“For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today is Thanksgiving and it is a day set aside for gratitude, which is why I love this day so much! There are so many things that I am thankful for and you are at the top of my list. You have been here every week reading Charity Matters for the past decade, cheering me on with story ideas, commenting when a post touches you and sharing posts with friends. I am so truly grateful to you. Your own giving of time and your excitement to share your favorite cause fill my heart each and every day.
This year the pandemic has brought us a renewed clarity of what matters. Gratitude for health, safety, family, and friends. We have collectively slowed our pace and are taking time for gratitude. Today I am with my family and while it isn’t our traditional large celebration, my cup is running over. My gratitude propels me to give as much back as I possibly can.
So wherever you are this year, serving meals to the homeless, slaving away in your kitchen cooking, or simply watching football on TV, know that I am grateful for you, your support, and all you give of yourself and to others.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
What does it take to be a legend? These past few weeks we have lost two legends, two very different legends, Aretha Franklin and Senator John McCain. Two people that could not be more different, in their backgrounds, upbringings or their work. Yet, two people that were legends and at the end of their lives have been revered in the same way. So what made them legends?
Was it what they did when they were alive or how they are remembered when they are gone?
A legend is defined as; Legend – a person whose natural reflex is to be selfless and make an extraordinary effort to put others before themselves.
Aretha Franklin was known as one of the bestselling musical artist of all times, the Queen of Soul, an artist without boundaries, a trailblazer and someone who brought joy to all by sharing her passion and gifts with others. Her music made us think and her passion connected us all.
John McCain, an American who is the product of two Navy Admirals, his grandfather and father. A man tortured as a prisoner of war for over five years. A United States Senator that was known for standing for principals before politics, a maverick and a man who believed his true strength lied in his love of country.
Two different people that used their lives to make others lives better. They served by sharing their gifts. They are not nonprofit founders but they both exemplified the same traits. Individuals who give of themselves to make the world better.
Charity Matters is not a place for music or politics but a place to highlight remarkable everyday heroes who make our world better. John McCain’s last words, in his recently published book The Restless Wave, remind us that we all have the ability to do just that….make our world better than we left it. So as we celebrate Labor Day today, I think these final words from Senator McCain explain why the word legend is so fitting.
“Before I leave, I’d like to see our politics begin to return to the purposes and practices that distinguish our history from the history of other nations. I would like to see us recover our sense that we are more alike than different. ‘The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it,’ spoke my hero, Robert Jordan, in [Ernest Hemingway’s] ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls.‘ And I do, too. I hate to leave it. But I don’t have a complaint. Not one. It’s been quite a ride. I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make a peace. I’ve lived very well and I’ve been deprived of all comforts. I’ve been as lonely as a person can be and I‘ve enjoyed the company of heroes. I’ve suffered the deepest despair and experienced the highest exultation. I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.
I leave behind a loving wife, who is devoted to protecting the world’s most vulnerable, and seven great kids, who grew up to be fine men and women. I wish I had spent more time in their company. But I know they will go on to make their time count, and be of useful service to their beliefs, and to their fellow human beings. Their love for me and mine for them is the last strength I have.
What an ingrate I would be to curse the fate that concludes the blessed life I’ve led. I prefer to give thanks for those blessings, and my love to the people who blessed me with theirs. The bell tolls for me. I knew it would. So I tried, as best I could, to stay a ‘part of the main.‘ I hope those who mourn my passing, and even those who don’t, will celebrate as I celebrate a happy life lived in imperfect service to a country made of ideals, whose continued service is the hope of the world. And I wish all of you great adventures, good company, and lives as lucky as mine.”
YOUR REFERRAL IS THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT, IF YOU ARE SO MOVED OR INSPIRED, WE WOULD LOVE YOU TO SHARE AND INSPIRE ANOTHER.
“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
With birthdays come drivers license renewals and the question of whether or not to put that pink sticker on my license indicating that I am an organ donor. For me the answer is simple, yes I am. I am an organ donor because I have heard the helicopter on the roof of Children’s Hospital bringing the precious gift of life to a child.
I am an organ donor because I have watched to family friends suffer while waiting for a donor. The first friend, needed a heart transplant. He received a heart from someone who had died at the craps table in Vegas. He told me once he had his new heart, he unexpectedly found himself wanting to go to Vegas, but wouldn’t dare go by the tables. His new-found spirit was infectious.
Another dear friend of ours, and a young father of two, waited for a kidney for what seemed like an eternity. To see this vibrant man dwindle was devastating for all of us who adore him. When it seemed grim, a miracle occurred. Another’s passing gave the gift of life to our friend and he is thriving. When I saw this video I thought of both our friends.
I will be putting a new sticker on my license stating I am organ donor. I will tell my family, so that they know my wishes and you have this post as a back up. I think Emerson simply said it best, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.”
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
As I mark my one year anniversary as the Executive Director, of a non-profit youth leadership organization, I find myself full of gratitude. I know it is Thanksgiving week, but this is more than being grateful. I am in awe of the path that lead me to this place where I am in a position to inspire, engage and motivate hundreds of middle and high school students each year. In turn, they are in the position to do the same to me and have.
More than motivation or leadership, what I find brings me the greatest joy is living a life of purpose. I was telling a girlfriend about my job the other day and she responded, “Wow, I didn’t realize you could get paid to make the world better?” Her reaction surprised me a bit. More than that, it made me think that my “payment” is so much more than a check (don’t get me wrong, raises are always appreciated).
Of course this past year has been full of challenges and road blocks but what great adventures aren’t? Life is journey and when you get to a place on your path, when you get to be your best self and show that to others…..well there is simply no place else I would rather be.
” You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
This week is all about back to school. Teaching is more than what comes from a book. School is a place where children need to learn how to be kind and compassionate. The sooner we teach and model these skills, the better our world becomes. It is just that simple.
“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions!” Joey Adams
Oh, it’s that time of year again. We sit, we toil, we ponder and then the tv ad is over and we abandon the thought of those nagging New Year’s Resolutions. For me, it is a process I have embraced for as long as I could hold a pen. The more tragic part of that is looking back each year at those resolutions that I did not complete or achieve.
However, the flip side is there are usually more achieved than not and each year my goals become a tad more realistic…Ok I confess, last year I did write down an absurd amount of Twitter followers that I had hoped to coax to the nest….but I’m a big dreamer….I think you all know that by now. Looking back, maybe I was a bit too optimistic?
However, if we don’t give ourselves a moment to dream, to really think about what we want then how are we ever to achieve it? This year one resolution that I hope to achieve is to revamp The Charity-Matters web-site. Phew, I said it. Now, for the follow through.
Well, I am so glad you are here to hold my feet to the fire, to complete the resolutions and to enjoy every precious moment of the journey. As Emerson said, “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” I guess that way regardless of resolution its perfect either way. That is one resolution worth adding to the list this year. What are your resolutions?