Personal Growth

Gratitude and Giving Thanks

November 24, 2019

It’s been around six months since I wanted to write a blog post. I can name all kinds of reasons why I didn’t sit down to write, but they are all excuses. The reality is that I jumped into making my dream of opening a non-profit day labor center, into a reality. The last 11 months have been full of challenges, disappointments, and tears, but above all, gratitude and personal growth. This Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the importance of gratitude and always giving thanks. Living daily with a sense of gratitude keeps me grounded and in touch with my purpose. 



In December 2018, I traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, with a group of volunteers to offer assistance to the thousands of desperate migrants seeking asylum at the US/Mexican border. I remember waking up early and upon opening my eyes, feeling in my body that significant changes were taking place in my life. I could not put words to the feeling, and I just knew that the day marked the beginning of something bigger than I me. Looking back, I can describe it as having heard a calling and answering the call. The desire was so strong that nothing would have stopped me. As my husband, Patrick drove me to the airport; I told him that I felt like I was a small chick pecking its shell, ready to come out. Never, ever, in my wildest dreams, would I have ever imagined the personal journey I was about to begin.


Taking the First Step

I wrote about my experience at the border in previous blog posts, suffice to say that coming back home was a harsh reality. Everything seemed different to me. Yet, everything was the same. It was me that had changed. I was the one that came back and looked at everything around me with new eyes as if seeing it for the first time.

As soon as I got back home, I started planning my return to Tijuana and hoped to go back right after Christmas. However, one morning, on my way to work, I saw a group of men on the corner of a major intersection, waiting for work. It was cold, and many were missing jackets or warm clothing. I had seen the men before; in fact, I had driven by daily on my way to work for almost three years. The safety issues were apparent as a truck looking for day laborers slowed down, and the men ran to get in, all hoping to be chosen to work for the day. The safety concerns were painfully evident.

I thought, “Somebody should do something about this.” It was at that moment that I realized that I didn’t need to go back to Tijuana. The need was right here in my community. It is true that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” 


An Idea Is Born

I sometimes wonder if I would have ever asked myself, “Why not me?” that day, if I had not listened to the call to go to Tijuana. The simple answer is that I doubt it. The trip to Tijuana opened my eyes to the needs in my own community. Following that knowing, even though it made no sense to some, was the catalyst that motivated me to take the first step toward a life that is incredibly rewarding, full of purpose and joy.


Manifesting the Idea

Although there were many friends and family members who cautioned me against taking on such an enormous challenge, nothing stopped me. I saw all of their well-meaning concerns and questions as excuses masquerading as the reason to not get started. To live a meaningful life, we cannot live with excuses. Opening a non-profit organization has its challenges, but it is also incredibly rewarding. The obstacles have been many, and surely more will come. The difference is that instead of looking at an excuse as a reason to not get started or give up, one has to find a way around it. Otherwise, we start living with excuses and get stuck in a vicius cycle, not living up to our potential. 

By focusing on the idea and what I wanted to create, a series of events were set in motion, which created an alignment for amazing things to take place. Victor Hugo once said, “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” People with experience and a desire to help started to show up in my life. Opportunities continue to present themselves. Financial support by way of donations to our cause started to arrive. I am surrounded by people who want to help and are committed to make my idea a reality.


With Board Members of Esperanza Community Center, a non-profit organization whose mission is to serve day laborers and their families. I am grateful and give thanks for these incredible women


Becoming Aware

When I became conscious of all the good fortunate around me, I paused and gave thanks. This simple act of giving thanks can elevate our mood and open us to receive even more. Gratitude is a powerful internal act that allows for more abundance to come into our life. I like to think of it as living in a state of awareness, always being aware of how fortunate I am to be right here, right now. Gratitude is a genuine sense of giving thanks, even if we don’t happen to understand why something is happening.


 Gratitude Journal

A few months ago, I challenged myself to write down one affirmative act that took place that day. Some days may seem ordinary, possibly hectic and chaotic, however, upon a closer look, they are full of miracles. The key is to acknowledge all the small gifts that we are a recipient of. When waking up, I feel gratitude for my ability to get out of bed without assistance. Next, I can plan and carry out my day as I want, without being told what to do, I am free to do as I wish. Sadly, we take these freedoms for granted, while many are not so fortunate. Gratitude allows for the ego to be edged out and leaves room for personal growth to take shape.

Starting your own gratitude journal is easy. A simple spiral notebook is all it takes, jot down one thing that you are grateful for each day. It may seem daunting at first, but you will be amazed at how you will start to shift your view from uneventful to amazement. I find it fun to look back through the pages of my journal to be reminded of the good fortune that is always with me.


Gratitude journal. Writing down daily blessings will fosters awareness of our daily good fortune


Appreciating Others

As a child, I suffered unspeakable acts of violence that left me feeling confused, ashamed, and scared. I refuse to allow the past to destroy my internal peace and joy in the present moment. Instead, I have made a conscious decision to focus on the good fortune that always seems to come my way. I never forget the beautiful people that have made a difference in my life and give thanks to everyone around me. Showing others appreciation opens up our heart and creates a space for goodwill.


With my beautiful friend, Enid Cochran, who has since day one supports my goals, and leads a life of service


Gratitude and Giving Thanks 

Being grateful and giving thanks for all that happens to us, even when we don’t understand it, opens up incredible possibilities in our lives. Gratitude calms anxiety, since we no longer need to worry about the past or the future. Living in gratitude and giving thanks empowers us to attract and manifest the life we want to live. It keeps us present in the moment and not stuck in the past, using lame excuses for why we are miserable, or unable to change something that may be potentially hurting us. This can be anything from hating our jobs, being in an unhappy relationship, suffering from addiction or eating unhealthy foods. 

I have noticed that when I start to judge or find fault in a person or situation, by trusting that there must be a reason for the experience, the judgment stops, and I can fully experience the gift of the moment. The result of this change in perspective has been transformational. I had to remove myself from toxic, energy-draining people to make room for positive and uplifting friends to share my journey with. I am now surrounded by people who are loving and supportive of me and my dreams. Giving thanks and living with gratitude allows me to live a life that is meaningful, rewarding, and full of joy.


I received this beautiful jar of cookies for Thanksgiving. This act touched me for it’s thoughtfulness and generous spirit



Thank you for reading! If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I wish you a delicious and peaceful day with your loved ones. I would love to hear your feedback on this topic or any experience you wish to share with us. Share your suggestions and tips that help you stay in gratitude, if you have any. 



There is beauty all around us, the key is to actively notice it. Feeling gratitude allows us to give thanks for all of our blessings






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  • Reply Will Nicholas November 24, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    Love this Blog!
    Happiness is impossible without gratitude and with gratitude it’s guaranteed.
    Thanks for a great read!

    • Reply Maricela November 24, 2019 at 11:18 pm

      Thank you for your support! Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Reply Surynai Janowicz November 25, 2019 at 5:58 am

    My friend I read this blog maybe (3) times just because I just want to read over and over how your dream came through and it is not only your dream it is the dreams for many people that you touch daily without expecting anything back. You are a role model for many out there. I’m so proud of being your friend and I am very Grateful to having in my life. Thanks for all the motivation…..thanks for being who you are. I am very happy to see all your dreams come true 😘💋🙏love you my friend and remember that we have few Ángels watching us and we can’t disappoint them 😇. God Blessed and God Blessed your entire family specially Patrick , beautiful Daya and your mommy 😘💋

  • Reply Luv Highheels November 27, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing your great adventure. I’m so thankful for strong, thoughtful people like yourself, that took an idea and made it come true.
    I also personally want to thank you for your support and being a true friend.

    • Reply Maricela November 27, 2019 at 2:56 pm

      Thank you! I too am grateful for you, for the unconditional support you gave me as a friend during 2017, it meant so much to me, thank you!

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