The Spirit of Giving from the Volunteer State

The flurry of news lately seems to have created such a mix of emotions. Just when we think things might settle down, there's more bad news. It's harder for those who are directly affected in negative ways. And yet it's fertile ground for all to find transformation. Whether we can embrace it or not, there is no doubt that a transformation will occur.

News from my beloved state of Tennessee has recently had many of us watching helplessly as fires have destroyed lives, homes, businesses and wildlife while sparing fortunate others. It's a reminder that this holiday season is going to be much harder for many of our neighbors.

Living in the "Volunteer State," I've seen the transformation that generosity among strangers can bring, even if indirectly. Nashville experienced this during the historic floods of May 2010. People came together as a community to lift each other up in a way that still gives me chills to think about. (Ask me sometime about the complete stranger whose home that a friend and I helped clear out after over 5 feet of water flooded her home, and then running into her a few years later during a yoga class. It was one of the most heart-warming experiences ever. And this was just one story of many among my neighbors.)

With the recent tragedy of fires in the Great Smoky Mountains, I'm certain members of our communities will rise to the occasion again. I sure plan to do so as best I can. So this year, with that same Volunteer spirit coupled with the spirit of holiday giving, it seems especially important to honor friends and strangers alike.

I've attended workshops at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN several times over the years as part of my ongoing education as an artist. I have friends who who have taught there, others that attended workshops before me, friends that I've made while I attended and hopefully many others that will attend in the future, not to mention the beautiful art that was inspired among Arrowmont's walls and beyond. This place has transformed many lives and now it's time to give back.

In lieu of gifts this holiday season, I will be donating to my state's beloved Arrowmont in order to help them rebuild what was lost in the fires. I will also be supporting relief efforts provided by the American Red Cross. Won't you please do the same?

Wishing much love to all this holiday season! May we find fellowship and gratitude among friends, family and strangers this season and may our world find balance and harmony.