First things first, you guys. Giant, heartfelt thanks for all the love you’ve sent my way after posting the letter to my dad. Wow. If I haven’t yet responded to your message/email/tweet, please know I have read them all and been so touched by your stories, your support, your own tears. This has been a vulnerable, raw week for me and your kindness has lifted me up.

The other thing that got me through this week – and this past year – is my spiritual toolbox. That’s what my therapist calls it. I’ve seen Jeanne on and off for many years, from the time I was swimming in the deep end of PTSD. Not long after my dad died, I went back for grief therapy. Leading up to this week’s one-year marker, we reviewed the soul-soothing, spirit-lifting tools I can tap into during times of trouble.

Wanna see what I’ve packed inside my toolbox?

1. My camera. Photography is like prayer for me, especially out in nature. On Tuesday morning, I reserved time to go to the Minnesota Arboretum. I walked through the woods, on paths and off, and literally got lost – which made me feel found. All pics here are from that morning.

2. Breath. Mine. Deep. Cleansing. Sometimes I forget its power.

3. Music. I have soundtracks for different moods, playlists in my head, tunes to hum and make me feel better. We actually ended Tuesday evening with a spontaneous family sing-along, with my brother strumming a ukulele. I could feel my heart expanding.

4. Humor. The aforementioned sing-along was accompanied by wise cracks, missed words and great big belly laughs. I can literally feel my body’s chemical make-up change during a fit of laughter; it is essential for me.

5. Hot liquid. I know, sounds weird. But I know this about myself: my day is infinitely better if it starts with a hot shower. As the day wears on, I’m comforted by hot drinks – coffee, tea, chai. Love to feel that warmth running through me.

 6. Art making. I’ve taken to carrying around my paper and markers, just in case inspiration strikes when I’m out and about. Creating art is calming for me, always has been.

7. Grounding. Don’t worry if you ever see me crouched down outside on all fours. I’m simply releasing unwanted energy into the earth and imagining it disintegrating just at the surface so as not to harm anyone or anything.

Everything on the list, in my spiritual  toolbox, is accessible and doable at a moment’s notice {well, minus the ukulele}. And it’s all written down, in case I forget in an off moment. They sound like small things, but they create huge shifts in my SELF.

Already have your own spiritual toolkit? Tell me what’s in it! Need to fill yours up? Start noticing the simple things that bring you joy during the good times; they might just bring you joy during the rough spots, too.