I’ve always been a pretty appreciative person. I thank my parents and husband, the girls and my coworkers, even my cat often(yes, I realize that last bit makes me sound a little crazy). Sometimes I even write an old-fashioned thank you note. About four years ago I learned a new way to be grateful and show a little love at Camp Rainbow Gold.
When I went to the volunteer training session held about two months before the camps started, I noticed that after every meal we ate, people would stand up and “shine” for someone else. It was kind of like Thanksgiving–only unforced and genuine. I watched. I may have even participated because I was feeling pretty grateful to spend a weekend with such awesome people. I thought shining was a pretty cool deal.
I went to Teen Camp two months later. This is a place where kids 13-18 who have had or currently have cancer, and young adults who have a physical or mental disability due to cancer can come and do normal campy stuff. They make friendships that last for years. They learn how to talk about when they got sick and how it felt to be different than all the other kids their age. They ride horses and sing silly camp songs and swim in hot springs and paint and dance and lounge in hammocks and shine.
“I want to shine for _______ because they did _____ for me.”
“I’m shining for ______ because I saw them helping _____ with ______.”
“I wanna shine for _______ for being so awesome and making me feel _____.”
Hearing campers speak with gratitude about others, acknowledge goodness, be aware of positivity around them–that was incredibly powerful! I saw kids not just say thanks for things done for them, but verbalize the good they saw someone do for someone else. And it was a pretty awesome way to speak love. I had to stop and think, I’m pretty good at saying thanks for things that affect me, but I’m pretty bad at recognizing and appreciating positive things that don’t affect me.
One particularly difficult year I made it a goal to post a shine on Facebook every day. 365 days of shines. In the midst of my own crap, I
wanted needed to be reminded that there was good in this world. I posted about people I knew and strangers alike. I learned to appreciate small gestures of kindness and things that made my heart feel alive with hope. Some days I really struggled to find anything positive but it made me look harder. It made me look past myself.
As the calendar moves closer to Thanksgiving, we as a society are more attune to thankfulness. But let’s take it a step further! How can you acknowledge positive behaviors in others? How can you celebrate the good things, big or tiny, in the world around you? How will you shine?
To read more about Camp Rainbow Gold see https://2ndtimesacharm.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/superheroes-dont-always-win/ or visit their website http://camprainbowgold.org/.