Read …

… “Choosing Gratitude: Learning to Love the Life You Have” by James Autry (Smyth & Helwys) and “Winter: Women’s Stories, Poems and Inspiration for the Season of Rest and Renewal” edited by Debra Landwehr Engle and Diane Glass (GoldenTree Communications). Both tomes are especially suitable for the upcoming holiday and winter season. In “Choosing Gratitude,” well-known Des Moines author and poet Autry explores how each incident in life, whether a simple visit to a dog park or a devastating setback such as a sudden illness, can be an opportunity to experience what he calls the “blessing of gratitude.” Engaging and often witty, his stories, poems and reflections provide insight into how you can cultivate gratitude in your own life. The biggest takeaway? Gratitude isn’t a behavior, like saying the obligatory “thank you,” but a spiritual process. As he puts it: Gratitude “is a deeply ingrained aspect of our consciousness, an attitude, a condition that, when learned and practiced, becomes fundamental to our being.”

Glass and Engle’s anthology also examines the inner life. Thirty-two women from around the world, including nine from Greater Des Moines, contributed stories, poems and essays on creativity, renewal, stillness and relationships, all tied to the winter season of dormancy and reflection. “Winter” is part of a four-volume series; each focuses on a different season. Also available is “Spring: Women’s Inspiration for the Season of Hope and New Beginnings.” Engle and Glass, metro-area writers and spiritual retreat leaders, plan to publish the summer and fall volumes by the end of the year; go to for more information.

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