Today's gift of gratitude comes from my lovely friend, Claire, an amazing artisan, creative, and hilarious Irish women. I'm so glad I can bring her story to you.
This is a photo of a mailbox (or post box as we call it here). But it is not just any mailbox. Unlike the other thousands of red mailboxes you will find in every community here, this one is painted gold. It is found in the tiny village of Eglinton in County Derry near me, and it is painted gold for a special reason.
It recognises the achievement of Jason Smyth, who won a gold medal for Ireland in the Paralympic Games at London 2012 and set a new world record in the 100m to become the fastest Paralympian of all time, in an incredible 10.46 seconds! He is visually impaired and you can see his incredible achievement here.
This summer was an amazing time in London and I was lucky enough to be able to attend some of the Olympic events. You can see how excited I was to see the water polo!
The swimming, women's fencing final and Olympic Park were all brilliant to witness, and perhaps the best thing was the great organisation and the changed atmosphere in the city. Instead of the usual silence and avoidance of eye contact I actually had some lovely conversations with people on the Tube, as the pride and interest in the Olympics united locals and visitors alike.
So in these weeks of giving thanks, these sporting achievements and the great experience I had at London 2012 are a great reason for me to be grateful. However, the focus of my gratitude today is on the unbelievable achievements of the Paralympics. The TV ad before the start of the Paralympics proclaimed, 'Meet the Superhumans' and this was so true. Every single athlete had battled not just the sacrifices of the the four years of dedicated training to achieve the highest standard in their sport, but each one also had conquered a personal disability. In doing so, they had won the hearts and admiration of those watching and helped us see their ability first, instead of their disability.
Just over four years ago I had a fairly serious car accident which left me with very reduced mobility for much of that time and pretty much turned my life inside out. Despite my determination not to let my long term pain condition define me, it is sometimes difficult not to concentrate on the things I cannot do, rather than those I can, or on what I have lost rather than the experiences I have gained.
As I watched those Paralympians, each of whom had suffered much more than I ever would, I was humbled by how each one of them was entirely focussed on what they could do. Humbled enough to get off the couch and get into the gym and the pool for the first time in several years. Thankful for the mobility I still have and thankful for the ways in which I can still get active.
So as you watch Jason Smyth sprint to a world record, I hope that you too will be thankful for your ability to get off the couch and live a full and active life. He certainly deserves his golden mailbox!