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.


Written by Anne Field, Contributor, Forbes:  She covers for-profit social enterprises and the people who fund them

9/15/2013 @ 12:01PM |575 views

Hyper-Local Web Site For Do-Gooders Around The World

A hyper-local web site that links up people in a community looking to help with individuals or small nonprofits looking for help: That’s the concept behind Think Good, a six-month-old social enterprise in Boston founded by two tech startup veterans.  (Note that the enterprise is still in beta, and that link takes you to a place-holder, not the real web site).

To give you an idea of just how local we’re talking here: The tasks could be anything from shoveling an elderly neighbor’s driveway to helping at a local food bank. Also, there’s a big emphasis on the tiny, struggling nonprofit with a tiny budget and big needs. “These are understaffed groups with antiquated processes,” says partner and founder Ann-Marie Bland, “While at the same time being socially responsible is becoming more of the fabric of our world.”

Still, while the  enterprise is barely off the ground, the founders’ ambitions are nothing if not large. “Our long-term goal is to be the social responsibility brand and build the largest community of ‘do-gooders’ who live the brand,” says Bland.

How would it work? Helpers would fill out a profile online with such information as their skills, how far away they’d be willing to drive and so on and people or places looking for help would post their need ( or call the office). Then an alert would be sent to appropriate potential volunteers to see who would be interested in lending a hand. If you don’t sign up to get an alert, then you can just periodically browse the site to see what’s there.

A long-time member of tech companies, (including Viaweb, the business co-founded by Y Combinator co- founder Paul Graham that was sold to Yahoo YHOO -1.26%! in 1998), Bland first got the social enterprise bug after 9/11, when she joined the staff of Connected Living, which aims to address a digital divide we seldom hear about–the one involving senior citizens who don’t know much about computers. “They were being left out of the conversation,” she says. It was the first time she’d worked for something that left her feeling really good about what she was doing every day, that she was making a positive difference.

About a year and a half ago, she met co-founder Jeff Ernst, who had been involved in a number of early stage startups, including Talent Reef, a social recruiting platform,  but also made a significant commitment to volunteer work, including a church group that sends high school students to Mississippi every year to continue with post-Hurricane Katrina recovery work. He was stunned not only by the  “euphoria” he felt while doing such work, but also the change he saw in the teenagers he accompanied.  “I got to talking to my daughter about how we could bottle up that feeling throughout the year,” he says.

That’s partly where the kernel for an idea came from. Bland and Ernst decided the best answer would be a web site that would connect people in specific communities looking to help or looking for help–small tasks, either for an organization or for an individual, that could be done throughout the year.

With dozens of people already expressing interest, the partners decided the wisest course of action was to start small. Thanks to a critical mass of interest among residents of Portland, Me., they’re starting a pilot there.

Then they hope to fine-tune the concept and create “a Think Good in a box,” says Bland, that can be replicated easily in chapters in any community.

One key tool, they hope, will be something they call their “Inner Circle.” That’s a group of individuals, schools, nonprofits and other volunteer “do-gooders” (their term), who participate in weekly calls to discuss improvements, changes, what’s working, what isn’t, and share their stories. So far, they’ve had 40 people sign up, including someone from Malaysia and a group from India.

The question, of course is , with such lofty ambitions, where will the revenues come from? For now, Bland and Ernst are kicking around a few ideas. First, through discussions with their Inner Circle, they’ve learned there’s a desire to get together in person. So they plan to create workshops, retreats,  benefit concerts, and conferences. They’re also toying with the idea of designing branded apparel; they say they’ve been approached by organizations interested in associating themselves with social impact enterprises. Then there’s the idea for a point system (called social good currency), which would accumulate based on individual activity and could be exchanged for donations to charities.

Certainly, there are a lot of sites using the web for social good.  (I recentlywrote about Reciprocity & Co., one such effort aimed at crowdfunding). But the hyper-local and national–even international–focus of this one sets it apart from at least some of the others.

Most people are like the circus elephant. Have you ever seen a giant elephant in an indoor arena tied to a little wooden stake. That huge creature can pick up two thousand pounds with its trunk, yet it calmly stays tied. Why? When that


elephant was just a baby, and not very strong, it was tied by a huge chain to an iron stake that could not be moved. Regardless of how hard it tried, it could not break the chain and run free. After it a while it just gave up. Later, when it is strong, it never attempts to break free. The “imprint” is permanent. “I can’t! I can’t!’ it says. There are millions of people who behave like this creature of the circus. They have been bound, tied and told “You’ll never make it,” so many times they finally call it quits. The may have dreams, but the “imprinting” keeps pulling them back. Today, eliminate the source of your limitations. When you mentally break free, the boundaries will be removed from your future.

An Inspirational Story: The Pebbles

The Touchstone

When the great library of Alexandria burned, the story goes, one book was saved. But it was not a valuable book; and so a poor man, who could read a little, bought it for a few coppers.
The book wasn’t very interesting, but between its pages there was something very interesting indeed. It was a thin strip of vellum on which was written the secret of the “Touchstone”!

The touchstone was a small pebble that could turn any common metal into pure gold. The writing explained that it was lying among thousands and thousands of other pebbles that looked exactly like it. But the secret was this: The real stone would feel warm, while ordinary pebbles are cold.

So the man sold his few belongings, bought some simple supplies, camped on the seashore, and began testing pebbles.


Opportunities Are Easily Thrown Away

He knew that if he picked up ordinary pebbles and threw them down again because they were cold, he might pick up the same pebble hundreds of times. So, when he felt one that was cold, he threw it into the sea. He spent a whole day doing this but none of them was the touchstone. Yet he went on and on this way. Pick up a pebble. Cold – throw it into the sea. Pick up another. Throw it into the sea.

The days stretched into weeks and the weeks into months. One day, however, about midafternoon, he picked up a pebble and it was warm. He threw it into the sea before he realized what he had done. He had formed such a strong habit of throwing each pebble into the sea that when the one he wanted came along, he still threw it away.

So it is with opportunity. Unless we are vigilant, it’s asy to fail to recognize an opportunity when it is in hand and it’s just as easy to throw it away.

– Author Unknown

A man stopped at a flower shop to order some flowers to be wired to his mother who lived two hundred miles away.

Think Good Story

Earth’s little reminders happen at the right times and can be a way to realign thinking.

As he got out of his car he noticed a young girl sitting on the curb sobbing.

He asked her what was wrong and she replied, “I wanted to buy a red rose for my mother. But I only have seventy-five cents, and a rose costs two dollars.”

The man smiled and said, “Come on in with me. I’ll buy you a rose.”

He bought the little girl her rose and ordered his own mother’s flowers.

As they were leaving he offered the girl a ride home. She said, “Yes, please! You can take me to my mother.”

She directed him to a cemetery, where she placed the rose on a freshly dug grave.

The man returned to the flower shop, canceled the wire order, picked up a bouquet and drove the two hundred miles to his mother’s house.

(Author Unknown)

True Happiness is Giving it Away

True Happiness is Giving it Away

Want to become a spirit-lifting, mood-elevating, cheer-engineering dynamo? Martha Beck maintains that brightening someone else’s day requires far less effort than you’d think.

I’m one of those people who just want to make everybody’s day. I love humanity! Each man’s joy is joy to me! Let’s be honest, though: I can’t spend all my time bringing bliss to others—I have work to do and bills to pay. Also, someone has to watch all six seasons of Lost on DVD, and to be blunt, I don’t see you stepping up. But I digress.

My point is, I’m sure you, too, want to make other people’s days, you with your six-page to-do list and your life-devouring job and that “will work for sleep” expression on your haunted little face. That’s why I’m here to offer you not just seven ways to make someone else’s day but seven ways to make someone else’s day without getting up. You may need to dial a phone, but your torso can remain inert. That is my kind of altruism.

As you read the suggestions that follow, monitor yourself. If your mind says, Great idea! but your body says, Too much work, your body wins. Your mind will tell you it’s virtuous to make someone’s day in ways that make your own day stressful, but trust me—that just cancels out the overall benefit. This is simple math, people. Undertake these do-good strategies if and only if they feel exceptionally easy.

1. Feel good around other people.

Back in the ’60s (and by that I mean the 1660s), a Dutch scientist named Christiaan Huygens realized that multiple pendulums mounted on the same wall always ended up swinging in perfect synchrony, even when he had set them in motion at different times. This phenomenon is called entrainment, and in my experience humans are just as likely to fall in sync as Huygens’s clocks. At the very least, many neuroscientists believe that our so-called mirror neurons can foster our ability to empathize with the emotions we observe in others. One rage-aholic can fill an entire office with anger, while a truly happy person can lighten the mood for everyone around her. I once spent several hours in a room full of large, sleeping dogs, who entrained me into such peace, I now count that uneventful afternoon as one of my life’s highlights.

To make someone’s day, all you have to do is stay physically near her while remaining in a state of contentment, humor, compassion or calm. Try getting deeply happy around any loved one, acquaintance or stranger. Refuse to let go of your good mood. You don’t have to say or do anything else. Really. It’ll make your day to see how easily you can make someone else’s. And before you know it, you’ll be soothing entire stressed-out crowds, like the ones you find at food courts and matador conventions.

2. Pretend people love you.

One of the statements that changed my life comes from spiritual teacher Byron Katie: “When I walk into a room, I know that everyone in it loves me. I just don’t expect them to realize it yet.” I’m by no means certain that everyone in every room loves me, but I’ve found that pretending they do works nicely when I want to make someone’s day.

I spent much of my life wandering about armored against criticism and rejection, unaware that my wary defense appeared to others as inexplicable offense. And since everyone around me was also frightened, their defenses escalated the moment they encountered mine, which in turn ratcheted up to meet theirs, and so on. This emotional arms race drives people apart in every home, office, subway car, dentist’s office, rice field and square-dancing school on Earth. But pretending other people love you flips the vicious cycle into a virtuous one. Imagine how you’d enter a public space—say, a grocery store—if you knew without a doubt that everyone in it adored you. How would you move? How would you look at people? What would you say? Now imagine interacting with a loved one while feeling so sure of her infinite, unconditional acceptance that you had no need for reaffirmation. How would you behave? You’d probably lay down some of your armor. Then she would loosen hers. Then you’d relax even more, and so on and on and on. Try it right now—you can do so without getting up! Pretending someone loves you, right where you sit, will begin a day-making spiral of love.
3. Stop worrying about everyone.

Barbara sits before me fairly drowning in stress hormones. Her parents, who’ve come to the session with her, would do anything to eliminate her anxiety disorder and the panic attacks that go with it. Well, almost anything.

“We’re so worried,” says Barbara’s mother, Janice.

“Mom, Dad,” says Barbara, “please don’t worry. It just puts pressure on me.”

Janice’s imploring eyes stay fixed on me. “What can we do?”

“Did you hear what she just said?” I ask.

“She’s suffering,” Dave, Barbara’s dad, tells me.

“And what did she ask?”

“She needs to stop being so tense,” says Janice.

“Actually, she asked you both to stop worrying,” I say.

“Yes!” Barbara shouts.

“Well, of course we’ll keep worrying,” says Dave. “It’s our job.”

Barbara turns to me and whispers, “Help.”

Mark this, gentle reader: Love and worry are not the same. (If you believe they are, I point you in the direction of blogger Jenny Lawson, who says: “A hug is like a strangle you haven’t finished yet.”) Think of someone you’re worried about. Now replace worry with something else: creativity, perhaps, or singing or sudoku. I’m serious. It truly will make that person’s day.

4. Advise people not to trust you.

One of the first things I tell new clients is not to trust me. Why should they? They don’t know me. My job is to be trustworthy while telling them to put their trust where it belongs: in their own sense of truth. People often tell me that simply hearing this is enough to make their day. It’s like taking spinach from a baby. (Whoever coined the phrase “taking candy from a baby” never had a baby.)

I also advise my loved ones, such as you, not to trust me. It’s not that I’m pernicious or false—it’s just that I’m fallible. If you trust me before trusting yourself, you’ll rob us both of excellent counsel. So please don’t trust anything I’ve written here unless it resonates as truth. Count on your instincts to keep you safe; they will. Doesn’t that make your day?

5. Get someone else to help.

This may require a phone call, so put a phone near your Barcalounger. Then arrange for a third party—not yourself—to help the person whose day you’re trying to make. Ask her what she needs: groceries delivered? a cleaning person to detail the kitchen? You needn’t bankroll these services. Just be the one who makes the call.

Many are the days folks have made for me by enlisting help on my behalf. And I didn’t have to feel guilty about burdening them, because I know that getting help for someone else is way less arduous than asking for help yourself. So go ahead, tell a nutritionist about your husband’s constipation. Schedule a massage for your tightly wound best friend. Use that phone! Make that day!

6. Gossip positively.

To praise people to their faces is to be disbelieved. Most of us doubt or discredit positive feedback, chalking it up to politeness or brownnosing or other social convention. But what people say behind our backs really sticks. My life changed in an adolescent moment when I picked up a phone extension, not knowing the line was in use, and heard a conversation about me, me, me! I don’t know what had gotten into the speakers—perhaps a great deal of what can only be called alcohol—but they were saying nice things about me. This not only made my day; it served as a foundation for emotional survival during some tough times thereafter.

Today, “mistakenly” copy someone on an email about his best qualities. Leave positive comments about your children on notes “accidentally” scattered around the house. Admire people loudly to third parties when you know the admired are eavesdropping. Praise be.
7. Help a loved one play hooky.

This is an ethically gray area, so I would never say you should do it. I’m just hypothetically floating the crazy idea that one day you might happen to call in sick for someone you love (“Well, I think she’ll keep the hand if the bacteria isn’t antibiotic resistant, but it may be airborne…”). Once she’s freed from school or work, you could do something that would enrich her life forever. If that’s the kind of thing you’d ever do. Which I would never suggest.

One day my friend Allen called in sick for his girlfriend Jenny, then took her scuba diving to a coral reef where he’d previously planted an engagement ring (okay, the diving involved getting up, but the calling didn’t). Now Allen and Jenny are married. Does she regret the memos she failed to receive that day, the emails that waited 24 extra hours for an answer? She does not. Go figure.

Now, I realize all of this is a lot to take in. If I were you, I’d sleep on it before trying any of these methods. Just lie back and let all this advice float out of your head. The information will return should you ever need it. Relax, relax, relax. That would really make my day.

Martha Beck’s latest book is The Martha Beck Collection: Essays for Creating Your Right Life, Volume One (Martha Beck Inc.).

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