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Part 3

"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around." Willie Nelson

This morning I took an exit ramp, and I stopped at the top of the ramp waiting for the light to change. I looked over to my right to a little patch of grass--kind of a no-man's land at the top of an exit. There was a stand of little trees, and they had all been decorated with different colored, shiny Christmas ornaments, and it made my day! It made me happy because it was so unexpected and sweet, but mostly because the thought of someone coming out and decorating those little trees on this one, obscure little off ramp was so moving to me. I can get caught up in What Can I Do?, forgetting that one small act has such impact. Actually, there are no gestures too small. And I am grateful that these are the kinds of things in the world that make me happy.

This Thanksgiving is different from all others, of course. But gratitude is taking the reigns and guiding my life more than ever. I've found that practicing this when things are easy builds the practice for when things are not. I don't like to give an order to the things I'm grateful for--it's more like they spring up like popcorn than appear in an orderly list--however, running and fitness float to the top, or spring up often. The act of becoming an athlete has my mind and body and spirit all on speaking terms again. And now, they have lined up and are playing for the same team, and it seems to be the key to gratitude being flung wide open.

So, that is where I will start:

I am grateful for my body, with all of its' strength, and all of its' forgiveness for the years that I cast it aside. Even then, it continued to serve me.

I am grateful for my mind, with all its' tenacity and willingness to stay tuned into my body and my spirit when my head wants to play games, or old tapes.

I am grateful for my spirit, with all its' fortitude and bigness and desire for more, for not letting up on that gas pedal of all that life has to offer, especially when my head was winning and my body stopped. I am grateful to my spirit for ignoring age, or embracing it, or redefining it, or any combination of the three that is needed in any given moment.

I am grateful for my family and the stories that made me.

I am grateful for the family I created, and that we have each other's backs in this world.

I am grateful for friends, and their humor and honesty and courageous lives.

I am grateful beyond measure for my coach, who stoked the fire and turned the lights back on.

I am grateful for food, and shelter, and the gift of two passions that wake me up in the morning, and sometimes don't let me sleep. I am grateful that these passions are intertwined with experiences, and that all of this, as it serves just me, may end up also serving others.

Every single night I am grateful for my bed, for my soft pillows and warm covers. Maybe the greatest material gift of all.

Of course, I thank god for coffee every morning.

And I am grateful for the beauty in the world, like the trees at the top of an exit ramp decorated for Christmas.

Most of all, I am grateful to feel grateful. Gratitude to me isn't about ignoring the pain or the difficulties in life, it's the muscle you build so you have the strength to look them square in the eye.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone...