Free Smiles with Validation

Has anyone seen this short film, “Validation,” starring T.J. Thyne (Bones) on the magic of free parking?  I have to warn you, it’s 16 minutes, but if you don’t have time to watch it now, come back later to take a look.  It’s a cute film.

It truly is magic when you think about it, how the smallest compliment can brighten the rest of a person’s day.  It takes ten seconds to give, but the effects last for hours.  I remember one time I had just come from lunch with someone who made me feel really down about myself.  A young guy stopped me in the parking lot–granted, he was asking for money–but even after I declined with an apology, he said, “Do me a favor, stay beautiful.”

You can laugh at the cheesiness, heck, I did.  But in that moment, man how I needed to hear that.  I was smiling all the way back to my car and the drive home.

It’s easy to get hung up on one perspective of validation.  We seek it in certain areas: work, writing, family, relationships.  And when we don’t get it, we start to feel down, and that feeling bleeds into other areas of our lives.  We begin to doubt everything about ourselves.  We come to rely on validation for our self-worth.

I often think of validation as confirmation that I have it all together, or I’m perfect.  Well, that’s an illusion right there, and certainly not what validation means.  So many facets make up my person.  And when I get validation in one small part, it catches fire like a trail of gunpowder, igniting and inspiring the rest of me.

This does bring up one issue, which some of you might share–I don’t always do well at accepting compliments.   I’m not saying I don’t love them!  Seriously, hearing someone say they loved my book sends me over the moon!  I just try to hide it.  Call it embarrassment, or dislike of attention, or humility.


Check out this post by Jenny Hansen on Marcia Richards’s blog: Is it really better to give than to receive?  Maybe we need to start opening ourselves up more to receiving.  Words, acts of service, gifts–all of these are ways to communicate love and validation.  I bet you’re all great at giving it.  Now it’s your turn to receive some.  🙂

So I leave you with these: You are awesome.  You work so hard and have accomplished so much.  People may not tell you very often, but you are a solid rock in their lives, without which the wheels would come off the train.  You are beautiful.

Stories and Songs

It’s Move Me Monday again.  How about some music?

Mark Schultz is an amazing singer.  His songs tell powerful stories that always move me to tears.  This one’s been playing in my car recently.


If that song touched your heart, Rebecca Enzor posted another of his songs, “Letters From War,” on her blog if you’d like to check it out.

What’s the last song that moved you to tears because of its message?  What’s your favorite song that tells a story?  I love hearing from you!


For the rest of September, everyone who leaves a comment will be entered into a drawing to win a free e-book copy of Elemental Magic when it releases in October.  Five winners will be selected.

Aileen Donovan wants nothing more than recognition as an elemental scientist by her supernatural community.  What better way to do that than to solve a mystery involving a power-hungry alchemist, hallucinogenic coral, and a homicidal sea dragon?  The hardest part will be working with Coast Guard officer Colin Benson—until the tides turn, and Aileen realizes that love and duty may not have to be mutually exclusive.

Beautiful Day

It’s Move Me Monday and I’ve got some inspiration for you.

In 2004, Westgate Church in San Jose, CA asked this question: if the church were to burn down tomorrow, would anyone miss us?  They did not like the answer.  So they instituted Beautiful Day.  Every year for one full week the church closes its doors and cancels services in order for the entire congregation to go out into the community and serve hands-on.

Every year there are multiple projects, from cleaning up schools to blood drives, from baking care packages for every fire station in the city to hosting a dance party for kids with autism.  Now the city of San Jose is very aware of Westgate’s presence in the community, and have begun asking for help on even more projects, such as cleaning up neighborhoods devastated by mass foreclosures and remodeling a local food bank to maximize productivity.  If the church burned down tomorrow, it would definitely be missed.

Acts of compassion are inspiring, but mass acts of compassion?  That is the kind of faith that moves mountains.  Are you serving?  Ministry doesn’t always mean donating money or walking up to strangers and asking them if they believe in God.  What are your individual talents?  Think you can’t possibly use them to make a difference?

My mom and I baked a few dozen mincemeat cookies, a dozen loaves of pumpkin and zucchini bread, and four tins of fudge for a local fire station last Christmas.  Did you know firemen have to buy and cook their own food?  Did you know they have a holiday party with their families (that they also have to buy and cook for)?  They were blown away and incredibly grateful to receive that care package.  Local heroes definitely deserve our thanks.

With a little creativity, you can figure out something that fits your talents and interests just right.  If you need another idea, check back with me on Wednesday when I tell you about another project I like to do.

What does “community service” mean to you?  Do you get pictures of cleaning up the sides of highways, or kids sentenced to work to make up for misdemeanors?  Or do you see fun, family activities putting hammers and paint to good use?  How do you serve your community?  I love hearing from you!