A Bonus Check

A year or so ago I got an email from a woman named Erin asking if she could include me in her email updates.  Of course I said yes.  Erin’s 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and she began sending out emails to keep her family and friends updated. Five years later her daughter is healthy and those email updates still continue.

I look forward to Erin’s emails in my inbox.  We’ve never met in person but I’m thankful for her inspiration and joy.

This is an email I got around last September and I asked her if I could share it at some point when I thought the time was right. Erin said yes.  The time is right:


Hello Friends and Family –

I do not have a J-O-B that mails me a W-2 at tax time.
My occupation is Mom to these 3 crazies.

I do not get a paycheck on the 1st and 15th but,
I did receive a HUGE bonus check this week.
3 different people, at 3 different times, stopped their lives for a moment and gave me and Joe a gift.

The gifts came in different forms – a text message,
a random conversation with a stranger at the soccer field,
a tight hug of gratitude in front of our house:
Stories of Mary’s kindness, Sara’s kindness and Anna’s kindness.

Genuine kindness – when you don’t know that someone is watching.
3 moments in our daughters’ lives that we would not have known happened, unless someone took the time to tell us.
I like that.
I want to do more of that.

My job description is to make sure our daughters are good people. So much is involved with being a “good person.”
Most nights after our girls are asleep,
I replay the moments I could have and should have done differently as their Mom.

This week, I accepted my bonus check with pride.

I work hard.

Not all days are good. Some mornings, I start my day yelling at 1, 2 or all of our girls before I even get out of bed.

Moments of pride like this make not-great-moments like that feel like everything in between was worth the time and effort.

A Good Mom Moment.

If you see or hear a kid do something great…tell their parents.
The world could use more compliments!

-Erin M.


Parenting takes practice. We try and do the best we can, and sometimes we fail, but we can restart again. I want my child to learn that grace, compassion and kindness are richer than fairness. I want her to know that life isn’t going to be easy and I’m not going to shelter her. I look for the small moments where she steps forth in her own humble way. Those are my true bonuses like Erin so eloquently wrote. And when I see that in other people’s children I should let them know…because it feels good to know that you are making small strides and that someone else happened to notice.

Grace Disguised (Day 8 of the Year of Joy) Series by Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo #quote #theyearofjoy

It might not seem like it, but you too are making small strides. We all are.  Look for your bonus checks, and share the wealth with others.


Thank you Erin:

Things I Love:

1. Brene Brown’s Whole Hearted Parenting Manifesto: Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You can download it here.


2. Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly: Embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly, and to courageously engage in our lives.

The Year of Joy Recap:

Day 1: The Year of Joy: You are deserving of joy. Many times we confuse joy with happiness. They are two separate things. Happiness comes from circumstances, but joy is an attitude that defies circumstances.

Day 2: A Bigger Target: Focus changes everything. Our goal in life should be to be much, not to have much.

Day 3: Make Room for Joy: Quit Something Every Thursday: So how do we become deep people? Don’t let time fillers dilute your life, intrude and thin out your joy.

Day 4: Availability is the Greatest Ability: I so often think I’m available, but really my mind is wandering around in the margins of life.

Day 5: People Gifting Cadillacs: So many lessons to learn in letting go. As well as giving and gifting. Some are so grateful to find a great treasure at any cost.

Day 6: Nothing is More Real than Nothing: These are the times that I just ask for grace and accept that I may have over-committed…just a little.

Day 7: Making my World Smaller: I am finding joy in becoming increasingly unattached to things.


  1. Stephanie says

    Dearest Ashley, all I can say about your recent posts on simplifying, decluttering, letting go of “prized” possessions, etc. is KEEP THEM COMING!!!!! You are so inspiring and helpful. I have been getting rid of “stuff” and am aspiring to go through my entire house this year to really “trim the fat”. The challenge for me is to not buy more “stuff” a few months or a year later. Maintenance is tricky. I am a mom and wife and at age 43 am realizing how much I rely on shopping as entertainment. I so enjoy going to estate sales finding treasures , digging around in Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx , and searching antique stores for the elusive “whatever” I can’t live without at that particular time. Thankfully, I have other hobbies and do prefer spending time with my husband and son over shopping any day but it is taking time to retrain my brain to view shopping as an activity necessary to buy items that are NECESSARY, not as a recreational activity. I’m thinking that your model will help me and if I start to slide a bit, an episode or two “Hoarders” should get me back on the wagon :)
    I say this last sentence in jest, of course. The people on the show break my heart and I pray for their recovery.
    Thank you, sweet Ashley!!!