The Gifts of Gratitude

Weekends, lately, have been all about yoga, and believe me, I’m not complaining. I’ve been able to work with students one-on-one and then head out to a workshop to get my butt kicked into gear and inspired to go deeper into my practice, as well as, learn from the best about better alignment within the confines of each posture. April was an awesome month of inspiring times in the hot room, but it left me very little time to spend with my husband as he begins to wrap up the school year with his middle school students.

When I asked him what he wanted to do this weekend as he headed out to work on Friday, he called up from the stairs, “Maybe hiking, Starved Rock?” And I have to say it wasn’t even on my radar that a hike might be a nice treat, but was excited to hit the trails.

I’ve written before about hiking with my husband at Starved Rock State Park and about why we no longer camp there. But it will always be a favorite spot for us as we’ve hiked there for almost 20 years together and have some great memories of our times on the trails. We rarely hike there on a weekend, so we decided to wake up first thing Sunday morning and go, in order for the trails to be empty of too many other hikers and to beat the higher temps predicted for the afternoon hours.

When we arrived there were only about 5 cars in the parking lot of the Visitor’s Center and we held back as we approached the trailhead to find others starting their hike at the same time. We simply wanted to space to enjoy the hike without having to absorb someone else’s conversation. Chandi was set to go, sniffing, marking and wagging her tail in marked approval of her dog parents.

bluebells-views-from-the-podiumAnd once we started into the woods I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of wild flowers throughout the path. Clusters of blue bells caught my eye with their bright sky blue colors, making my husband stop as I caught pictures of each bloom.

“Do you realize how amazing this is? I have never seen so many wildflowers in one place!” I exclaimed. Twenty years on these trails and we had never either noticed or been there when they were in bloom.

About an hour into the hike we turned a corner and…magic – an entire field of bluebells were at our feet! It truly was such an amazing sight. The green against the bright blue at the foot of the cavernous rock that Starved Rock is known for, as well as, the towering trees overhead. We definitely had never had this experience before.

bluebells-2-views-from-the-podiumI took pictures, and even though I have a great camera I know it doesn’t do justice to the memory of simply being there in the moment. And for me it was a direct reflection of the way gratitude and thoughtfulness play a part in our lives. I couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the day. What a gift it was!

How often do we slam through a day without stop to give thanks for the little things? We hit the bed and barely know what happened. But when you stop and give thanks and admire the flowers on the path, Life with shower you with even more goodness to appreciate and admire.

Maybe this week we can stop for moment and practice gratitude. It can be for anything really – family, friends, your car, your job, your home. But know when you truly say thank you, Life will rain down even more blessings for you to count.

You might only have time to practice your yoga once this week, but be thankful for that. And if you do get to practice more often be thankful for where you are right now. You’re breathing, and sweating, and the heart is pounding and you are definitely alive. Your postures are perfectly you in this moment – have fun, don’t be so hard on yourself, and spread your light to every corner of your world.


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