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In the Know: Tell me your two people

Tim Urness (right) with his "two people" -- Ben Miller and Carol Porter. (Contributed)

Carol and Ben. Those are my two people. Carol and Ben. Who are yours?

Often when I have the chance to speak to groups, especially high school and college students, I enjoy proposing this question to them: "Tell me two people in your life, not a family member, that have had a positive impact on you."

Think of an old coach, teacher, volunteer, neighbor or colleague that is special to you. It is fun to see initial reactions. Some people have an answer ready right away, some have a tough time narrowing it down to two; some are saying "Why can't we pick a family member?" I allow a few minutes to think about this, then I ask if anyone is comfortable sharing their names.

My two people are Carol and Ben. Who are yours?

Once people have shared their names, I follow it up with, "Tell me a word or two that would describe why you chose that person." This leads to answers like kind, caring, understanding, patient, forgiving and so on. Oddly enough, I have never heard anyone say rich, fancy, overbooked, intolerant, lazy, etc.

Now allow me to share more about my two people. Carol Porter is an amazingly positive person who gets involved. If any of you readers know Carol, you would agree she is an active and passionate supporter of numerous events and organizations in the area. My words for Carol: "cheerful heart." She is one of those special people who always carries a smile on her face and has an upbeat attitude.

And Ben? That's Ben Miller. He was the very first friend I made when I moved to Alexandria in 2001. "Reliable" is my word of choice to describe Ben. Anyone who calls this man a friend would know what I am talking about. Need some help? Ben is there. Need a friend to listen? You guessed it; Ben is there. Need someone who pays attention and shows up at different times when you least expect it? That's Ben Miller.

Just the other day I had the opportunity to take the two of them out for lunch to tell them "thank you." Which leads us to my second question: Have you ever thanked your Carol and Ben, the people who have had a positive impact on your life? Call them, write them or take them to coffee to say thanks. Find a way to share your feelings.

The old bumper sticker, "Don't make people tell lies at your funeral," is flashing brightly now in my mind. Seems odd and a tad morbid I know, but every funeral I have attended, without fail, the speakers portray the deceased as a beacon of hope in a world of darkness. According to that bumper sticker, someone is lying. What if the day of your funeral comes and no one is eager to speak at it, or share a positive memory, or tell others what an impact you made on their lives or the lives of others? I know that will not be the case for Carol and Ben.

I'll leave you with one final question: "Who is going to say your name?" Every morning you can make a decision to make a positive impact by asking yourself, "Who can I impact today? Who can I take time for at work? Who can I support in the neighborhood? Whose life can I make better today?" It doesn't take money or even that much effort but, it will require you to be intentional about making a difference. Being kind, caring, understanding, patient and forgiving are some easy "no cost" skills that you can use today with the people in your world. Go be someone's person today.

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Tim Urness is actively involved in service groups in the Alexandria area. "In the Know" is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.