Be An Encourager…

Encourage Others / Tiffanyaolson.comSo last summer we went and hung out at the Coos County fair for a week while Natalie worked with 4H and her sheep, Lucy. I had finished chemo in June and was beginning to feel a bit better.  The average temperature in Coos Bay is around 55 degrees and there is always a slight wind. Well a bald head in slightly windy 55 degree weather needs to be covered. One of the interesting things about The Coos is that all of the little towns surrounding it are slightly inland and therefore tend to be warmer especially in the summer months. The Coos County Fair is in July in Myrtle Point, which is about 20 miles south east of Coos Bay. You can just imagine how clean it was hanging out with sheep and pigs and cows for a week so my wig was really not an option and it was too hot for a beanie. So I took a deep breath, put a baseball cap over my bald head and called it good.

One afternoon I was sitting on the bleachers in the sun watching what was going on in the ring with the animals and my friend Teresa walked up. Our paths don’t cross very often as our kids attend different schools. When she recognized me she came over and visited for a bit. As we sat there and chatted she said, “You know, I have been reading your blog and I really think its amazing. You are a great writer and you need to use this whole experience as a launching pad. You go girl. This is your time, run with it and propel yourself forward.” Teresa wasn’t looking at me when she said these things, she was watching what was going on in the ring. As I looked over at her I could tell that tears had welled up in her eyes. I didn’t really know how to respond, not only because of what was said but for the fact that she could have ignored me altogether, there was a decent crowd around and she could have kept to herself and I might not even have seen her. But she didn’t. She stopped. She came and chatted with me and she said exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. Here I was feeling all weird and uncomfortable with my bald self, trying to act like I was cool with it and up comes someone who I hadn’t seen in a very long time and who I haven’t seen much since, who took the time to stop, take inventory of the situation at hand and chose to make an impact so big that sitting here 8 months later I can recall it like it was yesterday.

Last week I needed to get a run in and I also needed to help Mr. Wonderful with at few things at the office. Instead of driving back home and running one of my normal routes I chose to shake things up a bit and run a few loops near the office. Four miles into my six mile run I came upon Barb and Jessica, two women that are avid runners in our little town. On any given day you can find one of the two of them out on a run in various places all over the city. Jessica even sponsors a 5k race at the community college where she works, in honor of her father who had pancreatic cancer. As I  approached them Barb stops in the middle of the sidewalk and throws out her arms and hugs me and is exclaiming over and over “I’m sooo glad your healthy! I’m so glad your healthy! You are doing great!”

You have to know Barb to truly appreciate this moment. She is a very small girl with a huge, bubbly, vivacious personality. When she throws out her arms for a hug it’s not just her arms but her whole body. She was in New Zealand with her family for several months last year so I hadn’t seen her much since before I got sick. They didn’t have to stop on the busiest street in town and hug me and encourage me. They could have smiled and waved and kept going, but they didn’t. They chose to stop and encourage me and cheer me on. Those last two miles I had a bit more of a spring in my step and a smile on my face.

Be An Encourager /

Me running the Butte to Butte in Eugene 2001

Six months ago my friend Amarissa was running near my house. For those of you who are not familiar with Coos Bay well, it’s pretty much all hills and I live at the top of one of those hills. My house happens to be on the way to no where. The closest cross street that takes you somewhere is .2 miles away. I know this seems like a very short distance but this .2 streatch of road is on a very very steep hill. You have to go down it to get to my house and back up it to leave. If you are running, to even get to that cross road you have already run a lot of hills. So I get a knock on my door and there stands sweet Amarissa, I was shocked because I knew what she had to run to get there and since she’s Amarissa she really hadn’t even broken a sweat. She’s standing there looking at me and my baldness and she says, “I just couldn’t get this close to your house and not stop by to see you and give you a hug and tell you that I am proud of you. I don’t know why I’m crying but I am and I just wanted you to know that I am thinking about you and all that you are going through.” Bam! Humbled, appreciated and encouraged. It made my day.

In one of my blog posts a while back I mentioned that I had read a book called Love Does by Bob Goff. It had a big impact on me and in the back of the book is his phone number if you want to give him a call. Of course this sounds silly, you don’t just call the author of the book and expect him to answer.  I really wanted to, but I didn’t. I have picked the book back up again because I know I missed a lot of it in my chemo enduced fog and I wanted to reread it. I got to a point in the book where he was talking about writing and I happened to be working on a blog post at the time. I was struck by something he said and I don’t know what made me do it but I  emailed him about this certain section of his book where he talks about not using the word “that” in his writing because his friend Donald Miller told him not to.  It was short and simple and I was sharing that I was realizing how much I use the word “that” and maybe this means that I need to improve my writing skills a bit. Guess what?! He emailed me back! Bob Goff! It made me feel so special that he took the time to do that. I know that he answers his emails so if you email him I am sure that he will reply but it’s what he said that made me feel special.

Hi Tiffany!
Great to hear from you, friend. Ha~ I still don’t know why, but I trust Don, so I’m not using it often!
Keep being strong and courageous. I know you have a  couple books in you at least!

Happy Easter!


He encouraged me. He didn’t have to do that. He could have just said, thank you for reading my book. But he didn’t, he took the time to make an impact on my life. I was impressed that he answered at all but then to take it one step further and take a moment to encourage a complete stranger, well, it was great.

That’s what encouragement does, it is so significant that the recipient can’t help but stand a little taller and feel better about whatever it is that they are facing. When you feel better it makes you stronger and strength gives you the confidence to keep pressing on. All it takes is a few heartfelt words, a kind gesture or even an email to change someones perspective on what is currently happening in their life. Never underestimate the power of taking the time to lift somebody up, you have no idea what is going on in their heart and your efforts just might be the thing that gets them through this day.

Remember to run /

Three Weeks And Counting… 1/2 Marathon 2016

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  1. No one ever has too much encouragement so be a JOY spreader. Loved your topic today!

  2. Wow, Tiffany! A challenging–and encouraging–post!

    Thank you.

  3. Judy Preble says

    You just keep on doing it, Girlie!! Love you and your Mama!!

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