How Gratefulness Transforms Creative Practice

Kristi Nelson on how appreciation is generative

“Be a vehicle for surprise,” says Kristi Nelson. “Notice all that lives beyond our expectations—sometimes difficult, sometimes amazing and beautiful.” Certainly I wasn’t expecting this bobcat in my back yard last week! And it walked right into a poem.

Preview: Episode 37 on How Gratefulness Fuels and Sustains Creativity with Kristi Nelson

“Acquaint yourself with how much is extraordinary,” says Kristi Nelson in this week’s episode of Emerging Form. The executive director of A Network for Grateful Living and author of Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted gives us all kinds of practical tips and exercises to develop a “musculature of trust” that allows us to meet the uncertainty inherent in our creative practice—and in our humanity.

Kristi Nelson has spent most of her adult life in non-profit leadership, fundraising, and organizational development. In a wide variety of roles, she has helped to lead, fund, and strengthen organizations committed to progressive social and spiritual change. In 2001, Kristi founded a values-based fundraising consulting and training, and leadership coaching business, and in this capacity worked with organizations such as the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Spirit in Action, Wisdom 2.0, and The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. She received her BA from UMass/Amherst, a graduate certificate in Business and Sociology from Boston College, and her Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) with a concentration in Leadership Studies, from Harvard University.

Things We’re Reading:


  • For years I have loved following The Beauty We Love, a blog that pairs inspiring images with poetry and essays and sacred texts. I always feel better after a visit there.

  • On the same lines, though slightly more whimsical, Love Is a Place offers images and poetry/essays/sacred texts. One of my favorite sites to visit.

  • And another great poetry resource is on the website—a diverse, grounding and inspiring compilation of poetry that helps refocus our perspective and celebrate the world we live in.


  • My friend Cameron told me about Bonnie Tsui’s captivating book, Why We Swim, which I devoured this past weekend. It made me want to start swimming again. The book beautifully describes the joy and meditation of swimming, but it’s also packed with fascinating science and history.

  • I stumbled upon Maira Kalman’s graphic book, Principles of Uncertainty, and it felt like an existential musing for this very moment. A combination of Kalman’s sketches and thoughts, it presents observations and questions that don’t always have answers.

ANOTHER Creative Collaboration with a Past Guest

Our fabulous guest Holiday Mathis—who has written over 8 million words in horoscopes and who is a multi-platinum song-writer (for Miley Cyrus and others) has been co-creating videos with Rosemerry’s poems—here’s their newest collaboration, a cinepoem on Love.

Two Questions:

(share your answers with us here on Substack or in our FB group)

  1. In what ways has gratefulness helped change your perspective about your creative practice?

  2. What role does surprise play in your creative practice?