Giving


“No act of kindness is too small.  The gift of kindness may start as a small ripple that over time can turn into a tidal wave affecting the lives of many.” – Kevin Heath

My wonderful husband Rick and I just returned from nine magical days in Hawaii, celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.  As you may know, in the Hawaiian language, “Aloha” means “Hello,” “Goodbye” or “I love you.”  But we learned from the people we met on the lovely islands of Oahu and Kaua’i that “Aloha Spirit” means so much more.

Virtually everyone we met who lives and works in the Islands seemed to naturally exude Aloha Spirit.  In the Hawaiian culture, it is a point of pride to treat visitors like Ohana (family) by being friendly, welcoming, generous, helpful and kind. As a result, we found ourselves saying “Mahalo” (Thank you) innumerable times to strangers who went above and beyond for us during our visit.

Here are some of the key Aloha Lessons I learned from them:

Make an effort to connect emotionally — Smile and look the other person in the eye. Ask how they are doing, how their day is going. And then really listen to their answer! If things aren’t so great, the simple act of being heard tells them that they matter and lightens their burdens.

Look for little ways to be of service – You don’t have to solve the world’s problems. However, if you are in a position to lend a helping hand beyond what is required or expected, the other person will be surprised and delighted by your kindness and will never forget your genuine caring. They will become raving fans of yours, and the Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) will work in your favor the next time YOU need help.

Danielle, the desk clerk at our Kaua’i condo, was ready to log off her computer for the day when we approached and asked if there was a printer we could use to print the boarding passes for our flight home the next morning.  She immediately dropped her back pack and stayed to enter the information herself and print our boarding passes. And she did it with relaxed ease and good humor, like it was the most interesting and enjoyable thing she had done all day.

It turns out that one small kindness was absolutely key to our having a smooth trip home because the ticket agent at our inter-island flight from Kaua’i to Honolulu offered to have our bags checked through from his tiny airline to our mainland plane so we wouldn’t have to do anything except board our flight to Los Angeles once we got to Honolulu. We didn’t realize that was possible and wouldn’t have thought to ask!  Once on the ground, a gate agent led us through the maze of back halls in Honolulu’s huge terminals so we wouldn’t have to stand in line for a second security screening.

Because of these three people’s above-and-beyond Aloha Spirit, Rick and I were able to enjoy a relaxed lunch in the Honolulu airport and get to our gate with time to spare, setting us up for a smooth and enjoyable flight home.

Do the right thing, even if it’s not convenient — Just so you know that Aloha Spirit is also alive and well here on the Mainland, I have to give a shout out to the Hilton LAX shuttle driver who noticed us standing at the curb at midnight, having waited in vain for over 40 minutes for a Marriott shuttle to take us back to our car.  On his third trip circling the airport, he stopped, opened his doors, helped us with our bags and took us and another group of stranded foreign visitors to the Marriott, even though he was technically not supposed to do that. (We became instant raving fans and tipped him big, of course.  Next time, we will stay at the Hilton!)

Debbie Powers, Professor Emerita of Wellness at Ball State University, explained in a recent Body Wise International eNewsletter that being kind benefits both the giver and receiver in important ways:

“It seems like we’re in a bit of a kindness crisis these days.  If you have spent time on social media, behind the wheel, in a line at a store, or at any crowded event, it seems like kindness and civility have eroded tremendously.  With violence, bullying, politics and natural disasters broadcasted into our everyday consciousness, it is hard to find positivity. 

 Research shows that our brain’s reward center is wired to get a lift when we’re helpful and compassionate.  It feels good.  People with physical ailments have less pain and anxiety when presented with kindness. Everyone feels less exhausted when there is an atmosphere of kindness.  It’s time for a groundswell of kindness in 2017.  It starts with one person, one act.  One kind act trips what social scientists call ‘social contagion.’ There is a tendency to ‘kind it forward.’

 Kindness is a value that transcends borders, race, faith, and age.  It contributes to healthier schools, communities and businesses.  It doesn’t cost money or much time to show empathy, respect, and compassion for another person.  We can all start today with a simple act of kindness to someone.  Our mental and physical health is at risk without it.”

It’s an old truism that people will eventually forget what you said and did but they will never forget how you made them feel.  Rick and I will never forget how so many kind and friendly people made us feel during our special celebration trip.

We can all spread some Aloha Spirit right now, in our own backyards — with family, neighbors, business associates and customers, among people you know and strangers you don’t know. If you go out of your way to do just one small kindness for someone each day, I guarantee it will return to bless you many times over. And it just may make you will feel like you are on a tropical vacation every day.

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

****************** 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 contact me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com  or toll free 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.   

“Each of us can look back upon someone who made a great difference in our lives, someone whose wisdom or simple acts of caring made an impression upon us.  In all likelihood, it was someone who sought no recognition for their deed, other than the joy of knowing that, by their hand, another’s life had been made better.” – Stephan M. Wolf

‘Tis the Season to show heartfelt GRATITUDE for all the good in our lives by doing something to pay that grace forward to those who are less fortunate or who simply need a reason to smile right now.

This past week, my readers told me even MORE great stories about their Pay-it-Forward Challenge results, and I just had to share a few of them with you.  Here is the final installment of your joyful acts of kindness, generosity and caring.  I wish I had room to include every single one!

Acts of Service

  • One reader’s husband built a 5 ft. by 7 ft. sleigh for their church families to take Christmas portraits with. He is a bit disabled, and she feared he took on more than he could handle, so she pitched in and they finished it on time working side by side.  The children and families loved it and she says it was SO worth the effort they made.
  • My friend’s teenage son attends a private religious school that holds a Christmas tree fundraiser each year. I bought two trees and donated them, since I have an artificial tree.  She and her son delivered all their donated trees to various charities, and she sent me a picture to prove that “my trees” had found a good home at Olive Crest, a home for children in temporary foster care.
  • As she does each year, that same friend got up early and spent her Thanksgiving morning serving dinners to the needy before going to her own Thanksgiving celebration.
  • Several of my readers volunteer at local food pantries, which get a load of donations to distribute this time of year.
  • In the news: A deputy patrolling an industrial section of a Northern California city noticed a young African American man in a hoodie walking along the side of the road at night. It’s not an area where you see many pedestrians, so the officer stopped him to see if something was wrong. He was surprised to learn that the young man was “commuting” on foot seven miles each way to and from his nearby factory job because his car had broken down some time ago and he didn’t have the money to fix it.  The deputy insisted on giving him a ride home and later took up a collection among his fellow officers to buy the young man a bicycle and, eventually, a new car.  Now, the young man rides along with the deputy because he is training to become a peace officer himself.

Acts of Kindness and Compassion

  • A reader wrote an individual message on each of her business partners’ Facebook pages about one special quality she saw in them, such as “Leader,” “Motivated,” “Giver, “ They were surprised and delighted to be acknowledged publically by their Team Leader, not just for their accomplishments, but for their character.
  • A reader said the office secretaries at the school where she teaches “do everything for all of us,” but rarely get the thanks or recognition they deserve. She bought each of them a gift card and put it on their desks anonymously, expressing gratitude for their service on behalf of the entire staff.
  • My reader saw a man digging through the dumpster outside her apartment and put together a little “Care Package” for him, filled with personal hygiene items, a blanket, gloves, a couple of homemade sandwiches and some plastic trash bags for him to use when collecting cans and bottles.

Acts of Giving

  • A reader’s young son took all the money out of his piggy bank and she kicked in some more to buy a Christmas gift for one of his class’s “adopted”children in need. “I love teaching him giving early in life. For a six year old to be so excited to give something to another child he didn’t know was amazing!”
  • One reader who works for a children’s therapy services organization coordinated the staff’s annual drive to provide presents for some needy young clients and their siblings. She collected the donated gifts, bought all the wrapping materials and wrapped the presents. Each of the nine children will receive about 10 gifts apiece, for a very abundant Christmas!
  • One reader has collected about $3,000 worth of design books over the years. He plans to donate them to the arts program of a high school in an underprivileged part of his city.
  • A reader knew a couple who both passed away within the last year, leaving their three college-aged sons with little financial support. She continuously donates half of the proceeds from the sales of her skin care products to their college fund, for as long as they need it.
  • My friend Bob Perks used my reader’s generous donation to create the most lavish Christmas party his local American Legion Post has ever had. He sent pictures of the crowd of vets and their families line dancing and enjoying a huge buffet of wonderful dishes, mostly prepared by Bob himself. A singer and DJ, Bob also provided the musical program and arranged for Elvis and Santa to join in too.

Please don’t STOP spreading the joy when the Holidays end! I hope these stories of creative kindness and generosity will inspire you to continue your personal Gratitude-in-Action program far into the future. In fact, let’s make one of our New Year’s Resolutions  to Pay it Forward every day of the coming year!

PLEASE NOTE:  The blog will take the rest of the year off so I can focus on coaching my wonderful clients and enjoying Christmas activities with my friends and family.  A Cup of Caroll will return with a special New Year’s edition on January 1, 2017!  Until then, I wish you and yours Happy Holidays!

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

****************** 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 caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.

 

 

 

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude.  Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness.  Thankfulness may consist merely of words.  Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel 

As this quote reflects and last week’s blog asserted, we truly show our gratitude for all the good in our lives by doing something to pay that grace forward to those less fortunate than ourselves. And after the prolonged personalized, angry and divisive battle that was our 2016 American Presidential Election, I think we all are longing for demonstrations of love, compassion and caring among ourselves more than ever.

This past week, dozens of my readers reported their Pay-it-Forward Challenge results. I was touched, inspired and delighted by the wide variety and creativity shown by their acts of Gratitude-in-Action! Here are a few of their joyful stories of kindness, generosity and caring. I hope they will inspire you to spread even MORE joy during this season of Peace, Love and Goodwill toward others:

Acts of Service

  • A mother and her young daughter collected and shipped 72 pounds of leftover Halloween candy to her cousin in the Air Force in Germany to distribute on base. Many of the donors also included letters and pictures, wishing them Happy Holidays and thanking them for their service.
  • One woman asked on Facebook for Thanksgiving dinner donations for families who are struggling financially. She and her husband collected 30 turkeys and all the fixings and took them to a local elementary school. With the staff’s help, 30 students received a box filled with the makings of a bountiful feast for their families. Next year, her goal is to provide joy for 60 families.
  • In the news: Right before Thanksgiving, Ft. Worth police stopped a number of motorists in older vehicles for minor driving infractions such as not wearing a seatbelt or signaling a turn. As the chagrined drivers awaited a ticket, the officers instead handed them a turkey! Many jumped out and hugged the officers, and some even cried for joy.

Acts of Kindness and Compassion

  • At the store, the middle-aged bagger was methodically putting each item into the bag very slowly. Feeling impatient and about ready to take over the process herself, my reader looked at him more closely and realized he was developmentally disabled.  Her impatience was instantly replaced with gratitude and compassion: “Thank you SO much!  I love the way you organized everything so carefully.  Now nothing will get broken.”  He smiled back at her with shy pride.
  • A reader mailed Thanksgiving cards to all her customers, expressing gratitude for their support and telling them how much she appreciates them. One of them was her own 80 year old grandmother.  Grandma called my reader’s mother to say how surprised and delighted she was to receive this thoughtful tribute.
  • In addition to letting people with fewer items in their carts go ahead of her in the checkout line, one reader also says a silent blessing for them. “I try to see someone that needs something I can provide in one way or another that will allow them to smile. I feel so blessed that God presents those opportunities to me….I need to start doing even more!”
  • One reader’s office does a 40-day Luncheon Challenge where the staff all take a few minutes out of their lunch hour to write a handwritten note of gratitude to someone who has been a mentor, encourager or helper to them or someone who just needs some encouragement at the moment.

Acts of Giving

  • Many readers love to partner with a church, office or charity to “adopt” an underprivileged family and buy each member a gift on their wish list for Christmas.
  • One reader came across a Go Fund Me page to help pay medical expenses for a former high school classmate with a serious health challenge. She donated and sent him a personal note of encouragement.
  • Like me, many readers love to buy a food or beverage item for the person in line behind them. Some do this at the drive through and make a clean getaway while the surprised recipient learns that a “Secret Santa” took care of them.
  • One reader in the Midwest often swipes her own card at the turnstile for the “El” train, when a rider nearby is fumbling for their card or discovers they don’t have enough for the fare. Recently, a stranger approached her and said, “I’ve never seen anyone do that before!  I am going to start doing that too!”
  • After reading my blog about the positive impact of my own small donation to my friend Bob Perks’ local American Legion’s Veterans Day celebration, a reader with a special soft spot for veterans donated $500 toward a sumptuous Christmas party. Bob says the word has spread and attendance is likely to be huge. I am sure the vets must believe they have a special Guardian Angel looking out for them!
  • A religious high school’s fundraisers for the year garnered $100,000, which was donated entirely to charity. A single day was then set aside for staff, parents and students to make voluntary donations to support the school itself. In honor of her grandmother, who had scrimped and saved to put three children through the school on a very limited income, my reader donated $10,000.

As for me, I got to do something I thought was selfless at the time, but which has blessed me more than I can express.  In an earlier blog, I wrote about our beloved four-footed family member, Samantha, who passed away after a brief illness close to her 16th birthday in early October.

We gave away her bedding, toys and leftover food to local rescue organizations and I vowed never to have another dog again.  The pain of losing her was just too much and I never wanted to go through that again.  Besides, I told myself, now we are free of the responsibility and can come and go as we please.

For weeks, the house seemed SO quiet and empty, and one day, I got a sudden strong urge to research local rescue organizations that needed foster parents for dogs waiting to be adopted.  I specifically wanted to help an older or disabled dog that might be harder to adopt.  I believed I could give temporary comfort and care, without the painful attachment of owning (and eventually losing) another dog.

Well, God had other plans for the Schwartz family.  I found a great organization right in our town, The Little Red Dog, Inc. —  named in honor of a female pit bull that Michael Vick and his dog-fighting “business partners” beat to death because she wouldn’t fight.  On Halloween morning, I emailed them and got an immediate call back. The volunteer said there was a dog that had to be out of the foster parent’s apartment that very day and asked if I would be willing to pick her up immediately and take her to the next adoption fair that weekend.

That’s how we found ourselves driving home on Halloween evening with a tiny, seven year old Chihuahua that had been rescued by the side of the freeway.  “Diamond” is the sweetest, best-behaved dog I have ever known and she delights us constantly with her excited tail wags, wiggles, and running all around the house wanting to play.  Now Diamond Schwartz has her forever home with us and our family is experiencing an abundance of joy this Holiday Season that I could never have imagined on Halloween.

Whatever your own resources of time, treasure or talent are, I hope you get the picture that ALL acts of kindness and generosity toward others demonstrate your sincere gratitude. Paradoxically, when we pay it forward to others, it seems that MORE blessings inevitably flow to us, creating an endless circle of giving and receiving and joy.  I would welcome even MORE stories of your Pay-It-Forward Challenge results!

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

****************** 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 caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.

 

“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! 

If you would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to my website at www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

****************** 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 caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.

 

“If you really want to be happy, the only person that can stop you is you.  Don’t strive to be happy.  Be happy.  Wake up each morning.  Smile.  Look for the good in each day.  Choose to act happy.  Find the good in others.  Work toward something larger than yourself.  Do the best you can in any endeavor.” – Glenn Van Ekeren from the book Love is a Verb

I won’t lie to you.  This Fall has been a challenging one so far.  As I wrote recently, I lost a dear friend to lung cancer and several of my friends are going through tough times with serious financial and health issues.

This past week was especially hard, as I lost my best four-footed friend. She went downhill very quickly in just a couple of weeks, and the vet told us the kindest thing to do for her was to let her go.  My husband Rick and stepson Matthew were by her side as she passed, peacefully taking her last breath.

Samantha was originally their dog.  She turned 16 this month, and joined their household as a tiny ball of fur when Matthew was just 9, as a companion for Rick’s late wife and Matt’s mom.  Marianne wanted a small dog to love and cuddle for comfort while she underwent chemotherapy. Tragically, she ultimately lost her battle with breast cancer and Samantha remained as a devoted companion to her “Men.”

I came into Samantha’s life 10 and a half years ago, when Rick and I met on eHarmony and began dating.  I remember our first time sitting on his couch together watching TV. Samantha insisted on wedging herself between us, and her silent glare said it all: “I saw him first, Lady.  Keep your distance.”

Up until then I had been strictly a “Cat Person” and was unsure of how to relate to a dog. Initially, I felt intimidated and a little resentful of her protective stance toward Rick.  But gradually, we came to accept and understand each other.  By the time Rick and I married a little more than a year later, I was officially the “Queen” and Sammy was the “Princess” of our household. It felt like a major victory when her preferred lounging spot became my footstool on our dual-recliner, stretched out against my leg, snoring peacefully.

In return for ear scratches, belly rubs, on-demand treats and being the first one up in the morning to let her out, I got so much love and so many important life lessons from her.  She became as protective of and devoted to me as she was to her Men.  When Rick and I returned from dinner or a day at Disneyland, she always came running, dropped to her belly and made “motorboat circles” of joy, scooting around us on the rug. I felt truly special when she came to greet me first, on occasion.  Samantha proved that she could accept, adapt to and make the BEST of the changes life presents.

Samantha didn’t like other dogs, so we never took her for walks outside the house.  Instead, she got her exercise chasing an array of squeaky toys we would throw across the room again and again until she was tired of playing.  She would eagerly bound after them, nails skittering on the slick wood floor, bobbing up and down and making us laugh at her eagerness.  Whenever she got the urge to expel some energy, she went directly to her toy basket, pulled out the one she desired at that moment and dropped it at someone’s feet.  Samantha knew exactly how to ask for what she wanted. Who could refuse a straightforward, unapologetic request like that?  

At dinner time, she would stand motionless behind Rick, gazing up at him intently while he prepared her food at the counter – canned dog food, laced with little bits of chicken he regularly sautéed just for her.  Sam never begged or whined for food or treats. She simply looked directly at you with her unblinking big black “bug eyes” and you were helpless to resist.  Sam knew how to maintain laser focus on a goal until she reached it. 

But the Number One Life Lesson Samantha taught me was this: Although dogs live just 20% as long as people do, they never waste a minute of the precious time they’ve been given.  Dogs are completely focused on the NOW – NOW it’s time to eat….Time to sleep….Time to play….Time to cuddle….Time to take a nap and wait patiently for My People to return.  Dogs never let past disappointments or fear about the future spoil their present.  NOW is where the squeaky toys are.  NOW is where the love is.  NOW is where the fun is.

In truth, NOW is where we ALL should live.   We can choose to be fully present in the NOW, or we can waste precious time dwelling on a past we can’t change or fearing a future that may never happen.

Like Samantha, we can CHOOSE to wake up happy and determined to look for the good in each day. If she could talk (and if she spoke Latin), she surely would have affirmed the ancient advice, “Carpe Diem.”  Seize the Day

P.S.  The lives of many thousands of dogs and other innocent animals are, of course, far from rosy. Instead, they suffer neglect, abuse or simply lack of love.  One way to honor your own beloved furry and feathered family members is to help God’s creatures that don’t have the loving homes or ideal treatment they deserve. You have the power to make a positive difference in their lives by contributing a few dollars to an animal welfare organization and/or adopting or fostering a new Best Friend from a shelter or rescue group.  The love you give them will come back to bless you many times over!

If you would like your own free subscription to receive A Cup of Caroll three Sundays a month, just go to my website at http://www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

****************** 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 caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com to schedule their session.

 

 

“If you want things to be different, perhaps the answer is to become different yourself.” – Norman Vincent Peale

First, I want to thank my readers who sent me their heartfelt condolences after reading my last blog about the passing of my former husband and dear friend, Jerry Tagami.  I have many mixed, bittersweet feelings of missing a wonderful person who won’t be around anymore, while simultaneously feeling relieved for him and his lovely widow, Diane, that he is out of pain and at peace at last.  I am grateful that I was able to recognize and name the blessings this special person left behind and the huge influence he had on all our lives. His friends and family know that we are all better ourselves for having witnessed Jerry’s zest for life, unfailing caring, devilish sense of humor and dedication to making a difference in the lives of his beloved students.

I believe that Jerry’s passing has given me another gift, as well.  More clearly than ever before, I see that “life is too short” to allow ourselves to sweat the small stuff.  In my September 11 blog, (See #246 in the blog archives on my website), I recalled the old saying that “You can be right or you can be happy.” Most of the time, I choose to be happy.  But I still have to make that a conscious choice each day. That’s because the human Ego appears to be hard-wired to choose right over happy most of the time.

In my youth, I felt the need to try to right every wrong, fight every injustice and set everyone “straight” about what I saw as truth, justice and “the right thing to do.”  I argued with my loved ones, teachers, authority figures and employers, trying to convince them that I alone knew what was “right.”  Many of them undoubtedly rolled their eyes and put up with me because they were much more emotionally mature than I was.

One of the (few) benefits of growing older is that you gain a bigger perspective on life’s problems.  You realize you have to pick your battles and that it’s just not possible to right every wrong.  The issues that truly matter in your life and the lives of people you care about are the ones to focus on. Unfortunately, we often waste a lot of time and energy battling just for the right to proclaim, “I was right and you were wrong!”  (Yes, it does sound a lot like the current Presidential race, doesn’t it?)

I’m witnessing this first-hand right now with two of my coaching clients.  They are both smart, lovely, accomplished, good-hearted, hardworking young women.  Both are determined to create a better life for themselves and their loved ones. They are sisters, currently living under the same roof.

The older sister saw her marriage and financial support collapse unexpectedly and responded heroically by treating it as an opportunity to create a great new life on her own terms for herself and her two young children.  She applied to an in-demand school in another state to pursue a career that will make her financially independent and give her children everything they need to thrive. Her plan requires long hours of study and hard work, with little money to live on until she graduates in several years.

Her younger sister already has a successful career and is in the process of creating her own side business that promises more emotional fulfillment and greater income to help her pursue her own Big Dreams.  She has responded to her older sister’s current need in an equally heroic way by offering to share living quarters and to help with child care duties while her sister is in class. She willingly gave up much of her free time and her own space to share a four-person household and make some significant lifestyle adjustments in order to help her sister. That is true love.

That is the kind of support I would hope family members everywhere would be willing to give each other. I know the older sister is grateful.  I know she loves and admires her younger sister and wants to see her reach her own dreams, as well. That is why she referred her to me for coaching help. That is true love too.

And yet….They both seem to spend much of their precious few hours on this earth blaming and resenting each other over one petty, inconsequential issue after another.

Each has fallen into the trap of following her Ego’s desire to be right at all costs.  They bring up childhood slights about how each was treated in the family pecking order and have reverted to bickering like teenagers over who deserves the most attention from their mutual friends, best bedroom, more time to herself, etc.  One (so I’m told) insisted that the other “unfriend” some of their mutual friends on Facebook, so the other sister retaliated by demanding that her sister stop “liking” her own friends’ posts.

Really? I have a hard time re-reading that without laughing, and yet it is causing both of them absolute anguish.

When I talk to them separately, each shows up as mature, calm, smart, open and determined.  But when one complains to me about the other, each appears childish, petty, defensive, and completely attached to being declared “right,” no matter the emotional cost.

The truth is, both women have made some significant, admirable sacrifices in their lives and really deserve each other’s support. In addition, I am trying to get each one to recognize that her negative attitude and behavior toward her sister will eventually produce some negative consequences for herself too. The Law of Attraction states that “energy attracts like energy,” which means that whatever you do unto others will inevitably be done unto you – for good OR for bad.

I don’t want to see either of them attract negative consequences as a result of her own negative thoughts, words and actions. Each of them deserves success, happiness and a smooth path forward in pursuing her dreams.  Therefore, each of them must decide for herself if she’d rather be “right” or “happy.”

I know they both read this blog. It is my fervent hope that this post will help each to see herself through objective eyes and recognize that whatever she focuses her energy on WILL attract similar energy, people and circumstances back to herself. Each could be actively pursuing her individual dreams and feeling great happiness for her sister’s success, instead of attracting unnecessary technical and emotional roadblocks and distractions to herself.

It is also my hope that you will view their story as an opportunity to make better choices in your own relationships with your spouse, boss, business partners, children, parents, relatives, students or teachers. We must recognize in ourselves the same Ego pull to risk our success and happiness simply for the cold satisfaction of proving ourselves “right.”

It is said that we rarely regret the words we don’t say, but we often regret the ones we do. I hope you will join me in striving each day to make the one truly right choice: to be kind, loving, forgiving and to simply bite your tongue whenever necessary!

If you would like your own free subscription to receive A Cup of Caroll three Sundays a month, just go to my website at http://www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

****************** 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 caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com to schedule their session.

“The miracle is this – the more we share, the more we have.” – Leonard Nimoy

This is the most challenging blog I have ever written.  It is very close to my heart and still very raw and emotional.  Mainly, it is a challenge because I don’t think I can ever do justice to the subject.

The subject is the passing of a dear friend of mine.  I met Jerry Tagami when I was 17 years old.  He was my teacher, my role model, my husband for 12 years, and ultimately, he was my dear friend.  He was one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known, in that he seemed to live every day just happy to be alive and able to contribute to someone else’s day.

Although he was too young to remember his first years of life, I am sure they were embedded in his soul in some way.  He was born on May 13, 1943 in the hot, bleak spot of Gila River, Arizona. Through absolutely no fault of their own, his American-born parents and relatives and many other hard-working US citizens of Japanese ancestry who lived on the West Coast were rounded up and sent to internment camps during WW II. This was due to the US government’s unjustified fear that they might want to aid the Japanese in conquering the only country they had ever known.  Jerry’s father, Kay Tagami, fought in Europe as part of the highly-decorated 442nd battalion and eventually his family was released from the camp to start life over in the Midwest.

But this isn’t the topic of my blog.  I just wanted to make it clear that Jerry began his life in the most difficult of circumstances.  When he was old enough to realize that, he could have felt justifiably bitter.  Instead, he emulated his parents, who forgave what was done to them and made the very best life they could for him and his sister in their new home of Chicago. When Ronald Reagan’s administration eventually gave him $20,000 in restitution, he did a very Jerry-like thing: He bought a big Harley Davidson motorcycle.  I guess he thought that living well really IS the best revenge!

Jerry loved English literature, and planned to get his PhD at the University of California, Irvine and then teach at the university level.  To sustain himself, he got a “temporary” job teaching English at Newport Harbor High School, beginning in my senior year.  Soon, however, he realized that he could have more fun and make a greater difference for young people at this impressionable age than he ever could in the university system. So, he quit the PhD program with an MBA and settled into the life he really loved.

After 34 years of teaching and just six months into his second, very happy, marriage to his soul-mate, Diane, the most unimaginable tragedy befell them – Jerry suffered a brain aneurysm, which nearly took his life.  Skillful doctors saved him, but he suffered profound short-term memory loss.  Thank God, he still knew who Diane, their family and most of his friends (including me), were. He could even recall with precise detail events that happened back in his early days at Newport Harbor High.  He loved to reminisce about his classes, fun travels and good times with Diane and his friends, who were mostly other teachers.  But Jerry could not be left alone while Diane was at work, or he would wander down the street and forget where he lived. So reluctantly, she had to entrust him to the daily care of loving nurses at a nearby home facility, where she and his old friends visited him regularly and took him on outings as much as his deteriorating body would allow.

On September 11, 2016 at age 73, after 13 years of being lovingly and loyally cared about and for by his amazing love, Diane, Jerry succumbed to a second unfair tragedy – lung cancer.  Two days ago, I attended his memorial celebration in Newport Beach, along with 100 or so old friends, nurses, former workmates and students who loved, admired and were grateful to have had him in their lives.

I have to admit, the tragic side of Jerry’s story is the one thing in life that has ever made me question my belief in an all-loving, all-powerful God.  Still, I have come to accept it as just one of those great mysteries of life – Why do bad things happen to good people? We won’t have the definitive answer until we are wherever Jerry is right now.  I’ll bet he wishes he could prepare an amusing and enlightening lecture on the topic, to save us the anguish we are all feeling at the loss of him.

Since I know that we always have a CHOICE of what to focus on, I choose to focus on what I DO know for sure: Jerry Tagami’s life, while far too short in duration, was filled with more joy, enthusiasm, impact and meaning than 10 lifetimes would be for most of us.

Sometimes as I watch the evening news, I feel helpless about the huge problems that appear to beset just about every part of the world.  I wonder, “What can I do… What the heck can one ordinary person do about all of this?” But as I sat there during Jerry’s life celebration, listening to his friends and family members speak about his legacy – the enormous influence he had on their lives — I realized that there is a LOT each of us can do to make a difference for our fellow human beings.

For me, the most impactful memories were shared by Diane Tagami.  She read an email that was sent to her recently by one of Jerry’s former students.  The writer said she felt isolated and alienated during her high school years and her English teacher seemed to sense this intuitively. On the last day of class before Winter Break, Mr. Tagami took her aside and gave her a little book of poems by Edna St. Vincent Milay.  He told her those poems had helped him get through some tough times and he hoped she would like them, too.

The woman confessed in her email that she had been planning to commit suicide over the vacation, but when Jerry said to her firmly, “And I look forward to seeing YOU after the break,” she changed her mind. If Mr. Tagami cared about seeing her again in his classroom, that was proof that she was worth something.

We rarely appreciate the profound impact our small daily kindnesses – a word of encouragement, a smile, a listening ear, spare change — can have on someone else.  The thousands of students Jerry taught and  the friends and family he will always have were forever changed for the better by his gentle, wry wit, wise insight, unflagging encouragement, enthusiasm, love and quiet compassion.  I know that these little “pebbles” he dropped into our lives created ripples that will continue to expand outward to bless many, many others through us.

Thus, the impact of Jerry Tagami’s life far transcends his death, just as the unique gifts that YOU bestow on others will live on long after you depart the planet.  I leave you with this little poem. Shine, on, Jerry.  Shine on!

“Use God’s Gifts”  by Hilda Lachney Sanderson

“If you’re blessed with a loving heart,

If you’re caring, good and kind,

With many strengths and talents,

And a smart, clear-thinking mind,

Consider these as gifts from God

For you to use each day;

Rely on them as you begin

The chase of fortune’s way.

Do not forget to use God’s gifts

In what you choose to be,

Mix success with peace and love and generosity.

Acknowledge that strong voice within

That tells you right from wrong;

Console, encourage, lift others up,

And keep a faith that’s strong,

Use wisely all God’s gifts to you;

Stay true to what you are,

And you will prosper in this life

As God’s own shining star.”

If you would like your own free subscription to receive A Cup of Caroll three Sundays a month, just go to my website at http://www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

****************** 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 caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com to schedule their session.

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