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Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

Grateful for health, 12 Days of Gratitude

“He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything. “

Thomas Carlyle

It is so easy to take health for granted until we meet a physical or emotional challenge.  When we have good health, we are productive for ourselves, our family and society.  When we don’t, we can become inactive, feel hopeless or disengage from meaningful relationships.

Years ago we didn’t have the knowledge or technology for the prevention, treatment and healing of deadly diseases that we do today.  While the rising costs of health care is a subject of great debate, few can argue that the dramatic increase in life expectancy over the past 50 years is one of the greatest achievements of our times.

The application of that knowledge through better nutrition, exercise and meditation allows us to take a more active role in our own health care.  Doing so can increase the quality of our lives and potentially decrease health care costs for ourselves and generations to come.

If you have good health, take a moment to toast to it.  As you enjoy time with friends and family, realize that health really is the greatest gift, and the truest wealth, that we have.

Michelle Foster, Simi Valley HospitalMichelle Foster, Director, Simi Valley Hospital

Michelle Foster is highly aware of the critical link in the health care chain that Simi Valley Hospital plays.  At this time of year, Michelle reflects on her own good health and that of her family.  She is especially grateful for the compassionate caregivers at her hospital and for the financial support the Simi Valley Hospital Foundation provides to enhance patient care.

View Michelle’s Video – Click Here

All in the Family

12 Days of Gratitude, BrightWise, torn families, broken hearts

“In every conceivable manner, the family is a link to our past, a bridge to our future.”

Alex Haley

Many of us have fond memories of our childhood—our mothers making us sack lunches and sending us off to school, playing with our brothers and sisters in the backyard, or having dinner with our family every night.  And although these memories may not seem special, something we expected and received without a thought, family is a blessing that not everyone is granted.

At the holiday times, and throughout the year, we are grateful for our family while recognizing that many children live in dysfunctional settings with abuse, alcoholism or other addictions that tear the family apart.

High functioning families are built-in support systems.  Good parents nurture us as we grow and continue to support us into adulthood.  Siblings are confidantes and friends we can rely on in times of trouble.  Family gatherings at holidays remind us of the warmth and compassion present in the world and give us a glimpse into heaven.  At their best, our families are more than the blood that binds us together—they are the strength and love we can count on.

We may have our share of family troubles—the Aunt who gets on our nerves, the Uncle who drinks one too many eggnog, or the relentless nagging from our parents.  But when we stop to think about the simple joys of family that many are not fortunate to have, these troubles seem a small price to pay.

After all, as the saying goes: family is mostly sweet, with a few nuts thrown in.

Henri Bollinger – Principal, Henri Bollinger Associates

Henri Bollinger is an entertainment publicist. As head of his own PR firm, and acting president of the Entertainment Publicists Professional Society, Henri knows how to weave a good story for his high-profile clients.  But his authenticity as a true humanitarian shines through in his work with the Children’s Bureau of Southern California.  Henri’s appreciation for his success, and his gratitude for having a loving family, moves him to advocate for the Children’s Bureau whose goal is to “create a world where all children grow up with endless possibilities and potential.”

View Henri’s Video – Click Here

Abilty to Soar

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

Thornton Wilder

We don’t have to leap over buildings in a single bound, but at least we can do simple tasks.  Cooking a meal, tying our shoelaces, sealing an envelope or getting in and out of buildings does not test our physical or emotional endurance.  But for millions of Americans with disabilities, even these daily activities can be a daunting challenge.

While we all have limitations, those with severe physical or mental disabilities face a greater hardship accessing the privileges of citizenry.

Sometimes our awareness of these privileges become like wallpaper; we are oblivious to the fact that we can think, eat, read, write, work, drive, make change and adapt to adverse circumstances with ease.

We should not pity those with disabilities. But, as we start each day, we can give thanks that we have the ability to take care of ourselves as well as help others who can’t.

Marielle DeFazio – Vice-President / Director of Ventura County, PathPoint

Marielle DeFazioMarielle DeFazio is grateful to work in a county that supports people with disadvantages and disabilities.  Marielle works for Pathpoint, a non-profit organization that provides training and support services to help the disadvantaged and disabled live and work as valued members of their community, giving them the ability to soar.

View Marielle’s Video – Click Here

The Great American Volunteer

12 Days of Gratitude, BrightWise, Volunteerism

“They give their time. They have the heart.”

Author unknown

While it might be better to give than receive, how can we give to charities when money is so scarce?  The answer: Volunteer.

Volunteering is a gift of time worth as much or more than any financial support. Whether you teach adults to read, serve the homeless, or walk, run or ride a bike for sponsorship money, time is energy.  And when energy is expended with love, you multiply your impact in perpetuity.

Volunteering imbues a sense of dignity and humility that animates and revitalizes the spirit.  As former President Jimmy Carter commented, “I’ve learned the secret that so many other volunteers have learned: you always get much more out of the work than you put in.”

Seeing improvement in the quality of other people’s lives by volunteering or participating with non-profit organizations provides the personal satisfaction that you made a difference.  And the possibilities for volunteering are endless, enjoyable and interesting.  So get involved. Volunteer today.

Julian Dillon, American Diabetes Association, 12 Days of Gratitude, BrightWiseJulian Dillon – American Diabetes Association

Julian Dillon knows a lot about the power of volunteerism.  As Manager of the American Diabetes Association’s “Tour de Cure”, Julian is thankful for the thousands of volunteers who help raise money to find a cure for diabetes by bicycling through Long Beach.  To learn more about participating in the May 1st, 2011 event, watch Julian’s video.

View Julian’s Video – Click Here

A Bridge Linking Past and Future

“People who don’t cherish their elderly have forgotten whence they came and whither they go. “

Ramsey Clark

Our elderly are like valued heirlooms that have a patina, transforming an element of space and time from used things to treasures.

How can we begin to count all the benefits the elderly have bestowed upon us?  For their dedication and hard work, their wisdom and courage, and the generosity they have passed on, we are grateful.

Respect for the elderly is not highly valued in our Western culture, but it should be.  The old are not forgotten; they are living, breathing reminders of a world we never knew.  We can learn so much listening to their stories.  Appreciation for our elders begins at home, by speaking with our parents and grandparents and listening to their pearls of wisdom.  Our elders have lived through times that have taught them strength and courage; they have lived through wars, cultural revolutions, technological advancements, and tough economic conditions.

Those who are approaching the end of their earthly existence can offer us a glimpse into the past and help us shape our futures.  Their appreciation for life, gratitude for the little things, and warm smiles are a reminder to us to follow in their footsteps.

I Am Mortal, Therefore I Live

12 Days of Gratitude, BrightWise

“Don’t fear your mortality, because it is this very mortality that gives meaning and depth and poignancy to all the days that will be granted to you.”

Paul Tsongas

How can we be grateful for death?  The inevitable end of our physical existence, the end of what we know and the beginning of the unknown, seems unthinkable.  Is death not what we fear most in life?  Instead of fearing that which we can’t escape, why not embrace it and use it to empower us?  Without the promise of death, our life would have no meaning.  Knowing that one day we will be gone, we can embrace our lives fully and aim to improve ourselves to leave a lasting legacy.

Because our days are numbered and finite, we can rise each morning with a renewed sense of optimism and peace.  Joy can only come from knowing that we must appreciate the little things, revel in the small wonders of life, and not sweat the small stuff.  Eventually, our physical selves will no longer be present and able to admire this world.

Death paves the way for new life.  Its inevitability brings us a sense of purpose; to be here and now, to love instead of hate, to hope instead of to despair, and to embrace life instead of living in fear of death.

A World of Friendship

12 Days of Gratitude, BrightWise, A World of Friendship

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

Anais Nin

We are placed on Earth for a purpose, a purpose for which we may never know, but truly, we are meant to share our experiences with others.  Though we tend to focus on our individual achievements and maintaining a sense of independence, we need not define our life in such narrow terms.  As human beings we are meant to be interdependent, to form friendships with others who are also understanding of the human experience.

By recognizing that we are not alone in this world, by sharing time with friends who love us for who we are and accept us with all of our faults, we open up the door to a new world of possibilities that we never knew existed.  Having someone to rely on, people we can laugh and cry with, and someone to walk hand in hand with is one of the greatest gifts we can receive in life.

For friends who walk along with us on our journeys, we are grateful.