I’m writing to you from Napa Valley where a friend is getting married. It’s my first time here and my mind is blown from four days in the vineyards. Sun, open space, green for miles – don’t twist my arm! Here’s the charming place we stayed:
Before Napa, I spent five days with my family in Detroit, where I grew up. We did family stuff: eat, drink, sit around, laugh. We went to the Jazz Festival, drove around Detroit, and also saw these guys in our backyard. Love those guys.
I’m grateful to be able to write to you about this. A few years ago I didn’t know I could design my life around what I found precious – writing, creating, self-evolution, family, travel, supporting friends during big moments. It took a great deal of searching, experimentation, mentorship, investing in myself, and struggle, but now I know we have more power than we think. It all starts with how you think, and I’m grateful to learn this in my 30’s.
Gratitude doesn’t just help, it’s necessary to feel calm and fulfilled in this world. Personally, with the stress that comes with entrepreneurship, I intensely seek out what gives me relief, confidence, and an unshakable feeling that things will be okay. Don’t we all want to breath deeply, remove the weight from our shoulders, and relax our minds?
I do it through gratitude.
Gratitude gives you acceptance. For the last two years, I take 5 mins each morning to write down what I’m grateful for. Good or bad, I write it down. Doing the practice, you begin to see no matter what you’re going through, there’s something to be thankful for. You see lessons, insights, nuggets of grace even in the middle of scary and confusing times.
Life isn’t a walk in the park every day, but gratitude gets you closer to the green.
Today, my heart is full. I want to share what’s made me smile over the last week. Every time I felt gratitude, I audio recorded it so I wouldn’t forget it. Below are my snapshots of gratitude:
- The sound of gravel crunching underneath my feet during walks.
- Wanting to see deer all week and seeing two baby deer + mom in our backyard. The babies suckled and when the mom was done, she kicked them with her hooves! Ahh, motherly love.
- Sitting outside near the pond, with no sound but the wind rustling through the trees.
- The one hour walk where I listened only to the sounds around me. This walk nourished me so much and I learned a lot about myself that I didn’t know. Post forthcoming ;)
- Seeing my dad relax on his fatherly duties to try to understand what I *really* needed.
- Spontaneously going to a jazz club, meeting the owner, seeing my friend playing bass in the band, dancing to Motown + Jazz beats, someone asking my brother to get in a picture because she wanted “People of different countries”, laughing hard, dancing with my family. Highlight of the trip.
- Hearing a jazz beat that hooked into my soul.
- Sitting outside in the sun with my dad. Lawn-chairs on driveway, sun streaming down, him with medical journal, me with book. Him inching slowly out of the sun, me moving closer into it. No words exchanged.
- Going out of my way to find and step on dry leaves on the ground. Crunch.
- Hearing birds outside my window early in the morning.
- Pretending I was in the Olympics and running and jumping to hit high branches on trees. Watching cars slow down as they rolled by, confused.
- Grazing things with my hands as I walk by them.
- Taking my earbuds with me, not using them once; enjoying silence that much.
- Facing-off with squirrels.
Gratitude is personal. You don’t have to be grateful for a great new job or lots of money. You can start with small things like I’ve listed here, and work up to the big ones. Nothing is too big or small to be grateful for. Take three minutes now and write out what you’re grateful for. Write from the top of your head because you can’t do this wrong. If you’re stressed or on a time crunch or feeling angry, even better. Take three minutes to do this, you will feel better.
With gratitude to you,