The Power of Gratitude

Forestry_HatA few weeks ago, I received one of the best gifts I’ve been given all year. It was a simple baseball hat that was sent to me from the kind folks at Forestry Suppliers. In case you didn’t know, Forestry Suppliers has a sweet archaeology field tools catalog (BTW: That wasn’t a paid endorsement unless you count the baseball cap they gave me). I blogged about the amazement I felt when it arrived in my mailbox and dozens of people have read the post.

Little did I know that the folks at Forestry Suppliers were among the readers of that post. I guess they were happy to hear that some of their customers like the archaeology tools catalog, so they sent me a cool baseball cap and a heartfelt letter to show their appreciation.

Forestry Suppliers, you just earned yourself a lifelong customer. Thanks for taking the time to read my post and write me a letter.

The best thing about receiving that package was learning how grateful the people at Forestry Suppliers were for my simple blog post. The box arrived on a day when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed with school, writing duties, and my career goals, so their gift made me feel like all this work was actually helping others. In addition to making me feel better, the post made the folks at Forestry Suppliers feel better too. They were happy to hear that archaeologists appreciate being able to buy most of their field supplies from a company that has taken the time to learn what we need to execute their jobs.

Their gratitude made me think about how grateful I should be for the life and career I have.


Maybe the fact that I’m writing this post on Mother’s Day (2014) is making me feel a little warm and fuzzy, which is a stark contrast to the Darth Vader-like emotional stance I usually take. Mother’s Day is a time to reflect on how grateful we are for all the mothers in the world. Naturally, it makes me a little sentimental. Or, perhaps these feelings come from the School of Greatness podcast episode with Chris Lee I listened to yesterday (for the second time) titled “10 Principles of Abundance and Prosperity to Enhance your Business and Life.” The first principle of abundance, according to Lee, is being grateful for the good things you already have in your life. So, the combination of the Forestry Suppliers letter, the School of Greatness podcast episode, and thinking about how grateful I am for my mom and wife have culminated in this post.

I’m going to thank a few people in this blog post who have given much to make my career in archaeology a reality. I promise not to make it too sappy:

My wife— I owe her everything. She pays the bills and gets the tuition waiver that has allowed me to go back for my PhD. She is the mother of our two awesome kids and has stepped up to being the mother to my sister for the last 8 years when my dad and stepmother died. My wife is the one that keeps our family going when I’m out of town at conferences or digging yet another hole in the ground somewhere out in the wilderness. Most importantly, she started dating me in graduate school over 10 years ago even after she found out my hobby was making Native American moccasins with stone tools (experimental archaeology anyone?). Hopefully, that gamble paid off.

My mom— I wouldn’t even be here without my mom. I also thank her for being a no-nonsense, tough-love type of mom that never listened to my whining about how lame school is or how dissatisfied I was with my career. She always told me, “Do what you’ve gotta do until you can do better” and “Nobody ever said it was going to be easy.” She’s right.

My college advisors— I’m not going to “out” anyone for being associated with me, but I’ve really got to thank all the advisors I had in college because I wouldn’t have made it out alive without them. They’ve pushed me to go further, which has made all the difference.

My first CRM company PIs— About half of everything I know about being a field CRM archaeologist was learned while I was working at my first CRM archaeology job in Seattle. The two PIs/company owners took a chance on me and forced me to learn how to do things CRM-style, something for which I’ll never be able thank them enough.

All the other archaeologists I’ve worked with— I’ve learned the rest of what I know about archaeology from the other archaeologists I’ve worked with, especially the sh*tty ones. Archaeology is a craft that is best learned through experiences with other archaeologists and I’ve learned the most from the people who know the least (Particularly the ones that know the least but think they know everything). I appreciate all the archaeo folks that have worked alongside me over the last 14 years.

The people that read the Succinct Research Blog— Finally, I want to take the time to thank each and every person that has visited and read my blog. I owe a special debt of gratitude to all the folks that have left me comments. Sometimes it feels like a lot of work to keep this blog going, but the emails and comments from readers let me know I’m providing a valuable service to other people out there that are interested in cultural resource management archaeology, historic preservation, and heritage conservation. Again, thanks for reading.

This blog post has both nothing and everything to do with a career in archaeology. By reading this post, you haven’t learned how to do archaeology any better than you did before. But, being grateful for the people, places, and opportunities you’ve been given is absolutely important for furthering your archaeology career. These last few weeks have forced me to reevaluate my career and the direction I’ve been going. They have also forced me to be grateful for the experiences I’ve had so far.

If you have any questions or comments, or want to express gratitude to for the people that have played a significant role in your archaeology career, write below or send me an email.


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