“. . . in this huge mound of data there was also story after story of men and women who were living these amazing and inspiring lives. I heard stories about the power of embracing imperfection and vulnerability. I learned about the inextricable connection between joy and gratitude. . .”
“Without exception, every person I interviewed who described living a joyful life or who described themselves as joyful, actively practiced gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to their gratitude practice.”
-Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
And so, in honor of what may be the most important holiday of all, allow me to practice:
I am grateful for the mountains. I have stood on top of Mauna Kea and watched the sunset from above the clouds. I have hiked the ridges of the Canadian rockies amongst the Big Horn sheep. I have climbed Half Dome and slept on Cloud’s Rest in Yosemite. I have crossed the Continental Divide, and skied more mountains than I can remember. I have hiked 14,000 feet up Mt. Albert, called in a mule deer with the scent of blueberry pancakes in the San Juans, watched hoarfrost form on the Blue Ridge, and watched mist rising off the Smokies.
The mountains bring me home. They remind me my feet are on the ground–and that they can take me to amazing places. The mountains teach me I am small and my problems smaller. They fill me with calm and inspire me with wonder. I am grateful for the mountains.
I am grateful for the trees. I have gulped their oxygen in moments of panic as well as intense exertion. I have sat silently and listened to their songs. I have climbed within their swaying arms, held high and safe above the ground. I have showered under them, swung from them, curled up in their shade for an afternoon nap, and frolicked in their brilliant leaves. I have witnessed their generosity–Pileated Woodpeckers tucked into a cavity, baby trees suckling on the corpse of a former giant, Bloodroot springing from the rich nutrients of rotting leaves. Trees connect me to the air and root me to the earth. They remind me that great strength sometimes comes from flexibility and patience. I am grateful for the trees.
I am grateful for the oceans. I have bobbed along the surface in a quiet cove, peering at the underwater marvels through a snorkel mask. I have floated for miles with the tide on a flimsy blow-up raft, I have kayaked with green sea turtles and swum with wild dolphins just by chance. I have watched the sun sink into its nightly bath and watched it rise from the sea, fresh and new again. I have eaten from the bounty of life the sea provides. The ocean buoys me up, pushing me to the surface, reminding me I can float. It soothes me with its endless rhythm and delights me with its underwater surprises. I am grateful for the oceans.