Going back to school has added to my understanding and appreciation of gratitude. Taking two classes — Drawing I and Introduction to Photography — may not have been the smartest way to enter retirement. Lots of homework has kept me very busy. 
 
While learning basic techniques and new perspectives, I am being exposed to art of all forms; and often a step in one direction leads to a whole new aspect of art. This happened recently when a google search led me to discover a wonderful book, The Soul’s Palette, Drawing on Art’s Transformative Powers by Cathy A. Malchiodi.  Making art, according to the author, may be as important to your physical and spiritual health as balanced nutrition, regular exercise, or meditation. Expressing yourself creatively—through drawing, painting, sculpture, photography—allows you to tap into a source of inner wisdom that provides guidance, soothes emotional pain, and revitalizes your being. 
 
The Soul’s Palette reveals art’s transformative powers. Exercises include working with materials for drawing, painting, sculpting, and collage; simple drawing and journal projects; self-guided meditations and affirmations; ideas for cultivating intuition, inspiration, and spontaneity; exploring personal symbols; and making art a spiritual practice.
 
I am grateful for the positive feedback from my instructors and classmates that has given me the courage to share my art with others. You will see some of this in greeting cards from your Alpha Team this coming year. 
 
Jazz musician Lionel Hampton once said, "Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind." Neuroscience might argue about the actual storage, but a growing body of research on positive psychology tells us that gratitude is good for body and mind. Making art is an example of the true purpose of imagination — making day-to-day life special through creativity and in doing so, sharing our thanks. In making art for others, I am also doing a service to myself because it gives me the grace to find forgiveness and understanding and to let go and move forward in gratitude.