4 triggers for gratitude

Armed with a Chai tea and a map of the Fruit Loop, I rambled through beautiful farmland past vineyards and alpaca ranches and warted pumpkins with Mt. Hood standing guard in the near distance.

All photos: Marlys

I’m grand-dog-sitting in a gorgeous Airstream in the Columbia River Gorge, and grand-dog Chloe and I are playing tourists. Hence, the Fruit Loop—the 35-mile picturesque drive that encompasses twenty-eight places to stop and browse and taste in the Hood River Valley.

Our self-guided tour took us past antique/junk shops, fruit stands featuring home-baked pies, and country stores …

Apple Valley Country Store — Hood Valley Fruit Loop

… past U-Pick lavender farms and orchards. And at nearly every stop, Mt. Hood as gorgeous backdrop.

Mt Hood through the trees

In addition to being a tourist, I’ve been busy adding to my gratitude list.

One of the most valuable lessons during my husband Gary’s cancer years had to do with learning gratitude, which sounds a bit oxymoronic — cancer and gratitude — because there’s no way we were grateful for cancer.

But what I mean to say is, the thought of losing something priceless made us sit up and pay attention to the goodness cascading down all around us.

Listed here are 4 clever ways to look for things to be grateful for:

1. Get outdoors.

Gary and I got outdoors frequently, which meant we slowed down, as in, slowed down the speed of our lives so we could savor the outdoorness.

Gratitude from this week’s Fruit Loop tour:

  1. Taste buds in good working order (I may or may not have had salted caramel ice cream for my lunch)
  2. A fourteen-year-old car that’s paid for and starts every time, every time
  3. Smell of fresh lavender
  4. One more day of freedom to move about the country
  5. The companionship of a four-legged, furry grand-dog who adores me
  6. Eyes to marvel at this green grass, these Oregon trees, these grand mountains

Mt. Adams across the Columbia River Gorge in Washington State

2. Travel, especially to less wealthy lands.

There are so many benefits to traveling, and one of them is this: It forges an appreciation for the simple pleasures that make up our lives back home.

Last year, I journeyed to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt with three of my nieces. The overnight drive into Egypt was in a small van with a man actually riding shotgun. The pit stops along the way were less-than-desirable. I wasn’t frightened during our time in the Middle East, but it hit me fresh how grateful I am for the things I don’t mean to take for granted, like …

  1. Safe roads
  2. Fully-paved highways
  3. Clean restrooms
  4. Toilet paper

3. Deny yourself something.

We tend to not notice or appreciate things—and sometimes people—until we have to do without them.

Several years ago, I spent a summer in Copenhagen without access to shower or laundry facilities for weeks. To this day, I whisper gratitude for every hot shower, every clean load of laundry.

4. Keep a gratitude journal.

Here’s my challenge to you: Over a period of time, see if you can count 100 things you’re grateful for. Because this kind of assignment motivates us to pay closer attention to the simple pleasures that make our lives sweet and exquisite.

One final thought …

This week I’m savoring life in a spacious Airstream, parked beneath impossibly tall trees, with plenty of time to write under the inspiration of hot tea, while my grand-dog stands guard at the front window. It just doesn’t get much better than this.

Grand-dog standing guard

Zig Ziglar said this:

Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.

I’d love to hear from you: What are some of the out-of-the-ordinary things in your life that you’re grateful for?


9 fun ways to be a good neighbor


How to move from Point A to Point B


  1. Marlys,

    I love your zest for life and your ability to transmit it on paper. I also am taking your challenge to write 100 things I’m grateful for. What a worthy exercise! Blessings, Julie

    • I think you’ll have fun with it, Julie! I actually recorded 1000 things I’m grateful for – inspired by Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts” – and am now completing a second gratitude journal with another thousand ‘gratitude things’!

  2. Tina Hohman

    Marlys, this came at an incredibly good time tonight! Thanks so much, and I’m looking forward to seeing you soon!!

    • Thanks, Tina! (I tried to talk my son and daughter-in-law into staying in Ireland another month because I’m sooooo enjoying Airstream living with the grand-dog. But they didn’t go for it. Sigh.)

  3. Excellent post, Marlys! I love the Fruit Loop! I’m grateful for splashes of auburn autumn leaves, munchy crunchy apples, a celebration of my 5-year-old grandson’s birthday and friends who encourage me to my potential. I’m taking your challenge and purposing to write 100 things I’m grateful for – 10 things each for the next 10 days.

  4. Pat

    I look so forward each week to reading about YOU and just how grateful you teach each one of us to be.
    Hugs from CA

  5. Grace Lawson

    You always write such wonderful things, Dear Marlys !!! I am very grateful for MANY things but this month on October 11th I will be very grateful to celebrate Dan and my 49th Wedding Anniversary !!! We were married in Canyonville OR !! Thank you Lord !!!

  6. Terrific post Marlys, and fabulous pictures. I want to come walk the Fruit Loop with you! It’s true we have so many things to be thankful for. When I went through an unwanted, unexpected divorce God reminded me of all the things I could experience with my senses: the vivid color of fall leaves, the texture of a soft blanket or long hug, the sound of the wind outside or my daughters singing, the smell of the pavement after the rain. After reading 1,000 Wishes, I had so much fun writing 1,000 things I’m thankful for in my journal, that I did it several times in a row! This is a lifelong challenge, but a fun assignment to look for the many blessings God gives us each day.

    • I completed a list of 1000 things, as well! And now I’m on my second thousand, but you’re way ahead of me! You’re absolutely right: what a fun exercise in sitting up and paying attention and looking for things we normally might take for granted. Good for you, Beth!

  7. Peter

    Intended writing earlier, but you know how it can be, sorry. Thinking of all the wonderful things and places you mentioned brought so much back for me and Barbara. I just wish to say, “And doesn’t it make you feel humble’, to have such beauty and pleasure there before your very eyes, not to mention the smells and how ones spirit is touched constantly. Our love, Bx P & family…. Thanks again Marlys.

    • Yes, I am humbled and grateful for so much pleasure and beauty in these Pacific Northwest outdoor spaces. As it is in England, I’m sure, Peter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2024 Marlys Johnson