Do you have gratitude in your life? Is having a grateful attitude part of your daily culture?
I’m not going to lie, sometimes it’s difficult to keep that grounded, positive energy focused, inward or outward.
I’ve been having some of those days recently, myself. Those days where you just want to stop and say “Are you kidding me, Universe?”
And what happens when we do that? Well, I think a bit a cursing always helps relieve the stress. Like the profanity busts up the air like a prizefighter’s punch or a bitter snake bite.
Once the cursing is over, though, you’re left to your old self again. You and your situation.
What always helps me is coming from a place of gratitude. Let’s face it, we all have challenges, I am thankful mine mostly feel better when I shout out a 4-letter expletive. (Or maybe a few).
Getting to gratitude means first, you must make a visit to humility.
Humility tells us that we are not special. And we are not. That should be a relief.
You may be unique, uncommon and unsimilar, but you are not special.
There are thousands and thousands of people just like you, going through the same thing maybe even at the same time.
While you are the center of your own universe, you are not the center of THE universe. Realizing that you are one teeny tiny party of a big machine in motion takes some of the responsibility off your shoulders.
You did not get into the situation alone and you’re not going to get out of it alone. Half of the world has been in or will be in your spot.
The sooner you figure that out, the better off you’ll be. You will feel more connected to the human race and less despondent in the face of your challenges.
Humility lets us forgo judging ourselves in comparison with others, but rather in light of our capabilities.
And with that, and a good dose of compassion, we reach the shores of gratitude.
Robert Emmons, perhaps the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, argues that gratitude has two key components, which he describes in a Greater Good essay, “Why Gratitude Is Good.”
Emmons and other researchers see the social dimension as being especially important to gratitude. “I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion,“ writes Emmons, “because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”
That is the key element here – recognize “how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”
And if the logic follows, we would then, in turn, support and affirm others.
That’s how the world works.
In light of this, I want to thank my parents, my friends, my teachers, my mentors, my colleagues, my brothers and family, for always supporting and affirming me. For teaching me and for never giving up on me.
In return, I want to, on Give Miami, day and just days away from Thanksgiving, show some support and affirmation for the following friend-related charities. It is the season to give, and if you are in a position to, you should. Period.
Gratitude and giving, inspires good in others, and just good, in general. So let’s do this:
Shell Key West Challenge/Diabetes Research Institute
My dear friend of nearly 30 years, Crystal Blaylock Sanchez, and her parents, started the Shell Key West Challenge in 1988. About 8 years ago, Matthew Sanchez, Crystal’s oldest son, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, at the age of five.
Much like myself.
The family decided to use the Shell Key West Challenge to help the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) continue its efforts to search for a cure through cellular transplant therapy. To date, nearly $475,000 has been contributed to the DRI. For more info and to donate, please visit the Shell Key West Challenge and/or the Diabetes Research Institute
Miami Shores Elementary PTA
Yes, I’m that obnoxious woman who harasses you for money and to volunteer. Get over it.
I have one kid, I’m going to support her as much as I can. I support your children, passion projects and interests too, enthusiastically. Zoe’s school has over 800 students. We have an active PTA comprised of parents, teachers, and administrators working together to ensure our students receive the best possible academic enrichment activities, such as our Spring and Fall Book Exchanges, Halloween Story Time, and Pajama Night Read-a-Long.
The PTA also fundraises to support the 5th Grade Everglades Camping Field Trip, the Science Fair, 5th Grade Graduation, and purchases such as much-needed Physical Education equipment, and supplies for Safety Patrols and Crossing Guards. But we are facing three very pressing expenses affecting our academic excellence that have inspired us to go beyond our previous fundraising efforts.
And we need your help. Please consider donating and sharing this information at Project Pledge Fund.
Center for the Great Apes
My dear friend Jane (who quite possibly is part ape), found something special in this primate rescue based in Wachula, Florida. She shared it with me. It is remarkable what these people do. I double dog dare you to watch one of their videos and not cry and laugh and want to support them as much as possible.
The Center for Great Apes’ mission is to provide a permanent sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees who have been rescued or retired from the entertainment industry, from research, or who are no longer wanted as pets. The Center provides care with dignity in a safe, healthy, and enriching environment for great apes in need of lifetime care. The Center for Great Apes is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all contributions are tax deductible as allowed by law. To donate or for more information, please visit Center For Great Apes here.
Puzzle Peace Now
Started by my friend Kristi Vannatta, Puzzle Peace Now is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports families and other organizations in funding the costs associated with raising, educating, and supporting the advancement of children with special needs.
Specifically, the organization works to provide summers of peace and love to special needs families in the form of summer camp scholarships.
Kristi and her husband are parenting a ten-year-old son who was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (Autism Spectrum), at age three. They are also parents to a neurotypical boy who is now seven. While Kristi’s family has not “peace” with autism; they will no longer allow the disorder to make this family feel angry, blameful, or shameful.
She has been working hard raising money for local families affected by developmental disorders and raising two wild boys, and we should help. Read more and donate here at Puzzle Peace Now.
Last but certainly not least is Responsible Charity, founded and run by my dear friend Hemley Gonzalez. Hemley and I shared a best friend, Billy, who died after many years of battling Cancer. And Hemley was right there with him.
When Billy transitioned over to wherever he is now (probably somewhere fab), Hemley took a vision quest. Specifically, a four month backpacking trip through India. On this trip, he experienced firsthand the abuse and horrible conditions which men and woman were subjected to under a worldwide famous charity that collects millions of dollars from its donors but largely mismanages such donations. Disgusted and disappointed by this experience, he began working in the slums where he felt that his efforts were directly, positively and effectively changing the lives of those disadvantaged families they came into contact with.
After returning home, he began a campaign to raise awareness about the issues he first experienced and the challenges the children of the Park Circus face daily and thus Responsible Charity was born. Through a homegrown network of friends, family and volunteers in different regions of the world they are now beginning to gather donations which we can track and report on our website and show exactly the progress and help such funds allow us to administered to those in need.
This humanist charity provides education to children in the slums of India and empowering women and men to overcome poverty. Their work goes beyond education as they deal directly with the families of the children they help and learn more and more about the harsh realities they face while living in poverty each day.
To help, please visit Responsible Charity.
Thank you friends, for emanating good.
Thank you for being the difference.
Thank you, for being you.