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There are few things sweeter and more gratitude inspiring than kids from the ages of 3-15 and their parents and grandparents doing animal-named yoga poses and practicing meditation breaths together on a sunny, albeit brisk, Saturday afternoon. This was the scene yesterday for our first of four amazing March Madness fundraising events where we’re going to sweat for charity and raise funds to support g2 service projects. March Madness, in particular, will support our upcoming service project at our Launch Party to put birthday supplies in gratitude bags that will be delivered to foster children. (You can still sign up for any and all of our March Madness events AND our Launch Party April 15th!)
For this Family Yoga event, we were yogis adept at dancer pose mixed with true beginners and every level in between learning the art of belly breathing and toe touching, and the warm, sunny room welcomed us all. We worked our way through the alphabet as we did A-to-Z Yoga with the amazing Lani Gerszonovicz leading us and inspiring everyone to push outside of our comfort zones, find and listen to our inner breath and voices, and recognize how important it is to feel our inner energy. We even squeezed an imaginary ball between our palms, and it pushed back!
We stretched like a giraffe (triangle pose!) -- some of our little yogis even had some creative fun with their fingers and gave their giraffes a snack. We twisted on the floor and snapped like alligators, of course we were cats and dogs (downward!), and we practiced breath with intention and gratitude.
We finished our practice in group poses – blossoming flowers and hearts bursting with happiness and healthy perspectives. Everyone was glowing – and glistening from the heat – and the response was awe-inspiring. One thoughtful attendee brought “Live Happy” stickie notes we placed on our mats to remind us to “Be an Inspiration,” and “Be the reason someone smiles today.” Each and every person at the event was a reason to smile AND an inspiration!
Huge gratitude to everyone who shared in this event and to our awesome Kids’ Board members who did a great job representing us and supporting our causes. Big thanks to the generous hospitality of Shri Yoga Center and the amazing Lani Gerszonovicz, who has a contagious energy and the most happy, positive perspective. She’s a gift to anyone, and g2 is thrilled to partner with her. (Stay tuned for more opps to practice Family Yoga with her!)
Check out the amazing pics that captured the energy and gratitude flowing at our event - click here.
Bottle This Up
Once again we contended with climate -- stifling hot indoors at our first event and part two (or was it three?) of a school-canceling, pile-it-up Midwest snowstorm today at our second event. But despite the fresh few inches of snow falling in the hours leading up to Gratitude Generation’s first education-focused event where we made gratitude jars, the energy was positive and inspiring. And the atmosphere was happy and messy! It was a combination we should try to bottle up and sell – in a jar!
But until we figure out the magic of bottling an experience, we’ll just recap it here and share it with you – hoping to inspire a moment (or many!) of gratitude for you and your family. And we hope to bring you one step closer to the Gratitude Generation as we build momentum and an amazing calendar of education and service events.
Thanks to the snow plows and sheer determination, about 50 people made their way to Artist @ Heart in Libertyville where we sipped hot cocoa and munched on snacks, only after we dug through a deep and crunchy pile of tissue paper in all colors and patterns, as well as cups, bowls and bins of adornments, papers, beads and charms. Encouraged to let the creative juices flow, each person made a jar that looked different, some featuring disco-ready sparkle, Valentine’s Day-patterned paper, flowers, beads and bells. Adults and children together were slathering on glue, getting messy and feeling happy.
Art, after all, can be so calming. Decoupage for someone like me can be the opposite – I like a plan and a pattern and an expected result. However, today I went in wild, slapping on that tissue paper arbitrarily and letting the glue do it’s magic. Of course I did have a plan and a color palette – can’t change a girl in one event! – but I was able to soak in the atmosphere, share in my kids’ chit-chat, spend some time with friends and their kiddos, and meet new friends, including middle-schoolers and adults. The process of making the gratitude jar delivered so many moments to be grateful for I could probably fill the jar with my reflections scribbled on tiny pieces of paper.
We chatted about potential uses – reflecting on moments during the year and reviewing them on New Year’s Eve or whenever you need a pick-me-up; using it like a reward system where families acknowledge acts inspiring gratitude by tossing in a marble or cotton ball and celebrating when it’s full; collecting spare change to donate to your favorite charity (g2!); conversation starters for the dinner table; or inspirational quotes. Everyone had a different intention, but the energy was the same – the jars would help bring the practice of gratitude into our homes even a little more.
The sun was shining and the roads were clear after a couple of hours flexing our creative muscles. With jars in tow, everyone left ready to flex those gratitude muscles in their own unique ways. But there was a common thread: The positive experience was a feel-good moment, worth bottling up.
My little man – only 6 and a half – carefully carried his gratitude jar (glass!), smiled at it lovingly and said, “I’m not sure why, but this was so much fun and made me so happy.”
With gratitude, Grateful Girl
Grateful Girl happens to be a Board member for Gratitude Generation, but also hosts a blog on ChicagoNow, which seeks to inspire moments of gratitude in daily life. Follow me on Facebook or subscribe here http://www.chicagonow.com/grateful-girl,
What happens when the thermostat is set to 80, the fireplace is blazing, you have just one long table and tons of red, pink and sparkly Valentine’s Day craft supplies and then you squeeze about 50-60 visiting adults and kiddos into a rather small gathering space with about a dozen residents of a memory care facility? What happens is magical!
For Gratitude Generation’s first official event, the mood was magical (albeit a bit sweaty, too), as kids made a heart-shaped and heart-felt banner to decorate the walls of the second-floor gathering space. Some children were watched by residents, others worked diligently peeling sticker backs off and helping residents make hearts of their own. The result was full hearts, and full walls, too.
Then it was story time, where a group story gave an understanding of memories and how important – yet fleeting – they can be. Then small-group story time found children somewhat apprehensive at first, but then turning to residents and reading books, carefully picked from their own collections. The room soon filled with chatter and sweet voices, and adults only stepping in to hold up books and show everyone the cheerful pictures.
Finally, there was a friendly game of bingo where some paired up with residents and others fought fiercely for a coveted electric pencil prize, but mostly the joy of just yelling “bingo!” and doing a little dance for everyone in the room to enjoy.
The room was packed, the ‘What are you GRATEFUL for today?’ banner was colorful and filled in – family, Gratitude Generation, friends, this experience, a house, and so much more.
And so it begins… the Gratitude Generation instilled a sense of service, understanding and gratitude in all who shared in this first of many special events. If you were part of it, we thank you and express our gratitude. If you shared it through this narrative, we hope you can feel the magic. And we hope you’ll join us next time.
With gratitude, Grateful Girl
Grateful Girl happens to be a Board member for Gratitude Generation, but also hosts a blog on ChicagoNow, which works to inspire moments of gratitude in daily life. Follow me on Facebook or subscribe here http://www.chicagonow.com/grateful-girl,
Grateful Girl, Jill Rivkin