I was at a seminar a few months ago. During the workshop segment, we were given a delicate task: compose a list of characteristics of two people — a person you really admire and a person you do not.

Naturally, it was easy to compose a list of characteristics of someone I admire.

Selflessness and productivity go hand in hand, and those are traits I really admire. Some people, like my older sister, don’t think twice about accepting a duty or a task to benefit someone. I don’t know if they deliberate on whether they have the resources or if it fits in their schedule because their first response is “Yes, I can help.”

Needless to say, people like this are always productive. They possess a “Yes I can” attitude, and it carries over to numerous accomplishments. They contribute so much to those around them and are a pleasure to be around.

I struggled to come up with a list of characteristics of someone I did not admire because while I can name a few characteristics of someone who irks my nerves, these same people possess qualities that I really admire.

To complete the activity, I asked myself instead, “Who is someone I don’t get along with, and what makes my interactions with them challenging?”

Unsurprisingly, this new list of characteristics mirrored the exact opposite traits of the people I do admire.

The reason we were asked to jot down traits of people we do and do not admire was to consider what behaviors affect what impact. If we want to make a positive difference in the lives of others, what will we do that is admirable, positive, selfless, productive, kind, etc.? The people we admire not only make our lives better, they give us examples of how to do the same.

At the end of the workshop, the speaker handed out greeting cards. Our new task was to identify someone who had positively impacted us and to simply share that with them.

I thought about my mom and my dad. Also, there was someone else I knew who had impacted me in such a way that his kindness brought me to tears. I knew that this person deserved a card like this.

I took the card home and debated on the logistics of sending it. Before I was able to return to it, the card suffered water-damage. At first, I was going to let go of the idea until one day the thought resurfaced. My co-workers and I were singing “Happy Birthday” to another co-worker, and she started to tear up.

The moment reminded me of the time when someone’s kindness moved me to tears. I mustered up enough resolve that day to share this with that person via another medium. He responded in appreciation and thought I was being kind. (Get that.)

It is not just happenstance when we meet nice people, enjoy a good meal or receive good service. Let’s take the time to show appreciation for those who are making a positive impact. People may realize that they are truly valued and that they do make a big difference.

“A Thank-You Card”

By Precious Kelly

When many nights, standing on tiptoes,

I looked out the window to see that station wagon

Turn the corner where the brown double-wide stands.

I waited, and walked away, and looked again,

Staring night in the face.

Light poles hung orange lights between black trees

And showed me nothing I wanted to see,

Only a wet street and driveways where other parents were not at home.

My home: brothers are playing chess as if in a nobody-move contest;

Sisters are on the floor, drawing girls on snack-cake boxes;

And babies are sleeping — heads tilted, mouths open. Some, wide open.

Because I heard Mama’s short-heels stepping up the porch

And Daddy telling the boys to carry the groceries inside,

This is for you, God.

 Precious Angel Kelly, a native of Rantoul, writes a Christian-based monthly column. She welcomes correspondence at precious.angelkelly@aol.com