A couple months ago I created the Good Things Pledge as an outlet to brighten people’s days and inspire others to live for every moment, and to see and appreciate the good that is all around. All of us have within ourselves the power to make a positive contribution. Cultivating that good through a sincere respect, caring and appreciation is one of the most important gifts we can give.
What is the Good Things Pledge? It is a simple promise to remind yourself every day of what is positive. The Pledge is a personal vow that involves appreciation, being kind and being aware that every small act has the potential for a huge impact.
Take a look at some of the people who have recently taken the Pledge.
Melissa Currence with the
Greater Cincinnati Foundation
“Working at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, I know Cincinnati has a lot to give. I have the Good Things Pledge hanging up in my workspace and it reminds me to do my best every day to help our community. Cincinnati has wonderful neighborhoods and causes to support. Let’s keep the good things going around!”
Taking the Pledge is simple. Just visit the Good Things Pledge page and fill in your information in the white box. I’ll send you your certificate.
I got a letter in the mail a few weeks back (I’ve gotten a little behind on my blog posts – sometimes work gets in the way) from a friend. Denise ‘Ladybug’ Hill was off on another trek, an 800+ journey.
“Second only to the love of my family, I am most content when I am alone in the wilderness,” the note began. “In 2004, at 48 years of age, I took my first hiking steps on the famed 2,174 Appalachian Trail to fulfill two promises I made to my sister, Cheryl Rose Walden. I promised Cheryl, during her final stage of a ten year battle with breast cancer that her memory would last forever. I fulfilled that promise by planting hundreds of packets of forget-me-not seeds in 25 states and 3 countries during my treks. I also promised my sister that I would renew my faith and become closer to understanding God.”
A Little History
I think I first met Denise when she was training for her first trek, walking the Appalachian Trail in 2004. She wore a heavy backpack as she walked distances in training. I knew back then she called her journey ‘Walking for Walden’ and she was raising money for Hospice of Cincinnati in memory of her sister, but that was the extent of my knowledge.
Since then I’ve heard her stories…like when she was working to complete the Pacific Crest Trail in 2009 and found herself surrounded by a swarm of rattlesnakes. Her cell phone didn’t work in many places…but it did there.
“I had spoken to Bruce (her husband) earlier that morning and a ladybug crawled into my lap. When I mentioned my ladybug friend, he said, ‘That means you’re going to have good luck today.’ Little did he know, I would be SO lucky,” she told me. (which by the way is, you guessed it, why her nickname is now ‘Ladybug.’)
There are not that many people I know who get rescued from a den of deadly snakes in an emergency helicopter. But I know one.
Denise and I and another friend spent a weekend last fall hiking through Ohio’s scenic Hocking Hills State Park. That Saturday, Denise and I spent the day together walking more than 8 miles. When you spend so many hours alone with someone you get to know her pretty well. At one point she stopped and wanted me to continue. She wanted me to experience the peaceful solitude of walking amidst natural wonders, of being in my own thoughts and just appreciating what I don’t always take the time to see. This, she told me, is what it is like for her every time she is on one of her treks – and she has done a lot of them.
This Time Was Different
So this time, when Denise took to the trails with hopes of raising money and awareness for Hospice, I had a deeper understanding of why she left. This time I felt the desire to read her story that she has posted online.
Cheryl Rose Counts Walden whose spirit is Denise’s rock was a loving mother, daughter and sister to four younger siblings. Her ferocious fight against a disease the ultimately won the battle was testament to the strength of her inner core. Denise described her sister as ‘living a simple, yet full life, graced with peaceful and loving energy.’
As Denise raced to the hospital one last time memories of their childhood together kept her going. ‘Mental images of me with my sister, Cheryl, playing, laughing , scheming, cooking, crying, singing, dancing, and praying were reeling at fast forward speed in my head and as vividly as those actual moments in time. Tepid tears flowed freely down my face as I tightly gripped the steering wheel with both hands replaying the images of my youth,” Denise wrote.
Five years after her sister’s death Denise kept her sister close by sharing memories, raising money for breast cancer awareness, burning a candle in prayer every Christmas, and visiting Cheryl’s gravesite in a beautiful Tennessee setting overlooking the Great Smoky Mountains. Hiking became Denise’s choice for honoring her sister.
After trekking close to 4,400 miles on the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail on a hike dedicated to Hospice of Cincinnati in her sister’s memory, this is Ladybug’s emotional finish.
I just heard from my friend. Her 800 mile hike that was originally taking her from Mexico to the ends of Utah had to be diverted, and she is completing her remaining 675 miles in our region. I’ll more than likely be joining her along some of that journey.
If you’d like to read more about Ladybug’s former hiking adventures: please visit www.walkingforwalden.com
If you would like to support Ladybug and her Hikes for Hospice
please send your donation to:
Hospice of Cincinnati, Inc.
C/O Bethesda Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 633597
Cincinnati, OH 45263-3597
Michael is a social media strategist for Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati, and is a member of my Good Things Going Around Facebook community. He is also among the first people who eagerly signed up to take the Good Things Pledge.
“Working in a big company, it’s all too easy to let the drama of others minimize your own sense of worth. The Good Things Pledge serves as a daily affirmation for me that the only one who determines how I feel is me. At the beginning of each day, I have a choice about how I engage with the world and the Pledge reminds me to choose the path of good intention,” he said.
When people provide their name (in the white box on the Good Things Pledge page), I send them a cheerful certificate to remind them of their promise. Michael has his certificate hanging in his office at work…a daily reminder that the world and the day have a lot of meaningful good. (It’s the colorful page on his cubicle.)
Michael is a great example, showing us that in our busy lives, it’s still important to make that
conscious decision to think about and act upon the good all around.
I’d like to introduce you to some of Greater Cincinnati’s most outstanding humanitarians. They’re mentors, volunteers, fundraisers, athletes, and scholars. And they are YMCA of Greater Cincinnati’s Character Award honorees. I’ve got to say…one of my pleasures in doing public relations for the Y and working on the bios for this program is getting to know such outstanding role models. Each with their own unique story and gift to this world, they give so much and they truly understand what it means to be a good person.
Take for example…
Raquel Brown (pictured on the left), a student at Cincinnati’s School for Creative and Performing Arts, who has been described as a young woman with a smile that lights up a room and a maturity far beyond her years. Such a deep appreciation for living comes from her own inner strength as her determination overpowered juvenile diabetes that, at the age of 9, almost took her life and required multiple surgeries.
Wyoming High School’s Brandon Weiss (pictured on the right), an incredible teen who sees the need of those around him and strives for meaningful ways to make an impact. He has a passion for interfaith relations and spent last summer in Israel and Poland learning about the effects of the Holocaust.
Natalie Bryans (pictured below), a student at St. Ursula Academy, who has said some of her greatest inspirations, her heroes, are her friends because ‘they are all so kind and welcoming.’
With youth development being one of the YMCA’s core focus areas, the YMCA Character Awards are an opportunity to celebrate young people who exemplify the Y’s core values of caring, respect, honesty and responsibility. The YMCA Character Awards Event will begin at 6 p.m. on April 11 at the School for Creative & Performing Arts. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for youth.
To register, please call the Community Services YMCA at 513-961-3200.
All 40 YMCA of Greater Cincinnati Character Award honoree bios are on the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati website. You may just know one of them.