Monday, December 20, 2010

A Sappy Series of Statements and An Announcement

Seasons of Love, RENT

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love? Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned,
Or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned,
Or the way that she died.

It's time now to sing out,
Though the story never ends
Let's celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the love
Remember the love
Seasons of love

Oh you got to got to
Remember the love
You know that love is a gift from up above
Remember the love
Share love, give love, spread love
Remember the love
Measure, measure your life in love.

**Disclaimer- If you don't want to read all kinds of soul searching and rambling, scroll down until you see ANNOUNCEMENT :) **


Something has happened to me that just does not happen to me.  I am "speechless."  Wow.  I don't even know where to begin.  I have been putting off really trying to grasp and reflect on this year as a whole... because how is that even possible?  "Seasons of Love" from RENT (one of my all time favorite pieces of art) does a beautiful job of trying to express the feelings that I'd like to share, and I only hope that I can do an adequate job of once more attempting to sum up what my heart would like to say.

Over the course of the past year, I have held myself accountable to expressing gratitude each and every day in order to try to feel gratitude every day.  I did, and I did.  It wasn't always easy, but it was always important.  I experienced sadness to its fullest extent and stress to its fullest extent and annoyance and irritability and exhaustion and disappointment and anger and the complete set of negative emotions.  However, I also experienced some of the most profound feelings of joy that I have ever had and could ever imagine.  The thing is, it didn't matter which kind of day it was.  My goal was the same.  I have a million things to be thankful for, and all I had to do was pick 365. 

On the best days, it was almost as if I was cheating because I could rattle off some cheesy train-of-thought reflection about how wonderful life is.  I could be lazy.  Don't get me wrong, some of these turned into fabulous blogs and pieces for me to share.  Many of my dear friends got engaged.  My first best friend had her first baby.  Most of the people I love lived to celebrate another birthday and another year to make the world a happier place... or at least to make my world a happier place.  I was blessed enough to experience personal and professional successes that I have been working for and waiting for my entire life.  I spent time with people who belong in all different sections of my heart and all different sections of the country.  I listened to great music, ate great food, read great books, taught great kids, and watched terrible television.

I can't help but thinking, though, that sometimes my gratitude was best expressed on the days when nothing was going right.  These days challenged me and forced me to find things within myself that I may not have looked for or recognized otherwise.  They required me to reach out a little harder and squeeze a little tighter.  There were times when I just wanted to pout or vent or rant or go to sleep or pretend that I forgot because I was feeling lazy (or all of the above), but I had to sit down instead and get over myself.  Every single breath of life in this body is a gift from God and an opportunity that should not be wasted.  This idea of thankfulness and gratitude is so much larger than me, and I have learned a great deal about perspective.  Sure, I still allow myself to feel all kinds of feelings, but I have a much better grasp of which feelings deserve a spot in my heart and on my tongue.  I am and will always be a work in progress.  I am constantly working to make that progress.

I also started to feel accountable to something beyond myself.  I started to hear from people that they were reading and actually cared what I had to say.  My original intention was just to share this with the people who are closest to me, but the more I heard that others were reading too, the more I appreciated the sense of accountability that this created.  Some people even shared with me that they had made this blog a part of their daily routines.  I not only had something to prove to myself.  I now had an audience of people and an opportunity to try to spread positivity and a message about the the power of positive thinking.  I loved that it reconnected me with people who I never even dreamed would stumble across the blog and care what I had to say on a daily basis (like one of my most faithful readers, Ashley K... thanks so much for your support).  I loved that it kept my parents and family up to date on what I was up to during those chaotic weeks when I was terrible about staying in touch otherwise (a special thanks to my parents who put up with me and always bring up the blog when we talk to let me know that they're reading and that it matters to them).  I loved that it started up all kinds of conversations with all kinds of people.  The greatest compliment is to hear that I have made someone smile or laugh or cry... or most of all, feel inspired.  Words are so incredibly powerful, and it rocks my world to hear that the way I choose to use mine could make other people feel something too.  I'd like to thank every single one of you for reading and for allowing me to matter to you in one way or another, but for fear of leaving someone out, can we just leave it at you know who you are?  The blog became almost cyclical.  I received so many kind words from so many kind people that I contemplated writing about them many a time.  However, it seemed a little self indulgent and easy, so I decided against it.  In any case, please know that your thoughts and words have touched me deeply and strengthened my purpose and resolve in every way.

The biggest thanks of all goes out to my incredible husband.  Tom, I could have found a reason to be thankful just for you for all 365 days of the year.  Someone brought up the question of whether or not marriage and monogamy could truly be forever the other day at lunch, and I'm sure that I must have been the most annoying person in that conversation.  Because of you, true romantic love is a fact and not a question for me.  I believe in you with my whole heart, and this leads to an even stronger belief in us.  When we met, we found each other to be pleasant and attractive and pleasantly attractive, but I had no idea that I would ever find you to be even more good looking on the inside.  I won't elaborate more because I don't want to have to send out barf bags to anyone who is still reading after all that, but please know this.  You will always be more than enough.  Way more.  I still feel all the things I've always felt, but each days adds an even more intense sense of friendship and partnership to what we have.  Did you know that friendship could be intense?  Anyway, thanks for staying up late with me all those nights while I finished typing to keep me company or to read what I had to say.  Thanks for listening and listening and listening and reading and reading and reading.  Thanks for being the only person I trusted to "guest author" a few posts... as if either one of us had a choice in those situations, eh?  Thanks, thanks, thanks.  Just thanks.  For everything.

I attempted this weekend to go back and read all of the things I had posted over the past year.  By the time I got to April, I was completely and totally overwhelmed and overcome with emotion.  I can attend church regularly, but I'm not sure if I'll ever really be able to express how incredibly thankful and grateful I am to get to live the life that I do surrounded by the people (and yes, dogs too, General... one of the other "characters" that provided me the most material this year) who I know and love.  I know I have said this more times than I can count over the past year, but I am blessed.  I have been given so much more than one person deserves, and I want to devote my life to showing God and everyone else I can how much this life means to me.  I watched an interview with Oprah recently where she said something that really struck a chord with me.  When asked about her life, she commented that her philosophy could be summed up by an old Bill Withers song.  He sang, "Keep on using me until you use me up."  Keep on using me.

I'm not even past this summer yet in my blog reading.  It's too much.

There were times over the past year where I was judgmental of other people who did not share my same philosophy about life.  I didn't understand how other people could be whiny or negative when all they had to do was see the goodness around them and adjust their attitudes.  Once again, though, I realized that it was my own perspective that needed adjustment.  It's easy to be me.  It's easy to be thankful when I have been given so much.  It was this line of thinking that led me to an idea that turned into a plan that turned into the project that I will take on for the next year.


ANNOUNCEMENT

I could not be more excited to tell you about what happens next.  I spent the last year focusing on gratitude and on getting myself to a place where gratitude is a feeling that comes both naturally and often.  I think I get it now.  I have taken from all kinds of people in order to get to this point, and the best way I could thank them was with a blog entry.  They rode the ride, and all they got was this lousy t-shirt.

That's why this year my focus will be on giving others a reason to be thankful too.  For each day of the 365 days of this year, Tom and I will be donating $5 (or something worth that amount) to a different charity or cause (this will be independent of or in addition to what we are currently involved in).  The donations will be tied in with the entries I wrote last year in one way or another.  If I wrote about you, expect an e-mail or a phone call from me about which charity you would like the donation to go to for your day.  On other days, I will be looking for the most logical tie ins and reputable charities that make sense.

I understand that $5 will not change the world (or even make any charities get all excited).  I get that.  My hope is that my $5 will inspire your $5 and someone else's $5 and someone else's.  My hope is also that by researching and thinking about charity on a daily basis, I will learn to live a less selfish and more selfless life.  If my reaction to those sad puppy commercials is any indication, all I need is a simple cause or reason to pull out my wallet.  I plan to seek out these causes and reasons for the next year. 

That's the part that is measurable.  That is the part that I will be able to track and be accountable for.  What I really want to focus on is what will happen beyond that.  I hope to find all kinds of ways to give that have nothing to do with money.  When I am giving of myself and not just my wallet on a regular basis, that is the point when this project will truly begin to become a success.  Of course, I will continue with the gratitude as well.  Everything begins and ends there.

Will you join me?  If you are a reader, will you let me inspire you?  Will you let me guilt you into it at least?

Can we do this together?

Please let me know if you have suggestions or ideas or your own something or other that I might feature and donate to as part of this year of giving.  I want to use this year to help give others more reasons to feel thankful too.  A logical next step, no?  I want to give love and joy and hope.  I want to give dreams a chance.  I'll also give a lil money while I'm at it.

"I hate the giving of the hand unless the whole man accompanies it." Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." Lao Tzu
"You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving." Robert Louis Stevenson


Stay tuned for a triple header tomorrow... I'll attempt to tackle Day 1, 2, and 3 to catch up and get on track for the year.  Get excited for a year of me saying "excited" an annoying number of times and many more sappy ramblings to come.

Thanks for listening.
 

    

1 comments:

Ashley and Nate said...

Wow!! I am just now catching up on some blog reading since returning from Michigan... I was there for over a week. I did not keep up on reading blogs, or writing, while there. I am so happy to be a reader of your blog, and I'm really really excited about what you're doing. I think you're wrong though... $5 will change the world! :) I'm going to be thinking of somewhere for one of your donations... and I'll be sure to donate too. There are so many people in need in this world that you cannot help but feel very grateful for what you have, and every little bit that we can give as humans helps. I cannot wait to read your blogs each day!