Gratitude Attitude: Lessons in Being Grateful

alphabet gratitude

Each and every morning, I slip on my shoes and grab Banks, my dog and number one office companion, and we head out for our morning walk. I’ve talked about how this sets my day off right, encourages me to breath in the fresh air, and often acts as endless inspiration for projects, paintings, and work throughout the week.

So when a friend told me about using the “gratitude alphabet” when you walk, I was immediately intrigued. The idea? While out and about, find something you’re grateful for that starts with the letter of the alphabet you’ve progressed to. Simple as that — but also not so simple, when you really think about it.

Turning off to be here now

One of the hardest parts about living in the incredibly wonderful world we live in is that we are constantly connected. There is unlimited opportunity to be plugged in; to be in touch; to always be doing. While there is immense advantage to this, especially as a business owner and traveler, our constant state of connection makes it especially difficult to turn off and allow yourself to just be, in the moment. Right now.

It’s the consistent pull to be plugged in that makes the need for exercises like the gratitude alphabet ever more present.

Walking with gratitude

So for 26 days straight, as I headed out for my morning walk, I took myself out of the always-on mentality and instead seeked to take in all that is around me. And each day, I discovered more and more things that I simply passed before, that are truly amazing parts of my neighborhood; my day; my life.

Day one began with apples by the road.

Day two was Banks overlooking the lake at my favorite place in the world, Brantingham.

Day three? Color. Always so much color.

With a letter in mind each day, I took in my surroundings. When day seven came around, I was amazed at the amount of things I encounter — and often sail by — that begin with the letter ‘g.’ Grapes. Geraniums. Grandma Dier (I often think of her when I walk). Gravel. GREEN! The thought process often went like this, until I landed on the one that meant the most. I was so grateful for all of the shades of green that surrounded me right in that moment. Hundreds of shades — warm, cool, dark, light. The Finger Lakes is home to magnificent greens — and stopping to absorb that gave me the overwhelming desire to capture them and be inspired by them — and later infuse them into a branding project.

On and on this went — from the journal I write in daily to the fresh lavender growing in my yard, the quiet where I get my best thinking done, and the luminescent September sunrises that have graced each morning. The further I got in the alphabet, the more and more I realized exactly how much I am surrounded by — and fulfilled by — each and every day.

Living from a place of abundance

Most of the time, I’m inspired by nature. This “challenge” was no exception — but it also took me outside of that comfort zone and had me looking at everything that surrounds me, and how gratitude can come from even the seemingly smallest things.

And the beauty of it all is this: when we focus on what we are grateful for in each moment, we stop living from a place of scarcity (“I wish I had more…” or “If only things were like this…”) and we start to realize we are infinitely living from a place of abundance, where we have all we need.

Being grateful — and recognizing that gratitude — helps me to stay positive. It reduces worry. It expands my awareness, and impacts my creativity in a positive way. It’s yet another amazing tool in my toolbox of life.

As we celebrate the end of summer and welcome the onset of fall, I encourage you to take a moment each day to connect with where you are right now and recognize something you’re grateful for. And if you’re feeling brave, share at least one thing with me below!

Banks at Brantingham         journaling        September sunrise in the Finger Lakes

Creative Inspiration: Just Be.

creative inspiration in morning walks

I took the leap to become my own boss in my graphic design business 16 years ago, yet it was only in the past year that I became even more daring, listened to my heart, and moved out of the office space I rented and into the coziness of my own home workspace.

With this came a lot of change: I no longer had the parameters of “going to the office” to set my pace in the morning. I no longer had the presence of other building tenants keeping me alert throughout the day. I no longer had the routine I had followed for those 15 years.

Like with any great change though, I knew this was an opportunity to grow. To appreciate my commute from upstairs to down. And to bask in the bliss that is being an entrepreneur who lives in an absolutely spectacular place.

Bloomfield bliss

I am fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth – a small town called Bloomfield in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. It’s the perfect place to draw inspiration for both graphic design and painting, where beauty is always in abundance throughout the four distinct, changing seasons.

So naturally, it didn’t take long before I found my absolute favorite routine to get my day going: a morning walk most often accompanied by my officemate and mascot, Banks. Together, we take in the fresh air — some days in shorts and sandals; others in ear muffs and boots. (Okay, that’s just me. He usually goes out in the same way each day.)

On these 2.5 mile jaunts around the wooded “block” that surrounds my home (which is pleasantly located on a secluded dirt road), we are blessed to see, smell, feel, and enjoy so much. It’s during these walks that I have the freedom to just be. To enter the perfect state of flow. To set my intentions for the day and focus on being present.

To say my morning walks inspire me would be an understatement. They do so much more: they take me to a quiet place of presence where I am able to observe. I see details, colors, and textures that would sadly be easy to overlook otherwise. More than once, a great idea or creative design solution will present itself to me as I allow myself to be in this state.

Meanwhile, Banks takes pleasure in his own way, stopping to smell at any given point. In fact, his stops are what often allow me to notice the bittersweet changing of the leaves, an interesting bird, or an intriguing texture in a tree.

Magical. It’s the perfect word to describe seeing the Earth change: the streams full in the spring; iced in the winter; dry in the fall.

Allow yourself to be.

Most of my working life, I didn’t allow myself this time to just be; to walk and really absorb the amazing beauty I’ve always been surrounded by. I rushed off to work. I was “busy.” I was always doing. Now, I can honestly say I’m being.

Taking in our surroundings and appreciating the small things is truly a gift. My creative work is better for it; I am better for it.

What do you work into your routine to allow yourself to just be? Let’s inspire each other in the comments below!

PS – It just wouldn’t be fair to keep these moments of pure nature and inspiration to myself. That’s why I started Instagramming them to share the beauty that surrounds me with friends and followers near and far.

Banks        winter berries in Bloomfield        leaves in the Finger Lakes