36 years and 36 points of gratitude
I decided to honor my 36th year by generating a list of 36 things I am grateful for that have happened in the past year.
I am grateful to have kicked off 35 having a great dinner at the restaurant Farmhaus with my friend Chad. We celebrated each other’s birthday together each year. I miss you my friend.
Chad’s passing was shocking and unexpected. I am grateful for the mutual friends I shared with him who created an incredible support network during the hard time for each other and his parents.
I am grateful to Logic for writing the beautiful and tough song 1-800-273-8255. As someone who experienced suicide, the song made me cry, miss my friend and made me think through another lens about the unseen pain my friend must have been battling.
I am grateful for my parents whose presence in my life is so regular, loving and supporting it is easy to take for granted if I am not careful.
I am grateful for my brother and the bluegrass festival we attended this year in Lyons with his friends and a community he has come to love.
I am grateful for the 42nd class of Leadership St. Louis. We learned so much together and shared things both hard and important. I’m certain our final retreat together will for a long time, if not forever, hold the top spot for the most I have ever laughed and cried in a 36 hour period.
One of the speakers to our LSL class said at the end of a day where we had discussed race and the history of discrimination in our town as we prepared to go back home to our lives, “how long will this bother you?” It reminded me that I am now one of the adults in the room. If change is going to come it will be because people engage rather than wait for someone else to fix it for them.
I am grateful to the artist Meek Mill whose song “Stay Woke” makes me think about that day.
I am thankful for the marriage of two incredible friends Kevin and Chloé, creating the Risto-Byerley superpower and for the wonderful friendship I share with them.
I am thankful for the CyHi the Prince and Big K.R.I.T. concert I attended. The energy was pulsing, sweaty and a tactile reminder of why I love hip hop.
I am thankful that the friend dinner party group BUSO (Braised Up, Smoked Out) got back together. This gathering of friends has been going on for 3 years now and is everything I hope my free time in life will be. Delightful people cooking great food, paired with great drinks and laughter.
I am thankful for my friends Erin and Kiley in the launch of our cooking club that is a salute to Anthony Bourdain. Learning to better cook and honoring Tony is important to me. His impact on my life is significant and am forever grateful.
I am grateful for the network I have cultivated. Sitting in my skin everyday it is easy to lose-sight-of but I am fortunate to have built a large, diverse and positive network of people.
I am grateful for my father’s work on our family history. The older I become the more I am intrigued by where I come from and how we got here.
I am grateful for my cousin Ryan instigating regular get togethers. He and I share one of the longest friendships I have. For a long time schedules and obligations pulled us our separate ways and family gatherings would be the only time we saw each other. He has worked to ensure we see each other more often where we have time to catch up.
It has been a year of transition in my friend circle. Many of them have transitioned from married couples to parents, which has changed how much free time they have but I am grateful to see such wonderful couples becoming parents. They inspire me.
I am grateful for many of my friends who like me, are working through being single I their mid-thirties. We at times feel like standouts at this point, moving through life unattached but not only do our discussions leave me regenerated, they also remind me that much of the person I have become might not have been as possible if I had been coupled up. When dating, its natural and important to not invest In ourselves as much so we can invest in the relationship. I am grateful to have had this time.
I am grateful for my department at Enterprise Bank & Trust being reorganized and my position being eliminated. There was a bit of shock in the moment and there are people I miss but the role wasn’t right for me despite enjoying many aspects of it. Letting someone go and being let go are never easy but am thankful they did it.
I am grateful for my former marketing colleagues Nathan and Jaime for all the laughs and help doing a job that was definitely a big learning curve for me.
I am grateful for my friend Chris Bay agreeing to head east this coming weekend with to McMinnville, TN. We will be seeing the band Mandolin Orange perform in a venue called the Cumberland Caverns. I’ve followed them for years and am excited to see them!
Some of you know that at a TBD time next year I will be undergoing orthognacthic surgery. I experienced a condition called condylar hyperplasia, which caused my right jaw bone to grow and now my bite is asymmetrical and my back teeth no longer touch. I got braces about two months ago. Ah middle school, I missed you. And yet, what I have to be grateful for is the fact that a renowned surgeon for the procedure lives here in St. Louis and that I have a network that will help me get through it all. To my friends Zach and Ryan whose struggles are greater than mine, you are an inspiration to me.
I am grateful for my Aunt Kathy. Her spiritual journey has made her wise and I am fortunate to benefit from what she has seen and learned along the way. Her guidance along with two wonderful holistic practitioners, help me manage the discomfort as I move through this process.
I am grateful for my friend James Dice who moved to Denver this year. Our history together is not long but our time together ran deep. Despite having already met so many wonderful people on this planet, James is a great reminder of all the wonderful people I have still yet to meet.
I am grateful to Kevin for a memorable bachelor party in Toronto with my good friends Chris Mayer and Matt Menietti. We learned and experienced many things, most notable perhaps that Torontonians seem to serve salad with every meal.
I am grateful to have experienced the PGA Championship with my father. Golf is his profession and something for which his love runs deep. Despite his general love of the game running deep, the impact of Tiger Woods on him is hard to understate. To stand in the galleries with him as he saw him play in-person for the first time and be around the gallery as it roared was a joy to witness.
I am grateful for the poet David Whyte. I discovered him years ago and not only does one of his poems adorn my wall, but earlier this year I heard him recite another I realized would be perfect for the best man speech in a friend’s wedding. The power of the poem was reinforced when after my friend Chad passed I decided it fit perfectly in his eulogy. To recite the poem on one Saturday with admiration and joy and on another Saturday with such nostalgia and sadness was quite something.
I am grateful to my friend Kameron for inviting me on a canoe trip down part of the Mississippi River. Many people consider me to be informed on this city but Kameron is one of the people I look to for commentary and insights on things happening.
I am grateful for the Cherokee Street Jazz Crawl. There are few afternoons in St. Louis that draw a bigger smile to my face than people dancing to great music along the street near where I live.
I am grateful to people who from time-to-time tell me they enjoy reading this blog. While writing in and of itself has been a great practice to develop, I am often left wondering, “does anyone read this thing?” When comments come in from an unexpected person, it brings a real smile to my face.
I am grateful to my friends Dave, Bridget and Jim who have taught me how in some small way how to see the world through the lens of an artist.
I am grateful for the trip I won to California, which allowed me to visit San Francisco for no cost and see the offices of a number of the large tech companies.
I am grateful the trip allowed me to circle down south to visit my Aunt Christine and Uncle Bob in San Diego who are two of the greatest tour guides and generous practitioners of hospitality I know.
I am grateful to my friend Tim for taking the risk along with his business partner Travis to open Yellowbelly. The reviews that have come in on their place have been wonderful but I know the work put in to get this far has been a heavy lift. Thanks for helping further the incredible food and drink scene we have here.
I am grateful for new bags of coffee. Opening up a new bag and smelling the rich aroma is a simple but grand pleasure.
When I was 22 if you had asked me about turning 36, it would have seemed like something where life would be slow and boring by then. I am grateful that life continues to be so invigorating as I age.
I am grateful to be done with this list and throw a h/t to James Altucher who said, “if you can’t come up with 10 ideas to a question, come up with twenty.” James’s comment reminds me if you can’t come up with more answers to a question like, “what am I grateful for?”, its because I am too afraid to be "wrong" instead of just of writing things down and seeing what sticks.
To a bold 36th year!