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Karen from Chookooloonks

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Karen Walrond is a (nonpracticing) attorney, writer, photographer, and creator of the award-winning site Chookooloonks. Karen is also the author of The Beauty of Different, a book that will convince you that the thing that makes you different might just be your superpower. She's also the creator of Lime Retreats, a retreat for that helps attorneys discover their superpowers, and use their forces for good, and not evil. She loves dark chocolate, a good rum, and she's wildly convinced you're uncommonly beautiful.

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in defense of gratitude

By Karen from Chookooloonks |

A friend of mine who is a photographer and blogger told me that a commenter recently mentioned that while she loves my friend’s blog, she doesn’t like to visit it too often, because my friend’s life “seems so lovely,” and it made the commenter “feel bad about her own life.” My friend, understandably, felt rather guilty, since it is never her intent to make anyone feel awful.  She just shares what she enjoys about her life.

This entire situation saddens me.  But what’s even worse, it doesn’t surprise me in the least.

This commenter’s discomfort, obviously, is based on a comparison she made between her own life and my friend’s — a comparison, incidentally, that is not based in any logic whatsover.  When I wrote my book, The Beauty of Different, one of the people I interviewed said something that seemed so profound at the time, yet so simply obvious.  She said:

“I don’t compare myself to other people, because I finally figured out that when I do, all I’m really doing is comparing my insides to their outsides.  Comparing myself to anyone is just such a waste of time.”

I love this, and it’s so true.  Furthermore, I also believe:

1.  No blogger’s life is perfect.  Not one.  Every single person, whether she shares her life online or doesn’t, deals with hardship, pain, challenges and difficulty.  Just because a blogger doesn’t share her hardship or pain doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.  And don’t believe otherwise.

2.  This fact notwithstanding, a blogger may choose not to share something painful about his story, his past, or his current situation, for many reasons: he’d rather not relive it on his blog, he feels too vulnerable when he shares something personal, or most likely, it’s not really anyone’s business but his own.  Bloggers’ choosing to refrain from publishing something doesn’t make them deceitful or inauthentic, it merely makes them private. And despite what the media might lead you believe, there is nothing flawed with choosing to keep some events and emotions private.

3.  Similarly, while I think bloggers should definitely be honest in the posts they do write;  there is no requirement to divulge what posts they don’t write.

4.  While I can’t speak for all bloggers, I do know that when I share something beautiful in my life, whether here or on my personal blog, I am doing it as an act of gratitude.  I suspect this is true of many people who share good things, and particularly true of photobloggers  (photographing something beautiful is often accompanied by a feeling of gratitude).  In my mind, gratitude is not about boastfulness, it is about mindfulness — it’s about taking time to stop and notice what is good in life, to help cope with what is difficult.  If a gratitude practice is honest, there isn’t any ego involved at all — it is all about self-care.

And finally, and most importantly:

5.  We all have something to be grateful for, every single day.  Every one of us.  I do not mean to suggest that some of us aren’t going through real, undeniable pain — obviously –  but I do think that even with this pain, there is something redeemable in our days for which we can feel gratitude.  It could be that we have friends and family helping us through, but it also might be as mundane as a roof over our head, or warm water to splash on our faces at night, or even the fact that an internet connection is permitting you to read these words right now.  As you sit, thinking about what you can be grateful for in your life, even if  whatever comes to mind seems trivial or meaningless, it’s not.  It counts, dammit.

I believe gratitude is essential to living a joyful life.

And so today, this Gratitude Friday, I’ll challenge you to share something — just one little thing — that you’re grateful for this week.  Leave an anonymous comment, if you want to, but still, leave a comment. Go through photographs you’ve taken recently with your cell phone, or think about the most recent good meal you’ve had, or the last time you laughed with a friend, or smiled at a child, or someone simply held the door open for you when you were walking into a building.  There’s something to be grateful for, I promise.

Here, I’ll go first:

I’m grateful for cupcakes.  I had one this week, just a splurge, and it was awesome.

Now you:  what are you grateful for?  Leave it in the comments.  I guarantee just saying it “out loud” will make you feel good.

And I promise I’ll feel nothing but joy for you, too.



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About Karen from Chookooloonks


Karen from Chookooloonks

Karen Walrond is a (nonpracticing) attorney, writer, photographer, and creator of the award-winning site Chookooloonks. Karen is also the author of The Beauty of Different, a book that will convince you that the thing that makes you different might just be your superpower.

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39 thoughts on “in defense of gratitude

  1. Jen says:

    I’m greatful for summer evening drives in my Murano Cabriolet with my husband and son. What could be better than being surrounded by beautiful countryside, warm summer air, holding your beloved’s hand and hearing your son sing with the radio behind you? Bliss.

  2. Karen from Chookooloonks says:

    It sounds perfect, Jen. Lovely. :)

  3. Sandra says:

    I’m grateful that after two years of hard work my husband is finally done with grad school. Now I can stop feeling like a single mother and my kids can enjoy having their dad around much more often.

  4. Karen from Chookooloonks says:

    Congrats to your husband, Sandra!

  5. Francine says:

    I am grateful for awesome new friends for both myself and Kieran who speak English, and with whom we cam while away the lazy summer days at the lake :)

  6. Karen from Chookooloonks says:

    New friends are always awesome. And lazy summer days at the lake sound perfect! :)


  7. Kate says:

    I’m grateful for a husband who gives foot rubs.

  8. Karen from Chookooloonks says:

    Daaaang. Now *that’s* something to be grateful for. :)


  9. Tracey says:

    Lovely post, Karen. I am grateful for my man, my babies, excellent health, chocolate cake, pizza, beautiful flowers, smiling faces, sunny days, my sister, friends, my job, my mom & dad though they aren’t here anymore…

    There really is so much for all of us to be thankful for. I remind myself of this every single day.

  10. Lauren says:

    I’m grateful for my best friends from college who are coming to visit me this weekend. They don’t know the full extent of things I’m going through in my life right now, so they have no idea what it will mean for me to be with them!

  11. Dawn says:

    I’m grateful that I got to spend time with both friends and my family this week. It was splendid!

  12. Karen from Chookooloonks says:

    Tracey — now *that’s* what I’m talkin’ ’bout! Great list!

    Lauren — Wonderful to hear you’ll be with your “war council,” as I call my friends who help me through. Have a wonderful weekend.

    Dawn — yay for family & friends! :)

  13. stella says:

    Thank you for the wonderful reminder, Karen. I too have found myself in that ‘comparing’ trap before and it never serves me well.

    I am grateful for my daughter’s laughter and her warm hugs every morning. Have a great weekend.

  14. Karen from Chookooloonks says:

    Stella — may she laugh with you and hug you until the end of time. :)


  15. Suebob says:

    I’m grateful to live in a place where I feel like I’m on vacation every single day. I’m grateful for a job that is fun for me to do and where they treat me so well. I’m grateful to be able to see my mom every day. I’m grateful for my health.

    At Thanksgiving, put up a big sheet of paper (we use that brown shipping paper) on the fridge with some pens nearby. Let everyone write what they are thankful for. It’s fun and touching to see what people say as they wander in to get drinks and snacks, and then you have a memento because people are thankful for babies, marriages, anniversaries etc.

  16. luna says:

    I am grateful for the smiles and laughter of my two little girls, who somehow with amazement and wonder found their way to me. It so easily could have been different, and it was for so many years. I offer the deepest gratitude for the ability to finally say: my family is complete.

  17. Karen from Chookooloonks says:

    Suebob — I LOVE that tradition. We actually struggle in our house with Thanksgiving traditions for our daughter (since neither my husband nor I grew up with it), so this is a GREAT idea, and one we’ll definitely do this Thanksgiving. Thank you!

    Luna — there’s nothing like the comfort of knowing that your family is complete. I’m so happy for you.


  18. @StateofKate says:

    Love this post–and all your points about comparing ourselves to others.
    This week I’m grateful for making new friends in my neighborhood–one of whom is turning into a running partner, which is something I’ve longed for!

  19. Jet Harrington says:

    Everything about this post is spot on, Karen. Thank you.

    This is actually a big thing – I’m grateful I survived the surgery I had two weeks ago. There was never any reason to think I wouldn’t, and I had great confidence in my surgeon. Still, I had never had surgery before, and I was *terrified*. My last thought before the anaesthetic swept me away was of loving my husband and daughter. Then I woke up.

    I woke up.

    And even though the recovery has been traumatic, because I was so sick going into it, it’s okay. Because I WOKE UP.

    Just like I’ve done every day since then. I’m so grateful for this.

  20. Karen from Chookooloonks says:

    @stateofkate — Love new friends. Congratulations!

    And Jet, honey, YOU WOKE UP. That’s a BIG thing to be grateful for. So happy for you!


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