Monday, December 24, 2012

Santa Is Alive and Well

I remember my first Christmas party with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb:

"There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns. Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites I told her everything. She was ready for me.

"No Santa Claus!" she snorted. "Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second cinnamon bun.

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.

"Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.

For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobbie Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.

Bobbie Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobbie Decker didn't have a cough, and he didn't have a coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobbie Decker a coat. I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.

"Yes, "I replied shyly. "It's...for Bobbie." The nice lady smiled at me. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons, and write, "To Bobbie, From Santa Claus" on it -- Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobbie Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobbie's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge.

"All right, Santa Claus", she whispered, "get going."

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobbie.

Forty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my grandma, in Bobbie Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous.

Santa is alive and well, and we are on his team.

~ Author Unknown ~

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cookie Cutter Christmas

When I was in elementary school in Saginaw, Michigan, back in the 1950's, Paul Davis was my neighbor as well as classmate. Paul's birthday is December 16th. Every year for his birthday treat he would take to school wonderful Santa face cookies, complete with raisin eyes and coconut beards. I would always make sure to walk home with Paul on those days, just in case someone had been absent and he had an extra cookie or two. Somehow, one cookie survived long enough for me to show my mother. She got the recipe from Paul's mother and bought the special cookie cutter at Morley Brothers, our wonderful all-purpose department store. Over the years, my mother and I would continue to make these cookies. After I got married in the mid-60's, I bought my own cookie cutter. We had three daughters and the cookies remained a must-do at Christmas time. I was a stay-at-home mother in those days and would make the Santa cookies for my daughters' class parties. Some special teachers would get a plate of them years after they taught our daughters. Eventually, my mother gave me her Santa cookie cutter and I guarded both of them because Morley's had closed years before and we never saw anything even resembling these wonderful Santa faces. Several years ago in late December, I had made several batches and the two plastic cutters were sitting on the cupboard waiting to be handwashed and put away for another year. Well, my oldest daughter decided to help out by loading the dishwasher. You guessed it ... the two treasured plastic cutters came out distorted and totally unusable. I was sick! For some reason, I had kept the original paper insert from the cookie cutter box. So, I knew that they were from Aunt Chick's in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Now, it was time to see if that company was still in business. Honestly, I wasn't optimistic but if I couldn't replace them, then a long-standing tradition had come to an abrupt halt. That January, I wrote to the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and inquired about Aunt Chick's cookie cutters. I enclosed a copy of the insert that I'd kept for so many years. Within days I received a reply. They even sent me newspaper clippings about Aunt Chick (she had died in 1982) and they told me that the cookie cutters were still available at The Final Touch in Tulsa. They also told me that Aunt Chick's granddaughter, Pat Kimbrel, had taken over the business and it was now called Chickadees Cookery Company in Irving, Texas. I was elated! I phoned The Final Touch and explained what had happened and said that I wanted to buy TEN Santa cookie cutters. The woman told me that they were only available in sets (Santa, star, tree, stocking.) But I didn't want the other designs and couldn't afford to buy ten SETS. So, I decided to call Chickadees Cookery Company. I was able to talk with Pat Kimbrel and tell her about the happy memories connected with her grandmother's cookie cutters. She said that she hoped to get them back into distribution once again. Through Pat I was able to buy four Santa cutters. Then, several weeks later, I received a note from The Final Touch saying that they found six Santa cutters and asked if I still want them. I phoned to say "Yes!" and sent a check. So, within about four months I went from having no Santa cutters to having ten, the exact number that I stated that I wanted in the first place! It was wonderful to be able to do business with two women who went out of their way to satisfy a customer. And, now the family tradition of the Santa face cookie cutters continues not only in our house but also in the home of our oldest daughter, who has since married. At this point, it's three generations strong. So, Happy Birthday, Paul Davis, this December 16th wherever you are. I'll bet you just never knew that your old friend, neighbor and classmate would perpetuate the cookie tradition for nearly a half-century. Thanks to you and your mother and with the help of some dear women in both Oklahoma and Texas, we'll be enjoying our very special Santa cookies for many years to come. Sometimes you just never know how many lives you affect or for how many years the influence will be felt. Merry Christmas. -Author Unknow-

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fair Share

Ali and Abraham were brothers. Their mother died very early. Their father also died after some time. He left for his sons a cow and a date-tree.

Ali was cunning. He was greedy too. Abraham was kind and honest. He trusted his elder brother. They wanted to divide their father’s property. Ali said, “I will be very fair with you, Abraham. You take the front portion of the cow as your share. I will take the hind side of the cow. Each one gets his profit only from his share.” In the same way the tree was also divided. The upper part of the tree went to Ali. And the lower part of the tree went to Abraham.

Abraham fed the cow very well fresh grass and water. The cow became healthy. It gave lot of milk. Ali got the milk. He sold the milk and got a lot of money. But he did not share the money with Abraham. Abraham asked his brother about his share of money. Ali replied, “I got the milk from my portion of our cow. Hind part is mine as per the agreement. Each of us gets the benefits only from his part.” Abraham said nothing.

A wise man advised Abraham. He said some thing in the ear of Abraham. The next day Ali was milking the cow. Then Abraham beat the cow in the front portion. The cow started kicking. Ali shouted at Abraham. “You fool! Why do you beat the cow? Do not see me milking the cow?”

“The front portion of the cow is mine. I can do anything. That is our agreement,” said Abraham.

Ali could not say anything. Finally he agreed to share the money. Abraham said, “Not just money. You must also share the work of feeding and taking care of the cow too.” Ali agreed.

With regard to the tree, Ali had taken upper part of the tree. He made holes on the upper part of the tree. A kind of sweet-smelling juice came out of these holes. The juice was collected in pots. These pots were kept near the holes. Ali sold the juice for money. But he did not share either the money or the juice with his brother.

Again the wise man advised Abraham. The next day Ali was on the top of the tree. He was fixing pots near the holes. At that time Abraham was cutting the lower part of the tree. Ali shouted at Abraham. But Abraham reminded Ali about the agreement. He said, “I can do anything with my part. You can not question or stop me.”

Ali now realized his mistakes. He said, “Abraham, I have been a bad brother to you. I feel ashamed of my selfishness. I ask your pardon. I promise to look after you well hereafter.”

And so he did. Both the brothers lived happily. They shared the profit.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Legacy

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.

by: Bonnie J. Thomas, A Cup of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Friday, September 14, 2012

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, there was once a guy who was very much in love with this girl. This romantic guy folded 1,000 pieces of papercranes as a gift to his girl. Although, at that time he was just a small executive in his company, his future doesn't seemed too bright, they were very happy together. Until one day, his girl told him she was going to Paris and will never come back. She also told him that she cannot visualise any future for the both of them, so let's go their own ways there and then... heartbroken, the guy agreed.

When he regained his confidence, he worked hard day and night, slogging his body and mind just to make something out of himself. Finally with all these hardwork and with the help of friends, this guy had set up his own company...

"You never fail until you stop trying." he always told himself. "I must make it in life!"

One rainy day, while this guy was driving, he saw an elderly couple sharing an umbrella in the rain walking to some destination. Even with the umbrella, they were still drenched. It didn't take him long to realise those were his ex-girlfriend's parents. With a heart in getting back at them, he drove slowly beside the couple, wanting them to spot him in his luxury sedan. He wanted them to know that he wasn't the same anymore, he had his own company, car, condo, etc. He had made it in life!

Before the guy can realise, the couple was walking towards a cemetary,and he got out of his car and followed them...and he saw his ex-girlfriend, a photograph of her smiling sweetly as ever at him from her tombstone... and he saw his precious papercranes in a bottle placed beside her tomb. Her parents saw him. He walked over and asked them why this had happened. They explained, she did not leave for France at all. She was stricken ill with cancer. In her heart, she had believed that he will make it someday, but she did not want her illness to be his obstacle ... therefore she had chosen to leave him.

She had wanted her parents to put his papercranes beside her, because, if the day comes when fate brings him to her again he can take some of those back with him. The guy just wept ...the worst way to miss someone is to be sitting right beside them but knowing you can't have them and will never see them again.
The End."

A tragic story that perhaps happens only in the movies. At the end of the day, money is money is money but love is divine. In our quest for our material wealth, take time to make time for our loved ones. There will be a time when we have only memories to cling to.

Take this weekend to show our "love" to all that are close to us.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Meeting God

A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived ...
... so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of root beer and he started his journey. When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old man. He was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons.

The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old man looked hungry, so he offered him a Twinkie.

He gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. His smile was so pleasant that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered him a root beer. Again, he smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.

As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old man and gave him a hug. He gave him his biggest smile ever.

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, "What did you do today that made you so happy? "He replied, "I had lunch with God." But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what? He's got the most beautiful smile I've ever seen!"

Meanwhile, the old man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home. His son was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked, "Dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?" He replied, "I ate Twinkies in the park with God." However, before his son responded, he added, "You know, he's much younger than I expected."

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring... all of which have the potential to turn a life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Embrace all equally!

-Author Unknown-

Sunday, August 26, 2012

He Never Drove A Car

Well, that's not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car.

He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

"In those days," he told me when he was in his 90s, "to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it."

At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in: "Oh, bull----!" she said. "He hit a horse."

"Well," my father said, "there was that, too."

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars -- the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford -- but we had none.

My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we'd ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. "No one in the family drives," my mother would explain, and that was that.

But, sometimes, my father would say, "But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we'll get one." It was as if he wasn't sure which one of us would turn 16 first.

But, sure enough , my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown.

It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car.

Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make sense to my mother.

So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father's idea. "Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?" I remember him saying more than once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps -- though they seldom left the city limits -- and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.

Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage.

(Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)

He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin's Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish's two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home.

If it was the assistant pastor, he'd take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests "Father Fast" and "Father Slow."

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he'd sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I'd stop by, he'd explain: "The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored."

If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out -- and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream. As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, "Do you want to know the secret of a long life?"

"I guess so," I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

"No left turns," he said.

"What?" I asked.

"No left turns," he repeated. "Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic.

As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn."

"What?" I said again.

"No left turns," he said. "Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that's a lot safer. So we always make three rights."

"You're kidding!" I said, and I turned to my mother for support "No," she said, "your father is right. We make three rights. It works." But then she added: "Except when your father loses count."

I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing.

"Loses count?" I asked.

"Yes," my father admitted, "that sometimes happens. But it's not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you're okay again."

I couldn't resist. "Do you ever go for 11?" I asked.

"No," he said " If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week."

My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90.

She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102.

They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom -- the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

He continued to walk daily -- he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he'd fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising -- and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news.

A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, "You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred." At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, "You know, I'm probably not going to live much longer."

"You're probably right," I said.

"Why would you say that?" He countered, somewhat irritated.

"Because you're 102 years old," I said.

"Yes," he said, "you're right." He stayed in bed all the next day.

That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night.

He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said:

"I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead yet"

An hour or so later, he spoke his last words:

"I want you to know," he said, clearly and lucidly, "that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have."

A short time later, he died.

I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long.

I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life, Or because he quit taking left turns. "

Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about those who don't. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it."

Written By Michael Gartner, president of NBC News

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Actress and the Actor


My husband, Richard, never really talked a lot about his time in Viet Nam other than he had been shot by a sniper. However, he had a rather grainy, 8" x 10" black and white photo he had taken at a USO show of Ann-Margret with Bob Hope that was one of his treasures.

A few years ago Ann-Margret was doing a book signing at a local bookstore. Richard wanted to see if he could get her to sign the treasured photo so he arrived at the bookstore as soon as he could for the 7:30 pm signing.

When I got there after work, the line went all the way around the bookstore, circled the parking lot and disappeared behind a parking garage. Before her appearance, bookstore employees announced that she would sign only her book and no memorabilia would be permitted.

Richard was disappointed but wanted to show her the photo and let her know how much those shows meant to lonely GI's so far from home. Ann-Margret came out looking as beautiful as ever.

He presented the book for her signature and then took out the photo. When he did, there were many shouts from the employees that she would not sign it. Richard said,

"I understand. I just wanted her to see it." She took one look at the photo, tears welled up in her eyes and she said,

"This is one of my gentlemen from Viet Nam and I most certainly will sign his photo. I know what these men did for their country and I always have time for 'my gentlemen.'"

With that, she pulled Richard across the table and planted a big kiss on him. She then made quite a to-do about the bravery of the young men she met over the years, how much she admired them, and how much she appreciated them.

There weren't too many dry eyes among those close enough to hear. She then posed for pictures and acted as if he were the only one there.

Later at dinner, Richard was very quiet. When I asked if he'd like to talk about it, my big strong husband broke down in tears.

"That's the first time anyone ever thanked me for my time in the Army," he said.

That night was a turning point for him. He walked a little straighter and, for the first time in years, was proud to have been a Vet. I'll never forget Ann-Margret for her graciousness and how much that small act of kindness meant to my husband.

I now make it a point to say "Thank you" to every person I come across who served in our Armed Forces. Freedom does not come cheap and I am grateful for all those who have served their country.

~ Author Unknown ~

Editor's Note: Ann-Margret Olsson was born in 1941 and was part of Bob Hope's troupe in the 1960's in Viet Nam. According to Bruce Thompson, the webmaster of which is her official website, this story is indeed true.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rich At Last


Bernie was my father's idea of a rich man. When I was a kid in Minnesota, watermelon was a delicacy. Bernie, was a prosperous fruit-and-vegetable wholesaler, and one of my father's good friends. Every summer, when the first watermelons rolled in, Bernie would call. Dad and I would go to his warehouse and take up our positions.

We'd sit on the edge of the dock, feet dangling, and lean over, minimizing the volume of juice we were about to spill on ourselves. Bernie would take his machete, crack our first watermelon, hand us both a big piece and sit down next to us. We'd bury our faces in watermelon. We'd eat only the heart: the reddest, juiciest, firmest, most seed-free, most perfect part, and throw away the rest.

Bernie was rich. I always thought it was because he was such a successful businessman. Years later, I realized that what my father admired about Bernie's wealth was less its substance than its application. Bernie knew how to stop working, get together with friends and "eat only the heart of the watermelon."

After becoming a very successful businessman, what I learned from Bernie from my exposure to him as a young boy is that "being rich is a state of mind" and also includes making time often for those things in life that are the very sweetest to you. Some of us, no matter how much money we have, will never be free enough to "eat only the heart of the watermelon." Others are rich without ever being more than a paycheck ahead.

For many years, I forgot that lesson I'd learned as a kid on the loading dock. I was too busy making money and adding accomplishments to my resume.

Well, I've re-learned it.

Now I make sure I "eat the heart of the watermelon" often, in fact every day. I do those things that are sweetest for me, I do them first, and I do them often. Frequently, for me, some of these things are taking the time to enjoy the accomplishments of others and to take pleasure in the day. And I remember that it's ok to throw the rest away.

Finally, I am "rich.”

~ The Author is Harvey Mackay who is Chairman and CEO of Mackay Envelope Corporation, an $85 million company he founded at age 26. He is the author of the New York Times #1 bestsellers "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive" and "Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt.” He is also a nationally syndicated columnist, popular business speaker, and a director of Robert Redford's Sundance Institute ~

Thursday, August 9, 2012


As a new widow, I was painfully beginning the hard task of packing away my husband's belongings, trying to distribute his things to those who would most appreciate them. One morning, I went to the busy grocery store in town to get some boxes for packing his things.

As I entered the store, I was overwhelmed with grief. I stood alone, waiting for someone, anyone, to notice me. I did not need groceries, and was unsure who to ask about the boxes. Checkers were busy, carryout boys were sweeping by me, grocery carts loaded, helping others out to their cars.

The receptionist at the customer service desk was busy behind her counter, handling the people in line. Customers breezed by me without a glance.

I felt as if I no longer existed! With my husband's death came the awareness of complete personal insignificance. My husband had always been the "front man", shaking hands with strangers, asking for assistance, introducing me to everyone. Now he was no longer there, and I felt invisible. The longer I stood there, the more shy I felt.

What is wrong with these young people, I wondered. Can't they see that I need something? Even as I resented their inattention, I hated the idea of interrupting them in their tasks. I considered just going back outside and returning later, but just as I turned to leave, a young woman came through the door, obviously in a hurry.

We made eye contact, and she looked me over as she reached for an empty cart. She glanced back at me as she went by, and

once again, I was alone. But then she turned back to me, and said,

"I could not help noticing you standing there. Is there something you need?" I was astonished that someone who did not even work there would ask me this question, but I told her,

"Yes, I need some small empty boxes to pack some things."

"Oh! Well, that should be no problem" she answered. Then she continued, "Why don't you sit right here on this bench and let me find someone to help us?"

The word "us" delivered a message of human connection. I was not invisible, and I was not alone. As I sat down on the bench, I felt as if she had just pushed a very fragile vase further back on the shelf, to keep it from crashing to the floor. I was so grateful for this kindness. Within two minutes, she was back, with a cart load of empty boxes.

She did not send a boy back to me. She brought them herself. Then she asked one of the sackers to help me to my car, and went on her way. As she turned to make sure there was nothing more I needed, she smiled a radiant and reassuring smile. I blurted out my thanks, and she said,

"Well, sometimes it only takes a tiny bit of time to make a real difference. I am happy that I came by just at the time you needed me!"

She was absolutely right. I DID need boxes, but I needed her even more. This gentle assist helped me to see myself as an individual who was not alone, but one who was part of the whole of life. If she existed, and acknowledged that I existed, I could not possibly be invisible.

The sadness and fear that had engulfed me was no longer there, and I determined to watch for people who needed my attention in the days to come.

~ Author Unknown ~

Monday, July 16, 2012

An Unending Circle

One day a man saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her.

Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn’t look safe; he looked poor and hungry. He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was those chills which only fear can put in you. He said, “I’m here to help you, ma’am. Why don’t you wait in the car where it’s warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson.”

Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire. But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt.
As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing through. She couldn’t thank him enough for coming to her aid.

Bryan just smiled as he closed her trunk. The lady asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty, who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way.
He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance they needed, and Bryan added, “And think of me.”
He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into the twilight.

A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn’t erase. The lady noticed the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan.

After the lady finished her meal, she paid with a hundred dollar bill. The waitress quickly went to get change for her hundred dollar bill, but the old lady had slipped right out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. The waitress wondered where the lady could be. Then she noticed something written on the napkin.

There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote: “You don’t owe me anything. I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you.”
Under the napkin were four more $100 bills.

Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard….
She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, “Everything’s going to be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson.”

There is an old saying “What goes around comes around.”

-Author Unknown-

Monday, July 9, 2012

Love Conquers All

One day, a young guy and a young girl fell in love.

But the guy came from a poor family. The girl’s parents weren’t too happy.

So the young man decided not only to court the girl but to court her parents as well. In time, the parents saw that he was a good man and was worthy of their daughter’s hand.

But there was another problem: The man was a soldier. Soon, war broke out and he was being sent overseas for a year. The week before he left, the man knelt on his knee and asked his lady love, “Will you marry me?” She wiped a tear, said yes, and they were engaged. They agreed that when he got back in one year, they would get married.

But tragedy struck. A few days after he left, the girl had a major vehicular accident. It was a head-on collision.

When she woke up in the hospital, she saw her father and mother crying. Immediately, she knew there was something wrong.

She later found out that she suffered brain injury. The part of her brain that controlled her face muscles was damaged. Her once lovely face was now disfigured. She cried as she saw herself in the mirror. “Yesterday, I was beautiful. Today, I’m a monster.” Her body was also covered with so many ugly wounds.

Right there and then, she decided to release her fiancé from their promise. She knew he wouldn’t want her anymore. She would forget about him and never see him again.

For one year, the soldier wrote many letters—but she wouldn’t answer. He phoned her many times but she wouldn’t return her calls.

But after one year, the mother walked into her room and announced, “He’s back from the war.”

The girl shouted, “No! Please don’t tell him about me. Don’t tell him I’m here!”

The mother said, “He’s getting married,” and handed her a wedding invitation.

The girl’s heart sank. She knew she still loved him—but she had to forget him now.

With great sadness, she opened the wedding invitation.

And then she saw her name on it!

Confused, she asked, “What is this?”

That was when the young man entered her room with a bouquet of flowers. He knelt beside her and asked, “Will you marry me?”

The girl covered her face with her hands and said, “I’m ugly!”

The man said, “Without your permission, your mother sent me your photos. When I saw your photos, I realized that nothing has changed. You’re still the person I fell in love. You’re still as beautiful as ever. Because I love you!”

Author Unknown

Monday, July 2, 2012

In her Mother's Dress

"Do you like my dress?" she asked of a passing stranger. "My mommy made it just for me." She said with a tear in her eye.

"Well, I think it's very pretty, so tell me little one, why are you crying?"

With a quiver in her voice the little girl answered. "After Mommy made me this dress, she had to go away."

"Well, now," said the lady, "with a little girl like you waiting for her, I'm sure she'll be right back."

"No ma'am, you don't understand," said the child through her tears, "My Daddy said that she's up in heaven now with Grandfather."

Finally the woman realized what the child meant, and why she was crying. Kneeling down she gently cradled the child in her arms and together they cried for the mommy that was gone.

Then suddenly the little girl did something that the woman thought was a bit strange. She stopped crying, stepped back from the woman and began to sing.

She sang so softly that it was almost a whisper. It was the sweetest sound the woman had ever heard, almost like the song of a very small bird.

After the child stopped singing she explained to the lady, "My mommy used to sing that song to me before she went away, and she made me promise to sing it whenever I started crying and it would make me stop."

"See," she exclaimed, "it did, and now my eyes are dry!"

As the woman turned to go, the little girl grabbed her sleeve, "Lady, can you stay just a minute? I want to show you something."

"Of course," she answered, "what do you want me to see?"

Pointing to a spot on her dress, she said, "Right here is where my Mommy kissed my dress, and here," pointing to another spot, "and here is another kiss, and here, and here. Mommy said that she put all those kisses on my dress so that I would have her kisses for every boo-boo that made me cry."

Then the lady realized that she wasn't just looking at a dress, no, she was looking at a Mother ... Who knew that she was going away and would not be there to kiss away the hurts that she knew her daughter would get.

So she took all the love she had for her beautiful little girl and put them into this dress, that her child now so proudly wore. She no longer saw a little girl in a simple dress. She saw a child wrapped ...

In her Mother's love.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Walk Slower, Daddy

"Walk a little slower, Daddy",
Said a little child so small.
"I'm following in your footsteps,
And I don't want to fall.

Sometimes your steps are very fast,
Sometimes they're hard to see;
So walk a little slower, Daddy,
For you are leading me.

Someday when I'm all grown up,
You're what I want to be;
Then I will have a little child
Who'll want to follow me.

And I would want to lead just right,
And know that I was true;
So, walk a little slower, Daddy,
For I must follow you."

-Author Unknown-

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Daddy is Real

He was like no man I had ever known - a big, shy, gentle man, who adored children. He was a U.S. Navy Electrician, with powerful hands, yet to see him brush the dirt off a child's scraped knee left me breathless at his tenderness. He was younger than I, that was certain, but I noticed that his eyes had a look about them, as though he had seen much sorrow. So had I.

I was on the run, from an abusive marriage, taken in by mutual friends. I was devout, even prudish, but with a "wicked" sense of humor that could crack him up and make him blush to the roots of his hair. I found that irresistible.

I was pretty sure that I was in trouble, when my nine year old daughter, Jenny, cornered me and asked if I would "marry again." That filled me with panic.

"Oh my, Jenny! I'd like to not think about that for about a hundred years!"

"O.K., Mommy." Jenny replied, giving me a level look. "...But, if you ever do, I want you to marry someone like, Louie." I was stunned. Only nine years old, and already planning her future.

"You know," she continued. "He'd make a great Daddy!"

I could feel myself repelling down the side of a cliff, without a safety net, but I was charmed by her candor...and even then, I could feel God beckoning me toward this wonderful man. Of course, Jenny gave Louie "the speech." What she expected out of a father. What she would consider as appropriate behavior. Suddenly, my nine year old was a therapist and matchmaker, right in the middle of the living room. I expected that Louie would "run for the hills!" But he stayed on.

He was from Tennessee, and very country. I found him likeable, sensitive, and charming. He was a gentleman and a gentle man. It was not in him to take advantage of a woman. He was my friend, with perfect courtesy, and he was attractively awkward. Altogether lovely to a woman like me.

From a distance, we fell in love. Not even in his heart would he bridge that gap of impropriety. I had never met anyone like him before. We loved the same books. When it came to music, we were from different planets. I was whimsical, creative, a dreamer. He was practical, solid, a rock. But we both loved my children, and against all odds, we fell in love.

Of course it would never last. How could it? He loved motorcycles! And he owned one! I loved the ballet and opera. The closest I came to rock and roll was the BeeGees, and the closest he came to ballet was when he was launched from his motorcycle, making a hard right turn! We talked away the night every chance we got. I could make him helpless with laughter, which in turn, delighted my heart! How could it not work? But the miracle worker and the wisest of us all, turned out to be six year old Helen.

We were sitting in my car, right outside of Baskin Robbins. She was licking her Bubble Gum ice-cream cone. I was inhaling my Pistachio Almond Fudge.

"We need to have a serious talk, Momma." She said. She looked intently at me, with her sea green eyes.

"I've been thinking. I think it's time that we get married." She pulled herself up to her full, three-feet, six inches in height, as she searched my face.

Helen had proposed to Louie, weeks ago. She had ushered him into her room, sat him down on her bed, and stood in front of him. Her hand raised, finger pointing for emphasis, she said:

"You know, Louie, I've been looking for a man like you, my whole life." Stunned, all Louie could do was listen.

"Now, Louie," she began, "all of us girls need you, and I know that Momma does, too! That is why I'm asking you to marry us!" Afterwards, when Louie told me about the proposal, I thought...oh boy, this guy is history!!

"So what did you tell her?" I asked him, not quite nonchalantly.

"I told Helen, that as soon as we decide that we want to get married, she would be the first to know." He said, looking at me with an intense gaze.

Helen thought that Louie looked like Elvis. (I guess he did, sort of, if you closed one eye and looked at him through the heart of a child.) She had fallen in love with this big, gentle man...head over heels. Our romance had blossomed surrounded by a crowd of little girls...a blonde, a brunette, and a red-head. We had discussed marriage and there was no doubt that he was crazy about the girls...and me.

Helen had been the most hurt, when her 'birth father' had abandoned her. He explained to her that it was "nothing personal." Now, I wondered if a new marriage would be the best thing for my daughters, and I knew that Louie wondered if his great love could erase a lifetime of hurt.

Now, here I was, being lectured in a parking lot by my six year old.

"You know, Momma, you're not getting any younger" (Where did she get this stuff?) "Louie loves us, and he WANTS us. I want him to be my Daddy! My real Daddy!"

Words of reassurance rushed to my tongue, as Helen exclaimed. "Momma, my birth father doesn't want me!" An exquisite pain shot through me! Of course he does! I wanted to scream, but I could not invalidate the truth she spoke, with a lie.

"I think it's time, we got married!" Helen said. "We've been dating long enough!"

Finally, with tears in my eyes, I said, "Helen, I don't know what's inside some men's hearts, but I know Louie's heart. He loves you. He loves all of us, and if there is anyone who can be your "real" Daddy, he can. And I'm going to tell him 'yes' for all of us!"

That night we had a celebration dinner...Louie, Helen, Jenny, Michelle and me. With Kool-Aid glasses held high, we toasted a new future, a new family, and a new hope: where children are always treasured, and every Daddy is "real."

Written by J Lewis

Sunday, June 17, 2012

No Regrets

If I knew it would be the last time that I'd see you fall asleep,
I would tuck you in more tightly and pray the Lord, your soul to keep.

If I knew it would be the last time that I see you walk out the door,
I would give you a hug and kiss and call you back for just one more.

If I knew it would be the last time I'd hear your voice lifted up in praise,
I would video tape each action and word, so I could play them back day after day.

If I knew it would be the last time, I could spare an extra minute or two to stop and say "I love you,"
Instead of assuming you would know I do.

If I knew it would be the last time I would be there to share your day,
Well, I'm sure you'll have so many more, I can let just this one slip away.

For surely there's always tomorrow to make up for an oversight,
And we always get a second chance to make everything right.

There will always be another day to say our "I love you's,"
And certainly there's another chance to say our "Anything I can do's?"

But just in case I might be wrong, and today is all I get,
I'd like to say how much I love you and I hope we never forget,

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, young or old alike,
Today may be the last chance you get to hold your loved one tight.

So if you're waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes, you'll surely regret the day,

That you didn't take that extra time for a smile, a hug, or a kiss,
Too busy to grant someone what turned out to be their last wish.

So hold your loved ones close today, whisper in their ear,
Tell them how much you love them and that you'll always hold them dear.

Take time to say "I'm sorry," "Please forgive me," "Thank you" or "It's okay".
And if tomorrow never comes, you'll have no regrets about today.

-Author Unknown-

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Joys of Motherhood

I was renewing my driver's license at the County Clerk's office and was asked by the woman recorder to state my occupation. I hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.

"What I mean is," explained the recorder, "do you have a job?"

"Of course I have a job, I'm a mother."

"We don't list 'mother' as an occupation ... 'housewife' covers it," said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about this until one day I found myself in the same situation again, this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviously a career-woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title,

"What is your occupation?" she probed.

What made me say it, I do not know ... The words simply popped out. "I'm a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations."

The clerk paused, ballpoint pen frozen in midair, and looked up as though she had not heard right.

I repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?"

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn't), in the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out). I'm working for my Masters, (the whole darned family), and already have four credits, (all daughters).

Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money."

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants - ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6 month old), in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern.

I felt triumphant! I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another mother."

Motherhood...What a glorious career! Especially when there's a title on the door.

- Author Unknown ~

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Pancake Lesson

Six-year-old Brandon decided one Saturday morning to fix his parents pancakes. He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair to the counter, opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour canister, spilling it on the floor.

He scooped some of the flour into the bowl with his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and added some sugar, leaving a floury trail on the floor which by now had a few tracks left by his kitten.

Brandon was covered with flour and getting frustrated. He wanted this to be something very good for Mom and Dad, but it was getting very bad. He didn't know what to do next, whether to put it all into the oven or on the stove (and he didn't know how the stove worked!).

Suddenly he saw his kitten licking from the bowl of mix and reached to push her away, knocking the egg carton to the floor.

Frantically he tried to clean up this monumental mess but slipped on the eggs, getting his pajamas white and sticky. And just then he saw Dad standing at the door. Big crocodile tears welled up in Brandon's eyes. All he'd wanted to do was good, but he'd made a terrible mess. He was sure a scolding was coming, maybe even a spanking. But his father just watched him.

Then, walking through the mess, he picked up his crying son, hugged him and loved him, getting his own pajamas white and sticky in the process.

That's how God deals with us. We try to do something good in life, but it turns into a mess. Our marriage gets all sticky or we insult a friend, or we can't stand our job, or our health goes sour.

Sometimes we just stand there in tears because we can't think of anything else to do. That's when God picks us up and loves us and forgives us, even though some of our mess gets all over Him. But just because we might mess up, we can't stop trying to "make pancakes" for God or for others. Sooner or later we'll get it right, and then they'll be glad we tried...

I was thinking... and I wondered if I had any wounds needing to be healed, friendships that need rekindling or three words needing to be said, sometimes, "I love you" can heal & bless.

Remind every one of your friends that you love them, Even if you think they don't love back, you would be amazed at what those three little words, a smile, and a reminder like can do.

-Author Unknown-

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I Bless You, My Son

A long time ago there was a young boy who lived with his father in a small cottage.
Almost every evening he would hear his father say the same thing:

"Poor me. I will die a sad old man because you are a fool and will never amount
to anything."

But the boy was not a fool, in fact, he showed a lot of wisdom for his age, and
he had a generous heart. One day, after helping a widow stack wood, he was about
to go home when she stopped him and placing her hand on his head spoke these words:

"You are a reflection of the face of God. The world is brighter for the joy you
have given me this day. I bless you my child."

The boy stepped back, amazed: "What was that?"

"Why, it was a blessing my child! Haven't you ever received a blessing before?"

Back at home he asked his father: "Papa? Why do you curse me? Why do you not bless

"What a ridiculous question. It is against my nature to bless. Poor me. I will die
a sad old man because you are a fool and will never amount to anything."

"Oh" said the boy, and he felt sorry for his father. That night he decided that
no matter how uncomfortable it felt, he would become the kind of person who blessed
others. And so he did.

The boy grew to be a man, left the forest and built a home for himself and had a
family of his own. He was still haunted by the curses of his father, but he had
decided to bless.

Almost every evening, he would call one of his children to himself, lay his hand
upon their head and speak these words:

"You are a reflection of the face of God. The world is brighter for the joy you
give me this day. I bless you my child."

One evening there was a knock on the front door and as he had raised his children
to do, they welcomed in a blind beggar, and gave him some food to eat. The young
man walked in and immediately recognized it was his own father, but he didn't reveal
his own identity.

He listened to the old man speak. And the old man talked about how he had lost his
eyesight, and how he'd been forced to beg in a world where life was hard. Just then
his son spoke up:

"Grandfather! You're welcome to stay here with us!"

"But I have no money to pay you." said the old man.

"Oh, we don't need any money; all we ask is that as long as you stay with us, you
speak only blessings. - What's the matter?"

"'s against my nature to bless!"

"Grandfather, I can tell by your hands that you have worked your whole life. So,
begging must be against your nature as well, but see, it has brought you here to

The old man couldn't argue this point, so he agreed to stay, but it was weeks before
he spoke a word - it was so against his nature to bless. When he finally did, you
could hardly hear him:

"What's that Grandfather?"

"I said, bless you for taking an old man in from the cold. I wish my son had turned
out like you, but he was a fool and..."

"Ah! Grandfather, only blessings!"

"Well, I wish my son had turned out like you! Bless you!"

This wasn't bad for a first blessing! And a week later he spoke another one and
it was a little smoother. Then he began to bless every day -- many times in a day.
You could say that blessing became... second nature to him.

The more he blessed, the more he smiled. The more he smiled the more his heart softened.
And the more his heart softened, the more joy he began to experience; a different
kind of joy than he had known before.

They lived happily for years until one winter the old man fell ill and was near
death. As his breathing grew labored, his son sat on the bedside and asked:

"Grandfather, is there anything I can get for you?"

"No one can bring me what I most need at this hour."

"Please Grandfather, anything! What would you like?"

"I should like to see my own son once more to give him my blessing. As he was growing,
I gave only curses. I told him it was against my nature to bless. And, as you can
see, I have learned to bless too late..." Then his son leaned closer and whispered:

"Papa! Papa it's me, your own son... I am here! It is not too late! God has seen
fit to bring us together these last years. It's not too late! I'm here... I'm here!"

And they embraced. A moment later the old man straightened up, stretched out a trembling
hand, laid it upon his son's head, and spoke these words:

"You are a reflection of the face of God. Though I cannot see you with my eyes,
I see you with my heart and the mercy you have shown me these past years is like
a brilliant light, dispelling all shadow as I pass from time into eternity. I will
die a happy old man, because I have learned to bless and son... I... bless

With these words, his hand fell back down to his chest and he died with this beautiful
smile on his face.

Just then the wind became very strong outside and he got up to close the shutter,
but then he heard an ancient voice:

"Eternity shines brighter for the joy you bring me this day. I bless you my child."

Then the wind died down and everything became peaceful in the countryside and in
the heart of the young man.

~ Author Unknown ~

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Flying With Chickens

Once, long ago, an Indian warrior found an eagle's egg on a mountaintop, and he put it in the nest of a barnyard hen. When the time came, the chicks hatched, and so did the little eagle, who had been kept warm in the same brood.

The tiny eagle grew along with the hatchlings. After some time it learned to cluck and cackle like chickens, to scratch the ground, to look for worms. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air onto the lower branches of the bushes, just like all the other chickens.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. Up there in the bright blue, this bird glided with graceful majesty among the wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

The old eagle was awestruck. It turned to the nearest chicken and asked, "Who's that?"

The chicken looked up and answered, "Oh, that's the golden eagle, the king of the birds. He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth... we're chickens."

So, the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that's what he thought he was.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

Written by Anthony De Mello, SJ

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Value and Invest In Yourself

If you are into financial investment, you’re probably very familiar with Mr. Warren Buffet (1951–present). He is the most successful investor in the world. His investment strategies are legendary and many people seek to learn after him.

Even more respectable, he pledged to give away 99% of his wealth (more than $30 billions at the time of the pledge in 2006) to non-profit foundations, mostly to Bill Gate’s Foundation.

Mr. Buffet often travels to universities to give speeches to educate and motivate students. Here is one of his speeches to teach us the value of our body, to invest in ourselves, in education for a great future.

Imagine that a Genie offers you any car in the world. The catch is that it is the only car you will ever own. What would you do?

You would read the manual ten times, change the oil twice as often as required, and you would take fastidious care so that that car remained the car of your dreams forever.

Think about what this tells you about your body.

You get only one mind and one body–the same ones you will have at 20, 40, 60, etc.

Take care of them and maximize their potential. It will be too late to take care of your body and mind (and car) later on. You can maintain them, but it is hard or impossible to undo big mistakes or negligence later on. You do not want to end up with a wreck on your hands.

Your main asset in life is yourself.

Treat yourself as a valuable asset. I often explain to students that I would be willing to pay today for a percentage of the future earnings of good students.

If you value yourself, and invest in yourself, you will be worth a great deal through out your lifetime, both to yourself and to your community.

Author: Warren Buffet

Saturday, May 19, 2012

No Ears

“Can I see my baby?” the happy new mother asked.

When the bundle was nestled in her arms and she moved the fold of cloth to look upon his tiny face, she gasped. The doctor turned quickly and looked out the tall hospital window. The baby had been born without ears.

Time proved that the baby’s hearing was perfect. It was only his appearance that was marred.

When he rushed home from school one day and flung himself into his mother’s arms, she sighed, knowing that his life was to be a succession of heartbreaks.

He blurted out the tragedy: “A boy, a big boy… called me a freak.”

He grew up, handsome for his misfortune. A favorite with his fellow students, he might have been class president, but for that. He developed a gift, a talent for literature and music. “But you might mingle with other young people,” his mother reproved him, but felt a kindness in her heart.

The boy’s father had a session with the family physician. Could nothing be done? “I believe I could graft on a pair of outer ears, if they could be procured,” the doctor decided.

Whereupon the search began for a person who would make such a sacrifice for a young man. Two years went by.

Then, “You are going to the hospital, Son. Mother and I have someone who will donate the ears you need. But it’s a secret,” said the father.

The operation was a brilliant success, and a new person emerged. His talents blossomed into genius, and school and college became a series of triumphs. Later he married and entered the diplomatic service.

“But I must know!” He urged his father, “Who gave so much for me? I could never do enough for him.”

“I do not believe you could,” said the father, “but the agreement was that you are not to know … not yet.”

The years kept their profound secret, but the day did come … one of the darkest days that a son must endure. He stood with his father over his mother’s casket. Slowly, tenderly, the father stretched forth a hand and raised the thick, reddish-brown hair to reveal that the mother — had no outer ears.

“Mother said she was glad she never let her hair be cut,” he whispered gently, “and nobody ever thought Mother less beautiful, did they?”

Real beauty lies not in the physical appearance, but in the heart. Real treasure lies not in what that can be seen, but what that cannot be seen. Real love lies not in what is done and known, but in what that is done but not known.

-Author Unknown-

Friday, May 11, 2012

Eighteen Ways to Inspire Others

Live by choice, not by chance. Make changes, not excuses. Be motivated, not manipulated. Work to excel, not compete. Listen to your own inner voice, not the jumbled opinions of everyone else.

This is the way to inspire people! This is how you can grow into the best version of YOU!

Here are a few more ideas to get you started with inspiring everyone around you:

Be authentic and true to yourself. – In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to keep being your awesome self. Embrace that individual inside you that has ideas, strengths and beauty like no one else. Be the person you know yourself to be – the best version of you – on your terms. Above all, be true to YOU, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it. No it won’t always be easy; because when it comes to living as a compassionate, non-judgmental human being, the only challenge greater than learning to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, is learning to walk a lifetime, comfortably in your own.

Stick with what you love. – Take part in something you believe in. This could be anything. Some people take an active role in their local city council, some find refuge in religious faith, some join social clubs supporting causes they believe in, and others find passion in their work. In each case the psychological outcome is the same. They engage themselves in something they strongly believe in. This engagement brings happiness and meaning into their lives. It’s hard not to be inspired by someone who’s passionate about what they’re doing.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Laugh or Cry?

The Texas teacher was helping one of her kindergarten students put on his rain boots. He had asked her for help and she could see why. Even with her pulling and him pushing, the little boots still didn't want to go on.

Finally, when the second boot was on, she had worked up a sweat. She almost cried when the little boy said,

"Teacher, they're on the wrong feet."

She looked and sure enough, they were. It wasn't any easier pulling the boots off than it was putting them on. She managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots back on, this time on the right feet. He then announced,

"These aren't my boots."

She bit her tongue rather than get right in his face and say, "Why didn't you say so?" like she wanted to. And, once again she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off his little feet. No sooner did they got the boots off and he said,

"They're my brother's boots. My Mom made me wear 'em."

Now she didn't know if she should laugh or cry. But, she mustered up the grace and courage she had left to wrestle the boots on his feet again. Helping him into his coat, she asked,

"Now, where are your mittens?" and he said,

"I stuffed 'em in the toes of my boots."

~ Author Unknown ~

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Girl in the Pink Dress

There was this little girl sitting by herself in the park. Everyone
passed by her and never stopped to see why she looked so sad. Dressed in
a worn pink dress, 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 by her, but no one would stop.

The next day I decided to go back to the park in curiosity to see if the
little girl would still be there. Yes, she was there, right in the very
spot where she was yesterday, and still with the same sad look in her

Today I was to make my own move and walk over to the little girl. For as
we all know, a park full of strange people is not a place for young
children to play alone. As I got closer I could see the back of the
little girl's dress was grotesquely shaped. I figured that was the
reason people just passed by and made no effort to speak to her.

As I got closer, the little girl lowered her eyes slightly to avoid my
intent stare. As I approached her, I could see the shape of her back
more clearly. She 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 until darkness fell and the park was completely empty. I asked
the girl why she was so sad. The little girl looked at me with a sad
face said, "Because I'm different." I immediately said, "That you are!"
and smiled. The little girl acted even sadder and said, "I know."

"Little girl," I said, "you remind me of an angel, sweet and innocent."
She looked at me and smiled, then slowly she got to her feet and said,

"Yes, you're like a little Guardian Angel sent to watch over all those
people walking by." She nodded her head yes, and smiled. With that she
opened the back of her pink dress and allowed her wings to spread, then
she said "I am. I'm your Guardian Angel," with a twinkle in her eye. I
was speechless -- sure I was seeing things.

She said, "For once you thought of someone other than yourself. My job
here is done."

I got to my feet and said, "Wait, why did no one stop to help an angel?"
She looked at me, smiled, and said, "You are the only one that could see
me," and then she was gone. And with that, my life was changed
dramatically. So, when you think you're all you have, remember, your
angel is always watching over you.

-Author Unknown-

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Things We Keep

I grew up in the forties with practical parents. A Mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original Recycle Queen, before they had a name for it.

A Father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.

Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, dishtowel in the other.

It was the time for fixing things - a curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep.

It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, reheating, renewing, I just once wanted to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant there'd always be more, and more.

But then my Mother died, and on that clear summer's night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes - there just isn't any "more."

Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away, never to return.

So while we have it, it's best we love it. We care for it. We fix it when it's broken. And we heal it when it's sick.

This is true for marriage, for children with bad report cards, for aging parents, for best friends that move away, and for dogs with bad hips. These are things that make life important. Things we keep.

We keep them because they are worth it. Because we are worth it.

~ By Sheri Sobek ~

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Makes Me Think

If you have time, please click the following link to read a very beautiful story. Take care and have a nice day!

Makes Me Think

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Prettiest Thing

"She was the prettiest thing I'd ever seen," recalled my grandfather.

My brother and I were sitting cross-legged on the living room floor. Doug was watching a western movie on the television, and I was idly looking through one of my grandparents' photo albums. One of the photographs of my grandmother had caught Grandpa's attention. His usual hearty, buoyant laughter was gone, and his demeanor was quiet and reflective. Suddenly, Grandpa's story had our full attention.

In his earlier years, my grandfather had been a tall, big-framed and muscular man used to working outdoors. The man in front of us was still larger than life to me and my five-year-old brother, but now his shoulders were stooped and his hands knotted with arthritis. He sat on the edge of the couch and studied us both, as if trying to determine whether we were old enough to fully appreciate what he was going to tell us. His gaze then turned to our grandmother sitting a few feet away. His eyes softened as he related the story of how they met.

His first glimpse of his future bride happened while she was in the company of her father and two of her sisters. Her father was conducting business, and the girls were sitting nearby in the back of his old pickup. As he warmed up to his story, Grandma's hands become still, and her crochet lay in a colorful fold on her lap. She listened to the familiar old story, caught up in the tale that we were hearing for the first time. She smiled warmly back at him.

"While her daddy was busy with some other gentlemen," he said, "I was busy watching her and her two sisters. They were sitting there in the back of that old pickup, feet dangling and swinging, giggling and whispering to each other. She had the reddest hair, and she was about the prettiest thing I'd ever seen. I just couldn't help myself..."

Grandma was beaming with pleasure by this time. It wasn't too often Grandpa was this romantic, and she was enjoying the compliments. "...and so I just ran right over there, and bit her on the hind leg."

A thunderous frown knitted my grandmother's forehead, and her dainty fine eyebrows drew close together. Her mouth rounded into a horrified "Oh" as her blue eyes flashed. "Merle, you did not! Mercy, don't you be telling stories like that to these grandkids!" But the damage was done. My brother and I clutched our middles as we rolled backwards in the floor, unable to control our laughter. Her tirade continued, to no effect. Grandpa laughed as hard as the rest of us.

Appearing miffed, Grandma picked up her crochet and started threading the yarn through her fingers, but I saw the quick look she sent my grandfather, complete with a wink. It was the same expression captured in the photograph in front of me.

I was reminded again years later of that look. It was a few months after my grandmother's death. I was sitting in their living room once again, visiting with Grandpa. I picked up an old photo album and began flipping through the pages, and came across the same photograph of Grandma.

She must have been about eighteen in the picture. She had a little hat perched on her head, and was tossing a saucy look back over her shoulder. She was laughing, and I was struck by how beautiful she had been.

Then I noticed that Grandpa had become quiet. He was sitting next to me, leaning over to look at the photograph. He reached over and placed a callused finger on the page. He studied the image a few moments longer, before saying softly, "That there...that there's the reason I fell in love with her." Then he turned to me and grinned. "Did I ever tell you about the first time I saw her? Prettiest thing I'd ever seen..."

-Author Unknown-

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Wrong Funeral


Consumed by my loss, I didn't notice the hardness of the pew
where I sat. I was at the funeral of my dearest friend - my mother.
She finally had lost her long battle with cancer. The hurt was so
intense; I found it hard to breathe at times. Always supportive,
Mother clapped loudest at my school plays, held box of tissues
while listening to my first heartbreak, comforted me at my
father's death, encouraged me in college, and prayed for me my
entire life.

When mother's illness was diagnosed, my sister had a new baby
and my brother had recently married his childhood sweetheart,
so it fell on me, the 27-year-old middle child without entanglements,
to take care of her. I counted it an honor. 'What now, Lord?' I asked
sitting in church. My life stretched out before me as an empty abyss.

My brother sat stoically with his face toward the cross while
clutching his wife's hand. My sister sat slumped against her
husband's shoulder, his arms around her as she cradled their child...
All so deeply grieving, no one noticed I sat alone. My place had been
with our mother, preparing her meals, helping her walk, taking her
to the doctor, seeing to her medication, reading the Bible together.
Now she was with the Lord. My work was finished, and I was alone I
heard a door open and slam shut at the back of the church. Quick
footsteps hurried along the carpeted floor....

An exasperated young man looked around briefly and then sat next
to me. He folded his hands and placed them on his lap. His eyes
were brimming with tears. He began to sniffle. 'I'm late,' he
explained, though no explanation was necessary. After several
eulogies, he leaned over and commented, 'Why do they keep calling
Mary by the name of ' Margaret?''

'Because, that was her name, Margaret. Never Mary, no one called
her 'Mary,'' I whispered. I wondered why this person couldn't have
sat on the other side of the church. He interrupted my grieving with
his tears and fidgeting. Who was this stranger anyway?

'No, that isn't correct,' he insisted, as several people glanced over
at us whispering, 'Her name is Mary, Mary Peters.'

'That isn't who this is.'

'Isn't this the Lutheran church?'

'No, the Lutheran church is across the street.'


'I believe you're at the wrong funeral, Sir.'

The solemnness of the occasion mixed with the realization of the
man's mistake bubbled up inside me and came out as laughter. I
cupped my hands over my face, hoping it would be interpreted as
sobs.. The creaking pew gave me away. Sharp looks from other
mourners only made the situation seem more hilarious.

I peeked at the bewildered, misguided man seated beside me. He
was laughing; too, as he glanced around, deciding it was too late
for an uneventful exit. I imagined Mother laughing.

At the final 'Amen,' we darted out a door and into the parking lot.
'I do believe we'll be the talk of the town,' he smiled. He said his
name was Rick and since he had missed his aunt's funeral, asked
me out for a cup of coffee.

That afternoon began a lifelong journey for me with this man who
attended the wrong funeral, but was in the right place. A year after
our meeting, we were married at a country church where he was the
assistant pastor. This time we both arrived at the same church,
right on time...

In my time of sorrow, God gave me laughter. In place of loneliness,
God gave me love. This past June, we celebrated our twenty-second
wedding anniversary. Whenever anyone asks us how we met, Rick
tells them, 'Her mother and my Aunt Mary introduced us, and it's
truly a match made in heaven.'

If you Love God for all the marvellous things he has done for you,
send this on to others.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Fateful Meeting

A little boy wanted to meet God.

He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of root beer and he started his journey.

When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman.

She was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons.

The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase.

He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry, so he offered her a Twinkie .

She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a root beer. Again, she smiled at him. The boy was delighted!

They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word. As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave,

but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old woman, and gave her a hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever.

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later,

his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, "What did you do today that made you look so happy ?"

He replied, "I had lunch with God." But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what? She's got the most beautiful smile I've ever seen!"

Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home.

Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face and asked, "Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy ?" She replied, "I ate Twinkies in the park with God ."

However, before her son responded, she added, "You know, he's much younger than I expected." Too often we underestimate the power of a touch,! ! a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Remember,

we don't know what God will look like. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Embrace all equally!

-Author Unknown-

Friday, February 17, 2012

One from 1885

It was an early Easter. Sledding was only just over; snow still lay in the yards; and water ran in streams down the Russian village street. Two little girls happened to meet in a lane between two homes, where the dirty water had formed a large puddle after running through the farm-yards.

One girl was very small, the other a little bigger. Their mothers had dressed them both in new Easter dresses. The little one wore a blue frock and the other a yellow print, and both had red kerchiefs on their heads.

They had just come from church when they met, and first they showed each other their finery, and then they began to play. Soon their playing took them to splash about in the water, and the smaller one was going to step into the puddle, shoes and all, when the elder stopped her saying:

"Don't go in so, Malásha," said she, "your mother will scold you. I will take off my shoes and stockings, and you take off yours."

They did so, and then, picking up their skirts, began walking towards each other through the puddle.

"Mind, Malásha, don't splash. Walk carefully!"

She had hardly said this, when Malásha stomped down her foot so that the water splashed right on to Akoúlya's dress. The frock was splashed, and so were Akoúlya's eyes and nose.

When she saw the muddy water on her frock, she was angry and ran after Malásha to strike her. Malásha was frightened, and seeing that she had got herself into big trouble, she scrambled out of the puddle, and prepared to run home.

Just then Akoúlya's mother happened to be passing, and seeing that her daughter's skirt and sleeves were dirty, she said:

"You naughty, dirty girl, what have you been doing?"

"Malásha did it on purpose," replied the girl.

At this Akoúlya's mother seized Malásha, and struck her lightly on the back of her neck. Malásha began to cry so that she could be heard all down the street. Her mother came out.

"What did you hit my girl for?" said she; and began scolding her neighbour. One word led to another and they had an angry quarrel.

The men came out and a crowd collected in the street, every one shouting and no one listening. They all went on quarrelling, till one gave another a push, and the affair had very nearly come to blows, when Akoúlya's old grandmother, stepping in among them, tried to calm them.

"What are you thinking of, friends? Is it right to behave so? On an Easter Sunday like this, too! It is a time for rejoicing, and not for such folly as this."

They would not listen to the old woman and nearly brushed her off her feet. And she would not have been able to quiet the crowd, if it had not been for Akoúlya and Malásha themselves.

While the women were arguing with each other, Akoúlya had wiped the mud off her frock, and gone back to the puddle. She took a stone and began scraping away the earth in front of the puddle to make a channel through which the water could run out into the street.

Presently Malásha joined her, and with a chip of wood helped her dig the channel. Just as the men were beginning to quarrel, the water from the little girls' channel ran streaming into the street towards the very place where the old woman was trying to pacify the men. The girls followed it; one running each side of the little stream.

"Catch it, Malásha! Catch it!" shouted Akoúlya; while Malásha could not speak for laughing. Highly delighted, and watching the wooden chip float along on their stream, the little girls ran straight into the group of men. The old woman, seeing them, said to the men:

"Are you men not ashamed of yourselves? To go fighting on account of these young girls, when they themselves have forgotten all about it, and are playing happily together. Dear little souls! They are wiser than you!"

The men looked at the little girls, and were ashamed, and, laughing at themselves, went back each to his own home.

"Unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."

Written by Leo Tolstoy in 1885

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lessons In Love

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!! May you and your loved ones celebrate love today and EVERYDAY of your lives. Here's another one for your reading pleasure...Enjoy..

Red roses divider Pictures, Images and Photos

When love pours on you
like a refreshing summer shower,
Open your arms and embrace it!
Let it invade your senses.
Soak your memory to remember it,
if you ever feel a drought in your heart.

If the pain of the cracks
in your heart tear you up,
It's temporary.
All you need
to let love flow again
is the courage to take a chance.

Red roses divider Pictures, Images and Photos

There's a story about a well in the middle of nowhere.

When travelers reach it, they are usually very thirsty. When they pull the cord inside the well, the bucket carries a note and a bottle of water. The note is as follows:

"Use all the water in this bottle to prime the well. Don't drink any of it, because you will need all of it to get the water flowing. Pour it down the well and pump!

If you drink the water from this bottle, your thirst may be quenched for a while, but you will be thirsty again, and this well will be useless for you and everyone else who comes this way.

But if you use the water to prime the well, you will have an abundance of water, for now and to carry on your voyage.

Remember to leave a full bottle of water and this note for the next traveler."

What would you do? Would you take a chance?

Think of giving love like priming the well.

Take a chance, give your full measure. You can't expect love if you don't give it.

Love someone. Start with yourself.

You are "unique in all the world". Nobody else is exactly like you, not even your twin, if you have one. That should be enough for you to realize how valuable you are.

Consider the story of "The Little Prince"
(by Antoine de Saint Exupéry).

The Little Prince lived on his planet where he had just one rose, who told him that she was unique in all the universe.

When the Little Prince came to earth and passed by a rose garden, he was shocked.

"And he was overcome with sadness. His flower had told him that she was the only one of her kind in all the universe. And here were five thousand of them, all alike, in one single garden!"

But then, The Little Prince met the Fox, who told him the secret of life:

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

So The Little Prince returned to look again at the roses.

"You are not at all like my rose," he said. "As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made a friend, and now he is unique in all the world."

"You are beautiful, but you are empty," he went on. "One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you -- the rose that belongs to me.

But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of your other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is MY rose."
Red roses divider Pictures, Images and Photos

Like the rose, you and I are "unique in all the world". But we let all the other things get in the way of seeing what is really important in life.

The job, the meetings, the deals, the social status and opinions, the feeling that we are worth what appears on the outside...all of these things are what make us forget how "unique" we are, and how unique our loved ones are. We're so caught up in the rat race that we become rats. We take people and things for granted until sometimes it's too late.

When's the last time you stopped to smell the roses?

When's the last time you told someone you love how important they are to you?

It's HOW we live and love that makes us "unique in all the world".

As the sayings go, "Nobody says 'I wish I had spent more time at the office' on their death bed, and 'a security truck full of money following your hearse won't get you into heaven'."

Find your heaven here, now. Love. Be loved. It's all that really matters.

Put love first, and everything else will fall into place.

God bless you and Happy Valentine's Day!!!

My Newest Valentines Day Ani Pictures, Images and Photos