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COMMENTARY: An Ecology of Gratitude – sneak peek

Structured as a 30-day series of anecdotes and writing prompts, my debut book uses my lived experience, makes reference to the science, acknowledges the significance of this place, our home base and invites everyone to write their way into a more

Structured as a 30-day series of anecdotes and writing prompts, my debut book uses my lived experience, makes reference to the science, acknowledges the significance of this place, our home base and invites everyone to write their way into a more grateful frame of mind.

An Ecology of Gratitude: Writing Your Way to What Matters opens with a line from Writing to Change the World, a book by Mary Piper.

“I am not interested in weapons, whether words or guns. I want to be part of the rescue team for our tired, overcrowded planet. The rescuers will be those people who help other people to think clearly, to be honest, and open-minded. They will be an antidote to those people who disconnect us…”

So here goes – adding my name to the list of people who believe in a brighter tomorrow, by thinking clearly, talking honestly – and with kindness. Here is my world premiere and a neighbourly sneak peek excerpt from the Introduction of An Ecology of Gratitude:

“In 1992, I drove away from my home in Banff National Park, a valley that was once covered by a shallow inland sea, and headed eastward across the Canadian prairies. I left my four young children and husband at home, along with lists of routines, likes, preferences, habits, aversions, and a handful of emergency contact numbers just in case. I was on my way to a writing pilgrimage that would jumpstart the writing journey I continue to follow.

“The Bow River Valley, my chosen home, is part of a montane ecosystem in the Canadian Rockies, with a geologic timeline of between 60 and 100 million years. The human history of this valley starts its record about 12,000 years ago after the glaciers retreated. Ecologically speaking, it’s a landscape that ranges from low lying wetlands with hot springs with excellent bird habitat, to rocky peaks with alpine lakes, glaciers, creating living conditions that are harsh and harsher.

“My neighbours and I go about our daily lives knowing that forces of nature are cyclical and that fires, avalanches, summer snowstorms, mudslides and floods are possible occurrences. We know that Indigenous peoples have visited these lands for thousands of years before today, and that for eons, people have been using this landscape as a place for meeting, trading, foraging, hunting, gathering, and of tremendous importance – as a place for deep healing and spiritual quests.

“As residents of this remarkable corner of the world, we need to accept our significant responsibilities and understand that every choice we make can profoundly impact our environmental, cultural, spiritual, recreational and economic lifelines.

“Here, the word ecology readily comes to mind — the ecology of the place I call home, as well as the broader meanings of the word. Whether the system in question is natural, social or personal, every ecology is the study of relationships and the flow of energy.

“After more than twenty-five years of writing in my journal, reading books, parenting children, working as a community advocate and enjoying our beautiful back yard, I am certain that gratitude has a significant role to play across the country and around the world.

The book will be ready in time for National Philanthropy Day, but why wait until then? Why not start listing all of your reasons to be grateful right now in time for Thanksgiving. After 14 days of writing lists, the science says that you will notice a difference – and if you don't believe me, check out this article: www.positivepsychology.com/neuroscience-of-gratitude.

To learn more about An Ecology of Gratitude: Writing your way to what matters, contact lorraine@grassrootsgratitude.ca or follow her on Instagram: lorraine_widmer_carson The book is released Nov. 8 and the first community reading and celebration is Nov. 19 at the Banff Public Library.