Gratitude – Appreciating All That We Have

Shoes

Shoes. In all honesty, I love them. Shoes are one of my favorite things and I have too many. Evidently, my daughters feel the same. If you were to walk into our home on any given day, you will find shoes everywhere. In short, I feel like I am always picking up shoes and putting them away. And, the shoe and coat closet is always a mess.

So why am I writing about shoes as we head into this holiday weekend? Sadly, the piles of shoes in and around my home has somehow reminded me of just how blessed we are. The endless pairs of sneakers, converse, boots, flats and heels haunt me and remind me that we need to be thankful for all that we have.

In short, less is more and simplicity is key. We are incredibly blessed and I am grateful for many things. However, I believe that we have too much stuff and sometimes believe we have more than we need.

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection. It is a time to take stock in all that we have and to truly find gratitude in all that we have. Thanksgiving is a time to give, to share and to spread kindness. It is a time to recognize that there are so many people who are struggling and hurting.  Thanksgiving is a time to remember those that are less fortunate and to help those in need.

Somehow, staring at all of the shoes in the closet reminded me that there are people in this world that do not have a pair of shoes or warm socks on their feet. Unfortunately, there are children that will go to bed hungry tonight and certainly will not be enjoying a big turkey dinner tomorrow or having a slice of pumpkin pie for a treat. Some people will spend Thanksgiving alone.  In addition, there are many that have no roof over their heads, no bed to sleep in and no warm coat to wear on a cold fall night. For some, food is scarce and the holidays are not necessarily filled with joy.

My mind drifts back to a man I met on a plane months ago. Paul inspired me as he shared countless stories about the 87 foster children his family had loved. Some of these children were afraid to remove their shoes to take a bath for fear they would be stolen. Wow. There are stories everywhere that should constantly remind us of how lucky we truly are. Our entire family should be filled with so much gratitude today and every day.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year to celebrate with family and friends. I am grateful for so many things in my life and believe me, I recognize how blessed I am. With that being said, it is important that we all remember that the holidays can be a difficult time of year for people. While we may feel peace and joy, others may feel sad and fighting a difficult battle out there.

There are things that we can all do to make a difference in this world during this holiday season and every single day.

  • BE KIND. I cannot say this enough. Being kind is something everyone can do. It costs nothing yet it is far more valuable than most things on this earth. Please, just do it. Being kind to someone can literally change their life. Kindness is something so small and yet it is so huge. Be kind every day; it will make a difference in what can be a very lonely and difficult world.

 

  • PAY IT FORWARD. I love hearing stories about people who pay it forward. Again, there are so many things that we can all do to make a difference in the lives of others. It does not matter if it is something small or big. Buy someone a cup of hot coffee, pay for someone’s lunch, donate your time or money, volunteer, listen, say I love you often, hug more, give someone a ride, cook a meal, hand out flowers or just smile. It is so easy to change a life or make a difference in someone’s day.

 

  • ASSUME NOTHING AND STOP JUDGING OTHERS. It is impossible to know what another is going through without first walking in their shoes. Everyone has a battle to fight and instead of assuming we know everything or judging others, be empathetic and loving. You never know when you may be fighting a battle and need others to be empathetic and supportive of you.

 

  • FORGIVE. There is great power in forgiveness. Life is too short to be chained to the past because of regret, resentment or anger. We all make mistakes and we all have things that we need to forgive whether it is forgiving ourselves or forgiving others. Forgiveness is a gift and it will change lives. If you want to find peace, forgive.

 

  • CHOOSE HAPPINESS. Life is hard and quite honestly, it can be difficult to feel positive and to be happy all the time. It is easy to fall prey to negativity and during difficult times, it is easy to feel down and sad. However, it is important to remember that negativity sometimes makes things worse and will not help in the end. Happiness is in part, a choice.  Positivity and happiness can help people to survive even when things are tough.

 

  • LIVE IN GRATITUDE. I have learned that even when life is hard there is always something to be grateful for. If I am struggling I sometimes make a gratitude list and I am always amazed at how many blessings I truly have. Appreciate the little things, breathe in all of the beauty in and around your life and remember, there is something to be thankful for. Take nothing for granted and especially the people you love. Appreciate every day you are blessed to live. Things can change quickly.

 

  • SIMPLIFY. Life is busy and often times chaotic. Clutter can lead to stress and steal our joy. It is important to de-clutter where you can and to find ways to simplify your life. If you have too much stuff, make it a goal to get rid of some things. De-clutter and donate. There are a lot of people out there that need shoes, clothes, coats, household items, blankets, toys and canned goods. This is a great way to simplify while helping others. Say no more often and try to slow things down. Your heart will thank you for it.

 

  • REMEMBER WHAT IS IMPORTANT. We spend far too much time and energy on those things that do not matter in the end. We live in a society where more is better and we are constantly in search of what is on the other side instead of appreciating and enjoying what we have. Tragically, life flies by and we wake up regretting not having spent more time on the things that matter most. In the end, it is love and spending time with the people we care about that matters.  Slow down, breathe and shift your focus to those things that truly matter. Make the phone call. Take the trip. Say I love you every day. Don’t go to bed angry. Hug more often. Be kind. Laugh. Spend as much time as you can with those that you love. Do not wait until tomorrow. It might not come.

So, back to the shoes. The purpose of writing this post is not to make anyone feel guilty for having nice things or too many shoes. It is easy to think that the grass is somehow greener on the other side of the fence. That is not always true. It is important to try and avoid getting frustrated by the little things and focus on all of the good things you have both big and small.

We are incredibly blessed but as I look around I am reminded that perhaps, we could slow down, simplify and de-clutter our lives. Most importantly, I am well aware that there are so many people in the world that are less fortunate and need all of our help.

Recently, I was in Africa and one of the things that stuck with me the most was how happy the people were. People with far less material things were so incredibly blessed. I left with a sense of peace and a reminder that it is not always what you have but rather what you give. That is the gift. It is not about stuff but instead it is what is in your heart. There is darkness in this world but there is so much good.

We do not find our happiness in things. My trip to Africa reminded me that we find happiness from within. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and my hope is that your hearts will be filled with so much gratitude and joy.

For me, I will reflect, be grateful and try to choose joy every day.  Lastly, I will be donating to those in need and I will be starting with these piles of shoes.

With Much Love and Peace,

 

Michele

 

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