A new year causes most folks to decide on their resolutions for the coming year. Rather than setting in stone resolutions, which will no doubt be broken by mid-January, I try to use this time to count the blessings I have received during the past year. Reflecting on all the good in my life is a humbling experience each and every time.

My blessings are beyond measure as I have a loving family and a large circle of friends who mean the world to me. This year, these blessings also include a very special lady who gifted me with the return of a lost item … and in so doing renewed my faith in the integrity and goodness of people.

I spent a Saturday in my yard last November raking leaves and preparing for the long Michigan winter. Shortly after the work was done, I discovered I was missing a ring. This ring contains 21 small diamonds and has a band made of precious gold. But more importantly, I inherited it from a much loved sister. I have worn it regularly for the 12 years she has been gone, and each time I put it on I lovingly think of her.

Immediately after I discovered it was missing, I went into panic mode, then into a state of determination. We turned over piles of leaves, searched the ground, and even used a rented metal detector, but to no avail. After two hours of hopeful searching, darkness set in and we had to give up. My weekend was ruined and I tried my best to accept that I would search all the rest of my days — and no doubt, never forgive myself.

When I walked into my office the following Monday morning, however, I saw the gleam of something bright lying in the middle of my desk. My ring sat on a note that simply said, “Kendra, I found this and think it is yours.” It was signed by Petra. I immediately started to cry with joy.

Petra is quite the lady. I would guess she is barely 5 feet tall, but stands taller than Paul Bunyan in integrity and work ethic. She is an immigrant to our shores and when she first began cleaning our offices she struggled with the English language. However, her 100-watt smile has always been enough to communicate her good humor, and her English has improved with time living in her adopted country. Her beautiful smile and friendly attitude are evident as she visits our office twice a week.

It would have been so easy for this to have been a non-story. Had my ring not been returned I would have forever thought it was lost in a pile of leaves, and no one would have been the wiser. I am truly blessed to have Petra in my life. In this time of uncertainty and strife, things like personal integrity, honesty and thinking of others is even more important. In short, what the world needs in 2011 is more Petras.