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Gratitude Beyond Belief

What did you do for Thanksgiving?  What were the most inspiring moments? What was the most beautiful thing you saw? What will stay with you? For what were you grateful?

Here are some thoughts from BE. Orlando’s founder.  If you’re so inclined, click play on TJ’s video below & listen while you read.  🙂

What did you do for Thanksgiving…

A visit to Cedar Key, a city more beautiful than ever only months after Hurricane Hermine. It was uplifting to feel the strength of their community and connect with old, new, and furry friends.  The first sight when entering town was the wagging of a familiar tale, followed by a slobbery greeting from the pirate pup and a warm welcome from his family – and so began a beautiful weekend.

The town was exactly as expected. Glimpses of the hurricane’s devastation were around to be seen, but the sparked spirit of community and determination to rebuild and thrive were the most evident remnants of Hermine. It is a reflection of the inner strength of humanity. Every face that passes us each day has endured the storms of personal losses and devastation, and has overcome.  The strength of the Cedar Key community is a potential in each person we meet, and in each of us.

What were the most inspiring moments…

1126-90-low-key-evening-9A bonfire concert in a sea-side garden. Everyone singing to the tunes of Houston Keen, young musician from Chiefland, and enjoying the warmth of the fire as the cool front started blowing in.  Houston played a set of favourite covers and some originals.  When asked to play his favorite song to perform, he stunned us with a touching song called “Sleeping in his Dress Blues.”  It was unexpected and touching; a beautiful surprise.  Wondering what personal meaning that song had for him added to the depth of the moment.  There was not a dry eye in the garden.  With the next song he lifted us back up, but he had stopped us all in time for one song that was not only touching in itself, but also a reminder that every face we see has the stories of a life’s journey behind it.

What was the most beautiful thing you saw…

1126-38-flight22-smallOh, the view. Sunsparkles on the water, playful dolphins, soaring birds, spectacular sunrises & sunsets. The most awesome view, though, is from the sky.  The clam farms by Dog Island, the beautiful sands on McCrary Cove at North Key, the peaceful town below. And the dynamic topology of the sandbars around the islands, so different every time – especially after the recent storm. As a kayaker who loves to wander out to sandbars & private beaches, those flights are also kindle dreams of future adventures (and places to nap in the sun).

There were two teenage girls that rode with us – one had never flown before, and neither had ever been in a small plane before. But through the flight, they were in their phones. They’ll never get that moment back – so sad that they missed the experience. One thing i love about that town is the rarity of digital zombies; mostly, people there connect with one another and are present. It is nice to see people talk to each other and look up and around when they walk.

There are beautiful things around us. We can only see them if we are present.

What will stay with you…

1125-20_terry-daily-grindOne of the new stores in town, a coffee shop called the 1842 Daily Grind & Mercantile, is run by Terry and Martin. The place was amazing – beautifully laid out, unique decor (even a record player playing records!), amazingly artistic and delicious food, and great coffee.  They are very passionate about the coffee!  🙂

The day they were to open was the day Hurricane Hermine hit.  That means they had invested time and resources to make the shop perfect for its opening day – and it was destroyed by the flood.  Grief over the loss was no match for strength of character: within weeks they had picked up the pieces, cleaned the destruction, and re-created their dream. Their example of what inner strength means will stay with me.

They weren’t the only ones –  Bonish Studio (the new adventure of old CDK friends Pat and Cindy Bonish), and other businesses were similarly impacted, and rebuilt with resilience and courage. A trip to this place is always inspiring and a perfect place of peace for re-charging; this time, it was so much more.

For what were you grateful…

Cedar Key, for its community and for the beauty of the nature around it, and my great fortune to be able to visit there. The warmth and welcome from Cedar Key friends.  Catching a surprise TJ Brown concert, and for the garden concert by Houston Keen. The ability to appreciate the beauty around us, and the reminder of how important a lifestyle of gratitude and connectivity really is.  Beyond Cedar Key – just too much to list; life is a beautiful challenge. And it passes so quickly; how we invest every moment matters.  I’m grateful for that awareness, for the journey of life, and for connections to others.

live-gratitudeRemember that the best expression of gratitude is action.  I hope for all of us that we have come away from our Thanksgiving reflections with a renewed sense of purpose.

How will you incorporate gratitude into your daily actions?

If you are in Central Florida seeking a positive Humanist community  committed to make a difference together, visit our free member site.

 

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