Tuesday, September 4, 2012

40 is all you need

As the sun sets and I see less and less of it peeking at me through my window, I hear a little voice calling, "Mama......" Music plays from my phone and "I just wanna say thank you" drowns out the noise of the fan. My plan was not to write. My plan was to get to bed early and try to relax before another long day, but all that was in my head needed a release. 

The new school year has brought about later nights, more homework, more take out, tired and crabby kids and a mom and dad who seem to meet each other coming and going. If you have any kids in school and after-school activities, you are probably living a very similar life. 

Even if you aren't living with kids who are busy, you probably have a lot going on yourself. Work, friends, family, spouse or significant other, church, and other commitments. 

I only thought I was busy before. This is a new kind of busy and I admit that I'm having to restructure my days, nights, and thoughts. 

And let's not kid ourselves. In just 111 days Christmas will be upon us which means that in the next few weeks you'll be running around like crazy buying Halloween items, contributing for various parties, decorating your house better than your friends' Pinterest boards, planning big Thanksgiving menus, checking off gifts from your many lists, trying to come up with creative ways to place your Elf on the Shelf and in the middle of it all trying to take it all in and breathe in your thankfulness for every second of the chaos. 

You don't have to pretend with me. I know.  

Today, I encountered a student at the school I teach. I noticed him last week. He was in the office dressed up. I just thought he had a special occasion and went on my way. But today I passed him in the hall. He was dressed up again and carrying boxes. I, casually, asked if he had another special gig and he said, "No." 

That conversation left me wondering about his story. I mean, after all, not many HS kids take school seriously, so why would they dress for the occasion? As God would have it, I ran into him a third time and this time I decided to sit and chat with him around the conference room table. I sat down and said, "Tell me what brought you to this moment. Why dress up everyday?" 

He told me, "I was tired of being how I was before, so one day I woke up and decided to change one thing. I decided instead of spending lots of money on t-shirts and jeans, I'd spend money on a few really good shirts, ties, and suit jackets." 

I asked "So, are people responding to you differently?" 

Him: "Yes! People were giving me high fives. Teachers take more notice of me. I feel more confident and important." 

I continued to chat with him telling him that our meeting wasn't a coincidence. I told him that my "thing" was gratitude. I asked him to update me throughout the year on if people respond differently after the initial change. He told me I reminded him of Will Smith. (yeah, I'm still a little confused about that one myself.) I think it had to do with my passion. ;)  

What I didn't tell him (yet) was that, typically, when you choose to stand out, be different, or elevate yourself past the norm, people will begin to challenge you, criticize you, or mock you. 

Over the past 5 years, I've had plenty of "friends" choose to stay out of my life because of my grateful attitude. I've had family challenge my belief that it is one of the best acts you can practice. I've been mocked by friends I thought were close friends as recently as this summer. 

This week posted on our Twitter/FB accounts: 

"So many people today are blindly living, blindly speaking, and blindly acting. #Gratitude on purpose will help you SEE." 

What will it help you see? 

Being thankful will help you see that not everything is destroyed. It will teach you to have hope in people you didn't believe in before. It will show you that your plan, though good, maybe not be best. It can remind you that your riches have nothing to do with your bank account, car, home, or clothes. It can help you forgive those you couldn't forgive before. It might mend a relationship that you thought was lost forever. You will begin to see a light within yourself shining brighter than ever. People will begin to wonder "What is she/he doing differently? How can I have that, too?" 

If you want to change the world and YOUR world, you have to stop allowing your issues to determine your attitude. 

It was in the midst of one of my lowest points in life that the 40 Days of Thankfulness Challenge was born. I could not surround myself with all of the negative people and their words. It was in that single moment I decided to change. Just as the boy I write about. It only takes a single moment, a single act to change your life. 

I'm challenging you to act. Go to our 40 Days of Thankfulness FB page and "like" it. 

Think of people in your life that might benefit from a thankful attitude, as well. 
Be on the lookout for our 40 Days of Thankfulness Challenge Event. (coming soon!)
Do take time to get your mind right and heart open. 

I've seen several lives changed because I simply asked them to join me in 40 Days of Thankfulness. I got to see their transformation, firsthand. They thank me for the challenge, but, truly, they should be thanking themselves for being open enough to begin their one change. 

"The change that makes us greatly uncomfortable is the change that holds the biggest transformation." ~tisha poncio