Faith Factor | Gifts sometimes come in strange packages |

Faith Factor | Gifts sometimes come in strange packages

Susie Alexander
Special to the Sun
Painting by Ann Huisman, titled "In Gratitude," was created in the Arts in Wellness studio during a Gratitude session.
Courtesy photo |

TRUCKEE, Calif. — A prayer of thanks is like making an affirmation of all that is good in our lives today.

Through affirming we are connecting to a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, a recognition that we have been wonderfully blessed. It allows our hearts to celebrate with gratitude.

Is there possibly more that we could be grateful for? Could we dig a little deeper?

What about the challenges and difficulties that we did not ask for? Sometimes the gifts in our lives come in strange packages, and we don’t recognize them as such: an illness, an accident, a rejection. We’d like to hand it back: “Return to sender — wrong address.”

Imagine you have been given a box to unwrap and inside is an onion — a big, large, strong-smelling onion. Of course your sense is that you got the wrong box, the onion does not belong to you — it’s making you cry and requires work to make any use of it.

But the name on the box is clearly yours, and you start to peel the onion bit by bit, noticing interesting colors and texture on the next layer. The layers come away, the colors change, each piece different and unique. You find various purpose for the layers, in a soup, maybe a sandwich.

Twenty years ago I was faced with raising three children, finding work and creating a career with very short notice and with no financial resources. The universe had sent me my own “smelly onion,” one only I could systematically peel and discover. The gift was in the challenge, and through the process of overcoming each step I found myself to be strong, creative, resourceful, loved, optimistic, prosperous, and yes — very, very grateful.

The gifts discovered through the process have been endless, including the manifestation of the Arts in Wellness community studio in 2012, right in Truckee.

And that is why we have Gratitude painting, collage, drawing, and journaling every Thursday at the Arts in Wellness studio, 4:30-7 p.m. (winter hours) — all donation based.

It’s a great opportunity to delve a little deeper and express what else might be in your heart for which to be grateful.

You never know how beautiful the inside of an onion is until you’ve peeled it, layer by layer.

For more information on the Arts in Wellness studio and all the great programs here, go to or email

arts in wellness Classes

Christmas Wreath Making with Gail Penney: Dec. 4, 1:30-5 p.m. Gail will provide basic wire skeleton and some decorations, but please bring your own pine boughs or additional decoration that you want to incorporate. Please sign up in advance.

Thursday Gratitude Painting, Journaling or Collage: Dec. 5, 12 and 19, 5:30-7 p.m. Celebrate and express all that you have in your life!

SoulCollage Gathering: Dec. 7, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. This three hour session is available to anyone who has done intro to SoulCollage. Please sign up in advance. If you have not taken the intro class and want to attend please contact Susie at the Arts in Wellness studio.

Jewelry Making with Sabrina Dreffner: Dec. 7, 1:30-5 p.m. Learn the basics of putting together a necklace, bracelet or earrings; crimping, clasping, and use of simple tools. Bring your own special beads or stones. There are always the treasures to find at the thrift store which are great for reinventing.

The studio is located in the Garden Folly Building at 10153 W. River St., Truckee.

Susie Alexander, founder and executive director of Arts in Wellness, is an internationally renowned mural artist and fine artist ( with commissions in the United States, Europe and Central America. Susie’s dream of sharing art making and creativity as a personal expression of our intimate human experiences has become a reality with Arts in Wellness.

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.