“Stand in reverence of each passing gift, because it is in the parting — that we receive. Take refuge in our active attraction — when our wise self beckons us to rise. Wake up — for this is the Sacred Gift.” The Grace of Redefining Love

Stop and smell the roses — that old cliche everyone knows but doesn’t know. It’s almost as if our collective culture is in the middle of reclaiming gratitude.

Looking into our lover’s eyes as we lay on the sandy beach. Appreciating the small yellow flower on the side of the driveway on our way to the mailbox. Looking deeply at our dinner before we consume it, wondering perhaps, how many hands it took to get the squash, potatoes or salad from a seed onto our plate.

Gratitude is “Standing in reverence of each passing gift” because everything is fleeting, or perhaps rather, CHANGING — offering little moments of bliss if we stop to take them in.

It’s really the practice of mindfulness that slows us down enough to receive heartfelt appreciation. Each breath a present waits, our evolutionary gift, to take us into the joy and beauty of Life.

I have a lot to be grateful for. There are good people in my life, I’m a writer and a songwriter, I’ve recorded in wonderful recording studios, I’ve travelled to Prague and lived in beautiful places. I’m also a cancer survivor, and I’ve grieved the loss of my best friend, my uncle, and my sister-in-law —three of my closest loved ones, dying within 5 months of each other. I lost my job when I was 49, then diagnosed with that cancer a month after. I have $300 in my savings account. I’ve both lived and lost a lot.

The good times gave me possibility, the hardships built integrity and compassion. And grit, the adaptability and perseverance, the contract between my spirit and God’s will. 

It’s how we respond to circumstances that matters. So…

How do we live in gratitude?

A couple years ago, I wrote a 10-part series called Waking InstantsTaking Refuge in our Fleeting Moments. I also call them The Ten Gratitude’s, they are a reflection of 10 people that changed my life, beginning when I was a child. Writing this gave me a deeper appreciation for the gifts, love, and words of wisdom they graced me with. We all have our Waking Instants!

I consider gratitude a way of living, a lifestyle. It’s choosing to stop and look, and it takes cultivating to integrate. The benefit of cultivating gratitude on a daily basis is invaluable. It opens us up to receive. And like forgiveness, releases us from our attachment to conditioned living.

Don’t have enough time to practice?

Consider this exercise. Conscious breathing slows our bodies and minds down. Take a long slow deep breath. It is in this fleeting moment, we notice. What do you notice? Maybe a bottle of water on the kitchen table. What color is it? Is it full or partially consumed? Does the bottle have a label or is the light is shining through the bottle casting a flickering light against the wall? In these moments of observation, we can say thank you for the beauty, or the shape, or the many hands that it took to get it here.

Having grit for gratitude means we develop a passion for seeing the relevance and importance of seemingly small things. Or they may be the big things — like our child or a grandparent or our health. Cultivating gratitude expands us. It allows our life to become more precious, more joyful, and rich.

In the morning, I always read a passage from a book that is inspirational. I journal most mornings, and always say thank you out loud so the Universe, or God, or Heart of Life —the name of choice, can hear me. I think it’s important.

Also, choosing to be grateful is the last thing I do before going to sleep. I say thank you for this day, wow, look at what happened, look at my family, my friends. Wow, thank you for the warmth of these blankets. Wow, look at these books beside my bed, I love them all —thank you!

Gratitude is every step we make. It lives in all things — everywhere. This gift of a truly remarkable life, is everywhere.

So, it really doesn’t matter if it’s the holiday season or you just won the Kennedy Center Honors — Gratitude is waiting for you on each inhale. And, it’s Sacred.