Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 11/27/2008 [Archive]

Martha's Big Adventure - A Gratitude List

Martha's Big Adventure - A Gratitude List

By Martha Randolph Carr

The need to be right stops most people from offering gratitude, congratulations or a helping hand. Instead, what usually comes out of our mouths is a long diatribe about all of the holes in someone's new venture. Way too often in the guise of so-called advice what we're more than happy to offer is reasons to quit.

None of us start out that way. Babies arrive as curious because that's how they learn. The noted child psychologist, Piaget said though, that even babies would stop at the edge of anything but as Louie's mother I can report back that, boy, was he off on that one. Louie threw himself over the sides of beds, couches and when he got the chance into the waves at the small beach near where we lived. Every time he leapt he had a grin and a look of anticipation that had to be what optimism-set-loose looks like.

Louie, who's now grown and still in one piece, would go sailing over an edge and I'd catch him in mid-fall or straighten him out once he'd gotten in a good tumble from the surf. He never looked surprised to see me there and was immediately looking for what I nicknamed the curve of the earth, all over again.

Columbus set sail toward the curve of the earth even though everyone said he'd fall right off of the edge. But somehow he knew something would be there to hold him up and give him the chance to find out something new.

That's the gift that was intended for each of us, all along. To have an inner faith or foundation that would allow us to go out and risk it all in the pursuit of our passion and adventure. We were also supposed to re-gift this one for each other but instead a lot of us returned it, unopened.

For a long time I would have had to include myself in that group. It was my inner dialogue of fear and dread that actually gave me the courage to let Louie risk a bruise or a gulp of sea water. No one should have to live in fear of everything and never know the joy of seeing what they desire to do succeed beyond what they could even see coming. But for years that's how I lived.

Finally learning how to be grateful for what I already had helped me to steer my own ship toward the curve of the earth. The usual habit was to first take an inventory of what was already wrong or needed to be fixed. The new and uncomfortable behavior was to only list what was doing well and particularly those things that were okay without my help and benefited me. The first ten items had to include me.

It's such a simple tool that reaps great rewards. Everything we do has a purpose, whether it's to tear something down or become a building block in something great. Counting up the blessings helped me to see the building blocks already in place and reminded me that things were working out. Maybe it wasn't in my time frame or my design but there it was; irrefutable proof.

Life still keeps happening of course, and sometimes it brings painful events, but the challenges lose their drama and become opportunities to seek or offer forgiveness. Once cynicism is out of the way we can also become quicker at looking for ways to rebuild and come together as a community. Everything ceases to be a contest, which requires winners and losers, and grows into a place where we can offer a helping hand to each other as we set out once again for the horizon. More adventures to follow.

Martha Randolph Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home, a memoir about the reemergence of U.S. orphanages is available wherever books are sold. If you'd like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: Martha's Big Adventure coming soon to World Talk Radio and Voice America. Email Martha at: or visit

© 2008 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email

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