a plateful of grateful

November 27th 2014 Comments: 6 Topics: ,

I’ve found gratitude is not just a once a year practice; it’s a potent daily tool. As a part of my daily meditation discipline, I maintain a running list of things in my life for which I have profound gratefulness.
In my experience, when things get stressful, worrisome or a stray wrench gets thrown in my works, my habitual practice results in an immediate default mode of thanks. As I acknowledge and focus on the gifts in my life instead of the problems, they seem to magnify.  I’ve also noticed by keeping these things foremost in my thoughts, I tend to stay positive and on the beam.

Since today is Thanksgiving, I’d like to take the opportunity to list five things I’m thankful for in my professional life.


Bobby McAlpine told me years ago that, for him, building an office was like creating your own family. Amassing a staff was a magnificent opportunity to gather those around you that you would want to have around you.  Over the years, we’ve congregated the most talented and interesting folk imaginable.  Many have stayed, others have gone on to other ventures.  All, however, have a distinct place in my heart.  I can’t imagine having been on this exhilarating thirty year journey without a single one of them.

Of course I couldn’t do what I do without the patronage of my clients.  But it goes deeper than that.  Building a house with someone is an intimate invitation – and one I do not take lightly.  I’m blessed to be welcomed to some of the most splendid and well-appointed tables.  While seated there, I get to bear witness to some pretty amazing and bright people;  I find I learn so much from them about life, business and family.  Our lives increase by the company kept.


There is an age-old unspoken animosity between Architect and Contractor.  I’ve found this to be a senseless tradition.  After all, I can’t build a dog house.  Mind you, I can draw all the live-long day, but without the capable hands of excellent builders and their artisans, my efforts would never see the light of day.  I was once told by a contractor that I give Architects a bad name because I’m so easy to work with.  It’s simply because I have great appreciation for the hands that make real my endeavors.

I’ve been drawing since as far back as I remember.  My mother tells me her main memory of my childhood is me, sitting two feet in front of the TV watching Dark Shadows, drawing away while surrounded by a messy nest of paper. Bless her, the only way she could get me to learn to ride a bike was to lock me out of the house and deprive me of my pencils.  For some reason or another, artistic talent was simply something I was born with.  Whenever pride sets in and I think I’ve made so much of myself, I remember that I’ve simply tended something that was a gift from birth. I suppose I was too scared or lazy to do anything else but follow what came easy to me.


One of the great things about being a designer is I find inspiration every where – travel, movies, music – if it moves me, I’ll stow a bit of it away and use it later.  It’s wonderful to be in a profession where daily life is a ripe garden of creative resource.  As an example, there’s a house we designed years ago whose floor plan was entirely inspired by Darren and Samantha Stephen’s house on Bewitched.  Given a clever and hungry eye, nothing experienced is wasted.

I wish you a happy and fulfilling Thanksgiving.  Fill your heart with appreciativeness and you’ll never be wanting.


Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley


  1. Gaines Blackwell says:

    Greg, reading your latest entry brings forth an age old Thanksgiving homily. “The proof is in the pudding.” The continually beautiful work done by McAlpine-Tankersley et al is testament to your thoughtful writing . Many practice architecture, few practice graceful architecture. Thank all of you for making this world a more thoughtful place in which to live.



  2. Leone Schram says:

    Greg: I not only absolutely love everything (and I mean everything) your firm creates but now I know how you create such beautiful and endearing spaces – it’s what lies in your heart – profound gratitude and thus the blessings that come with it! Bravo and thank YOU ALL for your wonderful and true gifts.
    Best to you and your staff,

  3. Your words are so inspiring, every time I receive your blog I cannot wait to read it.
    It is like opening up a small box filled with treasures.

    Thank you,

  4. david braly says:

    This though-provoking post can serve as a guide year-round; reminding us that we neither live in a vacuum, nor achieve success singlehandedly. Thank you.

  5. The thoughts expressed in this post are the root of the reason that love you and Mary Robin so much.

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