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The Admiration Project

This entry is just over a year in the making.  In November 2013 a friend of mine from high school lost her daughter suddenly and unexpectedly.  I had a daughter the exact same age and could not begin to imagine that kind of loss.  I drove the three hours to be there for my friend, give her a hug and try to say something comforting.  However, it was her who was there for all of those in attendance; it was my friend who comforted those who came to be with her; it was a strong and admirable woman standing before us, honoring her daughter.

In what I should no longer continue to see as odd or ironic, I saw in that service something I never expected, a reference from a recent dream that became what was the spark to this year long project I have committed to begin, and more importantly, finish… The Admiration Project.

A few days before that dream, I was having a conversation with a co-worker who said that she “admired” me.  That word stayed with me for several days because in my mind, “admiring” someone is not something I have ever done frivolously.  An admiration of someone came from a place of deep respect.  That compliment given to me days earlier, while sincere, I processed as undeserved.  Or maybe I was uncomfortable with it simply because I felt it was an honor I had not yet earned with this person.  Anyway, back to the spark…  Just days before I made the drive to the celebration of life for my friend’s daughter, I had a dream.  In this dream I was going to South Africa on a trip and this person in my dream was “admiring” my adventurous opportunity.  (Noteworthy here is that I have never thought / wished / mentioned traveling to South Africa.)  As I often have very vivid dreams, I try to put the pieces together and figure out how they apply to something going on in my waking hours, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Then on November 18, 2013, as I sat in the church watching a slideshow of the exciting life this young girl had lived, a photo came up of her sky diving in South Africa!  My mouth dropped open for an uncontrolled instant, then I leaned over to my mom and said, “I just had a dream about being in South Africa!”

The service began and I listened to this young lady’s parents and others give an account of her life, her accomplishments, and her dreams for the future.  My admiration grew that evening.  It grew for my friend and former classmate, a person I had only seen a handful of times since we graduated 30+ years ago, as she stood before us so strong in her grief… to extend to the daughter she raised, a person I will never know.

And so the “admiration” compliment I had received a few days earlier along with the random reference in a dream to a place I had never been before became connected, just as suddenly and unexpectedly as the death of this young woman.

As I drove home that next morning with only my thoughts to keep me company, The Admiration Project was born.  This project is a challenge to myself to take time and write a letter, (handwritten) to the twelve people I admire most.  Along with that letter I will give a donation to a charity or project in their name that is inspired by the way they have had an impact on my life.  That letter will also challenge them to send just one similar letter to a person they admire within the next year.

If you are reading this, I challenge you to do the same, send just ONE letter of admiration to a deserving recipient who may or may not know the impact they have had on you.

Part of my waiting a year to start was I wanted a way to track how far this spreads – I wanted to know where these “admirable” people live and what organizations or projects they inspired people to contribute to.  Reality is, I’m not going to be able to program an interactive map on a blog – and it’s just an excuse to not take a risk and follow through, so instead, I’ll just ask that you leave a comment and tell me where you are, where the other person is and any organization you may be contributing to as a part of your admiration for that person.

“I am in Nashville, TN; my admirable person is in Maryville, TN and I have contributed to the Abbie Jane Harper Memorial Scholarship Fund.”

P.S.  If you are reading this and recognize yourself, your letter is in the mail.

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