What Makes Your Day Great?

ethanthankyouOne statement that can make your day a great one is a sincere “Thank you.” It’s a simple statement, one of the most common that you hear.

When you are on the receiving end of “Thank you,” something wonderful happens. You feel recognized, valued, and appreciated. You feel like the other person took the time to speak from the heart.

One such thank you arrived in our mailbox recently. It was sent to my husband and me by our “adopted” godson, Ethan. I say adopted because we are not his official godparents, rather, we are godparents to his older brother, Andrew. Truth be told, we’re also adopted godparents to their older sister, Alexis.

From the outside, it looked like a normal thank you card from American Greetings. The sentiment inside is what truly made my day. On the inside left panel was a huge THANK YOU, perfectly handwritten in all caps. The note began with an appropriate salutation: “Uncle Christine and Aunt Mark.” Years ago when the kids were still living at home, their mom, one of my best and longtime friends, made the mistake of mixing up our names. When all three kids heard it, they burst into laughter. Somehow, it magically stuck, and it has been that way ever since. That happy accident became a new moniker for us. I am Uncle Christine and Mark is Aunt Mark.

Ethan just began his freshman year of college. He was thanking us for his graduation gift and something more. He was thanking us for being who we are, and for being in his life. I love his first sentence: “You two are some of my favorite people on the planet.” The note continues with “I look up to you two more than anyone in my life and I’m not just saying that.” He went on to tell Mark and me how he feels about us. His note was very touching, and yes, it made me teary-eyed.

The moment I finished reading the thank you note, I told Mark, “Let’s keep this out as a reminder. Any time we’re having a bad day, we can simply pick it up and read it again to lift our spirits.”

Poetry and songs relate to this solo journey called life. We can sometimes feel alone, undervalued or under appreciated, like we don’t matter, or like people don’t care. Then we realize – through some small recognition by other people – that we are not alone, that we do matter, that they do care, that we have influenced their lives in some way…just like Ethan’s note stated.

Let me ask you this: Who was the last person you said “thank you” to? Was it a clerk at a store? A server at a restaurant? A co-worker? A team member? Your spouse? Your partner? Never underestimate the power of thank you. You just might make someone else’s day.

A Life Well Lived…and Celebrated

MatkaValleyLegacyLast week, my 93-year-old mother was included among 24 outstanding seniors and 5 senior advocates honored for exemplary community contributions and lifetime achievements in my hometown area. As each honoree’s name was called, a brief biographical description captured the essence of that person’s interests and passions in both life and career. Every individual being honored was a dedicated volunteer and activist. As I listened with great intensity, I was reminded that we can either choose to remain passive or become actively engaged in the direction and purpose of our life.
The comment made by a retired veteran and amputee who happened to be one of the top five award recipients stuck with me. In a strong New York borough accent, he said, “You just gotta do whatcha gotta do.” This is what his comment means to me:

Do what you want to do. There is a big difference between wanting something and needing something. When you do what you want to do, you are unstoppable. Nothing and no one can stand in the way of your success and achievements.

Believe that you can do it. It didn’t matter whether someone volunteered with children, landscaped a local park or helped to feed the hungry, they all believed that they could contribute their talents and skills to the cause.

Put your best effort into everything you do. None of the honorees struck me as the highly competitive type, who just wanted to rack up points for popularity. Giving their best was ingrained in their DNA. They gave only their best to everything they did, whether at home, at work, or in their community.

Serve others and serve yourself well.┬áThere is no greater joy in life than contributing to another person’s well-being and success. Teaching English to a new immigrant or serving meals at the local shelter, no matter what you do, when you do it for others, it makes you feel good about yourself and what you are able to give.

Inspire others. Your actions will do more to inspire others than you could ever imagine. When I left the luncheon, my heart was full, and I was inspired to do more and give more of myself to others.

Fast forward a few decades. Imagine that you are a senior in your 60s, 70s, 80s or even 90s, being honored for your lifetime achievements. What will they say about you? Return to today: What can you give of your talents and skills to others between now and then?