Chosen Family (#313)

This post comes from my friend and a returning guest blogger, Riley McGrath.

My name is Riley McGrath, I am a 20 year old FTM transgender guy from Scituate Massachusetts, though home to me is really Bridgewater State University. I am studying psychology and am taking on a double minor in LGBT studies and women and gender studies. I hope to become a gender therapist where I will be helping trans folks like myself every day of my life.

Something that I’ve carried with me throughout my coming out and transitioning process is this idea of a chosen family. I grew in a big Irish Catholic family. These values have been ingrained in me, my whole life. Now that I’ve started my transition and have come out, the importance of family has changed for me.

To me, family is the people that accept and support you without any conditions. I don’t see my biological family being in my life forever unless they accept who I am and start to call me Riley. My true family is the people have been with me since I have come out and support me without exceptions. One of the beautiful things about being LGBT is being able to choose your family. Sometimes it’s after your biological family kicks you out. But you find the most amazing people to “replace” what you’ve lost. My chosen family is something I am grateful for every day of my life.

One of my favorite quotes about family is from the TV show, The Fosters. It is something I carry with me through the ups and downs of being queer and a trans male. “DNA doesn’t make a family. Love does” I really love that quote and it always reminds me of my chosen family.

Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. My chosen family, even if some people aren’t in my life much anymore
  2. Drywall and painting
  3. My sister, who is one of my favorite people on the planet
  4. The trans community on social media (Laverne Cox, Aydian Dowling, Chella man, Chase Ross and too many more to mention)
  5. Question 3 in Massachusetts
  6. Bridgewater State University (as always)
  7. My friends Catherine and Sean, for letting me stay when I have to work early/ late… And their dogs too
  8. The crazy journey of manhood
  9. My car
  10. Both my jobs, my bosses, and my coworkers
  11. Music (for keeping me sane through the ups and downs of life)
  12. Being able to learn how to cook on my own
  13. Stories
  14. Church (for showing me that LGBT folks can be religious)
  15. My best friend and brother (for our hour-long conversations where I always end up crying)
  16. Rain
  17. Anyone that has ever doubted me
  18. Everything I’ve gone through and struggled with
  19. The crazy journey of manhood
  20. Having the right and privilege of voting
  21. Sunrises and sunsets
  22. My research group
  23. My dad (for giving everything up for me)
  24. How much I’ve grown since September
  25. The month of November (November 20th specifically)

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)!

An evening at the mall (#311)

Community post #2! Thanks so much to our guest writers – I’m excited to share more. This post is by a fellow gratitude writer. We connected and talked about the power of gratitude over email and now this.

Check out Ryan’s gratitude journal at

Yesterday, I went with a friend to get dinner and ice cream at a mall nearby. It was the nicest mall I’d ever been to, featuring art installations in walkways, tall glass on every storefront, and the bustling atmosphere of the holiday season.

We arrived at the restaurant we wanted to eat at. They had an hour-long wait. My friend put down his number and we left to wander the mall until our table was ready.

The two of us walked, window shopped, tried on and bought new shoes, and lounged in one of the many sitting areas littered across the expansive public space.

Before we knew it, our table was ready and we strode over to enjoy a delicious meal together.

I’m grateful that an evening like this can be commonplace in my life. I’m aware of how terrible others’ circumstances can be, how my own fortunate circumstances were gifted to me, and that this privilege is ephemeral and it will be gone sooner than I realize.

Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. The safety of my friends and family.
  2. My capacity to fall in love and that I continually do so.
  3. That my body still works.
  4. That my body still works well.
  5. The people who have stepped into my life and become my mentors because of the mentors they themselves have had.
  6. My reclining couch that ruins most other couches I sit on.
  7. Books.
  8. Audiobooks.
  9. Patrick Rothfuss’s “The Wise Man’s Fear” on Audible.
  10. Being able to make and eat my own favorite meals any time I want.
  11. Having a job I inherently enjoy.
  12. That I’ve fallen into a line of work that I’m good at and is in relatively high-demand.
  13. Having co-workers who care about one another and that I genuinely enjoy spending time with.
  14. That I live in America at a time when opportunities to shape my own life have never been easier.
  15. That my psyche is still intact and hasn’t shattered under the stress of events I cannot cope with.
  16. This laptop that I got a super good deal on.
  17. My ability to learn.
  18. My curiosity that motivates me to learn.
  19. Relationships with my parents that have grown so fulfilling as I’ve gotten older.
  20. That I’ve never been part of the food chain.
  21. That I don’t live in constant fear or dread.
  22. Friendly neighbors with healthy boundaries.
  23. Explosive music for exhilarating runs.
  24. The people who love and care about me, even when I sometimes don’t feel worthy of love.
  25. That I’m still alive.

Thank you Jake for having me do a guest post on your gratitude list!

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)!

Our Comfort Zone (#308)

There are times I can be quite rigid. I stick to my routine and wouldn’t dare change it up. I think there’s value in recognizing that. Theres power in reflection.

I’m grateful for when I can return to that familiar feeling. When I can recharge and find my breath. I want to find gratitude in normalcy and the mundane but not grow fond of it. I think it’s important to find ways to expand our comfort zone, not escape it. We just have to take it one step at a time.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. Morning coffee and happy smiles
  2. My supervisor Adam
  3. A productive morning
  4. Warm tea
  5. New traditions
  6. A little understanding
  7. Patient breathing
  8. Time to read
  9. Pickup soccer after work
  10. Liverpool FC, even when they lose
  11. Making new friends
  12. Late night ice cream
  13. Classic movies
  14. My family
  15. Learning something new
  16. Clean water
  17. Those who inspire and motivate change
  18. Leadership lessons
  19. Just getting started
  20. Sitting by the train station
  21. Sharing gratitude
  22. The Shea Durgin hill
  23. Warm blankets
  24. Expressing emotions
  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.

ATTN: Make sure you check out my current giveaway! See how you can give back with gratitude. From now until the start of December.

Featured image from Matador beach. Missing the California sun.

Quite The Combination (#305)

Breathing, Gratitude, and patience.

Three things I have worked on all year long. With gratitude, I give thanks for the challenges and moments of learning of this past year. I sit with and appreciate the support from friends and family. With patience, I understand life only happens one moment at a time. I must be patient with my process above all else. And finally, breathing. It is with my breath I tie myself to the present and release any negative energy I hold.

With these three things, I feel unstoppable.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. FaceTimes with friends
  2. Stretching before bed
  3. Clean water
  4. Sharing gratitude
  5. A couple deep breaths
  6. Frank and Holly
  7. Random dancing
  8. Pancakes on weekends
  9. Car ride singing
  10. Fresh fruit and veggies
  11. Local bagels
  12. Good advice and mentors
  13. My family
  14. A change in season
  15. Moments of learning
  16. A little inspiration
  17. Cozy slippers
  18. Good communication
  19. Board game nights with the family
  20. My grandparents
  21. A home cooked meal
  22. Time off from work and classes
  23. Sharing music
  24. Sports
  25. The here and now

Always love hanging out with my Cat.

How We Spend Our Time (#302)

It’s not a race.

There’s nothing you have to win.

This life isn’t meant to be a checklist of accomplishments. We only get so much time on this earth, please don’t spend it in anger or hatred. Let go of past transgressions. Let go of past mistakes. You’re in this moment only.

Spend your time with intent. Do meaningful work that makes you happy. Time to take care of yourself doesn’t hurt either.

Slow down. You’re doing great.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. Music you can dance to
  2. A life full of color
  3. Rainy mornings
  4. Helpful and patient people
  5. Celebrating others
  6. My grandparents
  7. A clean apartment
  8. Pickup soccer nearby
  9. Clean water
  10. Spending time with Julie
  11. Life lessons
  12. Vinyl records and classic songs
  13. Comfy pillows
  14. Trying new things
  15. A little competition
  16. Conference friends and stories
  17. Safe travels
  18. Singing in the car
  19. A couple deep breaths
  20. Warmer weather
  21. Time for stretching
  22. My family
  23. Kraft Mac and cheese with extra cheese
  24. My favorite places
  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 from my trip to the Grand Canyon!

Beyond What We Know (#173)

Life is meant to be exploratory. Embrace change in all its forms. Step outside your comfort zone and use gratitude as a tether to your present. We only know what we know and we don’t know what we don’t know. Life is about learning new things and that takes both time and experience. Be patient. The best is yet to come.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. The rain
  2. Hanging out with my siblings
  3. Cozy blankets and warm socks
  4. Feeling organized
  5. Working with supportive people
  6. A couple deep breaths
  7. Morning yoga
  8. Mentors and coaches
  9. Time to relax
  10. Sunday night football and snacks
  11. Friends from home
  12. Summer trips to the cape
  13. Mutual support and energy
  14. Late night ice cream
  15. Safe travels
  16. Learning new things
  17. A new perspective
  18. Flash cards for tests and quizzes
  19. Home
  20. New music and real instruments
  21. Gratitude
  22. Embracing change
  23. Clean water and sustainable efforts
  24. School leadership
  25. The precious 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.

A fiery red sun setting on the day.

Middle Of The Road (#162)

“I am not what I ought to be, not what I want to be, not what I am going to be, but I am thankful that I am better than I used to be”

John Wooden

It’s a long road ahead but I’ve found myself to be in a good place along the way. Remembering my breath to enjoy the ride.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. My family
  2. Basketball in the driveway
  3. A change in season
  4. Comfy pillows and warm blankets
  5. Time at home
  6. Letting things go
  7. My grandparents
  8. Talking things out when needed
  9. Hot yoga with my mom
  10. Time to journal
  11. Good tea and good conversation
  12. My cat, Ned
  13. Cereal snacks
  14. Late night ice cream
  15. Friends abroad
  16. A week off from school
  17. The colorful setting sun
  18. Time to heal
  19. A couple of deep breaths
  20. The sound of the train passing
  21. Local bagels
  22. Safe travels and good stories
  23. Meeting new people
  24. Patient thoughts
  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 from last winter