Saved By Gratitude (#363)

I’m falling. Sinking.

I shouldn’t have jumped in this deep I tell myself.

My chest shoots with pain as the surrounding jellyfish welcome me to the ocean. I can hardly move. I’m gasping for air, precious air. I’m only inches from the surface. I can see the light reflect through the barrier that lay between me and living. I pull myself up with a single arm, the other clutching my abdomen from the pain. I swallow as much air as I have water. My legs growing tired as I tread water at a frantic and erratic rhythm.

What happened next occurred within an instant. My dad jumped right in and helped me swim to shore. I had barely screamed, I couldn’t even muster a sound of survival. He saved me then as he has many times since.

The hard truth is that gratitude didn’t stop me from drowning, people did. After almost a year or gratitude blogging, I’ve struggled with the concept. Part of me feels like this blog has simply been an expression of my privilege, boasted for everyone over the World Wide Web. Every day I think through these things I have and get to do that others can’t because of their background or adversities.

Maybe the real healing power of gratitude exists in the people we connect with. Maybe gratitude shouldn’t be about us at all. What good is gratitude when you’re suffering, drowning?

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Viktor Frankl

Gratitude may not have pulled me from the water but it certainly has helped in other ways. That summer I was literally and physically drowning but I’ve felt like that at other parts of my life, hundreds of miles from the ocean. Gratitude has helped me get through my darkest thoughts and hardest days.

Viktor Frankl as many of you know is one of my favorite authors. He is a Holocaust survivor and an inspiration to purpose-seekers and meaning-makers every where. Our issues do not compare and I will not relate his experiences with my own. His message is what I ultimately want to focus on.

Gratitude, as well as our outlook on life, is a choice we make. Even on our toughest days, finding something to be grateful for can be a powerful anchor.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. Talking things out
  2. The stillness of the morning
  3. Warm tea to wake me up
  4. Time at the gym
  5. Family road trips and books on tape
  6. Sharing new music
  7. Good advice
  8. Board game nights with my family
  9. Shared laughter
  10. Lessons learned
  11. Signs from the Universe
  12. Old pictures and good memories
  13. Bridgewater State University
  14. Friendly animals
  15. Sales on Peanut Butter at Big Y
  16. A clean apartment and clean laundry
  17. My process
  18. Clean water and texts from Cambodia
  19. A little support and understanding
  20. My Peer Mentors
  21. The motivation to get things done
  22. Laying next to my cat, Ned
  23. Local bagels and pizza
  24. Sledding down the hill in the winter
  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.

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

Featured image from this morning

How To: Write Daily Gratitude (#362)

Welcome! You’ve found this page at an opportune time. You see, December 2017 I made a pledge to write 365 lists of gratitude. In 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1), I embarked on a journey dedicated to appreciating what I had and how I felt. For a time, I kept to writing every day. I made sure my list was posted no matter the time of day or amount of energy I possessed. That was a mistake.

How To

Writing your daily gratitude is meant to be fun and reflective. You may want to share your writing with someone else. You may even ask for help forming your list of 25 things (trust me, I know I did). Whatever your motivation is to write and share gratitude, you have come to the right place!Here are some helpful tips to getting started.

What It Means

This is the reason you’re here. The meat and bones of writing gratitude. For our vegetarian friends, the tofu and bones if you will. Gratitude is defined as;

the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

A readiness to show appreciation and the return of kindness. Maybe your list will be given to a friend or loved one. Maybe the gratitude is a reflection of your own process. Whatever your intention, we know demonstrating gratitude is important. While writing you’ll find sharing gratitude to be cathartic and powerful. Again, this process is a return of kindness. A simple thank you extended back to the Universe and its inhabitants.

Get Comfy

Make sure you are in a good space. Most times, I write laying in bed surrounded by fluffy pillows and warm blankets. My cat Ned, also tends to join me from time to time which doesn’t hurt either. This may look different for you. Maybe you have a favorite tree you like to sit under or a hidden bench along a trail. Wherever you may go to sit and reflect, play some good tunes, relax, and enjoy the process.

Writing It Out

This is the easy part. Whether you are reflecting on your day or your past week, what stands out? What were the times that made you feel happy or supported? Who was there? What sounds did you hear? How did it/they help you reach the present moment? Your list may take on a new shape from here. Our list may simply include the things we have but it can also include who we are. What about yourself are you grateful for? Your curly hair? Your summertime freckles? When we have gratitude for the things that cannot change, we have not only accepted who we are but we have an appreciation for the present moment. Each breathe, devoted to helping us stay connected to the moment we’re in and each word signifying a thankfulness for something greater. Ask yourself some of these questions while you’re writing and you’ll have your list in no time.

Sharing Gratitude

This part is important. You’ve successfully completed your list and you spent meaningful time reflecting on how much you love peanut butter (I do it all the time). Sharing gratitude may not be for everyone. Sometimes our list is just for us and that’s okay! Motivation for sharing gratitude can look different for people. Maybe sharing gratitude is your way of inspiring others. Maybe someone you care about had a tough day and you want to remind them how special they are. Whatever your reason for sharing, you have the ability to start a chain reaction. By sharing gratitude, we have the ability to create change. Who knows what would happen if we were all a little more thankful for the people we share our gratitude with.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. Foggy mornings as rain falls against my window
  2. The stars, as a gift and a reminder
  3. The sound of the train passing in the night
  4. Naps next to my cat, Ned
  5. The warmth of the summer sun
  6. Teachers, mentors, and coaches
  7. Late night ice cream
  8. Game of Thrones marathons
  9. Morning runs before the sunrise
  10. A little motivation to get work done
  11. Calls from my parents and texts from my siblings
  12. Delicious tea and people to share it with
  13. Basketball in the driveway
  14. Safe travels and good health
  15. Warm clothes and semi-dangerous hikes
  16. Handwritten notes and letters
  17. A good hair day
  18. Talks about purpose and fulfillment
  19. My continued education
  20. My grandparents
  21. Time to relax and recharge
  22. Pleasant smelling candles
  23. When things go right
  24. A little help and encouragement
  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.

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

Featured image from Ashland State Park

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:
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)!

The Road Ahead (#360)

Suddenly a bottle flies from around the corner, kicked by the boy and his sister. The two in hot pursuit of the empty bottle to pass the time. Lost in their game, joy permeates the poverty-stricken village the children are growing up in. Weaving through the crowded bazaar, the boy and girl lost themselves in a game rather than the people surrounding them. The bottle falls perfectly in front of the boy and he strikes the plastic container with all his might. THUMP. The bottle launches off the boy’s foot, soaring, crashing down in the nearby alleyway. The girl looks at her brother disapprovingly. Before the girl has a chance to scold her brother, he is off to retrieve the bottle. The boy finds his toy in front of an old man with a familiar face. The boy reaches for the bottle when suddenly the man with the familiar face speaks. 

“Boy, do you want to know your destiny?”

The boy, curious, nods and grips his bottle tight to avoid giving up his treasure as payment for the future. The old man clears his throat and sits upright. The boy sees the man with a familiar face again but this time what lies under his hood. The boy sees each crease and winkle carved into the man with a familiar face. He is tan and frail but the boy stands unafraid. The man with a familiar face holds out his fist, enclosed with a gift for the brave boy who seeks the answers to the future. 

“I am Fear and you will find me in the darkness of each day.”

Reaching for his prize. The boy steps closer to the old man. 

“I am Vanity and you will find me standing in the way of growth.”

The boy again steps closer to the old man. 

“I am Death and you will find me on your final day after I have taken everything from you.”

The boy, entranced, ready to accept the would-be token from the man with a familiar face stops to pause. The boy takes a step back and refocuses his gaze, moving now from the outstretched hand to the hood of the old man. The man with a familiar face again speaks. 

“I am Hope and you will find me in the horizon of each morning.”

The wind blows, rustling the hood of the man with the familiar face. The boy now sees the piercing ocean blue eyes of the old man. Full of warmth, the boy remains motionless, breathing.

“I am Change.” The man says. “You will find me after every storm.”

The boy stretches out his hand to receive his gift and learn his fate. 

“I am Love and you will find me in your heart whenever you use the key.”

The man with a familiar face opens his hand to reveal a rusty key inside. The boy takes the key and examines the trinket. The boy asks,

“What is this for? You didn’t tell me about my destiny.”

The man with a familiar face smiles. 

“This key is special. It does not open any door nor any lock. The key is not made of gold and cannot be traded for anything of value. The key is for you boy and it will unlock the best this life has to offer. Hold on to the key and you will find your destiny not in the past or future, but in the present moment.”

The wind picks up and the old man vanishes into the air from under his hood, leaving behind the boy and his belongings. The boy looks around, in his left hand the bottle him and his sister were playing with. In his right hand, the key the man with a familiar face gave him. The boy places the key in his left shirt pocket and returns to his sister with the bottle. The children resume playing and laughing together as if nothing had happened. The boy would always remember the day he got the key to his destiny. 

My Story

The man with a familiar face exists in all of our lives but takes on different shapes and forms. We will encounter face the fears of the unknown, the challenges of comfort and complacency, and the ultimate realization that everything ends and life is impermanent. The man also takes shape in other ways. We will find the real treasures of life after taking a breath, patient. Change is all around us and can lead to growth and learning if we choose to embrace it. Love exists in all things and gratitude can be the key that unlocks it.

Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. Sharing gratitude
  2. Warm tea on a cold winter morning
  3. My family, sitting around the table together
  4. Clean water and texts from Cambodia
  5. A chance to journal and reflect
  6. New beginnings and embracing change
  7. Good health and safe travels
  8. My CHC and Kennedy Peer Mentors
  9. A good book and time at the gym
  10. A day to rest and recharge
  11. Cooking together and learning new things
  12. Finding and sharing new music
  13. Support from friends and mentors
  14. The warmth of the summer sun
  15. The sound of the train passing in still nights
  16. Finding new places and a summer abroad
  17. Liverpool Football and belief across continents
  18. A rainy day to walk the pier
  19. People who work hard and inspire others
  20. Finding Frank and Holly
  21. Warm blankets and comfy pillows
  22. The Boyden steps and midnight reflection
  23. My friends and brothers from BSU
  24. The little things
  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.

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



Featured image from Iceland, a crossroad in my own life.

Lifelong Learning (#359)

Over the past year of writing daily gratitude, I have found it’s not always easy. Sometimes I struggle because I’m unwilling to accept change or look at something from a different perspective. This is where we stay stagnant. Immovable in our conviction, time and adversity force our hand to discover new solutions.

The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.

C. Joybell C.

More than a year has passed since I began writing about gratitude and there have been many lessons learned along the way. I traveled in the summer only to be brought home and sent back. I returned to UMass with hopes of change and found myself in routine. We are never done learning. Life is full of adversity and we find it in the most unexpected of places sometimes. It is the act of overcoming that teaches us about ourselves. We learn these lessons when we’re ready and sometimes when we’re not. Whether we ask for help or succeed independently, know that we have the opportunity to grow every day.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. Pickup soccer
  2. Making new friends
  3. Sharing gratitude
  4. Productive time
  5. Calls from my mom
  6. Naps with my cat, Ned
  7. Clean water and texts from Cambodia
  8. My supervisor, Adam
  9. My continued education at UMass
  10. Long runs and loud music
  11. The morning sun
  12. Positive thoughts and positive people
  13. Warm socks at the cabin
  14. Board game night with my family
  15. Birds chirping outside my window
  16. A clear view of the stars painted in the dark night sky
  17. What hard work brings
  18. Days I get to sleep in under warm blankets
  19. Cooking class with JV
  20. Learning new things
  21. Helping people out
  22. Local breakfast
  23. A good book to read
  24. Teachers, mentors, and coaches
  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.

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

Featured image from Iceland

Why I Write (#358)

Quickly pacing. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. Anxious. I found myself on the platform next to the train tracks. I memorized each crevice in the ground as I tried to work through my panic. The music in my headphones would not drown out my torturous thoughts. I trapped myself in my mind, determined to make myself feel awful in the process.

I have to stop, I told myself. My feet kept moving.

Just talk to someone, you’ll feel better. I was not very convincing.

The platform came to life as the scheduled train began to approach. I calmed down for the sake of my own embarrassment and took a seat on an empty bench. A deep breath in and a deep breath out. I had to do something. The incessant pacing was not helping and I was not about to spend my entire day anxiously walking in circles. I went back inside and cleared a space on my desk in my room. I unearthed a journal given to me and stared at the blank pages. I had used the journal a handful of times prior for half-baked thoughts and nonsensical ideas. I tore out the used pages and told myself I was starting fresh. I began to write.

At first, I was unsure who to address. Was I writing to myself in the future if I decided to read the entry again? Was I writing to the people I needed help from? My writing became a stream of consciousness. It became a brain dump onto the empty white pages that sat and stared back at me. I tried to write as quickly as the thoughts would enter my head. I journaled out of need. I wrote down the words that would acknowledge my feelings and I felt better.

Writing didn’t become a habit right away for me and it is still something I have to make time for. Writing in my journal and writing about gratitude bring me clarity. A daily journal and a daily blog to remind me of the treasures worth remembering. Not every day has been a miracle, far from it. The fact of the matter is, we must continue. We can stop at any time, breathe, and do what we must to go on living.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. Mornings with my cat, Ned
  2. Peanut butter
  3. Time at the gym to clear my head
  4. Clean water and texts from Cambodia
  5. A weekend to relax
  6. Cooking classes and learning new things
  7. Comfy pillows and warm blankets
  8. Shared anything
  9. When I can support and encourage my friends
  10. My Bridgewater blanket
  11. Teachers, Mentors, and Coaches
  12. Walks around Horn Pond with my Grandma
  13. The sound of birds outside my window
  14. Nights spent watching the stars
  15. The warmth of the summer sun
  16. The sound of rain and the impenetrable fog
  17. Patient reminders from the Universe
  18. Days I get to teach
  19. My Peer Mentors here at UMass
  20. My family
  21. The power of gratitude and a few deep breaths
  22. Late night ice cream
  23. Safe travels and good health
  24. Warm delicious tea
  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.

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


Featured image of Anfield, a place of dreams

Your Path Is Your Own (#357)

Go outside. Don’t tell anyone and don’t bring your phone. Start walking and keep walking until you no longer know the road like the palm of your hand, because we walk the same roads day in and day out, to the bus and back home and we cease to see. We walk in our sleep and teach our muscles to work without thinking and I dare you to walk where you have not yet walked and I dare you to notice. Don’t try to get anything out of it, because you won’t. Don’t try to make use of it, because you can’t. And that’s the point. Just walk, see, sit down if you like. And be. Just be, whatever you are with whatever you have, and realise that that is enough to be happy. 
There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it.

Charlotte Eriksson


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. The end of a long week
  2. Facilitation practice
  3. A chance to finally relax
  4. Thoughtful expression
  5. A chance to journal and reflect
  6. Safe travels around the word
  7. Lessons learned
  8. Learning to let go
  9. Challenging professors
  10. My family and texts from home
  11. Time with my cat, Ned
  12. Sharing stories and pictures
  13. Clean water and morning tea
  14. The warmth of the summer sun
  15. Home cooked meals
  16. RHA and Chapter Wednesdays
  17. The Boyden Steps
  18. People who encourage and inspire
  19. A chance to help
  20. Singing in the car
  21. A clean apartment and a clear mind
  22. Sharing gratitude
  23. Walks through campus in the summer
  24. A couple deep breaths
  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.

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

Featured image from the BSU lake

Finding A Balance (#356)

I’ve come to learn that our world isn’t so black and white. It shouldn’t have to be all or nothing in every circumstance. Sometimes the answers we seek go beyond option A and option B. We need to find for ourselves a middle ground. A way to consider the needs of others and ourselves.

Life isn’t about all or nothing. Life is built on both patience & action, consistency & adaptability, life & death. These concepts of life don’t simply go beyond the mundane of our day to day. Balance needs to exist in all things. Sleep, work, play, it all needs to fit in the only 24 hours we have each day. Let gratitude help get you there. One day at a time.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. A warm cup of tea
  2. Walks through an empty campus
  3. Hanging out with my cat
  4. My supervisors, Adam and Danielle
  5. Time to journal
  6. Bedtime stretches
  7. My continued education
  8. Talking things out
  9. My family
  10. Naps after work
  11. The sound of rain while I sleep
  12. Summer grilling
  13. The bike trail in Northampton
  14. Classic movies
  15. Home cooking
  16. Snow days and cancelled classes
  17. Getting stuff done
  18. Good communication and good company
  19. Healthy living and constant progress
  20. Learning new things
  21. Teaching CORE at UMass
  22. Music you can dance to
  23. Sharing gratitude
  24. Comfy pillows and blankets
  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.

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

Featured image from Acadia

Start With A Breath (#355)

Whatever the challenge, no matter how difficult, remember to take your time. There’s nothing you are unequipped to handle. You are exactly where you should be.

Take a breathe. You’re doing great.

Sometimes the reminder is helpful. After a long day, remember you’ve done all you can. Tomorrow is a new day, a new opportunity to achieve your goals.

Just start with your breathe.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. Talking things out
  2. Seeing my mom and brother
  3. My cat, Ned
  4. Time at the gym
  5. My CORE students
  6. Feeling better
  7. Making the most of it
  8. Pick up soccer
  9. Sharing music suggestions from my PMs
  10. Safe travels
  11. Walks around the pond with my grandma
  12. Moments of learning
  13. Patient reminders
  14. Honest communication
  15. Getting stuff done
  16. Late night talks with my dad
  17. Clean water
  18. Texts from Cambodia
  19. My friend Riley for always checking in
  20. Sharing gratitude
  21. Late night ice cream with JV
  22. The warm summer sun
  23. Embracing change
  24. Trips to Big Y
  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.

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

Featured image of the imminent sunset.

The Work Starts Now (#353)

It’s important to recognize how far we’ve come. We can use gratitude when looking back at the adversities we overcome and the lesson’s we have learned. To get where we want to go, what we have done isn’t enough.

Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

We must continue. We must keep fighting, keep moving towards our goals. Then we can use gratitude for what keeps us going.


Today I’m Grateful For…

  1. Meeting the vibrant sunrise with warm tea and my cat by my side
  2. Liverpool football games
  3. Quality time with JV
  4. A clean apartment is a clean mind
  5. Mentors, teachers, and coaches
  6. My family
  7. An opportunity to prove myself
  8. A good feeling
  9. Sharing gratitude with this community
  10. Late night ice cream
  11. Ezra Bell (here) on Spotify
  12. Routine and planning
  13. Peanut butter sandwiches
  14. Clean water and texts from Cambodia
  15. Reasons to celebrate
  16. A reminder of Spring
  17. Perfect descriptions
  18. Earth’s impossible moments of beauty
  19. What comes after the rain storm
  20. Time to be an introvert
  21. Calls from home
  22. Tools for my mental health
  23. Learning from mistakes
  24. A good book
  25. The precious, 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.

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

Forever missing the warm Cambodian sun.