I wear two hats with different names: Madison Woods when I’m wearing the artist hat, Roxann Riedel in real life and real estate. I'm a rock-smashing paint-making artist & a sales agent for Montgomery Whiteley Realty. Hailing from the wild Ozarks in Kingston, Arkansas where my husband and I work toward a sustainable lifestyle.

You can text or call to reach me by either name (see above):
(479)409-3429, or email madison@wildozark.com

The beauty of my surroundings is one of the things I'm most grateful for.

A Reflection on Gratitude | A Thanks-Giving for Blessings

I feel a sense of gratitude often throughout most days, but each year around this time, I like to compile a list of things that make me feel grateful. As the end of the year approaches, I start thinking more about goals, aspirations, and plans for the coming year. Some of the small things most people take for granted are things I appreciate most acutely.

So many of the things I’m most grateful for nowadays are things I didn’t realize I should be feeling grateful for before we moved up here. Those things mostly center around warmth and water. But first there’s the gratitude for family.


We’re not all nearby one another, and sometimes it’s a long while before I get to see some of them. I am grateful to have my family. Even though Rob has been on the other side of the world for nearly half of our marriage, we have a connection between us that distance doesn’t seem to bother. Of course I miss him, and I know he misses me, but we’re both grateful that he has skills to qualify for the work that he does. The love and trust that exists between us is worthy of much gratitude.

My parents and sister, and sister-in-law are a state away, but I’m grateful to be able to see them sometimes. Mostly, that’s when they travel north, because I don’t get to go south very often. My children are all in the same state, but Rob’s are a few states away. But where they are isn’t the most important thing to me. What I want most is to know they’re safe and secure, happy and eager to wake up in the mornings because they love their lives. That’s my most ardent wish for my kids. And as a grandparent, though, having them nearby means I’m exceptionally grateful to witness the grandkids growing up. We’re missing out on a lot of that with the ones in other states.

I lost my best friend earlier this month to ovarian cancer. While I’m missing her, I have much gratitude in the knowing that she no longer suffers and grateful for the time I did get to be her friend.


It’s hard to relay the importance of warmth to someone who has never been cold because of lack of warmth. I’ve never been in a situation where I had to do without a warm home, but I have been in weather that made me understand very clearly how devastating it would be to not have propane and/or firewood. Preferably both. I’ve done without firewood and stayed mostly in the kitchen and my office because we have propane heaters in there. And I’ve done without propane before and relied only on firewood. I’m definitely have a lot of gratitude for warmth in my home during winter months.

There was one winter before we had the modern house built when I stayed home alone over the Christmas holidays while the kids and their dad went back down south. It came a winter storm, wind blowing and howling, and very cold. I could not get the wood stove started, the power had gone out, and at that time no propane heaters. So I spent a few uncomfortable nights in my zero-degree sleeping bag fully dressed and wearing a hat. Still managed to get up and get out the door to go to work, so it was only after hours that were so cold. Although this was entirely voluntary – I could have called it all quits and went south myself – I still came to appreciate warmth in a most acute way.


Water is another of those things many people take for granted. Turn on a faucet and water comes out. End of thought- for most. Since moving here I’ve developed a lot of respect for the limited resource of clean water. And even more gratitude for RUNNING water. I generally put aside jugs and containers of water during the winter months. When the temperatures get low enough, even if I leave the faucets dripping, it will usually freeze. And so then I use the jugs for things like washing dishes, bathing, watering the dog, etc. When the water finally thaws, then there’s usually leaks on the mountain to repair. Let me tell you, I really appreciate warmth after that.

Compounded Grateful: Warm Water!

Lots of gratitude for warm water during the icy months! I really feel grateful when I get to take a hot bath at the end of a long day.
Nature’s thumb print.

It’s hard to express to someone who has never done without it, how incredibly grateful I can feel when I take a hot bath after a long day. Not just because it feels good to finally relax. Anyone can understand gratitude for that. But my overwhelming pleasure is because the water is actually hot. I give thanks for the warm water even when it’s not cold outside, just because I’ve done without it nearly every winter at some point for the past 15 or so years.

Our water comes from that spring at the top of the mountain, so it has to travel a long ways to get to the house. When the water’s frozen, I’ll warm a large pot of water on the woodstove, or the regular propane stove if I’m not needing to conserve propane. This is good for a ‘pot bath’ in the shower, which probably uses about the same amount of water as a ‘navy shower‘. It’s far better than no warm water at all. But nothing compared to a true hot bath, ha.

Food Security Gratitude

Not much to add to this one. It’s nice to have food as needed. A lot of people don’t and I don’t take it for granted that we do. This summer I want to grow a garden again, though, and try to do less of my groceries at the market.

Critter Companions

Even though the horses are sometimes a chore, I love having them. I enjoy the routine of daily feeding. I do not enjoy it when one is hurt or sick, though, so not only am I grateful for their presence, I’m filled with gratitude that most of the time they’re healthy. And I’m also glad that I’ve been able to manage with herbs and insight to deal with all of the issues that have arisen so far.

Our old LGD, a great pyr named Badger, is retired and doesn’t guard anything anymore. But he’s served our family well for many years and I am grateful for what he’s done in the past and for his continued company. Even if he is deaf and can’t hear anymore. And the cats do a marvelous job of keeping mice out of the house.

Natural Beauty

There is so much beauty where we live that it is a constant source of inspiration to me. It never grows old, and I take in beauty anytime I step outside the house. I’m a very visually motivated person, and I hold great reserves of gratitude for the sights I see just outside the back (or front) door. Even the long and tedious drive down the dirt road to go to town is pleasant to me, because I savor so much of what I see. The image at the top of this post is just one small glimpse of one of my favorite sights to see. Not everyone feels that way about the slow drive, ha, though. So I’m a bit weird about that. To me, it’s one of the things that makes living here so special.

Grateful for My Creativity

Creativity isn’t important to me only when it comes to making art, though I am incredibly grateful to have the ability to make art. Especially when it pleases other people. But it’s also important when it comes to getting things to function when I don’t know how to do it properly.

Being able to think of a way, even when the way isn’t immediately obvious, is so incredibly useful. I think we overlook that when we have enough money always to just hire someone else to do things we can’t, don’t want to, or don’t know how to do for ourselves. Being creative has saved me much grief on many occasions and I don’t always take the time to single out each incident to remember in gratitude.

An example of a creativity I’m thankful to possess

There is one example I can give you, from many years ago. This memory sticks with me because not only was it sort of funny, but it worked so well! Garrison and I were on the way out of our house heading toward school and work. All of a sudden when we crossed one of the six low-water bridges (now there are only five) we have on our road, there was a loud noise coming from my old jeep. I stopped on the bridge to get out and see what was going on. One of the shocks had completely come aloose and was dragging the ground.

The option was to just carry on and bear the noise, which would risk the other end coming off and then me running over the thing, which could cause an accident. Or doing something about it. Keep in mind there is no cell phone signal here and no nearby neighbors. So the choices are really pretty limited. I couldn’t just call someone for help. So what to do??

Anyone who knows me knows my vehicles are not kept in pristine cleanliness. So there’s always something in the trunk or on the back floorboard. I began looking through the stuff. I had hoped there might actually be some wire, or string, or otherwise useful length of something I could use to tie or hold the shock up off the ground. No such luck. No duct tape or bailing twine this time, haha. But what I did have was a baseball sock. How often do you get to feel gratitude for *not* keeping a clean car?!

The sock was long enough with a bit more stretching and I got the shock tied back up under the chassis and continued on with the day. As soon as I could, I brought it to the mechanic to get new shocks. The guys got a good laugh out of my creative solution, but agreed, it worked pretty good. I wish I had taken a picture of it. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

Grateful for Security

Last on my list, but definitely not least, I’m grateful for the relative security of my life. In the immediate sense, that is due to where we live. But in the larger picture it is thanks to all the active duty and retired military veterans of our country. It’s hard to over-express the gratitude for what these men and women have done for all of us. If you’re military or have served at some point – THANK YOU.

Symbols of Warmth and Sustenance

This image captures pretty much all of my emotions surrounding my gratitude for this life I get to lead.

A reflection on gratitude and the sometimes unconventional things that make me feel grateful.
Symbols of Warmth and Sustenance

The symbols for warmth are easy enough to see – it’s the stack of firewood. But the sustenance… that’s the loaded symbol. Everything else about the photo represents the sustenance I’m so grateful for. You can see the original post from 2015 when I first used the photo.

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