A Lot of Gratitude

Brita Adkinson

Brita Adkinson

Brita Adkinson, a Swedish woman and journalist, worked for and with me for several years at New Age Retailer, a national trade magazine. This was 10 years ago or so up in Bellingham, Washington, in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. Brita had worked for many years at Findhorn in Scotland, and she burnished our New Age props at a time when several staff members with rich New Age backgrounds had departed the company.

She managed the book-review column and network of reviewers — part of the job I’d started with at NAR — and wrote pieces describing affirmations for store owners to use for themselves and with staff. She profiled New Age stores and cultures around the world, and she interviewed people like Caroline Myss. (You can still read that specific interview on Caroline’s site — good stuff.)

Brita was mom to two young men, Paul and Rolf, and with my son Nicholas then just a few years old she advised me about how, when they were boys, she’d take them out to big fields and run them like horses to try to wear the energetic boys out — or at least slow them down a bit.

They may well have gotten their energy from her, though: Brita sprint-walked everywhere she went at a pace that was hard to match. You’d see her speeding across town all the time: she was the Bellingham Blur. That always reminded me a little bit of my late mother, a born New Yorker. When we went to NYC for BookExpo America, Brita was well-suited to walking city blocks, dashing about both Javits and much of Manhattan.

Brita was diagnosed with ALS, and she died in January of last year. You can read some of her late-in-life blog posts, from even past the point she lost verbal speech, here: http://leadershipknowledge.wordpress.com.

And that’s all context, necessary or not, for the little thought I sat down to write, originally as a Facebook post until it (obviously) lengthened:

It’s interesting how we carry with us certain things from the people we’ve known and how those things become a part of us.

I’m sure we’re unaware of many of them, but some are very conscious —or at least we give a conscious nod of acknowledgment when we notice the effect.

When Brita worked for me, at the end of each day she’d say to me, “Thank you for today.”

At first it struck me as odd and lovely. Then, soon, it struck me as just lovely.

Brita greeting retailers at the International New Age Trade Show in June 2004, while Annette MacKenzie, who also has left us now, cuts a piece of cake. (Also: dear Trinka Baron, back left; Lisa Braun Dubbels in the back, making herself at home in our booth and/or using it for storage purposes; and Blair Justice of Crystal Visions, now literally a ways down the street from me where I live in North Carolina, visiting the booth with her ever-present smile.

Brita greeting retailers at the International New Age Trade Show in June 2004, while Annette Simon-MacKenzie, who also has left us now, cuts a piece of cake. (Also: dear Trinka Baron, back left; Lisa Braun Dubbels in the back, making herself at home in our booth and/or using it for storage purposes; and, in pink (okay, fine: salmon), Blair Justice of Crystal Visions, now literally a ways down the street where I live in North Carolina, visiting the booth with her ever-present smile.

I think I’ve always expressed my gratitude pretty freely, but the Brita Effect means I thank people an awful lot. I was conscious about it professionally when I managed a publishing group at Lark, which didn’t make it less genuine. Sometimes personally it’s hard to find the words to convey how deep my gratitude is: a simple thank you, then, suffices.

And I’ve noticed — well, I just happened to notice I was doing it today — that I now even thank people for playing me at QuizUp when we play a few rounds, often sending a chat message “thank you for these games.”

Brita impacted a lot of people in a lot of ways, and that’s just one of the ways she impacted me. I wanted to acknowledge it.

Thank you, Brita. Thank you for our years — our many days — shared.

Thank you for today.

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