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Leaves of Gratitude in Teenage Land

By Terresa Wellborn

For years we lived encircled by palm trees. We owned one rake, seldom used. Fast forward to life in a four-season state. Maple, Oak, and Chinese Elms engulf us. In summer we adore their shade, in fall we endure their leaves, in winter they’re forgotten beneath the snow’s glory.

This fall the leaves drop again, unpredictably in bunches. Like life’s gratitudes: suddenly and all-at-once. A bounty.

As November is the month of thanks, here is my top ten list of gratitudes:

1. Kindness.

A box of heirloom tomatoes fresh from a friend’s garden.
A pink rose from a little boy at the beginning of my library story time.
A plate of homemade Rice Krispie treats left at our door. Nom nom!

2. Surprises.

Witnessing my twins jump out of the car to help an older couple unload a dozen leaf bags from their van into the neighborhood leaf collection bins. I didn’t even have time to put the car in park! #stunned&joyfulinTeenageLand

3. The gift of music.

In our family we play instruments ranging from banjo to accordion. My son, Z, plays violin. While I don’t play strings, I can accompany him on the piano as he plucks out a new song. We work on rhythm together, counting the beats, double checking quarter and half notes. It’s our bonding time and the highlight of my day.

4. Perspective.

I’m grateful for the passage of time + life experience. My life has not been one straight trajectory but all the same with digressions and diversions, it’s good and sweet. From this small summit, I have summits left to climb.

5. Resilience.

From moving and growing to love wherever we live.

To date my children have attended:

5 elementary schools
3 middle schools
2 high schools

Movement is part of life. Someday, my children will thank me.


6. Curiosity.

In the questions that don’t have answers yet, that we’re living towards.


7. Sleep.

One of our family mottos: Sleep is good food.


8. Running.

My favorite run is my weekly 10K. It’s better than chocolate.


9. Libraries.

I’m a librarian and am grateful for the best & quirkiest job in the world: helping strangers find the information they need. You never know who will walk up to a public library reference desk and what they seek: a listening ear, directions to the nearest Starbucks, a CD on how to learn German, or the library yoga class schedule. From Reading with Rover to Batman books for toddlers, I feel deliciously rich every time I step foot in a library. I’m not kidding. I love my job.

10. Love. Unconditional. Christ. etc.

And this:


If it is all poetry, and not just one’s own accomplishment, that carries one from this green and mortal world – that lifts the latch and gives a glimpse into a greater paradise – then perhaps one has the sensibility: a gratitude apart from authorship, a fervor and desire beyond the margins of the self.

-Mary Oliver


What gives you a glimpse into a greater paradise? Brings you to gratitude?


About Terresa Wellborn

Terresa Wellborn has been published in BYU Studies, Dialogue, and several anthologies including Fire in the Pasture, Monsters and Mormons, and Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry. She has a BA degree in English Literature and a MLIS degree in Library and Information Science. Her joys include her four children, books, and chocolate babka. She reads faster than she hikes, runs faster than she writes, and has often been mistaken for Miss Frizzle. When not on a mountaintop, she prefers to dwell in possibility.

1 thought on “Leaves of Gratitude in Teenage Land”

  1. Such a bright and beautiful post. Thank you! I love your positivity grown from your grateful heart. Gratitude sings in my heart daily for God, His Son, my husband, my children and a granddaughter, that I can still dance and paint and teach yoga, that I am learning to keep house better, for opportunities to lift people in far countries and in my neighborbood, for time to write and even to do my job of payroll, tax and insurance admin for my husband's company. I am beyond blessed. Sometimes I hold back sharing my gratitude because my life is such a kind gift from my Heavenly Father. I am seeking to be humble. But I do give deepest thanks to the Creator and Savior for His glory and mercy in my life.


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