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The Working Title Is…I Need More Good Will in My Goodwill

With the changing of each season, a routine unfolds in my daughters’ bedrooms. Closets and drawers are reorganized and two piles of clothes are created: a pile to be handed down to the next family member in line and a pile to be donated to Goodwill.

The latter pile is generally composed of items that are either (a) lacking in luster having been handed down multiple times through sisters and cousins or (b) deemed a regrettable purchase like a Justin Bieber concert t-shirt or anything from Forever 21.

When it comes to my own clothes, I am a little slower to part with them. Although I still cling to the “if I just lose a little weight” section of my closet, I did finally let go of the “but what if I go back to work full-time” rationale and donated all of my old suits.

Wistful over that chapter of my life, and so taken with my own benevolence, I had tears in my eyes as I added a double-breasted Liz Claiborne purple suit with huge shoulder pads and giant gold buttons to the Goodwill pile. I thought to myself, “Damn, if only I knew where I put the earrings that matched those buttons, this would be like striking Goodwill Gold for some special lady.”

(Have I not mentioned that it’s been almost two decades since I logged a 40+hour workweek in heels?)

Giddy with altruism, my mind’s eye saw an entire scene play out. A tired woman, perhaps with a couple of kids in tow, leaves Goodwill with this suit, wears it to a successful job interview, and her whole life immediately falls into place.

Then I snapped out of my reverie and realized that in 2014, nothing good can come from a job interview if you are dressed like the outlet version of Alexis Carrington.

Just how “off the mark” I am was brought to light for me this week. I was invited to speak at the “Let Love Shine” fundraising event benefitting the Christ Child Society of South Bend, Indiana.

They are an amazing group with an approach to giving that makes a very important distinction; one that I have underappreciated in my own household.

Since 1947, the Christ Child Society of South Bend has opened their doors to families who have fallen on hard times and need a little help. They provide kids with brand new clothing, brand new shoes and brand new books. They operate a Clothing Center that serves close to 4,500 children each year, and the gratitude felt by those families shines brighter than the illustrious Gold Dome that graces their town.

Through the donation of new clothing, new shoes and new books, they are empowering children. They are infusing confidence in these young lives and celebrating their individuality.

Who knows what ripple effect their kindness will have on those children, on their community and, perhaps, our entire world?

The powerful example of the Christ Child Society of South Bend makes me think twice about how I should define good will. Their devotion to their community is beyond inspirational.

And, above all, isn’t it wonderful to know that something good can actually come out of this tiny little town in northern Indiana?

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PS: Easy Domers. I kid, I kid.IMG_3941

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The Working Title Is…Life Isn’t Fair

I can remember standing in our kitchen as a little kid and pitching a fit over some major injustice, like the fact that my brother had more whipped cream on his dish of pudding than I did. I would stomp my feet and scream, “That is NOT fair.”

Over the years, that scene would replay many times under many circumstances. When I was a teenager, my shriek morphed into, “Oh my God, that is, like, TOTALLY not fair,” and I would run to my bedroom and slam the door.

When that happened, one of two things would follow. If I heard quick and deliberate staccato steps—boom, boom, boom, boom, boom—that meant I crossed the line, my Mom was headed my way, and I was really in trouble.

If, however, the steps were long and lumbering—boom—boom—boom—that meant my Dad would soon knock and almost immediately, I’d start to cry. This kind-hearted man, who taught me the art of decision making via a pro/con list, always helped me see the error of my ways.

His opening line was one that all kids hate to hear and all young parents can’t believe they’ve actually said out loud, ”Nobody ever said life was going to be fair.”

My Dad didn’t end there. He always followed up by reminding me that disappointment and frustration can only become real tragedies if we fail to learn something from them. He would challenge me by saying, “What can you learn from this? How can you grow?”

Yesterday, I was invited to offer a eulogy for a man who worked with my husband’s company for many years. Although the two men battled different illnesses, their last days traveled a similar path with less than a month’s time passing between diagnosis and death.

There is nothing fair about men dying in their 40s and denied so much as the chance to say goodbye. So what can I learn from this? How can I grow?

I found myself turning to the words Elizabeth Edwards offered when facing her own mortality.

“The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered…We know that. And yes, there are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. “

Hope gives us strength, and trying to have a positive impact can bring us perspective. So to make my days meaningful and precious, I will choose to not be preoccupied by the perceived unfairness of the challenges I face, but rather gratefully acknowledge that I have more than my fair share of blessings.

And, quite frankly, more than my fair share of whipped cream and pudding too.

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