Building the Castles of Our Lives

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We all have dreams and goals of the things that we would like to accomplish in our lives…building a successful business, establishing an effective career, having a positive, worthwhile job, the list can go on and on. The real question is HOW we go about attaining of life-long goals. How do we treat our family and friends? How much time and effort do we dedicate to achieving the material things in life like a nice house, fancy cars, good-looking clothes, lots of money, etc.?

Where is your heart? Your focus? Your priorities?

A short time ago, I came across the following story which, I hope, will serve as a helpful reminder that we should all be careful and wise when we are building the castles of our lives.

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A little while ago, on a nice, warm summer day, a little boy, on his knees, scoops and packs the sand with plastic shovels into a bucket during his time at the beach. He upends the bucket and dumps its contents on the beach and starts to work on his creation. After a short time, to the delight of the little architect, a castle tower is created. He spends the entire afternoon shoveling out the moat, packing the walls, and strategically placing the guards around the castle using bottle tops and building bridges with Popsicle sticks. With his hours of hard work on the beach, a sandcastle will be built.

Meanwhile, in a big city with busy streets and rumbling traffic, a man works in an office.  He shuffles papers into stacks, delegates assignments, cradles the phone on his shoulder and punches the keyboard with his fingers. He juggles with numbers, contracts get signed and much to the delight of the man, a profit is made. All his life he will work. Formulating the plans and forecasting the future. His annuities will be sentries and Capital gains will be his bridges. An empire will be built.

The two builders of the two castles have very much in common. They both shape granules into grandeur. They both make something beautiful out of nothing. They both are very diligent and determined to build their world. And for both, the tide will rise and the end will come. Yet that is where the similarities cease. For the little boy sees the end of his castle while the man ignores it. As the dusk approaches and the waves near, the child jumps to his feet and begins to clap as the waves wash away his masterpiece. There is no sorrow. No fear. No regret. He is not surprised, he knew this would happen. He smiles, picks up his tools and takes his father’s hand, and goes home.

The man in his sophisticated office is not very wise like the child. As the wave of years collapses on his empire, he is terrified. He hovers over the sandy monument to protect it. He tries to block the waves with the walls he made. He snarls at the incoming tide. “It’s my castle,” he defies. The ocean need not respond. Both know to whom the sand belongs.

So, go ahead and build your dreams but build with a child’s heart. When the sun sets and the tides take – applaud. Salute the process of life and go home with a smile.

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Source: All Time Short Stories

Stop Your Quacking!

animals beak close up ducklings
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A little while ago, I found a story that has been one of my favorites for quite some time. I decided to pass this story along. It is a beautiful little story that shows us the value of life and the depth of a mother’s love for her children.

It was a typical hectic wet spring Saturday and I was driving to a local department store in search of a baby shower gift for my daughter, she was having my first Grandchild. I told my husband I would only be gone a short while cause I kind of knew what I wanted to buy. As most rainy spring Saturday’s would have it, the traffic was heavy and everyone seemed to be in a mad hurry.

As I was leaving BABIES ARE US, and scampered across the parking lot to my car, I noticed a large brown duck circling a sewer grid. As I approached the duck she came waddling up to me frantically quacking. As soon as she knew she had my attention, she turned and waddled back to the sewer grid. As I looked down into the sewer I counted eleven tiny yellow ducklings. I thought for a moment saying out loud that I was very late and very wet and there was nothing I could do. Besides, the sewer grid was much to heavy for me to move. Even out loud, no excuse sounded good enough, I knew I couldn’t leave. This was a mother duck and her ducklings were in trouble and she came to me for help. As I stood there helpless, other people approached to see why I was standing in a parking lot talking to a duck. She circled me relentlessly quacking. It was quite the spectacle.

Just then a young man and his pregnant wife approached me and I began explaining the situation. Without coaxing, the young man took action. He carefully lifted off the grate and went in after the ducklings. One by one he lifted them to me. An employee from a nearby store came out with a box and we began filling the box with the little quackers. Seven ducklings filled the box and the young man assumed his rescue feat was completed. As he returned the sewer grid and turned to me he saw the sadness in my face, I knew in my heart I had counted eleven ducks, four were still lost…

By now a small crowd had gathered to watch the rescue. With seven ducklings in the box I set the box on the ground and moved away. The mother duck cautiously entered the box of quackers and quieted them down. A couple from the crowd volunteered to take the box to a nearby pond. When they tried to pick up the box the Mother duck flew from the box in noisy fright. Again, the employee from the nearby store ran through the rain with a top for the box. As the Mother duck settled down the second time in the box of quackers I quickly placed the cover on top. Although, the Mother duck protested, the couple put the box in their car and set off for the pond. Everyone seemed happy, applauding everyone’s efforts and then left. But I couldn’t! There were four more baby ducks down there.

I stood quietly listening and worrying… they were baby ducks! A half hour had passed as I stood the rainy vigil with no sounds from the sewer, except the gushing water. Two new people came by to ask me why I was standing near the sewer staring down. I explained what happened and that four ducklings were still missing. The woman and her daughter then lifted the grate and suddenly we heard the low quacks of the ducklings calling for their Mother over the gushing water.

The man with his pregnant wife came to the rescue again, this time armed with a flash light. He smiled at me and said, “Four more huh!” He disappeared again into the sewer drain and was gone for several minutes. The rain had picked up and the sewer was again being filled with water. The pregnant young woman began to openly worry about her husband being in the sewer and how wet he would be. Suddenly, his head popped out of the sewer drain followed by a huge smile. In his jacket were 4 ducklings quacking their heads off.

We covered the sewer drain and got into our cars. He waited until we lined up to follow him in his truck to the nearby pond where the mother duck and the other ducklings had been released. With lights on high-beam and windshield wipers flapping, as though in a parade, we approached the pond. Standing near the water, the quacking of the four stragglers brought the mother duck and her brood to the shore line to be re-united. My heart was singing and everyone was smiling like we had all just won the million dollar lottery.

I didn’t ask any of the rescuer’s names or what made them want to get involved with saving eleven tiny ducklings on a very wet busy Saturday in spring, I only know I felt as though the mother duck and God were counting on us.

When I finally arrived home dripping wet my husband looked at me with some annoyance saying “where were you for so long.” I just smiled and said, “Someone quite small reminded me just how precious life is and the love that bonds mothers and their offspring, so just stop your quacking! I’m going to be a GRANDMOTHER!”

Source: Truthbook.com

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Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. ~Mother Teresa

A Marvelous Kind of Medicine

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There is a medicine that has been around for thousands of years and has been used by millions of people around the world in every culture known to man. It is known for its power to change the way people feel about themselves and have a powerful and positive effect on people that are experiencing anxiety, low self-esteem, anger, depression, and a host of other issues.

The great thing about this medicine is that it will cost you nothing and is available for your use at any time, anywhere.

What is this marvelous medicine? Where can you find it?

Simple. It is called kindness. It is available at any time of day and you can use it wherever you may be.

You see, kindness is an amazing and powerful thing, The simple act of being kind to people and developing a habit of thinking of others instead of focusing on ourselves can have a huge, positive effect on an individual’s total well-being.

Let’s see what the positive impact kindness can have on a person who consistently uses this practice…

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Like many medicines that treat depression, kindness stimulates the production of serotonin which is known as the “feel-good” chemical. Seratonin assists in healing wounds, relaxation and is responsible for making people happy.

Acts of kindness can be very contagious. Once someone witnesses another person perform an act of kindness to another individual, they, in turn, will use it to help others. You can see this happen quite often. For example, a person is going to enter a building and the person in front of them stops and holds the door open for them. Sometime later, that person holds the door open for someone else. These actions can create “domino effect” and can improve the day of many people!

It has been shown that kindness can actually reduce a certain amount of pain that a person may be experiencing. When an individual does something nice, their brain releases hormones called endorphins to the nervous system. These hormones interact with receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain and act similarly to drugs such as morphine and codeine.

It that been found that people who are kind have 23% less cortisol in their bodies than people who are living under stressful conditions. This results in a person’s ability to have lower blood pressure and stress levels. Cortisol is also known as the “stress hormone” and can have adverse effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems. Perpetually kind people also age slower! According to Dr. David Hamilton, not only does acts of kindness lower blood pressure, but it also creates emotional warmth, which releases the “love hormone” called oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the release of the chemical nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. which in turn reduces blood pressure and protects the heart.

Research from Emory University proved that when people are kind to another person, an individual’s brain’s pleasure and reward centers “light up”…as if that person was the recipient of the good deed…not the giver. This phenomenon is otherwise known as the “helper’s high.”

In a study done by the University of British Columbia, it was demonstrated that a group of people who were classified as “highly anxious individuals” performed as little as six acts of kindness a week for a month. After that one month, participants reported an increase in positive moods, relationships, and a decrease in socially anxious people.

Another interesting fact about the power of kindness was reported by Mr. Stephen Post of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine who discovered that when we give of ourselves, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly improved. Mortality is delayed, depression is reduced and well-being and good fortunes are increased.

In addition to the aforementioned information, people which practice consistent acts of kindness also enjoy other attributes of a quality life. In a 2010 Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries found that people who were altruistic…in this case, people who were generous with their money…were the happiest overall.

Lastly, individuals who steadily show kindness to others can have a longer lifespan. According to Christine Carter, Author, “Raising Happiness in Pursuit of Joyful Kids and Happier Parents”, people who volunteer their time, tend to have fewer aches and pains. giving help to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an incredible 44% lower likelihood of dying early…and that’s after eliminating other contributing factors such as physical health, smoking habits, exercise, gender, and a host of other things.

(Resource: http://www.randomactsofkindness.org)

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There are two great quotes about kindness from two well-known people that I would like to leave with you…

The great philosopher, Aesop, once stated one of my favorite quotes regarding kindness…“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Mark Twain, the legendary American author, once said about kindness… “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” 

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So, increase your quality of life today…go out and be kind to someone today. It will make you feel great, make your life happier, increase your physical well-being, build your self-esteem, and lead to good fortune!

 

 

I Went to See A Friend Today

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I recently came across a poem about friends and friendship the other day that is, in some ways, related to a previous post of mine, “Do It All the Way”. Friendships and the passing of time, are things that we need to consider more and more each day. The following poem was posted on May 6, 2016 by oldmainer It serves as a great reminder to us all!

 I Went to See A Friend Today

I went to see a friend today
A friend I had not seen
Since he was in his twenties
And I was still a teen

We were both inseparable then
See one, you’d see the other
Sharing everything we did. 
He was like a brother

But as so often happens
Too soon there came the day
When he decided to remain
And I to move away

We wished each other good luck
Recalled good times we’d shared
Said that we would keep in touch
See how each other fared

But of course that didn’t happen
The days just came and went
No phone calls were ever made
No greetings ever sent

How quickly the time passes
And friendships start to dim
Although we went our separate ways
I often thought of him

I wondered how he looked today
How he had weathered life
Did he still live in our old home town
Did he ever take a wife

One day I got a letter
And when I looked inside
I read I regret to inform you
That your friend has died

I went to see a friend today
As I’ve often said I would
To visit for a little while
My promise to make good

I wish that I could tell him
How bad I feel that I
Never took the time to say hello
Before I said goodbye

Friendships are precious. Be sure to take some time to visit the people that are special in your life. Enjoy the time you spend together and remember the good memories from the past.

 

“There is nothing on this earth more prized than true friendship.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

Do It All the Way

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Time really does fly and unfortunately, this thing called “life” really does become busy and gets into our way from allowing us to do the things that we love to do. Whether it be enjoying our favorite hobbies, visiting the eatery of our choice, going on a date with our special loved one, or simply spending time with our friends, we all need to carve out some time throughout our lives, to make sure that we are fully enjoying the fullness and blessings of life.

A little while ago, I received the unfortunate and sad news that one of my childhood buddies had suddenly passed away. I felt horrible. We always told each other how much we wanted to get together, hang out, have some good laughs, and reminisce about our “glory days.” We had gotten together sporadically over the years and had recently decided to make plans for a get-together. It never happened. He passed away suddenly after a simple procedure went horribly wrong and he was gone. I felt saddened and dismayed about the whole situation, but it made me realize, even more so than ever, how precious our life is and how much we need to spend as much time doing the things we enjoy…even if it means that we sacrifice some of the “busy things” in our life.

You never know how much time you have left with the ones you love. I thought that I had more time. I didn’t know that so many moments were the lasts. I have learned this: instead of living with the fear of the lasts, live with love for all the moments. Even the ones you are pulling your hair out and screaming…don’t do it halfway. Do it all the way, and don’t let those moments escape you.

Dive in fully.

Soak them up.

Live.

Love.

Savor it all.

God’s Time

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you had an opportunity to speak with God? What would you say? What would you ask Him for? What would you do? This is an interesting question, right? Well, hopefully, your conversation wouldn’t end up as the following one did!

A man walked to the top of a hill to talk to God.

The man asked, “God, what’s a million years to you?” and God said, “A minute.”

Then the man asked, “Well, what’s a million dollars to you?” and God said, “A penny.”

Then the man asked, “God…..can I have a penny?” and God said, “Sure…..in a minute.”

Hope you enjoyed this cute little story and the smile and giggle that went along with it.

Have a wonderful day!

Just One More Breath

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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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