Marala Scott is on a mission: to spread the message of gratitude. She wants her readers to know that, even in the midst of challenges, there is still strength to be found within themselves, especially when they learn to cultivate gratitude. “I’ve encountered many challenges I didn’t see coming, and others I did. What led me through all of them was learning to focus on and acknowledge gratitude for what it is, rather than giving attention to what isn’t.”
Scott’s With Gratitude is not only a beautiful collection of meaningful and renewing poems but also a sort of guided meditation, a daily tool to reframe your mindset and fuel your soul with positivity and hope.
I asked Marala some questions on what poetry means to her, how she finds gratitude and why we need positivity more than ever in our current social climate.
Why poetry? What draws you to this medium?
I’ve written poetry since I was in high school as a way of self-expression and to understand what I saw, felt, and experienced. It was my passion for writing that began to reframe the way I viewed life. The peace that came from emptying pain onto paper, expressing joy with metaphors and similes, and reading what I’d written about my own personal growth was cathartic. Years ago, I became more aware of the pain, anxieties, troubles, lack of confidence, and hopelessness people communicated on social media. I felt the need to offer inspirational posts to aid in combating it. Nearly every day for more than the past ten years, I’ve shared prose on my social media platform as prose is more straightforward and easier to communicate what I want to say with limited characters. The reason I do it is to connect to people, their issues, needs, and ease worries, lessen negativity, and express faith that there is something better. It just depends on the way they choose to see it, and if they are willing to reframe the way they think. I am drawn to sharing poetry and prose as a reminder that there is always something better, and the responses from those who read it have let me know it is impactful. I love hearing that.
Some of the poems in your collection With Gratitude read as though you are reminding yourself who you are, of your own strength and resilience. Would you say that your poetry is inspired by the struggle we face to combat negative self-talk?
Yes, my poetry does address things that have made me stronger and more resilient, but it isn’t a reminder for me to combat negative self-talk because I’ve evolved from negativity through my faith. What you are reading is what I discovered at various stages of my life. It reminds me of the countless lessons that helped me see life from a positive perspective instead of being sucked into, what could have been, the throes of an inescapable dark hole––so I want to share it. When good things happen, or difficulties occur, they happen for a reason. It’s a part of our journey to experience them. Whether relationships end, we lose someone we love, a career change occurs, or whatever it is . . . we must understand that on the other end of the spectrum there is—or was—something good that took place, and that something is what we need to determine and appreciate. Adversity helps us want to be better, and we can be better by appreciating what we go through. It doesn’t mean we’re happy and have gratitude for losing someone we love—it’s that we should have gratitude for having had that person to love at all. The sadness and grieving come because it’s evidence that we loved.
What does gratitude mean to you? How do you seek to find it in your own life?
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and showing appreciation. Often people forget to display gratitude for someone’s time, service, kindness, and love, but I don’t want to be that person. I have an innate ability to recognize mentors, coaches, and teachers who’ve guided me to a more successful path. I appreciate what my parents did for me even when challenges were present. I appreciate when people give me their time or make sacrifices on my behalf. But gratitude is not solely about what others do for me. It’s about appreciating that I wake up, when every minute, there is someone who didn’t. It is appreciating my life, my family, taking care of my health, showing empathy, being humble, loving people, and knowing that my relationship with God is paramount. The way I find gratitude is by being present, so I can see, feel, and experience it rather than allowing the moments that I should appreciate most to escape me.
Do you think right now, in our current social climate, that we need renewal and positivity and gratitude more than ever?
Yes. There is a surge of negative occurrences, and the media regurgitates them instinctively. It’s their responsibility to share it. However, so much negativity is taken in that it perpetuates the spread of hate, anger, rage, fear, stress, and anxiety. That’s why I share inspirational posts on my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I want to leave people with good things. We need to reframe the picture to see the beauty we are surrounded by and the incredible things that happen every moment of the day—and share that. It begins with the basics, which is what people have forgotten—a simple display of gratitude. Entitlement, distractions, and negativity have diminished the value of appreciating what we have, are given, and what we have to offer others. I’m grateful that I can serve others by inspiring them. That is my contribution to this current social climate.
You have been honored as an Ambassador of Hope by Oprah Winfrey. Can you speak about this experience and opportunity? How has it changed you as a woman and a writer?
We all have personal experiences, whether they are inherited or something we go through. I felt that sharing my experiences could educate and empower others. It caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey, and I was honored to be one of her five Ambassadors of Hope. It made me realize that if Oprah would pay attention to my messaging, others may, too. I had a responsibility to continue empowering people by imparting wisdom, offering solutions, and being empathetic.
What is your favorite part of being a motivational and inspirational speaker? Why has this become your mission?
As an inspirational speaker, I appreciate having the ability to touch people who need to reconnect to their passion, who they really are, and what they love. I do it by sharing relatable experiences that I’ve had throughout my life. Some of those experiences were quite disheartening, but when I shared how I overcame the adversity, the stories became incredibly empowering. I want people to know they have it in them to overcome anything: bullying, abuse, loss, negative relationships, career changes, addiction, lack of faith—anything—if they are willing to see the positive in situations, rather than dwell on the negative aspects. It all comes back to having gratitude for second chances, being able to stand again, and someone saying the right words at the perfect moment. I want to deliver those words and make people smile, believe again, and move forward. My poetry and prose are meant to be memorable pieces of encouragement that are relatable to others. They are written to facilitate healing, comprehension, happiness, faith, confidence, and gratitude.
Who inspires you? Can you share other poets who have encouraged you along your own spiritual and writing journey?
When I was a child, when I could steal the time, I’d read Langston Hughes under a big weeping willow or oak tree for hours. After I’d do homework or chores, I would go right back to reading. For some reason, I had an instant connection to his expressions. Then, in my late teens, and by the time I went to college, I began to draw on what I felt, experienced, survived, learned, and loved, which inspired me to find my own voice for writing so that my books were authentic and relatable to anyone who read the words that derived from my soul.
Marala Scott is an Inspirational Speaker, Award-winning Author, Ghostwriter, and Oprah Winfrey’s Ambassador of Hope. She has an undeniable passion to inspire and the ability to connect with others through her words of relatable poetry and prose. Her beautiful words will return something that escaped you. Marala Scott is also a recipient of several awards, including a Congressional award for her humanitarian efforts. To learn more about Marala, visit MaralaScott.com.