"For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes." - Dag Hammarskjold

Saturday, October 26, 2013

celebrating lives greatly full :: patience salgado

I've never met today's guest blogger in person.  Not even close.  Yet she has had a big influence on *the gratitude project: dare to be grateful* - and on me personally!

Patience Salgado, a.k.a. KindnessGirl, believes kindness changes everything. As a kindness worker (among other wonderful vocations), she facilitates kindness movements in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia and - thanks to her blog - all over the world.  On her About Me page, she writes:

"After years of doing small acts of kindness here and there, I finally documented my first guerrilla goodness mission in August of 2007, things just kind of blew the heck up from there. Thousands of folks have been part of spreading kindness all over the world with KindnessGirl over the years. (this still makes me shake my head in surprise, bliss and joy every time I think about it) …you can also find me blogging for Huffington Post and writing for GRID, and previously at PBSParents.org and RVANews ."

Patience's kindness projects are simple and profound.  Things like:
More recently, she engaged her city in an amazing interactive art initiative: The Light of Human Kindness.  1000 lights. 1000 stories. 1000 acts of kindness.

I know. I'm gushing now.  But you need to know that KindnessGirl was one of my key inspirations when I first toyed with the idea of starting a blog on Gratitude.  She inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and to take the idea beyond words on a screen - from blog... to social engagement experiment.  Without even knowing it, she helped me start *the gratitude project: dare to be grateful*.

So. Can you imagine how thrilled I was when she agreed to contribute to the blog?!  I sent her a few questions to choose from, and she chose to respond to one of them in the audio file below.  Not only her thoughts, but spoken in her beautiful voice. G.R.A.T.E.F.U.L. to the max!! 

CLICK HERE to listen to what Patience has to say about gratitude and failure... 

AND, a special shout-out to Hubby who helped me embed an audio file to this blog post.  Couldn't have shared this without his help!

gratefully yours,

Friday, October 25, 2013

the silences in between…

I have had much to be grateful for recently.  I give you Exhibits A, B & C:

Exhibit A:  jag in berlin
Exhibit B:  jag in paris

Exhibit C: jag in london
I shared these, and many more images, on my personal Facebook page while I was travelling last month.  Friends and family ooh’d and aah’d at all the right times.  Their comments and “Likes” reminded me of how fortunate I was to be doing this, and how much they enjoyed “tagging along”. I do not come from a family of travellers and I don’t think I ever dreamed I would have these opportunities in my life.  Clearly, I live a charmed and blessed life.  And my Facebook status updates reflect that.  Gratitude abounds.

But how many have noticed the silences in between…?  I have been thinking about them a lot lately. I’m feeling less inclined to post on Facebook these days and I wonder if anyone even notices.  And does it matter if they do or not?  Not really.  But *I* am taking note of the silences and I’m realizing that, for me, this is where the messy stuff of my life lives.  If you were to think you knew me based on my Facebook page, you’d only know a small part of me – the part of me that wants you to see that I’ve got it all together.  But the reality is that the awkwardness and discomfort of my life lies in the silences in between.

Should I be any less grateful…

…for the days after my trip when it seemed I could never get enough sleep?

…for being surrounded by loving family at Thanksgiving and wanting nothing more than to curl up in a quiet room somewhere, alone?

…for the discomfort that comes with learning to become fearless in relationships?

…for the tension that comes with not feeling that I am doing enough?

…for the resistance to accepting life on life’s terms?

…for the fear?

I don’t share these thoughts or experiences on Facebook.  I have no images to post… no smiles to share.  All I have to offer is silence.

I guess I just need to put it out there – that I *am* grateful, even in the silence.

I *am* grateful for the awkwardness… and the discomfort… and the messy-ness… for these are the things that bring me closer to my God of Love.  These are the times when I cultivate trust. And strengthen connection. And practice presence to the One who demands only presence.

Let it be known that I am grateful for the silences in between.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

celebrating lives greatly full :: ray zahab...

Ray Zahab is one of these guys that you meet, and you hear his story and you think to yourself: "But... he seems so ordinary, like me - and yet, what he is doing is extraordinary!"  And he gives you permission to believe that YOU TOO can do the extraordinary. 

Following his pivotal experience of running 7500km across the Sahara Desert in 2006 (an achievement featured in the documentary: Running the Sahara), Ray founded impossible2Possible (i2P)in order to Inspire, Educate and Empower youth to make positive change in the world. 
I am thrilled that Ray took the time from his extremely busy schedule to respond to my invitation to participate in *the gratitude project: dare to be grateful*.  (In fact, he sent his responses from Rome, Italy, where he was delivering yet another inspirational talk at a TED Conference.)  Thanks so much Ray!
What PERSONAL QUALITY are you most grateful for, and why?
I am grateful for the willingness to continue learning - for the desire to learn from others and their experiences!

What FAILURE are you most grateful for, and why?
I am most grateful to have DNF'ed at a major ultramarathon many years ago. It taught me not to underestimate a challenge - not to think for one minute that I have everything figured out! 

What LIFE EXPERIENCE are you most grateful for, and why?
I am most grateful for two things. 1. meeting my wife. 2. Running 7500km across the Sahara and learning that we totally underestimate what we as humans are capable of. We all have the capacity to do amazing things in our lives... and never stop learning in the process.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

celebrating lives greatly full :: anonymous...

Today, in honour of our Canadian Thanksgiving celebrations, I share with you a selection of the expressions of gratitude I have been receiving by postcard!

from St. Louis, MO
I started the postcard project in June, as I headed out on my West Coast Adventure.  Since then, blank, stamped postcards have been dropped off in cities all across the country, here in my own city, as well as in cities visited by friends.  They have been left for people to find from British Columbia to Newfoundland, in several states throughout the USA, in Ireland, Germany and England.  This was truly an exercise in letting go, since there is no way of knowing what happens to the postcard after it is "dropped".  Needless to say, whenever a card actually makes its way back to me, I am thrilled!!

So here, as we mark our blessings on a national scale, I am happy to celebrate the greatly full lives of the anonymous individuals who took the time to share.

Today, I dare to be grateful for...
  • ...my wonderful brother Brad, who is the best person I know - and today is his birthday!! I'm very grateful for the beautiful person he is and for all the joy he brings to the world!  (Winnipeg, MB)
  • ...my health, my wonderful husband & my family, especially that my father is still alive. Also, the 2 very close friends that I have. (Edmonton, AB)
  • ...early retirement, friends I love & can visit, health, feeling better every day after the BC Bike race.  (Vancouver, BC)
  • ...our health, our 39 years of marriage, the good team we are, the great kids we have, this fantastic travel we are able to make, God's wonderfull nature and all that is living in it. (from Holland - We found this card in Jasper outside at the info centre.)
from Vancouver, BC
Today, I dare to be grateful for...
  • ...Last night, we had friends over for dinner and Conny asked me if I woke up each morning happy. When I said yes, she asked me why. I didn't know where to begin. So I started, "Because of life. Because of my husband. Because I'm here on Salt Spring..." and I let it trail off because I knew the list was endless and would consume the rest of the evening. I lead a very fortunate life and am grateful for everything in it. (Salt Spring Island, BC)
  • ...having my 85 & 83 year old parents live with me. Such a blessing to have them in my life! (Winnipeg, MB)
  • ...Life! I've been alive. I've been ill. I've been hurt. I've been dead. Many times over - I prefer Life!  Joie de vivre!  (Portland, OR)
  • ...texts from my niece, the ability to buy a large cup of coffee before work, emails from friends, e-courses that are so lovely and affordable, a coolness in the morning air, Pandora and classical music, you and this project!! (Portland, OR)
  • ...the wonderful gift of Gratitude! (Winnipeg, MB)
  • ...a fiancĂ© gracious enough to hold on to me after I postponed our wedding.  He's been patient & understanding and willing to talk through issues and fears. I thank God for him every day.  Philippians 1:3-4 NIV. You are my warrior, love.  xox (Winnipeg, MB)

from Columbus, OH
 Today, I dare to be grateful for...
  • ...being healthy and able to take part of different challenges in life (Spartan races, Tough Mudder, Drop Zone challenge).
  • ...another wonderful day in Vancouver before we have to finish our Canada trip and fly back to Germany... (from Germany)
  • ...My friend Alli got her melanoma diagnosis 3 years ago today. Today, I am grateful she is healthy and happy, bravely keeping the black beast at bay. (Madison, WI)
  • ...that you were so nice & left me a tip even though I was a moody <insert curse word>.  I'm grateful for mates. (Dingle, Ireland)
  • ...feeling cherished by my family and close friends. (Ireland)

Today, I dare to be grateful for...
  • ...having three beautiful, healthy children and the sweetest little granddaughter ever. (Atlanta, GA)
  • ...I am so grateful for God's unending Love for me. He's embraced me throughout my life and I feel his presence & protection surrounding me.  Without Him, I would be nothing. Everyday is a learning lesson; I'm striving to be more like Him & less like me. Thank you for the opportunity! (USA)
  • ...my life, dreams, healthy, family, friends, job, your tip, your love for someone else, god, my faith. Thank you! (Dublin, Ireland)
  • ...my husband's company re-organized and we thought he would be out of a job - instead... he got a promotion!!  (Madison, WI)

from Madison, WI
Keep 'em coming!!

gratefully yours,

Friday, October 11, 2013

*the gratitude project* goes to school...

A special shout-out to the Grade 8 kids at Broadview Public School here in Ottawa!  I had the pleasure of spending some time with them on Thursday, talking about *the gratitude project: dare to be grateful*, answering questions and hearing about some of the things they are grateful for.  Their teachers have incorporated a bit of *the gratitude project* into a special assignment for Thanksgiving (celebrated this weekend in Canada) and I can't wait to share some of the results with you here!

Students have been tasked with interviewing a friend or a family member over the weekend to find out what they are grateful for.  They will then write short narratives about what they heard and I will be sharing a selection of them here over the next several weeks. 

It was very interesting being in a school after so many years!  I can't remember the last time I was surrounded by the hustle and bustle of kids in school hallways.  The energy - wow!  I really enjoyed the questions the students asked... thoughtful and engaging.  Many were about my own experience of blogging and storytelling, as well as plans for future projects.

The students were also invited to help me in my postcard project.  They were given blank, stamped postcards and were asked to leave them in public places for people to find OR to fill them out themselves and pop them in the mail.  I have already received postcards from all over Canada, the USA and even Ireland!  I will be sharing some of those here on the blog very shortly.

And so, a HUGE thank you to Ms. Viner, Ms. Krochmalnek and all the students.  You guys rock!  (And don't forget - ANY ideas to help me get Jason Mraz to write on my blog... ANY?!! :-))

Ms. Viner's Grade 8 Class Portrait - the hearts were their idea!

gratefully yours,

Sunday, October 6, 2013

celebrating lives greatly full :: ted buglas

I've known Ted Buglas for over 20 years.  I originally met him through work, and still have the pleasure of crossing paths with him in our shared workplace.  But he is much more than a colleague to me: he has become a dear friend.  In fact, I have been known to publicly state that Ted is one of my favourite people on the planet.  :-) 

Ted has an incredible sense of humour, too often at his own expense, and his love for art and design are expressed in everything he does.  But it is his mastery of words that puts him in another stratosphere, in my opinion.  I could easily ask him about a film I care nothing about, simply to hear him describe it. Listening to him describe the storyline, using language that sometimes makes me want to reach for a dictionary, is like listening to a newly composed piece of music.  He is the artist and language is his art.

Knowing this, I should not have been surprised when a simple request to share what he was grateful for lead to this amazing piece called "Graceland".  Thank you, Ted.  I am so grateful my world has you in it!

For every star that went before, the million years,
The million beasts that marched a while in life’s parade,
Our season in the trees, and our descent
To build the pyramids and shopping malls.
For Soviets, for fear of the apocalypse, 
For Castro, Camelot, the Viet Cong, 
Our old blue van, the fallout shelter where
Two flower children tripped a nuclear bomb.
For symbiotic bliss and liquid breath,
A gentle ebbing amniotic sea,
Then primal calls to breach the walls of Jericho,
Hang Canaan's kings and claim that promised land.
For the long garden of youth, the morning brimming,
With wonder under every stone, up every tree,
Love won or lost, the back or cheek we turned,
The knowledge earned, the innocence it cost.
For all the lonely shade grown Narcissists   
Toiling Facebook's digital plantation,
For tour de France heroes, for fund-hedging gurus,
And global patricians and suburban Neros.
For all the humble pleasures that abide,
Beyond the days that must be scaled like walls,
Our gnarled fingers reaching to entwine,
While fair from fair declines yet beauty lingers.
Yes, even for this sad diminuendo,
For the ticking clock and its sound of subtraction,
The shame of our incontinent geography,
This filament, this wisp, mortality.
For every anxious breath and each reprieve,
For what we gave, and what we shall receive.