December 2017


December 17, 2017

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” – Sally Koch

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan

“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.” – Charles Schulz

At last, Christmas is nigh!  You will recall that in early November, I was really feeling the need for a little “Christmas Spirit” right away, so I kicked off the blog’s annual Pay It Forward Challenge early.  The challenge is to demonstrate our true, heartfelt gratitude for all the good in our lives by spreading it to others in the form of kind, generous, hospitable deeds and uplifting, encouraging and loving words.

In ways big and small, local and far-flung, my wonderful readers responded with an outpouring of healing energy and love, which our world has never needed more than now.

As 2017 draws to a close, many of us will heave a sigh of relief that we survived the non-stop floods, fires, hurricanes, mass shootings, online cruelty and governmental incompetence. But now we can also let out a little sigh of happiness and fulfillment, knowing we did OUR part to make life a little bit easier, happier and brighter for our fellow human beings.

Here are just a few of the creative ways you and others have found to Pay It Forward and make a difference:

In the News:

  • As they have for the past 10 years, an anonymous donor and his wife in Fort Collins, Colorado bought out the local Goodwill store’s supplies of children’s books, toys and stuffed animals. Whenever a child entered the store, they were told to pick out a free gift for themselves.  The couple briefly stayed to watch some of their joyous reactions before slipping out the front door, unnoticed.
  • The wildfires in Southern California (which are still raging) closed many schools, causing low-income children to also lose the breakfast, lunches and even dinners the schools provide to combat hunger and help them focus on their schoolwork. So one school district left a school cafeteria open and volunteer staff continued to serve kids nutritious daily meals, which took a huge weight off of families who were already worried about losing their homes. One family even used the district food trays to put together a 10-year-old’s birthday party on school grounds.
  • Over 100 retired nuns, some in their late 80s, had to evacuate their nursing home during one of the L.A. fires. Some went to medical facilities, but staff members took most of them into their own homes and cared for them like family. (Now THAT is practicing “Radical Hospitality”!)
  • While a mother was struggling to handle a screaming toddler and a fussy baby in the parking lot at a Walmart, a police officer got out of his patrol car, took the toddler’s hand, fetched a cart for the mom and walked them all into the store. Later, when the toddler was crying because his mother couldn’t afford to get him a toy, the same officer appeared again to pay for the toy AND the mom’s entire shopping cart full of food.

Our Own Stories:

  • One reader and her family “adopted” a family of six who are temporarily living in a local shelter and bought Christmas presents for each of them. She also told the shelter’s staff to let her know about future fundraisers or other needs and promised that her networking marketing Team would pitch in to support their work.
  • Another reader donated part of her monthly sales commission to a local women’s shelter where “they need a fresh start.” Several others also donated part of their commissions to local causes in both November and December. (I especially love donating to local charities and grassroots organizations that support your local community. A few dollars mean so much more to them than to the big national charities, although those are certainly worthy too.)
  • I also received an eCard from one of my clients stating that in lieu of cards and gifts this year, she and her husband are donating to a number of worthy causes and hoping that her friends will choose to do the same.
  • One thoughtful reader sent a “comfort package” containing a warm blanket and cute bunny slippers to a friend who is battling cancer and feeling cold.
  • As they do every year, a network marketing Team decorated a Catholic Charities shelter with Christmas trees, festive decorations and wrapped gifts for the parents and children who are spending Christmas there.
  • A reader eating at a local restaurant noticed a waitress sitting at a nearby table, patiently studying the menu with an elderly gentleman. Overhearing that he was searching for items with a senior discount, she quietly slipped the waitress $20 to pay for his lunch and told her to give him the change.
  • A reader’s friend loves her skin care regimen for adult acne, but her husband said they had to cut the family’s budget, so my reader surprised her with the regimen as an early Christmas gift.
  • One of my readers connected a friend who was looking for a job with someone else she knows who had an opening. The job seeker got the job and is thrilled to have a temp assignment over the Holidays that could become a full time gig later on.
  • One reader took my $5 Starbucks gift card random distribution idea out into the streets and passed them out to Vets who were watching a Veterans Day parade.
  • Another reader took the Starbucks gift card idea one step further: She surprised her dentist’s office with a gift card big enough to buy every member of the staff a treat.
  • At the beginning of November, an elementary school teacher had her class create their own Daily Gratitude Journals from construction paper and lined notebook paper. Every school day, they took time in class to list THREE things they were grateful for. They had to be different things each day. At the end of the month, she assigned a short essay on what they learned from seeing the wide variety of things they each had to be grateful for in their lives.  The kids absolutely loved it and many want to keep up the daily practice.
  • The same teacher told me that at the student talent show, a girl who was supposed to play the ukulele and sing instead froze on stage. The other performers came out of the wings and surrounded her with their kind support until she began to sing.
  • One reader told me she unexpectedly ran into a friend who had just had a suspicious mammogram and now needed a biopsy. My reader spontaneously gave her a warm hug and assured her it would be OK. The friend later told her the small tumor was benign and that her hug and caring had made a world of difference for her.
  • I bought two Christmas trees that did double-duty in Paying it Forward: My gift helped a friend’s son support his school baseball program AND I donated the trees to the school to give away, which turned out to be to the families of California Highway Patrol officers who had either been killed in the line of duty or were unable to work.

Well, there you have it!  We did a GREAT job of spreading some comfort and cheer around in 2017, a year that surely needed all it could muster!  I hope you will look for even MORE ways to spread a little extra before the year is over….And then ramp up to continue Paying it Forward throughout the New Year.  Let’s BE the change we want to see in the world!

My Christmas Wish is that 2018 will bring all of us an overflowing abundance of peace, love, health and prosperity.  If we keep on showing our sincere gratitude to God/The Universe for our many blessings by spreading love and kindness to others, I am quite sure that The Best is already on its way to us!

PLEASE NOTE: This is the final blog for 2017.  A Cup of Caroll will return to your in-box on Sunday, January 7 with a proven way to get your New Year off to a successful start!

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

To schedule a no-obligation, F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make them a reality, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.

December 3, 2017

“Letting people know that you care does more than you imagine.  You have the power to cause them to pursue their dreams.” – Joel Osteen

The theme of my last several Holiday-season blogs has been doing good for others because that is how we demonstrate our sincere gratitude to God/The Universe for the many blessings we have been given in our lives AND because the world certainly needs more love and kindness and generosity right now.

We kicked off our annual Pay It Forward Challenge, where my readers strive to become a Messenger of Happiness by doing a kind deed for another, whether it involves a little financial generosity or support with an errand or listening ear that someone needs right now.  Your wonderful stories have been pouring in and I am going to share them in my final blog of 2017 on December 17, in hopes they will inspire even MORE kind, generous and hospitable deeds to create an atmosphere of love all around us.  Please send me your PIF stories ASAP so I can include them!

I want to share with you another specific type of kindness and paying it forward that was beautifully explained in a televised sermon by my favorite positive thought minister, Joel Osteen.  His message was about how we can make a profound difference for others simply through our words.  Words don’t cost a thing, and often take only seconds to express, but their impact can change a life and last a lifetime.

Joel said, “We don’t know what people are going through.  They’re smiling on the outside, but on the inside, they’re hurting, they’re lonely, they’re discouraged…Just a simple word of encouragement, a simple compliment is helping to heal their wounds, lifting their spirits and causing them to believe in themselves.”

He went on to explain that “Our words have the power to lift people, to help them get through a challenge, to push them into their destinies. When you tell someone ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m proud of you,’ you’re not just being kind; those are healing words.”

He listed some great specific examples about how, in just a few minutes or even seconds out of our daily lives, we can be healers and supporters by encouraging a co-worker who is down, lifting the spirits of a friend who is sick or calling a relative just to say you miss them. The clerk in the grocery store, the attendant at the gas station, a friend at the gym – all of them need your encouragement and to know that you believe in them.

And he points out that a blessing isn’t a blessing unless it’s SPOKEN: “You can think nice things about them all day long, but until you tell them, they’ll never know… God put the idea in your head – now you need to SPEAK in order to heal with it.”

You don’t know what they are going through and how much it might mean to them and encourage them if you just take a moment to have a friendly interaction or give them a small compliment.  It’s amazing what a sincere, kind word can do for someone.

I had just such a Pay it Forward interaction in Starbucks recently.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I always purchase a bunch of $5 gift cards and distribute them at random times to the baristas at the cash register to pay for the drinks of other customers, as my way of spreading around some Holiday Cheer.

Usually, I like to make a clean getaway, so the recipient of my little “Secret Santa” gift doesn’t know where it came from.  But on that particular mid-afternoon, nobody was in line behind me when I gave a $5 gift card to the barista and told her to give it to the next person who stepped up to the register. Then I went over to wait for my drink to be prepared.

At that moment, a woman walked in all by herself.  She wasn’t unkempt, not homeless, I’m sure.  But she looked somehow a little sad and definitely very quiet.  She carefully counted out her dollar bills and change for her drink, and then as I watched, the barista surprised her with, “No, you only owe $1.” She stood there frozen, puzzled as the barista pointed to me and said, “That lady paid for the rest of your order.”

She didn’t turn around to look at me, but eventually came over and stood next to me. Finally she said in a whisper of emotion, “Thank you SO much!”  I smiled at her, feeling a little awkward myself at being caught in the act.  All I could think to say was, “You are MOST welcome!  I wanted to spread a little joy around today.”  She smiled shyly at me and then we stood there quietly side by side for another couple of minutes until my drink arrived.

As I turned to leave, she touched me gently on the shoulder, looked me directly in the eye and said, “Thank you again. This means so much.”

I smiled at her, this time looking her in the eye too and replied, “YOU are so welcome! Have a great afternoon!”

It was such a small, brief interaction with a total stranger, but somehow, I could tell it meant the world to her. Maybe she was lonely or worried about something or grieving for someone….I will never know.  But that was by far the most emotional reaction I have ever gotten to this little gesture of camaraderie and kindness.  All I could think was, I know that God put me here today just for her and I am so glad I followed my inner urge to go to Starbucks and to bestow that gift card exactly when I did.

Joel also said, “When you are taking care of others, you are sowing seeds that will grow to fruition and come back to bless you.” As a post-script, I had an amazing example of that within 48 hours after blessing that shy stranger with my small gesture of human connection.

With some extra bills hitting in November, it had been a pretty tight month for us. I realized as I was preparing to pay our December rent that we were quite a bit short. I could have taken what I needed out of savings, but that would feel like a defeat, after working so hard to keep our “rainy day fund” sacrosanct, since experiencing the constant worry about having zero savings all during the Great Recession.

I didn’t know where the rest was going to come from, since all my client billings were done, but one thing I knew for sure, God/The Universe was the one who had the answer. MY job was simply to calm my fears, stay in belief, and keep my eyes wide open for the “How” to appear.

Within 48 hours of my caring interaction with the stranger at Starbucks, a new client came out of nowhere to sign up for coaching and another texted out of the blue that she wanted to pay for upcoming coaching well in advance!  Those two unexpected windfalls were exactly the balance needed for our December rent!

Remember this: Someone today is thirsty for your healing words, and a sign that they matter.  You can use your kind, empathetic words to encourage them and make them feel loved and valuable in life-changing ways you may never know. One type of Paying it Forward that we often overlook is PRAISE and ACKNOWLEDGMENT, especially with our own loved ones.

Joel Osteen says, “Don’t let a stranger, a coach, a teacher or a friend compliment your loved ones more than you do.  Verbalize your feelings and speak positive, healing, encouraging words to them.  And when you compliment someone in front of others, it carries extra weight.  Acknowledge them in public whenever you have the chance.”

Are you speaking words of praise, encouragement and confidence to your kids, your friends, your spouse and your business associates?  You can change the atmosphere and bring healing to a relationship or provide the confidence boost someone needs to pursue their dreams — simply through your words!  So Pay it Forward in kind words and deeds and reap the good that you sow!

PLEASE NOTE: A Cup of Caroll will take next weekend off for Disneyland and other Holiday fun! Join me on Sunday December 17 to share all your Pay it Forward Challenge results stories for our final blog of 2017.  Please email me yours ASAP so I can include them!

If you or your friends would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to http://practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

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

To schedule a no-obligation, F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make them a reality, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.