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Don't Stop Belivin'

The secret to being grateful is no secret. You choose to be grateful. Then you do it again and again. If you forget, begin again.—Mark & Angel Chernoff

My incredible stepdad was given a week left to live. My heart was so sad. I remember just getting home from work when my phone rang, it was my stepdad.

"Dad, what's going on?" I asked.

"Son, can you play me two songs on your piano?" He asked.

"For sure dad, what songs?" I asked.

"Son, please play 'Mr. Bojangles' and Journey's 'Don't Stop Belivin.'"

I was so pumped-up to play these songs and sing them with him one last time. I had the phone on speaker and I could hear him singing. Tears of joy and gratitude were flowing down my cheeks as we sang so loud together!

"Son, thank you for playing those songs for me. I love you..." as he hung up the phone. He passed away 5 days later.

My stepdad and I shared a close musical bond to 60's and 70's classic rock.

Now, both my parents were gone. The bond which the 3 of us shared for over 50 years had just vanished. Sure the bond will remain in my heart but now, I no longer physically had parents who were alive. This was hard. I mean really hard. How hard? I had just now entered the hardest days of my life.

After both mom and my stepdad had passed, I remember really being sad and down for quite a few weeks, however, my eyes were opened to a legit superpower right at the tips of my fingers...GRATITUDE!

Gratitude is thankful appreciation. Gratitude can help all of us connect to something larger than ourselves as individuals.

According to the Harvard Medical School, giving thanks can make you happier. Thank you Harvard Med School, I'm into happiness.

Gratitude helped me to see how even when we go through very difficult times in life, we can always find something to be grateful for. In fact, gratitude was truly the gateway to my heart's healing.

At age 5, I was homeless. My home was the backseat of mom's car. Fortunately mom and I were homeless for only 10 days. Why only 10 days? Mom met a man and that man became mom's new husband and my incredible stepfather! My stepfather changed my mother's and my destiny. He gave us hope, a home and a lot of love. I was so fortunate to have him in my life for 51 years! Gratitude.

Oh, and just days before he passed, we were having a blast pretending we were rock stars!😂

Don't Stop Belivin'!

I have read some really cool ways to cultivate or use gratitude on a regular basis:

1. Write a thank-you note.

Text, email or just write a thank-you note to someone.

2. Thank someone mentally.

No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.

3. Keep a gratitude journal.

Make it a habit to write down thoughts about the gifts/blessings you received each day.

4. Count your blessings.

Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for.

5. Pray.

For some, prayer is a way to cultivate gratitude.

6. Meditate.

Just get still and be mindful and meditate on the present moment without judgment. Focus on what you're grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.).

Your turn...

November kicks off the season of thankfulness. What are some things you are thankful for?

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