Creating Gratitude (Cheryl Renée Herbsman)

Gratitude. When I think of gratitude, I think of community, of people banding together, holding each other up. I'm incredibly grateful for the community of writers who keep me inspired, keep me believing, keep me on track. When I think of gratitude, I think of Lisa (LK) Madigan -- author of Flash Burnout and The Mermaid's Mirror, who started the Thankful Thursdays blog meme, which caught on and showed me the contagious power of gratitude. Lisa was generous and kind and showed me how much kindness can make a difference. Even as she was dying of pancreatic cancer, she managed to find her way to gratitude. I think of the wide open spaces where I walk my dog and the wide open space that gratitude creates inside me. I think of my family and love and how love opens a similar space. Gratitude opens us, while fear shuts us down.

Sometimes, when life feels like more of a struggle, it can be harder to tap into gratitude. Yet that's exactly the time when we need it most. Gratitude can help us shift perspective, shake off fear and doubt, consume darker thoughts. It can be a lifeline. Even in the darkest times, gratitude can bring us back to the light. But just thinking it isn't enough, you have to really sink down into it and feel the gratitude, let it fill you up. Then act from there.

Do something kind. Be generous. Give something away. It'll make you feel good. It'll restore your faith in people. It'll inspire someone.

The other day my husband brought me home a little gift. It was a wooden sign to hang in my workspace that says: If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough.

It's the little things, the little thoughtful gifts that can change someone's day or mood or perspective. If you can't find your own gratitude, create someone else's and watch it become contagious.


  1. I love that sign. Something to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing.

  2. And I'm grateful for you and your uplifting posts!

  3. Hi Cheryl,
    I am grateful every day for the writing community that continues to keep Lisa alive in all our hearts and memories. Grateful for the librarians who recommend Lisa's books to teen readers. And grateful for our son, who has no idea how much he resembles the look of a young Lisa.
    I get frequent emails from readers who want to know more. There are two additional manuscripts. And although they will never benefit from the scrutiny of revision, they can demonstrate the vision that Lisa had for her characters, and point down the road she wished to travel.
    As a sole parent, I struggle to hold myself up every day and raise our boy on my own with this huge hole in my heart. I struggle to find community. I'm grateful whenever and wherever I find it.
    Tonight, I found some. Thank you.
    Neil Wolfson
    Portland, Or.

    1. Neil,
      Thank you so much for your comment. There are so many of us in the kid lit community who loved Lisa and who still think of her and talk about her frequently. She is missed by us all! Though we cannot fathom the magnitude of the pain for you and your son, know that we are all holding you up in our thoughts and hearts and prayers. If there is anything we as a community or I as a friend can do to help, please don't hesitate to ask.
      Much love to you and your son,

    2. I think of you and Lisa and your son often, Neil. Count me as part of your community.

  4. You're so right about gratitude, Cheryl. Making it part of our daily lives makes us better, happier, stronger. Yay to your family for giving you that sign!


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