Tag Archives: gratitude

And she was full of gratitude. The kind that takes up all the table space.

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Chaos took Craziness by the hand and they started jigging in the middle of the floor.

That has been my life as of lately. One big ol’ wedding party to celebrate Craziness & Chaos as they weave & bob & cut the cake.

And while I crave slowness & stillness, my bones feel full of gratitude for so many individuals. Individuals who came into my life just weeks ago. Individuals who have been friends & family since the start of this adventure and eons before it. Individuals who have read this little blog of mine since the first posting three years ago (happy blog-o-versary to me!)

This post is for all of you. It holds my gratitude. My love. My need to each & every one of you. My need to breadcrumb a trail of thankfulness for the ones who have pushed me, dared me, and believed in me enough to support me as I followed my dreams.

It ain’t ova yet… Truly, it is just starting.

First, first, All Of You– For all my readers. My supporters. My letter writers. My Beliebers (I don’t actually have those but hey, why not?) You keep me going. You make me see the value in my work. You challenge me. You keep my hands full of gratitude. I treasure you & your dedication to me in an always & always sort of way. Hold tight, much ahead.

& to a God of Abundance- I deserve nothing of this. But I am so thankful that you filled my hands. You’ve blessed me with soul & purpose, is there thankfulness enough in this world for that?

Mama & Dad- I know I don’t say it nearly enough but Thank You. For raising me well. For believing in me enough to let me quit my job to follow my heart. For instilling values into me. For teaching me the true worth of humans & the time that they will always deserve. I love you.

Celia & Carleigh- You two have been my biggest cheerleaders since day one. Every blog post, every writing piece, every stitch of the heart. I don’t think enough words exist in the world to thank you so fully for your friendship and your belief in me. I don’t ever plan to let you down.

The roots of me—Corey, Lauren, Laura, Sarah, Christine & Tori-  Thank you for the endless support. The constant normalcy. The girls’ nights that arrive at much-needed times. The wine & laughter. Y’all take such inventory up in my heart.

Jill & Ron– Seemed only right to pair you as the two of you tag team my blog on a daily basis and show my TED talk to dinner guests. Thank you for your endless support & your goodness. Jill, thanks for taming Ron. & for being one of my very best friends. Ron, thanks for taking care of my Jill. & for telling me what the world truly needed out of me.  Naters– not a day goes by where we don’t miss you still. We love you. We are constantly geared towards making you prouder.

Britt– For a friendship that never ages. Never falls away. Never stops growing. You bring me laughter & clarity. I am endlessly grateful to call you a friend. I am so very proud of you & your every endeavor.

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Tiffany Farley- For being a brain sister. For being a sister when I always prayed for one. For loving branding just as much as me (maybe more). For being fierce right alongside me in pursuing gifts and never apologizing for the call on your life. I look up to you. I thank God for you in an always & always kind of way.

Tippin-For laughter. For joy. For the reality that life should not be taken so seriously. You keep me high-fiving a million angels & I is so very grateful for you. This is truly our beginning…

Tammy Tibbetts- There are not enough words in the dictionary to thank you for your friendship & guidance in the last two years. You and your organization saved me. You gave wings to my smallest ideas. And I will never, EVER, stop thanking you as my front row seat supporter at the TED showcase. It means the world to have you in my corner.

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Danielle LaPorte, Eric Handler & Selena Soo- Thank you for giving me the courage to leap. Thank you for the chances you’ve poured out upon me. Thank you for igniting a light within me & steering me on a path to making own dreams come true. It has been the biggest pleasure & blessing to work with each of you this year. Thank you for being such lasting role models to me.

Danielle D, Becky, Leonora, Sara, & Jen- You. Speak. Life. Into. Me. You keep me organized. You keep me sane. You convince me that Twitter is a beautiful, beautiful organism. I would be all sorts of lost without you. Thank you for putting up with me & thank you for never leaving my side.

The More Love Letters Team - Each of you is a miracle. An absolute miracle. Thank you for joining me. For coming along with the wild ride. For bringing feet and arms to a crazy mission and making sure I don’t stand alone in it. You are invaluable  in my book. I love you in an infinite, forever kind of way.

The whole of City Church- I feel blessed & blessed & blessed to be in such community with such beautiful souls. Thank you for welcoming me in. Thank you for shifting me & helping me heal. Thank you for showing me what mobility God has for my life & for teaching me to grow my faith like a sunflower. Taller & taller & taller. T & Miah- thank you for being my biggest strongholds in all of this. My gratitude for the both of you Never Stops Overflowing. Lauren G– You are one of my best friends. You make me so proud. Thank you for caking me with normalcy & Starbucks. I need it more desperately than you know.

Save the Children- I miss the limbs off each of you but I am so thankful to have known you, laughed with you, and- above all- gained the distinct pleasure to work with you. Your drive is remarkable and I am severely impressed with each of you on a daily basis. Thanks for being such a supportive clan & for pushing me to make the leap out into my own ventures. It was Rough Sauce to say goodbye but I won’t let you down.

She’s the First- Oh, jeepers… open the floodgates. Each of you has changed my life is some unexpected way. I won’t ever stop being grateful for how I stumbled into such a powerful organization full of go-getters & do-gooders. I love you. And I am eternally oozing with gratitude at the thought of being enveloped in this family of beautiful folks.

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To TED & TEDsters alike- Thank you for bringing me to your stage and giving me a chance to truck my little mail crate along to NYC. You gifted this girl with the very best experience of her life and she will never forget it. Nick- thank you for your friendship in all of this. Tania & Brian- Thank you for adopting me into your family and keeping my tummy full of cruddy diner food. You fuel me & you make me count my blessings twice.  I am so thankful to be a “we” with you.

To the Grovers- Thank you for ushering me into your community. Thank you for warm cups of coffee & the finest of fine hospitality. Thank you for bringing  innovation back into the elbows of New Haven and letting me fall in love with this city all over again.

Steph & Sara-I honor you. I look up to you. I never go a day without thinking of your mentorship. Thank you for being leaders & beacons in my life. And for helping me hold my mission high up to the world.

Joshua Furnas- Thank you for laughter. & orbs. And for printing. & publishing my first memoir without letting me see the manuscript.

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My Georgia Peaches- Thank you for the best vacation this girl has had in a long while, even better than the time the maid at Disney World consistently sculpted characters out of hotel towels for me. It was such joy & needed goodness to find friendship, laughter, deep conversation, & home in the crevices of Georgia’s countryside. I’ll be moving soon ;)

Kendall Ciesemier - I don’t know how our friendship rose up out of the ground but I am so thankful that it did. Thank you for your peace. For your quality. For your willingness to be a constant cheerleader but also a voice of reason. I treasure you.

Matthew- How do I thank you enough?! I feel like this whole blog post should be just for you… But will you take the mention? I am proud to have you as a cousin. I have been wanting to change the name of this blog to MatthewWilliams.com…. Stay tuned. But seriously, I love you. Always.

Azure, Claire, Kaleigh, Tehrene- AKA the definition of awesome sauce. Thank you for always hammering me with inspiration & new ideas. & text messages. & support. & beautiful words. Each of you are a marvel to me. I feel very lucky & blessed to know you.

There are numbers & numbers of folks to thank beyond this teeny blog post. Please know that this is not the fullness of my list or the end of my list… I would be here for tiny eternities if I were to list everyone. For all your impact, your support, your love, and your spirit…. I am scripting a language of gratitude to you. 

 

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Let’s Turn Our Lives into A Christmas Carol that the World Just Itches to Hear A Single Note of.

So I have been on Facebook for the past half hour and it is official. Facebook Official, if you will call it that.

There is no way to defriend your own self on Facebook.

Come on Mark Zuckerberg, how did you miss this one? There absolutely should be a “remove as friend” button on our own sites. I would adore the prospect of clicking it right now. Click. Click. Click. Friend. Defriend. Friend. Defriend.

The girl I have been for the past few weeks is no one that I would ever want to be friends with. I wouldn’t want to sit down and have coffee with her. I wouldn’t want to have a Skype date with her. I wouldn’t want to invite her into my home. I would very much delight in leaving her outside in the cold and watching her freeze her buns off as I sip my hot cocoa from the window of my third floor apartment. Ha ha ha! You lose! Ok. That was harsh, Hannah.

There comes a time and a place in all of our lives when we look in the mirror and we question who is posing on the other side of the glass. Not someone we know. Not someone we like. Not someone suitable for our friendship. But someone who seems tired and restless. Unhappy. Victimized.

And then we need to make a choice. Just like the Bachelor and all his friendly little reality star companions with their roses and shots of love, we too need to make a choice. Stay the victim or scream out the weakness.

There is a fine line between going through a tough time, having an off day, learning to wallow for just a little while and sinking the world with your Titanical tears.

You know what? We could cry So Loud right now. We really could. We could march right over to Central Park and have a festival of Cries & Whines & Shouts & Screams and maybe eventually we can even whine to the tune of Silent Night and have the Most Un Silent, Un Settling of Nights. But we won’t get anywhere in Wallowing. We won’t move a single step in Squeezing ourselves into Precarious Categories that keep us from our full potential. We won’t go stronger. We won’t make our lives the least bit longer.

A revelation came to me the other night as I watched the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center light for the very first time. Surrounded by half a million people, singing to Christmas carols that found as all with a memorization for their words, and looking up at the tree I began to cry. (I know, I know, Me crying? Say it ain’t so). I wasn’t crying over that moment. Nor the perfection of the season all around. I was crying because I had forgotten to say thank you. Night after night, age eight and upward, I would pray to the heavens that one day I could call New York City my home. While some girls wrote love letters to boys with braces, I wrote letters & symphonies & novels to this City.

And I am here now. Here Now. In the city who let me dream of etching my name upon its skyline for so long. And I never even thanked God. I never even said Thank You for making a dream of mine come true. For making my life into exactly what I asked it to be. Funny how we forget to say thank you. Funny how we forget a lot of things…

I may not know you. You may not know me. But I think you are strong, funny, endearing, resilient & capable. And don’t you forget that! I wish I could wrap up every one of those attributes and sneak them right under your Christmas tree right now and then beg you to open the presents up early.

Maybe you don’t even need those presents right now. But I certainly do!

We all need a reminder of this from time to time, that YES, life is hard. But We Are Kick Ass.

We were made for goodness. Sweet, sweet goodness. Oozing and dripping all over our lives just like the chocolate that trickled from my Max Brenner Chocolate Chai just the other day.

I was made for Skype dates with my best friends, near & far. Near & Dear. I was made for belting out an inconsistent tune to Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is You.” I was made for a big blanket under a string of Christmas lights, curled up as creations dance in my head like Sugar Plum Fairies. I was made for sneakers & barbels. Protein & Boxing Gloves. I was made for workouts & hard work.

I was not made to entertain guests like Doubt or Insecurity. I was made to build Gingerbread Houses with my Dreams & give Eskimo kisses with my creativity. To Go Snow Shoeing with Compassion & Sip Eggnog with my Love for Life. I was made to be an expert of wallpapering. Wallpapering my life with love letters, strangers, & simplicity. More importantly, wall papering the lives of others with Comfort, Kindness, Understanding & Companionship.

I was made for the Rudolph’s of this world, the misfits, the lonely, the stepped upon. They are the ones with the Bright Red Noses, the stories that my ears perk to hear.  They are the ones who light my way and I don’t think I will ever stop seeking them out.

I was not made for a single “un” word. Not Unstable. Not Unworthy. Not Unable.

But it is one thing to say these things, write these things, voice these things. We need to live these things. Live Out Loud. Live So Loud. Let’s Turn Our Lives into A Christmas Carol that the World Just Itches to Hear A Single Note of. A Single note is all it takes and then the world practically cries over good fortune that we actually came here to sing the whole song. The whole entire song. Yes. Oh yes, we were made to sing the whole entire song.

What were you made for?

P.S. Anyone up for a Skype date with some hot cocoa? I will bring the Holiday cheer…

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Filed under Big City, Big Dreams, Happiness, Life Lessons, Love Is..., Love Letters, Uncategorized

Perhaps blogs cannot blow out candles but they can certainly wear party hats and make wishes.

“Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider’s web?”
Oh, no,” said Dr Dorian. “I don’t understand it. But for that matter I don’t understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.”

Charlotte’s Web

This time last year I was surrounded by a clutter of Christmas decor, volunteer applications for my year of service, empty coffee cups already branding their rings upon the table, and a few of the girls in my life who have my heart pretty much memorized.

I can list to you the things I knew in that very moment: One) I did not have any clue where I wanted to go after graduation. Two) I was really very happy in the moment with these good friends of mine(though its easy now to think I took it for granted). Three) I did not want to be a blogger.

Blogger. The very word made me shiver. Sent me fleeting for the nearest pillow to shove my face into so that I could scream shrilly without alarming my roommates. I never set out to be a blogger. And when I started out, I knew for that reason, I would never be good at blogging.

The first few posts felt quite similar to an old home movie where a little girl with a head full of curls anxiously tries to jam a plastic Jelly onto her foot. It would not fit. No matter how hard she tugged and pulled, the world around the little girl knew- the perfect pink Jelly would not fit.

It was not until one of the Memorizers of my Heart felt the Harsh Words of Mean Girls did I feel prompted to use my blog, my icky sticky blog, to write something to console her. And in that moment of stitching stories & sentiments together to give to a dear friend, I became hooked on the idea of using my words to Spin Together the Feelings We All Sometimes Have. The ones for which we proclaim, “there are no words.”

For a girl who adores words more than pumpkin pie and hot apple cider, I find it very hard to articulate what this year of writing at As Simple as That has meant to me. This blog has become my very own nook of goodness on the web, a place that I have turned to time and time again in the past 365 days, only to find that you have never turned away. When I think of the web its no longer some abysmal hole of information tied together by http://www.’s and .com’s but rather a spiderweb of remarkable people who bare their souls to the world on a daily basis. Through a post. Through a comment. Through a thought. Through a word. Webs. Webs. Brilliant Webs.

I really must say to anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis and grows nervy over the thought of writing their own blog, do it. Absolutely, 100%, no questions asked, do it. Is that even a question? I am practically jumping up and down, using this blog as a trampoline, to push you to start lacing stories. Testing your Passions.

If I will one day tell my children that there was a moment that changed me for the good and for the better, it was the day I realized that your heart can have a place on the internet, that you don’t need a niche to make yourself grow, that you can start your own drumbeat when the world just doesn’t give you one that you can lay your hands to. That you can meet strangers over a computer screen and let them surprise you, as they become some of your greatest comforts at the end of the longest days.

It has become somewhat a cliche of my own to use but I do believe that there are people in this world who make “thank you” seem like too small of a word. You are those people to me. Thank you for reading. Thank you for giving me that first comment. Thank you for being mentors to me in the “blogosphere.”Thank you for showing me just how beauty looks with a .com attached. Thank you for writing love letters and doing so much more than that. Thank you for giving me stories to share. Thank you for always sending a text message after every post, without fail, to give me your feedback (Car- that one is for you).

But one last thank you, perhaps it could be the only one. Thank you for making it clearly undeniable that all of you, the web and the life of this site, are the miracle at hand.

Here’s to a wonderful year of what I would like to call soul-searching upon a page. Without you, I would have never found the words. Because of you, I am left without more words to say.

 

 

 

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Rewriting the definition of “Home” for this Holiday Season: On Thanking & Giving.

If your eyes had never rested upon a textbook story you would have believed that the first pilgrims and indians shared arroz con pollo and Capri Sun while singing to Justin Bieber.

One Little Pilgrim slips her hand under the table to find the grip of another Little Indian whose headdress is held up by plastic flower hair clips. They are a part of circle of 22 four-year-olds all taking turns proclaiming what they are most thankful for.

A parade of Mommies, Daddies, TiTis, and others, spill from their mouths as they listen intently to one another. It is the first moment of silence I have welcomed all year with these Little Ones.

I fit perfectly around the table with my preschoolers as we celebrated Thanksgiving on Tuesday. But my mind kept inching back to a different table that I will not be sitting around this year.

This will be the first year where I don’t take my seat at a long familiar table that still carries my initials within its wooden spine.  This Thanksgiving, instead of being home, I will celebrate the holiday with seven other volunteers in my program. Sharing Stories. Enjoying Community. Sharing Hot Coffee as We Make our Way to See the Big Balloons Come Sasheying Down 34th Street.  I am sure that even in our unity we will still find our minds meandering to our own memories of being home for the holidays.

Home. Funny how most stories seem to drift back to this word these days.

I adore when my words are able to play tag with those of a dear friend. Just like Little Children who Run and Run, Ignoring the Street Lights as They Come On. Libby wrote about “home” recently and what compels an individual to allow a four-letter word to play piggy back upon a spot on a map.

If you had asked me a week ago I would have certainly told you that Home is a place that I miss greatly. Home is not the Bronx. Home is not Manhattan. Home is not New York City.

Perhaps just seven days ago I believed that Home was a place to be, a destination after three clicks of your red heels, a spot of comfort to fall into when you feel at odds with the world around you. More and more these days, I am beginning to see that home is not a place where we go but rather something that we can give to one another. Maybe I just choose this definition during this holiday season because it leaves me believing that I am never far from home. That I am Never Without Home.

Home is something you can find in a letter from a best friend. She Writes her Words Pumped with Love and Pride, her Syllables Bursting with Life. They fill you better than the Floats that gulp air in the Macy’s Day Parade.

Home is in a single swipe of a gift card from a friend, a Push for you to Purchase a Pumpkin Spice Latte and Pretend as if a Coffee Date is Among You. You practically cry in taking the first sip, wishing you had accidentally just bumped knees with her from under the table.

Home is receiving a package in the mail from your mother, filled to the brim with organic food favorites wrapped within a Bright Yellow Towel. You puzzle at the Yellow Towel until you read the card from her, “When I was in New Mexico for some holiday I remember a package from my mother with a beautiful yellow towel in it so I will continue the comfort and color of this tradition.”

Home is a gift. And also a Give.

We can give Home to someone else by holding their Tiny Brown Hands and wiping their tears, so as to make sure that the Indian Man Painted Upon Their Face does not get Washed Away in the Flood.

We give someone Home by brewing a cup of Hot Chocolate and Meeting Them Face-to -Face for a Skype Date. Sitting Cross-Legged on the Floor, Laughing as if Shoulders were Touching.

I guess it comes with the growing up, this realization that we may not always be “home for the holidays.”  While I am tempted to tackle people who drape clichés all over the world like Holly and Ivy, acting like they are next big thing, I am quite torn because those clichés are famous for a reason. We like to find Home in one another. There is no place like Home. Home is where the Heart Is. But why all the heartache in stapling Home to a place? Why not carry Home with us wherever we go, sprinkling it like confectionary sugar upon the people we encounter who need a little less of that heartache and a little more Home?

I pray you Find Home and Give Home this Thanksgiving Holiday.

Link Arms. Laugh Wildly. Dance Outrageously. Watch the Parade or Go to the Parade. Better yet, Make your Own Parade. Sing Carols. Play Chimes. Ring Bells. Don’t say it’s too early for all of that Ruckus, Rejoice in the Ruckus. Pack up your purse and get out there for Black Friday, just to say you tried it once. Eat til your Stuffed. Thank God for that Food. Pray for Those without it. Make Jokes. Catch up with Old Friends. Wear a Ridiculous Holiday Apron. Smile at the Little Ones as they play before dinner. Hug your Mom. Dad. Sister. Uncle. Grandma. Smell them too. Yes, Smell Them Too. Sip in the atmosphere alongside the Cider. Breathe in the essence along with the Sweet Aromas. Deck the halls. Deck the walls. Watch the Grinch but don’t be one. Welcome the Holiday Season with Open Arms. Put down the to-do list and just sit down, around Loved Ones. Take time to Count Your Blessings, one by one by one by one.

Split the Holiday into two parts, like two identical twins who both compete for their mother’s love, knowing all the while that they are absolutely equal. Thanks & Giving. Both loved equally and the same. Do your share of both this season. Thanking & Giving.

Stop the bickering. Stop the comparing. Stop the doing. But Never Stop the Thanking or the Giving.

 

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Uncategorized

Ten Thousand Thank-You Notes

“You know what gets me? The fact that a lot of people don’t take the time to say thank you anymore, like really thank someone without a scripted reason behind it,” I said to my best friend, four months ago, as our phones bridged a distance between my location in Connecticut and hers in Virginia.

“What has happened to the handwritten thank-you note? People can just text a thank you or send an email, but there is nothing better than receiving a handwritten note, there is nothing better than a “thank you for being in my life.”

This very dialogue is the very reason why I woke up today ready to thank 100 people.

Since a conversation between my best friend and I about how the handwritten thank-you note is seriously underrated, I have traded in my free time for a pen and piece of paper. I have been writing dozens and dozens of thank-you notes, choosing to feel every sweep of the pen and every dotting of the “i”s. I write them anywhere and everywhere: in a booth at the on-campus restaurant, outside of Starbucks, while waiting to go places or before meetings. I am beginning to delight in the puzzled faces of my peers when they see me sitting at a table scribbling away furiously.

“What are you doing Hannah?”

“Writing thank-you notes.”

Not your typical lunchtime activity but when I stop to think about it, I cannot think of a better activity to pursue. So I just smile and continue to write.

The handwritten thank-you note has become a best friend to me in the last few months and the centerpiece to a project that I am beginning. Ten Thousand Thank-You Notes is my effort to thank those who have played an intricate part in my last four years as a college undergraduate. 100 people will be thanked today in the form of a handwritten thank-you note, each one unique and different in its own way. This is simply because each person I have encountered has impacted me in a remarkable manner that no one could ever replace. A lot of these people are not expecting to hear from me today, plenty of them have not heard from me in a very long while. But I have scolded the awkwardness that comes from thanking someone “just because” because I finally realize I have every reason to thank these people. Right Here. Right Now.Not when I finally walk across the stage and receive my diploma but at this very moment where their impact is gold to me.

The premise of the project is simple: Receive a thank-you note, pass a thank-you note. My hope is that those who receive a note will pass one or several on to others, and the project will continue….

But it is not just me, I am not the only one in this world who is allowed to write thank-you notes. We all have people that we should thank, people who we forget about in the busyness of everyday life. People who deserve a thank-you note every single day. They are the ones who have shaped us, challenged us and saw potential in us. They are the ones who are there any day that we need them. They are the ones who we celebrate life with; happy and sad moments. So why do we forget to express our gratitude? Or why do we designate it to a time and place: after a party or after receiving a gift. We need to tell the world to be quiet when it tries to tell us we are way to busy to stop and thank people because these are the people who give our world color and give our days meaning.

And of course I know the truth, we could very well continue on and not thank these people. We could thank them in our hearts and that may very well be enough. But I will dare to say that silent gratitude gets us no where in this world that needs more thank yous.

This is a call to all of you reading to get involved as well. Pick up the project yourself: Write out thank-you notes to those who deserve to hear it more than just at Christmas or Birthdays, send those thank-you notes out and urge them to pass along the project as well.

Oh there are days when I think I am too busy, too tied up to acknowledge anyone. But then I stop. I look around at my life, at the radiance of this person who I have come and I see it very clearly: I am no one without the noble individuals who have brought me to this point. And to me, that is a better reason than any to thank them today.

“Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel.”

Please get involved in Ten Thousand Thank-You Notes! I would love to hear from you about sending thank-you notes, receiving them or just chatting in general. Shoot me an email over at HannahKaty@live.com.

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Filed under Happiness, Humanity, Reality, Simply Living, Thank You

The 29-Day Giving Challenge: Christmas isn’t the only season for giving.

You wake up to the sound of the alarm clock anxiously clutching your eardrum. Your fingers fool with the “snooze” button twice before you finally make an effort to lift your head from the feather down pillow, imprinted with a good eight hours of sleep and a batch of sweet dreams. You stretch for a moment before placing your feet down on the cold floor, the room still dark from the shade that shields the first signs of sunrise. Groggy, you stumble to the bathroom to endure the grueling task of turning on the light and accepting the first sign of morning. Your eyes meet the wilderness in the mirror, a less-kept version of yourself, hair tousled and face tired. You lean up close to the reflection, real close, and say I cannot wait to consciously give to others today.”

This happens nearly every morning, right?

Well wouldn’t that be something, if we awoke every morning and the first thoughts in our head were the chance to give to someone else, to devote our day to looking for someone who needs our help. What if we did this very thing, this gift-giving ritual to strangers and friends alike, every single day? Or what about starting with 29 days?

We live in a world where those who have the most tend to think they have the least. It makes no difference whether it is material possessions or our own thoughts, we often don’t have enough, we often are not enough. But this is when we need to realize, WE HAVE SO MUCH TO GIVE! We have such a oppurtunity to give ourselves to others, to help others out and yet we get so caught up in this world that screams at us to be individuals and to help ourselves or fall behind.

I read the book 29 Gifts by Cami Walker this past December, right after the season for giving officially ended in department stores across the nation. This is the story of a woman diagnosed with multiple sclerosis just a month after her wedding. After two years of feeling bitter and angry, she consulted the help of an African healer who gave her the advice that would change her life: Stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about others. Give something away for 29 days.

I could only imagine the way I might react if I were to visit an African healer with all the woes and heartbreaks that I could carry. I could imagine spilling them on the floor in front of her, expecting her to feel sorry for me or give me an herbal, and then she tells me to stop focusing on myself. She tells me to focus on others. Really? Are you crazy?! Well, she is on to something. By waking up with the intent in mind to look for ways to give gifts, our mind drifts away from anxiety, fears and sadness and towards compassion, gratitude and purpose. Now that sounds like some good medicine.

After reading this book in nearly one sitting, I was determined to take on the challenge, to be the world’s most selfless individual and to give all of myself for 29 days. Big Fail. I will be open in admitting this failure, I did not get very far at all before I became wrapped back up in my own little world of serving myself. But I am back at it again, wanting more than ever to give for 29 days.

My drive and motivation to complete this challenge? Because I can make the world better by participating, because I can take the focus off of myself for once and put it on other people. It is all too easy to sink into my normal everyday routine and complete a thousand tasks solely devoted to my own advantage. But to take the shift from myself and put it on all those around me, well that’s a challenge, one that I am trying once more to take on.

I am feeling up to a challenge. With all this Olympic buzz still in the air, I am going for the gold and trying this out one more time. And I totally encourage you to join me! I would love to try this out with others by my side, I am sure we would have some great stories to tell throughout the 29-day journey.

Come on now, who is with me?!

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Filed under Humanity, Life Lessons, Simply Living

A list of 30 reasons…

So I must be on a happiness kick. I really must be. Or I must just be really happy, that works just as well.

Even though I am in an extremely good mood (done with finals, getting ready for some Christmas celebrations, getting to spend some much needed time with friends) I am also too aware of how when things are down we forget to look up. During a week full of this doom and gloom I came across these 30 reasons.

We all have those weeks when NOTHING is going right. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. We feel sorry for ourselves, we pity ourselves. We think that everything is wrong and cannot seem to find the good anywhere.

I had one of those weeks at the beginning of the semester. I burst into tears at the drop of a hat. There was too much to do, I was fed up, I wanted to quit moving forward and just throw a huge temper tantrum. Then one day my best friend left a note in my mail box. The folded up piece of paper had an explanation on the front. During her freshman year, her roommate would make these lists for her “30 reasons to be happy,” whenever she was upset.  Now she makes them for her self whenever she gets bogged down to remind her self of all there is to be happy about.

Try it. I swear it works. You will get so caught up in your list that once you finish you will feel a lot better from when you started. Also, you probably will not stop at 30. I made one the other day and came up with 98 reasons.

OR… If you know someone who is going through a particularly rough time, pass the gift along to them. I know when I felt like the world was crashing down and my best friend passed this along to me I felt a) happy b) loved and c) more assured that I could make it through.

So I will leave you with a list of 30 reasons that I have to be happy at this particular moment.

1) Coffee dates with the girlfriends.

2) Having the gift and ability to write.

3) Going home in a few short days to enjoy the Christmas season.

4) Having people in my life that make it so hard to leave them for a month.

5) Forming a friendship this semester that means more to me than words can ever describe nor sum up.

6) Having drive, motivation and passion.

7) Being done with service applications!!!

8 ) Trips to Trader Joes

9) Being able to surround myself with good books this upcoming break. (Will post my winter reading list at a later time)

10) Hearing sweet stories of others’ lives.

11) The blessing of having warmth and heat and a nice bed to sleep in.

12) Knowing God is in my life.

13) Getting cards and letters from home.

14) The apartment lit up with Christmas lights.

15) Did I mention I was done with finals?!

16) Being healthy.

17) Memories to look back at during the Holiday season.

18) Friends who really care.

19) Being passionate.

20) Hot chocolate, enough said.

21) Hands, eyes, ears, mouth– mobility.

22) Who I was and who I am now.

23) The ability to read.

24) The feeling of change in my pocket and money in my bank account.

25) Support from my parents to follow my dreams.

26) The chance to take a step back and breathe.

27) Knowing that I tried my best this semester.

28) The gift of good conversation.

29) All that I need right at my fingertips.

30) A wonderful, magical, brilliant life.

What are your 30 reasons?

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Filed under Girl meets Boy, Holidays, Humanity, Love Yourself