“The unexamined life is not worth living.” At the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, I am drawn to the examination of my own life. In fact, 2019 goes down as my all-time Best Year Ever. I can’t imagine how any year could surpass 2019 for me (although it’s fine if 2020 wants to try!)

I’ll explain it in a six-word story: Thank you, AncestryDNA. I’ve been found! The beautiful baby girl that I gave up for adoption in 1972 (that’s forty-seven years ago, if you’re counting) did the DNA thing and turned up my niece as a first cousin. From there, all the puzzle pieces just fell into place. The last missing portion of my heart had been found. I could now die (really not wanting to, mind you) and not feel like there still was business unfinished. And now I get to spend the rest of my life knowing her, knowing a new granddaughter and a new grandson. My heart overflows sometimes with gratitude and runs down my cheeks. Nothing better could possibly happen to me.

But something else really good did happen to me. Well, not really. It didn’t just happen; I did it. My first novel, Stolen: Book One, was published in early November. This is the book that has wanted to be written for over two decades, and I think it’s pretty darn good. I ran the marathon and finished the race, and let me tell you, there’s a heck of a lot of hard work goes into writing a book. There’s no magic involved (except when a character tells you in no uncertain terms what she will do instead of what you had planned for her. That’s pretty darned magical.) And, truth be told, it almost doesn’t matter if no one reads it. I did say almost. I’d love it if ten million people read it and someone made a movie and all that wonderful stuff. But there’s a satisfaction that comes from having done the work that is independent of the response it gets. Weird and hard to explain, but there it is. (But here’s the link just in case you’re interested: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1705327214.)

As I said, I don’t know how any year could outperform 2019. I do not hope for anything more wonderful than finding my daughter. It’s easy for me to end 2019 with tremendous gratitude.

Perhaps it’s not so easy for you. Perhaps 2019 was the suckiest year ever for you. I’ve had sucky years, too. 1972, for example. This planet isn’t easy to live on. Perhaps your heart was shattered in 2019, or your finances were tighter than ever, or you or a loved one suffered from illness. Maybe someone died. Perhaps you looked at the world and saw much suffering and could not bear it. There’s no end of things that can hurt us, bring us down, try to destroy us. Life is hard; I suspect it was never meant to be easy.

If that’s the case, I encourage you to sift through your memories and find something you can be grateful for. Even a small thing counts. The flowers you can see from your window. A child’s smile. A medical test with good results. The antics of a puppy. The day the rain stopped just when you needed it to. Hey, Sonic had Red Bull slushes—a cause for celebration, indeed.

Why gratitude? Because gratitude helps us to notice the good instead of dwelling on the bad parts of life. Because gratitude encourages us to be satisfied with what we have instead of focusing on what we don’t. Because gratitude changes the chemistry of the brain and makes us physically healthier. Because being grateful improves our mood and helps us to have a better day.

So I vote for gratitude. As an attitude. As a practice. As a habit. I invite you to share something you’re grateful for in the comments below. Let us focus on the positive aspects of our lives, in order to improve our lives.

Oh….one more thing. I have four other children who came after Tara, and who grew up with me, and they are also beautiful and wondrous and incomparable. Finding her takes nothing away from them. It just completes our family unit.

Oh….one other more thing. This blog used to publish on Wednesdays, but it’ll be publishing on Sundays from now on. Thanks for reading!

Now. What are you grateful for?

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