Last month I joined more than 50 women for a “glamping” weekend in Maine. My friend, Janine, organized the gathering, bringing together women from different parts of her life for three days of laughs, learning, and leaning in. It was one of the most impactful weekends of my life.
I met people from around the country and connected on a heart-centered level. There were no talks of politics or professions, and instead, conversations focused on dreams, visions, and deep sharing.
Our days were filled with excursions, adventures, and presentations, each ending with recapping the fun around the fire pit. And Janine took care of the bill for it all. She wouldn’t accept any money as she wanted us all to practice receiving.
And then the universe’s plan came together.
Another guest at the campground shared with Janine about a family there who had fallen on hard times. Their fourth child was born two weeks ago and the father had been recently diagnosed with cancer that debilitated him and prevented him from working. As the sole breadwinner in the family, they were in crisis. Living in their RV with winter coming in fast, they needed some angels.
As we were all aboard our coach bus heading up the coast of Maine, Janine shared the story of the Brookens family and suggested that those of us who offered to chip in for the cost of the weekend use that money to help this family instead. By the next morning, our group had gathered together $4,000. You should have seen their faces when we handed it to them!
Five-year-old Hunter said, “Wait, but we don’t have any more money.”
“Well, you do now,” Janine replied.
Janine is what I call a Gratitude Pioneer – someone who takes the lead on making a positive impact in the world; someone who knows that gratitude is more than an attitude — it’s a practice.
While it’s always a good time to put this practice into play, November feels particularly fitting being the month of Thanksgiving here in the U.S.
When things look grim in the world, you probably have to dig deep to feel grateful. However, when you play an intentional role in the healing as Janine is doing, you become part of the solution. Instead of dissolving into the misery, you rise above it by getting your hands dirty and helping out.
Ordinary people are doing extraordinary things every day and it can have a strong domino effect. After that powerful weekend, many of us reached out to our networks and communities to share the Brookens’ story and invite anyone able to do so to donate to the family’s GoFundMe to help with medical expenses and needs for the children. In less than a week, we raised $10,000 more!
And now, in lieu of exchanging presents, many of us are adopting this family for Christmas by purchasing items off their online registry to help give them a great holiday.
Janine has created her own army of gratitude pioneers, and together, we continue to build our armies.
And she’s not the only one.
Katha, a long-time family friend, travels into Boston each and every Monday night to deliver food and necessities to those struggling with homelessness. When my father was alive, he would accompany her and get such joy out of helping in this way. Since he passed, one of my brothers has stepped into the role to help Katha in her mission. To honor my father’s legacy, my family assembles 200 Blessing Bags (filled with toiletries, gift cards, etc) every year for Katha to pass out at Christmas.
Katha, by her example, has also assembled her own gratitude army.
This is the practice of gratitude in action. While Janine, the Glamping Chicks, and Katha are doing some major things, kind acts of any size have a profound impact on the world — even something as simple as a smile to a stranger can turn someone’s day around.
So now I challenge you to up your gratitude game. What is something you can do or offer to keep this generous energy flowing around the world? Here are some ideas:
- Buy coffee for the next person in line
- Hold the door for someone
- Let a driver go in front of you in traffic
- Offer to babysit so a mom or dad can take a nap or get errands done
Together, I believe we can right our world’s course and overcome the current loud negativity. So what do you think? Are you up for it?