Wake Up Grateful with Kristi Nelson


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By Joe Woolworth and Gail Jones. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Diagnosed at age 33 with end-stage cancer and thriving IN NEW WAYS now 28 years later, Kristi offers a unique and uplifting perspective on embracing gratefulness.

She offers many practices and 5 KEY PRINCIPLES of gratefulness for coming alive in new ways that go far beyond what many of us know about gratitude, which we’ll talk about later.

Here is one major distinction she notes: “Gratitude waits for something to happen; gratefulness just waits for us to be awake.”

Kristi Nelson is the author of the recently released book, Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted, and the Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living. She has spent her adult life immersed in the rewarding work of 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 company, 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, among others. She was also the founding Director of the Soul of Money Institute with Lynne Twist, Director of Development at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, and Director of Development and Community Relations for the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society.

Kristi 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.

“My illness taught me greater empathy for the wounded places inside everyone that we cannot see, touch, or imagine — and not to take what we see of each other at face value. So many of our illnesses, struggles, and disabilities are hidden, and many people who appear to have disabilities are, in other ways, far more intact than we might be. The most important parts of us long for the sincere invitation to show themselves and be acknowledged in both our brokenness and beauty.

The surgery to remove cancer that had metastasized to my spine repaired me and readied me for treatment. But it did far more than that. It cracked me open and taught me unmitigated awe for the capacities of the body to function, to repair and recover, to heal, and to carry on. It opened my eyes and heart to better appreciate the courage with which so many people live their days. The human capacity for tenacity and resilience is perpetually astonishing. I learned that our bodies are a never-ending blessing worthy of our full-blown, moment-to-moment

appreciation and wonder — no matter what.” -- Kristi Nelson

-- “Grateful living reminds you that the body is worthy of your most grateful regard and is always available to receive your care. No matter how broken you might feel, remember that you are always whole. And you are always a source of awe, just as you are. It is a hugely generative practice to bring greater tenderness and empathy to the body — yours and others’.” -- Kristi Nelson

Kristi defines what living with gratitude means to her and how her sense of worthiness impacts her work now and her sense of living gratefully.

Utilizing the principles of STOP, LOOK, and GO, which she describes in detail, can help unlock gratitude.

Other key thoughts of hers:

“ When appreciation guides our relationship to ourselves, and we feel self-compassion, this provides us a frame of reference to better appreciate and feel compassion for others too.”

* * *

“Possibility is awakened, or not, every day through how we treat ourselves...We cannot know what is possible with others or with life until we give ourselves permission for a more unlimited and grateful experience of ourselves.”

* * *

“If you were to STOP WAITING and treat yourself exactly as you long to, what new opportunities would arise?”

We discuss the power of emotions, feeling them, welcoming them, and BECOMING VULNERABLE.

Gail discusses the importance of learning to receive to improve health and well-being. She says in her own book, Cancer as a Love Story, and in coaching others through transformation and cancer, that many who get breast cancer are in the helping professions and often over give to others, sometimes at the expense of their own health.

--Kristi noted she had to learn to receive through her healing journey and made a profound statement: “Giving at the expense

of receiving is selfish.” Kristi elaborates on how hard that was for her to do initially, and how receiving changed her life.

She also offers a key insight on valuing others:

“May you hold your relationships as sacred, with humility and generosity.” ~ Kristi Nelson

Brilliant Grateful Rule Questions for leaning in and listening Kristi shares:

  • What do you want me to be sure to understand?
  • What would make you feel seen and understood right now?
  • What could I do or say that would be reparative or healing for you?
  • What would be meaningful to you as an outcome of this conversation?
  • What other questions would help get to the matter at heart?


1) Life is a Gift. When you greet each moment gratefully, you are always receiving.

2) Everything is a Surprise. When you open to wonder, opportunities abound.

3) The Ordinary is Extraordinary. When you take nothing for granted, life is abundant.

4) Appreciation is Generative. When you tend what you value, what you value thrives.

5) Love is Transformative. When you embrace the fullness of life, your heart overflows.

Kristi's brilliant book: Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted, which is now available at Bookshop (Indie book purveyors), Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

To learn more about Kristi’s work as Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living, go to gratefulness.org, where there are also many daily meditations and practices for expanding in gratefulness.

17 episodes