Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gratitude Post #10 - The Diversity of my Community

One of the things I love most about living in a large city with a thriving tourism industry is the fact that it makes my community a bit of a melting pot of cultures.

We have an Asian section of the city, another that's primarily Hispanic, and some spots that are mostly black. But those cultures mix into the fabric of the society as a whole. And that's the way I like it.

Now, being in the south, we do still have a couple of those antiquated institutions, like a country club that doesn't allow any black or non-Christian members. That stuff makes me cringe, but I do my best to ignore it, and hope that the ignorance that perpetuates such things will end soon.

I enjoy that my city has a wide range of religious institutions, not just the regular Christian churches, but there are also Jewish synagogues, mosques, Hindi and Buddhist temples, Pagan and Unitarian churches. We have a blending of styles and cultures. And that is important when you consider that people come in all shapes, sizes and beliefs.

So one of the things I am thankful for is my community's diversity in so many ways.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Gratitude Post #9 - Volunteer Work

About a year ago, I learned that two of my friends were tutors for our local adult literacy association. I was familiar with the organization because I'd been involved with several book signings over the years that had benefited the charity. But for one reason or another, I hadn't investigated what it would take to become a tutor. Time was an issue, I'm not the most patient person, plus it just never occurred to me that volunteering was something somebody my age did. I figured that was a pursuit I'd look into when I was closer to 'retirement age.'

But I'm so glad that I took my friends' suggestion and signed up for volunteer training and began my journey to becoming a reading tutor to a learning-disabled adult. Watching my student grow in confidence and ability is so rewarding, and that's a part of the experience I'd never anticipated.

Not only does the tutoring help my student, but it enriches my life in a way I can't really put into words. Every time we finish up a session, I have a sense of inner satisfaction, as if I've served a purpose greater than myself. Each new milestone for my student is not only a triumph for her, but it's a warm fuzzy for me. And it's one more thing in my life for which I am deeply, surprisingly grateful. I highly recommend the experience of volunteering. Do something you care about, give to others, and you'll end up giving a lot more to yourself.

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