A Heart of Thanksgiving

By Mackenzie Ross
Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi for 2013
One more mile.  I can do this.
As I pushed myself to finish the Beat Auburn Beat Hunger 5K last week, my mind was solely on finishing the race with a good time. Although I knew the race was to raise awareness about poverty in the state of Alabama, I hadn’t really thought much about the issue…until I neared the finish line.
Chalked on the ground beneath my feet was a message about the Hunger Banquet, and suddenly, my mind was no longer on the race but instead on my many blessings. 
How many times have I gone without a meal because I couldn’t afford food? Never. 
How many times have I slept outside in the cold because I didn’t have a home? Zero. 
How many times have I worn clothes that didn’t fit because I couldn’t afford new ones? None.
Since moving to college in August, my time has been consumed with going to class, joining new clubs, making new friends, and trying to keep up with the latest trends. But I have forgotten to be thankful.
I am incredibly fortunate to go to such an amazing school where I can expand my knowledge.  Everyday I have the opportunity to try something new and meet new people. I have more than enough food, and I have a spacious dorm to call home. My family is a constant source of encouragement, and my friends keep my grounded.
I am blessed. There is no doubt about it. Ever since the race last week, I have tried to view life from a different perspective—one of gratefulness. Oprah Winfrey put it perfectly when she said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” I challenge you to spend a few minutes of each day simply thinking about all you have to be thankful for.
As we near Thanksgiving, we should not only reflect on our many blessings, but we should also try to be a blessing to others. If nothing else, smile when you pass people on the streets. You never know how that little action can brighten someone’s day.
I did finish the Beat Auburn Beat Hunger 5K with a good time, but even more importantly, I finished with a new attitude. I learned to never take anything for granted but instead to appreciate everything—good or bad—that comes my way.
Mackenzie Ross is a college freshman at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Political Science. Originally from Meridian, MississippiMackenzie was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi for 2013. Learn more about Mackenzie here!

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