Saturday, December 22, 2012

Someone who inspires me.

Her name is Debbie Christensen. I first met Debbie at a Tournament of Champions event, an event for the top fundraisers for the National MS Society.What a thrill it was for us to be there with this extraordinary group of people. Movers and shakers from all across the country who as individuals had each raised at least $10,000 for the MS Society. I had the chance to spend time with almost everybody there except for one person and that was Debbie. But she made a big impression on me.

Fortunately we were invited back the next year and so was Debbie. I made it a point to spend some time with her and get to know her a little bit and what an extraordinary person she is.

The first thing that you notice about Debbie is her smile. She is beaming with a huge smile that you could only assume is there 24 hours a day. She is happy, inspired, grateful, thrilled to be with people and to be included and recognized for who she is and what she does. She is an inspiration.

She is also someone who has been very impacted by her MS. She has a caregiver with her 24 hours a day. She rides in a reclining wheelchair. She speaks very slowly and softly and yet has much to say. She stays active, involved, has a large family (over 200 cousins) and a lot of friends.  This past November I had the opportunity to spend more time with her and I'm happy to say that now I am one of her friends.

Why does she inspire me? Because regardless of her circumstances she wakes up happy every day. Despite her seemingly limited abilities, she is there making a difference all the time. And I can only guess that what ever her MS has taken away from her physical abilities, it has added to her spirit.

Debbie makes me want to do more. She makes me want to be more appreciative. She makes me want to have an impact on people and the world around me.

But most of all she makes me smile.

May you wake up happy every day of the coming year. May you find an opportunity for gratitude in everyone of your life experiences. May something as simple as your smile be an inspiration to those around you. May the new year be filled with miracles and blessings for you and your family.

 Happy new year everyone.

You can read more about Debbie at the MS Society website.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Thankful or Grateful?

Thanksgiving is behind us and every year it raises a question for me. What is the difference between being thankful and being grateful?

According to the dictionary there is no difference. They are perfect synonyms. But that just doesn’t seem right to me. They may mean the same things, but I do not think that we experience them as being the same.

I think that for many of us the word “thanks” doesn't carry that much meaning. As children we are taught manners, when someone does something for you or gives you something, you say ‘thank you.’ When someone says ‘thank you’ to you, you say ‘you're welcome.’ This polite behavior is taught to us over and over again until it becomes rote, an automatic reply to a gesture or deed given without a whole lot of thought. It is good manners and we were raised to have good manners. That is good and important. The problem is that saying thank you just doesn't carry the weight that it once did.

 Gratitude is another story. When someone tells us that they are grateful to someone for something that they did, or for something that they received, that carries meaning. It carries with it the suggestion that, what ever the deed or item was, someone was touched by it. The word “grateful” has a gravitas that thank you just doesn't carry.

I suppose that some ‘thank you’s’ are given from the heart and received that way too.  But in general, I believe that expressing our gratitude carries more significance than just saying thanks. Should we change the name of our holiday to “Gratitudes-givingday”? I don't think so and I am certain that Hallmark would put up a big fight if we tried. What I do think we can do is remember that Thanksgiving is about more than just saying thanks. It is a time to acknowledge all that we are grateful for.

If we do that, then our bellies and our hearts will be full at the end of the day.

 Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.