When our girls were small and the days whirled by in a daze of everyday stress and mess, we tried to squeeze in some quality parenting as often as our sleep-deprived brains could muster. One of the principles we felt was important to teach them, was gratitude. So when they got something nice from someone, we had a gentle way of nudging them to remember to show gratitude: “What are the magical words?” we would ask them. “Thank you!” they shouted with their light voices and giggled.

Even though our girls are not little anymore, every now and then I’m reminded of this principle: the importance of gratitude, but also, the importance of words themselves. I believe that when we think, or say thank you, we feel more grateful, and the more we recognize things to be grateful for; the more of them we find.

I, like many of us, have had my fair share of dark days, and sometimes it really seems impossible to look for rays of light. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves a break and tell ourselves: This too shall pass. Then those words carry us through the darkness. This is something I have often marvelled at; words’ nearly magical power to change our moods and even our lives. Words like: I love you, and Will you marry me, and even simple words like: Yes or No can change our lives in an instant. There is a chasm between words like: I can do this and I will never make it.

When I write my novels, and perhaps even more when I write poetry, I ponder every word: its place in the sentence, all the other words I could have used, down to every little comma and punctuation mark. When building fictional worlds for the mind to wander, the words are the brushstrokes and the colors, breathing life into the scenes and the characters; they are truly magical.

In this season of change in our family, I’m grateful for the new gifts that are coming into our lives: an upcoming wedding for our oldest daughter, an amazing son-in-law, an exciting summer for our youngest; studying music at her dream college, and to top it all off, my husband and I bought a house!

We stumbled upon a beach bungalow in our home town of Gothenburg that checked all our boxes, and somehow we managed to buy it all the way from Kuala Lumpur. We haven’t seen it in real life yet, only pictures and videos, but after nearly eight years in Asia, we’re excited to be able to go back to Sweden more often to visit. And a house by the ocean! If you’ve followed my blog, you know I have dreamed about a house by the sea for years and years. The house we bought even comes with “a room of my own” as Virginia Woolf put it: a studio for me to write and create in. Perhaps I can pick up the passion of my youth again, painting sweeping seascapes of the ocean.

I look forward to continue to chase the magical words in our little beach bungalow; to wander down to the beach and to find my favorite spot among the cliffs by the sea. To look out to the horizon and wonder at the many miracles and hardships that brought me there. To breathe in the salty air and to exhale a quiet thank you.