This week, many of us will gather around with friends and family and reflect on the things we are thankful for. It's one of my favorite times of the year, a perfect storm of joy, nostalgia, and hope.
But to be honest, it rarely comes easy. For my family, it's a time where the ones we've lost are missed the most. I remember Thanksgiving with my aunt Mary Alice, who always brought mashed potatoes in her big red bowl. I remember the Christmas after my cousin lost her sweet baby girl. I'm sure you have similar memories that battle to outweigh thankfulness.
On a grander scale, it will be hard to forget that while we celebrate safe at home this year, there are those without a home, and those who have lost loved ones in merciless attacks.
It's easy to let sadness, grief, anger, and even guilt take over. It's almost too much to bare.
With that in mind, I've come up with a plan for the season, two simple words that I'd even venture to call weapons: Gratitude and Kindness.
Thankfulness is powerful. It elevates our spirit and reminds us of what we have to live for. Recently, I've been bringing it down to the bare bones, remembering that I don't need much to feel thankful. For me personally, all I need is my faith. It's a challenge to remember it and believe it, but the more I tell myself, "As long as I have my faith, I have everything I need," the stronger I become. I could lose my job (ahem, done), my belongings, even my family, and know that I'll be okay. The more I truly believe it, the more I'm willing to let go of what doesn't matter if it means it'll help someone else.
And that's where kindness comes in. Kindness permeates boundaries. It breaks barriers and scales walls. It's the most powerful act and often the simplest solution.
My friend, Beth, believes in kindness. Last month, she posted something on Facebook that made me stop and pay attention:
"I've been thinking a lot lately about large scaled humanitarian disasters like the Syrian refugees, the earthquake in Nepal and even close to home needs like homelessness. It can be pretty overwhelming and where does one start to try and help?
Then I started to think about Mr. Roger's quote, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' It made me wish I could go to a simple website where I could choose a project out of vetted nonprofits and donate to an immediate need. For example, if I had an extra $10, could there be a site like an Amazon.com that allowed me to choose a $10 project (5 blankets for Syrian refugees) and immediately donate and feel like I'm actually contributing to the issue?
That is what I hope Simply Kind will do. Simply Kind will connect kind people to simple, short-term emergency relief projects.
My question to you is... Would you use a site like this?"
I'm sure you can imagine the response.
Less than a month later, Simply Kind launched. Created to connect YOU with an easy way to help, right now, wherever you are.
Beth has carefully selected each organization that Simply Kind supports, ensuring authenticity and transparency and to make sure your gift makes the maximum impact.
I'm inviting you to join me this year in practicing Gratitude and Kindness, not as a passive attempt, but as a active force. Making a difference begins right where you are, so let's stop arguing on Facebook (where there is a 0% chance of changing someone's mind), and let's put our money where our mouth is.
It should be noted that Beth didn't ask me to share this, I just really believe in it - and I thought you might, too.