Thanks Giving: Donate your coats

thanks givingLast Saturday, my husband and I were outside enjoying a 70 degree afternoon among the crisp fallen leaves of autumn. It was magical. The warm, full sun cast dancing shadows on the ground through the trees. Acorns, a light cool breeze, and the fresh scent of earth filled our consciousness. It hardly felt like a November afternoon. We were visiting family for an early Thanks Giving.

Eight hours later, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped 30 degrees, and sleet began to fall. We were hardly prepared for this dramatic change. We were away for the weekend and he didn’t have a coat. I only had warm-weather shoes and no socks! It was a stark reminder of the brute strength of winter.

It called my attention to those in need. “On a single night in January 2015, 564,708 people were experiencing homelessness nationally — meaning they were sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program.”, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.  New York Cares reports that today more than 60,000 New Yorkers spend their nights in shelters, and 25,000 of of those individuals are children. 

I’m thankful to have a roof over my head and a warm winter coat. It’s a luxury that not everyone experiences every night. I am truly grateful.

Since living in NYC, I’m confronted by the harsh reality of homelessness the moment I step outside. There are two men and a woman who have become regulars in the park next door. While we sleep comfortably in our beds, they sleep on wooden benches, covering themselves with blankets and plastic, or nothing at all, no matter the weather.thanks and giving

Due to this, and inspiration from my generous and loving late mother-in-law, it’s with a heavy and hopeful heart that I am sponsoring a Thanks Giving coat drive with Oasis Day Spa through New York Cares beginning November 28 to December 10, 2016. It’s a small gesture that can make a significant difference in the lives of our neighbors who could die without it.

Our goal was 25 coats, – but since we’ve almost reached it before the actual start date through social media – we’ve increased our goal to 50 coats. New York Cares reported record numbers of donations this year just in time for the blizzard in January, “Collecting 100,000 coats enabled us (NY Cares) to distribute coats earlier in the new year, delivering 70,000 coats before a blizzard hit NYC in January 2016.” Let’s do it again! Express your thanks through giving.

This kindness not only helps the less fortunate but it helps you, the giver. Positive psychology proves that acts of kindness improve our sense of well-being and life satisfaction. It’s one of the seven habits of happy people.  Martin Seligman demonstrated through his research at UPenn that people who help others through charity, volunteering, or simply assisting a neighbor or coworker with a task experience greater happiness. Others suggest that lowered depression and longer life expectancy occur as a result of giving.

thanks givingSo, warm your heart and spirit by increasing the positive emotions, safety, and well-being of others. If you’re local to NYC, drop off your new or lightly used coats at my office – Heather Edwards Mental Health Counseling, 1 Park Avenue, Inside Oasis Day Spa, New York, NY 10016. If you’re outside New York City and want to help, contact your local charity to give to those in need.

From the bottom of my heart, I’m wishing you and those you love a happy, warm, & healthy Thanksgiving!

Until next time,

Heather xo

Thanksgiving: A Grateful Heart

ThanksgivingThanksgiving is a time of family, tradition, love, abundance, and appreciation. It’s celebrated nationwide annually by all cultures and religions, and in other countries on different days in different ways.  Here in the USA, it’s the most heavily travelled day of the year marking it as one of the most popular national celebrations.  For many, it kicks off the holiday season beginning an exciting time of gathering, feasting, and memory making.

Our celebration of Thanksgiving began in 1621 at a Plymouth feast prompted by a good harvest.  President George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide Thanksgiving celebration on November 26,1789.  He declared it a day observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many favors received. It’s been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863.  In 1941, it became celebrated on every fourth Thursday in November, by federal legislation.

A Day of Gratitude:

On this day, acknowledge the many gifts you have received – especially the people in your life. Look around your home.  Who is there?  How do they, to the best of their ability accept, love, and support you?  We are social creatures.  We thrive when surrounded by our tribe, family, or people.  We depend on a sense of belonging,  community, and a common purpose.  In Abraham Maslow’s famous 1943 paper on the psychological theory of innate human needs, he identified belonging as a fundamental human need only second to physiological ones for food, water, and safety. Without belonging, loneliness, social anxiety, and clinical depression can develop. If you are lucky enough to have family and/or friends to celebrate with today, express gratitude to those pillars of your health and well-being.

Thanks for Abundance:

On the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims celebrated the abundant fall harvest.  Today, the celebration of abundance takes many forms including the food on your table, your health and that of loved ones, the roof over your head, the kindness of friends, and the giving and receiving of love.  It’s an opportunity to focus on the good.  The trials, tribulations, and disappointments of life still exist, but they’re not the focus of your attention today. Instead, devote your energy toward your good fortunes, no matter how small.  Without them, you would miss them.  Focus on what you DO have, not what you don’t.

An Open Heart:

When you open your heart, you open yourself to greater health and abundance.  This affects your physiology in ways that attract, create, and sustain more positive thoughts and behaviors.  The tons of research on gratitude and positivity by Martin Seligman and the School of Positive Psychology, Rick Hanson on the neuroplasticity of the brain, and Dan Seigel on interpersonal neurobiology (and more) demonstrate that we respond and create our experiences through the ways we perceive, relate to, and interpret the events around us. The events themselves do not create our experiences.  The way we think about them does. Catch your interpretations. Adjust them. Open up to the good.  Search out the silver lining. Trust, hope, and give thanks.

As you look around the dinner table today, embrace the good fortune and generosity of family, friends, and the many ways you’ve received nourishment. Today, choose to focus on the good. It surrounds you. Practice patience, love, and gratitude. Celebrate Thanksgiving and the plentiful harvest of your life!

“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.” – William Blake.