Generosity + Compassion: Creating Impact out of Gratitude

I spend a lot of time focusing in on gratitude; on being thankful for the people, opportunities, and quality of my life – and I should – I’m very fortunate.  However, one thing that can be arguably more important than showing gratitude, is giving to others. Generosity and compassion, the cousins of gratitude, they generate action that speaks louder than any words and have the power to, and have a universally positive impact.  Day 6 of #23to30: generosity pays back ten fold so you can give more – make it part of your growth strategy.

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Sometimes the effort is small; smiling at strangers, holding doors, tipping your barista, walking the dogs at the SPCA in your free time, skipping one mocha a month to donate the few (but impactful) dollars to a great cause.  Show love, receive love, spread love.  It’s easier than it seems, and it doesn’t have to cost a thing.  Other times, the effort is larger; helping a friend in need, mentoring a child (or several), donating to a cause you believe in, giving your time and energy to bring some light to your community (or any community) during a difficult time.  Even the large efforts typically don’t cost anything – and even when they do, the return is greater than you can imagine.

Over the last month our sweet Charlottesville town has been turned upside down, again.  Over the last few years we’ve been slightly unsettled, aware of a lingering dark cloud that could not be explained.  The unknown can often be the biggest threat to security, and it certainly felt that way in our tight community, in this happiest city in the United States.  Despite the darkness, it’s been amazing to see the unity and light that has come from neighbors near and far, the UVa community, and our incredible network of small business owners and clients.  We all feel an ownership and responsibility to protect our sweet home, and that has been so apparent.

During the breaking news in the search for Hannah I followed much of the news from our local NBC29 and Merch Colony, who both provided excellent up to the minute updates.  It was through a comments thread on Merch Colony’s Facebook page that the idea was born to do something (separate to the gallant search efforts this community has participated in), something to bring strength, positive change, and solidarity back into the mix.  At this point, the rest is history, and this event was born out of the generosity of the event sponsors: Sam Spillman from Balanced Chiropractic, Gordon Emery from Charlottesville Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the IX building, and our team at MADabolic Cville.

So here it is my friends, a day of FREE self-defense workshops, open to anyone in the community; anyone who has felt the darkness or been the light here in our beautiful town; anyone who wants to empower themselves or others; just anyone. So join us — all you need to do is sign up here (create an account – takes 30 seconds- and find Saturday October 18th on the schedule to reserve your spot).  We will add more times as needed.  We will be taking donations (mainly items) to benefit the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (S.A.R.A) here in Charlottesville, which is in need of many basic necessities and personal hygiene items for those they help.

Fuel sweat grow: self-defense at IX MADabolic Cville

And as if that wasn’t enough excitement for a little Saturday in October, join us at the United Way (Thomas Jefferson Area) Impact Bash on Saturday night at the Jefferson City Center for a night of guaranteed fun, community, and generous impact right here in Charlottesville.  So much to be grateful for, and even more to be generous with – please join us.

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Yoga + Doing (Fooding) Good

Sometimes I think about the amazing people who I’ve been lucky enough to meet, and work with, throughout my travels and I feel a little taken aback by how disproportionately amazing my friends and networks are.  I can never keep track of all of the inspiring projects, developing passions, and flat-out good that is happening around me, and never tire from getting excited by other people’s biggest goals.   There are so many amazing possibilities to create in this life, and so little time, so sometimes the only way to stay connected to all of the different tangents is to live vicariously through my friends (read: divide and conquer people, divide and conquer).

When it comes to inspiring a love of Yoga, healthy living, and giving back, there are two people who just fly off the charts in terms of their inspiration rankings.  These two people are Katie Levans and Adam Whiting.

Adam + Katie

I met both of these rock stars back in 2011, when I moved to Charlotte for the second time, and was working with lululemon.  Katie was working at lululemon (with me), going to grad school for her Masters degree in Nutrition (occasionally tossing around the idea of getting her PhD), religiously taking + talking about Tanner’s superflow class at Y2, and blogging on her always witty and entertaining blog: Sweet Tater Blog.  Impressive as that list is typed out, my first two thoughts about Katie were: 1) this girl has crazy (awesome) hair, and 2) she really loves cats. and yoga. and probably cats doing yoga (?). Yes, most definitely.

The more I got to know Katie the more I came to understand that she is passionate about honesty, about animals (on the whole), about nutrition and healthy living for happiness and balance in life. Most importantly she is incredibly real.  With Katie, what you see (or read) is what you get.  It’s the truth, no frills, no embellishments, and absolutely no fake self promotion – which is a very refreshing and rare quality among bloggers and reality stars (oh yeah, you might have seen her on TV before).  Cliffs notes: Katie is awesome.

I met Adam around the same time that I met Katie, centered partly around yoga since he was teaching at Y2 in Charlotte, but mostly because when I insisted on having our lemon team do two nights of consecutive midnight yoga to support and promote 24 Hours of Booty, a bike race to honor and support the cancer community Adam volunteered when none of our other ambassadors could do it (despite having to get up early for his own marathon training in the morning).

late night Yoga @ the Epicenter to promote midnight yoga at 24 Hours of Booty

When your first experience with someone is them selflessly giving their time, passion, and energy to benefit others, and something much larger than themselves, it makes a pretty big impact.  The almost unbelievable thing about Adam is that it wasn’t just a one-time thing.  Adam is constantly inspiring others, living his passion, and building a community of amazing yogis and people everywhere he goes.   This week he is in Whistler representing lululemon Southpark at the Ambassador Summit, and undoubtedly spreading his greatness.

So, what’s my point with all of this?  First to give some props to two of my favorite people.  And secondly to let you know that they’re hitting the road together to share their passions with you (hopefully).  On May 11th they’ll be coming up to Opal Yoga in Charlottesville to give us a visit, and workshop with us on inversions and backbends.

Against Gravity: Yoga Workshop
email OpalYoga@gmail.com to reserve a spot! cost: $30.

So, the yoga was just part 1.  Part 2 of this trip to inspiration station is Katie’s ‘dream it, do it’ approach to creating more significant global change when it comes to ending hunger.  Feeding the hungry, and equitable distribution of our available food resources (healthy food, at that) is a common thread through most of Katie’s soap box moments, and she just recently put into motion a brain child of her own to take the fight against hunger to a simple and social platform.  It’s called Plate Share.

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Check out Katie talking about Plate Share with Southpark Magazine (via the Charlotte Observer).

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plate share

I absolutely love everything about this.  Using social media for good, using change to create change, and supporting the notion that having (good) food should be a right of all human beings.

Cliffs notes: Check out Adam and Katie at any of their current places of business, on any of their social networks, and if you live in Charlottesville, come out and meet them when they’re here in May.  They’re awesome, and we will be peddling them around to all of our favorite locavore establishments, which is to say: everywhere.