Thanks and Giving

Thanks and Giving. For USA readers, today is a holiday where we’re encouraged to take pause and give thanks for all the wonderful people, health, things, and moments in our lives. For the international readers, I’d encourage you to join in.

I’ll start with the THANKS. Most every year, I find that what I’m thankful for boils down to health, family, and community.

Health. I’m thankful that I have had mine for almost every moment of 2009. Traveling and working as much as I do can often take its toll on health, but it rarely does mine. I believe that creating a life for yourself that you want to be living means a lot toward personal health. I’m also thankful for whatever gene I got from my parents or luck I’ve continually received on that front. So thankful.

Family again played a gigantor role for me in 2009. My wife Kate is my superhero, my inspiration, and my best friend. I’d be swimming in circles without her. Dexter, our giant cat who thinks he’s a dog, continues to show me how to love unconditionally. My Dad stared down cancer and… [click ‘continue reading’ link below]

…kicked its ass this year and my mom celebrated her 11th year of being cancer free. They both somehow laugh more each year and keep getting younger despite adding a few more wrinkles. I was humbled again by the warmth and unwavering generosity of my in-laws, and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my brother and sister in law for co-creating my first, one and only nephew. He’s both a lover and a little tank at the same time ;) A great reminder of how every new life is so precious. I’m again thankful to my aunts and uncles and grandma with whom I grew yet again closer. I wasn’t around as much for them this year, but in true form they were always there for me. Our extended family continues to inspire, and they remind me so eloquently–and seemingly without effort–of what that word ‘family’ really means.

Community. In 2009, ‘community’ was a constant reminder of what made my life rich beyond my dreams. When I say community, I mean my friends, my co-workers, my co-collaborators, my neighbors, and most definitely YOU. The staff at CJinc brings the love, the passion, the hard work and the dedication to the table everyday, not just Monday thru Friday. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and inspiration. YOU, the photography, art, design, and popular culture community that exists here, on other blogs and virtual salons, gives so much value to the world. Especially as the web somehow more and more viscerally connects translates/maps back into the “real” world. This is a wonderful thing to celebrate. YOU are a wonderful thing that I celebrate and I’m thankful beyond words.

I’ve said it before, but it must be said again today: Within the thousands of comments posted and the millions of visits each year, I draw a ton of strength. I laugh inside when you thank me for this post or that, because in my brain I’m so thankful for your words, your support, your visits, your comments, your ideas, your links to this site, and every ounce of your energy that is spent on your daily visit here. You are the guts and, in many ways, the driver of this pile of words and videos and pictures. I’m thankful. To the max.

Now the GIVING portion.
Giving back should be a core component in everyone’s life. Sometimes we’re better and sometimes we’re worse at giving back, but the action should always be a part of both your moment and your horizon. It’s easy to give back at a distance, but this year, between now and then end of 2009, try giving back in the trenches. Hand someone a wool hat on the street, give your old camera to a student in need, get involved with Help-Portrait, Blue Earth, Youth in Focus, your local 826, the Red Cross, or some other grassroots-dependent organization that requires you to do something rather than just write a check or click ‘submit’. You’ll feel better and the world will get more of what you have to give: the experience of YOU, not just your tax write off.

Lastly. If you feel so inclined, share with us in the comments section below some things YOU’RE thankful for. Anything sincere. I’ll select a handful of comments at my discretion, I’ll track you down, and I’ll send you a signed book, or an iPhone app or something else.

Thank you. I mean it. Have a great holiday weekend. And don’t forget: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward

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