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As the year draws to a close, it is a time to reflect on the things that we appreciate, not only in our personal lives, but our professional lives, as well.


Simple things I appreciate:

1. “Control z” — the “undo” function or the backspace key — is the most practical function on the computer. I have taken a liking to the fact that modern technology allows for the eradication of simple or even complex errors. The actual ability to travel back in time to start over again or recapture something that has been lost really exists.


Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with a “control z.” We need to be mindful in our interactions with others, to be considerate. We need to show respect and kindness with coworkers, customers, clients and employees.

2. “Only if my mouth had a backspace key.” This leads us to the second item of thankfulness: People who are forgiving.

It’s difficult to always maintain a high level of professionalism. Things may come out of our mouths that surprise us — words that aren’t meant to spew forth and present themselves as they sometimes do. Most misunderstandings and miscommunications can be avoided simply by forgiving or asking for clarification on what was meant.

3. The ability to give back, no matter what the profit or loss margin may be.

A mentor told me I couldn’t give back to charitable or worthy causes until my gross margins doubled and my net income increased. I heartily disagreed. There are so many needs within our local communities and numerous ways exist to support these needs. We can scale our financial support according to the size of our business. We may not be a member of the Gates family with billions to donate through a foundation, but the fact is that we all have means to do “something.”

We may want to donate a coat or gloves to the Allegany County Social Services Safe and Snug program. Another option is to donate your time to Allegany County Animal Shelter, which helps with lost, abandoned and homeless animals in Allegany county. There’s the Western Maryland Food Bank, a warehouse that serves the local community through organizations that give out food to those in need. There are also family crisis centers, homeless shelters and many other worthy causes within our tri-state region that need or could use donations of time, goods or money.

4. Those who are close to us.


As the holidays are before us, let us remember those around us that have touched our lives. It is important to help those who need a meal or a warm coat, but what about those that need a warm smile? Sometimes those who are less fortunate may not just be found in the street. Sometimes those who are less fortunate may be sitting in the seat beside of us, bearing burdens that are heavy.

We touch others’ lives in so many ways and sometimes a listening ear, a hug or a smile does as much as feeding the hungry.

We need more kindness and gentleness this holiday season and through the coming year.

As you reflect on simple things you are thankful for, remember that the small things you do can make a big difference.



Heidi Shadel is a Cumberland business owner and graduate of Frostburg State University with a master’s in business administration. She believes in small business and the power that it holds in America’s economy, especially having a passion for helping small businesses succeed within the tri-state region.

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