Living In Appreciation: The Gratitude List – by Jennifer Carter

I sat by the window as rain splattered across the glass, watching it trickle down and pool together, creating a muddy home for the flowers that live along the wall. A woman across the street gingerly lifted up the hem of her pants and tiptoed across the sidewalk, skirting the puddles which threatened to seep through the stitching in her shoes. Above her, a tree branch groaned under the weight of a neighboring palm. A siren wailed from the ambulance speeding up the road and the dog next door barked in protest. I realized that these moments of observation are rare for me; being forced into solitude where I’m alone with my thoughts. The rain kept me under house arrest, thwarting my plans of a hike early in the morning and the laundry list of errands I had to run the remainder of the day. Once I sat down to watch the weather turn, I immediately drew in a deep sigh of relief and allowed my body to settle into the chaise. In that moment, the striking realization that I don’t take enough time to stop and soak in my surroundings, or even slow down enough to notice the little nuances around me, made me catch my breath. I took it as a glaring reminder of why I need to take pause regularly, sometimes just for introspection, and use the time to check in with myself. For that, I was grateful.

And in being grateful, I was then also reminded of something I had been meaning to do for some time: recognize gratitude. In the whirlwind of life, thankfulness and graciousness sometimes take a back seat. The days rush by, there are more things added to our ever-growing to-do lists, and connections either flourish or erode. I challenge you, as I have done with myself, to take a moment and reflect on the many reasons you may have to be thankful, and create a gratitude list. I’ve found that just by acknowledging these reasons, I’ve been able to lift them higher and release them into the universe. It has made me feel lighter already, and in living each day with gratitude, it’s been easier to continue seeing the things to be thankful for.

I’d like to share my gratitude list with you and hope that you, in turn, create your own and share it with those around you. In this, we can connect to something larger; something that unites us all. What does your gratitude list look like?


  1. Creativity – without it, I wouldn’t have anything driving me to create, be, or do only the very best. It’s what has given me motivation throughout the years, from sky-high dreams to grounded aspirations. Only in creativity can I truly flourish and continue on the path of my aspirations.
  2. Writing – the easiest and the most difficult talent I attempt to hone. Writing has always been that friend who is always there, offering comfort and even answers during the most difficult times. It’s also been the friend who has shared my laughs and growing pains and helped me to reminisce when I would otherwise forget the small joys.
  3. Family – during the roughest of times and during the easiest of times, family is always there. No matter the various eccentricities or, at times, clashes of personality, there is a family member I can turn to for each mood, occasion, and situation.
  4. Learning – academics has always been my strong suit and my love of learning has propelled me into a wide variety of interests which have consciously shaped my writing and my actions. As a way to feed my insatiable curiosity of life, I’m constantly finding myself in seminars, college courses and conferences. I truly believe that in order to continue working on ourselves, we must be in a constant state of learning.
  5. Connections – I have crossed paths and made connections this past year that have felt truly purposeful. Having met some amazingly talented and gracious people, I am lucky to be able to uplift each other in our journeys. I feel aligned with where I am and who has entered into my life, confident in knowing that the only direction from here is upwards.