Wednesday, September 30, 2009


If you have ever gone through a toll booth, you know that your relationship to the person in the booth is not the most intimate you'll ever have. It is one of life's frequent non-encounters: You hand over some money; you might get change; you drive off. I have been through every one of the 17 toll booths on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge on thousands of occasions, and never had an exchange worth remembering with anybody.

Late one morning in 1984, headed for lunch in San Francisco, I drove toward one of the booths. I heard loud music. It sounded like a party, or a Michael Jackson concert. I looked around. No other cars with their windows open. No sound trucks. I looked at the toll booth. Inside it, the man was dancing.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm having a party," he said.

"What about the rest of these people?" I looked over at other booths; nothing moving there.

"They're not invited."

I had a dozen other questions for him, but somebody in a big hurry to get somewhere started punching his horn behind me and I drove off. But I made a note to myself: Find this guy again. There's something in his eye that says there's magic in his toll booth.

Months later I did find him again, still with the loud music, still having a party.

Again I asked, "What are you doing?"

He said, "I remember you from the last time. I'm still dancing. I'm having the same party."

I said, "Look. What about the rest of the people."

He said. "Stop. What do those look like to you?" He pointed down the row of toll booths.

"They look like toll booths."

"Noooo imagination!"

I said, "Okay, I give up. What do they look like to you?"

He said, "Vertical coffins."

"What are you talking about?"

"I can prove it. At 8:30 every morning, live people get in. Then they die for eight hours. At 4:30, like Lazarus from the dead, they reemerge and go home. For eight hours, brain is on hold, dead on the job. Going through the motions."

I was amazed. This guy had developed a philosophy, a mythology about his job. I could not help asking the next question: "Why is it different for you? You're having a good time."

He looked at me. "I knew you were going to ask that," he said. "I'm going to be a dancer someday." He pointed to the administration building. "My bosses are in there, and they're paying for my training."

Sixteen people dead on the job, and the seventeenth, in precisely the same situation, figures out a way to live. That man was having a party where you and I would probably not last three days. The boredom! He and I did have lunch later, and he said, "I don't understand why anybody would think my job is boring. I have a corner office, glass on all sides. I can see the Golden Gate, San Francisco, the Berkeley hills; half the Western world vacations here and I just stroll in every day and practice dancing.

Abraham Lincoln said, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." I would tend to agree.

Written by Dr. Charles Garfield

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Her name is Sarah and it is a proper and fitting name for someone of her nature; quite the paradox she is, having passed herself off to be a girl in pink. Pink climbs like a boy, shouts like a boy, and wrestles with Dad like a boy. Pink is her trademark and she wears it well with her golden, flowing hair and giant apple cheeks.

I sensed when I held her securely in my arms at birth, she would not be there long. Even though as a toddler, she stuck to me like super glue. In spite of her independence, ferociously racing about, she would rush right back and come charging into my arms like a baby bull, returning only to get a "mommy fix." I knew it was all temporary. Like all good books, it would end too soon.

For a while back there, I thought I would lose her. "Neurosurgery" is such a scary word. In spite of my lack of faith, she sprang back with new life and a strong desire to live BIG.

I, on the other hand, spent much of my vigor and vim at the hospital. It seems I left with less life in me. "Sometimes life is tough," were the words my Dad spoke to console me. He was right.

I recall the day my sister gave the blanket to Sarah. It was pink and soft like her. The material was of a fine gingham cotton. "This will last forever" I thought. Little did I know lifetime warranties did not hold with Sarah.

Sarah ate, played, slept and breathed with "Blankey." Sarah cried, laughed, and screamed with Blankey. Blankey started the day with Sarah as she rose from her bed and would finish the evening with her as she finally collapsed into sweet dreams at night.

God forbid, if Blankey would need a "bath." As we continuously checked the progression of the wash cycle, I endured the drying time to the never-ending moans of "I want my Blankey now." Often times, Blankey was not quite dry. But it could not be helped. My sanity was more important then.

Almost 18 years have come and gone, and Blankey still lives. Its ruffles have worn off as well as its bright pink luster. Some things have changed.

"Ruff and tumble" Sarah has grown into a young woman and she will soon graduate from high school. Then she is off to college in the fall to begin her new life.

Just as appearances have faded, Blankey?s usefulness has waned also. Blankey has served its purpose; being there through good times and bad, to comfort and soothe, to strengthen and serve. Sarah is now a confident, beautiful woman and although she loves her Blankey, she no longer needs it.

Yes, sometimes life is tough. New things grow old and so do we. But, if done right, we will create a new light to pave the way. My light I like to call Sarah. Good job Blankey! Good job Me!

Written by Nina Troth

Monday, September 28, 2009


At the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, the sport of canoe racing was added to the list of international competitions. The favorite team in the four-man canoe race was the United States team. One member of that team was a young man by the name of Bill Havens.

As the time for the Olympics neared, it became clear that Bill's wife would give birth to their first child about the time that the U.S. team would be competing in the Paris games. In 1924 there were no jet airliners from Paris to the United States, only slow ocean going ships. And so Bill found himself in a dilemma. Should he go to Paris and risk not being at his wife's side when their baby was born? Or should he withdraw from the team and remain with his family?

Bill's wife insisted that he go to Paris. After all, competing in the Olympics was the culmination of a life long dream. But Bill felt conflicted and, after much soul searching, decided to withdraw from the competition and remain home, where he could support his wife when the child arrived. He considered being at her side his highest priority, even higher than going to Paris to fulfill his dream.

As it turned out, the United States four-man canoe team won the gold medal in Paris. And Bill's wife was late in giving birth to their child. She was so late, in fact, that Bill could have competed in the event and returned home in time to be with her when she gave birth.

People said, "What a shame." But Bill said he had no regrets. For the rest of his life, he believed he had made the better decision.

Bill Havens knew what was most important to him. Not everybody figures that out. And he acted on what he believed was best. Not everybody has the strength of character to say no to something he or she truly wants in order to say yes to something that truly matters. But for Bill, it was the only way to peace; the only way to no regrets.

There is an interesting sequel to the story of Bill Havens...

The child eventually born to Bill and his wife was a boy, whom they named Frank. Twenty eight years later, in 1952, Bill received a cablegram from Frank. It was sent from Helsinki, Finland, where the 1952 Olympics were being held. The cablegram read: "Dad, I won. I'm bringing home the gold medal you lost while waiting for me to be born."

Frank Havens had just won the gold medal for the United States in the canoe racing event, a medal his father had dreamed of winning but never did. Like I said, no regrets.

Thomas Kinkade eloquently said, "When we learn to say a deep, passionate yes to the things that really matter, then peace begins to settle onto our lives like golden sunlight sifting to a forest floor."

Written by Steve Goodier

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I got a call today ... a message on my answering machine. "This is Mrs. Smith. You don't know me. I'm Kevin's mother. Please call me about Kevin."

Kevin... a marvelously multi-talented young man I met in a coffee shop in Texas. We struck up a conversation over the books each of us were reading. The 30 year difference in our ages was quickly overcome by several things we had in common ... an immense enjoyment of reading ... a desire to express ourselves very well... a strong interest in philosophy... enjoying writing, or at least unable to avoid writing even when it became a chore... a curiosity about life... a bit of a wanderlust, and a desire to visit and live in different places... a streak of "perfectionism".

We've had many coffee-shop conversations, exchanged and read each others writing, shared tips on good books. He's a deep thinker, listens well, and expresses ideas beautifully. Heading out on another of his quite frequent "road trips" -- often as a part of relocating from one part of the country to another -- he might well take a wandering detour to stop by my house and stay for a few hours or a few days.

Enjoyable times.

I've tried to encourage him to apply some of his talents... work in a field he loves, rather than take odd jobs in out-of-the-way places... go on to college and develop his skills... actually publish one of the mini-mags he has frequently discussed... put his poetry in book form, then do readings to women's groups and sell the books... write the novel waiting inside him.

But Kevin always has a reason to wait a little longer: he needs to polish it a little more... develop more skills... do more research... work as a milkman until he has saved a little more money... try a different course of study... move to another area... try a different college... take another road trip.

Always reaching for the next thing, but never really taking a stand, never finding his quiet center. Never taking the chance of reaching out and stretching himself. Never really taking that scary step toward being who he can be, and risking the rejection that might come.

We all have something in common with Kevin. Taking a chance is a reach. But not reaching out... right now, where we are... is also taking a chance. But Kevin's not even 30 yet... he'll find himself... do what he loves... make use of his talents... touch others' lives. Just a little while more...

"Please call me about Kevin."

So I called Kevin's mom in Ohio. His step-father answered and explained that Kevin's mom was out of the house.

Making funeral arrangements.

For Kevin.

He was preparing for another "road trip"... another move, another college... this time from Wyoming back to the Midwest. He was found in his apartment. He had been gone for at least two days.

So Kevin is on a new "road trip," starting a new adventure. I hope he reaches out this time... that he doesn't wait until everything seems just right... that he recognizes what he loves, and does something with it.

He simply was never willing to take the risk of testing himself... never thought he was good enough... never was willing to really reach out for something that he wasn't sure he could do.

Later... when I'm better... when I'm more ready... when I'm sure I won't fall on my face.

But time ran out.

Could I have done something more to reach him?

I wish I had.

However, hopefully, I still can reach you.

Let this be Kevin's lesson to you: Don't wait... Reach out!

Written by Grady L. Dobbs,2003

Saturday, September 26, 2009


There is very instructive incident involving the life of Alexander, the
great Greek king. Alexander, after conquering many kingdoms, was returning
home. On the way, he fell ill and it took him to his death bed.

With death staring him in his face, Alexander realized how his conquests,
his great army, his sharp sword and all his wealth were of no consequence.
He now longed to reach home to see his mother's face and bid her his last

But, he had to accept the fact that his sinking health would not permit him
to reach his distant homeland. So, the mighty conqueror lay prostrate and
pale, helplessly waiting to breathe his last.

He called his generals and said, "I will depart from this world soon, I
have three wishes, please carry them out without fail." With tears flowing
down their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king's last

"My first desire is that," said Alexander, "My physicians alone must carry
my coffin."

After a pause, he continued, "Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is
being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard be strewn
with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my

The king felt exhausted after saying this. He took a minute's rest and
continued. "My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling
out of my coffin."

The people who had gathered there wondered at the king's strange wishes.
But no one dare bring the question to their lips.

Alexander's favorite general kissed his hand and pressed them to his heart.
"O king, we assure you that your wishes will all be fulfilled. But tell us
why do you make such strange wishes?"

At this Alexander took a deep breath and said: "I would like the world to
know of the three lessons I have just learnt.

I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realize that
no doctor can really cure any body. They are powerless and cannot save a
person from the clutches of death. So let not people take life for granted.

The second wish of strewing gold, silver and other riches on the way to the
graveyard is to tell people that not even a fraction of gold will come with
me. I spent all my life earning riches but cannot take anything with me.
Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time to chase wealth.

And about my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I
wish people to know that I came empty handed into this world and empty
handed I go out of this world." With these words, the king closed his eyes.
Soon he let death conquer him and breathed his last.

- Author Unknown-

* Thanks to my dear friend Angela who sent me this story via email.

Friday, September 25, 2009


There is a fable about the way birds first got their wings. The story goes that initially they were made without them. Then God made the wings, set them down before the wingless birds, and said to them, "Take up these burdens and carry them."

The birds had sweet voices for singing, and lovely feathers that glistened in the sunshine, but they could not soar in the air. When asked to pick up the burdens that lay at their feet, they hesitated at first. Yet soon they obeyed, picked up the wings with their beaks, and set them on their shoulders to carry them.

For a short time the load seemed heavy and difficult to bear, but soon, as they continued to carry the burden and to fold the wings over their hearts, the wings grew attached to their little bodies. They quickly discovered how to use them and were lifted by the wings high into the air. The weights had become wings.

This is a parable for us. We are the wingless birds, and our duties and tasks are the wings God uses to lift us up and carry us heavenward. We look at our burdens and heavy loads, and try to run from them, but if we will carry them and tie them to our hearts, they will become wings. And on them we can then rise and soar toward God.

There is no burden so heavy that when lifted cheerfully with love in our hearts will not become a blessing to us. God intends for our tasks to be our helpers; to refuse to bend our shoulders to carry a load is to miss the new opportunity for growth.

No matter how overwhelming, any burden God has lovingly placed with His own hands on our shoulders is a blessing.

*Many thanks to Lita who sent me this post.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I was privileged to take a photo of "Five Generations of Women" shortly before my 93 year-old Grandmother passed away last year.

The photo shown below features the hands of my Grandmother, Mom, Sister, Niece and Great-Niece. While I can't take credit for the idea, I was so happy to have had the suggestion & capture this moment. It inspired a friend of mine to do something similar, which turned out so beautiful it became a special keepsake, prior to her father's passing.

Grandma, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. She didn't move, just sat with her head down staring at her hands.

When I sat down beside her she didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if she was OK

Finally, not really wanting to disturb her but wanting to check on her at the same time, I asked her if she was OK. She raised her head and looked at me and smiled. "Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking," she said in a clear voice strong.

"I didn't mean to disturb you, grandma, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK." I explained to her.

"Have you ever looked at your hands," she asked. "I mean really looked at your hands?"

I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making.

Grandma smiled and related this story:

"Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life."

"They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor."

"They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child, my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They held my husband and wiped my tears when he went off to war."

"They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special."

"They wrote my letters to him and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse."

"They have held my children and grandchildren, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand."

"They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer."

"These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of life."

"But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ."

I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my grandma's hands and led her home.

When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and husband I think of grandma. I know she has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God.

I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.

When you receive this, say a prayer for the person who sent it to you, and watch God's answer to prayer work in your life. Let's continue praying for one another.

Passing this on to anyone you consider a friend will bless you both.

Passing this on to one not yet considered a friend is something God would do.

*Author Unknown*

This beautiful post was sent to me by Lita. Thanks a lot!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Four Pre-Conditions for Retirement

I retired in year 2000 at age 52. I am now 61, thus I can claim that I got more experience at retirement than most! I thought I should
share my experience with mariners because I have seen too many friends and neighbors who became so bored that they have become a nuisance to
their spouse and children and to others!

A few of them have solved the problem by going back to work. They were able to do so because they have a skill/expertise that is still
in demand. The rest (and many are my neighbours) live aimlessly or are waiting to die - a very sad situation, indeed.

You can retire only when you fulfil these 4 pre-conditions:
1. Your children are financially independent (e.g. they got jobs),
2. You have zero liability (all your borrowings are paid up),
3. You have enough savings to support your lifestyle for the rest of your life, AND most importantly,
4. You know what you would be doing during your retirement.

a) DO NOT retire till you meet ALL 4 Pre-Conditions. And of course you should not retire if you enjoy working and are getting paid for it!

The problem cases I know of are those who failed to meet Pre-Condition #4.

When asked, "What would you be doing during your retirement?"
some replied, "I will travel/cruise and see the World". They did that, some for 3 months and then ran out of ideas. The golfers
replied, "I can golf every day." Most could not because they are no longer fit to play well enough to enjoy the game. Those who could, need to overcome another hurdle - they need to the find the "kakis" to play with them.

It's the same with mahjong, bridge, badminton, trekking and karaoke - you need "kakis"! Most could not find others who share their favourite game and playing/singing alone is no fun. AND when they do find them, a few of them found that they are NOT welcomed like my obnoxious neighbour whom everyone avoids.

Thus if you are into group sports or games, you must form your groups BEFORE you retire. You need to identify your "kakis", play with them and discover whether they "click" with you.

The less sporty "can read all the books bought over the years". I know of one guy who fell asleep after a few pages and ended up napping most of the time! He discovered that he did not like to read after all. We do change and we may not enjoy the hobbies we had.

Routine Activities To Fill Your Week

For most people, your routine work activities are planned for you or dictated by others and circumstances. When you retire, you wake up to a new routine - one that you yourself have to establish as nobody else would do it for you!

The routine to establish should keep your body, mind and spirit "sharpened". A good routine would comprise:

a) One weekly physical sport - you need to keep fit to enjoy your retirement. If you are the non-sporty type, you should fire your maid and clean your home without mechanical aids. Dancing and baby sitting are good alternatives.

b) One weekly mind stimulating activity - e.g. writing, studying for a degree, acquiring a new skill, solving problems or puzzles,
learn or teach something. You need to stimulate your mind to stay alive because the day you stop using your brain is the day you start to die.

c) One weekly social activity - choose one involving lots of friends/neighbors. Get yourself accepted as a member to at least 3
interests groups. Unless you prefer to be alone, you do need friends more than ever as you get older and less fit to pursue your sport.

d) One weekly community service activity - you need to give to appreciate what you have taken in this life. It's good to leave some kind of legacy.

With 4 weekly activities, you got 4 days out of 7 covered. The remaining 3 days should be devoted to family related activities. In
this way, you maintain a balance between amusing yourself and your family members. Any spare time should remain "spare" so that you can capitalise on opportunities that come your way like responding to an unexpected request to do a job or to take advantage of cheap fares to see places or to visit an exhibition.

Mind stimulating activities

Most judges live to a ripe old age. They use their brains a lot to decide on cases. I am sure MM Lee's brain works overtime. He's 80+ and still going strong. In "Today" you would have read of 2 inspiring oldies. One is a granny who learned to play the guitar at age 60 to entertain his grandchildren. She's 70+ today and those grandchildren have grown to play with her. Another is an Indian radiologist who on retirement, qualified as an acupuncturist. He's age 77 and still offers his services (by appointment only) including free ones to those who have no income. I guarantee you that they are happy people who discovered a "2nd wind" to take them to the sunset with a smile on their faces.

Mind stimulating activities are hard to identify. They require your will to do something useful with the rest of your life, a mindset
change and the discipline to carry it through.

Your Bucket List

Despite your busy routine, you will at times be bored. Then it's time to turn to your Bucket List.

Your bucket list contains a list of things to do before you kick the bucket. They are not routine and are usually one off activities. You need them to have something to look forward to. These include anniversaries, trips (and pilgrimages), visits to friends and
relations abroad, re-doing your home, attending conferences (related to your hobbies), acquiring a new set of expertise. 4 such activities that are spaced our quarterly would be ideal.

Retirement Is A Serious Business

If you can afford to retire and want to, do prepare to live to your fullest. You need to be fit to enjoy it - therefore get into shape now. You do not want to get up on a Monday and wonder what to do each week, therefore identify your set of weekly routine activities now and try them out to confirm that they are the activities that you will be looking forward to doing each week, week after week. You bucket list of "rewards" or "projects" or "challenges" is needed to help you break away from the routine thereby make live worth living.

Start listing what you fancy and refine it as you chug along in your retirement. You will have so much fun, you would wish you were retired since your turned 21!

-Author Unknown-

*Thanks to Angela who sent me this article. Have a nice day and happy retirement!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


My dear friend, Angela, sent me the following set of slides recently.

Please CLICK ON THIS LINK to view this beautiful set of slides on growing old.

Thanks and have a nice day!

Monday, September 21, 2009


There are moments in life when you miss someone
so much that you just want to pick them from
your dreams and hug them for real!

When the door of happiness closes, another opens;
but often times we look so long at the
closed door that we don't see the one
which has been opened for us.

Don't go for looks; they can deceive.
Don't go for wealth; even that fades away.
Go for someone who makes you smile,
because it takes only a smile to
make a dark day seem bright.
Find the one that makes your heart smile.

Dream what you want to dream;
go where you want to go;
be what you want to be,
because you have only one life
and one chance to do all the things
you want to do.

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet,
enough trials to make you strong,
enough sorrow to keep you human, and
enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don't necessarily
have the best of everything;
they just make the most of
everything that comes along their way.

The brightest future will always
be based on a forgotten past;
you can't go forward in life until
you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying
and everyone around you was smiling.
Live your life so at the end,
you're the one who is smiling and everyone
around you is crying.

Please send this message
to those who have touched your life in one way or another;
to those who make you smile when you really need it;
to those who make you see the
brighter side of things when you are really down;
to those whose friendship you appreciate;
to those who are so meaningful in your life.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I would like to wish all my Muslim friends, blog readers/visitors and relatives

May you all have safe journeys to and fro wherever you may go and may you be blessed with meaningful moments with your loved ones.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I've dreamed many dreams that never came true.
I've seen them vanish at dawn.
But I've realized enough of my dreams, Thank God,
To make me want to dream on.

I've prayed many prayers, when no answers came,
Though I waited patient and long,
But answers came to enough of my prayers
To make me keep praying on.

I've trusted many a friend that failed
And left me to weep alone,
But I've found enough of my friends true blue
To make me keep trusting on.

I've sown many seeds that fell by the way
For the birds to feed upon,
But I have held enough golden sheaves in my hands
To make me keep sowing on.

I've drained the cup of disappointment and pain
And gone many days without song,
But I've sipped enough nectar from the roses of life
To make me want to live on.

- Author Unknown


Friday, September 18, 2009


I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas.

I paid for my potatoes, but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.

Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the store owner) and the ragged boy next to me..

'Hello, Barry, how are you today?'

'Hello, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank you. Just admiring them peas. They sure look good.'

'They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?'

'Fine. Getting stronger all the time.'

'Good. Anything I can help you with?'

'No, Sir. Just admiring the peas..'

'Would you like to take some home?' asked Mr. Miller.

'No, sir. Got nothing to pay for 'em with.'
Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?'

'All I have is my prize marble here.'

'Is that right? Let me see it,' said Miller.

'Here 'tis. She's a dandy.'

'I can see that. Hmm mmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?' the store owner asked.

'Not 'zackley, but almost.'

'Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble,' Mr. Miller told the boy.

'Sure will. Thanks, Mr. Miller.'

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me.

With a smile, she said, 'There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, when they come on their next trip to the store.'

I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado , but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys and their bartering for marbles.

Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community, and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his visitation that evening, and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon arrival at the mortuary, we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.

Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts.. All were very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband's casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket.

Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago and what she had told me about her husband's bartering for marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket.

'Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim 'traded' them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size, they came to pay their debt. We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,' she confided, 'but right now Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho.'

With loving gentleness, she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

The Moral: We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath.

Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles ~ A fresh pot of coffee you didn't make yourself; An unexpected phone call from an old friend; Green stoplights on your way to work; The fastest line at the grocery store; A good sing-along song on the radio; Your keys found right where you left them.

If you don't send it to anyone, it means you are in way too much of a hurry to even notice the ordinary miracles when they occur. Send this to the people you'll never forget. I just did.


Thursday, September 17, 2009


When my husband, Bob, died very suddenly in January 1994, I received condolences from people I hadn't heard from in years: letters, cards, flowers, calls, visits. I was overwhelmed with grief, yet uplifted by this outpouring of love from family, friends and even mere acquaintances.

One message touched me profoundly. I received a letter from my best friend from sixth grade through high school. We had drifted somewhat since graduation in 1949, as she stayed in our home town and I had not. But it was the kind of friendship that could quickly resume even if we lost touch for five or ten years.

Her husband, Pete, had died perhaps 20 years ago at a young age, leaving her with deep sorrow and heavy responsibilities: finding a job and raising three young children. She and Pete, like Bob and I, had shared one of those rare, close, "love-of- your-life-you-can-never-forget" relationships.

In her letter she shared an anecdote about my mother (now long deceased). She wrote, "When Pete died, your dear mother hugged me and said, 'Trudy, I don't know what to say . . so I'll just say I love you.'"

She closed her letter to me repeating my mother's words of so long ago, "Bonnie, I don't know what to say . . . so I'll just say I love you."

I felt I could almost hear my mother speaking to me now. What a powerful message of sympathy! How dear of my friend to cherish it all those years and then pass it on to me. I love you. Perfect words. A gift. A legacy.

written by Bonnie J. Thomas
"A Cup of Chicken Soup for the Soul"
Editor: Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & Barry Spilchuk

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Two sailors ran into each other in a pub. Over a few beers, one of the men told the other about his last voyage: "After a month at sea," he said, "we discovered our masts had been eaten through by termites! Almost nothing left of them."

"That's terrible," said the second sailor.

"That's what I thought at first too," the first sailor said, "but it turned out to be good luck. As soon as we took the sails down to fix the masts, we were hit by a squall so suddenly and so hard, it would surely have blown us over if our sails were up at the time."

"How lucky!"

"That's exactly what I thought at the time, too. But because our sails were down, we couldn't steer ourselves, and because of the wind, we were blown onto a reef. The hole in the hull was too big to fix. We were stranded."

"That is bad luck indeed."

"That's what I thought, too, when it first happened. But we all made it to the beach alive and had plenty to eat. But now here's the real kicker: While we were on the island whining about our terrible fate, we discovered a buried treasure!"

As this story illustrates, you don't know if an event is "good" or "bad" except maybe in retrospect, and even then you don't really know because life keeps going. The story's not over yet. Just because something hasn't turned out to be an advantage yet doesn't mean it is not ever going to.

Therefore, you can simply assume whatever happens is "good." I know that sounds awfully airy-fairy, but it's very practical. If you think an event is good, it's easy to maintain a positive attitude. And your attitude affects your health, it affects the way people treat you and how you treat others, and it affects your energy level. And those can help pave the way for things to turn out well. A good attitude is a good thing. And a bad attitude does you no good at all.

So get in the habit of saying "That's good!" Since you don't know for sure whether something will eventually work to your advantage or not, you might as well assume it will. It is counterproductive to assume otherwise. Think about it. If someone ahead of you in line at a store is slowing everything down, say to yourself, "That's good!" They may have saved you from getting into an accident when you get back in your car. Or maybe, because you slowed down, you might meet a friend you would have missed. You never know.

The truth is, life is uncertain. And even that can work to your advantage.

written by Adam Khan, an excerpt From his book "Self-Help Stuff That Works"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009



I tried to climb the mountain today. As I inched my way up the path, I felt overwhelmed, so I had to turn back.

I tried to climb the mountain today. On my journey, darkness started to fall, and I was full of fear, so I had to return to a safe place.

I was ready to climb the mountain today. But it was so hot outside, I thought I better stay in my nice air-conditioned house and rest up for tomorrow's attempt.

I was about to climb the mountain today. But I had so many other things to do, so instead of climbing the mountain I took care of much more important tasks. I washed my car, mowed the grass and watched the big game. Today the mountain will just have to wait.

I was going to climb the mountain today. But as I stared at the mountain in it's majestic beauty, I knew I stood no chance of making it to the top, so I figured why even bother trying.

I have forgotten about climbing the mountain today; until a friend came by and asked me what I was up to lately. I told him I was thinking about climbing that mountain some day. I went on and on about how I was going to accomplish this task.

Finally, he said, "I just got back from climbing the mountain. For the longest time I told myself I was trying to climb the mountain but never made any progress. I almost let the dream of making it to the top die. I came up with every excuse of why I could not make it up the mountain, but never once did I give myself a reason why I could. One day as I stared at the mountain and pondered, I realized that if I didn't make an attempt at this dream all my dreams will eventually die."

"The next morning, I started my climb." He continued, "It was not easy, and at times I wanted to quit. But no matter what I faced, I placed one foot in front of the other, keeping a steady pace. When the wind tried to blow me over the edge, I kept walking. When the voices inside my head screamed "stop!" I focused on my goal never letting it out of sight, and I kept moving forward. At times, I was ready to quit, but I knew I had come too far. Time and time again, I reassured myself that I was going to finish this journey. I struggled to make it to the top, but I climbed the mountain!"

"I have to be going," my friend said. "Tomorrow is a new day to accomplish more dreams. By the way, what are you going to do tomorrow?"

I looked at him, with intensity and confidence in my eyes, and said, "I have a mountain to climb."

- Gary Barnes

Monday, September 14, 2009


Yesterday is a day that I won't forget for a long time. My 9-year-old daughter had told me yesterday morning that one of her year-younger friends (third grade) wanted to interview me for a school assignment. Wow! A third-grader wants to interview me! I was thrilled. All during the day, I was anticipating questions and how I would respond. "How did you become CyberSis?" I could hear her ask. "How many hours do you work on the column?" was another obvious question. "How many readers do you have?" might pop in there as a candidate. I prepared to field most questions she could throw at me with responses that would be comprehended by 8-year-old children. Nothing too complicated. Nothing too condescending. A tough job, if you really think about it.

While shopping at a fresh produce stand, I imagined all the similes and metaphors I could use (for comedic effect) using fruit. "What do you think of your work?", answered with "It's a peach"! "How do you think people see you?", to be followed with "I'm a watermelon -- hard on the outside, but soft at the center." All day long, the muted excitement built.

I even changed clothes, just to appear "fresher" for the interview. When I went to the bus stop, I was primed! Upon returning home, I offered the girls after school refreshments. Anxious to begin, I asked Kayla where she would like to hold the interview.

She said, "Oh, it's okay. I don't need to interview you. I found somebody else."

Crestfallen (to say the very least) I replied, "Oh, really? Who did you get to interview?" trying to mentally size up the competition. She said, "Oh, just my mother's boss's mother." "Really?" was my catchy comeback. "And what type of work does SHE do?" "I don't think she works. She's in a rest home." Not seeing any relationship between the targeted interview subjects, I asked, "Why did you happen to chose her?" "I had to interview somebody REALLY old, around 50, who could tell me about life in the 1960's. She LOOKS a LOT older than you do!" she casually commented, munching on carrot sticks.

And that was the best interview I never had..

- P. L. Sweeney

Sunday, September 13, 2009


It's strange how we boys never noticed how beautiful Gwendola had become.

She had been a classmate since the first grade, and by the time she was in high school, she was heart-stopping beautiful, but that was never commented upon, because it wasn't noticed.

Gwendola was shy.

She rode the bus to school from several miles out in the country where her father was pastor of a little "holy roller" church, and thus did not join in the activities of us "townies" who ran together after school and on Saturdays, playing with our old cars and lying to each other about our exploits on our dates. She contented herself with playing the accordian in church sometimes.

Gwendola never had a date. If she attended a school social function it was with her younger bother. Her shyness kept her from participating in any of the school's extracirricular activities -- she wasn't in the pep squad, the girls' chorus, the mixed choir, anything. She simply came to school on the bus, attended her classes and boarded the bus for home.

She was ignored by the popular girls: Sharon, Eleanor, Marilyn, Marguarite, Phyllis and Carolyn, the girls who were active socially and thus considered pretty. The boys ignored her, too. I don't remember a boy ever speaking to her throughout her entire twelve year school career, and certainly not Bob Glorfeld, handsome athlete, top student, obviously destined for greatness and sought after by all the girls.

"Bob told me he liked my dress, today." A girl could live a month on that.

Bob was a year ahead of Gwendola, and when she became a senior, he was in the airforce and stationed in Germany. He wrote to Gwendola and asked her to marry him. I can only imagine how her heart must have jumped when she received that letter.

Surely it was a mistake! Surely the letter was meant for someone else! Surely... surely... why they had never even spoken! When Bob came home on leave he brought her a beautiful engagement ring, and the first night he was home Gwendola had her first date ever. A year later they married, and moved into a little house around the corner from where I lived with my grandparents. Our back yards joined, and on occasion when I would see Gwendola out hanging clothes on the line, I would walk over and visit with her. Gwendola had changed.

Now, to go along with that incredible beauty I saw for the first time, she was bright, ebullient, warm and friendly. Why not? Gwendola was happy.

I would walk back to the house wondering how we all could have been so blind? Why didn't we see what Bob saw? How stupid we were! Gwendola was a prize for any man.

When Bob got out of the service they moved to Southeast Missouri where Bob got a good job with the telephone company, and they raised two fine boys. When Gwendola turned forty, she developed cancer and died. She's buried in the little cemetery south of town where all my folks are buried.

When I go out there it seems I can hear the strains of her accordian faintly in the air.

-Joe Edwards

Quote of the Day

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. -Andre Gide

Saturday, September 12, 2009


It was one of those cold winter nights in the Haight district of San Francisco, the kind where the rain hurts, and your breath forms huge cotton balls that bounce on the pavement.

I was driving an eyesore that could only be referred to as a "car" by someone who was either a shameless liar or a good friend. Technically, the vehicle was totalled when I bought it from an unscrupulous neighbor, because it needed an engine overhaul that would have cost more than the car itself. I added a quart of oil before every journey. Most of it would leak out along the way. I tried to imagine I was driving a huge magical snail; that way I didn't mind the slow speeds and the slime trail it left.

The car's outer paint had transformed into a hideous mixture of rust and "something brown." The engine sounded like a lawnmower with tuberculosis. If anyone ever wondered what the inside of an automobile seat looked like, my car had the answers. It was a difficult car to drive because you had to keep your fingers and toes crossed to keep the engine running.

That night I must have uncrossed my fingers to scratch something. The car died in the middle of a four-lane stretch of Oak Street. I coasted as far as I could, hoping for a place to turn off, but the street was lined with parked cars and the nearest intersection was beyond coasting distance.

There I sat, in busy evening traffic, no lights, no locomotion, as tons of steel and plastic screamed by. In my rearview mirror I saw a pair of headlights pull up and stop behind me. I knew what was coming. Soon the horn would start and someone would be cursing at me.

In San Francisco, if you dawdle too long after a light turns green, you get the horn. If you dare to come to a full stop at a stop sign, you get the horn from the car behind you. I figured I was begging for trouble. But I was wrong.

A stranger got out of the car and came to my window. He shouted, "Do you want a push?"

I was stunned but must have nodded in the affirmative. He waived to his car and two teens piled out to apply themselves to my bumper. When I was safely delivered to a side street, they hopped back into their car and rejoined the sea of anonymous traffic.

I didn't get to thank them.

Over the years I've realized something about the stranger who stopped to help. I've noticed that every time I'm in trouble, he appears. He never looks the same. Sometimes he's a woman. His age and ethnicity vary. But he's always there.

I've started to understand he's the best part of what makes us human beings. The one true thing in this world is an unasked kindness provided by a stranger. It's the invisible cord that binds us all together and makes life worthwhile.

This year, when you find yourself immersed in the clutter and bustle, annoyed by the long lines, baffled about how you'll get everything done, remember this:

One of the people in that crowd is the stranger. Today, maybe it's you.

- Scott Adams

Friday, September 11, 2009


There were a thousand reasons not to stop. I was running late for a Very Important... well, whatever it was that I was running late for that day. The freeway was busy -- I might have caused an accident or something. Surely the Highway Patrol would be along soon, and it's their job to help stranded motorists, isn't it? And I had on my navy blue suit, with a light blue shirt and a silk tie. Not exactly car-fixing clothes, you know?

Let's see -- that makes 1,004 reasons not to stop. And here's 1,005: I am the world's worst auto mechanic. Public enemy No. 1 on the AAA's Ten Most Wanted list. Mr. WhatsaWrench.

The first time I tried to change my car's oil myself I did fine -- until I forgot to put the new oil in. The boys down at the garage had a big laugh over that one. The next time, I remembered to put in the new oil -- only I put it in the transmission. That triggered a letter from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Chryslers. They suggested I get a horse.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not feeling sorry for myself. God has given me other talents to use for the benefit of mankind. But I'm not sure how much it would have helped that lady whom was stranded by the side of the freeway if I would have pulled over and belched on cue. So I didn't pull over. I drove on by, just like hundreds of other drivers on the freeway that day. And I felt guilty about it. So I turned off at the next exit and made my way back to see if I could at least give her a lift or something. But by the time I got back to her, an Hispanic gentleman had pulled in behind her, and was tinkering away at her car's engine like he knew what he was doing.

"Is there anything I can do to help?" I asked.

"No, thank you," the lady replied. "This nice man says he can fix it." At that moment, a voice from under the hood shouted: "OK, try it now!" The woman reached for the key and turned it. The engine started beautifully.

"It was your serpentine belt," the man explained, wiping his hands on his pants. "It slipped off. It's pretty worn. You want to take that to a mechanic, get a new one put on."

The woman tried to give the freeway Samaritan some money, but he declined and waved as she drove off. It wasn't until we started walking toward our cars that I noticed he had five more reasons not to stop than I did; his family was sitting in the station wagon, waiting patiently. "Do you stop and help people like this often?" I asked.

He shrugged. "Somebody has to," he said. "What's she going to do if nobody helps?" And for him, that was reason enough.

In his final sermon, given the night before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took as his text the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan. In the story, a man is attacked by thieves and left by the roadside. Several travelers happen upon him, but they pass by. Eventually, someone does stop to help, although it is the one person who might have had a reason not to. He is a Samaritan and the victim is a Jew. Those folks didn't get along any better back then than they do now. According to Dr. King, those who passed by the injured man were asking themselves the wrong question: "If I help this man, what will happen to me?"

The Good Samaritan stopped to help because he asked the right question: "If I don't help this man, what will happen to him?" Dr. King spent a lifetime asking the right question. If we truly want to honor God, then we need to ask ourselves that question, too. No matter how many reasons we may think we have not to.

-Joseph B Walker

Thursday, September 10, 2009


The little girl lived in a small, very simple, poor house on a hill and as she grew she would play in the small garden and as she grew she was able to see over the garden fence and across the valley to a wonderful house high on the hill - and this house had golden windows, so golden and shining that the little girl would dream of how magic it would be to grow up and live in a house with golden windows instead of an ordinary house like hers.

And although she loved her parents and her family, she yearned to live in such a golden house and dreamed all day about how wonderful and exciting it must feel to live there.

When she got to an age where she gained enough skill and sensibility to go outside her garden fence, she asked her mother is she could go for a bike ride outside the gate and down the lane. After pleading with her, her mother finally allowed her to go, insisting that she kept close to the house and didn't wander too far. The day was beautiful and the little girl knew exactly where she was heading! Down the lane and across the valley, she rode her bike until she got to the gate of the golden house across on the other hill.

As she dismounted her bike and lent it against the gate post, she focused on the path that lead to the house and then on the house itself...and was so disappointed as she realised all the windows were plain and rather dirty, reflecting nothing other than the sad neglect of the house that stood derelict.

So sad she didn't go any further and turned, heart broken as she remounted her bike ... As she glanced up she saw a sight to amaze her...there across the way on her side of the valley was a little house and its windows glistened golden the sun shone on her little home.

She realised that she had been living in her golden house and all the love and care she found there was what made her home the 'golden house'. Everything she dreamed was right there in front of her nose!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


The secret of happiness

A certain shopkeeper sent his son to learn about the secret of happiness from the wisest man in the world. The lad wandered through the desert for 40 days, and finally came upon a beautiful castle, high atop a mountain. It was there that the wise man lived.

Rather than finding a saintly man, though, our hero, on entering the main room of the castle, saw a hive of activity: tradesmen came and went, people were conversing in the corners, a small orchestra was playing soft music, and there was a table covered with platters of the most delicious food in that part of the world. The wise man conversed with everyone, and the boy had to wait for two hours before it was his turn to be given the man's attention.

The wise man listened attentively to the boy's explanation of why he had come, but told him that he didn't have time just then to explain the secret of happiness. He suggested that the boy look around the palace and return in two hours.

"Meanwhile, I want to ask you to do something", said the wise man, handing the boy a teaspoon that held two drops of oil. "As you wander around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill".

The boy began climbing and descending the many stairways of the palace, keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. After two hours, he returned to the room where the wise man was.

"Well", asked the wise man, "Did you see the Persian tapestries that are hanging in my dining hall? Did you see the garden that it took the master gardener ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?"

The boy was embarrassed, and confessed that he had observed nothing. His only concern had been not to spill the oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

"Then go back and observe the marvels of my world", said the wise man. "You cannot trust a man if you don't know his house".

Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration of the palace, this time observing all of the works of art on the ceilings and the walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around him, the beauty of the flowers, and the taste with which everything had been selected. Upon returning to the wise man, he related in detail everything he had seen.

"But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you?" asked the wise man. Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil was gone.

"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you", said the wisest of wise men. "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon".

Author: ByPaul Coelho in "The Alchemist"

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Mean Mums

Someday when my children are old enough to

understand the logic that motivates a parent, I will tell

them, as my Mean Mum told me: I loved you enough . .

. to ask where you were going, with whom, and what

time you would be home.

I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover

that your new best friend was a creep.

I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours

while you cleaned your room, a job that should have

taken 15 minutes.

I loved you enough to let you see anger,

disappointment, and tears in my eyes.

Children must learn that their parents aren't perfect.

I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility

for your actions even when the penalties were so harsh

they almost broke my heart.

But most of all, I loved you enough . . . to say NO when

I knew you would hate me for it.

Those were the most difficult battles of all. I'm glad I

won them, because in the end you won, too.

And someday when your children are old enough to

understand the logic that motivates parents, you will

tell them.

Was your Mum mean? I know mine was. We had the

meanest mother in the whole world! While other kids

ate candy for breakfast, we had to have cereal, eggs,

and toast.
When others had a Pepsi and a Twisties for lunch, we

had to eat sandwiches. And you can guess our mother

fixed us a dinner that was different from what other

kids had, too.

Mother insisted on knowing where we were at all

times. You'd think we were convicts in a prison. She

had to know who our friends were, and what we were

doing with them. She insisted that if we said we would

be gone for an hour, we would be gone for an hour or


We were ashamed to admit it, but she had the nerve to

break the Child Labor Laws by making us work We had

to wash the dishes, make the beds, learn to cook,

vacuum the floor, do laundry, empty the trash and all

sorts of cruel jobs. I think she would lie
awake at night thinking of more things for us to do.

She always insisted on us telling the truth, the whole

truth, and nothing but the truth. By the time we were

teenagers, she could read our minds and had eyes in

the back of her head. Then, life was really tough.

Mother wouldn't let our friends just honk the horn

when they drove up. They had to come up to the door

so she could meet them. While everyone else could date

when they were 12 or 13, we had to wait until we were


Because of our mother we missed out on lots of things

other kids experienced. None of us have ever been

caught shoplifting, vandalising other's property or ever

arrested for any crime. It was all her fault.

Now that we have left home, we are all

educated,honest adults. We are doing our best to be

mean parents just like Mum was.

I think that is what's wrong with the world today.It just

doesn't have enough mean mums!


(And Their Kids!!!)

*Thanks to Angela who sent me this article.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Barefoot and dirty, the girl just sat and watched the people go by. She never tried to speak, she never said a word. Many people passed, but never did one person stop.

Just so happens the next day I decided to go back to the park, curious if the little girl would still be there.

Right in the very spot as she was yesterday she sat perched on high, with the saddest look in her eyes. Today I was to make my own move and walk over to the little girl. As we all know a park full of strange people is not a place for young children to play.

As I began walking towards her I could see the back of the little girl's dress indicated a deformity. I figured that was the reason the people just passed by and made no effort to help. As I got closer, the little girl slightly lowered her eyes to avoid my intent stare. I could see the shape of her back more clearly. It was grotesquely shaped in a humped over form. I smiled to let her know it was ok, I was there to help, to talk.

I sat down beside her and opened with a simple Hello. The little girl acted shocked and stammered a hi after a long stare into my eyes. I smiled and she shyly smiled back. We talked 'til darkness fell and the park was completely empty. Everyone was gone and we were alone. I asked the girl why she was so sad. The little girl looked at me and with a sad face said "Because I'm different."

I immediately said "that you are!" and smiled. The little girl acted even sadder, she said, "I know." "Little girl," I said, "you remind me of an angel, she stood to her feet, and said, "Really?"

"Yes, ma'am, you're like a little guardian angel sent to watch over all those people walking by." She nodded her head yes and smiled, and with that she spread her wings and said with a twinkle in her eye, "I am." I was speechless, sure I was seeing things. She said, "And since you thought of someone other than yourself, my job here is done."

Immediately I stood to my feet and said, "Wait, so why did no one stop to help an angel?" She looked at me and smiled, "You're the only one who could see me, and you believe it in your heart." And She was gone. And with that my life was changed dramatically.

So, when you think you're all you have, remember, there is an angel always watching over you.

Pass this to everyone that means anything at all to you....make sure you send it back to the person who sent it to you, to let them know you're glad they care about the story says we all need someone..

Everyone of your friends is an angel in their own

- Author Unknown

Quote of the Day

As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do. -Andrew Carnegie

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Among the Aztec people of Mexico, it is said that a long time ago there was a great fire in the forests that covered our Earth. People and animals started to run, trying to escape from the fire. Our brother owl, Tecolotl, was running away also when he noticed a small bird hurrying back and forth between the nearest river and the fire. He headed towards this small bird.

He noticed that it was our brother the Quetzal bird, Quetzaltototl, running to the river, picking up small drops of water in his beak, then returning to the fire to throw that tiny bit of water on the flame. Owl approached Quetsal bird and yelled at him: "What are you doing brother? Are you stupid? You are not going to achieve anything by doing this. What are you trying to do? You must run for your life!"

Quetzal bird stopped for a moment and looked at owl, and then answered: "I am doing the best I can with what I have."

It is remembered by our Grandparents that a long time ago the forests that covered our Earth were saved from a great fire by a small Quetzal bird, an owl, and many other animals and people who got together to put out the fire.

Source: "Turning To One Another" by Margaret Wheatley

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Six years ago, just before my birthday, I dreamed of being in an enclosed trailer with three huge elephants. The trailer had room for the elephants to stand and sleep as well as a small living area for humans. Between the elephants and myself, however, were only a few thin wires. As I stood in front of the elephants, one lowered her face and looked me directly in the eyes. Her deep, brown-eyed gaze was very gentle and perceptive. Still, even though she was being so calm, I began to feel fearful. On waking, I remember thinking this was because she was so very big and I was so very small.

At the time, I had been doing a lot of work with my dreams--writing them in my journal, playing with connections, jotting down associations and meanings and ideas. One of the first things I noted upon recording this dream was that elephants hold a totemic quality of wisdom as well as remembering deep, profound truths. For me, this corresponded with the look in the female elephant's eyes.

I also was in the habit of talking about my dreams--especially animal dreams--with my dog Barney. We had journeyed together through many dreams and Barney had revealed himself to be a creative dream guide, often offering insights and accessing clues in ways I never would have imagined.

After briefly discussing elephants in general and the "medicine" the dream elephant might hold, Barney asked me what the real fear in the dream was all about.

"I'm not sure," I said. "Maybe a fear of something 'out there' hurting me."

"And where does that come from?" he asked. "Can you feel it in your body?"

"Well, right now I feel it in my heart. It feels like betrayal."

"Yes!" he exclaimed. "That is a clue for you. We could do another past life type scenario if you wish."

At the time, Barney was encouraging me to explore past life scenarios. Although he felt they were more like intuitive dream stories and not necessarily past lives, he also knew the process was a bit outside my comfort zone--thus, a wonderful way to explore the inner world without my logical mind constantly interrupting to have control.

"I'm feeling nauseous right now," I delayed. "Is there another way to do this or do you really feel the past life way is best?"
"Well, it is the more interesting way. Let's try that. If you are willing."

As I reluctantly agreed, Barney instructed me: "Begin by remembering a time when you lived among elephants or perhaps when you saw or met elephants."

I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I knew the drill: best to not think, but simply let my mind wander and report back with whatever I saw.

"What I'm first seeing is an elephant's death: an elephant lying near a watering hole on its side. It is very sick and maybe dead already. I am young and I feel sadness. I am with a group of people. We did not kill the elephant directly, but somehow we are responsible for the watering hole turning bad. It is as if we cheated the elephants, because we didn't think out properly what we did. We turned the water bad. And now no one can drink there. We can't even eat these animals or we will get sick.

"I feel a sickness about it, but also don't feel I can say or do anything. I am too little, too small. It is wrong what we did, but everyone is pretending we didn't do it or it wasn't our fault. I feel very sad for the elephants and for us, for our tribe. We have a soul sickness."

"Let's shift that," suggested Barney. "What if you become powerful--someone with a strong voice in the tribe? What can you say?"

"I tell the people that we have done wrong. That it is our fault and we must make amends to the elephants. They might not forgive us, but at least we should take responsibility and tell them we are sorry, and somehow try to help them. The people see this is right. They begin to have the idea that this might make us feel better and also help us be with the elephants and all the other animals again. There are some who don't want to do this. Their energy is closed in and a sickly color green, like poison. It is the heart turned bad. I appeal to the older members of the tribe and many of the women agree with me. I keep telling them how important this is, to walk out of our denial and to make amends. Many want to do this.

"But I am challenged to a fight from the man who holds the most sickness in his heart. We use spears and he kills me. I feel betrayed, like I betrayed the animals and didn't have a chance to fix it. And I feel betrayed by my people."

"What do you do now?" Barney asked.

I take another few deep breaths and let the story unfold. "In spirit, I go to the dead elephant and apologize for my actions and the actions of my tribe. The elephant stands up, in spirit. I see now that she is a great teacher. She says she has come to help us, to help some of us 're-evolve' through our depression, our sleeping sickness of the soul. I feel such a love for this elephant! She reminds me of a time when I was a young boy and was with her--Oh! That is another life! She reminds me of how much we loved each other then. And now I crawl on her back, just as I used to, and she begins to fly. In spirit, we fly up into a golden sky. We have a great deal of love and I know this soul from many, many lives! I know her very deeply.

"She is here now and fills me with a golden light. She says, "We love you. We are here. You are always home with us. See past these dreams, these plays. Let us work with you. We can change this world as easily as you have changed the dream in your mind. Have trust and love. We say this to you over and again, in many ways, because it is the truth. Follow the lead of your heart. We will shine with you and through you. We love you."

"How does the fear feel now?" asked Barney.

"Like it has shifted," I said, laughing and crying at the same time. "There is an opening inside of me. I really feel such love. You know--it's very real right now. I even think I could stand with elephants right now in the wild and not be fearful."

"Continue with this type of work and you will clear other fears as well," advised my wise little canine dream guide. "When an animal comes to you, you have asked it to come. Use the opportunity. It may not happen again for a long while."

And then Barney and I were quiet for a time. As we lay on the floor next to each other, I enjoyed the flow of our breathing and the unfolding of our dream journey together.

"All is for a reason," Barney said after awhile. "You know that. Trust what comes to you and what appears, even--especially--if you do not like it. There is a reason for all that happens. Like the elephant teacher showed you, the surface drama is a charade designed to open the heart of the tribe. Know that the tribe called the elephant out of love and the elephant agreed to play this role out of love. Trust and love: these are key words for the inner evolution of us all."

Author's Bio
Dawn Baumann Brunke is the author of Animal Voices: Telepathic Communication in the Web of Life; Animal Voices, Animal Guides: Discover your Deeper Self through Communication with Animals; and Shapeshifting with Our Animal Companions: Connecting with the Spiritual Awareness of All Life. All three books explore the deeper nature of our relationship with animals, nature, each other and ourselves. For more, see THIS LINK.

Friday, September 4, 2009


It'll Take Dyin' to Get It Done - The Story of a 40 Year Forgiveness

Sideways, in the back, running away, standing still and about any other way one could get it, I did. Don't be confused here. We're talking mental abuse-not physical, so relax. Messing with the mind is not such a biggee. No one can see it. So who cares?

My grandma always believed that God would never give her more of a burden than she could bear.

"Strong people," she said, "Have heavier burdens because God knows they can handle more." In that case, I must be some stunning combo of Brangelina, Barack Obama, the U2 lead singer guy- all smushed into a special package. WARNING: Do not open! It could be volatile.

I might be some kind of drama queen, but I doubt it. Who else can remember a little toddler brother struggling to lift himself up from the floor with blood dripping from his nose as he tries to avoid another kick from a pointy cowboy boot? Ouch! That's physical pain. I only saw it. I only watched his sad life in 3D. I only imagined he had no sense of trust, lacked bonding and ended up a prime product of Dysfunctional Families 101, thus repeating the cycle and so on and so on and Scooby Dooby doo-by . . . (Sly & the Family Stone)-get it? If not, just substitute with yadda, yadda, yadda (Seinfeld).

If you don't get that one, quit reading.
Okay, so anyway, I guess I was lucky cuz my mom was so far ahead of her time and decided to be sexually active in high school in the 1950's, thus producing me. Out of wedlock, a bastard, sneaky fetus, any terminology equaling big mistake, she could not-would not- did not want in any way, as in admission or claim. After a short stint to another state in a 'home' for females in my mother's condition, my grandmother (at the tired age of 43) magically appeared to the general public with a new-born daughter.

A good friend and neighbor who shared the telephone party line worried, "Oh, my, Lois. I thought you had a hysterectomy last year after Betsy was born!"
"No, no Martha. The doctor said I should, but Ray and I thought Betsy needed a little brother or sister for a playmate. Besides, I'm feeling lots better," she forced a smile as she tried to convince herself.

Martha took in her words, but the message got blurred by Lois' body language shouting, "my god I have two babies, I'm too old, I'm trying to hold some dignity. . . And, I have this daughter who whores around, she's out of control, and I don't know what to do . . ." Poor good-hearted enabling grandma. If only Jerry Springer TV existed in 1953. Imagine me, his first guest, with mother, grandmother and several sleazy men, all in search of the baby daddy. TV or not, most likely that was the beginning of my then respectable upper middle-class grandparent's downfall into social, emotional and financial bankruptcy (pretty much single-handedly) due to the antics of one person.

My dear mother. Biological.
In my own estimation-skewed as it was/is, I never stayed exclusively in the darkness due to some luck- or maybe endurance, of Grandma Lois and Grandpa Ray. Those early impressionable years took place in a somewhat nurturing environment with infrequent visits to my 'aunt's' house where those other kids huddled together sweating it out in one tiny bedroom in the stinky smoke-filled trailer where the oldest little sad boy did bad things and got in trouble. A lot.

Ah... Childhood. Betsy and I romped in the pasture and picked tiny purplish crocuses. Helped grandma bake. Rode the tractor with grandpa. Took turns with under pushes on the tire swing. Opened our new dollies at Christmas. Rode bareback on our Shetland pony, Bud. Carved our names on the big oak tree by the crick. We giggled. We played. We were kids. For seven years. Until the day after Thanksgiving in second grade.

When Mother Diana marched into our room followed by a weeping Grandma. "Get packed. You are going home with me." (you're mean. I'm not going with you.)

"I'm your real mom." (you're a liar! I hate you!)

"You are going to live with me now." ( what? Grandma help me!)

"Hurry up, Patty. We don't want slowpokes!" (what if that bad man hits me? can I stay, Grandma?)

I remember being torn away from a death grip on Grandpa Ray's ankle. (what about my puppy? please help!)

"For Christ sake mother, she'll get over it! She's just a kid," Diana hissed to Sobbing Grandma as she yanked me to the station wagon. As she shoved me in, I crawled fast forward over the backseat, scrunched down in an old stale pee blanket, shut my eyes real tight and pretended I was invisible.

I should have stayed there.

Fast forward 40 years holding my mother's clammy limp hand in her hospital room as she struggled to breathe, I gave away my pain and let her go in peace.

When privacy finally happened, I tried to take a real look at the woman sitting in that stiff chair. Her tormented body twitched when she gasped to get air. Those dark eyes flashed a desperate fear, knowing time tortured her as she choked for airevery few minutes. Those dark, sad, scared eyes haunted me. They will haunt me always.

After I allowed that one moment of honest emotion to wash over me, I told her my
short story. It was kinda like our routine in some ways; I felt like I was the mom trying to let the child know she was being good. She needed to know. She needed to know that I knew.

Selfish thoughts mulled around in my head.

No, mom this isn't the price of your lies. I'll carry that crucible. Of course, you loved to smoke tobacco more than you loved your kids and grandkids. The bitterness tried to take control.

Then I grabbed reality again and remembered my mission. Forgiveness. Forgive and find peace. Not sure if that's to me or to my dying mother. "It's okay, mom. I know the truth and it's okay." Even more panic shadowed those desperate sleepless eyes." No, mom. Just listen to me. I love you and it's all okay." The tortured eyes seemed to question me, so I just came out with it.

"Mom, I know that you lied about my real dad. I know you were just trying to protect me. You should have told me the truth, but I didn't ask. It's okay. I love you." With a soft whisper I pleaded, "Just let go and find some peace." I think she tried to squeeze my hand a little, or maybe I just wanted her to. I choked back a sob as I gathered myself. I wondered what she was thinking and if she wondered what I was thinking. Knowing the shallow nature of our past, I went on to assure her nobody else knew that I knew. I told her I would never say anything to anyone (I guess to hell with truth, after all). Then my hand went to her chin as I studied her eyes and lowered my stubborn defense.

"Mom, I love you anyway. It's okay. I forgive you. You need to forgive yourself." Against her cheek I managed, " We're good. Just let go. I love you. We all love you." I placed a quick dry kiss on her wet forehead and whispered again, "I love you, Mom. It'll be okay."

An hour or so later, that tiny room oozed with pain. And maybe some peace. I felt like I was looking in on a snapshot, a still scene. But, the main event was death. Dad held her when she passed. The children sobbed. For ourselves, for her, for everything. As I gazed at her through weeping eyes one final time, I think some peace settled in. I hope she found peace. I hope I forgave her.

A lifetime later, or another ten years, I wonder if guilt turns forgiveness to pain.
. . . so following some happily ever after parts in my life consumed with self pity, (which included discovering more deception in biology, two failed marriages, several psychiatric sessions and prescriptions for psycho-tropic drugs.

And, creating a co-dependent child, on-going moderate depression, too much gambling and a diverse list of other self-destructive behaviors) deep breath, I've made a conscientious decision to try to grow up. Hence, I write. It's an attempt to rut under the sarcastic exterior. Try to see myself. But, I am afraid of the darkness.
My next mission is to become a game show contestant (successful, of course) and/or win the lottery. Then, my financial goals will be attained thus causing peace, harmony and ultra-happiness in my life and in any person's life who avails himself to the pleasure of my company.

But, now I must think ahead. When I take my turn. When I must face my own motherly failures.

Still, I search and seek that one simple word. Forgiveness.

Forgive myself. Ask my children to forgive me. Find some peace.

Forgive . . .

Author's Bio

EJ Young Bio
Through the years as a single parent-preceded by the usual dysfunction of childhood (unless you're Beaver Cleaver), an infrequent writing burst appeared in my journal. Hampered slightly by depression, combined with creative excuses (some 'borrowed' from students), getting focused didn't/doesn't always happen for me. The past few months have tested my ambition, or lack thereof, as I find myself instantly jobless after 24 years invested in education as a high school English teacher.

Fast forward 25 years and maybe I'd like to be a writer when I grow up. I guess the fantasy of getting rich on a TV game show just ain't happenin'. With the support of my fam-including my biggest fan, two-year-old granddaughter Anna, I stare at the keyboard and wonder how to write again. Getting through to the other side of cheesy cliches about Anna's innocence and cuteness is way more difficult than even the cynical EJ anticipated. (And, there's a pet peeve. Please don't refer to yourself in third person. It appears so self-absorbing or self centered or selfish. Okay, it's just stupid. Don't do it!). Tiny spurts of competence come through during sleep deprived nights aided by RLS, arthritic pain and psychological stress.

My goal is to ease away from self-destructive habits, read more, complain less and attend workshops and conferences hoping to catch that 'flair' I once mastered as a writer.

Official Data: Married. Three children. My philosophy: 1. Don't judge. 2. Don't hate. 3. Don't allow your life to be influenced by judgmental haters. That's about it. Plus, I love popcorn, spending time with the fam, watching Baby Anna, MN Twins baseball, living in Polk County Iowa and, of course, writing rambling fragments.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Every morning I wake up bright and early and read the news. This has long been my routine - my quiet time, when the house is still, and the sun is spreading liquid gold all over the world around me. I have grown used to sitting in a favorite chair, sipping cappuccino, and learning what journalists yesterday deemed important enough to include in the 'news' today.

Ahh. But reading the news has become almost a torture. The economic situation has shattered many lives. Fortunes have been lost. People who never dreamed their savings and retirement nest-eggs would vanish prematurely, are facing hard realities, with few options. People who were already in fragile circumstances are facing uncertain futures, and are even more marginalized now than they were before. My heart beats too fast when I read sad stories about loss and helplessness -- I can feel the stress just thinking about it. What can I do!

All of the charitable organizations I support have felt the pinch - well, it's much more than a 'pinch.' it's more like a strangle-hold that threatens to cut off the air supply. But the problems of today are flowing out beyond the organizations I support...the catastrophe has spread to people I know. Now, I realize, more than ever, is when we need to step up. Not only to talk the talk about charitable service, and giving back to society, but actually walking the walk.

This became crystal clear when one of my girlfriends sent me an email. I could tell that it had taken her weeks of worry before she sent it - it was perhaps one of her saddest, most humiliating moments, yet she was out of ideas. This story may be familiar to some of you, but nevertheless, difficult to absorb -- hard, in some ways, even to imagine. I think it illustrates how close to the edge many in our midst are living.

Before the economic downturn, this particular girlfriend was happily taking classes for her doctorate. She is a hands-on mom, and had been out of the traditional workforce for many years. But her email conveyed a devastating turn of events. Her husband lost his job, and prospects, at least at the moment, are dim. She is the main caregiver for her aging, ailing mom - and spends a couple of days a week sitting with her mom while she endures dialysis. Her college-age children work hard, but are not totally self-sufficient. It took an enormous amount of courage for her to reach out to me for help. She needed a job, and wondered if I could help her find one.

Her story made me cry. She and her husband had already blown through their savings, couldn't afford their mortgage, and were in the process of packing up to move out. It was a drastic reversal of fortune that had basically brought them to their knees. I was stunned.

I immediately did what she asked. I enlisted my husband, and together, we're doing what we can to help her search for a position.

I offer this personal story as a reminder that we shouldn't take anything for granted. People within your own circle-of-life may be suffering and need help. Be aware of those you interact with. Realize it's not always easy for individuals to reach out and ask for assistance, and be open-minded and compassionate when they do.

Even if you can't fix their problem, there may be something you can do, someone you know who is looking for an employee with a particular set of skills, or has resources that can be utilized. For sure, you can offer friendship and emotional support. It does take a village.

The idea that charity begins at home rings poignantly true for me now. This is very close to home.

written by Cheryl Saban

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


At the beginning of my 8:00 a.m. class one Monday at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), I cheerfully asked my students how their weekend had been. One young man said that his weekend had not been very good. He’d had his wisdom teeth extracted. The young man then proceeded to ask me why I always seemed to be so cheerful. His question reminded me of something I'd read somewhere before: “Every morning when you get up, you have a choice about how you want to approach life that day,” I said to the young man. “I choose to be cheerful". “Let me give you an example,” I continued.

The other sixty students in the class ceased their chatter and began to listen to our conversation. “In addition to teaching here at UNLV, I also teach out at the community college in Henderson, about seventeen miles down the freeway from where I live. One day a few weeks ago I drove those seventeen miles to Henderson. I exited the freeway and turned onto College Drive. I only had to drive another quarter-mile down the road to the college. But just then my car died. I tried to start it again, but the engine wouldn’t turn over. So I put my flashers on, grabbed my books, and marched down the road to the college.

“As soon as I got there I called AAA and asked them to send a tow truck. The secretary in the Provost's office asked me what had happened. ‘This is my lucky day,’ I replied, smiling. “‘Your car breaks down and today is your lucky day?’ She was puzzled. ‘What do you mean?’

“‘I live seventeen miles from here.’ I replied. ‘My car could have broken down anywhere along the freeway. It didn't. Instead, it broke down in the perfect place: off the freeway, within walking distance of here. I'm still able to teach my class, and I've been able to arrange for the tow truck to meet me after class. If my car was meant to break down today, it couldn't have been arranged in a more convenient fashion.’ “The secretary's eyes opened wide, and then she smiled. I smiled back and headed for class.” So ended my story to the students in my economics class at UNLV.

I scanned the sixty faces in the lecture hall. Despite the early hour, no one seemed to be asleep. Somehow, my story had touched them. Or maybe it wasn't the story at all. In fact, it had all started with a student's observation that I was cheerful. A wise man once said, “Who you are speaks louder to me than anything you can say.” I suppose it must be so.

Author: Lee Ryan Miller - story from his book "Teaching Amidst the Neon Palm Trees".

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


While professional soccer is still struggling to find a firm foothold in the United States, in the 1970s the North American Soccer League marked the brave first attempt to introduce the game to American sports fans. While most teams had only limited success at best, one did manage to break through to genuine mainstream popularity - the New York Cosmos.

It was the brainchild of Steve Ross, a passionate soccer fan who was also a major executive at Warner Communications.

Max Ross told his son Steve: "In life there are those who work all day, those who dream all day, and those who spend an hour dreaming before setting to work to fulfil those dreams. Go into the third category because there's virtually no competition".

Source: "Once In A Lifetime - The Extraordinary Story Of The New York Cosmos" by Gavin Newsham