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The View from My Turquoise World

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

By Kindra Hall

Do you know this feeling?

When someone asks you how it’s going and you have to physically restrain yourself from releasing a deluge of information including, but not limited to, the health of your children, the location of your spouse, and the crazybusy (yes, one word) schedule that seems to swallow entire years of your life.

I hate that feeling.

For years it’s plagued me, lurking on Mondays before dawn, Friday night happy hours, Saturday morning workouts (weekends be damned). Maybe it was the phase of life, or the time of year, or Mercury in retrograde. Whatever the reason, life felt chaotic. And even if some of the business was good—a growing business, an on-the-move family, being part of a thriving community—the crazybusy left me feeling unbalanced and, well, crazy.

Years ago, after a particularly unforgiving stretch of crazybusy, I began to fear that it would become a permanent state of being. One morning, I decided to attack the feeling head on. Rather than head downstairs to participate in the breakfast routine involving two unrelenting toddlers, I left my husband to fend for himself and instead I Googled solutions for “feeling out of balance.” My search generated several (thousand) suggestions:

Yoga. But I’ve never been very flexible.
Meditation. But I’ve never been very good at sitting still.
Tightrope walking. But I’m not actually crazy.
Gratitude practice. Now that could work! Grateful I could do, (and growing up in the Lutheran church, guilty-grateful was a personal specialty).

I knew I was onto something, and I wanted more. I wanted gratitude strategies. Something I could implement in just a few seconds at the beginning or end of each crazybusy day. And then something caught my eye. It was a headline: “Gratitude, Nature’s Cure-All.” I scrolled swiftly and found a link claiming Oprah attributed her massive success to a gratitude journal. Jackpot!

Just then I heard the unmistakable sound of a cup of milk crashing to the floor, and the cry of an unattended toddler, and I knew I had just seconds to spare.

‘For 16 years, every night before bed Oprah writes down five things she is grateful for that day,” the article said. Practical and quick, I thought. Totally doable. I’m feeling better already.

“What’s going on?” my husband appeared in the doorway of our bedroom where I was hiding, requesting backup.

“I’m trying to be more grateful!” I snapped. Off to a great start, I thought.

Gratitude takes us by surprise. It overwhelms us and fills us with wonder.

I spent the rest of the day on a gratitude roll, making mental notes of things to record. That night, I ceremoniously pulled an untouched journal from a stack I’ve collected and numbered five lines.

I am grateful for…
1. My adoring husband.
2. My precious son.
3. My feisty daughter.
4. My work.
5. My friends.

56 seconds later, I closed the journal. Done! And while I didn’t necessarily sense an increase in balance, as I lay my head on the pillow, I started planning my very own “Favorite Things” episode.

For three days, I lived a grateful life, spending 56 seconds before bed jotting down my five items. Then came the fourth day—a crazybusy imbalanced blur. I crawled into bed that fourth night crabby and exhausted. Just before I passed out, I thought to myself, “Oh, shoot. I forgot to be grateful.” I sat back up, hastily pulled my journal off my nightstand and numbered the lines.

I am grateful for…
1. Spanx.
2. Iced coffee.
3. Nutella.

I stopped at three. I didn’t have time for this. It was dumb.

I immediately abandoned my gratitude strategy – it just wasn’t working. And I was pretty sure if I sat down with Oprah and asked for the truth about her gratitude journal she would lean forward and in a throaty whisper say, “Oh, honey. I only made it three days…ain’t nobody got time for that.”

These thoughts raced through my mind the next morning as I drove my preschooler to school. Per usual, he talked the whole way—the only person on the planet who can outtalk me. On that morning, the one-way conversation centered entirely on the color turquoise.

“Oh! Look, Mama! I just saw a turquoise car! Did you see that turquoise car? Mama! Did you see that sign? That sign was turquoise. Oh! Mama! Look at the sky, the sky is kind of turquoise. The ocean is turquoise too. Oh! Mama! Look at that gate! It’s… it’s… TURQUOISE!”

“Mama!” he squealed from the confines of his car seat. “Mama! There is just so much turquoise in the world!” He paused, and then thoughtfully said “This is my world. My beautiful, turquoise world.”

There was breathless wonder in his voice. He was completely overwhelmed…with gratitude.

I pulled into the parking lot and sat for a moment.

I was doing gratitude all wrong. I was trying to manufacture it, or simply retrace or recall it, but that’s not how gratitude works. Gratitude takes us by surprise. It overwhelms us and fills us with wonder. In its purest form, gratitude can’t be confined to a list or strategically felt in less than a minute.

If I wanted to revive my imbalanced life, tallying a few good things at the end of an otherwise disconnected day wasn’t going to straighten me out. I had to engage in my own turquoise world and bear witness to its beauty from the confines of my crazybusy days.

That night I pulled my mostly untouched journal from the nightstand and, instead of writing five things, I wrote about the one time I drove my son and all his gratitude to school. It took me 30 minutes. And for the first time in a long time, I felt my balance return.


Kindra Hall is a sought-after keynote speaker trusted by global brands to deliver messages that inspire teams and individuals to better communicate the value of their company, their products and their individuality through strategic storytelling.

Hall is also the Chief Storytelling Officer at Success Magazine where she shares the inspiring, often untold, stories of achievers like Daymond John, Deepak Chopra, James Altucher, and Misty Copeland in print and on the podcast Success Stories with Kindra Hall.

She is the best-selling author of Stories that Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business. Her highly anticipated second book, Choose Your Story, Change Your Life: Silence Your Inner Critic and Rewrite Your Life from the Inside Out is out now.