Giving thanks is important. Not because it earns you brownie points with some higher power.Blessings Not because it is polite and civilized. Not because it is one of the three great prayers, according to Anne Lamott (although I agree with her).

I learned something about gratitude from a woman called to be a shaman. Since a shaman is a vital part of the story of my mystery, Down Dog Diary, I bought a shaman a cup of coffee and asked her to enlighten me about this calling. “Shamans teach that we are all interconnected, that the choices we make affect the planet and everybody on it,” she said. “Shamans teach us to see the signs and listen to them.”

Or as the shaman in my book, James Tumblethorne, puts it, “Coincidence is Spirit trying to get your attention.”

Committing to gratitude is committing to paying attention. That’s a big deal because noticing the world around us makes us bigger in spirit. It connects us with everything, and through that connection we find love.

So here’s a few things I’ve been thankful for lately:

  • That I could watch an eagle taking the wind drafts like escalators in the sky.
  • That my brakes worked when that idiot pulled over into my lane.
  • That I can hold a grandchild in my arms (every once in a while when she slows down).
  • That I have friends who will tell me when the writing is not done and should go back in the oven.
  • That I have a fashionista daughter who can help me choose nail color. (Why is that so hard?)

Some times it is difficult to find gratitude in our hearts. Sadness and despair and anger squeeze it into a closet and lock the door. But that is when we need gratitude the most. Not to give God or the Universe or Spirit a pat on the back but to heal ourselves.

So pay attention. Give thanks.

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I am grateful to all of you who have purchased my first mystery, Down Dog Diary. If you are still just window shopping it, that’s okay. I am grateful for you anyway.