The Gift of Gratitude: A Story About Learning To Fly

Guest blog I was asked to write for | September 09 2013 |

We all get life choices. Some of them are big, hairy, tarantula-sized choices. You can choose to sit stagnant in the same place, never diverging from what is comfortable. Or, like a fledgling bird, leap off the highest branch, spread your never-used wings, and attempt to fly! Those first flying moments feel like the most exhilarating experience; the wind, the freedom, feeling brave and invincible. Then you look down. Now you’re plummeting and all you can think is, “Oh shit, I want back on that branch!”

That was me; a little bird oscillating between courageous soaring and panicked plummeting. Between feeling like a brave warrior karate-kickin’ my fears in the gonads, and just wanting to hide back on my safe branch!

I had just moved across the Pacific Ocean, leaving my hometown for the first time. The move, initially made with my long-time boyfriend, was freaking hard enough, but then the realization came that it was time to let go of the relationship I had clung to. The baby bird in me had walked to the end of the branch, was looking out, and could feel the wind calling. As I let go of the relationship that was my safety blanket, I took the flying leap.


I was single and alone for the first time in my adult life. And way effing far from home.

My friends and family were looking on from afar (a literal ocean away), watching me take this flying ninja leap into… aloneness? Independence? I didn’t know. But I’m sure they were terrified for me. They all reacted in different ways. My immediate family surrounded me with love and emotional support. One of my best friends broke down crying and said, “Who is going to take care of you?” That was the big fear, you see. I’d had a very rough couple of years before moving and the man I just left was the one who had seen me through it all. My friends were scattered about the country and very worried about me. All I knew was that I had started my journey.

Ruby, one of my best friends since the age of 12, reacted proactively. She had just jumped off of her own branch, moving across the country and starting law school. She was having her own rough go of it. When she sat at the kitchen table at midnight with her books spread before her, holding a coffee cup in one hand and Pepto-Bismol in the other, wondering if it would make good creamer, she found herself plummeting.  She realized it was time to do something about it, both for her and for me.

A friend had given Ruby the idea of sharing positive daily moments. Knowing I was also in desperate need of a healthy dose of positive energy, she asked me if I would be willing to e-mail with her each day three things that I was thankful for. I readily agreed. I mean, if we were both drowning, maybe clinging to each other would serve as a life preserver… right?

One heck of a life preserver it turned out to be! At the beginning, it gave me a daily connection to someone I loved. The positive energy we sent each other in those sometimes only three-word e-mails was a huge gift to both of us. Even after I got solid in my rockin’ independence and Ruby successfully conquered law school, we kept up our daily “Thankful Three.”


We made it through the shitty moments in our lives and shared the plentiful joy-filled ones. The e-mails made us focus on the good things. Throughout the day, we paid attention to positive things we could include in our e-mails. We never ever used the e-mails to rant or cry about the hard stuff. Instead, we shared the hard stuff with each other by finding a bright side to be thankful for. Some days, the gratitude poured out easily, like a squeeze bottle of catsup. Some days, it was more like the glass bottle kind. But we always did it because we were accountable to one another. I can tell you there were many times I would have skipped it! There were days where I was stubbornly holding on to my pissy mood and did NOT want to be effing grateful [insert foot stomp!], but then I would see Ruby’s daily thankfuls pop up in my e-mail and they always made me smile. I knew I had to get off my pity train, or my PMS tirade, or whatever it was that day, and find some damn silver lining to write back about. Sometimes I didn’t even mean it when I was typing, but by the time I was done with those three little sentences, heck if I hadn’t taken a big step toward happy.

Some of our thankfuls would seem silly or insignificant. I mean, if your life is in seeming shambles around you, who gives a rat’s about saying you’re thankful for caramel rice cakes, the smell of fresh cut grass, and that you are getting a haircut next weekend? Well, you’d be surprised what talkin’ up those rice cakes can do!

These short daily e-mails not only kept us in touch but they also focused our friendship in a positive way. If our lives have challenges, we always know the other one is there, holding that vibration of appreciation for us. We lean on each other and ask for help, and if we bitch, we include a silver lining. It is amazing to look back at our daily three (we’ve both saved them) to see where we started and where we are today. Both of us free-falling, trying so hard to flap our wings and fly, but needing to know we weren’t alone in that big sky. The connection and positive energy of our daily emails gives us a boost, and over the years we have both soared!


I am pretty proud to say that it has been SEVEN YEARS and we are still sending our daily thankful three!

Today our e-mails reflect the different places we are at in our lives, but they still carry the same positive energy. This practice still has as much impact on our lives as it did when we started seven years ago.

We keep it up because we love it, because it keeps us close to each other, and because it brings so much love and smiles to our lives! Grab a loved one and give it a try. You will be thankful that you did.

Just for fun, here are a few actual thankfuls from then and now:

Ruby’s daily three from 8/1/07:

  1. Slinky black pencil skirts (even if I am in a bad mood, at least I can look good!).
  2. Good-smelling lotion.
  3. My Southern sweatshirt. It is my security blankie and something warm to cover my bare legs while I sit in my desk and freeze my ass off.

Cara’s daily three from 7/10/07:

  1. I am so thankful for good earplugs (which I am wearing in a crowded office full of people right now).
  2. Good health genes; my grandmother turns 80 today and is as healthy as ever!
  3. My probably-not-work-appropriate-shirt that got me lots of compliments today.

Now fast forward to 2013…

Ruby’s daily three from 8/13/13:

  1. The amazing love I feel for my son, even though I have only known him since Saturday.
  2. That even though it was scary to take him home from the hospital, we are doing well!
  3. That labor went well! Only 20 minutes of pushing! And the epidural was great!
  4. (Must have been a bonus!) That Jon is my husband and the father of my child :o)

Cara’s daily three from 8/13/13:

  1. Getting to teach mediation class to an exceptional and inspiring group.
  2. Making good decisions for what is good for me and what’s not and sticking to it!
  3. Sat for a minute today and watched Noah nap on the couch and just basked in the love that flooded through me.

Bio thumbOn the rockin’ ride that is life, you will find Cara Viana out of her seat belt and hanging out the window playing air guitar. Cara is an intuitive and a teacher. She teaches Hot Buddhi Yoga as well as intuitive techniques and meditation. Through her business, Dragonfly Diva Jewelry, she creates jewelry by hand that inspires women to find their inner beauty and wear it for the world to see!

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