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By now, most of us have heard about the benefits of being grateful and living a life of gratitude. Articles and books have been written on gratefulness and how it can change our lives. I am a believer in choosing to be grateful and in reminding myself, daily, of all the blessings my life holds. Yet how easy it is to simply forget…to let the pressures and perceived problems of the day creep in and take charge. I was pondering how easily this shift from grateful to stressed happens in my own life, when I received an email from my niece’s daughter, Olivia. She is doing a scrap-booking project and decided to write an introduction to her project. She wanted to tell me about it and share her “introduction”. With her permission, I am sharing her words – exactly as they appear in the entry of her scrapbook:

“My name is Olivia. I am such a lucky person.

I am a dreamer, a believer, a hoper, and I have a big imagination. And, when I take time to sit down and just think in my HOUSE, I realize, how much I have. I always know I’m lucky, but when I just take a seat, and look around, I have SO MUCH! Sometimes too much :):), so I donate, give, and share.

But, there are things that you can’t buy in the store, you can’t find these things on a street, you can’t see these things at a garage sale or at Goodwill. These things are so special, so important. I am so lucky! I have FAMILY, FRIENDS, PETS, (a big companion to me in life), a HOUSE, and A BED! But really, I could go without the house, the bed, and the things! What matters most to me is FAMILY, FRIENDS and ANIMALS. And I can’t even fit it all in a scrapbook.”

Olivia lives in Eugene, Oregon, with her older brother, Benjamin, and her parents, Dave and Amy. Olivia is a young woman who is on her way to changing the world…for the better. She brings love and kindness, warmth and gratitude, acceptance and humor wherever she goes. She is a good friend, a responsible student and an absolute delight to be with.

When her mother was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer in her late 30’s, Olivia courageously showed her fear, her love and her determination to live each day to the fullest. She supported her mom with her tender love and kind, thoughtful ways as she journeyed through her chemotherapy treatment. She was a bright spot in every day and continues to shine, no matter what life brings. Happily, Amy is cancer-free now and loves being mom to Olivia.

Olivia, by the way, is writing a book: a story of life from a dog’s point of view. She has the sequel planned as well and who knows: perhaps it will be made into a movie. Olivia: may you continue to show the world how to be grateful and how to live a life of happiness…knowing love and time spent with friends, family and pets is what bring us true joy.

And for the rest of us: what if we called ourselves dreamers, believers, hopers? What if we re-imagined our lives and chose to be grateful, no matter the circumstances. What if we allowed our priorities to shift a bit toward living our lives as if they truly mattered: allowing time for being with ones we love and doing what brings us joy, imagination and hope?

Please stay tuned for an interview with Olivia and life lessons from her scrap-book project. As many have said, our teachers are everywhere.

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