In Gratitude, with Love

Us with Soleil in the Pumpkin Patch

It’s been an amazing year. It has had big ups and big downs. In short, life was in session.

In hindsight, there is so much to be grateful for as we roll into the holiday season. With Thanksgiving upon us, I’d like to express my gratitude for many things over the past year.

First of all this was the magical year of Soleil, my one year old daughter who has blessed our lives. From watching her first open her eyes regularly to the first time she said “Dada” to her first steps, becoming a father has literally been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am so very grateful that Caitlin and I are together with this wonderful addition to our now three person family.

Releasing my second book, Welcome to the Fifth Estate, was a good experience, in large part because of you. Thank you to all the friends and punks who helped make the book a success, whether it was allowing me to guest post, offering me an opportunity to speak, sharing your reviews, or simply being supportive. Book marketing is hard!

Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington was an incredible experience. I am still processing it, but it certainly was profound, a pinnacle moment both professionally and spiritually. To be able to give back to my hometown for the past 20 years, and raise $2 million to help 1200 nonprofits all in one day (though it took six months of planning and work), well, it’s really humbling. Truly, something to be grateful about.

So many people worked to make this happen, but in particular I’d like to offer special thanks to all of my clients and friends at Razoo, Kathy Whelpley at the Community Foundation, and Kerry Morgan, Karyn Gruenberg, Stacia Klim and Elliot Gruber at the United Way. Thanks to all of our partners who helped get the word out. And thank you to the Washington nonprofit community — causes and donors alike — for coming together in a collective day of action.

Beth Kanter and Kami Huyse let me out of Zoetica early to attend to my house, a result of the above linked flood. Thank you.

In that same vein, Gini Dietrich carried my writing load over the past two months as I grappled with the flood and kept Give to the Max work moving forward. It’s so refreshing to work with an author who plays team ball and helped a partner that could not execute, literally putting the project on her back. Now it is my turn to write extensively, but Gini deserves a big thank you for helping me.

All of my friends (Dennis, Jimmy, David, Pernilla) and family in my personal life, people who don’t dig or just simply use social media in a normal fashion, deserve a special shout out. Whether it was direct help, friendly words, or an arm around the shoulder you helped me make it through a depressing time.

My online friends and readers, you, too reached out to me during the flood and ensuing recovery. I thank you so much for this. Every ounce of support helped me through a dark time.

Speaking of dark times, a year ago my friend George Giammittorio passed away due to depression. Earlier this year we as a community lost Trey Pennington. No matter how despairing the times may be — and for some the holidays are the darkest of times — there is always hope and love. If you are suffering and there is only darkness, please consider calling the National Hopeline.

2011 is not over. A trip to Austin is in order, there is a commencement speech for the Virginia Commonwealth University Mass Communications graduation to write and deliver, and the holiday giving season — a crucial time for causes — is upon us. And yes, it is time to catch up on book writing, and thus, I am taking the next week off from the social web and will return on the 28th for the final stretch.

Though we are not done with the year, one can never be too early in expressing gratitude. So thank you, and happy Thanksgiving.

This Too Shall Pass

Virgin Island Sunrise

This too shall pass,” is something my grandma used to say. It’s a reminder that when times are tough (or conversely, insanely good) that they are just temporary.

Sometimes life deals us a terrible blow. Other times you realize that you have to cut your losses and move on.

It is truly in the worst of times that we come to appreciate, not only the great fruit life offers, but also the subtleties of normalcy; the simple leisurely coffee; an hour of play time with your child; a fun day at work when it all goes right.

Many of you know I was flooded last week. Hardly a unique situation on the East Coast. There were fires in Texas, too. And of course many of us lost a friend or well liked social media acquaintance in Trey Pennington.

You have to get up and keep going through these times.

This is not a tough guy goad to muscle through it. Pain is and should be felt during such moments. You’re not supposed to be OK. This kind of pain produces appreciation for joy, in that most desperate way, repealing innocence and in its place leaving the eyes and scars of experience.

It really sucks dealing with the flood, and living in temporary housing while my house gets fixed up. Watching my family grapple with it, too, is really hard. It is infuriating to listen to inept Fairfax County officials shirk responsibility for an over-taxed, construction silt-laden Cameron Run that has produced two hundred year floods in five years. There is the insurance dodge ball game over tens of thousands of dollars in damages. And it is so hard watching an entire blue collar neighborhood suffer through this. Again.

Easing the pain are the friends who stand by you. You find your real friends in such times. They offer you housing, or check in and see how you are doing. Perhaps they drive by and pitch in a hand removing valuables turned junk. You know who you are. Thank you.

But have no doubt, this too shall pass. Life will change, it always does. And it makes you truly appreciate the good and the simple.

Back up, back to it, in pain or with joy, embrace the moment and move forward. This too shall pass. The sun will rise again.