I had always believed that I was filled with gratitude. I have been fortunate to have a wonderful life. My childhood was creative, nurturing, supportive and full of love and laughter, as is my family with my husband and son. I am also grateful for the love and life experiences from my other children.

The last few years have been, at times, joyful, excruciating, awesome, fearful, beautiful, devastating and amazing. My family has gone through a transition that I never would have imagined or desired, and though we could have been broken, we have come through it mostly with grace and, as it turns out, even better than we would have imagined.

In October I was not in a positive place, though I was not outwardly aware of it. I was personally challenged with writing a daily gratitude list. At the time, I was offended that my challenger didn’t recognize that I am a grateful person. I took on the challenge which was then increased by the accountability of also sharing my list with another person. Wow.

My daily ‘homework’ was to focus on five things that I am grateful for. In the beginning, one item was always my first cup of coffee. As I continued, I realized that gratitude subsists on many levels. The days that I found it easy to turn out my five items were days that I was not mindful of how my perceptions guided my decisions. If I found the list challenging, I really had to focus on the details of my life, and ultimately, who I was, how I was becoming, and how I was or was not participating in my own life.

My challenger, as much as I resented her for her approach and interference, was suggesting a loving pathway to understanding and healing myself. As I continue, I discover that taking a few minutes within each day positively changes my outlook.

There are days when it seems like an insurmountable task. My partner in gratitude suggested that on those days we just exchange photos that make us smile.

As we enter Spring, I am grateful. I recognize that challenges are part of life, and how I choose to perceive them and accept them are my own reality. I choose to accept each day with gratitude.

— Laura Nelson