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Isn’t gratitude a beautiful thing? Something good first must happen in order to bring it to life. Its sibling emotions are sympathy, empathy, humility and generosity. It is a catalyst that enables us to think beyond ourselves.

As you indubitably have noticed, the beginning of November ushered in, quite literally overnight, the onslaught of the holiday season. Loud and ubiquitous countdowns to Hanukkah (32 days!) and Christmas (50 days!) hound us via every possible outlet. This frenetic holiday energy builds on its own velocity with each passing minute, and we willingly buckle our seatbelts for the ride.

Guess what? It doesn’t have to be that way. Throughout this month, which we’ve dubbed the “Grateful” State of Mind, I urge you to resist the inertia of this temporary hysteria. Let November be a time of gratitude, spent doing the things that make you happiest and most thankful.

On a frenzied day I center myself by taking a walk and, importantly, looking up — whether literally glancing skyward or, at the very least, tearing my eyes away from my phone’s screen. Living in a city of incredible and varied architecture, dramatic skies, and sprinkled with an #OnlyInNewYork surprise or two reminds me that the world is a big, creative, unpredictable and delightful place to inhabit.

These quiet, reflective moments of gratitude and awe for one’s sense of place are an experience available to all New Yorkers, even as the landscape varies. I have found myself breathless in every region of this state — surveying the multi-hued Autumn leaves from atop Elmira’s Jerusalem Hill in the Southern Tier; floating amidst the powerful majesty of Niagara Falls in Western New York; fly fishing in the Adirondacks’ Ausable River in the shadow of Whiteface Mountain.

Our natural landscape is unbeatable, and we enter this month with the exciting announcement that our 215 state parks and historic sites will benefit from $900 million of capital improvements over the next five years. As New Yorkers, these spaces (and it’s a long list) are our legacies to claim, to participate in, to preserve, to savor and share. I recommend a journey to Hudson’s Olana State Historic Site, where you can stand in the footprints and plein air studios of the Hudson River School artists — you’ll understand what compelled them to paint these vistas; or spend the day in Buffalo, replete with world-class architecture — Frank Lloyd Wright! Eliel and Eero Saarinen! H.H. Richardson! Louis Sullivan! — on every block.

Inanimate treasures aside, the greatest part of being a New Yorker is interaction with other New Yorkers. I love to start my day by reading Humans of New York’s latest post. The best part of my job is the inspiration I derive from the integrity and perseverance of the Makers whose work is represented on our New York States of Mind Marketplace. There’s no better time of year to meet your fellow New Yorkers than this season in which compassion carries extra currency. Organizations like the New York State Commission on National and Community Service, VolunteerCNY, Long Island Volunteer Center, VolunteerWNY, Volunteer New York!, New York Cares, and even Meals on Wheels, a national organization with chapters throughout New York State, are great resources for connecting to local altruistic opportunities.

Ten months of 2015 have passed in a New York minute; before it leaves forever, savor the good things that are there for your pleasure, already waiting to bring you joy.

…And since holiday shopping is inevitable, consider gifting the gorgeous products on our Marketplace, crafted by New York Makers, who bring beautiful objects to life each day in our great State; it delivers the ease of online shopping (register for 20% off your order!) with the benefit of supporting New York’s small businesses. If you’re up for a road trip, pay us a visit at the Basilica Farm & Flea pop-up marketplace and farmstand in Hudson, November 27-29 to shop a selection of these items in person — we’d love to meet you and exchange our New York States of Mind.

From New York City,
Christine