I’ll let you in on a little secret…it’s about the amazing power of gratitude.
In the above song, No Better Blues, Chance the Rapper rattles off a long list of things he claims to hate. Some are things he couldn’t conceivably dislike, like the simple comfort of a bed or something as beautiful as the “optimistic smirks on the face of children”.

The song is an amazingly executed satirical take on the damaging effects of carrying hate in your heart and having a negative outlook on life. Chance plays with humorous juxtaposition and highlights a wide variety of things he actually appreciates, encouraging us to do the same. Despite the somber tone of his rhymes, the chorus and background vocals continuously remind us of the takeaway message of positivity and that life “gets no better.”

Gratitude is something I’ve found to be hugely powerful and energizing in recent years, especially in the face of tragedy and disappointments. More powerful than the ability to change the circumstances of your current life situation is the ability to change the way you see them. My friend Gisele from work always used to remind me, “change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”

With a practice of appreciation on the mind, here are a few things I was grateful for on my recent stop through the Pacific Northwest…

The chance to live out a childhood dream and visit Oregon’s snowy Crater Lake

     

 

and to camp out there and watch a sunrise at the most serene place I’ve ever been. I’m indebted to Jeff for the tent, Mom for the blanket, Jess for the shirt, and Lu for the book the kept me comfortable on this cold night. I’m grateful for the ability to be cold, because it makes me realize how great it can feel to be warm.

 

I’m grateful for a perfect day for lunch in Eugene and a sunny walk around the impressive architecture of Autzen Stadium. And grateful that my man Johnny D reached out after my last blog post and we got to chat a while during this walk. Keep doing your thing buddy.

 

Grateful for this tasty Black Butte Porter from Portland’s Deschutes Brewery.

Grateful for the energy to go on a late night walk around Portland since I was only in town a night. And grateful that my dad long ago introduced me to the greatness of Steve Prefontaine, pictured below. My favorite quote from Pre reads, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” Preach.

 

  

I’m grateful for the 24 hour service and colorful inventions at Voodoo Donuts, including this late night indulgence named the ODB.

  

And grateful to Portland for having the largest bookstore on the planet where I could easily track down a few books that have been eluding me all trip.

I’m grateful that when I was small, I chose green to be my favorite color, and that this visit to Multnomah and Wakeena Falls in the Columbia River Gorge provided me with plenty of bright variations of it to enjoy.

 

  

        

Thankful for my friends Zach and Amy taking me in in Seattle and introducing me to the neighborhood troll, the likes of which I had also been searching for all trip. And grateful for another beautiful day and great company on a Saturday afternoon hike above Rattlesnake Lake in the Cascade Mountains followed by waterfront explorations back in Seattle. I’m grateful for sunny days and cloudy days and shoes that enable a good hike and a drink of cold, clean water. I’m grateful for a breath of fresh air.


  


I’m thankful for stairs and ramps and walkways and elevators and outdoor murals and huge city views.

 

      

 

And thankful that some special people have introduced me to Dale Chihuly’s glasswork in recent years and that I was able to visit his museum and gardens and be transported to a whimsical world of brilliant color and form and light.

                

Grateful for two working legs and two working eyes to help me get around and see all of this beauty.


    

I’m grateful that Zach and I have stayed close over almost 15 years of friendship and that technology enables us to keep in touch so easily. And I’m grateful for the feeling of sand between my toes and a breeze on the beach.

And grateful that despite not hanging out for three years since graduation, my buddy Becca and I could pick up right where we left off and have a day full of band rehearsals and goofing around at the EMP museum. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time…I’m grateful for a most energetic friend and for the feeling of laughing so hard that it actually starts to hurt.


    

  

 

Grateful that two days after seeing his exhibit in Seattle, I could see Chihuly’s Icicle, as well as some other amazing artwork on my drive east across the state.

 

      

And I’m just grateful for water. Thank God for the waters.

And finally grateful for this little bit of insight found during a grocery stop:

I’m grateful for today. And today I’m again grateful for the safety of Keith, Shakun, Joshua, and Leah in Nepal.

And I am grateful for YOU. Thanks for stopping by and for making my life a little brighter just by being yourself.