Prescription for Gratitude


A sleepy hush seemed to fall over the apartment as I sat down to write this post. The tea in my cup was warm, soothing. Both of my fur babies were curled up together on the end of the couch. Another weekend had come to a close and although I was tired, although I was still in a tremendous amount of pain, I couldn’t help but feel grateful.

Grateful for a weekend spent celebrating birthdays with loved ones.

Grateful for the sights and sounds of beautiful Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Grateful that I have this life at all.

This kind of gratitude—in the face of physical pain—is not something that comes easily to me. I struggle with it, every hour of every day, but it’s something that I feel compelled to write about. To share. To maybe shore up my resolve in the pursuit of it.

I couldn’t tell you when or why I first made the decision to actively cultivate gratitude. Its roots have been forgotten, as lost as that first gratitude journal, but the practice itself has survived. Every night before I turn out the bedside lamp, I write down three things that I am grateful for. The things I list could be the names of family members or friends. Other days, I might record happy events that occurred during the day. Some days, I write down what I eat because, some days, that’s all I can find to be grateful for.

The magic of a gratitude journal is not what you write down, but that you write something down at all. Sometimes it’s the really, really minute things that soften your heart and help you realize just how fortunate you are.

With this in mind—and the fact that constant physical pain is accompanied by the temptation to be a Negative Nelly—I decided to turn my mind even more toward gratitude. Keeping a gratitude journal at night has, on many occasions, shifted my perspective.

So what would happen, I wondered, if I started my day by listing three things that I’m grateful for?

Or, if I paused in the middle of the day to recall three additional blessings, would that have an effect on me?

And, if I faithfully turned to my gratitude journal each night to record three more things, would I finally be able to both see and believe that my blessings outweigh the pain in my back and my legs?

The experiment is young still, Dear Readers, but I am finding that that this self-prescribed regimen of gratitude three times a day has given me something to smile about. It’s something I look forward to. And, it reminds me, that even amid physical discomfort, there is always something to be grateful for.


City Squirrels Prefer Organic Peanut Butter


I saw something…unexpected…this past week.

It happened on a day that the weather had been dreary. The sky was overcast, a gunmetal gray, and it was misting. The leaves coating the driveway had become slick, treacherous. My steps were slower, my mind torn between focusing on my footing and the worries of the week.

And that’s when the flash of movement in my periphery vision occurred.

That’s when I stopped walking.

That’s when I saw a squirrel dragging a jar of peanut butter up a tree.

Yes. That’s right. I saw an average-sized squirrel dragging a jar of peanut butter (it was an organic brand, by the way) up a maple tree. As I watched—a little in awe at the squirrel’s determination—the poor thing continued to struggle with the jar. It was trying to lift and climb at the same time and while it was a noticeably difficult task, the squirrel didn’t give up. It wanted to bring that jar home to its nest. It didn’t care that the jar was nearly double its size or that the tree was taller than our apartment building. It kept on going, and when the challenge became too much, the squirrel would rest for a moment, catch its breath, and then continue onward and upward.

You’ve got this, Squirrel! I caught myself thinking.

It’s probably a bit…strange…to cheer for a squirrel, I will give you that. But, in my defense, it’s not every day that a squirrel a) finds a jar of peanut butter, b) hauls it up a tree, and c) I’m in the right spot, at the right time, to witness it. The sight of that squirrel not only lifted my spirits, it made me question, do I approach the gifts of this life—do I attack my dreams and goals—with as much enthusiasm as that squirrel did a jar of peanut butter?

If I am being honest, the answer to that question is a very weak-sounding “sometimes”. Sure, sometimes, I do take steps to attain my goals. I mean, hey, it only took me two years to create this blog, but I finally carried this peanut butter jar home. Conversely, a lot of the time, I only think about what I want to accomplish and then never actually take the necessary steps to achieve those dreams.

So, dear readers, as this week unfolds I am challenging myself—and inviting you—to think about what it is you want. Do you want organic peanut butter? Almond butter? Hazelnut spread? Identify what sparks your creativity, what goals and dreams you hope to accomplish in this life, and then put yourself in the place of that squirrel. Ask yourself: are you determined to carry that jar up a tree, no matter how hard it’s going to be?

If the answer is “yes”, then I hope I’ll see you out there, climbing.