Tag Archives: appreciation

A Touch of Kindness Goes a Long Way

Operation Spread Hope, Love & Joy, Part III

IMG_4317 2

“A little spark of kindness can put a colossal burst of sunshine in someone’s day. Be the reason someone smiles today.

Point to Ponder:
Have you ever considered your daily goal being to make someone smile?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Like many little boys, when my four year old son Durant was a toddler he loved trash trucks. Thursday was our trash pick-up day so that was a huge deal! As soon as I heard the trash truck roaring down the street my husband or I would scoop him up and we’d rush out of the house to catch a glimpse and give a wave. He loved trash trucks so much that I would follow them around neighborhoods. During one of my “I’ll do anything to entertain my toddler”/ “trash truck stalking” moments, I was following a trash truck so close that the sweet garbage man got out of his truck to wave me around him. I let him know that I had a little boy in the car who loved trash trucks. He then invited us into his truck and let Durant push buttons and steer the wheel. Like the quote says, the little spark of kindness from the garbage man put a colossal burst of sunshine in both of our days! I will forever be grateful for all of the sweet garbage men who honked their horns, gave us waves and let us check out their powerful machines.

Before having my endearing garbage man experience which led to a sincere appreciation for this group, my angelic grandmother showed me how important it was to be kind and generous to people who have “thankless jobs”, like a garbage man.

My grandmother, ‘Mama Doris’, might have been the most kind and wonderful person I have ever known. If being too kind is possible, she fell in that category because she nurtured and cared for everyone except herself. In addition to doing anything for anyone and being an amazing grandmother, a few examples of her kindness were that she would regularly bake the mailman and garbage man her homemade apple and butter pies, and she would scramble eggs for stray cats! She was always spreading hope, love and joy and I have no doubt that she is in heaven continuing to bake and cook for everyone.

In consideration of this week being our third week of Operation Spread Hope, Love and Joy, my encouragement for you is to continue to be intentional with spreading hope, love and joy by doing something kind for men and/or women who perform “thankless jobs”. Just a few examples of thankless jobs are garbage, mail and delivery services, construction, etc.

Finally, due to travel back to Austin for the holidays we will miss this week’s trash day, so last week I left a Merry Christmas note with goodie gift bag for our trash men. I don’t know about you, but our pantry is never lacking treats, especially during the holiday season, so it was a cinch to find goodies to fill the bag. And, it felt really good to create and leave a gift bag for our garbage men and upon doing so I had no expectation. However, that evening while pulling the garbage cans back into the garage I found a hand-written thank you note from Jaime V, one of the garbage men (see below). I was floored!

While last Tuesday was a great day, Jaime V’s note was the highlight of that day and it continues to make me smile. In fact, I’m keeping it in my day planner as a reminder of not only how truly gratifying it is to give, but how upligting it feels to receive an unexpected thank you.

IMG_4439

A thank you not from Jaime V, our garbage truck driver

 

Action Item:
Spread a little love, hope and joy by doing something kind for the men and/or women who perform thankless jobs such as garbage, mail and delivery services, construction, etc.

 

You May Also Like:

Advertisements

It’s Not What You Endure, It’s How You Endure It

 

iGnite - unshakeable faithiGnite Members Christie Skinner (left) and Kerrie Pennington (right) at Christie’s home while the iGnite Community helped her sort through her salvaged items on Sunday.

“Forget what you can’t control and focus on what you can control: your attitude, your faith, and your perspective. Choose to make the best of every situation that comes your way.”
(Anonymous)

Point to Ponder:
How do you tend to react when faced with personal loss or tragedy?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

As our iGnite community received word of via email this weekend, on Tuesday iGnite member Christie Skinner’s home burned. Upon learning the news, I sent Christie a text extending my sympathy, care and prayers. Honestly, I was nervous to reach out because I feared my text would be burdomsome. But, I tried putting myself in her shoes and I knew that I would appreciate friends reaching out. I didn’t expect or need a response, though what I received just minutes later blew my mind. Here is our exchange:

Neissa: “Hello Christie, Kathleen let me know about your home and I want you to know how very sorry I am. I am so thankful you all are okay. Please know that Russell and I are praying for you all and will continue to pray for you throughout the recovery process. Know that you are loved and being thought of.”

Christie: “Thanks!! It’s pretty sad but it’s just stuff!! And amazingly we are in the process of buying a little condo on Lake Austin so God’s timing is really good!!”

Neissa: “Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.”

Christie: “You can bring me a Diet Coke on ice anytime you happen to be around.”

My initial reaction was, “Really? Did I read that correctly? How is it possible for someone to have lost so much yet have such tremendous perspective? And, she’s only asked for a Diet Coke? I can do that!”

I was briefly able to stop by Christie’s home today, Sunday, while our iGnite community helped her sort through her items. I’ve always thought that if a big project or job needs to get accomplished, the quick solution is a group of committed women. Indeed the job was getting done, and Christie’s spirit was contagious. She was positive, smiled and did what she needed to do. The entire sight was inspiring, like Christie’s faith and attitude.

I am always amazed by the events, circumstances and losses that the human spirit is able to endure. Most everyone faces some type of tragedy or difficult circumstances in their life, though what distinguishes one person from the other is not what they endure but how they endure it. The way I see it is we have choices: we can either (1) endure alone, without faith, think that life is out to get us, God is trying to punish us, give up and have a bad attitude — or, we can (2) let go of our pride, let others know how they can help us (even if it’s simply a Diet Coke on ice!), pray for unshakable faith, ask for others who have unshakeable faith to pray for us and trust in the plans that God has for us: a plan to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

While we all will not experience the tragedy of a burned home, we all will experience loss in our lives. It is for this that having an unshakable faith, never underestimating the power of prayer, surrounding ourselves with a community of people who also have unshakeable faith, and trusting in the promise of a future is crucial. There’s no doubt that life is going to shake us over and over again, but it doesn’t have to break us. Thank you, Christie for showing us this!

Action Item:
Contemplate Christie’s response to the events of the past week and be inspired by her unshakable faith and ability to accept help in such difficult circumstances.

You May Also Like:

Forever Forward, Never Back

iGnite - go forward, never back

Point to Ponder:
Do you ever find yourself living in the past?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

From September 3 through last Tuesday, September 15, I’ve had company staying with my family. Knowing that I was in a new city with children while my husband Russell was traveling, my father, stepmom, mother and sister all made special plans to come out and be with me on and around my birthday. And, unbeknownst to me, my dad, who is a total worker-bee and can’t sit still unless he’s quickly eating or watching a sporting event, had a specific agenda: to help get us out of boxes and settled into our new house. A.k.a. WORK!

It was wonderful to see my family, and I was so thankful to have them, but by Tuesday I was eager to get the kids and I back to a routine (a.k.a. CONTROL!). The time for exercise, uninterrupted time, responding to thirteen days worth of email and an opportunity to tackle my ever-growing personal and professional to-do list had finally come, and after dropping my children Durant and Malaine off at pre-school on Tuesday, it was MY time!

I planned to take a quick walk around the neighborhood near the kids’ preschool and then go to a yoga class. It was sprinkling outside, but the idea of walking in a light rain sounded delicious. Just before heading off, a dear friend called so I grabbed my phone to walk and talk.

The friend asked how I was doing with our recent move, and I told him I was struggling. I expressed that I was not questioning God’s plan, however the greatest challenge has been adjusting to no longer having an amazing community of family, friends, and support (CONTROL). And, having felt so purpose-filled in Austin, I was struggling with finding my purpose in San Diego, which was why I was clinging to my life in Austin. He listened intently and having moved a lot himself, he validated my feelings and gave me some helpful advice: take baby steps forward, take care of me, and don’t compare my life in San Diego to my life in Austin. It was a new time and I needed to work on slowing my brain down and releasing my expectations. I agreed with everything he suggested, and I proudly told him that today was the day that I was going to focus on Neissa — hence the walk and yoga class.

During my walk, the sprinkle turned into a solid rain—so much so that my eyes burned from the little bit of eyeliner I was wearing. I was totally fine with this because I had clothes to change into, it was MY DAY, and San Diego needs the rain. So, within twenty-five minutes I was back at my car to grab my yoga mat and a change of clothes when I realized my worst nightmare — my purse, wallet, and work bag with computer, day planner, mail, and work notebooks were all gone. They had been stolen! My driver’s license, expired passport, credit cards, check books….gone. It was ALL gone, including MY DAY! “My day” quickly turned into the misery of filing police reports, canceling bank accounts and credit cards, calling pawn shops and driving around with the hope of finding my things lying around the area.

As you would expect, “the day of me” and getting anything on my to-do list accomplished was no longer an option. I won’t bore you with the un-fun details of trying to get an California driver’s license when you have no form of ID except a paper copy of an expired driver’s license, a paper copy of your birth certificate and a Costco card, but what I do want to share is what I learned through the process, as I think it can be universally applied. I’ve had to find reason and some glimpse of positivity in this incredibly frustrating experience. Ultimately, I think it relates to our ability to shine throughout life, as I wrote about a couple weeks ago in It’s Time to Turn On Your Shine.

4 Things I’ve Learned the Hard Way:

  1. For starters, my work, technology and to-do lists have been and are my idols. They give me purpose and security and keep me distracted. Upon realizing that all of my things were taken, it became absolutely clear that God was telling me to let go, trust in Him and let Him take over. Do I think He made this happen? Of course not. Bad things happen to good people every single second of the day, but He knows that I am feeling completely out of control and have been clinging to every thing that makes me feel safe and secure. I shine when I find comfort, hope and security in God rather than things.
  2. Second, while it is a terrible and sad inconvenience, it’s actually nice to have my to-do list stolen! For the first time ever, I’m not busying myself with it and frantically trying to find time on my computer so I can respond to emails. And, you know what? Life is going on! I actually thought I was that important! Yes, I am skimming email on my phone, but I’m not checking email on my phone and computer. It’s actually liberating! Will I get another computer? Of course, and I pray I can recover everything I lost. But for the first time, I am giving myself a real break– because I don’t have any other choice. My poor kids actually get a focused mom. I shine when I am a present mom, wife, friend and person.
  3. Third, you must keep moving to survive. Always go forward, never back. I actually wrote down this quote weeks ago in a notebook…that was of course stolen from my work bag. I heard the words from the goofy kid movie “Shark Boy,” and for weeks I’ve thought about how perfect the advice is for our move from Austin to San Diego, and most recently, how I’ll deal with recovering my stolen items…and really for any of us who struggle with living in the past or comparing our present to our past! As for my recent move, it’s critical that I stop looking back and comparing my life in Austin to my life in San Diego. My spirit will not survive if I continue to do this. I have to move forward every day. Regarding my stolen possessions, I so badly want to live in the past and cry over what happened, dwell on it and talk about how unfair it is, but again, I won’t survive by doing that. I have to move forward, take baby steps and make progress in the recovery process. What’s done is done. I can’t change it and there’s no looking back. Just as with life in general, our past does not define us! Thank goodness we have evolved and aren’t the same people we once were. Most importantly, we will not survive nor thrive unless we focus on our future and on becoming who we need to become and are created to become. Our past has been given to us for memory’s sake and to give us wisdom — but not to live in. Sometimes our past can motivate us, but too often we get stuck in it and are unable to move forward and appreciate what we have right now. For women specifically, we are usually desperate to be the same weight as we were pre-children, on our wedding day or at some point when we were younger. I get that, but that’s no way to live and thrive. I think we would be better served and our bodies would respond in the ways we are hoping for if we treated it with more appreciation and gratitude. We beat ourselves up — thinking we need to look how we used to look. That is torture, and the antidote is to always look forward. We shine when we give thanks and appreciate what we have.
  4. Last, within one hour of the theft, iGnite leaders and dear friends Kathleen Parker and Catherine Sanderson randomly called. It was so comforting and calming to hear their voices. Then, I immediately texted the iGnite Team, informed them of what happened and asked for their love and prayers. Knowing they were praying and sending me love made a significant difference in my attitude and spirit. I knew this before, and I continue to be reminded of the importance of community. You can’t have enough community and supportive friends. We shine in community and are #strongertogetHER!

Action Item:
Remind yourself that your past has been given to your for memory’s sake and to give you wisdom — but not to live in. Look forward only. Appreciate and be present in the now.

You May Also Like:

Daring Greatly #3: Expressing Gratitude & Appreciation the Old-Fashioned Way

Life is an echo. What you send out, comes back. What you sow, you reap. What you give, you get. What you see in others, exists in you.  Remember, life is an echo. It always gets back to you. So give goodness.
– Unknown

Point to Ponder:
Who in your life do you wish you would hear more “thank yous” from?

Action Item:
Realize that what goes around comes around, and tell at least 3 people in your life a genuine “thank you” this week.

by Neissa Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Per last week’s ‘stop stealing your joy quest’, I give myself an A-.  I was much more conscious of my thoughts and words and focused on the gratitude piece; however, what came from it was unexpected, interesting and much needed.

On a ‘daily joy and gratitude scale’ of 1-10, I give myself a 9. I consider myself simple — I see the glass half full and I have very few needs, except when it comes to my husband Russell. Because he is my life partner and I can be completely vulnerable with him (which translates to bitchy) he gets dumped on. Sounds fair, right? Of course not!  Well, after having a rich conversation with a stranger (that’s the unexpected and interesting piece), it dawned on me that while I was grateful in spirit, I needed to verbalize my appreciation and gratitude with a simple “Thank you” much more often than I’ve been doing.

I mean really, can you imagine what would happen to our relationships (spousal, work, children, friendships, etc.) if rather than nit-pick or take their hard work and efforts for granted, we simply thanked them everyday, even if it were forced and for the tiniest of things? I have zero doubt that this would solve the majority of our relationship struggles, because after all, no one wants to feel taken for granted and everyone wants to be appreciated.

I will admit this. Russell’s job can sometimes drive me crazy because of the long hours and time away, however the second he sends me a text or calls and tells how much he appreciates my patience and understanding and thanks me for being a great mom and wife, ALL of my defenses come down and I’m a new person, simply because I feel appreciated. And then of course I feel like a jerk because I haven’t thanked him for working hard to provide for our family, so I then thank him. It’s the appreciation and gratitude circle, and it works every time.

Now that we are no longer foreboding joy, how about we start healing, transforming and taking our relationships to the next level by verbalizing our appreciation and gratitude? And, don’t forget that verbalizing these things can be difficult for some people and must be learned. So, if you want someone to appreciate you, start by telling them “thank you” while patiently coaching them on how much you’d appreciate a “thank you” from them. Sounds silly and counter-productive I know, but everyone comes from different backgrounds and it is wise to never assume that they can easily express or verbalize emotions. This will be fun and will WORK.

Here’s to building relationships the old-fashioned way!

Leave a Comment & Join the Discussion

RELATED ARTICLES:

 

Enjoying the Little Things

Appreciate the Little Things in Life

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

-Robert Brault

Last Wednesday evening after our Christmas Market event, several of the vendors and I were gathering our things and making multiple trips to our cars when we stumbled upon a magical moment. As the full moon glowed and a dazzling bright planet sat to it’s left, the night sky was dark and oozed with holiday sweetness. The crisp cool air added to the charm, but then, as we continued to make our trips, we gathered outside to listen to and witness two owls hooting sweet nothings back and forth, from one chimney to another.

Sitting on top of a chimney was the silhouette of one owl, and across the street was the silhouette of the other owl who was also sitting on the chimney of a neighbor’s house. The hooting was enchanting and we all agreed that the male owl must have been courting the female owl. I also felt that at any moment Hedwig, the owl from Harry Potter, would swoop down and deliver us an invitation to Hogwarts. It was just that cool!

What I appreciate most about the courting owl encounter was it’s simplicity and spontaneity. We were all pretty tired and fairly eager to get home and have dinner when we were gifted with this magical moment. In addition, it wasn’t a huge thing, it cost nothing and it was a unique blessing from nature. (You know that anything that causes five hungry women to stop for an extended period of time must be something very special!)

If you’re like me, contentment is one of your opportunities for improvement — not a strength. I have the tendency to want more, try to “keep up with Joneses'” and covet my neighbor’s things. Our mystical owl moment reminds me to be more wise and treasure the so called “little things,” like family, friends, and nature — which are actually the big things! — for most often they are what makes life so memorable and worthwhile.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Point To Ponder:
Do you have the tendency to place too much value on material things, a.k.a. the real “little things?”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Action Item:
Spend time being thankful for the things that really matter in life — the daily gifts and blessings that cost nothing.

To Your Health,

Neissa

About Neissa