Gratitude: a List (Stephanie Kuehnert)

At some point during the holiday season, I was sitting around with a couple friends and being rather cynical--the commercialism, the consumerism, the overeating and stress. It can get you down. Then my friend Dan reminded us that gratitude was the most important part of the season, and he posited of life in general. He said if we all recognized and expressed gratitude more often, not only would we be happier, but the world would be a better place. I think he's totally right.

Life, especially life as an artist or writer, can be hard, and for me personally, the past few years have been one big rough patch. I believe in being honest and open about your struggles, but I also think the biggest key to surviving them is to remind yourself what you are grateful for. So my New Year's resolution (which fits perfectly with our YAOTL theme this month) was to remind myself of what I'm grateful for every day. I love that Jenny O'Connell keeps a gratitude journal. I started keeping a five-year journal  last year and am making an attempt to note what I'm grateful for in there. I also (per my therapist's lovely writing advice, which I shared here last month) have a gratitude column on the spreadsheet where I track my writing progress, so even if I have a grumpy writing day, I am forced to write ONE GOOD THING about what I wrote that day. But every once in awhile I think it is good to just think of as many things as possible that you are grateful for and make a list, so here's mine. I'll do 13 things for 2013, so it won't be exhaustive or complete by any means. Also I'm going to just go with whatever comes to me, right off the top of my head because there are so many things to be grateful for, so these will be fun and random and not in any particular order, except for these first two things.

  • My family. I have an amazing husband who is sweet, adorable, supportive, loving, and all-around my perfect partner. I have a mom who is my biggest cheerleader and advocate, who has always been there for me, and is my biggest role model. I have a brother, who is a great listener and friend and fellow nerd. I have a sister and a niece, who are not actually my blood relatives, but are two of my biggest inspirations and can make me laugh and smile like no other. My niece is 15 now and her sheer awesomeness is basically the highlight of my life. I also have two very sweet and cuddly kitties.
  • Kaspar and Lars
  • My friends. I have a best friend who has been my best friend for almost 19 years now. We don't talk every day, we don't hang out nearly as often as we would like, but we would drop anything for each other, we know each other like no one else does, and we have so many crazy shared experiences. Then there are my five other BFFs, spread literally across the globe, in San Francisco, in China, in St. Louis, in Denver, and then one who lives two blocks away from me. I've known all of them at least ten years and they all have different roles in my life and match perfectly with different parts of my personality. They all make me laugh and keep me sane. Also I have my writing BFFs, the one I brainstorm with every week, the one I text daily to do sprints with, and the three that I email to vent and celebrate and work things through with. On top of that there are the people I've met more recently who are becoming BFFs or the people I may not know as well or hang out/communicate with as regularly, but we have an amazing time whenever we are together.
  • Me (left) and my St. Louis and Denver BFFs celebrating STL BFF's wedding.

  • ROOKIE. I am grateful every day that I get to be involved with such a COOL publication. It challenges me to do my best writing, enlightens, amuses, comforts and entertains me daily, and has introduced me to a bunch of new and awesome friends.
  • Tea, delicious, delicious tea.
  • Brunch, where one can enjoy tea and friendship. Just had the most delightful brunch with my friend/ROOKIE boss on Saturday. Nothing like a good conversation with food and warm drinks.
  • Buffy. Really the existence of Buffy makes life better in ways I cannot even describe. Actually, Joss Whedon in general because Firefly and Angel are insanely awesome as well.
  • Vegan cheese. When I went vegan sixteen years ago, the cheese substitutes basically tasted like crayons and didn't even melt as well as crayons melt. Now there are so many delicious vegan cheeses. And vegan marshmallows. And vegan ranch dressing. And.... oh the glory of vegan substitutes.
  • Sparkly red eyeshadow from Sugarpill. I spent like 15 years seeking red eyeshadow. I would wear lipstick and lipliner on my eyes even though it looked weird. And then, thanks to ROOKIE, I discovered this vegan cosmetic line which has red loose powder eyeshadow, which is my favorite thing on earth right.
  • Rain. It smells so good. It makes things green. It is the perfect weather for curling up with a book or writing.
  • Lindi Ortega, a brilliant country musician. I'm not usually a country fan, but she's got a punk attitude and pipes like Dolly Parton or Patsy Cline, so yeah, her existence pleases me a lot right now.
  • HOCKEY!!! And I'm especially grateful that NHL games are coming back at the end of this week!
  • Road trips. The best form of travel, truly.
  • Books, all kinds, but especially real and honest YA fiction and fun fantasy and magical realism that you can escape into. I'm also extremely grateful for the people who have helped me publish my books, who are helping me work toward the dream of publishing more books (like my lovely agent), and most of all to the readers that have given me the chance to tell them a story. Since we at YAOTL are so very very grateful to our readers, we are running a massive contest (and I'm including a copy of the anthology Dear Teen Me, which I have an essay in that I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to write), so enter here!
What are a few (or 13!) things, you are grateful for? 


  1. Thanks. Mine is brief, but good to put it in writing.
    1. Health. Mine and my family's.
    2. My family.
    3. Books!
    4. Coffee
    5. Movies
    6. The excitement of digging into the story world in my latest WIP
    7. Having a few friends I've had for years who get me and love me as myself, which can be pretty bitchy sometimes.
    8. Signing with a rock star agent last year.
    9. Giving up the $*(#&$*(#&$ mortgage and becoming a renter, which makes me feel FREE for the first time in years.
    10. The fun of reliving the late 80s and early 90s music scene in LA in my latest WIP. God I miss that time and place.

    1. Awesome! 10. sounds really fun! I can't wait to read it. And I am hoping to do number 9 soon myself!

  2. Thanks. I just finished Joey Ramone and I've got Ballads ordered. Can't wait. You're my kind of gal!

  3. I'm grateful for new music recs! I gotta check out Lindi. Sounds right up my alley.

  4. Awwww...I'm sooo glad you posted this and that I read it- I literally just went to the break room (at my dayjob), had a good cry, came back and stumbled across this post via Twitter. Writing is difficult...but it's nice to know we're not alone in the struggle and to be reminded that life isn't all bad. : )

    Thanks for this post!


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