On being an Encouragement Machine

 I keep thinking of my sister Diana's blog a few weeks ago about boogie boarding with her young sons. She tells of watching a grandmother supervising a child from the shore, but the lady was riveted by my joyous sister and her sons thrilling to the foamy surf. Finally Diana called to her, "hey come join us, the water's great!" The lady looked at her, her eyes grew bigger as she considered this new idea. 

     Before long, that grandmother grabbed a boogie board and joined in the fun. She wasn't very good at it, but when she finally caught a wave they all laughed in delight. Diana's point was that happiness is contagious, but I see another aspect of this story and that is THE POWER OF PERMISSION. Diana gave the lady "permission." We all hold that power if we choose to exercise it. 

      My husband and I are very involved with the Boys and Girls Club which teaches youth to think big. Last year I coached a Club teen who was competing for Youth of the Year. He worked hard and after many competitions got to meet the president of the United States! This is a boy who grew up sharing one room with his whole family while he slept in the closet. When he began kindergarten he did not have enough English to ask to go to the restroom, now he is a student at UCI. He was encouraged to think big.

     One of my sweetest memories is of a former student, a previous gang member, who came back to my college to find me. He wanted me to meet his wife and baby, and to see his UCLA Law Degree. He came to thank me for encouraging him.


     Sometimes we do not understand the power of a few little words. I recall one evening, after one of my presentations, a woman came up to me and said, "I did it! I got my MFCC. I am a therapist!" I did not know what she was referring to. I listened as she explained that she had once been in one of my training sessions at Laura's House and had asked me if I thought she were too old to get her therapist license. She explained that I had said, "of course not!" She went on to tell me that those words changed her life. I did not know her, and I still do not, but it shows the power of a few simple words.


     There are endless stories of our friends and loved ones wondering if they dare to go back to school, take up writing a memoir, train for a 10K race, climb a mountain, or adopt a puppy. You have the power to encourage others to do more, to reach further. I am privileged to be the life coach for the Womansage Transition Program. The program is an engine of possibility. It supports and inspires women to move forward, to change, to dare to think bigger. 

     Who in your sphere needs encouragement, needs for you to believe in them? I challenge you to exercise your power, and to work to negate the effects of the CRITICISM MACHINES which surround us. Become of the voice of support, become an encouragement machine. I'd love to hear about it.