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Living in Gratitude

Over my 49 years, I’ve had to learn how to live in gratitude.  In the past, I could be and often was grateful for things, people, and opportunities that came into my life, but I wasn’t living in a state of sustained gratitude.

Owning The Curious George Store was one of the biggest reasons that I am now capable of living in gratitude.  Having never before owned a business, I had NO idea of what I was in for when I bought it. But some little voice relentlessly insisted that I had no choice: our friend Curious George was calling to me. And so, I did what any sane and reasonable person would (not) do in that situation: I closed my eyes and leapt, both feet forward.  Turns out, the little bugger was right.  The Store has brought so many gifts, learnings, and so much love and generosity of spirit into my life. It has been such a powerful force that even with the incredible difficulties, obstacles, and challenges I’ve faced in the past year and a half, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

For me, not knowing a thing about what I needed to know turned out to be the best place from which to start.  I had absolutely no choice but to rely on the help given to me in so many ways; incredibly smart, gifted and skilled people that DID know what they were doing, opportunities I had no clue were even out there, and support and love from countless people, yourselves included.

So, I’m sure you can imagine, all of this kicked my gratitude into high gear.  When you bear witness, as I have, to the amount and sheer force of love that I’ve been so lucky to see and receive, I imagine even the greatest of cynics wouldn’t be able to remain so: gratitude is such a bigger force and stronger place in which to live.

And now I find myself amid a pandemic, social/racial/cultural/economic injustice, political wars, fear and hatred. Yet, I remain happy. It’s not that I’m unaffected by it all – of course I am – I’m biracial, bipolar, and at the moment, have lost my business.  And yet, because of gratitude, I can and do remain happy.  Gratitude as opened a space within me that can only be filled with acceptance, grace, and joy.  It is all of you that are filling that space.

The auction was a huge reminder of why that gratitude space is so powerful to me.  The enthusiasm, energy, and love brought by each of you was nothing short of amazing.  The grace, patience, and support you all showed – sitting through technical difficulties and the time it took us to learn – was completely astounding.

I am so grateful to each and every one of you – whether you took part in the auction or just now randomly happened across a blog post about a girl, a monkey, a store, and gratitude – you, as individuals and collectively, make me so incredibly grateful to belong to and be supported by one of the strongest, kindest communities I’ve ever come across: The Curious George Community. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind  – the auction was just living proof – that every last person in our CG Community holds the same qualities I mentioned above: acceptance, grace, patience, energy, enthusiasm, and love.  And because you chose to share all of them with me, I am filled with unending gratitude and support.

So, to all my Curious friends, I say thank you.  Your support is the wind beneath my wings.  Let’s work together to build a space and place that can act as a launching pad: a place that is about all things Curious George – a space where we can teach our kids or anyone else who may need to feel the acceptance, joy, and love that the Curious George Community so readily provides.

Keep coming back – make your stake in the Curious George Community and help me build what’s to come.  Make sure to keep checking in – we’ll be offering opportunities to do just that in the very near future.  And please, keep showing your generosity and love, which makes me certain that through the obstacles and challenges waiting down the road, I will nevertheless remain safe and happy in gratitude.

 

 

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Open Letter to the Curious George Community

I am reaching out to you today to confirm for those of you who know, and to inform those of you who have not yet heard, that The Curious George Store is closed.  But do not despair; this is far from over! I’ve closed the store, but my vision hasn’t changed.  My passion hasn’t changed.  I haven’t changed.  I’m still learning, growing, evolving – just as Curious George does.  Every adventure contains a lesson and involves community: friends and family that individually and collectively love and look after George when he needs help.

As a child, reading the Curious George books, I took great comfort in knowing that The Man in the Yellow Hat would always be there to support George and help him to find a path forward through the complicated troubles he found himself in. The Man in the Yellow Hat is George’s most cherished person, and George knows he is always safe and loved when he’s with him. This is a time when we all need a Man in the Yellow Hat.  We all feel unsafe, a little (or a lot) lost, afraid, lonely.  And like George, I find my Man in the Yellow Hat in my community of cherished friends who are supporting me as we transition and discover ways to better serve our community going forward.

I remember the first time I (re)read the original Curious George story as an adult.  Reading it to my son, Jose, I was struck – offended – by the beginning of the story:  The Man in the Yellow Hat goes to Africa, puts a sack over a little brown monkey, and loads him onto a ship with plans to put him behind bars in a zoo.  You can see where I’m going – the disappointment went straight to my core: my beloved Curious George books were built on racism!

It wasn’t until I learned the story of H.A. and Margaret Rey, author and illustrator of the original Curious George stories, that I could understand and see things differently.  The Reys, like George, were forced from the home that they loved.  In 1940, the Nazi front left them no choice but to leave the continent aboard a ship.  They eventually found their way to the U.S. and into a safe and accepting community in Cambridge, MA.  They, like George, went from a place where they very much belonged to feeling lost, adrift, and displaced until they landed in a community that took them in and acted as their Man in the Yellow Hat – providing acceptance, connection, and belonging.

As I learned the history behind Curious George, it completely changed how I felt about the beginning of the story.  In fact, I was ashamed that I leapt to that conclusion and judgement without looking for the WHY.  When I allowed myself to open to other possibilities, other reasons for that beginning, I learned a great deal.  For me, understanding the Reys’ history gave me compassion and illustrated the adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover (or in this instance, beginning)”.  I’m a better, more evolved person because of that learning and understanding.

I write all this because it illustrates what I believe we all need now: community – a place where we belong and can find the acceptance, security, and connection that The Man in the Yellow Hat gives to George.  We need a place where we can be curious and adventurous – where we all learn and evolve.  My vision for the store has always centered around learning, connection, community, and belonging.  And so, while the store is no longer, there’s no reason to stop believing in vision, in the future.  For those of you out there who believe in this vision too, I’m calling on you to act as The Man in the Yellow Hat for The Curious George Store, on this new journey. Together, we can shape and mold something stronger, more evolved.  Together, our community – the Curious George Community – can find ways to include and better serve all communities.

To that end, I’d like to introduce you to Curious George & Co.  I am beginning to post content for all of us to consider, weigh in on, and put our community voice forward.  The content is for kids and adults: blogs, questions, interviews, plus activities and games for kids.  I am calling out to our community to come together, learn, accept, evolve, support, and open to new possibilities.  Let’s rely on and learn from each other so we can be Curious compassionate ambassadors; taking the acceptance, possibilities, lessons, security, and belonging with us into our expanded worlds, like a ripple that extends into the entire ocean.  I’m pretty curious to see what our ripples can shift and create – what we as a community can do, and where we can go. Aren’t you?