It's still dark outside as I rise from my bed and make my way downstairs. I put the kettle on, steep my tea, settle at my desk. It's a weekend morning so, as the others sleep, I am alone. The quiet of the house holds me. It is maybe my favorite time of day.

I write in my journal, random musings as they come to me. I move to a list of what needs doing that day. Then I make a short list of how I am in that very moment. The warmth of the tea and the quiet of the house. My feet tucked into slippers and a fleece blanket across my legs. The desk clutter to my left and to my right and the hint of light along the tree tops out back.

There is so much that I see and hear, taste and smell, and feel. I take in what I can — notice what I can — because it is this noticing, and the subsequent filling of my heart, that will carry me through the day. This morning practice of being still and deliberate sets the tone for all that follows. And we all know there will be a lot that follows.

It is this paying attention that brings me to the day's path and guides me. Some days carry a pace that is difficult to match, but when I remember to pause and look — when I remember to pause and feel — the gratitude comes rushing in.

I am not necessarily thinking gratitude, but it is always what ensues. Paying attention and gratitude go hand in hand. How can they not?

When I see the birch trees with their leaves yellowing in the autumn chill, how can I not feel gratitude for the beauty outside my window? When I sip my tea, how can I not feel gratitude for fresh running water and the kettle on the stove and the people who grew my tea? When the day gets busy later, how can I not feel some amount of gratitude for the privilege of being part of a family and having the means to drive my children to the soccer game, the ballet studio, the friend's house?

Gratitude is everywhere. In the nooks and crannies and the wide-open spaces. We can make gratitude lists or not. But surely every single one of us can feel gratitude. When we pause to see and hear, taste and smell — when we feel — the tiny bits of our days, gratitude meets us in a warm embrace. And whenever I feel that, well, that is my favorite time of day.



Michelle GD is a writer and photographer. She likes to notice the tiny moments that make up a day, the moments that fill the spaces and the in-betweens. She also likes to help others learn to do the same in her online workshops. You can learn more about her work at and you can follow her quiet sharings on Instagram @michelle_gd.

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