Inspired Gratitude - Sharing From the Heart

This piece is a response from one of our friends and readers, Ann U. She sent us this note in response to last week's post by Ann Mukherjee about a dark time in her life, for which she is now grateful.  If you have not read that one, you can find it here through the link below.  We are ever so grateful to Ann for sharing so generously with us, and with you. You may never know the difference you make in the life of another.
 Grateful for My many Blessings

Here is Ann's beautiful note.

Hi Ann,

Ever since I read your piece on being grateful I couldn't stop thinking about your story and a period in my life that I'm truly grateful for. 

I wanted to respond to your mail and share mine... Thank you for sharing that intimate piece from your life. It did touch me. I went back to when I was that same age and how in a great time of need someone had changed my direction from going deeper into the dark. My family had moved from CA to Illinois when I was entering my sophomore year in high school. I went from excelling in classes to struggling. Subjects were being taught differently than what I was use to and they were ahead of the learning curve. I found I was behind when I started. I told one teacher that I was having problems and needed help. Her response was to try harder. That was it. My parents just weren't there for reasons I didn't understand.

By the time I got to junior year I was failing. The people I made friends with the year previously were distancing themselves from me. The group that welcomed me were the 'freaks'. I moved into that crowd and then from that crowd to harder core freaks. I was out of control. My life was dark and depressed with no where to turn but where I shouldn't. One day I was sitting in the 'freaks' hallway by myself. Mr. Montgomery, my history teacher popped his head out of the teacher's lounge which was a few feet away. (History was the one of two classes I hadn't failed yet. The other was art.) Though I don't remember the exact words he told me he wanted to keep me in his class. He knew I was a good student having a tough time. It was a short conversation but I walked away changed. He cared. The only adult at that time that cared. Others may have, but they didn't tell or show me. Later I learned that he had worked it out that I could continue in his class and art. I was relieved of all other classes. The following year I would enter the districts new program that allowed students to work during the day and finish high school at night. If I failed to attend those two classes, the deal was off. I did not want to disappoint or fail the one person that cared and fought for me. I got a job and made new friends which led me to the man I have been married to for 36 years.  We have two wonderful sons. In a week I'll have a daughter in-law. I got my high school diploma (though I didn't pass typing class) and went on to college.

As I finish writing this, I am crying. I am so grateful to this man and I often wish I had the opportunity to thank him in person. If not for those few minutes, I Would not have the life I have. I know that to be true. I send my thanks into the universe and when I can I try to emulate Mr. Montgomery. A few words of kindness and caring can make all the difference to someone you know or even a stranger. 

I didn't mean for that to be so long. I wanted to share my story.   

Love and hugs,

Ann U.

Sharing Joy

My eldest daughter and her children came to stay recently. My other adult children live in town, and my youngest is fourteen and still very much a part of my everyday life. On two of the ten nights that my daughter and grandchildren were here, we had large family gathering, once featuring my legendary Indian favorite, Velvet Butter Chicken. Something wonderful happens to me when my entire family is around, and I spend the day preparing a feast to show my love for them. I feel whole and complete, like all of the pieces of me that have been spread around come back together and for a moment I am the personification of JOY. When we are all together we play a lot, we laugh a lot, we thoroughly enjoy each other and the bond we have. There is nothing that quite matches it for me, but sharing joy in little ways everyday can also be pretty great.

The best way to experience joy in your life is to share it. The best way to create joy in your own life is to create it for someone else. What small or large act can you do today to bring joy to someone? Can you smile more at strangers? Compliment something about them? Can you call, write a letter, or send a card to someone special you feel you haven’t given enough attention to lately? Do you have things lying around the house that would be better given to others, either to charity or to friends you know would love them? 

I’m not perfect at this, and am writing this as much as a reminder to me as to anybody. I just know that when I share, when I give, I experience feelings of abundance and gratitude for all I have. When I perform a simple act of kindness for another, it feeds my soul. The word for the month of September is SHARE, and I am deeply engaged in it, figuring out what it is trying to say to me. Hopefully some good insights will follow in the coming weeks.

In love and JOY,