Most of you who read my Life of Gratitude posts know I have a goal to lose 50 pounds before my 50th birthday - April 27, 2014 - and to run the 50 meter dash in the 2014 Virginia Senior Games. I am documenting my pursuit of both goals at http://www.firstandfifty.com. I am proud to say, to date, I am on target to achieve my goals.
The goals came about because I didn't want to reach the age of 50 feeling like I do at 49, and for that matter, how I have felt through the decade of my 40's - fat and out of shape. I have drawn inspiration from many sources the first 5 weeks of my pursuit, but none greater than I got from the inspiring story of Marie Kelleher. I recently wrote a piece about her on my blog. Marie, now a 100 year young woman, swam in last month's Virginia Senior Games. She was the only one in her age group, so she easily won the gold. I encourage you to read more about her incredible story here: Marie Kelleher - Richmond Times Dispatch.
Her story motivated me on several levels. Not the least of which is the hope she represents that I may be training for a very long season as a Virginia Senior Games athlete. After I read her story, I decided to write her a thank you note. I needed her to know that from a distance, if only through a newspaper article, she had impacted my life. As I was driving home from Maryland the other night my wife sent me a text message that said: look what came in the mail for you. This picture was with the message.
My foot pushed against the gas pedal slightly harder; I couldn't contain my curiosity of what Ms. Kelleher had to say. When I got home, I immediately opened her note, and this is what it said:
Dear Mr. Cartwright,
Thank you for brightening my day! I will be thinking about you and looking forward to rooting for you at the 2014 Virginia Senior Games. In the meantime, if you need a boost along the way, I am a good listener and cheerleader. Thank you, again!
She penned her phone number at the bottom of the note.
I can't tell you how much her note meant to me. Yes, my motivation to succeed on my goal to lose weight and participate in the Senior Games is now higher than ever, but more than that, her simple words were a stark reminder of the power of a thank you note. My note to Marie took all of 5 minutes to write. It took another 5 minutes to look up the address of the Kelleher Corporation where the newspaper article I read says she still works. In return I have a friend who was a complete stranger last week.
We all spend a lot of time reaching up. Whether it's the pursuit of a promotion, a bigger house or car, or a body that's not quite as round as the one we currently have. I don't think there's much wrong with reaching up. That is, until it consumes so much of our time that we fail to reach out. There's a beautiful world out there filled with beautiful people - like Marie Kelleher - and they are only a thank you note away.