Most of us go through our lives without knowing how we affect others. Sure, we know that if we behave like a jerk we’ll hurt our friend’s feelings. If we scream at the flight attendant for pointing out that there is no room for our suitcase in the overhead bins, he’s likely to get angry (and we may end up getting booted off the plane). Conversely, if we smile and thank the bank teller, she may feel a little happier.

That’s not really what I’m thinking about, though. We’re just going through our lives, making decisions, going to work, getting through the day in the best way we can. I’m thinking of the hidden effect that we rarely see – what happens after we leave the room.

My friend and music colleague Don sent me a note recently. Don is a fellow violist; he’s up in Boston, but we get to work together a few times a year. He is also a recent convert to running. Over the last year or so, he’s been asking me questions about running, getting motivated, and running. When I saw him last year, he was metamorphosed!

I write and talk about what I’m doing in the hope that maybe I might help to motivate someone else. Don was just doing what he was because it seemed like a good decision for his life. On Don’s birthday, a friend of his sent him a note (excerpted):

Dearest Don,
On your birthday, I want to share with you how much good you spread in the world, sometimes without even realizing it. About a year ago you began running and when I saw you thereafter, you were transformed. I was so inspired and wished I could ever do such a daring and bold thing in my life. I have now been going to the gym for 6 weeks and can report that as of last Tuesday I was able to RUN for the first time since my 15 yr old was born. Even my 2 minute intervals are such a huge accomplishment for me, but you gave me hope. This is a big deal because I have recently discovered that my daughter has been feeling overwhelmed by my weaknesses…. This is a wake-up call for me and helping my body get strong is part of my standing up on my own two feet…. My mother always said that we never know where the ripples in the pond go out to, which are caused by our actions. Your ripples have touched my life and will help to improve my daughter’s life as well. Have a wonderful birthday and thank you for the gift of You!

Our choices – good or bad – have an effect on those around us. We may not mean to, but the ripples that we create can change people. Thank you, Don, you inspired me this last week.


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7 Responses to Ripples

  1. Racn4acure says:

    I like what you wrote here, Julie, and what you quoted. We do never know what ripples – good and bad – we cause from our own actions. We can each be our own little force for good and positive things if we so choose – and if other choose to accept those examples that we can be. Art

  2. Jody says:

    Thanks so much for this, Julie.

    Keep making those ripples, my friend. We need your strong voice out here on fitness and cancer. I’m so concerned that women’s lives are such now that time for exercise is going by the way of printed newspapers…..



  3. Thanks to both of you. I just keep working on it, Jody. Of course, I’m someone who also like reading newspapers – the actual paper.

  4. What a touching letter to receive. The allusion of the ripple is pretty much perfect. That has to be one of the best birthday presents a person could receive. 🙂 ~Catherine101 ntrinal

  5. Beth Gainer says:

    And I have felt the ripple effect — from you! You inspire me and others so much. While I can no longer run, you motivate me to continue working out in the gym. I had pleurisy this winter, so I couldn’t work out due to agony, but I am starting again. I will never give up on exercise.

    Thank you for making your voice known in the world. The world needs to hear it!

  6. Jody says:

    PS> Julie,
    I should post a pic for you of all the magazines, books, and newspapers in my home office. What a delightful mess it all is.

  7. Thank you, Beth. Your words touch me – I am so glad that I’ve had a positive effect. Just be sure to start out slowly as you’re getting back into exercise. That’s a big thing for your body; it’s important to start off easy & build back gradually. Take care.

    And Jody – I’ve run out of shelf space, have piles of books sitting in the corner. I should sort through them, but hate the idea of getting rid of any book!

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