Photo: Daniel Foster
Powerful words come in threes: I love you. I was wrong. Way to go!
Yesterday, a stranger added to that collection when she told me, “We appreciate you.” She and her boyfriend had just bought some things from my yard sale, and we had spent a little bit of time chatting. Her parting words stuck with me the remainder of the day.
Can you really appreciate someone you hardly know? I contemplated that at length and realized yes, indeed you can. We appreciate the restaurant servers who bring us our food. We appreciate the grocery clerks who help us find items we’re searching for. We appreciate the drivers who give us space to change lanes in front of them.
Despite that, I don’t think I’ve ever told one of those people, “I appreciate you,” although I have shared those words with people I know. It seems like such a personal statement — especially to me, a person whose love language is words of affirmation. I like my words to be genuine. After all, our words are powerful.
Maybe I should start saying that phrase more. It does feel good to be appreciated. Can I in good conscience tell someone I don’t know very well I appreciate them? Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines appreciation as an “expression of gratification and approval, of gratitude.” In light of that, I think I can, but I have to caution against overdoing it and the words becoming meaningless.
The next time you appreciate someone, will you tell them? The world needs more attitudes of gratitude. I’m thankful for that stranger yesterday who made my day. Now it’s my turn to pass it on.
I had the privilege of being in the same room as a number of veterans who fought in various wars in our country’s history. In observation of Veterans Day, they had assembled at the Commemorative Air Force for the annual Gathering of the Legends event to honor them and the sacrifices they made.
The main speaker at the event this year was not a veteran and had no military background. As he started his portion of the program, he made a point to say he didn’t have anything to say to the men and women in attendance. But rather, the men and women being honored should have been speaking to him.
You see, this speaker, John Mollison, knows that those who served in our Armed Forces have much to say. As the face of a TV show titled “Old Guys and Their Airplanes,” he’s made it his life ambition to interview veterans and draw the airplanes they flew. Why? Because as he said to the Veterans Day audience, “Your stories and examples are powerful.”
Indeed, they are. Mollison shared clips of interviews he’s done that included some fascinating stories, like the one of the serviceman who narrowly escaped major injury when his plane was destroyed in a formation landing accident. A propeller from another plane tore right through his plane and cut off his parachute straps. Yet he walked away.
Interestingly enough, these men and women didn’t set out to create stories. They were just doing their jobs, doing what they were told to do. And out of that came accounts of their experiences.
Those who didn’t face what our veterans did enjoy hearing the tales. It makes us feel closer to the occurrences and helps us understand what life must have been like during those times.
You and I may not have served in the military. Maybe you did. If so, thank you. I appreciate the freedoms I have today because of your sacrifice. Regardless of our backgrounds and personal history, each of us has powerful stories and examples that need to be shared and can benefit others.
One foot in front of the other. Head down. Keep walking. Breathe.
I found myself trudging along a beaten trail in the desert, trying to keep up with the other hikers in the group but feeling a bit lightheaded. My sinus infection couldn’t keep me from getting out for this unique opportunity to hike at sunset and watch the moon rise a half hour later.
It was important to watch where I stepped to avoid loose sand and rocks and to keep me from plunging into a cactus. I needed a firm foundation to go from step to step.
Yet, in concentrating on my footing, I easily lost sight of the beautiful scenery around me: the browns, grays, greens and yellows of the desert landscape, the sun stretching toward the horizon, the sprawling city in the not-so-far distance.
Fortunately, our tour guide stopped occasionally to let all of the hikers catch up. And in those moments, I took in my environs, thankful I was well enough to experience them, grateful for the fresh air, and pleased at the sound of the chirping birds.
That night, I walked away with more than a wonderful memory. I left with a reminder of a crucial life lesson: In all of the busyness we experience every day, it’s important to stop and survey our surroundings, to look back on where we came from and to gaze ahead to our destination. That makes it easier to enjoy the journey.
Christian, wife, mother of 5, breast cancer survivor, marathon finisher, writer and editor, author of "Help! I'm a Science Project"