"Do not ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do that. For what the world needs is more people who have come alive."
-Howard Thurman

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reflections of Thanks

“When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package” ~ John Ruskin.

    Now is a time to venture outward and recognize the many blessings that are there for each of us if we take the time to look. What a beautiful holiday to be centered around reflecting on all that we have to be thankful for... I sure have a lot to think about.  Today, and always, I extend my most humble thank you to everyone who is a blessing in my life...more than you may ever know.  I also offer, today, a letter that I wrote last Thanksgiving to a close friend who was going through a difficult time.  I have shared this letter and the story depicted in it on a few of my appearances and thought it appropriate to share it with you all this Thanksgiving's Eve.  Whether this day falls during a time of peace or a time of struggle, I hope my thoughts will serve as a reflection about the true meaning of this beautiful and delicious holiday, one that veritably extends to life as well:

   Today is a day to give thanks for all that we are blessed with and to take time to reflect and be appreciative of the many beautiful things we have in this world. Regardless of what is going on, there is always something to smile about, some reason to pick your head up and keep on going. For me, those moments hit me hard during rough times. Sometimes it's just an uplifting song coming on the radio while I’m driving, noticing how beautiful the sun is setting over the mountains, etc. I know that right now it’s hard to feel thankful, and I want to challenge you this Thanksgiving to remember that even though you are going through a difficult time, you still have so much to be thankful for.
    I love this quote by Robert Frost- it is so simple, but so veracious: “Everything I know about life can be summed up in three words: it goes on.” And its true. There is always a reason to smile. Always. On that note, I’d like to share a story with you. A few months ago I was volunteering at a local soup kitchen in Harrisonburg.  After preparing dinner and setting the tables, we were all ready to eat. Before we did, however, we all joined hands in a circle. Many people who come to the soup kitchen for dinner are regulars, but there are also always new people, and so to foster a sense of community they always introduce themselves before sitting down to eat. As we went around the circle, we introduced ourselves, and shared something that we are grateful for. One by one, each person, most without family or a permanent home, named something they were thankful for. How amazing. Many suffered from a mental or physical illness, often slept without a blanket, were estranged from family or had lost people close to them…and not one had trouble naming something they were thankful for. On this particular day it was raining, and as we went around, I’ll never forget, one man said, “My name is Martin, and I am thankful that the sun is shining somewhere.”
    There is always something to be grateful for, and for me, this night was a very powerful reminder of that. Sometimes I think of Martin when things seem especially difficult. And he’s right. The sun is always shining somewhere and with it hope of brighter days :o) 

    Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! I hope it is one that leaves your tummies full but your hearts fuller.  

Love Always,

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy International Girls Day!

    Today is a a day for celebrating sisterhood and all that is beautiful about being a girl! In honor of today, I would like to share my favorite girl quote via a photo of the the wall above my bed in my JMU apartment: 

   Today, I posted the second photo on my face book wall, in celebration, and asked everyone to comment under it, sharing their favorite part about being a girl.  I'm excited to read the responses! In the meantime, I would love to share with you how one very special girl is celebrating International Girls Day.  Hope Campbell, who was my very first pageant sister as Little Miss Greater Springfield 2008, is spending today at her local mall, handing out blue balloons to girls of all ages, on which she has inscribed inspirational messages.  She kicked off her celebration last night at the Miss Greater Springfield pageant where I received my own balloon, which read "You Make Virginia Proud."  Well, Hope, you certainly do as well! What a wonderful way to brighten people's day.  Look out for a future entry with more details on Hope and her balloons.  In the mean time, check out this fun video about the "You Make Me Smile Campaign" and remember what this demonstrates: that service is not merely a project or event-it is a way of life, and there is always something you can do to make someone smile :o)


Martina Mcbride's "Happy Girl" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QhWevCpbSY)