Beautiful, sweet Sunny.

As I stood leaning against the gate to Marley’s stall, talking with Dayna, a woman who is strong, wise, and peacefully unassuming, I had one of those internal ‘ah ha’ moments. It was a beautiful early morning on New Years Eve, and we fell into a natural conversation, initially about Marley’s resilience, and then our conversation grew from there. Having gone a few months without seeing her, I was honored to have some time to spend catching up on a quiet time at the ranch. As we talked about the holiday, it turns out she also keeps a gratitude jar. Unlike me a relative beginner with the jar, Dayna has kept a gratitude jar since she was a kid. As I listened to her I thought…of course, it makes sense that I’m so drawn to her wisdom and perspective…she’s one of ‘The Grateful Ones’.

Cooking alongside my chef friend this year has been so much fun.

I love New Years Eve. For me, it’s far more meaningful than Christmas or a birthday or any other day that people enjoy. The last day of the year is a highlight for me because that’s when I read every entry that I had placed in my gratitude jar throughout the year – it’s a time to be reflective and it’s a time to enjoy a year’s worth of gifts. To learn that Dayna felt the same way felt really good.

Due to the almost daily ritual of feeding my gratitude jar, I’m a different person. Gratitude is no longer something I consciously think about or consider…feeling gratitude is part of who I am, what I feel, what I emote…I no longer have to try. And it’s not that I’m grateful for only good things, I’m grateful for challenging experiences and people, I’m

Whale sharks, manta rays, eels, giant lobsters – epic experience!

grateful for the lessons that come with opening my heart and letting people in even when I get hurt – my compassion has grown for others, my compassion has grown for myself.

As years go, 2016 will likely go down in history as one of the shittier ones for many Americans. Too many beautiful hearts and minds died, our nation reared its divisive and ugly head with its political agendas and opinions, there were acts of international fear and violence, and reactionary chaos and turmoil. Yet, once again, on the last day of the year, I sat and emptied out a jar filled with a years’ worth of love and gratitude. As I sat surrounded by bright, colorful reminders of all that I loved, and laughed about, appreciated, and took lessons from throughout the year…you’d never have known this was considered to be a shitty year. I sat surrounded by hundreds of reminders of how good it had been.

Playing hide and seek in San Jose, Costa Rica!

I’m not sure if I ever feel as rich as I do on New Year’s Eve. This year, as I realized I had indeed become one of ‘The Grateful Ones’, it was hard for me to go slow…I wanted to devour the next entry and the one after that and the one after that. I was aware that I wanted to simultaneously savor and devour whatever was written on the hundreds of slips of paper. My entries were filled with gratitude for people and experiences, not things. This was a year that I got a new car but it wasn’t the car I was grateful for, it was the people who helped me during the process.

As I relished each entry in my jar, I thought of the friends who were doing the same thing, which filled me with even deeper gratitude because I realized that I’ve begun to attract The Grateful Ones. Unhealthy relationships, toxic people, and negative experiences continue to distance themselves from me, from my life and increasingly, each day, The Grateful Ones have a bigger place in my heart and occupy a large part of my life.

The jar continues to teach me about truth and authenticity and appreciating every moment for what it is. The gratitude that emanates from the jar isn’t superficial and it’s not a Pollyanna perspective. I don’t see the world through rose-colored glasses yet I also don’t have to experience it with a thick, hardened skin. I’ve never wanted to do that or be that person. I like being soft, I like being open, and my gratitude jar has helped me optimize the opportunity to learn and to grow.

Adopting Gracie has brought new friends into my life, (and hers too)!

2017 doesn’t have to be a good year, or a bad year…it just has to be a year. The Grateful Ones are out there, they are among us, and the more gratitude we invite into our life, the more we attract them. Becoming more grateful allows us to truly become.

Thanks for reading,

~ Haven