Thanks and Giving


You can’t always get what you want, but you always get what you need.

We are in the season of gratitude, and thank goodness for that. 

I don’t remember exactly how I got the idea. It could have been from Sarah ban Breathnach, Oprah, Jesus, or Jagmeet Singh, but fifteen years ago, all I knew is that I needed to do something. 

My life was in a complete 360 and I had no idea how to continue to live in beauty, life-deep. 

And on top of this, I lost my corkscrew and was compelled to live on food and water for several days.  


So I started a gratitude journal. Every night before bed, I diligently wrote down five things for which I was grateful.At first it wasn’t easy.Sometimes the best thing that happened to me that day was finding the lid to a Tupperware container on the first try. 

Or for the first time my hygienist didn’t tell me I needed to floss more. 

Or when I finished my laundry and all the socks matched up.

Things that might incline people to lose the will to live. Especially in this cold. 


Our lives are strung out between the merely imperfect and the truly awful.
Just because it doesn’t come naturally doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. The thing is, people aren’t hardwired to be grateful. Like any school skill worth having, gratitude requires practice. It’s a skill and habit you can cultivate. Gratitude is like a muscle that you have to keep exercising, taking baby steps to get stronger.
It’s easy to be grateful when things are going well.It’s an entirely different story during the trials and tribulations of life; the losses, disappointments, rejections, failures, hurts and set-backs.

One of the best ways to get through a burden is to bring in gratitude, then surrender to it in faith and trust. 

What you can’t explain in your life — may be explained as being a gift.
It is in falling down that we learn almost everything that matters spiritually. It seems that we have to lose it (or know that we don’t have it) before we will really seek it. Then we find it, and fittingly celebrate.

The message is sort of hard to miss.

                                                Medjugore, Croatia
After a while, finding things to be grateful for became easier and easier. In fact, I would have to stop myself at 10, then 15. Then I realized that I needed to be more specific and focus on exactly why I was grateful. For example: 

Vague: I am grateful that I met Mrs. “X” today.

Specific: I appreciated her manner, but wondered what I had done to deserve her company and how I might avoid her in the future.


In hindsight, it was probably the single most important thing I can attribute to getting me through some difficult, difficult years and trials. Literally.
You say keeping a gratitude journal sounds cheesy, too cliché. In fact, you’d rather stick needles in your eyes.  

You say that this is for the kind of people who daily pin 57 photos on Pinterest, the kind who don’t let their cacti casually die on the windowsill, and the kind that make their own granola with 10 different kinds of organic nuts.

Even if you’re sceptical and think you lack the discipline and time, start small. Instead of every day, commit to every couple of days. 

The trick is what we learned in Finding Nemo – Just keep swimming.

You will thank me, but you don’t have to.

After a few months, I realized I needed to involve subtraction, not just addition.I needed to consider how much better my life with was without something, rather just tallying up the good stuff.

I needed to be grateful for all that didn’t happen or what may have happened, all those close shaves with “disaster” of some kind or another.

The distance between them happening and not happening, is grace. 

“I’ve come to believe that living in a state of gratitude is the gateway to grace.”                                                      – Adriana Huffington
                                               Medjugore, Croatia
It turned out that noting ostensibly small things and moments generated more satisfaction and happiness than large ones. As well, continually thinking of them as gifts guarded against taking them for granted and promoted delayed gratification.
I can live two months on a good complement.     Mark Twain

Gratitude shouldn’t be a once a year kind of thing.

So on this Gratitude Day and everyday, think about: 

  • Thanking the barista that makes your morning coffee instead of staring at your iPhone and ignoring everyone around you. This doesn’t mean shooting off a perfunctory, “Hey, thanks”.  It means a concerted and consistent effort to notice and appreciate what you have been given. 


  • Saying a simple hello to a stranger on the street.


  • Not wasting one drop of water that runs from your faucet. 1.1 billion people have inadequate access to clean water and will never have this experience. 


  • All the good things flowing to you. From the crunch of autumn leaves, to the azure sky to, yes, even October snow. 

The only secret is you must mean it.  

No matter how big or small, be thankful and embrace.

You know you’ve reached the crowning glory of gratitude, when you lay writhing on the floor in pain from food poisoning and say to yourself, “Well, it could be a lot worse. At least it’s not appendicitis.”

Gratitude just may take over your life.

Happy Thanks and Giving!

P.S. I’m grateful that you read to the end of this e-letter.


  1. Christine R. says:

    Well done and Happy Thanksgiving Karyn. – Christine R.

  2. This was a wonderful read and has inspired me to get back to my gratitude journaling. Thank YOU Karyn, and Happy Thanksgiving!


    ANN S.

  3. Thank you! I will share your gems of wisdom. John N.

  4. Loved all of it. I am grateful for you.


  5. Karyn, thank you for your amazing letters. You are so imaginative,creative and wise.

    Happy Thanksgiving.


  6. Sharon C. says:

    So sincere

    Thank you 😊
    Sharon C.

  7. Elaine M. says:

    A Happy Thanksgiving to you also, we will be sharing a big bird with my son and one of his staff. It portends to be a wonderful fall day. Elaine

  8. Hi Karyn
    I’m grateful that you sent this newsletter out because it has some funny bits and some poignant bits.

    I don’t remember the Blue Rodeo cheesecake. I’m grateful to get the recipe.

    Happy Thanks Giving.