Conquering the Barriers of Life

selective photo of gray shark
Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

Discouragement. Frustration. Exasperation. Defeated. These are just a few words that describe the way many people feel when they fall short of achieving a goal that they have set for themselves. Failing to reach a goal can test one’s patience to its limits and, if not attained, can lead to an individual to just quit and give up.

It is an important concept to remember that the “answer” or the accomplishment of achieving your goal may be just around the corner…if you are persistent and don’t give up.

Consider the following story…

A marine biologist was involved in an experiment with a shark. He placed a shark in a tank along with other small bait fishes.

As expected, the shark ate every single fish.

The marine biologist then inserted a clear fiberglass to create two sections within the tank.  He placed the shark in one section and smaller fished in the other section.

The shark quickly attacked, but then he bounced off the fiberglass. The shark kept on repeating this behavior. It just wouldn’t stop trying.

While the small fish in the other section remained unharmed and carefree. After about an hour, the shark finally gave up.

This experiment was repeated several dozen times over the next few weeks. Each time, the shark got less aggressive. Eventually the shark got tired and simply stopped attacking altogether.

The marine biologist then removed the fiberglass. The shark, however, didn’t attack. It was trained to believe in the existence of a barrier between it and the bait fish.

It is good to remember that many of us, after experiencing setbacks and failures, emotionally give up and stop trying. Like the shark, we chose to stay with past failure and believe that we will always be unsuccessful. We build a barrier in our heads, even when there is no ‘real’ barrier between where we are and where we want to go. Don’t give up. Keep trying because success may be just a try away.

Just One More Breath

adult air beautiful beauty
Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com

Life. It is so precious. It is the essential thing that allows us to experience the beautiful things in the world around us. Whether it be by smelling a lovely aroma, tasting scrumptious food, listening to soul-moving music, seeing the beauty and grandeur of some scenic location, or simply touching something meaningful to you…all of life should be prized and cherished.

But how many times throughout our lives do we forget the gift of life and all that goes along with it and take it for granted? Enjoying time with your family and friends, having dinners or parties with your loved ones? Traveling to some destination, experiencing good (or bad) times with others, or simply just spending time by yourself relishing and appreciating the world around us. Life is good and worth living.

But it all can be gone in a second.

I recently came across a copy of letter written by a miner to his loved ones that was posted in the “United Mine Workers Journal,” in August 1974. The letter (see the image below) was written in 1902 by Jacob L. Vowell, in Fraterville, Tennessee. In the short letter, he tells his dear wife how much he loves her and the kids. He tells her to take care of the children and actually communicates to her where to bury him. The amazing thing about this letter, was how he kept referring to the important things in his life…the things that really mattered…his family and God.

You see, he only had moments to live…for he was slowly suffocating to death in the 1902 Fraterville, Tennessee mine disaster. The second to the last sentence he wrote really touched my heart and reminds me how precious life really is and how much we should value it each and every day of our lives.

This is a picture of a copy of the letter that Mr. Vowell wrote:

MIne Disaster
Photo Credit: United Mine Journal, 85th Year, No. 17, August 16-31, 1974

 

In case you had problems reading this letter, this is what was stated:

“Ellen, darling, goodbye for us both. Elbert said the Lord has saved him. we are all praying for air to support us, but it is getting so bad without any air.

Ellen, I want you to live right and come to heaven. Raise the children the best you can. Oh how I wish to be with you, goodbye. Bury me and Elbert in the same grave by little Eddy. Goodbye Ellen. Goodbye Lily. Goodbye Jemmie. Goodbye Horace. Is 25 minutes after two. There is few of us alive yet.

                                                                                                    Jake and Elbert

Oh God for one more breath. Ellen remember me as long as you live. Goodbye darling.”


This is quite a sad letter but it a terrific reminder to all of us…to be thankful for the breath of that life we have each day and for the things that really worthwhile.

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – is to be happy – it is all that matters.”              ~ Audrey Hepburn

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A Holocaust Survivor’s Story of Forgiveness

sigckgc
Photo Credit: Sigckgc via CC Flickr

During the Second World War, Corrie Ten Boom and her family showed great courage in helping to rescue Jewish people from the Nazis. Corrie’s involvement with the Dutch underground began with her acts of kindness in giving temporary shelter to her Jewish neighbors who were being driven out of their homes. Soon the word spread and more and more people came to her home for shelter. As quickly as she would find places for them, more would arrive. She had a false wall constructed in her bedroom behind which people could hide.

After a year and a half, her home developed into the center of an underground ring that reached throughout Holland. Daily, dozens of reports, appeals, and people came in and out of their watch shop. She wondered how long this much activity and the seven Jews that they were hiding would remain a secret.

On February 28, 1944, while Corrie was 48 years old, a man came into the shop and asked Corrie to help him. He stated that he and his wife had been hiding Jews and that she had been arrested. He needed six hundred gilders to bribe a policeman for her freedom. Corrie promised to help. She found out later that he was an informant that had worked with the Nazis from the first day of the occupation. He turned their family into the Gestapo. Later that day, her home was raided, and Corrie and her family were arrested (their Jewish visitors made it to the secret room in time and later were able to escape to new quarters). Her father died 10 days later from a sickness.

They were arrested and imprisoned by the Germans. Corrie and her sister were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where her sister died. The rest of her family was never seen again. error just before the end of the war in 1945. She spent the rest of her long life spreading the news of God’s forgiveness.

Here is a story of forgiveness, that she once shared. I still think it would have been so hard for me to ever have done………..

 

A Holocaust Survivor’s Story of Forgiveness

~A Guidepost article from 1972 relates a short story titled “I’m Still Learning to Forgive(Corrie TenBoom) ~

“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him, a balding heavy-set man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. …

And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent. …

“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard in there.” No, he did not remember me.

“I had to do it — I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us.” “But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein, …” his hand came out, … “will you forgive me?”

And I stood there — I whose sins had every day to be forgiven — and could not. Betsie had died in that place — could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it — I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” …

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion — I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand, I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!”

For a long moment, we grasped each others’ hands, the former guard, and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.”

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Have you ever been hurt by someone and angry at them? How willing have you been to forgive them? Imagine the hurt and hate that Corrie had and how hard it must have been for her to forgive this man. Let’s use this story as an example of how we can forgive others, even though it may be very difficult, and make ourselves better people because of it.


Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does change the future!

Left Alone in a Forest

Moon Over Redwood Forest
Photo Credit: Zest-pk via CC Flickr

There are many, many causes and circumstances throughout a person’s life that may make an individual fearful and afraid of the future or a situation that they might be presently experiencing and can cause a great deal of hardship and turmoil. Some of the leading causes of anxiety and distress in today’s world are things such as stresses in school, work, relationships, financial/money, the death of a loved one, a serious medical illness, drugs…the list goes on and on.

It is during these times, that people may begin to feel isolated, lonely, and hopeless. Friends, family, and other acquaintances may seem a million miles away and it can appear like no one is around to help.

Well, I have great news for you!!! Today, I am going to share with you an old American Indian legend regarding the Cherokee Indians and their young boy’s “rite of passage” into manhood. It is my hope that this story will supply you with a positive sense of comfort and reassurance when you are experiencing the “valleys and shadows” of life.

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At the time the ritual begins, a father takes his young son into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. The boy is required to sit on a stump the entire night and not remove his blindfold until he sees the dawns first rays of sunlight shine through it. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.

The boy is not allowed to tell any of the other boys in his village of this experience because each male must experience and come into manhood on his own. Naturally, the boy is terrified and scared to death. He can hear all kinds of noises…some are familiar, but many are strange and scary. There is no question that wild animals are all around him…or maybe even another human that may be wanting to cause him harm!

The wind blows the grass and the earth and shakes his stump…but the boy sits quietly and stoically, never getting up or removing his blindfold. This is the only way that he can become a man!

Finally, what seems like an eternity, the terrible night is over. Dawn’s first rays of sunlight appear, and the boy now takes off his blindfold. It is then that he discovers his father sitting on a stump next to him. He had been watching his son the entire night, protecting him from harm.

You see folks, we, too, are never alone…even when we don’t know it, God is always with and watching over us…sitting on the stump next to us!

YOU ARE NEVER ALONE!

Words of Wisdom…From An Angel!

Nicolas Raymond
Photo Credit: Nicolas Raymond via CC Flickr

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you had the opportunity to meet an angel? Even better…imagine if you could live with an angel? Well, I would like to tell you…I do! This past summer, I was going to leave home for 6 weeks, work a job in another state by myself, leaving her home with my son. The day I was to leave, she gave me a small “Care Package” which was full of little goodies such as snacks, mosquito repellant, toiletries, but most lovingly, a little notepad that she called, “Words of Wisdom for Rich.”

There, written on every page were simple quotes, Scripture verses, and other encouraging and inspiring words. I thought that it was such a thoughtful and loving thing to do. During that time while I was away, I looked forward each day to read my angel’s new “Words of Wisdom.” I thought to myself, that not only did these things mean a lot to me, but I decided that they would be great things to share with others.

So, without further ado, here are the “Words of Wisdom” that my wife found and gave to me during my absence from home. It is my hope, that you will find encouragement and inspiration in one or more of these nuggets of truth, and help you on your journey of life.

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“I have told you these things so that in me, you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33

“All God wants from Man is a peaceful heart.” ~ Meister Eckhart

Always Pray. Pray Always.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace…and be thankful.” ~ Colossians 3:15

What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that His grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.” ~ Rick Warren

When you feel like quitting, think about what you started.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is ve, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.” ~ Galatians 5:22

“Peace begins with a smile.” ~ Mother Teresa”

Jesus gives us hope because He keeps us company, has a vision and knows the way we should go.” ~ Max Lucado

Be so happy that when others look at you, they become happy!

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” ~ Hebrews 12:14

PEACE If does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work…it means to be amid these things and still be calm in your heart. ” Let God’s promises shine on your problems.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom

Your attitude determines your direction!

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:7

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase…just take the first step!

 

“If you can’t fly, then run.

If you can’t run, then walk.

If you can’t walk, then crawl,

But whatever you do,

You have to keep moving forward.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King

 

Go the extra mile…it’s never crowded!

“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is rather than what you think it should be.

“Courage is contagious. What brave person takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened. ~ Billy  Graham

Don’t stop until you are proud!

“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18

“Lord, if it’s not your Will, let it slip through my grasp and give me the peace not to worry about it.” ~ Tony A Gaskins Jr.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9

If it doesn’t challenge you…it won’t change you!

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:7

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Within the covers of the Bible are the answers to all the problems men face.” ~ Ronald Reagan

If you were able to believe in Santa Claus for like 8 years, you can believe in yourself for like 5 minutes!

“Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.” ~ Proverbs 12:20

May every sunrise hold more promise, and every sunset hold more peace!

“My dear child, you worry too much. I’ve got this…remember?” ~ God

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” ~ Karim Seddiki

“The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” ~ Psalm 29:11

Don’t let people pull you into their storm…pull them into your peace.

Everything will be okay in the end. If it is not okay, it’s not the end.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” ~ Romans 12:18

Don’t let anyone’s ignorance, hate, drama, or negativity stop you from being the best person that you can be.

Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.

Do something today that your future self will thank you for

“Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it.” ~ Psalm 34:14

It is possible to choose peace over worry.

Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.

“Create the life that you cannot wait to wake up to!” ~ Josie Spinardi

“Great peace has those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” ~ Psalm 119:165

Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

“Champions keep playing until they get it right.” ~ Billie Jean King

Always to remember to fall asleep with a dream and wake up with a purpose.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust you.” ~ Isaiah 26;3

Real peace is not the calm. Real peace is the presence of God in the storm.

“The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” ~ Vince Lombardi

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” ~ Steve Martin

“Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” ~ Isaiah 26:12

Patience is the key to paradise.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ~ Nelson Mandela

PROVE THEM WRONG!

“Though the mountains are shaken, and the hills removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord.” ~ Isaiah 54:16

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Which one of these statements is your favorite? Are there more than one? It is my hope that you can use one of them and apply them to your life.

NEVER LOSE HOPE 😊

 

NEVER LOSE HOPE 😊

Hope in the Midst of Despair

Steve Damron
Photo Credit:: Steven Damron via CC Flickr

Have you ever felt worthless? Have you experienced the isolation and loneliness that your life was going nowhere and there was nothing that you could do to help others or make a positive contribution to today’s world? If so, then I have just the thing for you that will hopefully help encourage and inspire you today.

Have you ever felt worthless and your life had no purpose? Have you experienced the isolation and loneliness that your life was going nowhere and there was nothing that you could do to help others or make a positive contribution to today’s world? If so, then I have just the thing for you that will hopefully help encourage and inspire you today.

Consider the following story….

It was a beautiful mid-April morning along the seaside port of San Francisco. The weather was unseasonably warm and there was a slight breeze lazily blowing in from the northeast. Most of the city’s population were sleeping while some of the “early birds” began to wake up and get ready for another day.

Then, at 5:45 a.m., their world changed in a disastrous instant that forever changed their lives…and the spirit of the nation. In the next horrifying minute or so, the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, shook the city to the ground. More than 3,000 people were killed and over half of the 400,000 occupants of the city lost their homes and everything that they owned.

The tremendous earthquake, (later estimated as a 7.8 on the Richter Scale) not only caused hundreds of buildings and structures to topple, but the powerful shaking also destroyed the city’s water and gas lines. The gas from the ruptured pipes soon ignited, caught fire and spread quickly throughout San Francisco, spreading more havoc and terror throughout the land. The fires went on to burn for the next three days and over 500 city blocks were destroyed.

One of the reasons the fires were so devastating and destructive was because of the destroyed water network of the city. Almost all the fire hydrants in the system were useless…except for one. This one fire hydrant was the only working one in the entire city and it, single-handedly, saved the city’s famous Mission District from certain obliteration. Located on top of a hill, the horses that pulled the fire wagons were so tired that they could not climb the hill and get to the hydrant. So, the people in the area gathered together, pushed the horses and pulled the fire wagons to the water supply and for the next few days, was the center of the water usage for the firemen.

The fireplug was later fondly nicknamed, the “little giant”, and is referred to today as “the Golden Fire Hydrant” by the folks of San Francisco. Each year, on April 18, at 5:45 in the morning, a ceremony is held in which the hydrant is spray painted once again with a fresh coach of gold spray.

So, why do I tell you about this story? A tale of this one fire hydrant that helped to save the Mission District and parts of the surrounding neighborhood? It is because of this…think of how this little structure had such an enormous impact on the surrounding community and how much this small but powerful instrument not only helped to extinguish some of the fires, but it was a tremendous encouragement and help to the people that needed it! It may have looked small and insignificant, but it had a huge impact! This is also so true with a person’s life. No matter how little and worthless or insignificant that you may feel, you were put in the world to make an impact on others. Your personality, characteristics, and abilities are unique, and they are your own. No one in the world is exactly like you. You can have an impact on someone else, your neighborhood or community in your own individual and unique way.

We all are all “little” compared with the vast, untold billions of people living in the world today, but we can be “giants” by what we do for others in the small worlds that we live in every day!

Navigating the Seas of Grief and Despair

Jeremy Segrott
Photo Credit: Jeremy Segrott via CC Flickr

The death of a close friend, a dear sibling or spouse, or a loving relative can lead a person to great depths of grief, despair and hurt. There are times when the death seems like a blessing because the person was suffering from an illness or some other misfortune, and they are now free from their suffering. In some instances, the individual expires because of old age or in other occasions, the passing of an individual is sudden and shocking. Regardless, when someone a person knows passes from this life, there is usually a time of great sorrow and pain.

Over the course of this past year, I have had the unfortunate experience of knowing some family and friends of mine who either died suddenly or have been going through the dark valleys of their lives. I came across the following story a while back that was written by an older gentleman, who had written his response to someone who had asked the following question in an editorial in his newspaper: “My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.” Many people responded but there was one old man whose incredible comment stood out from the rest. What he stated might just change the way we approach life and death:

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, parents, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

 I wish that I could say that you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever someone I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter.” I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if that scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and love. And scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

 “As for grief, you’ll find that it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with all of the wreckage around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was…and is no more. All you can do is float. You find some piece of wreckage and hang on for a while. Maybe it is a physical thing. Maybe it is a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float and stay alive.

 “In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they crash over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. If might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave keeps crashing…but in between waves…there is life.

 “Somewhere down the line, and it is different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall…or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at an airport. You can see it coming and for the most part, you prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

 “Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come…and you will survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of love…and lots of shipwrecks.”   ~ Source: Pinterest

It is my deepest hope and prayer that this commentary can help you or someone you know who may be “drowning” in a Sea of Despair or Grief. I know this…it helped me when I read it a while ago when my lifelong and best friend died, and who I miss every day…my Dad. So’s here to hope, grace, and happiness…and remembering the times with your loved one…the memories that will last a lifetime!

The Courage to Change Your Life Forever

Pixabay
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Relationships are things that can come in all kinds of degrees, shapes and sizes. It was once said that relationships are like birds, if you hold them tightly they die. If you hold them loosely, they fly away. But if you hold with care, they remain with you forever.  Some relationships can be beautiful, loving, and delightful for people who really enjoy each other and being together.

Unfortunately, there are also other kinds of relationships that can be abusive, hateful, and unbearable. In many instances, people feel trapped…wanting to get out of them but either unwilling to “take the step” or afraid…of either not knowing what to do next or of more physical and/or emotional abuse.

A few days ago, I came across the following story on kindnessblog.com that I decided that I would share on my blog, that will hopefully motivate and encourage someone who might be experiencing an unhealthy relationship right now. It is a beautiful story of courage and hope.

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A man came across a folded piece of paper while he was at San Francisco airport that said ‘read me‘ on the front.  How could anyone possibly resist that invitation?  He knew he just had to look.  So, he did.

And what he discovered inside was surprising and wonderful…

“I recently left an emotionally abusive relationship After months of insults I wont repeat, false accusations, lies, delusions, broken mirrors, nightly battles…. I left. I know that I was being poisoned by each day that I stayed. So with a heavy heart, I left my lover of three years, knowing that I had already put it off too long. At first he begged, then he cursed, but eventually he packed his bags and faded out of my life like a bad dream.

For the first few weeks, my body seemed to reject this. For three years I had seen the world through him-colored glasses. I didn’t know who I was without him. Despite the kindness of friends and even strangers. I could not help feeling utterly alone.

But it was this sense of lonesomeness that set me free. Somewhere along the way, I let go. I released all the painful memories, the names he had called me, the shards of him buried deep in my brain. I stopped believing the things he had made me think about myself. I began to see how extraordinary, breathtakingly beautiful life is. I meditated, drank too much coffee, talked to strangers, laughed at nothing. I wrote poetry and stopped to smell and photograph every flower. Once I discovered that my happiness depends only on myself, nothing could hurt me anymore.

I have found and continue to find peace. Each day I am closer to it than I was yesterday. I am a work in progress but I am full to the brim with gratitude and joy. And so, since I have opened a new chapter in my life, I want to peacefully part with the contents of the last chapter. The end of my relationship was the catalyst for a wealth of positive changes in my life. It was a symbol, more importantly, it was an act of self-love. It was a realization that I deserved to be happy and I could choose to be.

And so, in an effort to leave behind the things that do not help me grow, I am letting go of a relic from the painful past. I wore this necklace-a gift from him-every day for over tow years. To me, letting it go is a joyous declaration that I am moving forward with strength and grace and deep, lasting peace.

Please accept this gift as a reminder that we all deserve happiness. Whoever you are, and whatever pain you have faced, I hope you find peace.

Namaste,
Jamie”

Leaving a toxic relationship isn’t easy, but it is most certainly possible.

Jamie’s letter shows that with courage and a measure of self-love, you can change your own life for the better, and find happiness in a way you might not have thought possible.

A Man and a Fork

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Photo Credit: Waferboard via CC Flickr

There was a young man who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as he was getting his things ‘in order,’ he contacted his Priest and had him come to his house to discuss certain aspects of his final wishes.

 He told him which songs he wanted sung at the service,what scriptures he would like read, and what outfit he wanted to be buried in.

Everything was in order and the Priest was preparing to leave when the young man suddenly remembered something very important to him.

 

‘There’s one more thing,’ he said excitedly..

 

‘What’s that?’ came the Priest’s reply.

 

‘This is very important,’ the young man continued.

‘I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.’

 

The Priest stood looking at the young man, not knowing quite what to say.

That surprises you, doesn’t it?’ the young man asked.

 

‘Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,’ said the Priest.

 

The young man explained. ‘My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement.

In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say,

‘Keep your fork.

 

‘ It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming …. like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.

 

Something wonderful, and with substance!’

 

So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’

 

Then I want you to tell them:

‘Keep your fork … the best is yet to come.’

The Priest’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young man good-bye. He knew this would be one of  the last times he would see him before his death.

But he  also knew that the young man had a better grasp of heaven than he did. He had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice his age, with twice as much experience and knowledge.

 

He KNEW that something better was coming.

 

At the funeral people were walking by the young man’s casket and they saw the suit he was wearing and the fork placed in his right hand. Over and over, the Priest heard the question, ‘What’s with the fork?’ And over and over he smiled.

 

During his message, the Priest told the people of the conversation he had with the young man shortly before he died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to him.

 

He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

 

He was right. So the next time you reach down for your  fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.

 

Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed.

They make you smile and encourage you to succeed.

 

Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share. Being friends with someone is not an opportunity, but a sweet responsibility.

Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND… and  I’ll bet this will be an Email they do remember, every time they pick up a fork!

And just remember … keep your fork!

The BEST is yet to come!

Coping With Grief and the Shipwrecks of Life

Lookas PHT
Photo Credit: Lookas PHT via CC Flickr

Grief. Despair. Pain. Suffering. These are just a few words that describe the feelings and emotions that millions of people experience everyday around the world. The death of a family member or loved one, the loss of a job, a separation from a spouse, personal injury, loss of a job, the passing of a pet, sickness, cancer…the list goes on and on.

 Grief and depression can sometimes be overwhelming and lead an individual to suffer from a variety of physical problems such as fatigue, headaches, sore muscles, heart and chest pains…just to name a few. People can also experience emotional stresses such as numbness, bitterness, detachment, inability to show or feel joy, etc. Like I said, grief and depression can be downright devastating!!

 If you have experienced times like these or are currently fighting through a difficult time in your life, the following story might, very well, be just for you. It tells of a great approach that you may be able to use to help you deal with grief in a positive fashion.

 I read the following short story that I felt would be a fantastic post for my blog. It is my hope and prayer that this illustration might help you, even in a small way, to change your outlook and perspective on your life and help you heal a wounded soul and a broken heart!

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Someone on Reddit wrote the following heartfelt plea online:

 “My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.”

A lot of people responded. Then there was one old man that wrote an incredible comment that stood out from the rest that might just change the way that we approach the turmoil of life, death, and other negative experiences.

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here is my two cents.

“I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever someone I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter.” I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep…so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

“As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. All you can do is float. You find some piece of wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it is a physical thing…a happy memory, a photograph, etc. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. staying alive.

“In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing…but in between waves…there is life.

“Somewhere down the line, and it is different for everybody, you will find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging onto some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

“Take it from an old guy…the waves never stop coming and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you will survive them. And other waves will come…and you will have to survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves…and lots of shipwrecks.”

Words of Wisdom of Legendary Coach Pat Summit

Photo Credit: Tennessee Journalist
Photo Credit: Tennessee Journalist

Well-known and respected women’s college basketball coach, Pat Summit, died a few days ago, at the age of 64, five years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She was the head coach of the University of Tennessee’s basketball team and won more games than any other basketball coach in Division 1 history with 1.098 wins, 8 NCAA National Championships, and NEVER has a losing season. In their list of the top 50 coaches of all-time, the Sporting News placed her at number 11. She was truly an American icon!

As a coach (and teacher) I like to find good quotes and other tid-bits of information from successful individuals and Coach Summit was no exception. I decided to share with you many of the quotes that she stated over the years. It is my hope that you can discover some inspiration from some of the quotes and share them with others!

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Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes. How can you improve if you’re never wrong?

Loyalty is not unilateral. You have to give it to receive it.

Surround yourself with people who are better than you are. Seek out quality people, acknowledge their talents, and let them do their jobs. You win with people.

Value those colleagues who tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear.

Communication eliminates mistakes.

We communicate all the time, even when we don’t realize it. Be aware of body language.

Discipline yourself, so no one else has to.

Self discipline helps you believe in yourself.

Group discipline produces a unified effort toward a common goal.

Discipline helps you finish a job, and finishing is what separates excellent work from average work.

Put the Team Before Yourself.

When you understand yourself and those around you, you are better able to minimize weaknesses and maximize strengths. Personality profiles help.

Success is about having the right person, in the right place, at the right time.

Know your strengths, weaknesses, and needs.

Teamwork doesn’t come naturally. It must be taught.

Teamwork allows common people to obtain uncommon results.

Not everyone is born to lead. Role players are critical to group success.

Make Winning an Attitude.

Attitude is a choice. Maintain a positive outlook.

No one ever got anywhere by being negative.

Confidence is what happens when you’ve done the hard work that entitles you to succeed.

Competition isn’t social. It separates achievers from the average.

You can’t always be the most talented person in the room. But you can be the most competitive.
There is nothing wrong with having competitive instincts. They are survival instincts.

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts the most.

Change equals self improvement. Push yourself to places you haven’t been before.

Handle Success Like You Handle Failure. You can’t always control what happens, but you can control how you handle it.

Sometimes you learn more from losing than winning. Losing forces you to reexamine.

It’s harder to stay on top than it is to make the climb, Continue to seek new goals.

There is no such thing as self respect without respect for others.

Individual success is a myth. No one succeeds all by herself.

People who do not respect those around them will not make good team members and probably lack self esteem themselves.

Being responsible sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions.

18 Famous Quotes of Muhammad Ali

Ian Rensley
Photo Credit: Ian Rensley via CC Flickr

America and the world lost a great human being a few days ago at the passing of boxing legend, Muhammad Ali. Ali rose to prominence in the 1960’s and 1970’s when he not only became the world heavyweight boxing champion, but also became a advocate for peace and accepted people of all races, religions, and beliefs…despite proclaiming himself as a Muslim and giving himself over to the nation of Islam.

Ali was a unique sports figure. He not only was one of the top, well-known athletes of his time but he was also known around the world. Unlike many well-known athletes of today, he infused poetry, wisdom, and humor together to spread his message of peace and unity around the globe. His humorous quips are known around the globe.

So, in today’s blog, I decided to list some of Muhammad Ali’s famous quotes for you to ponder, think about, smile, and maybe, in some small way, apply to your everyday life!

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  1. To be a champion, you must believe that you are the best. If not, pretend you are.
  2. It is lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges.
  3. Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.
  4. It isn’t the mountain ahead of you that will wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.
  5. He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
  6. It is hard to be humble when you are as great as I am.
  7. Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.
  8. Impossible is not a fact. It is an option.
  9. Inside a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It is staying down that’s wrong.
  10. The man who has no imagination has no wings.
  11. I am the greatest, I knew that before I knew I was.
  12. Don’t count the days; make them count.
  13. Not only do I knock them down, I pick the round.
  14. I should be a postage stamp, that’s the only way I ever get licked.
  15. Last week, I murdered a rock, I injured a stone, hospitalized a brick, I am so mean, I make medicine sick!
  16. A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.
  17. I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.
  18. Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.

Fun Facts About Memorial Day

Bruce Tuten
Photo Credit: Bruce Tuten via CC Flickr

Memorial day, here in America, is a solemn and somber day in America in which people from around the country can stop, remember, and thank the men and women who have fought and have given parts of their lives for our freedom.

It was once said that Freedom is a lot like oxygen: when you have it, nobody notices it…but go without it, and, wow, do you wish you had it!! It is SO true!

Even though I have celebrated Memorial Day every year since I was a kid, I was wondering the other day…what is the truth and facts behind this hallowed day? In today’s blog, I decided to find out and then, let you know by sharing my findings with you!

Enjoy!

  • Memorial Day originally started during the Civil War.
  • Approximately 750,000 Americans died in the Civil War which made it the deadliest war in American history (just for the record, there were more deaths in the Civil War than all of the other wars combined).
  • Memorial Day used to be known as Decoration Day and was meant to honor both the Union and Confederate men who lost their lives during the Civil War. By the 1900’s it became a day to celebrate and remember all of the soldiers who died in the military.
  • One of the earliest ceremonies honoring the fallen was organized by freed slaves!
  • Memorial Day actually didn’t become an official federal holiday until 1971.
  • In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson named Waterloo, New York, as the official birthplace of Memorial Day.
  • According to custom, the American flag is to fly at half staff until noon, and then raise it to full staff until sunset.
  • In 1915, a Georgian school teacher named, Moina Michael, began a movement to make the Red Poppy the national symbol of tribute to veterans and for “keeping the faith with all who died.” The idea of wearing Red Poppies originated from a poem written in 1915, by John McCrae, “In Flanders Field.”
  • It is common for volunteers to place American flags on the graves in the national cemeteries.
  • It has been estimated that 30-35 million people travel by car over the Memorial Day Weekend.

 

 

A Story to Make You Smile

homejobsbymom
Photo Credit: Homejobsbymom.com

As most of you know, I enjoy finding heartwarming, motivational, and inspirational stories, pictures, and tid-bits to share with you…to hopefully brighten your day, make you smile, or help your life become a little nicer.

I discovered the following short story that I thought was just beautiful, that might just might encourage and motivate you to press on and stay positive during the tough times that may come your way. This small account made me smile and reminded me that miracles still happen…each and every day!

A year ago my girlfriend was hit by a car. Doctors told her that she’d never walk regain her feeling from her waist down – she would never be able to walk again. Physically and mentally, it was hard for both of us, she needed more care than ever.

Roughly two months ago she told me that she was sorry that she couldn’t satisfy me and that I could go and see other women – instead, I asked her to marry me.

She smiled but told me that she didn’t want to get married in a wheelchair, therefore, she would marry me the day she could walk – as a reply, I told her I’d stay with her till that day.

Three days ago, as I was making her breakfast, I suddenly heard the door from the bedroom open…and there she was, the love of my life, standing on her feet, taking every little step with caution.

We’re getting married next month.

I just wanted to share this story with you and to let you know that miracles actually do happen, so don’t ever, lose your faith.

Why Teachers Are Heroes

Vicki Soto
Victoria Soto – An American Hero

I have been a teacher and a coach for 30 years. My mother was a teacher for more than 45 years and my wife, and now recently, my son, are teachers. It have always found it intriguing, personally as a teacher and coach, and by watching other educators, how possessive and protective that we can become with our students. The fact the we spend almost 8 hours a day with them, five days a week (or more), can lead teachers to have those kinds of relationships.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise to me, that when a calamity or a dangerous situation takes place, a teacher can become a fierce defender and protector of their charges…sometimes giving the ultimate sacrifice…their lives, for their students. That’s why, a story like the following one that I found on Oddee.com, touches my soul so deeply.

Aside form this, teachers can also have an effect on a young person’s life and their future, by the example that they demonstrate each day in their classroom or on the field. It’s the reason why, in my opinion, teachers will always be heroes.

“Like astronauts, every good teacher is a hero. It bears repeating that the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary should never be forgotten.

On December 14, 2012, 26 people – 20 students and 6 adult staff members – were shot and killed at Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT.

A 27-year old teacher, Victoria Soto, sacrificed her life when she hid her students in a closet to protect them from crazed gunman Adam Lanza. When Lanza entered her classroom, she told him that the students were in the gym. The terrified kids started running from the closet and Lanza began shooting. Soto threw herself in front of the children and was killed. The last moments of her life were spent protecting her young students by using her body as a shield against bullets from the deranged madman’s gun.

Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach sprung into action, but were killed when trying to keep Lanza from entering the building. Teacher Lauren Rousseau hid her students in the bathroom in her attempt to protect the children and also died while doing so.

District Superintendent Janet Robinson noted these and other “incredible acts of heroism” that “ultimately saved so many lives.””

The Mother Who Became A Hero

I have always found that the power of words and what people say to other individuals, a fascinating thing. We all know how much words can affect people…whether they be good or bad…we all need to watch and be careful what we say. Sometimes words that are spoken wrongly, can hurt or crush a soul, while transversely, words that are vocalized in a positive manner, can uplift and encourage a person…sometimes more than they could ever imagine.

Thomas Edison
Photo Credit: Unknown

Such is a story that I found on the web site, The Meta Picture.com It a story about a mother who changed her son’s life forever. The son later became a famous American inventor and enjoyed world-wide fame. This is a great lesson about the power of words.

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One day, when Thomas Edison was just a boy, he came home after school one day and gave a paper to his mother. He told her, “My teacher gave this paper to me and told me to only give it to my mother.”

His mother’s eyes were tearful as she read the letter out loud to her child: “Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have enough good teachers to teach and train him. Please teach him yourself.”

Several years later, after Edison’s mother died and he was now one of the greatest inventors of the century, Thomas was looking through some old family things when he came across a folded paper in the corner of a drawer in a desk. He took it and opened it up. On the paper it read: “Your son is addled (mentally ill). We won’t let him come to school anymore.

Edison cried and cried for hours and then he wrote in his diary: “Thomas Alva Edison was an addled child that, by a hero mother, became the genius of the century.”

The Foundations of Success

Success
Photo Credit: Unknown

I recently came across this picture that gives us a fantastic,simple and true illustration of the building blocks of success. What are the things that define a person who is successful? Again, check out the picture and discover for yourself the answers…in a simple and clear way!

 

How Deep is Your Love?

Photo Credit: Unknown
Photo Credit: Unknown

It has always been fascinating to me how strong and fervent the power of love can be. It can make the simplest and humblest individual into a person who is incredibly courageous, strong, and brave…especially in the time of harm and danger.

Such is the story that you will read today. I can’t help but think…how many people would have the determination, love, and bravery that this man, husband and son had when his life was at one of its darkest depths? It makes you think…. 

In March 2001, Japan got hit with the most devastating and deadly Tsunami’s that have ever hit the country. Millions of people lost their homes, businesses, belongings, etc., and tens of thousands of people either were injured or lost their lives.

One of the towns that was struck was named Ishinomaki where a man named Hideaki Akaiwa was working in his home.. Realizing his wife was trapped in their home, he ignored the advice of the emergency personnel and other professionals, who told him to wait for the army to arrive and help him with a search and rescue.

Instead, he found a wet suit, jumped in the furious water current…dodging cars, houses, and other  kinds of debris that was being dragged around and carried away by the current…any of which could have killed him instantly. He navigated the now submerged streets in the pitch dark, freezing water until he found his house.

Swimming inside, he discovered his wife alive on the upper level with only a small amount of breathing room and pulled her to safety. If he had waited for the army, his wife, of 20 years, would have been dead.

But Hideaki wasn’t finished. A short time later, he realized that his mother was also missing. So he jumped back into the water and managed to save her life as well.

Every day, for weeks after the tsunamis struck, Hideaki got into the water on one-man search and rescue missions, saving countless lives. This proved that two natural disasters in a single day…and insurmountable odds…can’t stand in the way of love.

Source: themetapicture.com

 

One of Life’s Highest Honors

Thomas Leuthard
Photo Credit: Thomas Leuthard via CC Flickr

It was once said that the reason that humans are put into this world is to help and encourage others. Think about it. What makes you the happiest? When you are receiving something or getting something?

 The most important things in life aren’t the things that you can see…like money, houses, boats, clothes, etc. The things in life that REALLY matter and have infinite meaning to people, are the things that are priceless and unseen such as kindness, love, thoughtfulness, etc….ways that you TREAT others.

 Today’s short story is a great example of the ULTIMATE way that a person can repay someone with kindness and goodness.


A son took his father to a restaurant for an evening dinner.

The father, being very old and weak, while he was eating, dropped food and his shirt and pants. Other diners watched him in disgust and revulsion while his son was calm and enjoyed hit time with his dad.

After they were finished eating, the son, who wasn’t embarrassed at all, quietly took his father to the washroom, wiped off the food particles, removed the stains, combed his hair and fitted his glasses firmly. When they came back out, the entire restaurant was watching them in dead silence, not able to grasp how someone could embarrass themselves publicly like that.

The son settled the bill and started leaving with his father.

At that time, an old man sitting among the diners called out to the son and asked him, “Don’t you think that you have left something behind?”

The son replied, “No sir, I haven’t.”

The old man retorted, “Yes, you have! You have left a lesson for every son…and hope for every father.”

The restaurant was silent.

To care for those who once cared for us, is one of life’s highest honors!

Showing Mercy in the Midst of War

Tony Hisgett
Photo Credit: Tony Hisgett via CC Flickr

How many of us have ever known someone that we really didn’t like? They were someone that we considered our rival, our opponent, our enemy. If we were given the chance, we would “take care of them”, hurt or destroy them. But how many of us have ever been in a situation that we could actually take take out our hate and anger on our enemy…then decided to show mercy and take the honorable thing…take the high road and help them?

Today’s tale is a true story that took place during World War 2 in the skies over Europe. It is my hope that you can learn a simple lesson today…that having compassion and mercy for our enemies actually takes more boldness and courage than to take revenge.

Charlie Brown was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot with the 379th Bomber Group at Kimbolton, England. His B-17 was called “Ye Old Pub” and was in a terrible state, having been hit by flak and fighters. The compass was damaged and they were flying deeper and deeper into enemy territory instead of heading home to Kimbolton.

After flying the B-17 over an enemy airfield, a German pilot, Franz Steigler was ordered to take off and shoot down the B-17.

When he got closer the B-17, he could not believe his eyes. In his words, he “had never seen a plane in such a bad state”. The tail and rear section was severely damaged, the tail gunner was wounded and the top gunner was all over the top of the fuselage. The nose of the plane was smashed and there were holes everywhere.

Despite having ammunition, Franz flew to the side of the B-17 and looked at the English pilot, Charlie Brown, and saw that Brown was scared and struggling to control his damaged and blood-stained plane.

Aware that they had no idea where they were going, Franz waved at Charlie to turn around 180 degrees. Franz escorted and guided the stricken plane back to the North Sea and to England. He then saluted Charlie Brown, turned away and headed back towards Europe.

When Franz landed he told his commanding officer that he had shot down the B-17 over the sea, and never told the truth to anyone.

Meanwhile, back in England, Charlie Brown and the remains of his crew told everyone at their briefing what had happened, but were then ordered never to talk about it.

More than 40 years later, Charlie Brown wanted to find the German Luftwaffe pilot who had saved his crew. After years of research, Franz was finally found. He had never talked about the incident, not even at post-war reunions. The two pilots met in America at the 379th Bomber Group reunion…together with 25 people who are now alive…all because Franz showed mercy and compassion and never fired his guns that day.

When asked why he didn’t shoot them down, Stigler later said, “I didn’t have the heart to finish off those brave men. I flew beside them for a long time. They were desperately trying to get home and I was going to let them do that. I could not have shot at them. It would have been the same as shooting a man in a parachute.”

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“Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.” ~ Dalai Lama

The Real Heart of A Lion

Billy_Miske_portrait
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Many of us struggle with a times of trouble or hardship during their lifetime. There are two directions that a person can go when they are experiencing a tough situation: they can either learn from it and become stronger because of what they have learned…or they can become negative, bitter and dwell on the quagmire of pessimism.

The people that make up their minds to overcome a bad situation by working hard and remaining focused on the task-at-hand, usually find themselves becoming a better, happier person despite of their unfortunate circumstance.

Thus is the story that I found recently on totalprosports.com that tells the tale of a successful boxer who competed almost 90 years ago. His story is a great reminder to us the importance of enjoying the things that you do and when unpleasant times come your way…you can overcome ANYTHING…if you put your mind to it!!


 

Billy Miske (1894-1924) was by all accounts one of the most under-appreciated boxers of his era. He had a record of 48-2-2, which included wins against some of the biggest names in boxing and losses to two champions. But it’s not Miske’s boxing prowess that makes his story inspirational. It’s his willingness and determination to make the ultimate sacrifice for his family.

You see, Miske was diagnosed with a terminal kidney disease by his doctor, given 5 years to live, and told to retire. However, because he knew his family was depending on him financially, he kept jumping the ring and told no one—not even his wife—about his illness. Eventually, after a one-round knockout loss to the great Jack Dempsey, he finally decided to call it quits. But just 11 months later, with his family struggling to get by, Miske somehow conned promotors into giving him a huge fight.

By this time, he could barely walk and thus could not train for the fight. Nevertheless, he entered the ring and knocked out his younger opponent in the 4th round. He took the $2,400 he earned to buy back furniture he hap pawned several years ago, as well as some toys for his kids and a piano for his wife. Then he died just a week later at the age of 29.

Think about that next time you complain about your job.

A Heartwarming Story of Friendship: The Jesse Owens Story

745px-Jesse_Owens3
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

I decided that for the next few blog posts, which I am going to share some great stories of friendships that I have found. When you read this (and other forthcoming stories), try to envision yourself in the environment and situation that these people were experiencing at the time. Hopefully, it will give you a “feel” of how they felt and why their story of friendship is so special.

The 1936 Olympics was held in Berlin, Germany. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party had risen to power three years earlier and were already to spread their evil beliefs of racism and hate.  Hitler believed that the “perfect” person was from an Aryan race…a blue-eyed, blond haired, the perfect physique without any blemishes or handicaps.

Hitler saw the Games as an opportunity to promote his government and ideals of racial supremacy to the world. The official Nazi party newspaper wrote in the strongest terms that Jews and Black people should not be allowed to participate in the Games. However, when threatened with a boycott of the Games by other nations, Hitler relented and allowed Black people and Jews to participate.

After much deliberation and debate whether or not to boycott the Olympics, the United States and other nations decided to participate in the Games.

One of the American athletes was a Track and Field star named Jesse Owens and he was black. Jesse Owens seemed sure to win the long jump at the 1936 games. The year before he had jumped 26 feet, 8 1/4 inches — a record that would stand for 25 years.

As he walked to the long-jump pit, however, Owens saw a tall, blue eyed, blond German taking practice jumps in the 26-foot range. Owens felt nervous. He was acutely aware of the Nazis’ desire to prove “Aryan superiority,” especially over blacks. At this point, the tall German introduced himself as Luz Long. “You should be able to qualify with your eyes closed!” he said to Owens, referring to his two jumps. For the next few moments the black son of a sharecropper and the white model of Nazi manhood chatted. Then, Long made a suggestion. Since the qualifying distance was only 23 feet, 5 1/2 inches, why not make a mark several inches before the takeoff board and jump from there, just to play it safe? Owens did and qualified easily. In the finals Owens set an Olympic record and earned the second of four gold medals.

The first person to congratulate him was Luz Long — in full view of Adolf Hitler. Hitler was furious and embarrassed. Owens never again saw Long, who was sent out to the front lines and was killed in World War II. “You could melt down all the medals and cups I have,” Owens later wrote, “and they wouldn’t be a platting on the 24-carat friendship I felt for Luz Long.”

~ David Wallechinsky in The Complete Book of the Olympics ~

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This is an amazing story of how a friendship trumped the hatred and racism of a nation and a crazy man’s ideology! How thankful are you of the friends that you have? Could your friendship(s) withstand the “storms” of life and the hard times that might come your way? How much can you go out of your way to be a friend to someone in unpleasant situations? REALLY good friends are hard to find…and if you have one…Be THANKFUL!

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“Prosperity begets friends, adversity proves them.”  ~ Unknown ~

Keeping A Dream Alive: A Story of Perseverance and Courage

 

Sarah Ackerman
Photo Credit: Sarah Ackerman via CC Flickr

There are many things that a person may endure in a lifetime that may require an incredible amount of courage and perseverance such as dealing with a disease, a health condition, a family tragedy, or a host of other circumstances. Throughout these times and down through the ages, two types of people usually emerge from these trying times: individuals that give up on life and become depressed, miserable, and despondent or, a person that shows strength, courage and perseverance who overcomes the adverse situation and becomes an encouragement and inspiration to others.

 Today’s story is a tremendous illustration of astonishing courage and unbelievable commitment. It is my hope that it will serve as a reminder of the strength and power of the human spirit…one that we all might be able to use if needed.

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The Brooklyn Bridge that spans over the river tying Manhattan Island to Brooklyn is truly a miracle bridge. In 1863, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea for this spectacular bridge. However, bridge building experts throughout the world told him to forget it: it could not be done.

Roebling convinced his son, Washington, who was an up and coming engineer, that the bridge could be built. The two of them developed the concepts of how it could be accomplished and how the obstacles could be overcome. With unharnessed excitement and inspiration, they hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge.

The project was only a few months under construction when a tragic accident on the site took the life of John Roebling and severely injured his son, Washington. Washington was left with permanent brain damage and was unable to speak or walk. Everyone felt that the project would have to be scrapped since the Roeblins were the only ones that knew how the bridge could be built.

Even though Washington was unable to move or talk, his mind was as sharp as ever, and he still had a burning desire to complete the bridge. An idea hit him as he lay in his hospital bed, and he developed a code for communication. All he could move was one finger, so he touched the arm of his wife with that finger, tapping out the code to communicate to her what to tell the engineers who were building the bridge.

For thirteen years, Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger until the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge was finally completed!!!

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So, when things get tough and it seems like all hope is gone…BE PERSISTENT and have the COURAGE and you WILL PREVAIL!!!

Changing the World Through Kindness

Photo Credit: Troth God of Knowledge via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Troth God of Knowledge via CC Flickr

One of my favorite TV shows that I used to enjoy watching when I was a kid, was about this friendly, caring and compassionate man who loved to share the good things in life and his positive personal thoughts with us kids…Mr. Fred Rogers, host of “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”.

He always had this kind and gentle way of explaining the important and every-day-things of life in entertaining and educational ways. I used to think that it must have been really a cool thing to live in a neighborhood like that. Unfortunately, or course, the neighborhood wasn’t real and “life” was a lot harder and different from the way it was portrayed. 

The one thing that I learned the most from watching most of his shows, something that I still try to do every day…even now…is to show kindness and compassion to other people…especially individuals that were less fortunate than me.

One of the best examples that I ever saw of the great, beautiful kindness of Mr. Roger’s was the following video clip of Mr. Rogers and a little crippled boy in his wheelchair named Jeff Erlanger in 1981. The result of this interview and the way Fred Roger’s spoke and treated Jeff during this time, changed Jeff’s life forever.

Twenty years later, Fred Rogers was nominated to the TV Hall of Fame. During the H.O.F dinner something magical and beautiful happened…which you will see in this video.

It WILL touch your heart and hopefully, illustrate to you the fantastic power of showing kindness and compassion to others…just be sure to have a box of tissues with you…you’ll need them 🙂

How can YOU change YOUR world through kindness?

A Sad Face of War: Pictures That Speak Volumes #64

Photo Credit: Unknown
Photo Credit: Unknown

War and conflict is a horrible and terrible thing. It not only has a devastating affect of thousands upon thousands of soldiers but its poisonous tentacles also reach out and touches the lives on hundreds of thousands…sometimes millions…of families and civilians.

Such is the story with today’s picture. This beautiful little girls was left homeless in the 1940’s when her London home was bombed by the Germans. The only thing she had left in the whole world and the only comfort that she could find was her toy doll.

It simply shows us that war truly is hell.

Why not take some time today to lend someone a smile or a word of encouragement and try to uplift a person who mat be suffering with their own little battles and wars.