The Best Gift You Can Give


I pride myself in being a optimistic gal, always looking for the good, even when it seems impossible to find.

But, right now…

My heart is feeling sad.

Last night, my mom cooked her famous potatoes with garlic and parsley, and I invited over some friends. Over the course of several hours, we laughed, shared a great bottle of wine and, for a brief time, we forgot about what’s going on in the world.

After the evening was over, I decided to curl up on the sofa and watch the late night news.

I rarely watch TV (unless it’s Netflix), because it’s either depressing or useless, but I don’t want to be completely oblivious to the happenings in the world. So from time to time I tune in.

Within a couple of minutes of turning on the TV, I heard an anchorman tell the story of a young, precious boy who was abused and died at the hands of his own mother.

In that moment, the tears began to stream down my face.

Tears for that little boy, the victims of Paris, the refugees who are running for their lives, those who are living in fear…it all came pouring down my face.

All I could think about was while I was laughing and sipping wine, this little, innocent child was being abused and murdered.

Furthermore, hearts are breaking all over the world as violence and evil invade people’s lives.

The questions began to roll through my head, mostly about my own fortunate place in life.

I’m not sure if this ever happens to you, but….

Sometimes, I feel guilt about having such a beautiful life.

Sure, I’m no stranger to hardship.

An emotional childhood
Divorce x 2
Single parenthood
Battles with depression
Weight and body issues

But, when I think about it, all in all, I’ve been extremely blessed compared to:

Many parts of the world that have been torn apart by war
Extreme poverty
And, now, the little boy that I can’t get out of my head

It always leaves me to wonder:

How did I become so blessed?

I don’t have those answers.

But, here’s what I often have to remind myself:

(1)  If we want to truly help others, we must celebrate and honor our good fortune.

(2)  We must use our resources wisely to make the world (and ourselves) a better place.

While I sat there, feeling so much sadness for that little boy who was murdered (nonetheless by the person that should have loved him the most), along with my all of the other meaningless violence in our world, I made a silent commitment to me and to God.

To love more than I thought possible.
To be more grateful.
To give more.
To shine brighter in the darkness.

Living a beautiful, generous life is THE best gift you can give the world. {tweet it}

I also decided that I’m going to adopt a child for Christmas in honor of the little boy who’s celebrating in the heavens. Each year, there are children who will go unnoticed, who Santa Claus will pass by, whose hearts are breaking.

There are programs available in communities where we, as a community, can become a Santa to these kids.

As I started thinking about children, I also began to think about all the souls who could use some love this holiday season.

Here is a list of some of my favorite charities during the holidays.

I wanted to share this with you because I strongly believe this community can make the world a better place.

This is the good I seek, even when it seems there’s little left. I happen to believe there is far more light in the world than the media portrays, and I also believe that each of us can make an impact.

As we enter this season of giving, I simply feel compelled to ask you to think about your gifts to the world.

Not only can you give monetarily, but you can also offer the world one more smile, one more compliment, one more helping hand.

Who wants to join me in giving more this season?

In celebrating and honoring our good fortune.

And in using our resources to make the world (and ourselves) a better place.

Share with the French Kiss Life Community in the comments.

With a Grateful Heart,


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21 Responses to The Best Gift You Can Give

  1. Wow Tonya, very powerful message indeed. I feel the fact that we can still cry about these outrages proves that humanity and compassionate are not yet dead to the human race xx

  2. Good morning, all. I started to feel sad when reading this post, but then I remembered what Mr. Roger’s Mom told him when he saw scary things happen, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” And it’s not just the brave souls who train as professional helpers (thank you police and fire fighters and EMTs and everyone else) but the everyday person that pulled the pregnant woman in through the window in Paris, who dragged injured folks to safety at their own peril. The people who stop to help at car accidents. The people who shovel snow off of the sidewalks of neighbors. Small things like holding the door for the person behind you. There are always helpers. And we can each be one, every day.

    • Liz, I know my posts are usually Debby Downers, but I think it’s so important we acknowledge that we have so many beautiful hearts who, as you said, are helpers! And, I love how you framed it in something we can do every single day. Thank you!

  3. Your post today really zeroed in on what i was feeling after the Paris attacks, but they don’t get my fear and they don’t get my hate, because I want to feel loving and giving. Yes, I cried when I heard the news, out of compassion not fear, and then immediately donated to Doctors Without Borders. I don’t watch much TV news because I can get the highlights online without being drug down into the negativity and scare tactics. I choose to look for the good in the people and the beauty in the world. I commit to give from my heart year round rather than just at this season, to be open, more loving and appreciative. Thank you for reminding us of this and for sharing your vulnerability at a time when we are all feeling much of the same. We are all connected together in this community!

  4. Tonya, I think your comments are right on. I too believe the media overshadows the good. I always say the squeaky wheel gets the grease and that’s how I feel about all of the attention that is paid lately to bad behavior. From the outrageous “reality” shows to all of the negativity the media hungers for. Thank you for a place to come to where we can celebrate each other and enjoy all of the great things life as to offer. I too will be donating to children this holiday season. Here’s to you and your family. May you have the most relaxing, laugh filled Thanksgiving!!

  5. Tonya,
    I believe in my heart that we are blessed by being blessings… It is in the giving that the blessings come. I think you spoke so eloquently on that very subject this morning – you are a very generous giver and have a way of making each and every one of us feel special and loved.
    I love your suggestions on giving, but would also like to add my own favorite which has been Child Fund International (used to be Christian Children’s fund) located in Richmond, Va. I cannot speak highly enough of this wonderful organization – we have supported a little girl and her family in Brazil since she was four years old- Ana is now 17. I receive regular letters and photos from her that make me so very happy…
    Also, another idea for anyone who is an animal lover is to rescue a pet – we have added two precious puppies to our family this past year that would not be alive otherwise – they give us unconditional love – that is giving with a wonderful return. So many others waiting for a good home and some love…
    Thanks for this timely and heartfelt post, Tonya – you give so much joy and beauty to the world – please never feel guilty!!!

    • Such great suggestions Mary. You are such a loving, generous woman.

      And, I’m working on the guilty thing. I’ve come a loooonnnnggg way.

      Enjoy that warm sunshine.

      Happy Thanksgiving.

  6. I struggle with those feelings of guilt and the question of “How did I become so blessed?” fairly often. The guilt was there when I moved into my first house, and the guilt was there Nov 13 when I felt safe and secure, far from the conflicts and terror in the world. Your two reminders (which I’m sure I’ve heard my parents tell me a time or two), and all of your suggestions for giving back are truly wonderful to read. My father said the same thing about using our resources wisely, but in addition to giving back he also implied not being wasteful with things like water usage or energy. A simple reminder to be conscious of our blessings, give back, and not be wasteful, your message couldn’t have come at a better time. I also enjoyed reading the other ladies comments and suggestions above. Lot’s of love! <3

    • Katie, I have learned that guilt does not serve us (even though it still sometimes creeps in). I love your father’s advice. Be a good steward of all we have, and I believe we will be blessed beyond measure.

  7. And the Light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
    John 1:5
    Tonya, YOU are one of the lights and you have allowed us to join together to share in and contribute to that Light, of which there is great need. At times, it is difficult to see the goodness, kindness and compassion that does indeed exist in our world today. However, it’s brave and sensitive people, like you, who bring us together to share and revel in our higher and more noble qualities and aspirations. This is a wonderful, supportive community, for which I am grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Nichole, thank you so much for your kind words. I am in love with the French Kiss Life community and everything we stand for. It is an honor to have you as a part of it.

  8. Thank you Tonya, for showing us the way out of the dark things that come in this life by positioning ourselves to give. The most rewarding moments of my life have required that I give of myself, my time, my energy, my resources. How many times have I thought, ‘This is useless. I am so small.’ But with each small gift is such a large insurmountable reward.

    It is true every helping hand brings a brighter future. I am easily taxed, easily drained. Yet, so glad that you do not have to want to do all the good things that help. Sometimes I want to plug my ears, cover my eyes. I am just so glad for the times when I did not and look forward to the times when I will not.

    Each time we give, we impression that we are salvable. Yeah. Not always easy, usually not. But, SO worth it.

    Thank you for reminding us to remain pliable and salvable.

    Happy holidays, God bless you and yours.

    • Hi Alex! I hear you. Sometimes, I want to tune it out too, but I have found that I actually feel better when I look ahead with love and strength. Love to you!

  9. This is one of my favorite posts. I am grateful for how articulate you are and for your clarity, it is a beautiful thing, as is the gift of this post.

    Just this morning I was in the exact same space. Feeling a little guilty as I too choose not to listen to the news. Knowing that if there is something going on in the world that I need to know about there are other sources that will bring that information to me. Which is what happened to me this morning as I watched video after video of Syria and children and lives being affected by a war that I can’t even fathom. And I wondered if I was being foolish and selfish.

    As I looked this morning at these feelings I realized that there is nothing that I can do save donating money (done) to help. I can send love and yes that helps but…. Really now in this moment the only thing I could do is be grateful and cherish the world and gifts I have. To offer these up as literal sacred offerings. Like someone lighting a candle or bringing flowers to a shrine. Uber appreciating, celebrating, and offering up the beauty in my life to life. Enjoying the gifts I am given. An alignment came to me as I was reading your post. That my way to help was to cease being at war with myself. Meaning no more guilt, or judgments of where I am in my life, having where others don’t etc. Just acceptance and kindness and love offered to those part of me that are judging this and thus are in conflict with my authenticity. And instead celebrating and being grateful for all that I have. But there was a nugget missing in this for me and I still had a wiggly little piece that felt guilty “who am I to….” piece.

    Reading your statement aligned it for me. It brought that little wiggly piece into clarity for me. “Living a beautiful, generous life is THE best gift you can give the world.” YES!!! I am grateful for that. Thank you!


  10. Bravo, another meaningful and poignant message from your beautiful heart. I have to share a recent experience that really drove home our blessings. While celebrating our 15 th wedding anniversary on an Azamara luxury cruise through Turkey and Greece last summer. We saw something that will be forever in my heart and mind. We witnessed a small life boat on the early morning while enjoying mimosas on our balcony. The boat was sputtering under the weight of 25 people (including a couple of small children and a couple women) in a boat made for 8-10 people. Obviously I freaked and called the personal to tell them what we saw. They said they were aware and contact d the Greece port athorities and they were on thier way. Our ship stayed in a holding pattern until they arrived. This drama went on for an hour and we found out they were Syrian refugees escaping the civil unrest and persecution of there homeland. It was heartbreaking to think how bad it would have to be to risk your life to escape with. Ithings but the clothes on tour back. Talk about counting your blessings when seeing first hand how dire others have it. This happens on 2 mornings while sailing the islands, truly a testament to the terror some live under and what they are willing to risk for freedom.
    I do count my blessings and try to help others who are less fortunate in my community as well as when we travel. Either monetarily or with my time (this way fills my heart the most). Delivering school supplies to tiny schools overlooked by local government in Costa Rica on our surf trips are always a highlight. As well working with local Miami charities Joshua’s heart (stomping out hunger) and C.A.T.S. (We adopted both our 4 legged furies from them). I know we are so blessed to serve others, it’s a gift.
    There are so many charities and everyone can find something that moves them be it children, pets, environment, hunger, you name it. One thing I’d like to point out is a great site where you can see how the larger charities rate. It’s called It is a wealth of information for those new or wanting to know where charities rate. It lets you know how much CEOs are paid and how much of your donation make it to those in need.
    Cheers to another amazing post by you Tonya. You are truly my inspiration and I’m so happy to be a part of your FKL community!!!

  11. Reading this again. It is so well articulated that I’m wishing for it to be “sent out” as a Love Note again. Or something akin. It’s too valuable a reminder to not be offered frequently. We all want to make life better for others and this reminds us not to despair. Thanks.

  12. Tonya, what a wonderful post!!! My parents always taught me that we are blessed to be a blessing, and to use our time, talents and money for blessing others. It can be so easy for us to just focus on living a beautiful life that we may overlook those who are hurting or in need. Thank you for keeping us focused on making beautiful lives not only for ourselves but for those around us.

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