A Daily Dose of Inspiration: A Story that Will Boost Your Spirits Throughout the Year

by Diane Berenbaum

Two regular people on a mission to make a difference will take off in a prop plane this fall to circumnavigate the globe and hug the world. They will stop at 50 locations in five months and give more than 100,000 “mom hugs”—literally reaching their arms around the world.

This is the story of Gail Goodwin and her daughter, Carly whose adventures will inspire you… and help you remember what's really important, even in the toughest of times and the worst of days.

A Song is Born

In 2004, Carly graduated from college and decided to pursue her dream of being a top recording artist. So, Gail sold her property to fund and focus on her daughter's career. One night she awoke from a dream where she saw Carly performing on stage, singing a song she never heard before, over and over again. She scribbled down the words and took them to songwriter, Gerald Smith, who helped them complete the song, Baby Come Back Home. The song is sung from the perspective of a soldier's wife to her husband in Iraq, and honors the often unrecognized sacrifices she makes.

The song was recorded by Carly and, with the help of Mark Victor Hansen and Alex Mandossian, was released as an audio postcard on the Internet. Baby Come Back Home became an “anthem” embraced by military families around the world. Invitations started pouring in from troops for Carly to perform.

Trip to Guantanamo Bay Sparks an Idea:  The Soldier Scrolls

During their first trip to Guantanamo Bay, they met a Marine named Chris who said he felt unappreciated by the average American. This was during the prison trials, when the Marines in Cuba were on trial in the court of American opinion. Chris was doing a difficult job and felt unloved by America.

Determined to show Chris and his fellow troops the love and support of a grateful nation, Gail and her daughter launched The Baby Come Back Home Soldier Scrolls in Nashville at the Country Music Festival. They unrolled the end of an unprinted newspaper scroll, spread it across a table, tossed out colorful markers and invited the public to write their own personal messages of love and support.

In just four days, the scrolls grew to an astounding seven miles long! Gail realized that they were on to something. By looking to be of service, magic was happening.

MAGIC was Happening—The Scrolls Grow to 18 Miles Long

Carly performed in airport terminals around the country while Gail invited people to share their gratitude with our troops by writing their own messages of love and support. The scrolls grew and momentum increased. Then, they were invited to visit troops in Iraq and deliver the scrolls. Just two weeks before they left for a 29-day tour of Iraq and six other countries in the Persian Gulf, the scrolls were signed by members of Congress in the U.S. Capitol building. On that momentous day, the scrolls broke 18 miles in length!

In January 2006 after many visits to U.S. bases, three trips to Guantanamo Bay and regular visits to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, they set off on a tour of Iraq and the Persian Gulf. They took their prized scrolls, broke them into 18 sections of at least a mile long and delivered one to each of 18 bases on the 29-day tour. They literally wrapped each base with more than a mile of messages of love and support from America.

Messages from Home Warm the Heart and Feed the Soul

As the scrolls were unfurled, troops gathered around to read messages like “I miss you Daddy, Love Scooter”, and “I want to marry a Marine” with a young girl's email address. The scrolls contained messages from celebrities and regular folks alike, from 2 to 100 years old, from 48 states and more than 13 countries. No matter where they were from, our troops got to experience a little bit of home. As one soldier said, “Wow, that person is from my hometown!” And for that moment in time, even though he was in the middle of the desert of Iraq, he felt “home.” In his mind and in his heart he had something tangible and something familiar. He felt loved and appreciated.

One Soldier Inspires the First of Many “Mom Hugs”

At the most remote base, Al Q'aim, Gail met a young man named Jesse. This base was so remote that the 3000+ Marines stationed there had never had entertainment in the 3-1/2 years since the base opened.

After Carly's show, Jesse came up to Gail in a very shy way and asked her for a “mom hug.” He explained that he'd just turned 19 and that it had been nine months and four days since he'd been touched. He was actually able to tell her the exact date of his last hug. He missed his mom. He missed home.

Gail was so moved that she reached out to give him a big hug. Jesse stepped back, put his hands up and told her that he needed to tell her something first. He explained that his job required him to live in a ditch- alone for 30-40 days at a time. He was one of more than 800 Marines who guard this stretch of desert, coming back to the base for a few days every month or so. Jesse apologized and said that he hadn't had a shower in 37 days but asked if he could still have his hug. Gail pulled him close and gave him the biggest, warmest “mom hug” that she could. Jesse told her the she “smelled like home.” They were both moved to tears.

Gail asked Jesse how he survives a month at a time, living in a ditch with no interaction with other people. He reached back into his backpack, pulled out his iPod and said, “I'm always looking for good inspiration, Ma'am.”

She returned home and went to work on her own website, www.InspireMeToday.com, which now provides a dose of inspiration from a different luminary every single day. Jesse isn't alone in his ditch any longer.

Gail knows that her site is making a difference…not only to Jesse and his buddies in Iraq, but also to the single mom in Iowa, the corporate exec in California or the entrepreneur in Florida. People's thoughts and attitudes are changing. Lives are changing---one person at a time.

Have You Had a Hug Today?

A Director at Canyon Ranch once preached that all of us need a minimum of 32 laughs and 9 hugs a day to be happy, healthy, holy and whole. Perhaps www.InspireMeToday.com will add to your minimum daily requirement.

Hugs to you.
Diane Berenbaum is a long-time contributor and former editor of the MAGIC Service Newsletter. She has more than twenty-five years of experience as a consultant, coach, and facilitator. Diane is the co-author of How to Talk to Customers: Create a Great Impression Every Time with MAGIC® .
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