The Power of Showing Appreciation

Each day, I post an Act of the Day on the Life Vest Inside Facebook page. Today’s act was inspired by a Life Vest Inside fan, Travis Dodge, who shared a wonderful story with me and in so doing triggered a memory from my childhood that truly epitomizes that act. Enjoy!

Act of the day: As you head out on your day, take the time to stop, say hello, and engage in a short conversation with the crossing guard. 

They don’t only protect our children but their bright smiles, as they go about their job, jump start a person’s day – One things for certain, the crossing guard at my school always greeted me so warmly and made each day begin with a smile.

Today’s act of the day was inspired by Life Vest Inside fan, Travis Dodge, who shared such a phenomenal story with me. Thank you Travis for the great lesson in gratitude you taught us.

Travis wrote:

“Driving my boys to school today I realized how much we care too much about what others think. I say get out of your mind. This little girl was serving as a crossing guard at my boy’s school and it was raining really good. Still, every car that drove by she took the time to wave with passion and smile with love to each and every car coming and going. This made my day. Of course I was excited to see her waving but my first thought was do I know her? Then leaving she was waving again and I thought weird I wonder what’s up. Then I realized she was doing it to EVERY CAR!

I then felt joy for her and every car that had the opportunity to have her joyous smile and wave presented to them. I will do my best to provide such a smile and pay it forward to as many people as I can thanks to a wonderful little girl with a strong heart and passion to make others smile. I challenge you to at least do this sort of act while doing something you are not fond of doing until you get at least one smile and wave or thank you back.

Lets make this a better world by starting with the little girl waving on the corner when most would be sulking because they would come up with all kinds of bad self talk! SMILE AND HAVE A GLORIOUS DAY! HERE IS ME WAVING AND SMILING TO YOU! I LOVE YOU ALL! If you know someone who needs a smile today Share this with them! A smile goes a long way!”


My story:

As a young child I was very attached to my mother and had a difficult time leaving her in the morning to go to school. I would often cry and make a scene as my mother did her very best to calm me down and get me out of the car. Day after day the same scene would occur. One day, the crossing guard, Christine, came over to the car and told my mother, “Don’t worry I’ll get her into school.” She looked at me with her very calming and warm eyes. I was still crying as my mom headed back into the car and drove away, but the crossing guard put her hand on my shoulder and led me into the building the entire time calming me down by saying, “Don’t worry you’re mom will be back to pick you up soon. School is so much fun and now that we’re friends you can always count on me to be there to wave hello when you come out of the car each morning. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Each morning there she would be, with a smile on her face. It was sort of a comfort to always see a familiar face when I would arrive at school each morning.

But the story doesn’t end there. Let’s flash forward a good 15 years later to my very first day teaching at the same school where I was once a student. I parked my car and began walking to school with that same nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. I felt as though I was a first grader walking into school on the first day; I could barely breathe from nerves. “Would I have what it takes? What I make a difference in the lives of these children? Would I succeed?” And then suddenly as I approached the cross walk all of those anxieties miraculously faded away because there at the other side of the street was Christine, the crossing guard with her same comforting smile. A calming feeling came over me and at that moment I knew it would be ok. I smiled back, took a deep breath and headed into school with the confidence I needed to make a difference and there I remained for 7 wonderful, life-changing years. But I will never forget Christine and the fact that her smiling face was the first thing I saw on that very first day.

A few weeks into school I approached Christine and shared my story with her; let her know just how appreciative I am for her kindness. She smiled and began to tear. I did the very same. She said, “You have no idea how much that means to me to feel appreciated; to know that I mattered to someone.” I looked at her in the eye and then looked around at all the throngs of students walking to school and said, “You matter to more than just someone.” As I walked away the biggest smile came across my face. I didn’t even need to look back because I knew she was smiling as well.

She retired a few years back, but the imprint Christine left on my heart is most definitely still there.

Amazing, isn’t it? The impact that people can have on our lives. So the next time you walk by a crossing guard, shine a smile their way because they need that reassurance just as much as we all do.