“The sun’ll come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun…”

I smiled as I listened to a powerhouse voice belting out the popular song from the musical, “Annie.” But I wasn’t at the theatre experiencing it live, or listening to a CD of the soundtrack in my car or home.

I was in the checkout line at the grocery story.

The singer – whom I couldn’t even see at first because she was so tiny and was on the other side of the next checkout lane – was a little girl with blonde curls, singing her heart out to pass the time while her dad finished bagging his groceries. I was still smiling when it was time to pay for mine.

“There’s a Broadway star in the making,” I said to the cashier, who was also smiling.

“I know. Wasn’t she cute?” the cashier responded.

By now, the little girl and her father were long gone. I doubt that I’d recognize them if I saw them again, which is too bad because I’d love to tell the little girl – and her father – how much joy she brought to everyone around her that morning. And I’d like to encourage her to keep on singing.

As I was writing those words just now, I suddenly had a flashback – all the way back to the mid-70’s, when Helen Reddy had a hit song entitled, “Keep On Singing.” That was also the first line of the chorus, and even though I haven’t heard or thought about the song in a long time, the words came back to me quickly: “Keep on singing, don’t stop singing, you’re gonna be a star someday. You’re gonna make a lot of people happy when they come to hear you play.”

The song is about a little girl whose mother died in childbirth, and who grew up in poverty – but with a father who always encouraged her talent and made her feel like a queen.

I’m guessing that the parents of the little girl in the grocery store do the same. She was confident and comfortable enough to be singing at the top of her lungs, and her father didn’t shush her, as some parents might have been tempted to do.

I was still humming the tune from “Tomorrow” as I walked out of the grocery store that day, but now I’ve got the Helen Reddy song stuck in my brain. And that’s making me smile, too. Not the “You’re gonna be a star someday” part, but the part that goes, “You’re gonna make a lot of people happy.”

We’ve all got gifts and talents we can use to make other people happy. And when we do, it usually makes us happy, too. There’s a joy and satisfaction that comes from helping others and brightening their day, especially when we’re doing it simply by sharing our own gifts and natural abilities. And that doesn’t refer only to talents that fall in the category of entertainment, like singing, dancing, or telling jokes really well. It can be anything, in any aspect of our lives. And it’s not just about making people laugh or smile. Sometimes it’s about bringing them comfort. Peace of mind. Encouragement, or validation.

Every so often, people will tell me that something I’ve said has made a big difference in their lives. Whether it’s through one of my speaking programs, a casual conversation, or things I’ve said in my column or other things I’ve written, I’m always grateful – and sometimes surprised – to learn that my words have affected people that way. And it always makes me happy.

Whenever you realize that you have gifts, talents, or skills that bring a smile – or any positive response – to other people, please use those gifts every chance you get. And be aware that you’re probably unaware of some of the talents and traits you possess, and the brightening and enlightening effect they have on others. So start paying attention and looking for them in yourself. Watch for them, value them, enjoy them and share them.

And most important of all, keep on singing.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on August 2, 2012.
© Betty Liedtke, 2012

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