"Go ahead. Play. Let me see you run!" Mimi cheered us on. I was seven or eight years old, playing with my cousins in the back yard of my grandmother's house in Oak Park, Illinois. Mimi (my Aunt Mary) was probably 30-something at the time and in her wheelchair, where she'd been since a spinal disease struck at age thirteen.

She loved to see us run and play. Occasionally, when she was out of her chair, we'd ask if we could sit in it and wheel ourselves around. She always said, "No, use your legs! Be happy you can walk and run. Go ahead, let me see you."

Her bright love, affection, humor, and hugeness of spirit were contagious. She knew we were blessed, and we learned from her to appreciate the gifts we took for granted. Mimi knew she was blessed, too - with love, with family, and in particular with a mother and father who made sure she was cared for and lived a full life, when her doctors said she would not. Mimi lived a spirit of gratitude and shared it.

The pastor of my church, Dawn, says that we teach gratitude by having gratitude; that it is a gift in itself to live with a grateful heart. I'm thankful to have had wonderful role models growing up, people like Mimi, who taught gratitude by being grateful.

Who are you thanking today? Who are you grateful to? For? How many blessings can you count before you fall asleep? What seven- or eight-year-old is watching you and learning how to feel grateful, happy, and blessed?

Don't wait for November. Go ahead. Be Thankful.

Author's Bio: 

Judy Ringer is the author of Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict (www.unlikelyteachersbook.com) and the award-winning e-zine, Ki Moments, containing stories and practices on turning life's challenges into life teachers. Judy is a black belt in aikido and nationally known presenter, specializing in unique workshops on conflict, communication, and creating a positive work environment. She is the founder of Power & Presence Training and chief instructor of Portsmouth Aikido, Portsmouth, NH, USA. To sign up for more free tips and articles like these, visit www.JudyRinger.com