After reading that the most effective practices of gratitude always include some tangible form of visualizing the things we feel thankful for, I started a gratitude journal with my daughter this month. Every night we sit down to recollect the happenings of the day and capture the things that made our day sweeter and show us that the world can be a wonderful place.

For myself I also included a new practice at the end of my daily meditation. I thank all my past experiences, good or challenging, and the things they have taught me to be where I am now. Then I welcome everything that is yet to come that will allow me to become the best I can be. Next, I express appreciation for the people that have walked with or beside me and have influenced me, sometimes without even knowing they did so. I express gratitude for the people that in the future will be there to support, influence and have an impact on me and teach me new life lessons. Lastly, I come to the center of myself and thank the Me that I am today at this very moment in time.

Both of these new practices are opening my eyes to things that I missed before, because I was too wrapped up in things that did not go so well.

Last weekend, I experienced the most surprising instance of gratitude that took me completely by surprise and threw me into a much deeper emotion than I would have anticipated. It was the weekend of my daughter’s dance recital. This brought with it the first time that I would be in the audience with my ex-husband, his girlfriend, her 11-year old son and my ex-mother in law. I knew there was a potential for it to feel a bit uncomfortable. I was glad that the girl-friend’s son had asked, whether he could come as well, because I knew it would mean a lot to my daughter. When the show was over, I picked up my daughter and together we braved the crowds back into the foyer area, where the others were waiting for us. I braced myself for the first moment, where I might have to become part of an awkward adult conversation.

But before I had a chance to get caught up in any conversation, I saw the 11-year old son standing in the foyer with a bouquet of flowers. Smiling from ear to ear he was waiting for my daughter’s arrival. Not taking notice of the weird adults around them or the potential awkward situation that might go down, he handed my daughter the bouquet. I could hear him say “You were great, you did such an amazing job”. Breaking into a grin, swaying from one side to the other, her fingers touching her lips, I could barely make out her “Thank you”.

I just stood and stared as the two looked at each other with a knowing smile.

It wasn’t until they all had left to make their journey back home and I sat alone in my car that tears started flowing.

I was already drafting a letter to this boy in my head that I would give him, when he is in his 20s and when he maybe would have a better understanding how much his gesture brought relief to the aching heart of a mother. It took no words toward me or a recognition that I was even there. I was purely a witness to the most beautiful expression of compassion in the most authentic way. So much to learn from this 11-year old boy.

And for this lesson and his gesture, I will forever be grateful!

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