time to check in on the gratitude meter

I recently met a fellow who is an expat Canadian now living in a climate that is warm and wonderful all year long. He couldn’t understand why I continue to live in Manitoba, where we have freezing cold (long) winters and mosquitoes in the (too-short) summers. On a week like this where the temperatures are staying steady around the -30 Celsius range and we have snow higher than our knees, I have to ask myself the same question.

gratitude for friends

nothing is too difficult to bear with the comfort of friends around you

It all boils down to gratitude, and being grateful for the life you have, despite what others may think are shortcomings.

be grateful for the life you have

I wish I had the link to a blog post written by a fellow I’d encountered online. In it, he said how he had visited a place where the people lived primitively and at a slow pace. He couldn’t understand how they could be “happy” as they didn’t have the tech toys and amenities he deemed to be important. He was working hard and living life in the fast lane. Why? So he could retire, and unplug from the fast lane and simplify his life.  All of a sudden, he had an aha moment and realized that the fellow in the primitive culture was living the life that he was striving for!  A life with family around him, good food to eat, and time to enjoy it all.

So what am I grateful for on this day where the high temperature for the day is set for -20C, a low tonight of -29, with the windchill factored in, it will feel like -39C. when I opened my door this morning to retrieve the newspaper, it felt as though I was opening the door to a big walk-in freezer.

  • Well, I’m grateful that it isn’t colder! I remember being in Churchill, Manitoba (one of the farthest points north in our province) and it was -66 (with the windchill factored in) when we went dogsledding and -80 (with the windchill factored in) on the morning we were leaving. You can imagine I was happy to be returning to the “warmer” clime of Winnipeg.  ๐Ÿ™‚
  • I’m also grateful for the wonderful friends and family we have here in Manitoba. I have been blessed all my life with an abundance of warm and wonderful people in my life and that continues to this day. I am grateful for each and everyone of them.
  • I am grateful for the lovely home we have, and the love of my husband and cat. The three of us keep one another warm during these long winter months.
  • I’m grateful for having relatively good health and a healthy attitude.
  • I am grateful for the fact that I do get to escape the cold and head to warmer climates each winter. Last month I was able to enjoy some time in St. Lucia and the warmth of those memories will help get me through for awhile.
  • And I am grateful that I am now into the final stretch of the first edition of Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate and that the writing process is going relatively well. As I’ve written previously on this blog, I love the community we have built here and the great conversations we have, and find the process of writing a long manuscript to be a very difficult and lonely one.
  • So thanks for hanging in there with me. I am most grateful for that.
  • And may the chocolate gods forgive me for almost forgetting! I am indeed grateful for all the fabulous chocolate that has come into my life.  Chocolate makes everything better.

How about you? What are you most grateful for these days? Have you found yourself in the position of having to defend your life choices to others?

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

63 Responses

  1. Yes, itโ€™s interesting how so many people have a sentimental attachment to pennies and it reminds them of something special in the their childhoods.
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  2. Lee says:

    Hi Doreen
    I like the attitude a problem with a lot of people is they look at was is wrong with something or somewhere. Not at the what is good about something. The power of positive thinking gives you a happier life to start with. The person living in the perfect climate all year then has nothing to appreciate about it if it is the same all the time and probably finds something to moan about instead of realising what a wonderful life he has.

    Great post lee
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Yes, we’ve had a great discussion from this post, Lee. Thx for joining in.

      Looking out my window and seeing 2 feet of snow on March 29th makes me wish I lived in a climate that was favourable year round. But, I am grateful that I live in a safe, clean place where people are friendly and the cost of living is very affordable. And I’m grateful for the wonderful community we have created on this blog. Thx for being a part of it.

  3. Sarah Park says:

    Very inspiring post! It is only by gratitude that we learn to appreciate every little thing that we have.
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Sarah, and welcome to the blog!

      I’m glad you found the post inspiring. It’s been a great discussion. Stay tuned this week for a new post. I don’t yet know about what I’ll write, but I’m sure something will come to me (and for that … I will be grateful!)

  4. To answer the second half of your question, yes, I have had to defend some major decisions in my life to other people. I think maturity comes when you stop feeling you have to defend your choices. One example from my life: I was a newspaper reporter for a major newspaper in Ottawa and had been for five years. I became unhappy. I wanted to try something else so I gave it up and moved to Toronto with nothing concrete in front of me. Most people thought I was nuts, especially when all I could say was “I just feel I have to do this” which was not a very compelling argument! They pointed out that I had given up a secure and pretigious job (in those days!) for nothing. There is no such thing as permanent security and I pointed that out to them when a year or so later the newspaper folded after being in print for some 80 odd years. At least I moved on on my own terms. And it ended up being the right decision too.
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for your comment, Susan. Nothing makes me happier than when members of our community share their thoughts on our topic of the day.

      I’m with you. I don’t feel I have to defend my choices, and I don’t expect others to defend theirs if they seem committed to their choice. Some of my best life experiences have resulted b/c I’ve gone off on my own direction and taken a chance that others would have run from.

  5. A.K.Andrew says:

    Lovely post Doreen. One has to bloom where one is planted. Though that said, as I think you know, I am hoping to move back to California this year. But I too am thankful to have a loving partner and a cat to help me keep warm in chilly UK winters.(not -30 but still) And I am very grateful to have spent the past six years living 4 blocks from the sea. It is so wonderful to watch and see it’s changes. It immediately lifts my spirits whenever I go down there even if for few minutes.
    Also like you, I am very thankful to be part of our blogging community. It is a real gift in my life. Thank you so much for the post Doreen.:-)
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hi A.K. and thanks for your lovely message.

      Yes, I love living near a large body of water. Even though Lake Winnipeg is frozen this time of year, it is still beautiful and inspires me.

      I didn’t know you were moving back to CA! Where abouts? I plan to visit the Bay Area sometime between Aug and Sept. And Susan Cooper is nearby. She and I plan to meet up and do some chocolate and wine tasting!

  6. Great post! It’s so true we have so much to be grateful for Doreen! After returning from Africa I realized we won the lottery being born in Canada. So this winter I made a vow to be grateful for the snow and to find the fun in winter again and embrace it. I have and it’s been fun.
    It also led me to further gratitude for the opportunity to travel, the ability to show my kids how to appreciate the season and the courage to try new things.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Right on, Jenn. You’ve got the right attitude. Everything may not be exactly as we’d like it, but we must take stock of what we do have and be grateful that is it infinitely more/better than many people around the world could ever even imagine, never mind … experience.

      Thanks so much for dropping into the blog. I hope you’ll visit us again soon. ๐Ÿ™‚
      WizardOfWords recently posted…time to check in on the gratitude meterMy Profile

  7. Bev Doern says:

    After speaking four times this week on the benefits of Toastmasters, I’m reminded of how many different ways this program helps change the world. So I am very grateful for Toastmasters, the change it has made in my life, and all the friends it has brought me (especially those who share their chocolate)

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Yay, Bev! I hear you!

      Toastmasters has been a big part of my life as well. I am so grateful that you and Susan Kotello never gave up on trying to recruit me into TM. It has come become part of who I am. A part that I like very much. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for dropping into the blog and for all the work you do on behalf of District 64 Toastmasters.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…time to check in on the gratitude meterMy Profile

  8. Fatima says:

    Life is too short for regrets and thankfulness. We remain busy complaining and longing for what we do not have and forget to appreciate what we actually have in our lives. Thanks for sharing the inspiration.

  9. Aayna says:

    Hey Doreen,
    Gratitude meter!!! What a lovely share!!! I really loved this post. Gratitude is the very essence of life, it is the driving force of our life. Life is about loving the people, who have made your life beautiful. I possess gratitude towards all those wonderful human beings who are in my life and who were in my life, they have made me what I am. It is indeed of great significance to acknowledge the presence of such people. I wanted to thank you for giving me an opportunity to do so. Thanks.
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  10. Purnima says:

    Illuminating share Doreen . Gratitude is noticing simple pleasures and acknowledging everything that we receive . It shifts our focus from what all we do not have to what we have in abundance and this in turn makes one a happier person .

  11. Gratitude grows even on my worst days if I work at it. Every time I start to think of what I am grateful for, Jay pops up. Yes, Jay, my cat. I had a bad night physically last night and he always knows and comes and cuddles up next to my body for hours and purrs which always makes me physically feel better. I don’t know how he knows but he is always right. Less than three years and I cannot remember my life without him. He has his own page on my website. Once I go through the basic other things I am thankful for – Roof over my head, making enough money to at least survive, big screen tv to watch my beloved Toronto Blue Jays, a reliable car to get around in, the ability to be in a city where so many different kinds of foods can be purchsed at the store, some incredible friends… Well, you get the picture. If those are only the things I have I am leap years ahead of most of the rest of the world.

  12. Suzanne Lieurance says:

    Hi, Doreen,

    I think you’re so right that we all have many things to be thankful for no matter where we live – although, my husband and I moved to Florida last week (from Kansas City) and I am most grateful for the sunny, warm weather here right now. I’m also soooooo grateful that we get to live right on the beach. But I’ve lived all over the world and have always been happy no matter where we were.

    Stay warm and enjoy the coziness of winter!
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hi Suzanne and thanks for your comment.

      Congrats on your move to FLA. That would be a dream come true for me, too. Enjoy!

  13. Dianne Winser says:

    I write in a gratitude journal every night and it makes me realize that I have so very much to be thankful for. I am so spoiled. I have underground parking so my car is +20 when I climb into it. When I am out I use my automatic car starter and enjoy my heated seats. This cold snap has not bothered me at all. In fact, everyday I look out over the city and I am so grateful for the beautiful sunshine.

    I was fortunate to spend 11 days in Punta Cana in December and I am heading to Cancun for 2 weeks in exactly one month.

    I have a new Granddaughter – born November 13th and a high energy 3 year old Grandson whom I visit every Monday.

    I could go on and on but I will close here and wish all of you safe travels and wonderful times with your friends and family.


    • WizardOfWords says:

      A gratitude journal is a great thing, Dianne. Congrats on writing in yours every night.

      Having a positive attitude and tools to help you deal with the cold certainly help. Congrats on being organized, and on your 2nd grandchild!

      Have fun in Cancun! Getting away from the cold, even if only for a short while, certainly does help us get thru the winter.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…time to check in on the gratitude meterMy Profile

  14. Completely agree with you about the importance of gratitude. Far too many people in the West forget that and just compare themselves to people who have a better life. Well, do they? If you look behind the scenes many times you are grateful for what they have.

    Here it’s -10C at the moment – but sunny and if you dress properly it’s beautiful. Above all by the sea.
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  15. I’m grateful for many things, but now you’ve mentioned those minus temperatures I’m especially grateful for living on a damp but (relatively) mild island! The temperature in Nottingham is hovering around 0ยฐC with only a smidgeon of snow and ice; that’s plenty for me. As it’s mid-morning here, it must be time for a warming coffee and perhaps a little chocolate… which reminds me; I really enjoyed your post on St. Lucia and I’m also grateful for Hotel Chocolat ;^)
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for your comment, Roy! It may be your first comment here. I believe you’ve been on the chocolate blog, but it’s great having you here as well.

      I’m not quite sure if I could take the damp dark winters of coastal winters like they have in Vancouver, Canada. Not sure if that’s closer to what you live in (re conditions.) If I ever move to Manitoba, it will be to a place that never sees snow and has an abundance of sunshine.

      Glad you enjoyed the post on Hotel Chocolat on the other blog. I’ll have to drop over there and see if you’ve left a comment. (I hope so.) ๐Ÿ™‚
      WizardOfWords recently posted…time to check in on the gratitude meterMy Profile

  16. Stacey says:

    Great post Doreen! It reminds me of the importance of stopping to reflect on all there is to be grateful for. Practicing gratitude can be a wonderful tool to not just turn a negative into a postive but also, as studies have shown, to increase happiness and help keep us healthier. If any of your readers are interested, I have a free gratitude report available for download from my website, Virtues for Life, http://www.virtuesforlife.com. Thank you for sharing what you are grateful for Doreen. It has inspired me to do the same and write my own list!. Also, best of luck with the writing of your book! What a great project.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for dropping by the blog, Stacey. It’s always great hearing from you.

      Yes, I believe I’ve downloaded your Gratitude Report in the past and it was well done. I highly recommend your site to any of my readers who haven’t yet visited VirturesforLife (it’s on the blogroll on this blog) and always welcome your reflections on any virtue we are discussing here. Cheers!
      WizardOfWords recently posted…time to check in on the gratitude meterMy Profile

  17. Jeri says:

    One of the best things about moving from Boise, ID to Charlotte, NC has been the milder winters. Eleven school districts cancelled last week, and there was barely a dusting of snow on the ground. It just goes to show how relative everything is. I’m sure if and when I move back to colder northern climes, I will positively freeze. One of my critique partners has me in the habit of sharing something I am grateful for every day when we give each other updates. It’s a good habit!
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hi Jeri and thanks for your comment. It definitely is a good habit to regularly reflect on those things and people for which/whom we are grateful. I think that sometimes we get too busy or distracted that our challenges become more important than the positives in our life. We have to work at keeping that on track.
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  18. Leora says:

    Ha! I bought a Hershey bar. What is famous in Vermont is Ben and Jerry’s – you can get flavors here you can’t get elsewhere. My husband and daughter bought some little ice cream packs that will be tonight’s dessert.
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Oh, that is funny! Not that Hershey is all that bad, but I think I’ve been spoiled. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Definitely love Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream. Ciao for now, and thanks for joining the discussion.

  19. Leora says:

    Hi, Doreen! We are in Vermont, and on top of the mountain it may be as cold as where you live. I’m grateful for spending a bit of time on the slopes with my middle son, freezing or no. You must really appreciate your trips to warmer climates. I bought my daughter (who did not ski at all) some chocolate, and she said, of course I love chocolate! What’s not to love?

    • WizardOfWords says:

      I’m glad you’re spreading the chocolate love, Leora. Is there a particularly good chocolatier in Vermont that you like? I’ve never been to your state and have not yet encountered any chocolatiers there.

  20. Jon Jefferson says:

    I am actually thankful that Michigan (at least here in South West Michigan) finally looks like winter. With as crazy as the weather has been over the past year I am hoping that we have a decent spring so we have a good cherry and apple harvest next year.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      I hear you, Jon. I’m already looking to spring and the next growing season. Winter here in MB is pretty desolate. But at least it’s sunny!

  21. KellyWade says:

    Its easy to let the less-than-perfect details of life become a little bit overwhleming sometimes, but like you, I think I do well when it comes to appreciating and being thankful for what I do have. Right now I am grateful for my health ( a few of my friends have come down with the terrible flu!) for a full time job, a good circle of friends who are always there for me and an incredibly supportive and gracious family. Oh, and chocolate of course!
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Yay, Kelly! It’s always good to be grateful for good chocolate. I just had another delivery to my door today and I am surely grateful for that. Thx for chiming in. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. It is always good to remind our selves of all the wonderful things we have to be grateful for. As I was reading your post it seemed that something was missing and then there it was… ๐Ÿ™‚ “grateful for all the fabulous chocolate that has come into my life. Chocolate makes everything better”.

    I too am grateful for many thing one being that I am grateful for you, my friend, and all the joy you bring by writing about your chocolate adventures. ๐Ÿ™‚
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Susan. I am grateful for the BHB group as it has brought me friends like you, Sherryl, and Cheryl (among others.)

      You know … you just might have hawk eyes. I had actually written the post and published it without the mention of chocolate and then it hit me how important chocolate now is in my life and so I went in and added that last point. Glad you noticed!

  23. Jay Remer says:

    Doreen, you know how important I feel gratitude is; I write about it in my column frequently, and it is one my six “key words” for Civility and Living the Good Life. Imagine how different the world would be if every one of us took a minute or two each day to consider what we are grateful for. We take so much for granted in this ‘time-starved’ world. Thank you for this wonderfully written reminder. Stay warm and safe!

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jay. I was hoping this post would warrant a response from you as I know we share a regard for the importance of expressing gratitude.

      Yes, if only people would take time to appreciate their lives a bit more, the happiness meter would go through the roof of the world. Have a super day.
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  24. Harry Hobbs says:

    Nice Work Doreen. You are so right that we take so much for granted or spend our time thinking we might want something else that we forget all the good things we are blessed with,

    Every day I’m thankful that I am alive and God has given me another day. You can wish me happy birthday anytime you want – even if i live to 90. I’m blessed to have a birthday that perhaps someone else never got!

  25. Doreen,
    I’m grateful that I get to work from home on days like this when the windchill makes it feel like it’s in the teens. I can’t imagine a windchill factor of -39C. I too feel blessed to be happily married, own our own home and have family nearby. I’m also grateful for our granddaughter who turns 6-months tomorrow!
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  26. I spend too much time being pessimistic, I need to be more grateful. *sigh* lol

  27. Devon says:

    There is a lot to be thankful in your blog. Very inspirational. I’m thankful that our snowstorm was only a couple of inches.
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  28. Toronto’s in a “deep freeze” this week and I love it! Mother Nature knows that a cold slap in the face gets your blood rushing, keeps you moving and feeling alive. There’s also three inches of snow on the ground which makes everything look like a fairytale. That’s what I’m grateful for – living in Toronto, in the winter, and sharing smiles with everyone else’s who’s bundled up and trudging to their destination. And of course, my three little fuzzy guys who keep me warm inside and out.
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      My dear Krystyna: If you can call -11C a deepfreeze … you haven’t lived until you’ve felt -40! And 3 inches of snow would be tolerable. Ours is so high, it’s over my snowmobile boots! I am grateful for the good supply of wine I have in the wine rack. I am visiting it quite regularly.

  29. I’ve been thinking about you when I see the weather throughout the country. Leave it to Doreen to turn lemons into sunshine, always looking on the bright side. I so admire that. Be warm, stay happy.
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Suzanne. Well, it certainly does make life easier to look on the bright side versus bury one’s head in the sand and pull down all the blinds. Thx for your friendship and support.

  30. Linda Paul says:

    Gratitude! It’s a bit like positive thinking, which is an undervalued skill. Those are some mighty cold temps you have played in AND survived. After enduring -80, don’t feel a bit like you’ve accomplished something? Somehow proven that you are a survivor, that you can adapt to mother nature’s conditions?

    All the things that you are thankful for spell the concept of “home.” Whether home is on the Equator or one of the Poles, it is defined by the sense of comfort and security that we derive from it. Home is our internal magnetic pole.

    Stay warm, Doreen!
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    • WizardOfWords says:

      I LOVE your response, Linda! You are so right. I absolutely love going places and seeing different things, but the thing that keeps me here is that concept of home and belonging. Will I be able to tolerate the cold as I get older. Probably not, so I’m hoping finances will either enable me to become a snowbird and escape winter for a couple of months each year, or to possibly relocate to a place that will enable me to build that sense of home.

      But sticking on the cold weather theme, I am also grateful for the wonderful birds that have stuck around. When I look out the window and see chickadees, blue jays, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and wrens gathering around the bird feeder, I know we are not alone in this frozen land.

      Thanks for making me smile, as always, Linda. ๐Ÿ™‚
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  31. Hello Doreen and everyone,
    Since I live quite close to Doreen, I too am “enjoying” living in a deep freeze at the moment. Today, however, I am very thankful that I have just this morning sent the manuscript of my latest book off to the publishers and also that my husband and I will get to enjoy three weeks of balmy weather beginning in mid February.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Wonderfully great news — on all fronts, Irene.

      Congrats on getting your book done. And congrats on having a plan to escape the cold. Where are you off to?

      By the way, as you’ve been to St. Lucia, I’d love to have you join the conversation over at htto://diversionswithdoreen.com and share what you liked about the island.
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  1. June 13, 2013


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