Poetry Friday: “Downtown at Taylor Park”

This post was originally published Aug. 9, 2012 and was the first children’s poem I ever shared here. I was going to do this last week, in honor of my 401st post, but I decided to share some major news instead! So this week, I’m reaching into the time capsule and re-sharing this; not just because it was one of my first blog posts, but because it was also one of my very first children’s poems I ever wrote. Hope you like it!

(By the way, Mary Lee is hosting Poetry Friday today – so be sure to visit her at A Year of Reading, as well!

Last Friday, I kicked off my participation in Poetry Friday with an Elizabethan sonnet I wrote for my wife as part of my wedding vows.  She has been so helpful and supportive to me in my quest for publication in the world of children’s literature, I felt it was the perfect poem to get things rolling.

Today (our anniversary, ironically), I’m spotlighting a poem I wrote for two other people to whom I owe the deepest gratitude for not only supporting me, but constantly inspiring me:  my two daughters.  Interestingly, it was actually written long before I even knew I wanted to be published in the world of children’s literature.

Now, it may be comprised of only two stanzas, but this poem was a long time coming.  I originally wrote it in the spring of 1999 while watching the girls (ages 7 and 4 at the time) playing at Taylor Park in St. Albans, Vermont.  Taylor Park is the quintessential New England town square, full of lush green grass, tall maple trees, and a big water fountain.  It so happened that, on this day, as I watched my daughters running around being kids, the first stanza just came to me.

I had already had a few adult poems published independently at this point, so writing poetry was nothing foreign to me; writing children’s poetry, though, was unfamiliar.  Not knowing what to do with these two little couplets, I wrote them down when I got home and read it to the girls and their mom.  They liked it, but I felt like I was giving Lauren, my eldest, the spotlight and leaving poor Katie out of it.  I wasn’t sure how to include her, but I kept thinking about it, figuring something would eventually hit me.

It did.

A little over a year later, we were at the park again and I was mulling lines and phrases over in my head…when it dawned on me that even though Katie was playing with her older sister nicely, she was playing differently and seemed to have a different frame of mind.  That was all it took to figure out the angle I needed and bang out the second stanza.

But because no poem is ever good enough, I went back to it a couple years ago and tweaked a couple words here and there.  That’s what writers are supposed to do, right?  Revise, revise, revise??

Well, I think it’s pretty well set now.  I hope you like it!  And if you ever find yourself in northwestern Vermont, take a drive through downtown St. Albans…and maybe you’ll find inspiration, too!


Downtown at Taylor Park

Lovely Lauren, little daughter,
fishing in the fountain water,
looking for a leafy fin –
leaned too far and tumbled in.

Katie-Bea was fishing, too,
doing what her sister do.
Closed her eyes and made a wish…
don’t know how, but caught a fish!

– © 1999 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

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Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press) hits bookshelves Sept. 5, 2017!

Pre-orders are available now through Barnes & Noble and Amazon, or by clicking the image of the cover to the right. Of course, if you prefer, you can always wait til Sept. 5 and purchase it at your favorite local independent bookstore.

And thank you for your support!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Poetry Friday: misty haiku

(Photo by Katherine Esenwine; click to enlarge)

Once again, my thanks to my daughter, Katherine, for providing another inspirational photograph! Today, Kiesha is hosting Poetry Friday at Whispers From the Ridge, so be sure to head over for all of today’s links and fun!

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Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press) hits bookshelves Sept. 5, 2017!

Pre-orders are available now through Barnes & Noble and Amazon, or by clicking the image of the cover to the right. Of course, if you prefer, you can always wait til Sept. 5 and purchase it at your favorite local independent bookstore.

And thank you for all your support!

========================================================

poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Poetry…Cubed!” wraps up today!

Before I get to today’s post, I just wanted to mention that – in case you missed it – I shared a few new peeks of my debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press, 2017) this past Tuesday! The advance copy arrived in the mail while I was at the New England SCBWI conference, and what a welcome home gift it was.

So now I’m back from my conference, and have a few more poems to share as we wrap up this month-long writing challenge I call “Poetry…Cubed!” – based on the premise of the The Food Network show, “Chopped!

Writers were asked to use the 3 images below as inspiration to write a poem – any form, any genre, any number of lines, rhyming or not. The only hitch was that a reference to all three images needed to be included in the poem.

Out of all the poems submitted, one lucky person would be chosen at random to receive a copy of the Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015). Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared a number of entries, and today, we have FIVE more poems!

But first…here are the three images (click on any to enlarge):

                 

(All images courtesy of Katherine Esenwine

The first poem is by Brenda Davis Harsham, who saw all sorts of emotion within those pictures:

Van Gogh the Trickster

With his swirling strokes,
flowers unfold, stars twinkle,
Japanese screen images flirt,
couples lean in, sowers seed,
and your eye is tricked
into thinking
paint is real,
happiness lasts,
and youth is forever.

– © 2017 Brenda Davis Harsham, all rights reserved

.

Today’s second entry is a haiku from The Poetry Princess herself, Joy Acey:

Eye of the Tiger
on the silver movie screen
a white hibiscus

© 2017 Joy Acey,  all rights reserved

.
Third, we have a poem from Karen Eastlund, who was inspired to write this poem after she saw a billboard on the way to her aunt & uncle’s house:

Best Billboard

The billboard caught my eye immediately
Not for its bright colors
Or flowery words
But for the humor

PETRIFIED WATERMELONS
Take one home to your mother-in-law

We laughed our way to
My uncle’s house
And then we laughed some more

– © 2017 Karen Eastlund,  all rights reserved

.

Our fourth poem comes from Donna Smith, who took a break from packing (in advance of a big move), to write a poem for this challenge:

Vision

My vision clouded
Confounded
By these walls,
Surrounded;
But on the other side
The blossoms
Of sweeter times
Rebound;
Days of freedom
Behind and ahead
Resound;
In glory
Astound.

.
– © 2017 Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved
.

Last but certainly not least, is a poem by Kay Jernigan McGriff, who weaves all 3 images into a spring scene:

Focus

A clenched bud
unfurls its petals
one by one
as spring unspools
before my eyes.

Bees dance
across the petals
step by step
as spring writes a new
saga across earth’s screen.

– © 2017 Kay Jernigan McGriff, all rights reserved

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And out of all the entries…who is our randomly-picked winner??

Brenda Davis Harsham!

Congratulations, Brenda! I’ll get your copy of the Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations to you as soon as possible!

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REMEMBER: Irene Latham‘s annual Progressive Poem continues! Each day throughout April a different person adds a line – until we have a complete, 30-poet poem on April 30.

added my line yesterday which means there are only a few days left, but if you’d like to follow along and see how it’s been progressing, here’s the schedule:

1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at a penny and her jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

.

If you still can’t get enough poetry, head over to Teaching Authors, where JoAnn Early Macken and crew are celebrating today’s Poetry Friday roundup with April showers!

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Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press) hits bookshelves Sept. 5, 2017!

Pre-orders are available now by clicking the image of the cover to the right, or if you prefer, you can wait til Sept. 5 and purchase it at your favorite local bookstore.

(Good grief, this is all really happening…)

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poetryfridaybutton-fulllDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: more “Poetry…Cubed!” entries!

I am not actually here right now…it’s alllll an illusion….

So where am I? I’m attending the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators’ annual conference in Springfield, MA! But I wanted to make sure I shared the two latest entries in this little month-long writing challenge I call “Poetry…Cubed!” – based on the premise of the The Food Network show, “Chopped!

If you’d like to join in – which I hope you do – here’s how it works:

  • Use the 3 images below as inspiration to write a poem – any form, any genre, any number of lines, rhyming or not. Remember, it doesn’t have to be very good- the mantra around here is to #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading! This is all about having fun and spurring creativity.
  • The only hitch is that you need to include a reference to all three images in the poem – either via concrete imagery or something more abstract.
  • PFAC-front-cover-Nov-30-WEB-jpeg-705x1030Then email your poem to me at Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com and I’ll share them here on Fri., April 28. Out of all the poems submitted, one lucky writer will be chosen at random to receive a copy of the Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015).

Ready? Here are your three images (click on any to enlarge):

                 

(All images courtesy of Katherine Esenwine

The first poem I’m sharing today is a digital composition created by Carol Varsalona:

 

(click to enlarge)

I love how Carol not only used the photos as inspiration to write, but incorporated them into the entire poem. And like so many of the poems submitted, this connects all three images succinctly in just a few words.

The second poem comes from Janet Clare Fagal, who perceived the movie screen as, in her words, a “blank canvas or sheet of paper…something large and white and imposing…” How cool is that?? A giant canvas awaiting inspiration – and that’s what she gives us, in this conversation between an artist and a gardener:

A Gardener’s Advice to the Artistically Forlorn, in Two Voices, sotto voce

(Artist to self)
Empty page,
empty sky.
Look white and blurry
before my eye.

…………………………………..(Gardener to Artist)
…………………………………..
Grab your brush,
…………………………………..Grasp your pen.
…………………………………..Splash on colors!
…………………………………..And begin again.

Poems are waiting.
Frame’s undone.
Must get started!
Creating’s fun.
( Well, some of the time!)

…………………………………..(Don’t whine)
…………………………………..Artists, writers,
…………………………………..it’s not a race.
…………………………………..Paint the flowers,
…………………………………..and set your pace.

…………………………………..(Remember….)
…………………………………..The eye can see,
…………………………………..but the heart will know.
…………………………………..Put pen to paper,
…………………………………..get in the flow,
…………………………………..…….. and grow!

– © 2017, Janet Clare Fagal, all rights reserved

A third poem I thought I’d share is a rough draft of mine, as I was thinking about how much the eye resembles a globe. It’s definitely not a polished piece, but I thought I’d share it anyway, just to provide another example of how many directions ones inspiration can go with this sort of challenge:

Glory of morning awakens
senses; world-eye view
captures truth in otherwise
cinematic lives.

– © 2017, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Remember, you have just one week left to enter the contest, so send your poem to Matt (at) MattForrest (dot) com before Thur., April 27! And remember, it doesn’t have to be good – it just has to be written!

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ALSO: Irene Latham‘s annual Progressive Poem continues! Each day throughout April a different person adds a line – until we have a complete, 30-poet poem on April 30.

I’ll be adding my line next week on April 27, but if you’d like to follow along and see how it’s been progressing, here’s the schedule:

1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at a penny and her jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

poetryfridaybutton-fulllTabatha Yeatts-Lonske is hosting Poetry Friday today at The Opposite of Indifference, so be sure to visit her little home on the web for all of today’s links and fun!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

The Madness of Poetry in March

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on Tuesday – increased parenting duties and less available time to write can put a crimp in one’s blogging schedule – but I had to share a quick little update about a fun competition that is underway. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, a fun, familiar poetry challenge is back for another year!

What used to be known as MMPoetry (short for March Madness Poetry), has now been reborn with a new website and new name: Madness!Poetry. As in past years, Ed DeCaria at Think Kid, Think! hosts a bracketed poetry competition similar to that famous March college basketball tournament which is full of “madness,” but which we can’t speak of by name due to potential infringement of a registered trademark.

The premise is simple: each of 64 “authletes,” as Ed calls us, competes against another by writing a poem using a specific word we’ve been given. (In my case this year, that word is “behemoth” – which may sound challenging, but it’s better than past words I’ve been saddled with, like “appendage” and “verjuice!”) Fellow writers, teachers, students, and the general public are encouraged to vote for their favorites, and whoever wins each match-up moves on to the next round, then the next round, then the next round…until two authletes go at it head-to-head, mano a mano, to determine the champion.

Ed has been quite a busy fellow; for the past year, he’s been tweaking the structure and voting process, creating a new website, and basically re-branding the entire thing, now that we all have seen just how huge this little idea of his became. You can learn more about Madness!Poetry and see who is battling who by checking out the website HERE.

I submitted my First Round poem on Monday afternoon, and all the poems will be posted Tuesday morning at the Madness!Poetry website – so please check out all the poems as they are posted, vote for your favorites, and keep following along! It’s a lot of fun even if you’ve never written children’s poetry, because some of the solutions the writers come up with in order to use their words are pretty creative. After 4 years of competing, I’ve never made it out of Round 1…so I’m hoping this is the year…we’ll see!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Honesty” – and Billy Collins’ early birthday

poetryfridaybutton-fulllMy friend and fellow writer/blogger Heidi Mordhorst reminded me last week that former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, will turn 76 on March 22, and told me she was planning on a big shindig today to celebrate a little early. She invited a number of us to share a Billy Collins poem – or Billy Collins-inspired poem – which is precisely what I’m doing.

Collins wrote a poem titled “The Golden Years,” which begins:

All I do these drawn-out days
is sit in my kitchen at Pheasant Ridge
where there are no pheasants to be seen
and last time I looked, no ridge.

The poem, which you can read in its entirety HERE, struck a chord with me, so I decided to write my own poem which expands upon some of what he writes about, but in a much different voice and context…

Honesty

Someone once said
the definition of suburbia
is where they cut down all the trees
and then name streets after them.
Truth is, it’s worse than that.
Everything that was once
is dismissed, removed,
or chased away; trees are only
the beginning.

I knew a family
who lived on Deerhaven Road,
an oxymoron
for there were neither deer
nor was it a haven;
habitat destroyed, the animals
moved on. I’m guessing
they didn’t use the freshly-paved route
connecting a half-mile of houses
bearing their name.

Then there was Rattlesnake Hill which,
once it was suitably transformed
into every urbanite’s impression
of what rural life should be,
contained neither rattlesnake
nor hill.

This is why I much prefer the city
or the country to the soft,
doughy middle. Out in the boondocks
where the bears, deer, fox, and pheasants
have yet to be honored with pavement,
one can watch them wander across streets,
worn and dusty, into the neighbor’s
front yard. Likewise, in the city,
there are no turkeys, moose, or coyotes, and everyone
is fine with that; no one
has taken it upon themselves
to recognize the lack of wildlife
by naming a parkway after them.
City or country, there is no pretending
to be one thing or another; it is an honesty
with oneself, with nature, with the streets
that connect us.

– © 2017, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Heidi is hosting Poetry Friday today, so you can visit the “All-Billy Birthday Extravanganza” – along with all of today’s Poetry Friday links and fun – on her blog, My Juicy Little Universe!

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
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Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Thanksgiving Day: The one blessing we overlook

This post was originally published on Nov. 20, 2013, but between food prep, writing, voiceover work, and chasing after a 3-year-old, my time is extremely limited this week! So I thought it might be appropriate to dust this off and re-post it for any of my followers who hadn’t caught it the first time around. I hope you enjoy your week, whether or not you’re celebrating Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and be grateful…that you have the capacity to be thankful!

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Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. will be here in two days, and everywhere you turn, people are talking, writing, and blogging about all the things they’re thankful for.  I, for one, am growing weary of it.

Now, please don’t get me wrong; it’s good to be grateful.  Indeed, we should be thankful – and display that thankfulness – every day of our lives.  We should reflect upon our blessings on a regular basis and never hesitate to show our appreciation for what we have.

My problem is not so much with the thankfulness; it’s that we’re missing an important reason to be thankful.

The Usual Suspects

Again, please don’t misunderstand me; I’m glad people are thankful for their blessings.  But there are certain blessings that show up on nearly everyone’s lists – our faith(s), our families and friends, our lives, our pets, our homes, our talents.

Some people may be thankful their loved ones made it home safely from being abroad; others may be grateful that they received a year-end bonus, or even have a job at all.

Even the poor and destitute among us may be thankful for things like the warmth of the sun or the kindness of a stranger.

I can say honestly that I am truly, truly, TRULY thankful for all these things…but you probably could have guessed that, even if you had never met me or had never even heard of me or this blog.

These are the blessings that most of humanity celebrates – and the acknowledgement that we should be grateful for these things is rooted in the love, compassion, and empathy that separates our species from the rest of the animal kingdom.

We recognize the importance of both gratitude and thankfulness.

A quick vocabulary lesson

Gratitude and thankfulness are not necessarily interchangeable.

I’m no lexicographer or linguist, but it has always been my understanding that these words had different meanings.  To be thankful means you’re appreciative that something that you wanted came about; to be grateful indicates you are appreciative towards someone or something.

(Any English professors in the house?  Please correct me if I’m wrong!)

The reason it’s important to know the difference is because gratitude is directional; thankfulness is not.  Feed a hungry animal and it may be thankful it received food, but it might not be grateful toward you for feeding it.  I know pet owners will disagree with that – having two dogs and two cats of my own, I’ll admit that some animals probably are grateful to the person taking care of them – but how many of these animals understand what it means to be grateful or thankful?

And therein lies the rationale for my previous statement that our recognition of the importance of both gratitude and thankfulness is one of the important qualities that elevates us above the rest of the animal kingdom.

Little blessings, and the BIG one

As I ponder this, I come to the conclusion that the human condition of feeling gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation is itself a blessing.

Yes, I’m thankful for all those things we talked about earlier.  I’m thankful for my family, our friends, and our pets.  I’m thankful I live in a country that promotes freedom of speech, religion, and personal excellence.  I’m grateful to God and Jesus for their love and sacrifices; I’m grateful to my wife and family for supporting me as a self-employed stay-at-home dad; I’m grateful to Al Gore for creating the internet.

(I’m also thankful – or grateful – to whomever or whatever was responsible for getting my 2-year-old to finally stop waking up at 5am…daylight savings time really screwed up the poor little dude’s internal clock for a couple of weeks!)

But I don’t want to overlook this very important aspect of our humanity; that is, the recognition of the importance of gratitude and thankfulness.

Thankful…for being thankful?

Yes, that is basically what I’m saying.  Chuckle if you’d like.  However, when you actually think about what it means to be thankful for having the comprehension of what gratitude, appreciation, or even indebtedness mean…I hope you will understand why I believe it is so important.

We humans are not simply grateful, or thankful.  We comprehend – and celebrate – the importance of being grateful or thankful.

So this Thanksgiving Day, while we’re giving thanks for all we have, think about why you are thankful.

Think about why you are grateful.

And give thanks that you are.

Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
SCVBWI_Member-badge (5 years)
To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)
 .
Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!