Gratitude is the way of the heart. The language of the Earth. The essence of life.

Gratitude has been a constant in my life since November of 2012. I started that November like I had so many Novembers before — to write out 30 days of being thankful on Facebook. At that point, I admit, it wasn’t very authentic. I was just writing something out every day to have it there — because, you know, it’s my November duty, right?

About halfway through that month, life humbled me. Life shattered me. I got the call from a relative that there had been a fire at my mom’s house and my father was killed in that fire. When I received that call I was about to board a plan to travel to Nashville for a concert. I had just made a waffle at the hotel waffle maker and my partner and I were eating. In that moment, my life just stopped. The world stopped turning.

In the days following I clung to gratitude. I wrote from my heart every day what I was thankful for — for a smile from a stranger, for the Red Cross for helping my mom, for the Salvation Army who also donated to my mom, for people who came to help salvage what we could from her house. For being able to hold a meal down because I was so upset and so heavily grieving.

Instead of caving into myself, giving up on hope in the world, I clung to gratitude like it was a lifeline. And it was a true lifeline.

I kept writing on Facebook for well over 1,000 days straight, but eventually waned. Now I silently thank the water for my tea, the sunshine on my face, the laughter of my coworkers spilling down the hallway. There is truly so much to be grateful for.

This post is dedicated to my father, who was the father he never had to be. He took on the role as our father when I was in high school and did everything my biological father didn’t have the capacity to do for me. I’m forever grateful to him for showing me what a father is.

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