You’ve heard this phrase before. You may have even said it out loud, and maybe you’ve really done it. After this past year, this may be an exhausting thought with all you have done for others who have struggled with illness, loneliness or depression. You may be in need of some love and kindness from others to rejuvenate yourself. Thankfully, you live in just the place that offers natural beauty and peace, a true breath of fresh air and space to stretch your legs! We are surrounded by imagery that most people dream of; they drive here in droves to get a week’s worth of the great outdoors and they make plans to live here one day (shall we try to discourage that a little?). With a simple step out the door, you have a chance to take time for yourself and adjust your attitude.

Everyone has a different way of coping with change or stress and it always makes me think of my dad, who years ago, had a difficult day at work. He had gone out and bought a six-pack at lunch. This was odd for a guy who didn’t drink very much, so I knew something had to really be troubling him. He went on to describe how sick he was the day after because he ate a six-pack of ice cream sandwiches (not beer). Now this made sense to me and I could totally visualize him eating all those sandwiches at his desk fretting over whatever was bothering him. He was such a sweetheart. S.U.T. (aka Sweet Uncle Ted) or Funpa, as he was known in the family, would always be there to help people. We often had family members living with us—we were helping people move or inviting neighbors and friends to camp/ski/canoe with us. Growing up in our house, I didn’t particularly like all the things he had us do, but as an adult, it has given me a great perspective of what it means to serve others. It was something both my parents did—they led by example and set the tone for how we treat others.

It feels pretty good to know the legacy my father left us that will hopefully be imparted to my children. Thankfully, we’ve been able to raise them in the foothills of Denver, where they have learned to appreciate the quiet of the outdoors and the peaceful nature of our mountain wildlife. It’s a hope, too, that all our mountain youth know what it means to help their neighbor and support our small communities. It’s been enlightening to read on Facebook about local programs and nonprofits that plan fundraisers, donations of goods and services by businesses, and the most recent effort of Good Samaritans and first responders at the Hwy 285 crash. So many great stories that should be posted, acknowledged and celebrated. What if we could continue on with the practice of serving others, in any way, great or small, by paying it forward?

Pay It Forward: to repay a kindness received with a good deed to someone else. 

A friend of mine, who just started a new business in January of 2020, made calls to local business owners last year to see how he could help them with small business loans and other available resources to keep afloat during the lockdown. For months, he was focused more on others by making calls, going to meetings and researching what was available to small businesses in our area. No one knew his back story, why he was helping, or that he, too, had a father who had taught him the value of being there for others. Bill just stepped up to help his community. And he wasn’t alone. There were others who posted words of hope—thank you, Jane, my fairy dust mother. Our favorite restaurants who started serving “take out” to feed those of us who really didn’t like cooking at home. And companies that kept our cars running because, of course, the world didn’t stop with fender benders or flat tires just because there was a pandemic. Take time to think of how you can honor someone who made a difference in your life in the last year and pay it forward!

Pay It Forward, COVID-19 style: “When we finally are able to hug our loved ones, gather together with our friends, and do holy justice work in the community, we want to make sure that, in addition to taking care of our loved ones, we also took care of those who have lovingly served, supported, and did our housework.” —Rabbi Paul Kipnes.