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Grateful Heart


Thanksgiving seems the perfect time to speak about the Grateful Heart, the mandala shown here was created in 2009 at the request of a remarkable man.  He wanted a mandala he could gift to those who had given him so much, his second family, the Surgicenter Sweethearts.

A Grateful Heart is easy for me when life is going well.  I have made it a practice to write down five things for which I am grateful each morning,  a process suggested by Amanda Owen in her excellent book “The Power of Receiving”.  I am more challenged in being grateful when things are not as I would like, my car breaks down, my dog needs surgery, the power goes out during Thanksgiving meal preparation, my loved ones struggle and suffer and I am powerless to help them.  I suppose you could refer to me as having fair weather gratitude.

As I am pushed even farther away from what I enjoy, I find my gratitude almost impossible to access…and then I am humbled once again by the example of the man, who is so grateful, even in the depths of the abyss of dementia.  In the almost four years that I have been watching his slow decline, he has maintained his gratitude.  Now, when most words do not string together coherently, he still says, “Thank you”.  Even when I correct him, suggesting, “Dad, please straighten your knees, stand up straight…”, he responds, “Thank you”.

It is clear to me that I have a tremendous opportunity at hand.  I intend to embrace gratitude whenever possible, abandon grumbling, and trade in my angst for acceptance.  Today, I have one more Thanksgiving with the man, who demonstrates gratitude with such grace and I am grateful, humbled and inspired.

Filed under: Dementia Tolerance, Healing Art

About the Author

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As a Phoenix native, Vikki Reed's vibrant watercolors of desert botanicals evolved from her love and appreciation of the desert's ability to produce tender beauty in the midst of harsh conditions. The mandala series which began in 2004 resurrects a childhood knowledge that mandalas are a primordial tool for centering and healing. Vikki studied in the 1980s with watercolor greats Irving Shapiro and Paul Kuo, and began exhibiting at the outdoor shows in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico after Paul's encouragement. This led to gallery representation with the Wickenburg Gallery and Work of Artist's Gallery. Vikki also exhibited at the Celebration of Fine Art for eight years. Before taking sabbatical to act as caregiver for her father in 2010, Vikki was featured in a one woman show at the Northern Trust Bank in January 2008 and was selected to create an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree that same year. Vikki's current focus, the Mandala Series, combines ancient symbolism and the healing power of color.

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