In all the research, books, and documentaries I’ve seen that are about improving our quality of life, one thing I have found interesting is that gratitude is almost always mentioned. If you want a positive change in your life, you can achieve it almost instantly by being grateful.

Recently, it occurred to me that gratitude played a large role in my childhood. When asked to describe me as a baby, my mother would say I was always happy and smiling. I was a joyful kid. That joyfulness carried into my adolescence. I always had an upbeat attitude, could find the good in any situation, and wanted to lift everyone around me.

The best way I knew how to express my thankfulness was in writing, so I wrote letters. I always wanted to benchmark a moment and make it special. Sometimes I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that I would pour my heart out onto the page. I have been doing this for as long as I can remember. I am not sure how I was so lucky to gain this knowledge at such a young age, but my guess is that I loved the feeling of expressing gratitude and the resulting exchange.

My mom found recently found a letter that I wrote to my sisters. Apparently, it was Valentine’s Day and I wanted to show them how much I loved them by rewriting a poem I found. I think I was probably about eight or nine years old.

Writing a letter of gratitude is almost always appropriate when someone or something has positively impacted me. It is my way of making connections. For me, there must be a pause to appreciate what has taken place.

Writing a letter of gratitude is almost always appropriate when someone or something has positively impacted me. It is my way of making connections. For me, there must be a pause to appreciate what has taken place.

Once I realized the power of my words, I never stopped practicing gratitude. My senior year in high school I wrote a true letter of appreciation to each of my favorite teachers. I wrote letters like these often. Sometimes it was to family, friends, or to someone who helped me in some way. Most recently, I wrote a letter to the therapists that care for my son, Knox. He was diagnosed with autism at three years old, and his therapists have made a huge impact on his life after years of working with him.

During the pandemic my gratitude art journaling practice was especially important to me because it helped relieve the anxiety and stress I was feeling during lockdown.

My letter-writing practice evolved as I started to see the importance of self-reflection and gratitude. This is when I started to integrate gratitude into my art journals. I am an artist, and my specialty is combining art journaling with my gratitude practice. During the pandemic my gratitude art journaling practice was especially important to me because it helped relieve the anxiety and stress I was feeling during lockdown. It was during this time that I realized I could help others by teaching my practice for combining art journaling and gratitude journaling. I wanted to reach more people, so I created social media accounts and a website, and then began my business, My Artsy Coach.

It makes me so happy that these letters of gratitude are sprinkled throughout my past and that now through My Artsy Coach I am able to share the impact gratitude has had on my life in the present. I feel fortunate that a simple letter writing ritual has become so interconnected with my passion for art and teaching, and it’s a magical feeling being able to share the powerful combination of gratitude and creativity.

At first, gratitude was something I had to consciously practice and now it happens automatically. It’s a daily practice for me. When I am sitting with my family, laughing, talking, having dinner with my husband, watching my son play…in my head I say, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. There seems to be a real need for this type of connection in our world today, and my hope is that sharing my expressions of gratitude can impact others the way it has impacted me.


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Margaret Alvarez

Margaret Alvarez

About the author
Margaret Alvarez is a working artist who has been passionate about art ever since she was a small child. She has taught art for grades K-8 full time in private schools for the past 13 years. In 2019 she founded My Artsy Coach where she hosts creative gratitude practice workshops that help people connect creativity, art journaling, and gratitude. She received her BA in Fine Arts from the University of Houston and her master’s in teaching with a specialization in Teaching and Learning in a Global Society from National University. She lives in Houston, TX with her family and feels very fortunate that she gets to share her passion for art and gratitude with the world. Connect with her at myartsycoach.com and on Instagram @myartsycoach.