Getting to gratitude

I’m going to be honest with you. 

I’ve sat down about a dozen times to write this, my personal reflection on gratitude, and I’ve gotten stuck every time. It’s easy to say we’re grateful, but harder to talk about why. It’s tougher to acknowledge what it’s taken to get to gratitude. 

Along with incredible blessings and beauty, so much of what I’m grateful for today is also — and maybe more so — interwoven into some of my and my family’s hardest moments and toughest roads taken. My gratitude for the health and well-being of my family, the joy and dream-chasing of my daughters, and the ease and freedom of the life Jason and I have built runs very, very deep.

When I think back to the origin of our light pink flower, I remember creating it because we thought we needed to, that it would somehow be wrong if among all our flowers, we didn’t have one that touched on gratitude. It felt so universal, and it was something so many of us talked about and pointed to in our stories.

We knew that so many of you were running for someone, or something, more than yourself. That there was a story and that there was a why.

To honor a hero, to be a hero. Because this is so much bigger than me.

I’m glad these words still ring true, and they certainly still resonate with me. And yet, as we embark on this exploration and celebration of gratitude, I want to set the table for more. For other, different, deeper, grittier and more nuanced interpretations of gratitude. 

And, allowing all of us to recognize that what we may be most grateful for is rooted in things we don’t often talk about. 

For me and for so many women, something hard usually precedes the gratitude that we feel. We’ve been through the storms, and now, on the other end of it, we can find something to be thankful for in it. 

But you can’t rush it, and you can’t force it. And that’s why so many statements about and approaches to gratitude don’t sit right with me. They seem hollow, surface or filled with toxic positivity. My gratitude is real, raw, hard-earned. It’s part of my story.

I know yours is part of your story, too, and that it’s as uniquely personal as your journey.

And that’s how it should be. Look around. Every woman you know probably has a different relationship with gratitude, a unique way of approaching it, finding it, grasping it, sharing it.

My team and I just had a fascinating and really honest conversation about gratitude, and I can tell that even with as much as the three of us share in terms of values, we all have such different takes on gratitude, such drastically unique ways it shows up and gets interwoven in our lives. 

We’ll be sharing their stories and stories from other women in this community in the weeks to come. And if you have a story to tell around gratitude, I hope you’ll reach out. 

Like so many topics in women’s lives, gratitude is one where we need to peel back the surface explanations and the expectations of what it should look like and feel like. We need to create space for all sorts of interpretations and honor the complexity and diversity of our stories.

And, coincidentally, when we do that, I think we’ll find a whole lot to be grateful for.

– Mel Charbonneau

Mel is the founder and chief visionary officer of Her Whole Story.

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