Tag Archives: Giving

Gratitude Friday

keepagreentree

Keep a green tree in your heart, and a singing bird will come.

This post is a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. Holiday twinkly lights. During this season that is so dark and cold, I have so much gratitude for the cheer of lights, colored and white, blinking and still, single strands and layered strings, hung on houses and in windows.

2. The Annual Dell Big Crow / Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Holiday Gift Project and “my” Pine Ridge kids. This is my third year doing this. The first year, I got the names and lists of a boy and girl. On the second year, they selected those same two kids for me, randomly and magically. This year, I insisted that if they weren’t already assigned to someone else, that I get “my” kids, which I did. More about the project:

As you may know, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is one of the most impoverished and marginalized regions in America. While we seek to address the underlying causes of poverty on Pine Ridge, we also recognize the importance of building connections between people on and off the reservation. We work at Pine Ridge throughout the year with Service Learning projects, a winter coat drive, providing families with firewood, home repairs, winterization, and other sustainable development projects.

2012 marks the 7th year of our Pine Ridge Holiday Gift Project! Last year, thanks to the kindness and generosity of friends, families, hundreds of amazing individual donors, and our colleagues at Colorado State University, the Holiday Project provided gifts to more than 1,100 children and elders on the reservation! Donors like you forwarded the original project email on to their families and friends and we received responses from all over the U.S. as well as Germany, Australia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, France, Japan, Belgium, and Canada! We would like to invite you to contribute a holiday gift for a child or elder this year.

The project is very “grass roots,” since just two of us “Elves” volunteer and coordinate the project. Once again we are working with several reservation school teachers, counselors, community organizers, homeless youth centers, the Pine Ridge Veteran’s Emergency Shelter, etc. in order to identify children and elders with the greatest needs.

It’s really easy to get involved, and there is still plenty of time, still so much need. All you have to do is email Julie Ann Sullivan at julie.sullivan@colostate.edu OR Christine Bartholomew at forepineridge@gmail.com and ask for a name or two, or visit their Facebook page to find out more. I feel so grateful for all that I have, especially during this season of thanksgiving and love, and it is so important to give some of my good away to someone who might not have so much.

3. Magic opportunities, the sharing of good ideas, and genuine, openhearted effort and connection. I didn’t used to have the confidence to say “yes” to this, but now I do, and this past week I have, again and again, and I am so excited about the possibility of this coming year, so curious to see what’s going to happen.

4. Eric, who believes in me, loves me, wants me to be happy. He leaves me love notes, checks books out from the library that he thinks I’d like, celebrates my successes with me, takes care of me when I don’t feel that great, makes me potato soup and biscuits, and walks my dogs.

5. Warmth and shelter when it’s so cold outside. Warm hats and gloves, wool socks, long thick soft sweaters, big fluffy down blankets, a functioning furnace, two dogs who love to snuggle.

Bonus Joy: Another week with Dexter. He’s doing so good, has stuck around so long after he was predicted to be gone, that it’s almost easy sometimes to forget that he’s dying. Two months ago, I didn’t dare imagine he’d make it to Thanksgiving, and here we are, there he is with only two weeks to go until Christmas. Here’s a picture of him, from a Christmas five years ago, when he and his favorite big brother Obi were both young and healthy, and cancer wasn’t even something we thought about.

dexterobichristmas

#Reverb12: Day 7

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There’s one prompt from today’s group that I feel like even if I haven’t answered it directly, I’ve answered around it, so close to it, making lists of the highlights of my year, talking about what I didn’t want to forget, that I don’t feel like doing it again. It’s this: “7 Minutes: Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2012 in 7 minutes. Set an alarm for 7 minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2012. (Author: Patty Digh, with an extra 2 minutes from me [the Linar Studio]!)”

What’s the one thing you want to take with you into 2013?

This prompt is from Kat at I Saw You Dancing. Her summary of this first week of Reverb 12, her own answers to the prompts she’s been offering, the event she’s hosting, is really beautiful. You should read it if you get the chance.

The one thing I want to take with me into 2013 is my open heart. After so many years of keeping it locked up tight, trying to protect it from harm, I had it broken open, twice in a row. First I lost my Obi, and six months later, my friend Kelly. It was a painful and stark reminder of impermanence, that there are no guarantees, that I didn’t have time to waste. I decided to honor their loss, their lives by finally, really and fully living mine.

I had been sleepwalking, hiding, suffering, faking my way through my days, through my whole life, confused and afraid. That hurt, the loss, those traumas woke me up. The process started three years ago, but it wasn’t really until this year that I adopted the change as a way of being, determined that I was never going back. I don’t want to go back into my cocoon. I used to believe that it kept me safe, but it was a stinky, cluttered, lonely mess of a place.

Giving

The full prompt is: “The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.” (David Viscott) What is your gift to give?

First of all, this reveals the origins of the quote on the picture I shared the other day. Someone had posted it on Facebook, and I loved it so much, I had to make something with it, but I had trouble finding who to attribute the quote to, (a few places even credited Pablo Picasso), so in the end I didn’t. Now we know: David Viscott.

mypurposeMy gift is reminding people of their basic nature–awake, wise, and compassionate–and encouraging them to embody it. Reality, the world, all of it is workable. Anything that needs fixing, anyone who needs help, we can be the someone to do so (even if the life we are saving is our own), we have the power, the means to make things better, to ease suffering in the world. We will struggle, but we are not alone, we are not lost. No matter where we are, no matter how bad things have gotten, we can start again.

I won’t sugar coat it, don’t pretend that nothing is sad or broken or irritating or upsetting or difficult. I’m not lying, or making up a story with a happy ending to make it easier to fall asleep. Hope is just as problematic as fear. I am sharing what is real and true: life is beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible. As Pema Chödrön says, “None of us is okay and all of us are fine.”

I encourage and inspire people to keep their hearts open. No matter how much it hurts, or how hard, we have to show up, soften to what is, stay in our seats, in our bodies, on our path. There is joy to be found, love to be given. Even in the worst moments, we can take a breath, experience freedom, offer kindness and feel at ease.

Feast

The full prompt: Hopefully you’ve had more than one spectacular meal in 2012, but what is the first that comes to mind? Were you surrounded by family at the dining room table? Sitting on a bench by the lake? Bring us there.

The feast I experienced this year was a month of eating while we were in Waldport, Oregon. Fresh seafood. Marionberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots from the Farmer’s Market.

farmersmarkethaulMaple bars, Bear Claws stuffed with marionberry filling (*swoon*), cookies, and other luscious goodies from the Depoe Baykery. It was a really, really good thing we were walking so many miles on the beach every day.

depoebaykeryMy mom and aunt visited for a few days, and we ate very well. The full breakfast, spaghetti dinner, and venison stew were some of my favorites. At dinner one night with a group of my aunts and uncles, we were all stuffed from pasta, so full we could barely eat another bite but there was strawberry shortcake, so we were making the best of it, and at the same time, we were talking about food, other meals we remembered, special recipes (my grandma’s orange marmalade was referenced). I looked around the table with love and said “You know how I know y’all are my people? We are all stuffed, but still managing to eat dessert, and at the same time, we are still talking about food.”