Pausing to be Thankful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Call me corny but I’m one of those people that like to think about the real meaning behind the holidays that we celebrate. So today I’m taking pause to think about all the things that I’m thankful for this year. Sure there’s plenty of angst, jobs are less and money is tight but I have a lot to give thanks for.

• My health – for this I am most grateful.
• My family – both my immediate family and my far-flung relatives who I don’t get to see often but are always in my thoughts and I know are always there for me.
• My freedom – I think about this a lot. No matter how many times I feel that things have gotten off track in my country – I have the freedom to speak my mind, pursue my dreams and to change the things that I don’t like.
• My home – I’m lucky to have a home where I feel safe because I know there are so many who aren’t as fortunate these days. I never take this for granted.
• My passion – Sure I have my down days, but I’m thankful that I have an inner spirit that won’t let me give up on my pursuits.
• My friends and my peers – Because of my career and my collaborations with others, I have good friends – some I’ve recently gotten to know and others I’ve known for a long time. And some who I’ve recently reconnected with.
• My sharing of knowledge and making a difference. My husband and I trained a small army of volunteers in our town to shoot our town meetings and get them broadcast on our public access station. And I can see it has made a difference – people have become more civic minded and taken more of an interest in their community.
• I’m thankful that my personal projects in both stills and video can be seen globally through the power of the Internet and the power that has.
• I’m thankful for the many volunteers everywhere who give their time generously to others who are in need.
• I’m thankful for all the little things that are so precious – the sun that warms me on a cold day, the rain that nourishes the land, the colors and calm of a beautiful dawn and the thousands of stars on a clear night.

I’d love to hear what others are thankful for. I have found many times that those who seem to be less fortunate are also the ones who are most thankful for what they have.

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Making a Difference

I’ve always been quite active as a volunteer in my community.  When my daughter was going through the school system, I was very involved with various committees and events throughout the years. What I enjoyed most was being able to share my gift of expertise as a professional photographer and filmmaker.  One year I produced, shot and edited a piece for the school’s International Baccalaurete Program highlighting what some of the students were doing for the CAS portion of the program.  CAS stands for Creative Action and Service and  the students need to spend a certain number of hours in each of these areas.  So I created a short video made up of interviews with current students talking about what types of things they were doing to fulfill those hours.  I also took whatever still photos and video that the kids or their parents provided me and worked it into the piece.  The video was a hit amongst the kids, their parents and the teachers and will be archived to show future students contemplating the IB program.

I’m not so involved with the schools now that my daughter has graduated, and I miss that community connection and what I got from that personally. I do mentor high school kids from time to time who are interested in photography and video and I love to work with the passionate ones.  And last year my husband/partner, Tom and I shot and produced Freedom’s Ride, a short documentary about 20 predominately white students from our high school district and 20 predominately black students from a public school in Harlem, NY who rode the bus to and from Alabama, retracing the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. That was an incredible and rewarding experience for all.

Currently we sit on the board of our local public access TV station Mendham TV.  Independently Tom and I have produced 20 half hour talk shows for the station, called Mendham People.  We recruited local people for hosts who came up with various local people to interview in a Charlie Rose type format.  One of our hosts was our local postal clerk, Pete.  We live in an area where we don’t get mail delivery so everyone goes to the post office on a daily basis and sees Pete. So he’s a well known figure and knows everyone in town.  Recently our station started airing the town’s public meetings.  The station isn’t funded but we managed to get volunteers and trained them to shoot the meetings. I’ve started attending town meetings  and I feel much more in touch with my community.  Volunteering on the board of the local TV station has kept us involved with our community and is a way for us to continue to “give back” to our community.

It’s always nice of course when I get personally thanked or recognized in some small way for my volunteer efforts, but the biggest reward is always  how it makes me feel.  I believe we all can make a difference even in the smallest acts of “giving” and to all those who have shared their time and talents, you know how rewarding it is personally. I’ll end with a quote by Arthur Ashe.

“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.”

—Arthur Ashe (1943-1993), professional tennis player, civil rights supporter

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