Practicing an attitude of gratitude

Oct 5, 2023

Fall is officially here in North Carolina. The mosquitoes are still trying their best to hang around, but the leaves are changing color and there’s a pop-up pumpkin patch on every corner.

As we water the mums and arrange those heirloom pumpkins (or “funny-looking” pumpkins as my kids call them) on the steps, I find myself pausing to reflect on the things I’m grateful for in my life and business.

Little boy in overalls at the pumpkin patch
Sawyer at the pumpkin patch

You’ve probably heard or seen the word ‘gratitude’ a lot recently as we approach Thanksgiving. But there are many benefits to expressing gratitude on a regular basis.

Studies show that when we practice expressing gratitude – we are likely to be more happy and less depressed… even if our mental health is already suffering.

Here’s what science says about gratitude: 

It can be a natural antidepressant:  “Expressing gratitude not only to others but also to ourselves, induces positive emotions, primarily happiness… The effects of gratitude, when practiced daily can be almost the same as medications. It produces a feeling of long-lasting happiness and contentment, the physiological basis of which lies at the neurotransmitter level.”

It takes time, but the effects are long-lasting: “Individuals in the gratitude group reported better mental health than the others four weeks after the writing activities, and this difference in mental health became even larger 12 weeks after the writing activities.”

It’s great for leadership: “Gratitude makes a leader compassionate, considerate, empathetic, and loved among others.”

And if science doesn’t convince you, maybe Oprah’s thoughts on gratitude can:

“I know for sure that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your personal vibration. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots.” 


One of the things I am most grateful for is the ability and privilege to do this job. Being an entrepreneur is a life-long dream I’ve had since I was a kid watching my grandfather and dad build a successful construction business (from my grandfather digging ditches with a shovel to being the owner of a fleet of yellow dump trucks and excavators). I was inspired when my mom decided to open her own women’s clothing boutique while also working full-time as a teacher.

To be able to photograph families with dogs and tell the stories of other entrepreneurs through personal branding photography is a dream.

Running my own business while raising my three children, serving at church, and volunteering with animal rescue groups, I can be so busy that expressing my gratitude sometimes gets overlooked.

So, I wanted to take this opportunity – in this season of thanks – to share a few things I’m most thankful for right now.

  1. Health. I have three healthy children. I am healthy and so is my husband. We have no daily physical health challenges that pose obstacles or require special accommodation. I’ve had high school classmates who have lost children to cancer and rare diseases. I will never take for granted our ability to run, jump, laugh, play, and eat without a second thought. I am thankful for a healthy body that can lie in the grass and hold a five-pound camera to photograph furry friends and families.
  1. True friendship. I have several friends whom I can call or text at any time and find loving, judgment-free support. I have friends who check in on me when my anxiety is taking over and I am frantic about everything. These are the friends I can yell with, cry with, laugh with, and trust my kids with. These are the friends who drop off a bottle of wine and chocolate on your doorstep when you’re having a hard time or bring Gatorade and saltines when you’re in the thick of a stomach bug going around the family. I would not have survived Covid-times without these amazing women. 
  1. Baxter. I will always be grateful for the dog that inspired my pet photography journey. Most importantly, I am thankful this little pup showed me how to love myself as I’ve battled depression and anxiety over the years. There is purity in a dog’s love. They give it so freely and with joy inspiring us to love others in the same way. While my heart dog is no longer by my side, his lessons of self-love and loving others without expectations will last forever.
  2. Traditions. I’m extra sentimental. While I try not to hold on to too many material things, I do love establishing traditions that allow our family and friends to not only look forward to each year but also track how much we’ve grown (taller, closer, older, happier). Each year, we visit the same pumpkin patch with friends from pre-school. I’ve organized this trip for the past several years starting with my oldest daughter (now 9yrs old) and now with my youngest (almost 4 years old). This is just one of the many items on our list of holiday traditions.

Each night, we say prayers as a family. I ask the children if they would like to thank God for something. They come up with the best answers like “Thank you God for my friend playing with me on the playground” or “Thank you God for ice cream.” It is always a refreshing reminder that joy can be found in the simplest things.

What are you thankful for?