Do-It-Yourself Gratitude High
by Deborah Tosline
I love to walk. I love nature. The synergy of the two is joy.
The day whizzes by with emails, meetings, calculations, budgets, letters, pending and impromptu tasks, and brief conversations. The watchful drive home borders on the mundane, except for the mountains and the black tilted burnt rocks surrounding my historic community within the metropolis.
I love to walk in the mountains near my home at dusk. I just can’t get over the fact that after work, I can walk down the street and hike for miles. Walking four miles a day, six days a week for 24 years in the center of Tucson, Arizona, I dreamed that someday I would hike those miles from my home. I never imagined that my dream would come true while living in north central Phoenix, the sixth largest city in the country.
I had three criteria for living in Phoenix: I would not commute more than 10 miles to work, I wanted to be as close to family as possible, and I had to have mountain drama. Those criteria placed me in the community of Sunnyslope, nestled up against the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and the nearby inspiring Piestewa Peak.
I am a geologist and I am still mesmerized by geologic features. Down the street from my home, Stony Mountain creates a dramatic backdrop of black tilted jagged layers that tell the story of prehistoric times when a quiet lake collected layer upon layer of silt and sand, while submerged volcanoes erupted and before eons and events baked and mangled those lakebeds and volcanics into a gnarled black mass of rock jutting at odd angles into the air. That black mountain ridge against a blue sky, in dusky moon glow, or amidst the twinkly city lights makes every departure and arrival an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the rocky silhouette and fills me with gratitude.
It is entirely possible for me to go from commuting in traffic to climbing up the side of a pretty little desert ridge in five minutes’ time. Grateful, grateful, grateful! I spend an hour walking, ascending, descending, trail running. I move as fast as I am able on any given day, all the while compounding moments of gratitude, moment to moment and minute to minute, resulting in an hour of continuous acknowledgement of my gratitude for being so blessed to enjoy this urban wilderness, the Sonoran Desert, unique in all the world.
And this is what led me to discover the tangible result of being grateful. After coming out of the mountains, it’s a short walk down the street to my home, urban life, and responsibilities. My mountain desert gratitude mantra subsides and the afterglow is a deep-seated warmth that swells into a flood of well-being and contentment right in the center of me. This overwhelmingly contented feeling after an hour of constant gratitude spent climbing mountains shows me how to get a gratitude high and reminds me to cultivate the practice of gratitude to significantly change my experience.
I generally feel truly grateful and blessed in life and think about these blessings daily. But this concentrated gratitude mantra that sort of happened by accident showed me that my daily gratitude practice is only the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities are great.
Test my assumption: achieve a do-it-yourself gratitude high.
Deborah Tosline is a hydrogeologist and a lifelong do-it-yourselfer with a penchant for research and health. This combination of attributes combined with three decades of self-prescribed skin care led Deborah to the underground world of do-it-yourself techniques that can remodel and transform your skin and help you maintain the best skin possible. Much of the information available on skincare Internet forums and in medical journals is now summarized in Deborah’s soon-to-be-published book. At 55, Deborah has pursued a path of healthy living including 27 years of walking 4 miles per day or the equivalent 6 days a week; an 18-year yoga practice; vegetarian for 23 years, pescatarian for 14 years; all organic at home for 24 years; and more. Deborah loves to talk, research, write, live, and share all things health related.