Two and a half years ago two events happened that changed my life forever. First, my son enlisted in the army. Then, three months after that, my mom passed. I have always been very attached to those I love. It’s part of my personality. Having the two of them leave was a mind-changing event.

I have a fifteen year old daughter who is lovely, intelligent and thriving. I also have a sister who is disabled because she was brain-damaged at birth. My response to my mom’s passing and my son departing was a strong one. But it brought to the forefront changes I needed to make in order to continue my life purpose.

I was acutely aware of my own mortality. Of time’s passing relentlessly. And of the fact that I needed to nurture my mind, body and spirit. I began vocalizing my truth. I rejected the things that felt false and unfit for my journey. I began a path to self-nourishment. This New Year’s resolution was only one. To keep a prayer journal and a gratitude journal.

Gratitude is nourishment to the heart and soul. It sheds light on things that seem small and unimportant but are really essential. Nature’s presence that surrounds us. Things that seem so commonplace that we forget there are parts of the world where they are lacking: food, shelter, clothes for cold months and hot months, electricity, running water, medications, transportation.

I also discovered it’s virtually impossible to stay angry if you are being grateful. The mere act of feeling gratitude vanishes angry feelings and resentful thoughts. Small luxuries like scented body wash, a favorite color lipstick, flowers in so many colors and variations feel like big presents I carefully unwrap.

Loss is generally thought to change your responses to life. It does. I still yearn to stroke my mother’s hand and feel really happy when my son comes home on leave. But it alters your responses in a more subtle way. I feel more acutely the passage of time. My own reactions which are different from those in the past. The need for closure.

I am incredibly grateful that I discovered these things. In our hurried pace we tend to forget the small moments. Yet our memories are the things we take with us to our end of life. Feeling we did those things we wished or regret the ones we left undone. I keep a bucket list of those things I want to do or places to go. But those things I have done, or places I have gone to, form a rich tapestry that triggers huge gratitude.