Saturday, April 9, 2011

Blessed: Living a Grateful Life

By Ellen Michaud

New York, Best You from Reader’s Digest, 2011

175 pages Spiritual

Yesterday I had the day to myself, something that hasn’t happened for several months. I just let the work pile up, and I spent much of the day nurturing myself by reading the lovely little book, Blessed, a series of meditations on celebrating the blessings of our lives. I checked out the daffodils shooting up on the lawn, watched a pair of squabbling blue jays at the bird feeder, and executed a nice supper for my husband and son. A day of small blessings.

Ellen Michaud suggests that these small blessings are the “whispers of God.” She says in a video on her website that she hopes that her essays would be beams of “beautiful light that I could throw into the world.”

Many of the small blessings she celebrates come from living in a cottage near Lake Champlain in Vermont, where she works as a writer and has become a master gardener. She has quite consciously settled in to a rural life attuned to the rhythm of nature. She gardens, walks the dog, cans applesauce and salsa, tends to the neighborhood church, and visits the ubiquitous Vermont country stores.

One section of the books celebrates the lives of women who have taken on causes and work tirelessly to make life better for others. Several more of these essays concern women as caregivers, purveyors of casseroles and solace. I believe most of these essays come from her affiliation with Curves, the nationwide chain of fitness studios. While these were nice essays, I was more touched by the stories of daily life that fill the rest of the book.

I found solace in the short essays because in so many ways, they were echoes of my life, and I would guess, the lives of other readers. If I were the keeper of a journal, I would be writing about many of the same things. These small blessings are a part of all of our lives; we just don’t take the time to celebrate them. After a chapter on making apple pies, I made a note to remember the blueberry pie I made with my 8-year-old granddaughter Isabela this week. It was her spring vacation, and so she spent the afternoon with me. Her only wish was to make a blueberry pie. Another chapter mentioned a winter storm and reminded me of the three days we spent without electricity or heat in February and how my husband and I sat in front of the fireplace, played cribbage, and celebrated having nothing compelling to do.

I have read two similar books in the last year—The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. All these books urge the reader to settle down, breathe, and feel the blessings that surge around us. I find it fascinating that we have to be told to do this; giving thanks and feeling blessed should just be a part of our daily lives. What has happened to us that we have to be reminded to breathe?

Without preaching or being overtly religious, Ellen Michaud’s little book, Blessed, gives us insight into the small things of life worth celebrating. As she says at the end of most of the essays, “We are blessed.”

Here is a sample of her work as it appears in

A nice blog review:

Ellen Michaud’s website: Her website:

I received this book from the book’s publicist as an Advanced Reader’s Copy. It will go into my church library next week.

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