Giving a gift of an experience is a wonderful thing. You are spending time with someone and making memories.
In this month where we often focus on gifts tied up with ribbons and bows, there is another type of giving that is more rare, and, much more personal. Giving of yourself. Where you go, what you focus your energy on, how you spend your day.
I find myself drawn to the situation at Standing Rock. We will never know the whole story, we can only see how it is evolving. I could focus on the negative, the news truly does, but in between the sensational headlines you see countless numbers of people giving of themselves.
This article from The Guardian has an important message;
Frank, “from right here”, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux. Somewhere in the conversation he said : “I wake up happy every day about this.” I asked him how this changed the past, thinking of the losses the Lakota/Sioux faced over the past 150 years, but he heard the question differently. He mentioned that their old enemies the Crow and the Cheyenne came to stand with them, and that the old divisions are over.
This image, found many places on the internet, is from the evening that the decision to stop the pipeline was made. However fleeting that decision may be, that night the decision was to give joy and hope.
Finally, what compelled me to focus on this, is the gift of time from 2000 veterans that joined the action in the freezing cold, giving freely their time and presence in a very tense situation. I hope that the mission of peace quoted in this article is what is remembered.
Chicago native David Hulse, 34, a Navy veteran who served in Iraq told ABC News that he decided at the last minute to join the protests, describing his involvement as “not a mission of war, but a mission of peace.”
“Seeing so many veterans show up,” Hulse said. “Out here, it’s brotherhood.”
Hulse added that the goal of protecting Native American protesters at the site is “a frightening task,” but he said he hopes to serve as a witness.
“Violence will not end violence,” he said. “Peace will end violence.”
I can not say how this will end, I can say I am giving it my thoughts and attention.
Now that Thanksgiving is over so many people stop thinking about being grateful. In this blog I have decided on monthly themes, November was Gratitude, but it is ever part of my life. To close out the month here are two fabulous posts and sources that explain better than I how Gratitude needs to be part of your life;
First from Psychology Today
Please go read the full text but here are their bullet points;
The second is some out of the box thinking by Kristen Wong about how to practice gratitude if you are not a traditional paper and pen type of person. We referenced it 2 weeks ago and here is a more direct link.
Here is an important quote from within her article;
What made my original gratitude list so effective was that I put my eyes on it so frequently. It was on my phone in an app that was on my homescreen. I saw it a lot. And when I saw it and read what was in it, well, that’s when I felt grateful.
So I moved my lists into my to-do app, which today is Todoist. I look at it a lot; sometimes it’s just for a quick glance, but the point is my eyes go to it maybe a dozen times a day.
However you keep gratitude in your life, just keep it up, and if you would like to share your method please fill my comments.
In America, Thanksgiving Day is a National Holiday; established November 26, 1789. While accounts vary slightly, about 400 years ago, a group of European immigrants gathered to give thanks for surviving disease and harsh conditions with the help of Native Americans. Many of the original settlers had perished. The gratitude of the survivors was a natural response to the charity and generosity of the Native Americans.
How times have changed! Today, “Thanksgiving” has morphed from that simple meal shared by survivors and their benefactors to a much-anticipated 4-day weekend that kicks off the Holiday Season. Many people travel to reunite with family, indulge in over-eating, all-day football, board games, visiting and napping; followed by Black Friday door-busters and enticement by retailers to spontaneous spending. This is a far-cry from its humble and practical origin.
In the centuries following that first Thanksgiving meal, America prospered. Subsequent generations designated the cornucopia to symbolize the celebration of harvest and abundance. Even the iconic painting featured above is a creation of the consequent wealth and is an 1880s vision of an idealized past and is full of inaccuracies.
But not all Americans are living in abundance. Many are without proper food, clothing, and shelter. Unfortunately, approximately 26% of Native Americans live in poverty and the suicide rate for Native Americans age 15 – 34 is between 1.5 and 2x the national average, this Youth Today article is powerful on the subject. This Thanksgiving weekend, I challenge you to eat half as much and spend half as much as you normally would. Find a great organization serving our Native American communities and support them with charity and generosity.
Something went wrong with our Thanksgiving Accounting – the Credits and Debits are out of balance to the detriment of Native Americans. This is not right. These proud, generous and trusting people were the original inhabitants and caretakers of all the land and resources we now call America. The least we can do as a society is to honor the descendants whose ancestors were systematically driven from their lands and had much of their culture squashed over a 3-century period following that first survivors’ meal.
A few valid Charities of note;
Thank you for clicking, reading, and acting.
When I think of life-balance, it reminds me of the plate-spinner I saw on the Ed Sullivan show when I was a kid. (now I am dating myself). He had a series of sticks lined up in a row, pointed upward, and a pile of dinner plates. The goal was to get a plate spinning simultaneously atop every stick. He started with the first stick on his right and carefully balanced a spinning plate, then repeated with stick number 2, number 3, etc. As he worked down the row, the first plate started to slow down and wobble, so he ran back to the beginning to re-spin that plate so it would not fall, then he worked back down the row to the point he could add another plate, revisiting the wobbling plates as he went. Working back and forth multiple times, he eventually got a spinning plate on every stick – but it took constant attention to every stick and plate along the way. In the end, all the plates slowed down and toppled.
This is a great visual for our lives as we attempt to balance our work, family, finances, health, spirituality, community, and domestic responsibilities. Those are the broad categories. Each category has its own set and sub-set of “sticks” on which to balance the plates of our lives. Family, for example, may have many members and each member may have a set of demands you are trying to juggle.
If you are beginning to think that life balance is an impossible dream, you are probably right. That is certainly what I am thinking – hence, the trend toward minimalist lifestyles, life simplification and reinvention of oneself and the workplace. Millennials may have it right. They have watched their plate-spinning parents for decades and are making different choices.
For those of us who have been plate-spinning, where does happiness fit-in? How do we ever achieve it?
Instead of taking the top-down approach, trying to get our arms around the ever expanding big-picture, experts are encouraging us to boil it down to the basics. What is one of the most basic elements of happiness? It is gratitude and much has been written about this lately. I found this outstanding article by Amit Amin at Happier Human; The benefits of gratitude. It seems that gratitude is a key attribute that positively affects every area of our lives.
The way Amit has laid out his post makes this a great go-to resource no matter which area of your life presents a challenge. The key to gaining the extensive benefits of gratitude is to make gratitude a lifestyle and not something you resort to only when the “chips” are down.
Amit Amin, and many others, promote a daily gratitude journal, while Kristin Wong suggests making gratitude an item on your daily to-do- list. Whichever way you choose, get started. When you practice gratitude every day it becomes a part of your character and you will reap the benefits in all areas of your life.
For the month of November, we will focus on Gratitude, and, ways we can bring it into our lives.
Personal Gratitude – 10 ways
1 – The most basic level of gratitude, is to be grateful for your beating heart and the air you breathe.
2 – Appreciate your conscious thoughts and the senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
3 – Be thankful for talents, skills and opportunities that provide you with income.
4 – Acknowledge your creator if you believe in one. If not, recognize your place in the Universe.
5 – Contemplate each individual family member and express your gratitude to them often.
6 – Appreciate your extended family, special friends, mentors, co-workers and neighbors.
7 – Acknowledge the majesty of the Earth, the sky, and wildlife – natural beauty is a gift.
8 – Be thankful for your basic provisions – food, clothing, shelter and basic needs.
9 – Appreciate your parents if they are still living, if not, honor their memory.
10 – MOST IMPORTANTLY – Appreciate your life and take the best possible care of your health