When I first thought of writing a post for this day, I planned to take advantage of it being my 60th birthday to wax philosophical—I figured maybe I could get away with it. But thinking about birthdays led me to thinking about gifts, so instead of writing the ‘let me share with you what I’ve learned at my age’ essay, I’m taking this moment in time to acknowledge and be grateful for the gifts in my life. In no particular order, my gifts include:

Health. I’ve had illnesses and injuries, but most of my life, I’ve been healthy.

A happy childhood. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best things you can give a child. And it’s not about money—we didn’t have a lot of it, but it didn’t matter.

An education. I am so lucky that my parents valued education. They sent me and my three siblings to parochial grade and high schools, when that was one of the best educations you could get in our area, and supported our efforts when it came to a college education.

My family. My parents were great parents. I mean, look out how well my siblings and I turned out! And my siblings—there are not words to say how much they mean to me and how lucky I am to have them. We don’t always agree, but I know they always have my back.

My extended family. Whether they’re family by blood, marriage, or just because we say they’re family—the connections extend far and wide and I’m glad these people are in my life.

Friends. From the best friend of my youth, to the colleagues who have become friends, to the people I’ve connected with along the way, I have great friends—the kind who make you think you must be okay because this wonderful person is your friend!

The experts in my life: career coach, therapists, financial planner, masseuse, physical therapists. Could I have made it this far in life without them? Sure. Is my life better because of them? Absolutely.

The chance to work for a great company. I’ve had several good jobs, but I was really lucky to work for 14 years for The Gillette Company. Talented co-workers, interesting projects, learned a lot, had fun—it doesn’t get better than that in a job. During that time, I had the best two managers I’ve had in a lifetime of working.

Beauty. Sometimes when I’m going through my photo catalogue, I am awed at how much beauty I’ve seen and been able to capture (however poorly I did it in some cases).

Adventure. There have been all kinds—from going on safari to riding the Katy Trail in Missouri to spending extended periods of time in Italy—and I hope there are more to come.

To close, I will after all adopt the ‘let me share with you what I’ve learned at my age’ attitude and say that the best gifts don’t come wrapped in pretty paper and ribbons. Those gifts are wonderful, but they don’t compare to these.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area: sunset reflecting on water