Danielle is in the middle, trying to make everyone laugh, as usual!

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we have so much to be grateful for. It is so easy to get caught up in the every day little road bumps we encounter such as traffic jams, slow check out lines at the grocery store, and frizzy hair on rainy days. The list goes on, you get the idea.

As the holidays near, I think about how my world changed drastically back in 1998. Just graduated college, had an awesome job at a small design firm and was sitting on top of the world at 22 years old. I got the phone call that my cousin, Danielle, who was a year younger than me, had been killed in a car accident on Christmas Eve.

The news was horrific! The absolute worst news you could get, especially at that time of year. Being in a state of shock was an understatement. It felt as if the world froze and it was a horrible, horrible dream.

She was the life of every party. Making people laugh was her specialty and having a blast was always on her agenda. She lived life to the fullest to say the least.

Lots of therapy, support from amazing friends and family, and my daily yoga practice got me through it, slowly but surely. There is still not a day that goes by where I don’t think of her, hear her laugh or just feel her presence. From that day forward, I made a pact to myself that every day was going to be a good day. Every day was going to give me a reason to smile. If she couldn’t be here to celebrate life to the fullest, the only way she knew how, I was going to do it for her. She wouldn’t want it any other way.

From this experience, I no longer allow myself to sweat the small stuff. And it is all small stuff. Paying the bills, missing a flight, an argument with your significant other, a change of plans in your busy schedule, not exercising enough, noisy neighbors… Whatever it is, it’s small stuff.

Let’s make a pact right now that from this point forward that we are going to radiate only positivity and express an attitude of gratitude. We know the world needs more of it. It doesn’t have to be really hard. A simple smile to a person in passing on the sidewalk, to striking up a conversation with the check out clerk at Target. Little things such as these can make a big difference.

Being grateful, like anything else, gets easier with practice. Set aside time every day to sit quiet and express what it is you are grateful for. A heartfelt conversation. A great meal. A place to live. A car that takes you from one place to the next. An amazing family that has stood by your side. A pet that makes you smile by just being there and greeting you when you walk in the door. Sunshine. Birds chirping. A busy schedule. Yoga practice. A first love. Your grandmother’s cooking. Someone who has passed on but has blessed your life with their presence. Whatever it is, big or small, be grateful.

We are not guaranteed tomorrow. We only get one shot in this life so we better make it FANTASTIC. Life is so precious, so short. Let’s not take another second, hour, day, week or month for granted. Let’s celebrate today.