Category: Thinking Good


Payin’ It Forward

pay it forwardIt doesn’t take much to make a day a little brighter for those around you, and, in doing so, for yourself. The other day at work, I witnessed a random act of kindness between two strangers. A woman making a purchase and I were chatting about the weather turning a bit more Spring-like as I was completing her transaction. The transaction was somewhat complex, and took about 6 minutes to A man behind her in line was patiently waiting. The woman apologized to him for his having to wait for her transaction to be completed. He smiled and said, “No problem.” Then, the woman took his item that was sitting on the counter next to her, and asked me to ring it up on her card, indicating that it was in concern for his time spent waiting. It was an $18 item. The man protested, thanking her, but she insisted. He reluctantly relented, thanking her profusely, and said to her, “You didn’t have to do that!” Her reply? “Yes, I know. But that’s exactly why I am doing it. You can do the same –something nice and unexpected–for someone else someday.” “Pay it forward, my friend”, I said. “That’s how you keep the good going ’round.”

He thanked her again, and left with a big smile on his face. And so did she. And I left work with a happy heart that day.

The Author:  Kathy Clark

Kathy Clark

“Live to Give” typifies her heart’s truest desire.  Her hope is to continue to Do Good through reaching out to others through ThinkGood, sharing with all of you  her energy and appreciation for the (sometimes hidden-suddenly revealed) moments of beauty in life.

 

Time is of the Essence

People in lineI work as a sales and office supply associate in a busy office supply store, whose familiar advertising slogan, up until very recently, was, “We Make It Easy.” Our goal, at point of sale (at the registers, the last point to impact their perception of their overall experience and the customer service they received) is to provide the customer a personal, pleasant, comprehensive and speedy checkout experience. Customers desire and expect this.

As a whole, people don’t find waiting in line to be appealing, and when their time is limited, they find it downright frustrating, even aggravating. “Why isn’t there another person opening up?” I’ve experienced a relatively small number who resort to being impolite, and, fewer who are verbally rude by all estimation. Of course, there are more people who face such temporary delays with calm, patient understanding, leaving those who don’t to stick out like a sore thumb. When the store experienced a week-long period of fluctuating internet service, then intermittent loss of service for the greater part of two consecutive afternoons, right during peak business hours, there was high anxiety among staff about how customers would react to the inevitable longer lines due to slower processing. The consensus was that it would be “a nightmare”. I thought about what could happen differently, though. I decided to think & speak with an positive attitude, and I set about briefly letting people know why there was a delay, that we were working hard on fixing it for them, and that we apologized for any inconvenience. Additionally, I decided to engage, humor and, as needed (for those who became a bit impatient or even grouchy), distract, the waiting customers from the slower pace. I chatted with a couple of groups of 4-5 customers, observing that it was “kind of like the ‘old days’, when we had few or no automated equipment to expedite purchases, and without all of our current electronics, the pace of life was slower in general, and we had time to say hello and even talk to those around us.

Nowadays, this happens less and less, because we are in a hurry and on our phones, thinking about work, etc., preoccupied and even stressed. Then, I stopped talking. As I rang customers out, albeit, still slowly, I watched and listened. Then
something wonderful, and a bit unusual happened . . . Complete strangers picked up the conversation begun with those ahead of them, and were, instead of impatient or unpleasant, cheerful, chatty, asking about each other’s days, commenting on each others’ purchases, of kids’ school project supplies, and chuckling while bemoaning the upcoming challenge of getting said project done after a last minute rush for poster board and markers. One customer even said to me, “Thank you for all your help! I hope the day gets better for you all here!” “Better for us?”, I thought. Here she was waiting in line for nearly 10 minutes, and she wished US a better day? Now that, I thought, was AWESOME.
So, go out on a limb and be positive in the face of a tough or negative situation; do it in front of people who might have reason not to be positive at the time…and see what happens. You—and they—might well be very pleasantly surprised, and all walk away smiling, eager to pass that smile to others!

The Author:  Kathy Clark

“Live to Give” typifies her heart’s truest desire.  She maintains her physical and mental health, youthful energy and sanity through daily fitness training (including Kenpo Karate, cross-training, running, snowshoeing and woods-walks with friends, and will compete in her second Tough Mudder this year).  She loves her kids, siblings and friends.  Clark is a 54 year-old (single) mom of two teenagers.  She is an RN who is happiest helping others in every way possible; her mantra, “Love with her whole heart.”

Kathy Clark

Her hope is to continue to Do Good through reaching out to others through ThinkGood, sharing with all of you      her energy and appreciation for the (sometimes hidden-suddenly revealed) moments of beauty in life.

Join the conversation

In hcroppedonor of Earth Day and the weather warming up, some of our team prepped the land and planted vegetables at a local community garden.

The Crossroads Community Garden is made up of 60 10ft x 10ft plots, open to all citizens to own and garden for the summer. The Crossroads Presbyterian Church seeks volunteers from April through summer to plant and maintain their portion of the plots. All produce grown on their plots is donated to food pantry nonprofits such as the Hospitality House.

Committed to empowering our team members, our charitable volunteer program encourages members to volunteer throughout the year for causes we are passionate about.

“The marketing team spent the afternoon at Crossroads Community garden this week, tilling the ground and then individually planting hundreds of sugar peas, onions and beets.  Last year Crossroads Community garden was able to donate nearly 3000 pounds to the…

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Liquid Diamonds – The Most Valuable Diamonds of All

Water over kids hands

I’d like to think we all have a moment, or, if we’re lucky, many moments, when we are suddenly and unmistakably drawn–pulled, even–from our inward-turned world of daily life, when we’re shown something that opens our eyes–and opens us–almost turning us inside out, so we look OUTward.  It is in these moments that we really SEE who or what is right there in front of us, seemingly put three for us, and us alone, at that precise moment, to notice, take in , to be inspired by, to love, to share and to learn from.  Or, we are given the chance to see it for some purpose to be revealed to us later, but we know to tuck it away because it is extraordinary in that moment.  Our senses are heightened, our minds are opened and focused solely on that moment, that something, that someone.

That something could be present in our lives already, even on a daily basis, yet be so mundane, so routine or so seemingly insignificant that it doesn’t register as anything other than ordinary and expected.  Or, it could be a sensation, a vision, a sound, a feeling, an awareness, that we have never experienced until that moment, and it catches our full attention and may even move us deeply.

Sound familiar?  Are you picturing fireworks, bells and whistles, orchestral or angelic soundtracks or some other dramatic accompaniment to the moment of “enlightenment”?  Or, do you imagine complete quiet , hushed, pleasant sounds from nature, repeated mantra or the steady soundtrack of familiar voices and daily activities humming along in the background, as you uncover a gentle reminder about the importance of small, simple things in a gradual, layer-by-layer excavation?  Do you picture a surge of deep emotion welling up inside you and spilling over in the form of tears…or laughter?  Will the moment be fleeting, or be forever teched in your heart and mind?

One of these “moments” in my life happened at a time when I believe I really needed it, which is when, at least in my experience, we are most likely to be shown and surprised by them.

My two children, then five and seven, and I were outside in our yard one hot summer afternoon.  They were playing with a favorite water toy–a waterway, with multiple pieces, curves and drops and a pump to raise and lower the water level, like a canal, and several different little boats to travel the route they created.  I had also filled 2 tubs with shaving cream for them to be silly with, too.  They had sunblock on, an umbrella to play under, and two icy cold drinks in their spill-proof cups, each.  Just shy of patting myself on the back for thinking of everything they’d need, “I’m all set!”I thought.  Soon, I was deeply engrossed in clearing out my garden beds anticipating momentarily getting some long overdue planting done.

All was well, until, as young kids are wont to do, my two got bored with the items at hand, and began asking for “new stuff” to play with.  Squirt guns, the small, impossible to fill, empty-in-two-squirts kind that I should have known better than to have bought, were dropped at my feet.  “Mom?  Mom?  MOM!  Can you fill these NOW?  Please?  I want the blue one!  You get the red one!”  Sigh…  I complied, and off they went.  I had barely gotten my gardening gloves back on when they were back, with the same, urgent request, now bordering on “demand”, since one of them had lost the previous “battle” and gotten sprayed in the face by the other, who was declaring “victory”.  The fourth time they returned, out of “ammunition” and getting crankier by the moment (as was I), I decided it was time to remind them that “Mommy has work to do, and I can’t keep stopping every five seconds (a classic use of exaggeration by a flustered mom) to fill these guys!”  They looked at me dejectedly, and I felt that lousy feeling of frustration and guilt combined, knowing the work I was hoping to do was not going to get done (frustration), and the reason why was because my kids needed/wanted me to help them and play with them and I was doing something else instead (guilt).

I set down my tools and went into the garage to get the two Fire Hose Hero backpack pump-action water sprayers that resembled the packs and hoses firemen might carry to put out a fire.  My two LOVED the fire department, and had won a pizza party the Fall before for “best costumes” at the department’s Halloween tour and costume contest.  They sprayers held a little under a gallon of water, and they were a hit when I brought them out and filled them.  One quick demonstration of how to use them, and they were suited up and off, running around the yard, squealing with delight.  They loved them, and I was happy to get back to work.  But they were SO happy that they were back within five minutes, begging me to fill them again…and again…and I had managed to get only two plants in the ground, with eight more to go.  Envisioning having to abandon what I wanted to do, and not pleased, I said, “Guys, look.  I need to get these plants in the ground!  This is the last time I’m filling these!”

As I reached for the hose to fill my son’s sprayer, he reached out his little hand and held it, palm up, in the stream of water pouring from the hose.  The water missed the opening and coursed over the toy and onto my pants and shoes and his,  In the split second that my mind registered, “Oh, great!  What a mess!  Now there’s no way I’ll get this done!”, my eyes caught sight of something I may never have seen–really SEEN, had I not been granted the gift of “a moment”, that particular moment, to see it.  I have never forgotten eh vision,the feeling and the impact that one moment had on me…

I watched the water flow out of the hose and over his palm.  It was crystal clear, like liquid diamonds, glinting in the brilliant summer sun, and flowing in a  tiny river over his warm and dirt-smudged little hand.  He was open to the joy and the excitement of that moment, and was elated.  He held a little-boy handful of sparkling, liquid diamonds, made of just plain water and sunshine.  But, in that instant, I  saw and felt with my whole being the beauty of what I was witnessing, as simple and ordinary as it may have otherwise been…and time slowed and my heart sped.  Ohhh…his little fingers curled in delight at the sensation of the cool water on his warm skin, and then, he looked up at me and laughed, pure joy written all over his face, and he said, “Again, Mommy!  Do it again!”, and I realized I had liquid diamonds in my eyes and running down my cheeks.

My daughter came bounding over with her Fire Hose Hero sprayer dragging behind her in the grass, and dropping it, laughed and held out both of her small hands, palms up, and the cool water with the sunshine gave her handfuls of liquid diamonds, too.  We were so very rich, my kids and I, in that moment.

Looking down at their sun-kissed blond heads, and hearing their delighted squeals as the water missed their hands and got them wet (my aim was off because there were so many diamonds in my eyes, too many to collect before more came).  I felt a flood of joy and a deep, overwhelming gratitude for the gift, right then and there, of being turned OUTward, eyes opened, and heart softened for me to truly SEE  and FEEL the blessing of my children, my life with them, and the profound gift of being their mother, all in that single, simple sweet moment.  I turned the stream onto my own open palm, watched the sun glinting off it, and felt my whole self washed of all that had closed my heart and my mind,  so as to allow it to be written in my mind and on my heart that THAT, the awakening to a moment of new vision, and moments like it,  are what matter most .

The plants got planted–eventually.  The toys the kids loved then were replaced by book series after book series, two-wheeler bikes were mastered and ridden up and down the street til dusk, and many a kickball game was played with bases that never mattered much when the inevitable silliness ensued.

1016643_716Time passed, somehow faster with each passing year.  Mastery of the eye-roll, then the impatient, “I’ve got better things to do than listen to this”, arms-folded, heavy sigh, look away, foot tap,  and other modes of communicating, like the grunt, the mumble, the silent treatment, and the “WHAAA_TT?” from behind a closed bedroom door when called, rival the complexity of the signals passed between   a major league catcher and his pitcher, and prove to be just as frustrating and confusing to the opposing team, aka, this mom.  But as proficient as they became these, so, too, did they learn to sneak in a gentle hip check or a silly joke, or a “Mom?  Got a minute?” prelude to an unexpected and priceless heart-to-heart about the ups and downs of middle school and high school life.  Hugs from mom being accepted and even reciprocated, eye contact for more than a millisecond, and moments of laughter–and tears…all these have learned to recognize as gifts; these moments, of little hands full of liquid diamonds in the sun, and I am grateful and buoyed up by them, especially on days when it feels like I am sinking.

I know now that the tough stuff will get better, and that we will mature beyond these trying years.  But, in many ways, especially some days, I want time to slow, or even stop, before my two continue that race down the road to adulthood.  I want more handfuls of diamonds days to heal and set my mind and heart right again.  But then, I remember to stop.  I look.  I SEE.  I say the words, “I am thankful.” and those moments, though they may sometimes take a little longer to recognize, or are a bit more subtle and less brilliant now, reveal themselves to me just when I most need them, and as I open my hands, I see them full of diamonds and hear my children’s laughter. 

The Author:  Kathy Clark

“Live to Give” typifies her heart’s truest desire.  She maintains her physical and mental health, youthful energy and sanity through daily fitness training (including Kenpo Karate, cross-training, running, snowshoeing and woods-walks with friends, and will compete in her second Tough Mudder this year).  She loves her kids, siblings and friends.  Clark is a 54 year-old (single) mom of two teenagers.  She is an RN who is happiest helping others in every way possible; her mantra, “Love with her whole heart.”

Kathy Clark

Her hope is to continue to Do Good through reaching out to others through ThinkGood, sharing with all of you her energy and appreciation for the (sometimes hidden-suddenly revealed) moments of beauty in life.

Daily Morning Awesomeness (40 Photos)

Thought Catalog

Shutterstock
Shutterstock
  1. “We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love.”
  1. “The highest function of love is that it makes the loved one a unique and irreplaceable being.”
  1. “Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.”
  1. “We all could be happy and fulfilled if we only had the guts to be truly free and the wisdom to shrink our egos and quit taking ourselves so damn seriously.”
  1. “When two people meet and fall in love, there’s a sudden rush of magic. Magic is…

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How To Hold Onto Your Happiness

Thought Catalog

ShutterstockShutterstock

The fact is always obvious much too late, but the most singular difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is a solid and joy a liquid. J.D. Salinger

For a very long time, I was fixated on the idea of happiness. I was bitter and very sad about a lot of things, and I would often catch myself wondering if maybe I’d ever be happy, and even if I was the kind of person who could be happy, like it was a genetic trait.

It seemed like this illusive feeling of contentment or joy that other people seemed to come across so easily. It’s always easier to look at things in negation to what we do or don’t have. 

But even at my darkest and bleakest, there were still these small pockets of happiness that would crop up from time to time. I just never actually took the time…

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Thought Catalog

image - Flickr / david_shankbone image – Flickr / david_shankbone

English fiction was something I loved growing up, and it changed my life – it changed the trajectory of my life.
Women often have a great need to portray themselves as sympathetic and pleasing, but we’re also dark people with dark thoughts.
You can’t state difference and also state equality. We have to state sameness to understand equality.
I like books that expose me to people unlike me and books that do battle against caricature or simplification. That, to me, is the heroic in fiction.
I want to write without shame or pride or over-compensation in one direction or another. To write freely.
I recognize myself to be an intensely naive person. Most novelists are, despite frequent pretensions to deep socio-political insight.
All novels attempt to cut neural routes through the brain, to convince us that down this road the true future of the novel…

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1200 Calories

Sophieologie

I don’t know why “1200” managed to be the magic number of calories women should consume if they want to lose weight.

I don’t even know how I know of this number. Only that I know it, and my friends know it, and my mom knows it. Somehow, somewhere along the road, I was taught that if I want to have a flat stomach and tight tushy, I need to limit my calories to 1200 a day and do cardio. I don’t know how it got in to all of our collective brains, but somehow it did (if any ladies remember how or when they first heard the 1200-calorie rule-of-thumb for losing weight, please let me know via comment box).

What I do know is that 1200 is the general number of calories health professionals say women cannot drop below without suffering negative health consequences.

Interesting, isn’t it? 1200 calories. The…

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Thought Catalog

Gianni CumboGianni Cumbo

Fellow introverts: It’s ok to be reserved, but don’t use that as an excuse for becoming a hermit. Extroverts: Let us be. Not everyone can be a social butterfly like you.

1. I hate the stigma attached to the word “introvert.”

That means a weird, socially awkward person we all want to avoid. To me, an “introvert” is someone who is selective about who they surround themselves with. It’s someone who is comfortable with being by themselves without feeling insecure. We value quality over quantity.

2. I love meeting new people, but only if you approach me first.

If I have to make the first move, it’ll most likely never happen. I’m silently imagining every possible thing that could go wrong and by the time I work up enough courage to do it, I’ve thoroughly freaked you out by constantly glancing your way and you’ve already sprinted for…

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