One Question To Ask When the Going Gets Tough

On my first day of kindergarten, my mom gave me some advice.

She told me what her mother told her on the first day of school: when you walk through the doors, don’t worry about making friends. Just focus on finding the girl who looks even more upset about all this than you do. Go over to her and say hello. Smile. Then, you’ll have a friend.

My five-year-old-self was incredulous. Could it be that simple? With a little prompting, I gave it a shot. I walked up to a weeping girl and said, “Hi, I’m Caroline. What’s your name?”

With that, I made my first school friend. It was a serendipitous choice, since she was (is) an excellent visual artist. Back then, I could barely cut in a straight line — OK, that’s still true! — so she’d help me with arts and crafts. She didn’t like to write, so I’d help her with compositions. We saw each other through.

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Fill Somebody’s Cup: An Unconventional Birthday Wish

Home renovation projects: they can wear on you.

Viva la tiny bathroom!

You stumble over construction supplies, and everything is forever out of place. The cat dips her paws in the polyurethane your husband’s using to top-coat your wood floors. (And then she proceeds to lick it off.)

Everything takes so much longer than it’s ‘supposed’ to take.

Need a glass of water? Too bad. You can’t have it right now. Your entire kitchen, including the sink, has been blocked off for a week. The water pitcher doesn’t fit in the bathroom sink, so you take it to the tub.

In the process, you skillfully avoid the other dishes in your tiny bathroom. (You also try to avoid thinking about how you really should clean this bathroom.)

You fill the pitcher, and wait. But naturally, you do something else while it’s filtering. You get immersed in your task, forget you were thirsty, and then wonder why, an hour later, your throat is parched.

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Photo courtesy of charity:water.

The terrible thing about the whole renovation process is that it’s disruptive. And the silver lining is the same.

Going through an elaborate process to get water isn’t what I would choose. But I don’t take clean water for granted as much as I did before. Now, I appreciate every filled glass.

It’s a (little) bit like going to a developing country, where people draw water from wells, walk long distances, and carry it home.

A place where the process of getting clean water is time-consuming, arduous, and absolutely essential.

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Make a wish …

Tomorrow is my birthday – I’ll be 28. I always get reflective this time of year. And the thing I’ve been thinking about? Water. (Great for reflectivity.)

It’s really easy to get comfortable when you have conveniences at your fingertips. But what happens when the little things you count on – like being able to have a glass of filtered water whenever you want one– are stripped away?

When I consider this, I’m just blown away by everything I already have, everything I already take for granted.

So, for my birthday, I’d like to ask you to consider giving to charity:water.

I’ll be making a donation, and I’d be honored if you’d join me.

charity:water is a non-profit, committed to bringing clean, safe drinking water to developing countries. Private donors cover all operating costs, so 100% of our donations go directly to water projects.

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If you’d rather not donate at this time, of course I understand. If so, consider doing an act of service instead. Go above and beyond for someone else, and be sure to share your story with us in the comments.

It’s the story of our lives: We are empty, we are filled, we are overflowing. Sometimes in the span of seconds.

And so often, it doesn’t take much … to fill a cup, to listen close, to hold out a hand.

That’s all. And that’s everything.

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PS – I was inspired by this post (and many others) from Glennon Melton of Momastery. And I first learned about charity:water from Courtney Carver‘s birthday campaign at Be More With Less.

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