walk through the middle but left the stage to the side. Like lemmings, we all followed that person’s example. So funny!

Later, my advisor later me, “Why didn’t you walk through the middle like they told you guys??” I had no good answer.

It Can Be Hard to Accept Recognition and Take It In

It can be hard to accept recognition and to take it in. Hey, I did this and it is a noteworthy achievement. It is easy to brush it to the side and focus on the next thing. Of course, I would pass. You just put in the effort and get it done – no big deal. Right?!?

Immediately after graduating, I started my next gig: Working as a postdoctoral fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. You might have seen my Brilliance Nugget about the question of whether we should let our credentials speak for ourselves. It is in part a question about whether others will think we are “full of ourselves” when we let them see credentials that show some of our achievements.

Today, let’s celebrate. Celebrate with me. And please, accept my gratitude for you!

I’m Curious

What do you have to celebrate? I want to know, please. I want to celebrate with you!


  1. Our business requires us to be available to our clients much of the time.
    This has made vacations difficult. We need to be available even when we are on vacation.
    Recently, we structured our activities around monthly sprints.
    Now, most of our work begins around the 3rd day of the month and ends by the 27th.
    This allows us to take vacations that begin at the end of the month and last 6-7 days.
    We just returned from a 7-day vacation to Oaxaca – we relaxed and our customers were happy too.

    • Stephie Althouse on at

      That is so fantastic!!!

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