As Thanksgiving approaches this Thursday, I felt compelled to share something I’ve been grateful for this year. It’s not what most who know me would think I’m grateful for and it sure didn’t present itself at face value as a blessing. Yet, deep down, I always had a hunch that I would eventually find gratitude in it.

The source of my gratitude? Hardship. Life unfolds with its various facets – family, work, relationships, faith, health, wealth – and challenges are inevitable in all of these domains.

For me, the challenges have stemmed from a combination of health and work, one related to the other. If you’ve been following my newsletter, you’re familiar with the details. For those who are new (thank you for joining!), you can catch up quickly by reading this article.

In essence, a diagnosis in May forced me to step away from pursuing professional golf, leaving me with uncertainty about my future in the sport. Would I ever return to golf, and if so, when?

Deciding to take a break and not dwell on the unknown was a significant choice, considering the weight of identity that we all carry. Golf had been an integral part of my identity since the age of nine, and its sudden removal left me grappling with a fundamental question: who am I?

Surprisingly, I now find myself thankful for this challenge. It compelled me to delve deep, shed external influences, and get to the core of my identity.

I believe everyone faces this type of crossroads in life. You retire from your job, anticipating the enjoyment of the life you’ve diligently worked for, only to realize that work was a source of vitality. You transition from being a stay-at-home mom, and suddenly your children are grown, married, and living independently. Or, if you’ve devoted your life to athletics, the day arrives when you must bid farewell to that chapter. What endures when these defining aspects undergo a significant shift?

At 25, I don’t claim to have life completely figured out. However, these past nine months of hardship and heartache have led me to a profound self-discovery. I am a child of God, a dedicated wife, sister, and daughter, and a friend who seeks to uplift those around me. Faith, hope, and love serve as my guiding principles, and I aspire to shed that light on the world. I realize we are blessed to be a blessing, and therefore strive to make others feel special. I understand that our legacy is not built on achievements but on the positive impact we can have on others. With this in mind, I hope to inspire others to lead lives filled with joy.

These are the variables I can control. In a world where much lies beyond our influence, it’s crucial to remember that we possess the power to define ourselves in any given situation. I haven’t navigated all the challenges perfectly, it’s actually been far from. That’s why this year I give the utmost thanks to the people who have lifted me up when I was down – my husband, parents, and siblings have been my rock. I look forward to sharing this holiday of thanks with them.

This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to count the blessings disguised as challenges. Most importantly, express gratitude to those who appreciate you for who you are, not just for what you do. Enjoy this season with a heart full of thanks and a stomach full of turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Good Stuff

Three years ago, Camilo Villegas lost his 22-month-old daughter from a battle with cancer. Last week, he won the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. His emotions moments after victory, will fill your heart with hope.