jennifer ballard

This month, our city is focusing on the character trait of gratefulness. I try to take time daily to pause and think about how grateful I am. It tends to be the little moments that make you stop and focus on that grateful feeling.

For example, a few nights ago, we found some old pictures of my daughter who at the age of 3 “borrowed” my phone to take some extreme close-up selfies (she’s almost 12 now). We were laughing so hard we could barely breathe. Those are the moments I want to freeze, to take a picture of in my mind and say to myself, “Remember this moment.” But all I can do is pause and feel grateful for that moment of happiness and my family around me.

Cultivating gratitude has been scientifically proven to improve physical and mental health. If you’re interested in books on this topic, the library has several:

• “The Gratitude Diaries: How A Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform your Life” by Janice Kaplan.

• “Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey” by A.J. Jacobs.

• “Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks” by Diana Butler Bass

• “The Grateful Life: The Secret to Happiness, and the Science of Contentment” by Nina Lesowitz

• “Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead to Life’s Biggest Yes” by Kristen Welch

We also have books, CDs and DVDs on meditation, which is an excellent way to practice gratitude every day.

I believe part of feeling grateful and appreciating what you have should include giving back to others. One of our goals at the library is to contribute to stronger communities, and helping our customers learn something new or better their lives is one way we do that. Applying for a job; starting a small business; learning to use library databases, a new language or a new skill; or improving your business skills – the list goes on and on.

We also like to give back by partnering with other agencies like the American Red Cross to host blood drives and collecting donations for our local organizations who help people in need in our communities. In November, we are hosting a month long food drive benefitting Owasso Community Resources. We have done food drives before, but we want to make this our biggest drive ever! We will have a box in the lobby, along with a list of items most needed at OCR. You can enter a drawing for free books if you bring items to donate for the food drive.

I am so grateful for my role here at the library, for my staff and for the Owasso community for being such avid library users and supporters. We are one of the busiest libraries in the system, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. What are you grateful for?