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I wake up grateful for the time ahead.

Kayaks in storage, Victoria, B.C. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

Kayaks in storage, Victoria, B.C. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

No matter what happens throughout the day, I try to pause for mindfulness, to mentally log what I’m most grateful for, in that moment, in that place.

Often, just the pause is enough to make me stop worrying or fretting and breathe … then meditate about gratitude. That mindfulness “break” is usually enough to pull me back from the edge of rumination (where worry goes when it’s excessive), and return my mind and body to gratefulness.

It’s like seeing those bumper stickers that say, “I’d rather be …” — it’s usually finished with surfing or sailing or skiing or some other active pursuit.

My bumper sticker of choice would be, “I’d rather be kayaking.”

It’s my favorite way to exercise and relax, because I’m on water. Whether drifting on a calm lake or pounding through ocean surf, I always feel more alive in a kayak, mentally and physically. (This is common to people whose disabilities restrict their movements.)

Living in gratitude allows that same mindfulness on land. I conjure all the sensations of kayaking while meditating — swift strokes through waves, the scent of  the ocean, the sight of a vast, blue sky, and more. In the parlance of my profession, that’s my “happy place.”

A mindful moment, whether in stillness or meditation-in-motion, leads to prayers of gratitude.

I don’t need a sticker that says “I’d rather be …” when I’m most grateful, in the moment.

Living in gratitude replaces the “would” with a proud, active voice: I am.