An old man walked up a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm. A young man was picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean. "Why do you bother?" the old man scofted. "You're not saving enough to make a difference." The young man picked up another starfish and sent it spinning back to the water. "Made a difference to that one," he said.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Attention Travelers: Stop and Look Around You

As an avid traveler I have found that if I stop and look around there are always opportunities to give and help others.  From my observation, airports tend to be a confusing place that makes people nervous. All people want is for someone to help them but they don’t want to ask for the help.
I take the Coach USA bus from Northwest Indiana to Chicago Midway airport.  During this trip I have to transfer from one bus that continues to O’Hare and get on my bus that goes to Midway.  While I was transferring buses today I noticed a young lady that had a baby strapped to the front of her, a large purse, baby bag, duffle bag and two rolling suitcases.  People with their heads down grabbed their bags and continued to move on to their bus.  I stopped and asked her if she needed help and she said yes.  I strolled and loaded her bags on the bus.
When we got to the airport I asked her again if she could use some help.  I brought her bags into the airport and I could tell she hadn’t traveled much so I decided to stay with her until she felt comfortable and got to where she was going.  I helped her at check-in and gave her directions on how to get to security and get to her gate.  In giving her directions I could tell she was still not confident she could make it to her gate.
I told her to wait at the top of the escalators while I took my bag to check-in.  As I was walking away she asked a very direct question, with a nervous giggle… “Are you a human trafficker?”
At first I was taken aback by her question but then I stopped to look at the situation.  A total stranger, following and helping another total stranger through the airport.  I know she had to be thinking, “Why is she doing this? What is in it for her?”
She said, I only ask because I was watching this show last night on human trafficking and it has me paranoid.  I can’t believe this stuff happens in the United States.  I laughed and said I am not a human trafficker. You can trust me. I told her I was a former police officer and that I was married to and Indiana State Trooper.  Yes, there are some corrupt cops out there but 98% are out there doing good things, so I hope this would ease her suspicions and it did.
I dropped off my bag and came back to her and navigated her down the escalator to security where I helped her with her bags.  It is funny how the mind works because here she was hoping I wasn’t a human trafficker and as I was carrying her bags and helping her through security, I was praying there were no drugs or illegal items in her bags.  That is all I would need.  Trying to prove to the cops I was just taking time to help someone through the airport and that a bag I had in my possession was not my bag. I am sure the cops would believe that story because that is what everyone who is smuggling drugs say…. “It’s not my bag!”
We made it through security and I looked at my watch and still had an hour to get to my gate.  I decided I would continue to help her with her bags and walk her down to her gate, B18.  We made it to the gate and because she was flying standby I took her to the Southwest desk to see if she was going to make the flight.  Unfortunately her flight was overbooked and she would be bumped to another flight.
 The customer service representative asked the young lady, “Who is this?”  The young lady without missing a beat said, “This is my guardian angel and I love her!”
We had been together less than an hour and we had made a connection, a bond.  I walked her to her seat, got her situated and gave her a big hug and wished her luck on her travels. 
Next time you are in the airport, stop and look around for someone needing help.  Help someone with their bags, let someone in front of you who seems to be running late or give someone directions that seem lost.  These random acts of kindness cost you nothing but may be priceless to the person you are reaching out and lending a helping hand.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

One of my favorite quotes...

It is words of others that have gotten me through tough times in life. It is the words of others that has inspired me to work hard, to never quit and to make this world a better place.  I am blessed to have been raised by people who were and still our constant encouragers through their words, cards and now texts!

Words are very powerful. They can save a life but they can also be the thing that prevents people from succeeding and being who they were meant to be.  Words can build people up and tear them down.

I have one whole wall in my office that is dedicated to positive words, quotes, poems, stories and life lists.  One of my favorites came from a friend and I felt compelled to share it with you all this evening.

"Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.  Look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.  Think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.  Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.  Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you!" ~Christian D. Larson

I challenge you to be encouraging in your words.  Be kind to others and build people up by motivating them to be the best they can be. 

"You always make a difference.  Its' your choice as to whether the difference will be positive or negative, active or passive, helping or hindering." ~Harold R. McAlindon

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Start your giving adventure today!

I can’t believe it has been several weeks since I have posted a blog. Time flies by when you are having fun and living life!   My gifts over the past couple of weeks have been rather simple and I have had a little bit of writers block trying to blog about the daily gifts.  To check out my daily gift list click here.

A couple of month’s back I was contacted by a lady who stumbled upon my blog and has started to follow my gift giving journey.  She had many questions about how I got started, how I figure out what gifts to give, etc.  She e-mailed me first and then I followed up with a phone call to her.  I love hearing from those of you that follow my blog and getting to talk to new people and making personal connections is even better.
I let her know that I had read the book 29 Gifts and that it motivated me to start not just giving only 29 days, but for an entire year.  That year made such an impact in my life that I have continued into year two.  I explained to her that in the beginning, gifts were sometimes hard to come by and many days I relied on creativity and seeking and searching for opportunities. But, as the days, weeks and months went by opportunities started to present themselves and the gift giving became a daily habit.  What do the experts say; it takes 21 days of consistent actions to build a habit?

I checked in with this young lady at the end of her first month and she gave me permission to share her response and experience. Here it is:
“Hi Stephanie- I am so excited to tell you about my 29 days that unintentionally has turned into 31 and going.

 Well, it hasn’t been easy, but it has been interesting and very surprising.  I found that on every single occasion that I gave something, I got something in return.  This was not my intention what-so-ever but I have received an award for every act. 
The most interesting incidence of giving happened one day when I was frustrated very upset and couldn’t focus on something to give. So I took an idea from you and while I was running errands, I drove through a drive-thru and purchased a coffee drink and of course, paid for the car behind me.  On my way home, I noticed the same car behind me.  I didn’t think anything of it but then I actually started to wonder if I had offended the driver somehow. 

Well, she followed me home. I got out of my car ready to apologize when an old friend popped out of her car and thanked me for the coffee and wanted to know why I hadn’t just waved her down so we could have coffee together.  I had no idea I knew the person. It has been a few years, I didn’t recognize the car and I deliberately didn’t look in my review mirror because for some reason, this particular act was made me nervous.
Another beautiful thing I am finding is that every time I talk about this with family and friends, I get more “leads” if you will for giving and others are considering a journey of their own. 

On day 29 an acquaintance asked me to provide them some consultative services for a fee.  I volunteered my effort – that leads to a nice contract for the spring. Completely unexpected but very cool! I have continued with day 30 and 31 and will keep going. I do think it is a habit now, another reward for me.

So when I started, I did not expect rewards.  It is strange. I love giving and in the past, over thought things so much that when I gave, the recipient often felt like they had to give something back to me which was very uncomfortable for both of us.  This journey, while I think about it every single day, has made things so much easier in that the gifts are simple, unpretentious and don’t render that feeling of obligation on anyone’s part

So glad I caught your blog on this!  It doesn’t matter if my gifts are even acknowledged by the recipients or if I even know who directly benefits- I think the practice of just giving changes so many things we can’t be aware of unless we make the effort.”

I hope this young lady’s story inspires you to start your gift giving journey today.  I encourage you to start on this amazing adventure. Even if your goal is to just give a gift for a day, a week or month.  It is a start.  I can almost guarantee that if you make it to 21 days, it will not only become a habit but a lifestyle that will change your life and those around you.

If you have questions or need ideas drop me an e-mail at or leave a comment.