Amid the Stress: A Gratitude Attitude Adjustment

I’m having a few weeks when it feels possible to hit a mental saturation point. For the first time ever, I am immersed in revisions on multiple books for multiple editors simultaneously, each with short deadlines. I know, cry me a river, right? It’s a wonderful problem to have and I thank my lucky stars. If only I could squeeze a few more hours out of my day. After all, there are other commitments to consider, too: SCBWI volunteerism, VCFA packet work, works-in-progress, a writing contest to judge, community involvement. Oh, and family. For the past year, my family and extended-family have endured a slew of small-to-mid-sized crisis. Now, my to-do-list feels overwhelming, all-consuming, and physically knot-worthy.

Then today happened. A visit with a friend who shared the news of her recent cancer diagnosis. Yep, that’ll put it all into perspective. She was giggly and chatty, very open and seemingly nonchalant about what comes next for her. But I know that, under the smiles, lies fear. At some point during my two hours with her, I found myself dishing out this: “Sometimes, it just is what it is. So we deal with it.”

What the heck do I have to complain about? Nothing!


So, today I’d like to dedicate this post to my own gratitude-attitude adjustment. I have a feeling, it will grow as time goes on. Maybe it will inspire you to start your own list.

*I am grateful for my family’s health and vitality.

*I am grateful for my husband, who supports me financially and emotionally, even when I’m not very nice to him.

*I am grateful for my mother who, along with my father, gave me my first typewriter when I was ten. And who, when I began to whine to her about my current writing-related stress, said, “Well, isn’t this what you always wanted, this life as a writer?” Yes, Mom, you are right. And, yes, it is.

*I am grateful for trees, and wind, and sunshine, and rain, and canoes, and camping tents, baseball, football, basketball, and sweaty days, and fishing poles. Because there’s life beyond my keyboard. And it is AWESOME!

*I am grateful for my communities, my tribes, my peeps. They keep me sane when life throws crazy at me. They lend an ear, or a glass of wine, or a session of whine when I need to vent. And, I hope I return the favor with some success.

*I am grateful for my Austin AAW group (they know who they are) every day for their cheerleading, inspiration, counseling, and publishing-related information-sharing. Especially this week when I shared news of my book’s SECOND delay (now spring 2016.) Through forum and private communication, they reached out and reminded me that, though publishing timetables are out of our control, the result is usually beneficial. It is what it is! And they prefaced each wise message with something along the lines of, “damn, that stinks!” They are my chill pill.

*I am grateful for SCBWI because, hello!, they are the center of the biggest writing family in the world!

*I am grateful for my critique partners who tell it like it is. Even when I don’t agree with them.

*I am grateful for the online groups and listservs who support each other by sharing and giving.

*I am grateful for some especially close writer friends who are usually my first contacts. I am not, in fact, crazy, so I won’t name them here. But they know.

*I am grateful for teachers because they help shape our children into the leaders of tomorrow.

*I am grateful for authors, illustrators, books, librarians, teachers, readers, and book stores for keeping literacy alive by opening the world. Or maybe they open the world by keeping literacy alive.

*I am grateful for my non-writer friends, including those who don’t really care about my writing. They keep it real.

*I am grateful to VCFA for 1)admitting me, and 2)welcoming me with open arms, and 3)landing me with an amazing class with whom to share my journey toward MFA.

*I am grateful to the family member who, many years ago, said to me, “Why are you wasting your time writing a children’s book? Anybody can do that!” Thank you, miss-you-don’t-know-what-you’re-talking-about. I took that as a dare. Ha!

*To my agent, Erin Murphy, for never closing the door on me in the years before we actually signed together. And, for eventually welcoming me into this amazing EMLA family. Here, I belong!

*I am grateful for the voices in my head, pleading to be written into books. And to an insane curiosity about history that inspires me to write for young readers.

*I am grateful for the dog who sleeps on my feet when I write, and the cat who doubles as a paper weight at the worst possible times, and the many animals who have loved me unconditionally in the past.

*I am grateful to the Mars Company for making Dove chocolate!

*I am grateful for my peeps here on EMU’s Debuts for paving the way with amazing books, incredible talent, and a club to belong to. You have been patient with me when I don’t commit the time I should.

*I am grateful for all you people. Especially those who are facing challenges with strength, bravery, vulnerability, and faith. You are heroes.

*And I am grateful for reminders, in all their forms, that there are things more important than publishing timelines and books on the shelves. It’s always about people.


What, you were expecting something funny?


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16 responses to “Amid the Stress: A Gratitude Attitude Adjustment

  1. Sometimes, life sends you a reminder. Gratitude is important. Thanks for this reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mariagianferrari

    You’re so right, Donna! Love the phrase Gratitude Attitude!! I feel so grateful for so many things, and this is a lovely reminder, so–thank you!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my goodness, Donna! This is just a wonderful post. Perspective is essential and thank you for putting it front and center with your words.


  4. A beautiful, heartfelt post and you listed so many things we’re all grateful for and need to be reminded of on a daily basis. Thank you! (And congrats on all the great publishing news and writing projects! I know you’ve been working hard for a lot of years for this.)


  5. This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.


  6. Carleen M. Tjader

    Awesome reminder of the bigger picture. Thanks.


  7. kevanjatt

    A good reminder, thanks Donna. Take time to take stock….


  8. Cate Berry

    Thank you Donna! Boy I needed this like a banana split today. I’m grateful for inspiring blog posts!


  9. I’m grateful for people who remind me to be grateful. 🙂 Thanks, Donna. I hope that writing that list helped you to untie some of those stress knots.


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