“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.

 

 

“…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 caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com 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 caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com to schedule their session.

“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.