Living in Gratitude

Good morning, all! Today I would like to talk about gratitude – how to live with it every day, how it benefits us to do so. One of my images from my book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing is Visions of Gratitude, as seen here on the right.

Visions of Gratitude

The verse that accompanies this image is: “When I look with eyes that appreciate, everything around and within me is more pleasing, more beautiful.”

This has been my experience. The more I look around and appreciate all that I have, all that is in my life, the more pleasing life is in general. The more pleasant it is. The more grumbling I do about things, the more anger and dissatisfaction I feel. It’s my choice, and I like to feel good, so I choose looking with appreciation at all that I have.

We can all practice looking for the good in our lives, looking for things about which we are grateful. It starts from the moment we wake up… we can be grateful simply for waking up to have another day to live to our fullest, to experience life and all it presents.

Even if we are in the middle of hard times, we can be grateful that 1), we can feel the pain, because when we feel pain, we also feel joy when the pain clears, and 2), we can be grateful that from the difficult time, we will grow our spirit, our character.

When we express gratitude for all that we have, our demeanor is one of cheerfulness, of happiness. We are a joy and a pleasure to be around. We set a good example for others to show their gratitude.

Today, I am grateful for my home, my warmth, my kitty who is my companion, my health, my job… I am especially grateful to be an alcoholic because it led me to recovery and that led to healing that has occurred in my sobriety. Recovery has led to all the peace and happiness I have searched for all my life.

What are you grateful for today in your world? Leave a comment and share with us your joy and gratitude.


Gratitude for Another Day

Good morning and I hope your Christmas day was filled with gratitude – for the day’s blessings and for staying sober. One person searched for Christmas day, their first day sober. Today is their second and I hope it goes well for them.

Visions of Gratitude

Today I’m talking about gratitude for yet another day, and specifically, for my sobriety. I am very grateful for the day of sobriety on Christmas day. There were times in my life when staying sober on Christmas was very difficult, but I made it through by expressing gratitude throughout the day.

I keep my eye and heart on the abundance I am experiencing, rather than the scarcity. For example, my sister sent several gifts for me to put under the tree, and I am so grateful she did. It completed the feeling of Christmas. It led me to feel wanted, appreciated and I am grateful.

If I’d had no gifts, I could have been grateful for the tree and the joy it brings to the room. If I’d had no tree, I could have expressed gratitude for my home, my cat, food, and my health. The point is, there is always something to be grateful for, even if it is the smallest thing.

When I was first sober, I had difficulty showing gratitude for anything. I was too mired in the emotional pain I felt over my past. I went through a period of great anger and sadness over those feelings, those experiences.

It wasn’t until I’d done some healing work that I was able to write a gratitude list, listing out the basic things for which I was grateful. It included things like being grateful for my abilities at renovation. You saw the results of my renovation skills yesterday, in the picture of the van I rebuilt.

I am most grateful for those skills, as I am for other abilities I have. Today, I am grateful for my past, as it has made me into what and who I am today, with knowledge of what it’s like to be abused, so I can relate to others who have been or are being abused, so I can offer words of encouragement, support, so I can relay what happened to me to led me to be grateful for the abuse.

That story is another post. Today, I invite you to make a gratitude list, listing out the most simple and basic things for which you are grateful. When I made a gratitude list, I found that as I listed out those things, I was able to express gratitude for more and more things. It became a self-perpetuating situation, a little grew and grew until I was grateful for every little thing.

I wish for you gratitude for another day, another day of sobriety, if you are a sober person. If you practice gratitude, I hope it lifts your spirits. Have a pleasant day, filled with gratitude.


A Christmas Story of Gratitude

the van I designed and built

It was December, 2003, and I was traveling from Denver, where I’d been living since June, to Baja to run into the guy for whom I had the hots. That’s a whole other story… I was traveling in my full-sized Dodge camper van that I had gutted and redone in cherrywood, designed to look like a boat.

It was the 23rd and I pulled into a mobile home and RV park outside of Tucson. When I registered, they said the Christmas party was that night and if I came and brought a gift, I got one in exchange.

I found my spot and got settled in with my traveling companion, my 19 year old cat, Maynard. I went through the van, looking for something suitable for a gift, and finally decided upon a Christmas candle I’d had for years but never had lit. Ah, this will work, I thought. I wrapped it in a Viva paper towel, and tied the ribbon with fancy yarn I had for weaving.

While I was looking around, I sent up a prayer to the Universe, asking for something small as a gift because I didn’t have much space available.

Feeling pleased I was offering a suitable gift, I headed off to the party. The first thing I noticed was that everyone that was coming had lavishly wrapped presents, with ribbons and bows. I felt small in comparison. I was ashamed of my gift. I decided to stay anyway.

The next thing I noticed was everyone was drinking wine except me. Ah, wonderful, I said to myself. The only alcoholic in the bunch. I felt singled out and awkward, but I still stayed. I was after that gift I was going to get because it was the only gift I was getting for Christmas that year.

My turn came down the line, and when it was my turn, I went up to the tree and looked for something small. The only small gift left was one the size of a VHS tape. Wonderful, I thought. Perfect. I opened it and it was wine glass stem rings, markers. They were Santas, Christmas trees, a snow man. There were six of them. Ah, great, I grumbled to myself in huge disappointment. The only alcoholic in the bunch and I have to get the wine glass markers!

I was feeling sorry for myself, and although the rule was I could pick someone else’s gift, I noticed no one else was doing that and I didn’t want to be the only one. I walked back to the van, highly bummed. As I sat on the side step of the van looking out at the night, I was filled with self-pity over the gift I couldn’t use. I got up and put it in the trash.

Suddenly, as I was throwing the wine glass markers away, I thought of my cupboard door handles, pulls, of which I had six. The brilliant idea came to me to put the rings on the door pulls for Christmas decorations. Oh, my goodness! My only Christmas decorations! I realized I had gotten something small, as I’d asked for and it was something to boost my Christmas spirit. I can’t tell you how much my heart soared with joy!

My cherished ornaments

These wine stem markers have become an integral part of my Christmas each year, for I now use them as Christmas tree decorations. They are the first ornaments on the tree. And every year when I place them on the tree, I renew my gratitude for all I receive.

I learned some valuable lessons that day I received these wine glass markers as a gift. First, I learned to be more flexible and creative in my thinking about how to use objects.

Second, I learned to greatly appreciate everything I receive, for I never know what the true purpose or use a gift may have. This has been the most valuable of all that I learned that night in Tucson.

Third, I learned that the Universe, God, or whatever that source is in the world, does send me what I ask for. It just might not be what I was anticipating, but it’s what I asked for.

That ends my tale about my wine stem holders. In closing, I’d like to say Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to each of you.

Do you have a tale about Christmas and learning a valuable lesson? I’d love for you to share it with us.



The Joys of Sobriety

Good morning. I hope the two-part series on PTSD despair brought you solace… comfort, and that you were able to see there are actions you can take to help you out of despair.  Today nothing really jumped out at me in the search terms, and I am going to write about the joys of sobriety.

Perhaps the biggest joy initially for me was the lack of hangovers. Mine had been extremely severe for about seven years, so not having them was a very welcomed relief. Today, it is nice to wake up clear and wide-eyed, ready to enjoy the new day without nausea, without vomiting, without a splitting headache. You, too, will revel in this new-found result of sobriety.

The faces of my sobriety changed as time went on, and for about six months, I was on what is referred to as a pink cloud, where everything is grand, where everything was so exciting, seen for the first time in years with eyes of wonder and awe. Yes, I felt the pain of my grief from the unrequited love, but it was interspersed with the joy of sobriety, so much so that it gave me the overall sense of well-being for a few months.

You may experience the pink cloud. If and when you do, enjoy it to the fullest. It is helpful to combat the feelings of angst that will arise as you begin to feel more and more of your feelings. Speaking of the angst that will appear in sobriety, know that it is passing, it will pass, and what you are left with is incredible freedom, incredible peace.

Think of the period of angst as one in which you are healing from old wounds so you can start fresh, start anew with your life. Stick with sobriety through this difficult period because the rewards are tremendous. First is the lack of hangovers, as we said, and then the pink cloud. Then, there is a depth to everything you do, everything you see, where you feel connected to the world around you, as well as the people in it.

In sobriety, you become able to see others with softness, gentleness, kindness, and compassion. When you heal, you become more and more interested in helping others, in being of service. You think less and less about making sure you get what you want, because it just comes to you.  You become more in-tune with the physical world around you, as you begin to notice plant life, architecture, scenery.

Sobriety leads to a positive attitude, an attitude of gratitude. You see everything that comes along with gratitude… you are grateful for all that occurs, as you know it is for your highest good, even though it may not feel like that at times. Sobriety helps your relationships, as you are less judgmental and critical of yourself and others. You have less to argue about, less fault to find.

In fact, sobriety eventually allows you to take full responsibility for your feelings, your actions and behaviors, and you are fueled by this in your ability to maintain a positive, grateful attitude. You look forward to life unfolding for you, taking action, while letting go of results and letting life flow to you.

Yes, sobriety is filled with joy after you go through the angst of examining and repairing the past. Perhaps the best thing is the feelings of goodwill that you have toward yourself. Your self-pity will have resolved. You will feel good about who you are and you will recognize you are worthy of good things, that you are a worthwhile person, not the worthless one you were told you were.

There is a saying in recovery circles, “Don’t leave before the miracle happens,” and that is so true. I invite you to stick with your sobriety so that you, too, can experience the miracles and joys of sobriety.




Inspirational Quote on Gratitude


Visions of Gratitude

“When seen with eyes and heart that appreciate, everything around and within me becomes more pleasing, more beautiful.”

And there is the inspirational quote on gratitude. It is the verse from my book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, through which we are working our way.

We are nearing the end of the book, and as such, are tapping into the rich and positive emotions which I felt, once I experienced all the things I have experienced since adopting a life of awareness. These awarenesses are what I have been sharing with you as tropics in the book, which, when followed, led me to peace.

And, today we come to such a valuable and powerful tool, the use of gratitude. The gift of gratitude, for it truly is a gift.

I didn’t used to like the term gratitude. Oh, no, I did not! It was as simple as, I couldn’t feel grateful for old wounds, and wallowing, grief-struck, in those wounds was where I lived. I had not healed enough.

I went through my struggles with learning to be greteful. I finally resorted to making a list every day of 10 things for which I was grateful. That began to build my ability to feel appreciation.

Today, I am grateful about everything. It is a stark and striking contrast, just like the image, and one which I adore having in my life.

How do you develop gratitude if you have not or do not experience it? Just as the verse says, start by looking at things with appreciation. Like, how about hot running water? If you’ve lived on the road as I have, where you didn’t have hot running water, having it would become something you would cherish, every time you used it. Cherishing circumstances and abilities is a form of expressing gratitude.  

Even if you’ve never lived without it, think about how much more difficult life would be if you didn’t have hot running water. Electricity is the same. Look at the small, everyday things in your life and appreciate them, realizing that you are expressing gratitude. 

Now, look at all your physical capabilities and be appreciative of them. Notice when you awaken, the myriad of colors you can see, and sounds you can hear. Marvel at that, and realize you’re practicing gratitude. Take that same appreciation with you throughout the day and marvel about your capabilities. That’s gratitude.

Finally, look at the experiences you have had in your life, and appreciate that you had them because, without them, you wouldn’t be the person you are today. You wouldn’t have a story to tell that can help just one other person get through what you went through, or are going through. If you help but one person by sharing your story, you have fulfilled a purpose in your life. 

Being grateful is an offshoot of being healed, but you can feel gratitude even if you’re struggling. In fact, gratitude is an especially good tool to use when in that space. Just keep noticing and listing everything you appreciate, and just hang in there; it gets better.

You know, it’s a wonderful thing to feel appreciation and gratitude for the world around you; I want you to feel it, too. So go about your day, looking at, resolving to look at, each and every thing that you appreciate. Let us know what you find. 



Gratitude As a Way of Life

Ah, gratitude. In my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, the verse for gratitude is: “When seen with eyes that appreciate, everything in and around me becomes more pleasing, more beautiful.”

Gratitude As a Way of Life

Visions of Gratitude

And it’s true. The more you express appreciation for things around you and for things going on in your life, the better you will feel about everything. 

You scoff. I know that feeling. Years ago, when I was going to a support group to help with remaining sober, the topic of discussion was gratitude for five meetings in a row. I was disgusted, as I could not feel gratitude for the way my life was going, nor for past experiences.

But I did what was suggested, which was to make a list every day of ten things for which I was grateful. I did this begrudgingly, with anger. I choked on my words…

Then one day, things began to change. I was feeling so much love for my life, the people in it, and my experiences, that I began to feel gratitude for them all. My past painful experiences, after all, had made me into the sensitive and compassionate person I am today, allowing me to have empathy for those who endure what I endured.

Speaking about my past and how I have healed from it can be useful to others. That is the basis for my gratitude when I think of past painful situations. That holds true in current day also, which is what allows me to be grateful for my past, just as it happened.

In present day, you can consciously take yourself to gratitude. For example, I recently got a jury summons and it conflicts with my schedule. Rather than get angry for the inconvenience, I take note that they allow you to change your date of appearance, and this is something for which I am grateful. I changed my day without grudge for having to serve.

At a street fair over the weekend, I sold one book. Rather than being bummed that I did not sell more, I choose the attitude of gratitude for the chance to share my book with that one woman and her 19 year old special needs son.

Yes, gratitude is a choice you make, over each and every occurrence throughout the day. If you choose gratitude as a way of life, life becomes easier, more beautiful. The end result is the feeling of being soothed. Life flows easily when one chooses gratitude as a way of life.

What are the things in your life today for which you are grateful?


Thanksgiving – A Day to be Thankful and Give Thanks

Today I deviate and jump ahead to Visions of Gratitude. That is the title of this image and it appears later in the book, after I have gone through many growth steps. I jump ahead today, in honor of Thanksgiving, a day to be thankful and to give thanks.

Thank you for joining me as we journey through my book. I will return to our travels with the next post.

My roommate and I used to go to our support group and the topic would be gratitude. For quite a while, our response was, “Gratitude? Not again!” We were quite annoyed. For me, that is because I was still not seeing that every thing around me, all that happened, was for a good reason and cause to be grateful. All I could see was what a mess my life was, what a mess my mind and emotions were.

As I became more sober, I began to heal and I began to see in retrospect why I had needed to go through a specific experience. I saw that what I had experienced was something which led me to further healing. More often than not, it seemed to be an experience designed specifically for me.

In the present, I am so grateful for just about everything in my world. It fills me with an endless feeling of lightness, strength and peace. I notice small things from which I gain delight and for which I am grateful, such as the rainbows dancing on my wall because of the sun shining through my crystals. I praise not only the rainbows, but the sun as well.

It took me years to get to that point, however. I spent a great many years bemoaning my fate, as well as worrying about things I’d done or things that were to occur. I had difficulty being in the present, living in the now.

As I learned to live in the now, I began to notice the things for which I was grateful and I began to heal more. As I noticed that I was healing, I became more able to trust the process and more grateful for the results. As I became more trusting and grateful, more showed up in my path for which I could express gratitude. And, so, the ever-spiraling circle expanded.

It fills my heart with peace and joy to live with an attitude of gratitude. It makes life more easy, more gentle.

The quote which goes with this image is: “When seen with eyes that appreciate, everything in and around me becomes more pleasing, more beautiful.”

What brings you to gratitude?