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Friday, January 31, 2014

The End is Just the Beginning


Here we are: January 31st, 2014 and the final day of my month long gratitude challenge.

So what was the point?  Well most of us start off a new year taking stock of what we want to change, and often this relates to what we don't like about ourselves and about our life.  There is nothing wrong with self-improvement or with having goals, of course, but as research consistently shows us, we are not terribly successful with New Year's resolutions.  We can also do harm to our physical and mental health when we focus exclusively on what is going wrong and fail to recognize all that's right in the world, and in our lives.

I have to admit, it's been a hard month.  My thoughts have been almost exclusively with my friend who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and her family.  Basically witnessing a suicide on the subway this week was pretty brutal too.  Throw in a few natural disasters, political crises and senseless crimes around the world and its easy to see how one can feel overwhelmed by sadness and despair.

So here is what I learned this month: As an individual, I am ridiculously fortunate.  I have everything.  A wonderful husband and children, supportive extended family, amazing friends and community, a cosy, comfortable house, and a career I love.  I have a fit, strong body that allows me to do some amazing things and feels great, and looks not too shabby for 39.  I also live in a great city, give or take, in a great country, generally free from violence or oppression.  I have financial security and more food and clothes than I really need.

What isn't so shiny and happy is the situation for many others around the world.  Its tough not to let that pull me down, but what I am trying to focus on, is that I have chosen a career that helps others.  While I may not be helping millions of people, I know - through some amazingly positive feedback from some of my clients - that I am making a real difference, for the few people who's lives I do touch.  This brings me some comfort and has reminded me that what makes me feel truly happy and fulfilled is helping others. 

I totally fell off the wagon with my Random Act of Kindness project this past year, as I didn't manage to do something nice for a stranger every week like I planned, but I have been trying to weave little favours into situations with family and friends.  I have realized that a Random Act of Kindness doesn't just mean doing something spontaneous for a stranger, it can mean going beyond the call of duty for those already in our lives, which is how it should be anyways.  Finding opportunities to help others as well is just icing on the cake.  I will continue to do so.  There is nothing wrong with committing yourself to a few good causes that have meaning to you.  None of us can take on EVERY problem in the world.

So, my goals for 2014 include:

1. Support my friend and her family in any way I can through her surgery and cancer treatment.
2. Do the 1 day walk in September as part of the Weekend to End Women's Cancers (and raise as much money as I can!).
3. Trying to get more involved with the girls' school (being on the daycare board, I haven't been able to get as involved as I would like).

Have a great weekend and happy Ground Hog Day!