The burly woman
slouching in line behind me in the supermarket looked
astonished. I had just handed her a quarter that I had found on the
floor. I explained, "I am giving you this quarter because I have so
much good luck in my life; I feel it’s only right that I share it with
others." I also added, "And, whenever you can, you might want to
do something to help someone else."
Whenever I find lost change, I pass it on to the person nearest me.
If no one is around, I put it in a piggy bank at home–or I did until it
became jammed full–now I use a wooden box. What I did not tell the lady
was that by giving her that quarter, I was still trying to pay back a $20
loan from the early 1950s.
It all began on a crisp autumn evening.
The charcoal sky was laced
with watery blue streaks hugging the horizon. I was in the auto-manufacturing city of Flint, Michigan where faint metallic factory smells
hung stubbornly in the air. It was back during the days when gas
was 17 cents a gallon, coffee was
still a dime, and a loaf of bread cost a quarter. I was a rebellious,
headstrong, and independent girl of 15.
Due to poor judgment–I had trusted someone I had thought to be a
friend–I found myself abandoned, alone and broke in a town 50 miles from
My intention had been to get away from a domineering, emotionally
abusive and controlling mother by running away. I wanted to make a life of
my own. I had not expected to be stranded in the process.
I was feeling angry, worried, frightened and embarrassed.
a small worn suitcase, and shivering in my thin summer clothing, I
quickened my pace into a nearby service station to get warm. Inside was a
casually dressed, older man waiting for his car to be fixed.
We struck up a conversation. Finding him sympathetic and a good
listener, I shamefully stammered out my plight. Reaching into his pocket,
he fished out a twenty-dollar bill, which he put in my hand.
initial astonishment, I became wary of his generosity. He hastened to
reassure me by pointing out, "The only strings attached are that for
the rest of your life, anytime you are in a position to, you are to help
Out of that $20
bill, I was able to move into a charming rooming
house for $5 a week. My new landlady sent me to a small
restaurant next door where I got work as a short order cook and backup
waitress. The job included meals, $5 a day and tips. I was rich
and on my own!
I never did return home to live. Sadly, it was not until my early
30s, shortly before my mother died, that we found peace with each other in
spite of our stormy relationship. I was finally beginning to learn the
lesson of forgiveness and responsibility.
Meantime, I had wandered about the country
doing many kinds of
odd jobs. Finally, I settled into a career in the
graphics communication industry where I could capitalize on my artistic
talent. About twenty years later, after hitting job burnout, I became a
massage therapist so I could return to school and become a psychologist.
That was followed by evolving into my current career as an
Anxiety/Depression Care Coach & Alternative/Holistic Counselor.
It seems as if I
have come full circle. By following the old adage of what goes around
comes around, I am reaping benefits of amazing wealth.
That $20 gift happened
many years ago, and true to my word, whenever I can, I give help. I have volunteered
thousands of hours to charity, and have setup a "scholarship" fund out of
my own pocket in each
of my successive businesses to help others in need.
One day back in the early 1970s while I was living in Los Angeles, I
managed a printing company. A dirty, ragged, homeless man came to the back
door looking for handouts. I offered to give him money if he wanted to
clean up the area in the alley behind the store.
After that, he came back every week like clockwork; each time he
showed up, his appearance started improving. What I finally realized was
that he was getting more than money–he was getting back his self-esteem.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, I did volunteer work for the American
Red Cross. I spent many hours educating the community in emergency first
aid and disaster preparedness.
I also did case management work for the
victims of disaster.
In 1980 while I was doing Red Cross case management for the victims
of the San Bernardino fires, I had a young woman, 30-something approach
me. She was disheveled and obviously in shock.
We were working on folding
tables in tents. I motioned her to a folding chair by me.
She told how a fireball had struck the back of her home in the
mountains causing it to explode as she literally dove out a front window
in terror. Brightening, she went on to explain that she was one of the
lucky ones, though, because she had just found an apartment in town with
huge walk-in closets for all her clothes.
Suddenly she crumpled, tears running down her face, as the impact of
what she had just said dawned on her. The realization that she did not
have any clothes had finally hit her.
Through the Red Cross I helped her
replace much of her clothing, furniture and household goods.
Today, I continue to offer my time to various helping organizations.
Long ago I was given the key to abundance and finally discovered how
to unlock the power of it in my own and other people’s lives.
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