November 2016

“Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou

 It’s that special time of the year — time to give thanks for all the good we have been blessed with.  As Thanksgiving fast approaches in the USA, I want to share one simple way for you to make this a truly joyful time, regardless of your present circumstances.

I hope 2016 has been a wonderful year so far for you and yours, as it has been for my family — a year of fulfillment, abundance, adventure and opportunity. But perhaps it hasn’t been so wonderful, as you may have experienced profound loss, a health challenge, financial deprivation or worry that someone you love is grappling with a serious illness or addiction.  My family experienced a very painful loss with the death of our beloved canine companion, Samantha, who passed away in October at age 16.

Whatever you are experiencing, I am confident that you know you are still profoundly blessed. Just living in Western Civilization affords us personal freedoms, security, comfort and economic opportunity far beyond what much of humanity enjoys. Simply having four walls and a roof, potable water, indoor plumbing, electricity and food in the refrigerator makes us look like royalty to billions of people who share our planet.

Longtime readers will recall that last year I created a Pay-It-Forward Challenge and invited all to participate. It was such an inspiration to hear from you about the many creative ways you found to help someone else, show them that they are important to you, or simply brighten their day and put a smile on their face. 

Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret, also wrote a book called The Magic, which asserts that GRATITUDE is the most powerful positive emotion we can feel.  Being grateful for whatever you have now puts the Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) into action to attract MORE of what you love to you. This book shares many, many ways to rev up your capacity for gratitude and thus attract more good into your life.

But there is a step beyond simply feeling grateful that can make your life overflow with abundance. Putting your gratitude into ACTION demonstrates your commitment and faith that unlimited good is on its way to you from God/The Universe. And Thanksgiving provides the perfect time to go beyond simply saying a special grace at the table. However big or small your current resources, you can actively DO something to bless someone, which will inevitably bless you as well.

Last year during Thanksgiving week, a stranger unexpectedly made my day by paying $5.00 toward my purchase at Starbucks.  It turned my frazzled morning around and put a smile on my face that lasted throughout the day. That simple kindness inspired me to buy a bunch of $5.00 gift cards and begin giving them out every few days to the baristas at the register to distribute to random people in line behind me. It felt even better when it was anonymous.  In fact, it felt so good that I kept it up throughout the rest of the Holidays! 

I can’t wait to repeat this joyful practice again from Thanksgiving through the end of this year. I trust that each of those surprised strangers will also pay it forward to make someone else feel special and cared about. Just think! One $5.00 gift card could create an endless chain of joy and gratitude, one cup at a time!

Your Pay-It-Forward contribution to others’ joy doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it doesn’t have to involve money at all. Here are just a few examples:

  • Today, the stranger with a full cart made me smile by letting me go ahead of him in the long checkout line at the supermarket.
  • I took two hours out of my Veterans Day holiday to help a sick friend run errands when she was too weak to drive herself. I enjoyed helping her more than I would have enjoyed the leisure time.
  • Many of my coaching clients are sending Thanksgiving cards this week to surprise their customers and business partners with a heartfelt expression of gratitude for their friendship and support.
  • My friend and fellow-coach, Bob Perks, uses his considerable musical talent to brighten local events as a free singer and DJ. He also prepares and shares meals with his fellow veterans at his American Legion post whenever he can.
  • You could help an older friend or someone who is under the weather to put up their holiday decorations or haul home their Christmas tree.
  • Cover for a colleague at work or babysit someone’s kids while they do their shopping.
  • Donate lightly-used warm clothing to an organization that helps the homeless.
  • Surprise an elderly neighbor with a tin of tea and a plate of homemade holiday treats. Better yet, sit down and listen to them while you enjoy the goodies together.
  • Adopt a pet from your local rescue organization or shelter. If you are not prepared for a lifetime commitment, foster a pet until it can be adopted.

We have been blessed this year financially, too.  If that is also the case with you, I hope you will generously spread the prosperity around a bit. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Surprise a friend on a tight budget with a supermarket gift card that will make their Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah feast so much brighter.
  • Contribute a little extra to your favorite charity and make a difference for a cause you care about. I love animals, and I especially like to support local rescue organizations that operate on a shoestring, so they can spread their resources further in my community. $25 means far more to them than it does to the big animal welfare organizations, although I try to donate as much as I can to them, too.
  • When you are at the gas station, if you notice someone in an old car with kids in the back, surprise her by paying for a tank of gas.
  • Astonish a homeless person by handing them $10 or $20 instead of spare change.

So here’s my Thanksgiving/Holidays Pay It Forward Challenge for YOU: Take one small, specific action to demonstrate your profound GRATITUDE for all your many blessings. I promise you the joy it gives you will be PRICELESSPlease let me know what you did and I will share all those wonderful ideas in my upcoming blogs.

 PLEASE NOTE: A Cup of Caroll will be taking next weekend off to spend time with my friends and family.  I wish you and yours a joyous and delicious Thanksgiving and look forward to reconnecting with you on Sunday December 4! 

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****************** The Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to offer someone you care about a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching!  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* of charge, with no obligation and no strings attached!  And if YOU haven’t coached with me in awhile and would like a “tune up” session please give yourself this gift!

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION on fulfilling them, please email me at



“…we acknowledge humbly that we can never serve our veterans in quite the same way that they served us, but we can try. We can practice kindness, we can pay it forward, we can volunteer, we can serve, we can respect one another, we can always get each other’s backs.” – President Barack Obama

Holy cow, what a week!  I don’t care which side of the Presidential election you were on, I would bet that like me, you are feeling some degree of emotional, mental and physical hangover from the unprecedented rancor, bitterness, devisiveness and rage that rocked (and still rocks) our country from a relentlessly negative, personalized political battle unlike any we have seen in our lifetime.

In the aftermath of the election, I unexpectedly found my own way to regain a feeling of personal productivity and a sense of happiness, peace and optimism: I simply stopped focusing on the “big picture” of turmoil, uncertainty, demonstrations and a growing list of social ills that must be addressed by our political leaders on both sides of the aisle. Instead, I chose to focus my attention on the many small opportunities we have to make a difference, right where we are, each and every day. This Ah-Ha Moment came to me out of the blue by a seemingly-innocuous text message.

You will recall that my last blog was a reprint of a column by Bob Perks, a fellow coach and inspirational writer and speaker who lives in Pennsylvania. (I live in Southern California.) We have never met in person, but admire each other’s work.

In his “Three Taps: POW MIA” column (See “Three Taps” Blog 252), Bob wrote movingly about the symbolic meaning of each element of the “Missing Man Table” that is permanently displayed in his American Legion Post 672. I thought it was an important reminder for Veteran’s Day that we should never forget or take for granted the service of all the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces — especially those who never came home and whose loved ones never got closure. They are Missing In Action, and the symbolic empty table ensures they will never be forgotten.

Some fortunate Prisoners of War, like Senator John McCain, eventually returned home, but will forever bear the physical and emotional scars of their ordeal to protect the daily freedoms we too often take for granted, like peacefully and democratically electing our President.

After it ran, I texted Bob another thank-you for allowing me to reprint his column, and casually asked him what the “guys” (temporarily forgetting there are also women in the service!) at the Legion were going to do to celebrate Veteran’s Day.  His reply shocked me:

“I am doing a special Veterans Day performance at my Legion on Friday, along with food as best I can. I will open with patriotic music sung by me.  I cannot believe that the only thing my own Legion is providing is a free drink to each veteran.  I will feed their stomachs and spirit. I will also call on everyone there to tap three times wherever they are seated.”

I know Bob is on a very tight budget, and his determination to give them a proper celebration to honor their service touched me deeply.  So I went to my PayPal account and sent him a small donation to help with the refreshments cost. The next day, much to my surprise, I received this email from him:

Caroll, I have shared with many the fact than an “incredible friend” has sent a gift to our Legion’s veterans. “Stunned” “Amazed” “Grateful” are common reactions.

“Why would someone do that?” one asked.  Then I was pleased to hear him immediately answer his own question saying, “Most likely for the same reason you do, Bob. Tell them thank you.”

I was truly flabbergasted that my little gift made such a positive impression on a group of strangers whose service I can never begin to repay.  When I so easily clicked “Send Money,” on PayPal, it never crossed my mind that my gift would have meaning beyond the special food it would provide for them.

The next day, Bob sent me some great pictures of the sumptuous “spread,” which included his personally-prepared Fried Chicken Haluski (noodles, fried cabbage and onions), cole slaw and a half-sheet cake.  Another veteran sent 10 pizzas in honor of his late father, a Purple Heart recipient.  The room was festively decorated in red, white and blue, and “DJ Bobby” kept everyone rocking on the dance floor – including the 93 year old lady pictured above who came with her daughter who is battling cancer.

Bob said the parking lot was jammed, as about 150 Legionnaires and their loved ones (one for every dollar I donated) enjoyed the celebration and appreciated that a stranger cared enough to honor them on their special day.

This was the simple reminder I needed: Do not worry about what you cannot control.  Just look around you and see who can use a helping hand.  Red State, Blue State — We are ALL Americans. We ALL need each other.

****************** Give the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! *************************

I invite you to give a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching.  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* with no obligation and no strings attached!  You can give this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (If you haven’t been in coaching with me for a while, feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!)

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at to schedule their session.

November 6, 2016

“There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life — happiness, freedom and peace of mind — are always attained by giving them to someone else.” — Payton C. March

In honor of Veteran’s Day this Friday, I want to share with you this touching message written by my good friend and fellow coach, Bob Perks.  I have edited it for length and reprinted it with permission.  It made a big impression on me in the simple way it honors every man and woman who has served our country, at great personal sacrifice, in order to preserve their fellow citizens’ democratic rights and freedoms.  It is particularly meaningful to me because I was in High School during the era he writes about, and I had family members in that war.

This small, special group among all the brave military members who served can be easily overlooked because they never came home to a hero’s welcome OR a solemn burial.  Let us honor them, along with each and every individual who has served in the armed forces during peace and war — AND their self-sacrificing families — by demonstrating our deepest gratitude for the precious rights and freedoms they fought to defend: Let us VOTE.  

“Three Taps.  POW MIA”

By Bob Perks

In a corner prominently displayed for all to see is a simple table set for one.

The lamp stays lit 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Above it is the world-recognized POW MIA black and white flag imprinted with the words “You are not forgotten.”

This of course is in recognition of those who were prisoners of war and missing in action.

As you look at the above picture know these facts:

The Missing Man Table, also known as the Fallen Comrade Table, is a place of honor, set up in military dining facilities of the U.S. armed forces and during occasions such as service branch birthday balls, in memory of fallen, missing, or imprisoned military service members.

The table serves as the focal point of ceremonial remembrance, originally growing out of U.S. concern of the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue.

Table: set for one, it is small, symbolizing the frailty of one isolated prisoner. The table is usually set close to, or within sight of, the entrance to the dining room.

For large events, the Missing Man Table is set for six places: members of the five armed services (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard) and a sixth place setting reminiscent of the civilians who died during service alongside the armed forces or missing during armed conflict.

Table is round to represent everlasting concern on the part of the survivors for their missing loved ones.

Tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.

Single red rose in the vase, signifies the blood that many have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep the faith, while awaiting their return.

Yellow ribbon on the vase represents the yellow ribbons worn on the lapels of the thousands who demand with unyielding determination a proper accounting of our comrades who are not among us tonight.

Slice of lemon on the bread plate: represents the bitter fate of the missing.

Salt sprinkled on the bread plate: symbolic of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.

Inverted glass: represents the fact that the missing and fallen cannot partake.

Lit candle: reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation.

Empty chair: the missing and fallen aren’t present.

In the past year I have joined and now actively participate in American Legion Post 672 in Dallas, Pennsylvania. I serve on the board. I serve food to our vets as often as I can afford.

When visiting, I often sit at one end of the Legion.  It is a great spot to watch the members.

It was from that perch, I saw my friend approach the “Missing Man Table,” pause and tap three times on the surface.

At first I thought it was just a coincidence. Then I discovered that he did it every time he walked by.

I had to ask.

You must understand that soldiers from the Vietnam Era don’t often talk about it. I step lightly into a conversation and never ask direct questions out of pure respect.

I listen.

With John, I felt comfortable enough to question this routine.

“John, forgive me for asking, but I notice that every time you walk past our table, you stop and tap on it three times.”

John is short in stature but big in pride and attitude.  He walks slowly across the room with a slight limp.

He smiled, his face slightly blushed and said, “Oh, you noticed.”

Then as he sat up he said with a prideful look on his face, “It is in memory of three buddies.”

That’s it.  I didn’t ask anything more of him.

Like me, you can inject any possible scenario into the symbolic pause and three taps.

I will wait for a proper time when I can delve a little deeper.

It was in that single moment that he and I grew a bit.

I hold a greater respect for him and I believe John was pleased that I took notice.

I served during the Vietnam Era but nowhere near the war.  In fact, my time was really toward the end of the war and I remained stateside.

Those men and women returned to their country without parades, welcome home banners or any recognition for time served in hell.

The Table in my legion reminds us daily that many never came home.

I know of three thanks to John.

****************** Give the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! *************************

I invite you to give a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching.  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* with no obligation and no strings attached!  You can give this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (If you haven’t been in coaching with me for a while, feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!)

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at to schedule their session.