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Really impressed.

I’m always really impressed by people who keep in touch the way I keep in touch.  I’m always really impressed, also, by people who take the same to say thank you, even when a thank you isn’t expected.  As always, this post will also center around a pretty prominent theme in my life: what goes around comes around.

I don’t mean those things to sound elitist in any way. I’ve explained this scenario to people many times. It happens a lot in college: you are walking across campus, and you see an old friend that you haven’t seen in a bit of time.  You spend a few minutes catching up with them, and then you incorporate a meal (cause everyone’s gotta eat right?!): LET’S GET LUNCH TOGETHER SOON!

Freshman year, I realized that a lot of people would say this to me and I would return the favor by saying the same thing.  Go ahead, though – ask me how many times I actually meant that.  Why would I say and/or suggest something I don’t mean? Kind of ridiculous.

So from then on I made a point to always be intentional and meaningful when I suggest we get together. I diligently put their name into my phone, and at the end of the day I take their name off my to do list and put it in to my calendar a few weeks forward. I’ll do this with friends here at school, and friends back at “home” in Fredericksburg.  So, yes, sometimes it can be weeks and months off into the future.  But I love the expression that most people share when they think I’ve forgotten – they are always so surprised that I’m even suggesting we get together!

For example, tonight a good friend of mine named Carter and I had dinner at West End Market, a dining hall on campus.  I ran into Carter while socializing over the weekend, and I told him – hey let’s get together sometime! Carter and I reached out to each other and planned a dinner date in rare form – so quick, only three days later! It was great catching up with Carter – he and I met over two years ago and we clicked soon after meeting each other, even though we were never in the same social circle.  It was fantastic to talk about the past few months of our lives and look forward to the next few.

Another good friend of mine, Brian, just sent me a random e-mail this evening:

Hey man! How has your semester started off this year? I saw your post about the Kairos Society and Mrs. Obama’s office, sounds awesome and looks like you’re doing well.  I hope you had a good break.”

Nice. Simple. Short. But so meaningful.  Just three quick, yet genuine, lines to let someone else know that your’e caring/thinking about them.  I think that’s one of the most Actively Caring actions you can make in my opinion.  It doesn’t have to always be something in person or something tangible, it can be as small as words.  Thank you, Brian.

And ironically enough, six minutes later I received an e-mail from a fellow Hokie Ambassador alum, named Leigh Ann:

Justin,
Not sure if you remember me or not, but I was a fellow Hokie Ambassador and graduated in 2011.  I read the story about your trip to see the Cascades and was so amazed, and the pictures online were great.  I’m so happy for you and you obviously you had an amazing group of friends accompanying you.

I just want to let you know that you are an inspiration to many people and I know you have made an impact on so many Hokies.  I am honored that I had the opportunity to work with you has a Hokie Ambassador and was able to share that with you.  You truly embody everything about being Hokie and Virginia Tech is blessed to have you representing it.  Unfortunately, too often people neglect to thank others and show appreciation, and I was so inspired not only by this story, but by everything you have done during your time at Tech for the school, that I wanted to let you know.

I wish you the best of luck in continuing your studies at Tech.  Us Hokies are lucky to have you.

Leigh Ann’s message moved me in a way that compliments always do.  I just live my life the way I always have – I’ve been blessed to have great people around me. I have great friends, an amazing family, and a beyond incredibly strong girlfriend that, yes, give me the strength to keep on trucking along. I realize that literally every single day.  Leigh Ann’s message reminded me of that and of the fact that I am so confident and empowered in this community to help others.  Even though she is no longer here…she’s still one of those friends that are incredible.  I’m sure I’m not the only one that she goes out of her way to show that she appreciates them.  I love that. Thank you, Leigh Ann.

I’ll be completely honest – I am very lucky in the sense that such great messages usually come on a night when I’ve had a rough day or haven’t been able to get as much done as I’d like.  But today was very productive.  I cleaned the house, I went to the car wash, made it to the store, cleaned my wheelchair, finished ALL of my work BEFORE classes (even reading!), made great headway on some spreadsheets for work (GA), and am even ahead in a few classes.  The only real thing on my to do list for tonight, now, is to pack for Hokie Day.  BUT – these people may or may not know it (well, they do now!) but they give me the energy to keep going to touch even more people, meet more new people, and let even more people know that I’M thinking about THEM, let even more people know I am thankful for them.

Last, you might ask – “what about the theme of what goes around comes around?”

In an office I work in on campus, there is a woman named Peni who I see maybe once a month.  However, Peni always goes out of her way to make sure our entire office is prepared for any silly weather that may be coming our way.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT a weather checker.

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I think karma is real.  I think the psychology behind recognizing positive actions is even MORE real.  The data shows it.  Experiences show it too: I took just a few minutes to thank Peni this afternoon, and it came back around – double time.

Just sayin’…try it out.

I had a special request to see Charlotte on the blog so here she is! Woke her up from her (typical) evening nap and all. :)
My beautiful pup, Charlotte Petre-Graves.  She is a five-year-old Beagle-Hound mix.  Her birthday is coming up on Saturday!
My beautiful pup, Charlotte Petre-Graves. She is a five-year-old Beagle-Hound mix. Her birthday is coming up on Saturday, February 2nd!

Next blog will probably be from Hokie Day – I’m gonna go get to packing!