Turn & Return (#361)

This community post was written by Julie Van. A published writer in the Seattle Times, an exceptionally talented poet, and a long time supporter of The Gratitude Journal. 

I am constantly reminded of two important facts: change will happen and growth is a choice. The uncertainty and surprises of life often converge into a sweet whirlwind of learning. And when I think I have things figured out, I am humbled by all that I do not know. I’ve also learned to not be afraid of what I do not know.

The turns of our lives is a result of choice and decisions made. What we choose to do is not only a reflection of ourselves and our values, but the circumstances that have pulled us to the moment. Each choice then weaves into the larger fabric of who we are – and also who we wish to be.

The challenge with choice is the courage needed to make a decision. How do we continue to nurture and care for that seed of confidence that is within us all? Especially on days when it feels as if every movement is a constant wallow through doubt and hesitation.

We remember to look inwards and return to ourselves. We remind ourselves of the strength within and look at our values as a guide. And sometimes we look outwards. During times when I feel myself loosing control, I feel myself pulled tighter to the kind universe and I know that I will be okay.

Whatever we decide to do, we trust ourselves to make the right choice and remain grateful for the chance.

Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. Fresh flowers to brighten my apartment
  2. Loved ones in different time zones
  3. Dancing and confidence in motion
  4. The last bite of ice cream, every single time
  5. Home videos and photo albums
  6. Dawg Saturdays
  7. Catching up over a shared meal
  8. Serendipity and things unexplainable
  9. Getting handwritten letters in the mail
  10. Cooking and trying new recipes together
  11. Hiking and time outside
  12. Sunsets while canoeing on Lake Washington
  13. Crisp air on early morning runs
  14. Poetry, both to read and write
  15. Pear-picking in the garden with my grandparents in the summers
  16. The mountains, evergreens, the ocean, and all reminders of the PNW
  17. My parents and siblings
  18. Both cheesy jokes and witty jokes
  19. Picnics and frisbee at Gas Works Park
  20. Trust and hope in the unknown
  21. The smell of fresh coffee in the morning
  22. Cross country moves and having multiple places to call home
  23. My loving and supportive boyfriend, JA
  24. All that has led me to right now
  25. This very moment
Link to my blog: julievvan.wordpress.com
Featured photo of the Cascade Mountains in Washington at sunset

As always, check out my first blog 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1) to know why I’m writing this list and why I want you to start yours.

If you’re interested in Guest Blogging for the Gratitude Journal, click (here)!

Take Some Time For You (#281)

A lot of my lists and messages talk about gratitude for others. It’s important but arguably the one thing more important than showing gratitude for others, is demonstrating gratitude for yourself.

Our bodies are in constant motion. We’re always working or moving and we need to take care of ourselves first and foremost. Take a day for you, show yourself some gratitude and take a break.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. My Peer Mentor staff
  2. Mornings with my cat
  3. Warm blankets
  4. Irish breakfast tea
  5. Game day snacks
  6. Learning new things
  7. Introvert time
  8. Gratitude
  9. My fraternity brothers
  10. Weekends in Vermont
  11. Monopoly nights
  12. Sitting by the ocean
  13. Mac and cheese
  14. Phone calls with my dad
  15. Taco Tuesdays
  16. Time to journal
  17. Morning stretches
  18. A couple deep breaths
  19. My family
  20. Recliner seats in the movies
  21. A clean apartment
  22. My BSU omelette
  23. A warm towel
  24. Understanding and listening
  25. The here and now

As always, check out my first blog 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1) to know why I’m writing this list and why I want you to start yours.

Went to the Pats last night with my friend Erika! What a game to be at and we had tons of fun.

Surrounded (#261)

I love football season. I love my New England Patriots. I love Tom Brady. But most of all, I love spending my Sunday with my family enjoying the game. Sports are an important part of my life and I’m grateful for the past decade plus of excellence the Patriots have demonstrated during the fall and winter seasons.

It’s not about winning. I’m grateful to spend the time with my family and have something we all enjoy together. I’m grateful for the game day snacks and traditions my family has. I’m grateful for the time my family shares rooting for our local team.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. My family
  2. Time to organize my music
  3. Understanding and patience
  4. Home movies
  5. Writing lessons
  6. My journal
  7. Time at the gym
  8. Learning from my mistakes
  9. My Peer Mentor staff
  10. Working at UMass
  11. Shared laughter
  12. Rolling down the Shea Durgin hill
  13. My BSU friends
  14. New audiobooks and podcasts
  15. Good communication
  16. Morning yoga and tea
  17. A couple deep breaths
  18. Safe travels
  19. My fraternity brothers
  20. Safe travels
  21. Being helpful
  22. When my mom watches my cat, Ned
  23. Learning something new
  24. Clean dishes
  25. The present moment

As always, check out my first blog, 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1) to know why I’m writing this list and why I want you to start yours.

Featured image is not my own.

The Days Of August (#246)

I can’t believe the month is almost over. Time flies when you’re having fun? Im busier than I was in England which is why the month has flown by. Doing my best to just be present and let the rest figure itself out.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. My first UMass football game
  2. Lawn games
  3. The warmth of the sun
  4. The cool breeze through the stadium
  5. Growth from experience
  6. Getting a beer with friends
  7. Tea in the morning
  8. Small diners and big pancakes
  9. Exchanging cat photos over the summer with my friend Ashley to keep me sane
  10. My education
  11. Hometown pizza stories
  12. The view from my balcony
  13. New Music Friday
  14. Home cooking
  15. Letting go
  16. When my cat greets me at the door
  17. Movie theaters with recliners
  18. The colors of the horizon
  19. Morning bike rides with Stephen
  20. Talks about life and purpose
  21. CLEAN WATER! Check out my project and see how you can get involved!
  22. The pull of the ocean current
  23. The smell of the sand and the seaweed
  24. The feeling of water touching the tips of my toes
  25. This exact moment

As always, check out my first blog, 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1) to know why I’m writing this list and why I want you to start yours.

Featured image of the UMass game. It was a great time and I’m grateful for the people I got to share it with.

Right Before Bed (#207)

Today I was asked how I manage to make time to keep up with my daily blog. In truth, the routine has been cemented into my brain. I do my best to be consistent but there are times the blog gets posted an hour (or more) later than when I usually post. I don’t always write a huge blurb about the importance of gratitude or a life lesson that’s been on my mind, but the process still takes some time.

Writing my blog right before I fall asleep works for a couple reasons. The easy explanation is my blog gets to include every ounce of gratitude I can squeeze out from the past 24 hours. That made the most sense before I started. What I didn’t anticipate was how it would make me feel as I ended my day and as I start the next one. Regardless of what may have been bothering me from work, an anxious thought, or something with my friends, I have gratitude to clear my mind. It’s helped me let go of any negativity I was holding on to and start my next day with a positive outlook. Each new sunrise brings change and gratitude has helped me embrace that fact.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. Old home movies
  2. The warmth of the sun
  3. My siblings
  4. Positive influences
  5. Good teachers
  6. Talks about space and our existence
  7. New audiobooks
  8. Time at my Grammy’s for holidays
  9. A good album all from front to back
  10. The rain
  11. My time in Cambodia. Check out my CLEAN WATER project to see how you can help too.
  12. New friends
  13. A bed long enough for me to fit on
  14. The change of seasons
  15. Carpools with Carley
  16. New ways to stay informed with the news
  17. Sharing music
  18. Gratitude
  19. Buffalo chicken dip and Pats games
  20. FaceTimes with my cat
  21. Understanding from others
  22. Patient people
  23. Quotes that make you think
  24. Safe travels
  25. The here and now
  • As always, check out my first blog, 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1) to know why I’m writing this list and why I want you to start yours.

    Featured image of the fog resting over the lake in Scotland we stopped at. A peaceful place I got a lot of great pictures from. Grateful I have a place where I can share my photography.

    Living In The Present (#153)

    It’s hard to believe it’s only been a week since I arrived in Europe but wow has so much happened. Every day has brought something new and exciting. I’m eternally grateful for this opportunity and I can’t wait for what’s to come. It was really great being able to FaceTime with some of my friends tonight and reflect. I moved into my Essex apartment today, meaning I finally have a permanent place to stay for the first time at the same time I’ve been abroad. Travel is fun but also incredibly draining. Tomorrow’s sun will bring new life and new opportunities.


    Today I’m Grateful For…

    1. Safe travels
    2. My internship in England
    3. FaceTimes before bed
    4. Sharing music and Spotify New Music Friday
    5. Catching up
    6. A little laughter
    7. Family traditions
    8. Disney movies
    9. Learning new things and setting goals
    10. Singing in the car
    11. The summer sun
    12. A cool night’s breeze
    13. The sound of rain against the window
    14. Anything by or about Frank Ocean
    15. Time to journal
    16. A clean and organized room I can call my own
    17. Summer bonfires
    18. Clean teeth
    19. Time for hiking and photography
    20. A little room decoration
    21. Summers working Orientation
    22. Friendly flatmates
    23. Open space and green trees
    24. Videos and pictures of my cat, Ned
    25. The here and now


    As always, check out my first blog, 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1) to know why I’m writing this list and why I want you to start yours.


    Featured image of the historically famous Anfield stadium. Tomorrow my team play in the Champions League Final and I can’t wait!! It’ll be a hell of a game whatever the result and I can’t wait to support them. Grateful for the games they’ve played and the joy they’ve brought me. One more boys, let’s go and bring home a 6th European title. 

    Expect The Unexpected (#106)

    There’s no way of knowing what the future holds. For that reason, it places more emphasis on living in the present and being grateful for what we do have. Regardless of the challenges that lie ahead, we can be grateful we made it this far.


    Today I’m Grateful For…

    1. RHA Wednesdays
    2. Soccer documentaries
    3. Practice in the rain
    4. Learning new skills
    5. Hanging with my cat all day
    6. Time at the gym
    7. A full fridge
    8. My family
    9. Being outside in the summer
    10. Skyhawks Camp as a kid
    11. Runs by the ocean
    12. Acoustic music to put me to sleep
    13. Arcade Games
    14. Road trips
    15. Backyard competitions with my brother
    16. My fraternity brothers in Sigma Pi
    17. Outdoor adventures
    18. Listening to vinyl music with my parents
    19. Technology
    20. Learning of all kinds
    21. Getting some help
    22. Cozy blankets
    23. People who keep me organized
    24. Feeling understood
    25. The present!

    As always, check out my first blog, 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1) to know why I’m writing this list and why I want you to start yours.


    Featured image of a fiery sky out here at UMass. Makes me excited for summer nights on the other side of the world. 

    Stay Focused (#46)


    Today I’m grateful for…

    1. FaceTiming with friends from BSU
    2. Chapter on Wednesday with my brothers
    3. My favorite floor partner, Stenie
    4. The Shea Durgin Hill in the summer
    5. Becoming an RA and starting in Pope
    6. The Lost Panera
    7. Carver Pond
    8. Boyden Steps
    9. Summer Apartments with John
    10. Frank and Holly
    11. Some of the worst supervisors ever so I could learn how to be better for my own staff
    12. Sundays playing Civ and watching football
    13. Lane’s Chocolate Brownies
    14. My mentors working in Res Life
    15. Conference Road Trips to UVM
    16. Dear World (https://dearworld.org/orlando)
    17. Speaking at Commencement
    18. Traveling to Cambodia
    19. My first class freshman year with Professor McCarthy. She always told us to, “Run with the fastest”. I’ve remembered ever since
    20. Runs through campus in the summer
    21. Spotify Music
    22. Dr. Jakari Griffith and Dr. Cindy Kane for helping me create a Residential Learning Community dedicated to Leadership
    23. Getting to work on a real TED event
    24. Auntie in ECC who always remembered my omelet order
    25. This present moment

    As always, check out my first blog, 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1) to know why I’m writing this list and why I want you to start yours.

    IMG_0661Featured image of the place I think of as my home. This is probably my best picture of Boyden among many other attempts. It was a warm night and the grass was so green. I have spent A LOT of time on that quad and on those steps. 

    A Great Story (#43)

    Just like a classic novel, life is full of twists and turns, highs and lows. I think gratitude helps us find ourselves right in the middle, perfectly balanced. Live a great story and be unafraid of what stands in your way.


    Today I’m grateful for…

    1. An incredible season by the New England Patriots. They lost to a really talented Eagles team they earned that win. Excited for next season!
    2. Time with my best friend Bryan
    3. The change that comes with rain
    4. Signs from the Universe
    5. Love in all forms
    6. What patience brings
    7. This life and the lessons I’ve learned
    8. Reflection and journaling
    9. The clarity that comes from running or a good work out
    10. The healing that comes with change
    11. My chance to speak at commencement
    12. Good jellybeans
    13. The solitude of the beach in the winter
    14. Getting to pick the movie on family movie night
    15. Seeing my cat after a long day
    16. Nights delivering pizza in high school
    17. Promises kept
    18. Kind people
    19. Unlimited breadsticks at Olive Garden, what a great deal
    20. A sick guitar solo
    21. The safety of my bed and my space
    22. Those Tide commercials during the Super Bowl, hilarious stuff
    23. Anytime the ice cream truck came by and my parents had enough cash for me to get something
    24. My time in Cambodia
    25. This very moment

    As always, check out my first blog, 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1) to know why I’m writing this list and why I want you to start yours.

    Featured image of the sun shining leaving Gillette stadium. The Patriots will always be more than just a football team for me. Lots of important memories as I’ve grown up watching that team. Even after some of the darkest days, the sun continues to shine.