Charity Holiday

December Letter from the Editor

Thursday, December 01, 2016 Jenny

Welcome to December readers!

This month as we draw closer to the holidays, as is the case each year, we focus on the idea of giving and charity. Rather than push the idea of materialism, we wanted to find a way to give back to our communities. The Halfstack Contributors and I will be focusing on sharing stories on organizations, people and businesses making a positive impact on the community around them on the blog. This is also the focus of our Holiday issue that goes live in just 2 short weeks. I am actually finalizing layouts as I type this and I am beyond proud of the content we are sharing and so excited to reveal our cover story and feature. The woman on our cover is an inspiring individual who faced the greatest loss a mother could, but who has managed to overcome and help others on her journey. Her story gives me chills every time I think about it. I don't want to reveal too much, but please check back December 15th, to learn more about Destiny and her story as well as to see the rest of the wonderful features in this issue.

These last few months, the election really put us through the ringer. We've seen some harsh things, but we have also witnessed wonderful things that truly allow us to put faith back into humanity. So many people around the world are making an impact both large and small. As I personally reflect on this last year, I find that life has really been put into perspective for me. I found I have grown the most and found beauty in some of the hardest and most difficult times I have faced. I have found that I am most grateful and fulfilled when I am doing things that don't just benefit me, but that benefit others.

I realize the holidays aren't always a bright spot in everyone's life. Over the last 3 years, this time of the year put a lot of pain in my heart. The rock of my family, my Abuela suddenly passed away during this time 15 years ago and our family was never truly the same - Christmas and Dia de los Reyes (3 Kings Day) is always a difficult time of remembrance for my family. I lost by abuelo (grandfather) on my dads side last year on Christmas Day. Saying goodbye with my cousins and brother on Christmas Eve was incredibly difficult. I was distanced from my parents for quite a few years, but this year my mother is back in my life, but I haven't quite reconnected with my dad. I always put on a bright face and I stayed strong for my daughters, my family and my brother, but these were times of struggle for me.

Yet, this past year I really pushed myself through a perspective change.  I realized that there can not be light without dark. I realized that there has to be balance and that the bad exists in order for there to be good. I found that as long as I made the choice to find my inner peace, my joy and appreciated the immense blessing I have, that even the darkest of days will not overtake the brightness in my life. I personally know the heartache that the holidays can bring and I hope that if any of you out there are reading this and are facing similar times, know that you are not alone. Know that this too will pass. Know that you are loved and that you are stronger than you will ever realize. Keep going.

This time of the year, I like taking time to watch movies with my girls. I have been working hard to help them learn that the holidays are not only about gifts, but also about family, community and helping others. I try to instill in them the idea of helping others throughout the year, but I find it even more important during this time. One movie that is a go to for me, is It's a Wonderful Life. It's a movie that I first watched with my father when I was younger. It truly impacted me when I was a kid  and it's message stands true more so today than ever. During a time where we are burdened by the expectations of society, we are connected constantly through social media and we are force fed the ideals of consumption on the daily, it can be difficult to not compare your life to others. It can be so easy to feel as if you are not enough. It can be incredibly simple to just forget about community.

Yet, this movie always reminds me about what is truly worth my heart in my life. It reminds me that in life, it’s not just about us. Other lives matter. We are better, richer, and our lives are fuller because of other people. It reminds me that when we hurt, we hurt others. When we are in pain, we tend to feel as if we are suffering alone, Yet, this is never the case. When someone we love hurts – we hurt alongside them. We NEED community. We need people in our life. We never understand this more than when we are in need. I feel like I have made it through my tough days because of the people who are around me and because of my creative outlet and the team I work alongside on this website and publication. So, if you are reading this- THANK YOU for being a bright spot in my life. THANK YOU for your support and love.

The two most important lessons I learned from this film is that we seldom know the impact we have on others and that it is so much more fruitful to be a person of integrity than to be rich. This year I have questioned my journey often. I worry if what I am doing in terms of my teaching career and my creative pursuits are making an impact. I have wondered why I am not making more money and what that says about me. I questioned my choice to teach and run small businesses and if I am good enough. Then, I get notes thanking me from former students or see them doing great things on their own and I realize that is what makes my job worth it. Just recently, a former student and current Halfstacker: Kali Koler of Style Conscious just released her own Indie Zine on Issuu: ZOLA. Her vision amazes me and I actually had the honor of contributing to her beautiful magazine. Go take a look HERE. I get emails from people who are inspired by our publication and I know that I can't give up. I think about the future I am building for my daughters and my community with Bella+Sophia clothing and I know I can't stop now.  We often don't realize the good we are doing. I think this is humbling and it gives me so much hope. When we help others, when put our all into making a difference - we have a much greater impact on the world than we ever realize. I realize that I am wealthier than I could have ever imagined. I have the wealth of family, health, friends and the ability to connect with people through my simple words on this site and in each issue. For that, I am humbled and grateful. 

This holiday season, think about how you can make your world and your community a better place. I hope you will find inspiration in the upcoming issue and the different organizations we are featuring that can always use an extra hand or donation. 

Happy Holidays Friends, I'll see ya'll in another 2 week for Halfstack's Annual Giving Issue.

Warm Wishes,
Jen Lezan - Editor in Chief 

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