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gratitude

Hi, everyone-

I originally meant for my previous post (“Farewell for now…”) to be it for the spring 2017 semester, but that all changed after the events of this week.  I am sure you have seen on the news the terrible flooding that has occurred as a result of the torrential rains we’ve been attacked with.  And while I’m sure you are familiar with some of the places affected (I-44 and 141, for example), you may not know Eureka, Pacific, or smaller communities affected as well.  I live in Wildwood, just northwest of the Eureka city limits.  This small town is particularly affected in a specific area of their “old town/Central Avenue” area, and multiple businesses were completely flooded in the December 2015 flood.  Imagine their thoughts when they heard it was going to flood nearly as much…then it was changed to as much…then it was changed to more than the record set just over a year ago.  These are people, down-to-earth, hardworking, and kind, who poured blood, sweat, tears, and more dollars than you could imagine into rebuilding their businesses — and here they were, facing the exact same catastrophe (or worse) again.  The distress, hopelessness, and fear was evident in Facebook posts that flooded my news feed.

But then…that distress, hopelessness, and fear changed to resiliency, hope, and courage.  Those hardworking, down-to-earth people recruited and recruited and recruited some more, desperately calling for all hands on deck to fill sandbags, load trailers, and construct massive sandbag walls around all of the Central Avenue businesses in danger of the impending floodwaters.  People of all ages came together to save their beloved little town.  When the crest predictions kept rising, the wall kept rising along with it.  When the water started coming up faster than expected at the crack of dawn one morning, people filled the scene to one-up the water.  When part of the wall collapsed by a restaurant, every effort was made to quickly reconstruct it and pump water out of the building.  Every time another challenge arose, Eureka residents and non-residents alike were there to meet and exceed the challenge.  And when the waters rose, crested, and then began to recede, and the walls were still holding, there were sighs of relief, tears of joy, and thankfulness for all the people who stepped up to help.  The stories starting to circulate — about the National Guard and first responders working right alongside little kids and middle-aged men, the four young men who drove two hours just to help because they “needed to do something,” the Missouri State Highway Patroller spending hours lifting sandbags while on-duty, the unaffected businesses giving out thousands of free meals to volunteers  — are touching, heart-warming, and utterly inspiring.  It’s amazing how much love and support can come out of such a terrible event.

Amidst all of this, where was I?  I must admit — when I first heard the predictions and knew the normal route I took to Fontbonne would be closing, I was selfish.  I was concerned about myself, about my so-called “inconvenience” at getting to finals.  And then I began to think about what so many other people would be going through, losing their homes, businesses, and livelihoods, and realized I had no right to be so concerned about my situation.  Most of all, I felt guilty…guilty for sitting at home or in a classroom, studying my brains out, taking final exams, wrapping the semester up…while other people were out there taking off work or out of school to help sandbag.  I just didn’t feel right about studying and taking gazillions of finals while all this was going on, even though I knew I absolutely had to; I would be facing horrendous grades and the wrath of Fontbonne if I didn’t show up every day this week.

As I’ve now emerged from my next-to-last final (and my last one is online) and the local businesses and homes are emerging from the flood, I’m having my own flood…a flood of gratitude.  Although I was not personally affected by the flood, I still empathize with those who are, and I send my heartfelt love and prayers to them.  And most of all, I consider the small annoyances of battling traffic, late nights up studying, hard finals, and anything else that I may have deemed negative this semester to be blessings in disguise — at least I have the means to attend college, and I safely (and on time!) got to and from all of the finals this week.  I encourage you all to keep that in mind as well, both in the present as finals wrap up and we anxiously await our grades, and in the future, whatever it may hold.

Blessings,

~Anna

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Lauren

Why Give Thanks?

by Lauren on November 17, 2016

in Uncategorized

I always have a lot to be thankful for. But this year was especially trying, as I’m sure it was for many of us. There are lots of different reasons. Some people are losing hope in a world where there is so much injustice. What better way to combat all the ugliness and bitterness than with gratitude, love, and kindness?

Sounds cheesy, I know, but I think it’s what we all need right now.

Thanksgiving itself is already a rough holiday, concerning its origins. Today, we celebrate a modern Thanksgiving where we gather around a table and feast with our closest family and friends. When you were a kid, think about what you were thankful for. I know we went around the table, and we all gave the same run-of-the-mill answer: “I’m thankful for family, friends, food, shelter…etc.”

If we go around the table this year, I’ll most likely start with that. I am eternally grateful for family and friends, a roof over my head, and food and water. This is already so much more than a lot of people have.

But I challenge you to go deeper. This year, I learned a lot about myself. Me and countless of other college students (in particular) struggle with anxiety and depression. In my parent’s day, people weren’t diagnosed for anxiety and depression–it wasn’t recognized. I’m so grateful for all the help and support I’ve received. I’m thankful for doctors and counselors. I’m thankful for my teachers and mentors, for being so understanding and willing to work with me. I’m thankful for my friends who didn’t abandon me in my time of need, but instead made sure to check in on and me daily, sometimes hourly.

It might be hard to give thanks. Sometimes, life isn’t so kind and there’s so much corruption, intolerance, and disrespect in our society. It’s hard to get out from under that cloud, to detach yourself from that mindset. But giving thanks for what we do have is a powerful thing. If you’re thankful for someone, you should let them know. Kindness like that spreads and it’s bigger than any hatred that exists. I’m thankful for Fontbonne and the people in it, who inspire me to pass on that kindness. Ya’ll have been so wonderful to me.

Also, I’m thankful for pancakes and 90s one-hit wonders 🙏

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Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.