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How a travel writing assignment can lead in unexpected directions...The most beautiful thing about noticing a person’s good work is that it makes me feel good, too. I learned that it’s amazing when you stop to acknowledge the flowers.

My travel writing assignment was to experience an 11-bedroom villa on the island of Anguilla. I found that the villa offered so much visually, my head was in full swivel mode. I was surprised that it wasn’t the panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea that I was preoccupied with, nor the tile that was imported from Greece, or the crayfish salad prepared by our private chef.

As someone who is usually oblivious to flowers, I couldn’t get over the explosion of color delivered by the villa’s red, purple, and peach bougainvilleas. The flowers reached out from every corner of the entry-way, infinity pool, and second-floor terrace.

My first day on the property, I asked the chef about the person who does the gardening, and she answered in almost hushed tones. “Our gardener is amazing. She talks to the flowers, loves the flowers, and the flowers respond.”

The next day after breakfast, a petite woman walked up to me as I shot photos for my villa travel article. In a soft voice that was barely above a whisper she inquired, “You asked about the gardens?”

I replied that I thought the villa’s outdoor landscaping and décor was extraordinary. She asked if I would like to take a tour of the property. As we walked and talked, she educated me on the before and after that had taken place in this oasis of greenery. At the end of my tour, the gardener gently grabbed my elbow and said, “No one has ever asked about the flowers and gardens before.” I noticed that her eyes were moist with gratitude. I repeated that her work was wonderful, and that she should be very proud.

My encounter with the villa gardener reminded that so many people toil in silence. Each day there is something to appreciate, rather than take for granted.

When I returned home from Anguilla, I started making a point of noticing the little things I was grateful for. I also started recognizing the subtle talents of the people I met.

The lesson I took from acknowledging the works of others is: My kind words come right back to me. If I plant the right seeds, something good is bound to grow from it.

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