“Labor not — for one day, just sit, breathe, and rejoice drinking what you please and enjoying what you may.” Terri Guillemets
I have to admit that this picture is what I dream of for Labor Day. The thought of simply sitting on a beach seems like the most glorious way to spend a coveted and cherished day off. Sadly, I won’t be at the beach this year, but a girl can dream.
Labor Day is always a little sad for me because it is the official end of summer and does anyone ever really want to see summer end? I don’t think so! This year, I can’t help thinking of everyone in the Houston area and wonder what their Labor Day looks like? I continue to be inspired and uplifted by all the incredibly hardworking people who are helping one another and showing the best of humanity. For each of them, I hope today is a day of rest and renewal.
Let’s face it, we are Americans, and as a result, we work really hard. With all that hard work, and we all need to take some time to play, have fun, relax and enjoy ourselves. So, regardless of where you are spending your day off…your back yard, a friend’s pool, a park, the lake or just firing up the grill for friends, I really hope you truly enjoy it.
Happy Labor Day!
Sharing is caring, if you are so moved or inspired, we would love you to pass the torch/post and inspire another.
“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”
Today is one of my favorite days of the year. I truly love the 4th of July and all it brings. A holiday without stress that is full of friends, family, and summer fun. It is Independence Day and it usually feels that way. We feel free to simply be.
For years we lived across the street from an amazing park that thousands of people would descend upon each 4th of July for their incredible firework show. Our home was up on a slight hill above the park and we had a front row seat to the fireworks. Each year we would have a crazy fun 4th of July open house with people coming and going…it was just the best.
When I think about what made our 4th so special, it was our community. People coming together to celebrate. Community is what built our country. People coming together to work hard to create a place that is free. I write about incredible communities each week that are created by individuals coming together for a purpose greater than themselves….our country was founded the exact same way.
This year, my dream for our country is that we can all create a movement of service towards one another. I dream that we can all come together in community, regardless of our politics, for the country we love….something greater than ourselves.
Just as Abraham Lincoln said, “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”
Telling a magical Christmas story in May, might sound unusual but it is so beautiful, it simply can’t wait until December and since May is National Foster Care Month it seemed only fitting to share it now. A few weeks ago a woman from Maine reached out to me, via email, to tell me about her incredible friend, Janalee Moquin. Like most non-profit founders, Janalee truly did not want any attention on herself, said her girlfriend, via email. However, her friend was undeterred in wanting Janalee’s story told and about her amazing work with children aging out of foster care. I am so glad she did…
There is no place like home and for thousands of foster care children each year, who age out of foster care, they sadly do not know that feeling. Janalee Moquin was determined to impact and change that in any way she could. She told me, “I had a difficult childhood, and I know what its like to feel like you have no one. I knew I wanted to help that child, that I was.”
Janalee went on to say that the most magical moments and happiest memories of her childhood were at a Christmas tree festival in Massachusetts, where she grew up. Thirteen years ago when Janalee moved to York, Maine she decided to re-create the holiday tree decorating festival in her new town. She went out and bought 32 trees and asked friends to compete in decorating them, in hopes that people would come together, buy tickets, feeling the spirit of the season and the funds would go in some way to support children in foster care.
Well the first year, while her vision was there, the rest of the town didn’t really see it. The years that followed, little by little the idea caught on. The tree festival grew and grew and so did Janalee’s passion for directing the increasing funds into A Place Called H.O.M.E., which stands for Having Opportunity Means Everything.
Janalee worked with social workers to find these young foster care children who were told at age 18, goodbye. She knew they needed support, love, help, mentoring and just basic kindnesses that we take for granted. Janalee and her group of volunteers began asking these young adults what they needed, what would mean the world to them. Their answers, “birthday cards with our name on them, a care package that has something I like, that feels like someone knows me.” The simplest request.
Today, thousands of people come from over five states to attend the now four-day long tree festival. The people of York have tree decorating rooms set up all year in their homes for the big event. Janalee is a foster parent to a 16-year-old boy and knows that she has recreated her childhood holiday magic for her community, for thousands of children and more importantly for the foster care children her work supports.
She said, “I know I have made a difference when I see a photo of a foster care child smiling holding their birthday card and when I can witness a communities joy.” I asked Janalee, what fuels you to keep doing this work? Her answer, ” This is what I was meant to do and why I am on this planet.”
The other day, I wrote about being present to witness the joy and miracles that are all around us this holiday season. No sooner had I finished that post, when I received an email which had been forwarded to me. The email came from a woman named Jamie to her friend Steve.
Jamie wrote to Steve telling him that she would be going home to Philadelphia for the holidays and would be visiting an elderly nun, named Sr. Helen, who had been a wonderful influence on Jamie in high school. Sr. Helen was elderly and now had no family left and would be alone on Christmas.
Jamie remembered that Steve’s daughters attended a sister school in California, where Sr. Helen had worked years ago. Her request was simple, was there anyone at the school who might have remembered Sr. Helen and who would be willing to write a note or a Christmas card? The only Christmas gift that Jamie knew would touch Sr. Helen’s heart and remind her of all she had done for so many over the years.
I received the email and immediately forwarded it to the sister school, where I am an alumna. Within moments, a reply all came back from an angelic woman, named Angela. Angela would be thrilled to spread the good word and pull together messages of love for Sr. Helen to be delivered on Christmas day.
One woman’s kindness, sparked another’s and another’s and the result will be pure Christmas magic for an elderly woman who will be reminded that she is not alone but rather the spark to a flame of goodness. Pure Christmas magic…..
“The mother of excess is not joy but joylessness.”
I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being a bit tired and overloaded this time of year. Do not get me wrong, I adore the holidays! I love everything about them, the decorations, the friends, the parties, the food, and even the presents. Truly, I do.
However, there are days when doing all the shopping, the wrapping and the cooking that it feels a bit overwhelming. We are about 10 days away and while I am checking things off the list, I am concerned with exactly that…..just checking them off, rather than feeling the joy.
With so much to do, it is easy to just go, go, go but if we are all moving at warp speed how can we be in the moment to witness the magic moments of the holidays? The other day I was whirling around getting ready for a party, I dashed into my in-laws to borrow something and in my rush almost missed my tiny niece hanging an ornament on the tree. She squealed with delight, which is what stopped me in my tracks to take the picture above.
And there it was….the joy, the wonder, the magic…right there in front of me and I almost missed it. I write this post as a reminder to myself that the joy is everywhere, if we just slow down long enough to catch it.
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, a successful black friday, are enjoying your cyber monday and are now ready for the most important day of all…tomorrow’s #GivingTuesday. What is #GivingTuesday, you ask? It is a movement that began in 2012 to celebrate and support giving and philanthropy.
More than that, #GivingTuesday has become a global movement that last year united over 70 countries around the world by sharing our human capacity to care for and empower one another. And today more than ever we need to be doing a little bit more of that…
What I think is even more fantastic, is the volunteering efforts that go along with the day. If you are not sure where to start then merely go to the #GivingTuesday link here and you will find a list of local volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood. Last year alone over 700,000 people volunteered for clothing drives, tutoring projects and a wide range of activities aimed at helping local non-profits across the country. Almost 40,000 charities, corporate and civic partners registered to officially be a part of Giving Tuesday this year.
Sheila Herring from the Case Foundation was quoted as saying,”The biggest thing for us is that Giving Tuesday directly challenges Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where you have analysts lining up to look at the numbers as a gauge of the health of our economy. What if, as a nation, we focused that kind of attention on giving and we wanted that to be our identity?”
What if? Our world would be a better place. And it already is because what started as an idea, just five years ago, raised over $116,000,000 last year for charities and causes around the world. When we come together in unity, we can make beautiful things happen. I can’t wait to hear what you are doing tomorrow on #GivingTuesday.
I hope this finds you enjoying sometime relaxing with friends and family, as we celebrate Labor Day and the official ending of summer. This year, I found myself curious about the history of Labor Day and thought this little snippet did a good job explaining why we have this wonderful holiday.
“Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.”
The day after tomorrow is Christmas and if the late timing of this post is any indication, well I am a bit behind. I have now surrendered. Christmas will come whether I run ten more errands or none at all. What is important is being present, not the presents. As I tell this to you, I am really telling it to myself….enjoy every little moment or the joy will escape you.
I have a confession to make. For the first time in my life, I am not in the Christmas spirit. I keep waiting and hoping and thinking that it’s coming, but it has yet to appear. The last few months have not been easy and moving two days after Christmas certainly isn’t making it easier to feel the joy.
We are living in an empty house with boxes, and a Christmas tree but the usual trappings of the holidays are simply too much with the move. So, I find myself in a pickle for the first time…looking for Christmas cheer.
Just when I was having a low moment, I came across this. A magic cure for turning any frown upside down. So indulge and take a moment to see what happens when children have to choose between a gift for themselves or for their family.
Even these children know just how great it feels to give.
I am always so amazed that is the same time each year that I find people asking me for suggestions for raising philanthropic children. As a result, I share this post once again as refresher for all, holidays or not.
While my sons are far from the poster children for philanthropy, they certainly do a lot to help others. I am proud that each of our sons has found different ways to give back and share the gifts that they have been given. My oldest has a passion for serving inner city children. His younger brother is now supporting ALS with his fraternity. The youngest, at 14, is still finding his way but a few adventures to various non-profits throughout LA have his wheels turning.
Each year at Thanksgiving, we sit down as a family and decide what our family will do this season to help others. We have adopted soldiers for a year, adopted families over the holidays that could not have Christmas, we have wrapped gifts at local Childrens Hospitals and voted on which non-profits we want to support. Each person trying to convince the others why their cause is most worthy.
The reality is that there is no simple answer to this question and that raising charitable children is an ongoing process. I read an article recently that said role modeling philanthropy is simply not enough. The article referenced a new study from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University. The director, Debra Mesch, said “the research showed that talking to children about giving increased by 20 percent the likelihood that children would give.”
I have shared these tips with you each season but they are always worth reviewing.
Here are a few tips to remember as we approach the season of giving:
Six Tips for Raising charitable children:
Start early, as early as 4 or 5 years old. Giving becomes a habit.
Talk to your children about what causes interest them and bring causes to their attention.
Be intentional by involving your children in your own charity endeavors.
Use online tools to research organizations to involve your children
Be consistent. Make charity a part of your traditions, the holidays and birthdays.
Emphasize the joy because giving feels great.
Benefits of raising charitable children:
Opens children’s eyes to the fact that others are not as fortunate as they are
Develops empathetic thinking
Fosters an appreciation for what they have
Correlates to improved performance in school
While this topic is relevant for the holidays, it is important to remember that giving does not just happen once a year. Teaching the gifts you receive from giving should be a part of the year, not simply the season. Once your children feel how great it is to give, their lives will forever be altered in wonderful ways.