At Propllr, gratitude is one of our core principles, so we figured now is the perfect time to take a break from our usual blogging about startup marketing and spend some time wallowing in what we’re all grateful for.
Without further ado, here are some things each member on the team is grateful for this year – in their own words.
I'm wildly grateful for the Silpat baking mat my sister gave me. It's a small thing, but it helps me save on parchment paper and (hopefully) helps the environment.
I'm also grateful for the reliable kindness of Pete the crossing guard, who makes running on dark winter mornings much brighter.
Let’s hear it for taco ubiquity. I am grateful to be surrounded by great tacos at home and at work. At work, I'm a few minutes from Asadito, a great new entrant to the taco scene. And in Naperville, I live about 5 minutes from Tapatio ("los taps" to the kids), Burrito Parilla and Quiobo.
I'm also grateful for patience, and particularly the patience of the Propllr team as I continue to navigate entrepreneurship and my dual role of boss and colleague. While I'm confident I have us on the right path, I recognize there are times I could be clearer about where the path is heading and where the pace forward could be a bit more rapid.
I am very grateful for my foam roller. It seems like such a simple thing, but I use it daily to stretch and relax. It's one of the most inexpensive ways to destress.
I'm also grateful for my boyfriend. He makes me laugh every day, which is especially welcome after long days at the office.
I’m grateful for my full-length, sleeping-bag style winter coat, which I finally ordered from Lands’ End this year. I first moved to Chicago in 2007 and have been dreaming about owning a coat this long and warm since I got here and realized this kind of coat existed. I am excited to wear leggings and tights all winter if I feel like it.
I’m also grateful for Chicago’s amazing infrastructure. This summer, I spent a lot of time with friends at River Pool, which is run by the Chicago Park District and is completely free (and gorgeous). And then this fall, I started a new habit of leaving tote bags on the trains (don’t recommend), and the CTA workers I’ve spoken to in hopes of tracking these bags down have been some of the kindest, warmest people I’ve ever encountered. I didn’t grow up in Chicago, but it’s a city I’m glad I get to call home today.
Chicago River Pool (photo credit: Janelle Blasdel)
The best snack in my apartment right now is Trader Joe’s fake Takis (also known as chili & lime Flavored Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips). I haven’t even had real Takis so I don’t know if this is a good dupe, but it’s a rowdy alternative to the other best Trader Joe’s snack: peanut butter pretzels.
I’m also grateful for all the teachers I’ve ever had, from K through adulthood, official and unofficial, and for the teachers who show up for kids in Chicago every day.
I’m thankful for my Kansas City Chiefs pom-pom beanie winter hat. It's a bit goofy, but I love how this hat lets me fly my colors during "Chicago Bears weather." It's extremely warm (the inside is fleece-lined), and it was my Propllr Secret Santa gift last year, so it reminds me of my wonderful coworkers whenever I wear it.
I’m also grateful for airplanes. I'm grateful to have the means to hop aboard a hollow metal tube and be propelled through the sky to Kansas City en route to Yates Center, KS, for my family Thanksgiving (so I'll only drive two hours instead of 10).
Union Station, Kansas City, MO
I am grateful for ClassPass and plant-based protein. This sounds a bit ridiculous, but bear with me here! I am almost completely certain that the lack of sun and warmth turns me into a mole person, and staying active is the only thing that really pumps some heat and extra endorphins into my soul during this sometimes bitter cold season.
ClassPass has a hard and fast cancellation policy that makes you stick to every appointment you make or you get charged. This is the best incentive I’ve ever had to get off my butt and get moving. If you pair that with a healthy plant-based protein, you’ve got my whole Saturday night in a nutshell. I know, I’m a WILD ANIMAL!
I prefer Whole Foods All-In-One Plant Protein in the flavor rich chocolate, but you can find a variety of flavors and brands to in most grocery stores and online now.
I am also grateful for the hustlers and hard workers that make up the city of Chicago. It can get rough during these winter months, and that commute to work can seem daunting. But when you become a part of the cohort, waiting to board the bus and walking to get to work among the masses of dedicated and hard-working Chicago professionals, there’s no better place to be.
I’m thankful for the language-learning app Duolingo. It sounds simple, but I can’t believe this product is actually free (even if there is a paid version.) It has done a great job of incorporating gamification, community, and smart email campaigning to keep me motivated. It’s not perfect, but it has given me a sense of accomplishment, allowed me to actually retain and learn new words, and has even connected me to real-world friends that I’m still close to.
I’m also grateful for city workers. Chicago’s winters can be depressing if you let them. But I think the city does a really great job of making downtown look amazingly festive. I get that it’s probably good for tourism and all that jazz, but I get a little jolt of happiness every time I walk by my office and see the twinkling lights and the cute reindeer landscaping displays. Plus, this past season, the city workers had to battle a nasty icy sleet just to get the decorations up, so I feel particularly grateful.
Holiday Decorations in Chicago's Daley Plaza
A product I'm thankful for are pacifiers. Seriously. People take them for granted now, but once, there was a time when babies cried and cried, and couldn't be pacified until they were picked up and fed. Now, in the middle of the night, when the baby is inexplicably in distress, all you have to do is sneak into their room, pop a ‘passy’ in their mouth, and go back to bed. Voilà.
Whoever invented these things should get a Nobel Peace Prize.
In particular, I'm a fan of this variety.
I'm also grateful for my mother-in-law. I think mothers-in-law get a bad rep. They're portrayed on TV and in movies as being difficult, mean, and high-maintenance. In reality, they are pretty awesome people – or at least mine is. She gives us gifts on our anniversary and our birthdays. She looks after our screaming, sticky one-year-old, every Wednesday while we're at work, and any time we want to do a date night. (And she does it for free, and with a smile on her face.)
She offers emotional support and career advice for my wife Adele and me. She bakes us things. She uses delightfully outdated expressions like "Wowie zowie." She is a very generous person, and pathologically chipper. She rocks.
I’m thankful for Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!, which might be the best Queer Eye season yet. Queer Eye is my go-to, binge-watch TV show because a) I can’t get enough of Jonathan Van Ness and b) the show’s kind and wholesome content calms me down when life gets a bit hectic.
I’m also grateful for the Milwaukee District North (MD-N) Metra conductor who “fist bumps” every passenger when he checks their ticket. His big smile and kind gesture always makes my train ride home.
I'm grateful for the My Homedics TotalComfort Humidifier. Why? Because two things that are incredibly important to me are my plants and my skin. Two things that suffer greatly in the dry, Chicago winter: My plants and my skin. Thankfully, I've been able to keep my plants happy and my skin supple with this humidifier. I love it so much that I'm even considering getting a second one.
On a more meaningful level, I’m grateful for my younger sister. She’s nine years younger than me, we don't have a lot of shared hobbies, and we live in different states, so sometimes it's hard for us to bond. However, she is now 16 years old, which means she's applying to colleges and learning to drive. I am thankful that I am able to easily able to travel back to Michigan this week in order to help her with these things and spend time with her.