Tuesday, 31 August 2010

How Poor We Are

Author Unknown

One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”

“It was great, Dad.”

“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.

“Oh yeah,” said the son.

“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.

The son answered: “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

“We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

“We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

“We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”

The boy’s father was speechless.

Then his son added, “Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.”

Hippopotamus, New York

A woman called to make reservations, "I want to go from Chicago to Hippopotamus, New York."

The agent was at a loss for words. Finally, the agent: "Are you sure that's the name of the town?" "Yes, what flights do you have?" replied the customer.

After some searching, the agent came back with, "I'm sorry, ma'am, I've looked up every airport code in the country and can't find a Hippopotamus anywhere."

The customer retorted, "Oh don't be silly. Everyone knows where it is. Check your map!"

The agent scoured a map of the state of New York and finally offered, "You don't mean Buffalo, do you?" "That's it! I knew it was a big animal!"

The Baggy Yellow T-Shirt

By Patricia Lorenz

The baggy yellow shirt had long sleeves, four extra-large pockets trimmed with black thread, and snaps up the front.

Not terribly attractive, but utilitarian without a doubt.

I found it in December 1963 during my freshman year in college when I was back home in Illinois on Christmas break.

Part of the fun of every vacation at home was the chance to go through Mom's hoard of rummage, destined for the less fortunate. She regularly scoured the house for clothes, bedding and house-wares to give away, and the items were always stored in brown paper bags on the floor of the front hall closet.

Looking through Mom's collection one day, I came across an oversized yellow shirt, slightly faded from years of wear but still in decent shape. "Just the thing to wear over my clothes during art class," I said to myself. "You're not taking that old thing, are you?" Mom asked when she saw me packing it. "I wore that when I was pregnant with your brother in 1954!"

"It's perfect for art class, Mom. Thanks." I slipped it into my suitcase before she could object. The baggy yellow shirt became a part of my college wardrobe. I loved it. All during college, it stayed with me, always comfortable to throw on over my clothes during messy projects. The underarm seams had to be reinforced before I graduated, but there was plenty of wear left in that old shirt.

After graduation I moved to Denver and wore the shirt the day I moved into my new apartment. Then I wore it on Saturday mornings when I cleaned. Those four large pockets on the front; two breast pockets and two at hip-level, made a super place to carry dust cloths, wax and spray cleaner.

The next year, I married. When I became pregnant, I found the yellow shirt tucked in a drawer and wore it during those big-belly days. Though I missed sharing my first pregnancy with Mom and Dad and the rest of my family, since we were in Colorado and they were in Illinois, that shirt helped remind me of their warmth and protection. I smiled and hugged the shirt when I remembered that Mother had worn it when she was pregnant.

By 1969 when my daughter was born, the baggy yellow shirt was at least fifteen years old. That Christmas, I patched one elbow, washed and pressed the shirt, wrapped it in holiday paper and set it to Mom. Smiling, I tucked a note in one of the pockets saying: "I hope this fits. I'm sure it will look great on you!" When Mom wrote to thank me for her "real" gifts, she said the yellow shirt was lovely. Neither Mother nor I ever mentioned it again.

The next year, my husband, daughter and I moved from Denver to St. Louis. We stopped at Mom and Dad's house in Rock Falls, Illinois, to pick up some furniture they were giving us. Days later, when we uncrated the old kitchen table that had belonged to my grandmother, I noticed something yellow taped to its bottom. The baggy yellow shirt! And so the pattern was set.

On our next visit home, I secretly placed the shirt between the mattress and box spring of Mom and Dad's bed. I don't know how long it took her to find it, but almost two years passed before I got it back. By then our family had grown ~ another daughter, then a year later a son.

This time Mom got even with me. She put the yellow shirt under the base of our living-room lamp, knowing that as a mother of three little ones, housecleaning and moving floor lamps would not be everyday events for me. When I finally found the shirt, I wore it often while refinishing "early marriage" furniture that I found at rummage sales. The walnut stains on the shirt simply added more character to its history.

Unfortunately, our lives were full of stains, too. My marriage had been failing almost from the beginning. After a number of attempts at marriage counseling, my husband and I divorced in 1975. The three children and I prepared to move back to Illinois to be closer to the emotional support of family and friends.

As I packed, a deep depression overtook me. I wondered if I could make it on my own with three small children to raise. I wondered if I would find a job. One night I paged through my Bible looking for comfort. In Ephesians, I read, "So use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will be standing up." I tried to picture myself wearing God's armor, but all I saw was me wearing the stained yellow shirt. Of course! Wasn't my mother's love a piece of God's armor? I smiled and remembered the fun and warm feeling the yellow shirt had brought into my life over the years. My courage was renewed and somehow the future didn't seem so alarming.

Unpacking in our new home and feeling much better, I knew I had to get the shirt back to Mother. The next time I visited her, I carefully tucked it in her bottom dresser drawer where she kept her winter sweaters, knowing that sweater weather was months away. Meanwhile my life moved splendidly. I found a good job at a radio station and the children thrived in their new environment.

A year later during a window-washing spurt, I found the crumpled yellow shirt hidden in a rag bag in my cleaning closet. Something new had been added. Emblazoned across the top of the breast pocket were the bright green newly-embroidered words, "I BELONG TO PAT." Not to be outdone, I got out my own embroidery materials and added an apostrophe and seven more letters. Now the shirt proudly proclaimed, "I BELONG TO PAT'S MOTHER."

Once again, I zigzagged all the frayed seams. Then I enlisted the aid of a dear friend, Harold, to help me get it back to Mom. He arranged to have a friend mail the shirt to Mom from Arlington, Virginia. We enclosed a letter announcing that she was the recipient of an award for her good deeds. The award letter, on official-looking stationery printed at the high school where Harold was assistant principal, came from "The Institute for the Destitute." This was my finest hour. I would have given anything to see Mom's face when she opened the "award" box and saw the shirt inside. But, of course, she never mentioned it.

On Easter Sunday the following year, Mother managed the Coup de Gras. She walked into our home with regal poise, wearing that old shirt over her Easter outfit, as if it were an integral part of her wardrobe. I'm sure my mouth hung open, but I said nothing. During the Easter meal, a giant laugh choked my throat. But I was determined not to break the unbroken spell the shirt had woven into our lives. I was sure that Mom would take off the shirt and try to hide in it in my home, but when she and Dad left, she walked out the door wearing, "I BELONG TO PAT'S MOTHER" like a coat of arms.

A year later, in June 1978, Harold and I were married. The day of our wedding, we hid our car in a friend's garage to avoid the usual practical jokers. After the wedding, late that night while my husband drove us to our honeymoon suite in Wisconsin, I reached for a pillow in the backseat so I could rest my head. The pillow felt lumpy. I unzipped the case and discovered a gift, wrapped in wedding paper. I thought it might be a surprise gift from Harold. But he looked as stunned as I. Inside the box was the freshly pressed baggy yellow shirt. Mother knew I'd need the shirt as a reminder that a sense of humor, spiced with love, is one of the most important ingredients in a happy marriage. In a pocket was a note: "Read John 14:27-29. I love you both, Mother."

That night I paged through a Bible I found in the hotel room and found the verses: "I am leaving you with a gift: peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't fragile like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really love me, you will be very happy for me, for now I can go to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do, you will believe in me."

The yellow shirt was Mother's final gift. She had known for three months before my wedding that she had a terminal disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease). Mother died 13 months later, at age 57. I must admit that I was tempted to send the yellow shirt with her to her grave. But I'm glad I didn't, because it is a vivid reminder of the love-filled game she and I played for over 16 years. Besides, my oldest daughter is in college now, majoring in art. And every student needs a baggy yellow shirt with big pockets to wear to art class!

What If?

Author Unknown

What if, GOD couldn't take the time to bless us today because
we couldn't take the time to thank Him yesterday?

What if, GOD decided to stop leading us tomorrow because
we didn't follow Him today?

What if, we never saw another flower bloom because
we grumbled when GOD sent the rain.

What if, GOD didn't walk with us today because
we failed to recognize it as His day?

What if, GOD took away the Bible tomorrow because
we would not read it today?

What if, GOD took away His message because
we failed to listen to the messenger?

What if, GOD didn't send His only begotten Son because
He wanted us to be prepared to pay the price for sin.

What if, the door of the church was closed because
we did not open the door of our heart?

What if, GOD stopped loving and caring for us because
we failed to love and care for others?

What if, GOD would not hear us today because
we would not listen to Him yesterday?

What if, GOD answered our prayers
the way we answer His call to service?

What if, GOD met our needs
the way we give Him our lives?

To Believe

Author Unknown

To believe is to know that every 
day is a new beginning. 
It is to trust that miracles happen, 
and dreams really do come true. 

To believe is to see angels 
dancing among the clouds 
To know the wonder of a stardust sky 
and the wisdom of the man in the moon. 

To believe is to know the value 
of a nurturing heart, 
The innocence of a child's eyes and the 
beauty of an aging hand, 
for it is through their teachings we learn to love. 

To believe is to find the strength and 
courage that lies within us. 
When it is time to pick up 
the pieces and begin again. 

To believe is to know we are not alone, 
That life is a gift and this is our 
time to cherish it. 

To believe is to know that wonderful 
surprises are just waiting to happen, 
And all our hopes and dreams 
are within reach. 

If only we believe.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Graduation Gift

Author Unknown

A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer's showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.

As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study.His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box.

Curious, but somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man's name embossed in gold. Angrily, he raised his voice to his father and said, "With all your money you give me a Bible?" and stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go visit him.

He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son.

When he arrived at his father's house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father's important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and as he began to turn the pages, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible.

It had a tag with the dealer's name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words...PAID IN FULL

How many times do we miss God's blessings because they are not packaged as we expected?

How I Stopped "Waiting for Jack"

By Kristen Moeller
(Sourced from wow4u.com)

The first time I met Jack, I ripped a hundred-dollar bill out of his hand. On a cold winter day in Denver, I waited in line to see one of my heroes, Jack Canfield, the coauthor of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series and the author of The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. Where I wanted to be was a version of what Jack had become -- an author, a speaker, an inspiration to thousands of people. He was the whole package -- successful, kind -- a visionary for what is possible in the world. I thought, "If I can get to know him, I will become that."

When I saw the opportunity, I grabbed it. Literally. During his presentation, Jack reached for his wallet, pulled out a hundred-dollar bill, and said, "Who wants this?" Hands shot up in the audience; people leaned forward to see whom Jack would choose. But I leapt up, ran up the stairs to the stage, and grabbed the bill from his hand. As I was launching myself in the air, thoughts raced through my mind -- was I about to be humiliated in front of 800 people? Would they call security and haul me from the stage? But my desire for bold action was louder than any voice of doubt

As I plucked the bill from his hand, he turned to me and said, "Yes, that's it! We can't wait around for the opportunities to come to us. We must take action to create what we want!"

After his talk, I waited in line to formally meet Jack and boldly asked for his personal e-mail address. Over the next several months, I sent him lengthy e-mails sharing my vision and dreams. He kindly e-mailed back one-liners of encouragement such as, "Keep thinking and playing bigger; it's much more fun that way. Love, Jack." Then my life got busy with other things. I lost sight of my inspiration and I stopped e-mailing Jack.

A year later, my dreams had grown stale. I had this idea if I got back in touch with Jack, he might just provide the perfect, inspiring nudge I needed. I was looking for something that would spur me into action, like a giant arrow that would show me the way.

I emailed him, and then emailed him again -- but got no response. As I sat down at my computer to check my email for the fifth time in 15 minutes, I suddenly woke up. What was I doing?

I was waiting! And this time I was waiting for Jack. I realized waiting was a behavior that began when I was a little girl. I waited to be older -- surely freedom would begin when I had my first boyfriend, first kiss, got my drivers license, graduated from high school and went to college. Then I waited to know what to do with my life. I had always waited, thinking the great prize of life was just around the corner. And I had started to believe Jack was the answer; that knowing him would provide something I thought I was missing internally.

I remembered the crowd, most likely desiring that hundred-dollar bill, while they sat glued to their chairs. What were they waiting for? An Oliver Wendell Holmes quote ran through my mind, "Many people die with their music still inside them." Instantly, I knew I needed to do something about all this waiting. The inspiration came like lightening: I was going to write a book! A book about waiting and call it "Waiting for Jack!" Instantly, ideas and chapter titles came to me.

It all sounded good but then reality hit, I was writing a book. . . . Some nights I cried and wanted to give up; others I celebrated my courage. I wrote, re-wrote, ripped it all up, burned what was left and started over. I hired editors, changed directions then changed back. I danced in the moonlight and curled up in a ball on the floor. I told everyone I was writing, and then wished I hadn't. I grew, contracted, then grew again, stretching further than I ever thought possible.

Fortunately, I have surrounded myself with a life of personal development and I have access to all the tools anyone could ever want. I know I can "feel the fear and do it anyway". I know how to take action. I know how to move forward even when every molecule in my body tells me to stop.

We all have a "Jack" for whom we wait -- whether it's a person, a place or a thing. We falsely believe the gifts of life are just around the corner; that anywhere is better than here; that one day we will arrive and everything will be okay. So we don't try, we give up, we sell out, we forget who we are. We are afraid to succeed, afraid to fail and afraid to say we are afraid. But as Wayne Gretzky said: "You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take!" So I stopped waiting and I wrote.

Three years later, Waiting for Jack is a best-seller on Amazon! I have grown in ways I never expected. I know that I am capable of so much more than I ever knew before.

Now I ask you, what are you waiting for?

Author Bio - Kristen Moeller, MS, is the bestselling author of Waiting for Jack: Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie: How to Stop Waiting and Start Living Your Life. As a coach, speaker, and radio show host, Kristen delights in "disrupting the ordinary" and inspiring others to do the same. She first discovered her passion for personal development in 1989 after recovering from an eating disorder and addiction. Kristen is also the founder of the Chick-a-go Foundation -- a not-for-profit that provides "pay it forward" scholarships for life altering training programs reaching people who otherwise cannot afford such opportunities. When she is not actively making a difference in the world, she thrives in the beauty of Colorado and enjoys hiking, snowshoeing, riding her horse or just spending time reading or relaxing in her magical, solar-powered house on the side of a mountain with two large dogs, an ornery cat and her best friend and husband of 15 years. For more information please visit http://www.waitingforjack.com

Why Do You Envy Me?

Author Unknown

The passengers on the bus watched sympathetically as the attractive young woman with the white cane made her way carefully up the steps. She paid the driver and, using her hands to feel the location of the seats, walked down the aisle and found the seat he’d told her was empty. Then she settled in, placed her briefcase on her lap and rested her cane against her leg. It had been a year since Susan, thirty-four, became blind.

Due to a medical misdiagnosis she had been rendered sightless, and she was suddenly thrown into a world of darkness, anger, frustration and self-pity. Once a fiercely independent woman, Susan now felt condemned by this terrible twist of fate to become a powerless, helpless burden on everyone around her. “How could this have happened to me?” she would plead, her heart knotted with anger. But no matter how much she cried or ranted or prayed, she knew the painful truth that her sight was never going to return. A cloud of depression hung over Susan’s once optimistic spirit. Just getting through each day was an exercise in frustration and exhaustion. And all she had to cling to was her husband Mark.

Mark was an Air Force officer and he loved Susan with all of his heart. When she first lost her sight, he watched her sink into despair and was determined to help his wife gain the strength and confidence she needed to become independent again. Mark’s military background had trained him well to deal with sensitive situations, and yet he knew this was the most difficult battle he would ever face. Finally, Susan felt ready to return to her job, but how would she get there? She used to take the bus, but was now too frightened to get around the city by herself. Mark volunteered to drive her to work each day, even though they worked at opposite ends of the city.

At first, this comforted Susan and fulfilled Mark’s need to protect his sightless wife who was so insecure about performing the slightest task. Soon, however, Mark realized that this arrangement wasn’t working - it was hectic and costly. Susan is going to have to start taking the bus again, he admitted to himself. But just the thought of mentioning it to her made him cringe. She was still so fragile, so angry. How would she react?

Just as Mark predicted, Susan was horrified at the idea of taking the bus again. “I’m blind!” she responded bitterly. “How am I supposed to know where I’m going? I feel like you’re abandoning me.” Mark’s heart broke to hear these words, but he knew what had to be done. He promised Susan that each morning and evening he would ride the bus with her, for as long as it took, until she got the hang of it. And that is exactly what happened. For two solid weeks, Mark, military uniform and all, accompanied Susan to and from work each day. He taught her how to rely on her other senses, specifically her hearing, to determine where she was and how to adapt to her new environment. He helped her befriend the bus drivers who could watch out for her, and save her a seat. He made her laugh, even on those not-so-good days when she would trip exiting the bus, or drop her briefcase. Each morning they made the journey together, and Mark would take a cab back to his office. Although this routine was even more costly and exhausting than the previous one, Mark knew it was only a matter of time before Susan would be able to ride the bus on her own. He believed in her, in the Susan he used to know before she’d lost her sight, who wasn’t afraid of any challenge and who would never, ever quit.

Finally, Susan decided that she was ready to try the trip on her own. Monday morning arrived, and before she left, she threw her arms around Mark, her temporary bus riding companion, her husband, and her best friend. Her eyes filled with tears of gratitude for his loyalty, his patience, his love. She said good-bye, and for the first time, they went their separate ways.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday… Each day on her own went perfectly, and Susan never felt better. She was doing it! She was going to work all by herself! On Friday morning, Susan took the bus to work as usual. As she was paying for her fare to exit the bus, the driver said, “Boy, I sure envy you.” Susan wasn’t sure if the driver was speaking to her or not. After all, who on earth would ever envy a blind woman who had struggled just to find the courage to live for the past year?

Curious, she asked the driver,”Why do you say that you envy me?”

The driver answered, “You know, every morning for the past week, a fine looking gentleman in a military uniform has been standing across the corner watching you when you get off the bus. He makes sure you cross the street safely and he watches you until you enter your office building. Then he blows you a kiss, gives you a little salute and walks away. You are one lucky lady.”

Tears of happiness poured down Susan’s cheeks. For, although she couldn’t physically see him, she had always felt Mark’s presence. She was lucky, so lucky, for he had given her a gift more powerful than sight, a gift she didn’t need to see to believe — the gift of love that can bring light where there had been darkness.

God watches over us in just the same way. We may not know He is present. We may not be able to see His face, but He is there nonetheless. Be blessed in this thought: “God Loves You — even when you are not looking.”

Sunday, 29 August 2010

I Am Going To Grant You Life

Laramie Project (2002)
Director / Writer - Moises Kaufman
Speech made by father about dead son

My son, Matthew, did not look like a winner. He was rather uncoordinated and wore braces from the age of 13 until the day he died. However in his all-too-brief life, he proved that he was a winner.

On October 6th 1998, he tried to show the world he could win again. On October 12th 1998, my first born son, and my hero, lost. On October 12th 1998, my first born son, and my hero, died. 50 days before his 22nd birthday.

I keep wondering the same thing that I did when I first saw him in the hospital. What would he have become? How could he have changed his piece of the world to make it better? Matt officially died in a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado. He actually died on the outskirts of Laramie, tied to a fence.

You, Mr. McKinney, with your friend Mr. Henderson, left him there, by himself. But he was not alone. There were his lifelong friends with him, friends that he had grown up with. You're probably wondering who these friends were. First he had the beautiful night sky and the same stars and moon we used to see through a telescope. Then he had the daylight and the sun to shine on him. And through it all, he was breathing in the scent of the pine trees from the snowy range. He heard the wind, the ever present Wyoming wind for the last time. He had one more friend with him. He had God. And I feel better, knowing he wasn't alone.

Matt's beating, hospitalization, and funeral focused worldwide attention on hate. Good is coming out of evil. People have said, 'Enough is enough.' I miss my son, but I am proud to be able to say that he was my son.

Judy has been quoted as being against the death penalty. It has been stated that Matt was against the death penalty. Both of these statements are false. I, too, believe in the death penalty. I would like nothing better than to see you die, Mr. McKinney. However, this is the time to begin the healing process, to show mercy to someone who refused to show any mercy. Mr. McKinney, I am going to grant you life, as hard as it is to do so, because of Matthew.

Everytime you celebrate Christmas, a birthday, the 4th of July, remember that Matt isn't. Everytime that you wake up in your prison cell, remember you had the opportunity and the ability to stop your actions that night. You robbed me of something very precious and I will never forgive you for that.

Mr. McKinney, I give you life in the memory of someone who no longer lives. May you have a long life. And may you thank Matthew everyday for it.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Things Not Going Your Way?

Author Unknown

Once there were three trees on a hill in a woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said "Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty."

Then the second tree said "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull."

Finally the third tree said. "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.."

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, "This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter." and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.

At the second tree a woodsman said, "This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to the shipyard." The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.

When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsman said, "I don't need anything special from my tree so I'll take this one" and he cut it down.

When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for. The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end. The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark.

The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams. Then one day, a man and women came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.

Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and he stood and said "peace" and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the king of kings in it's boat.

Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Sin Of Omission

By Margaret Sangster

It isn't the thing you do, dear,
Its the thing you leave undone
That gives you a bit of a heartache
At setting of the sun.
The tender work forgotten,
The letter you did not write,
The flowers you did not send, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts at night.

The stone you might have lifted
Out of a brother's way;
The bit of heartsome counsel
You were hurried too much to say;
The loving touch of the hand, dear,
The gentle, winning tone
Which you had no time nor thought for
With troubles enough of your own.

Thoes little acts of kindness
So easily out of mind,
Thoes chances to be angels
Which we poor mortals find -
They come in night and silence,
Each sad, reproachful wraith,
When hope is faint and flagging,
And a chill has fallen on faith.

For life is all too short, dear,
And sorrow is all to great,
To suffer our slow compassion
That tarries until too late:
And it isn't the thing you do, dear,
It's the thing you leave undone
Which gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.

Breathing In Forgiveness & Love

By Pandora Poikilos

Every once in awhile in life, we all have to do something because we have to. It's not about what we want or how we would like it to be, it simply has to be done because it needs to be done. Most times, this will be a task that surpasses normal and not many people would choose to understand. But, done it must.

So, here I am, counting down to my brain surgery listening to Chris Daughtry's Tennessee Line, my thoughts being echoed in the lines - "I open my lungs to breathe in forgiveness and love, Tell me how to make right every wrong turn that I've learned so this can all end tonight." I've tried turning it all around, it's a small surgery, it's just a routine procedure, it's not necesarily a brain surgery but when a neurosurgeon sits down and talks about the risks and procedures of being in surgery, there's no other way of calling it, is there?

It's been seven, very long years getting to where I am, I've made loads of mistakes, I've evaded, I've risked it all, I've met the best of people and seen the worst of characters, I've traveled and I've done more than most people my age would do, do I have regrets? A few. There are some what ifs and a few should have beens but mostly, I've given it my best in the hopes that I've at least got a few things right along the way. As it gets nearer to surgery, I completely understand the phrase, there's more to life. Life isn't about the latest gadget from Apple or that delicious rumour that's on Facebook, it's about five sentences that make the worst of moments in life seem so much better than what it actually looks like.

I Love You
The best relationships in our lives are the best not because they've been the happiest ones, they are the best relationships because they've stayed strong through the most tormentful storms and held hands during the best springs. These are the relationships between friends who have stayed when the rest of the world walked out or the family who held you close and said, it doesn't matter what they say, this is something we will get through - together, because there are no limits to how much we love you. And when these people say, I Love You, it's not because they have to, it's not because they could not order you roses from the best florist or they needed to say something to fill a void in conversation, it's because it's just that, Love, with no conditions, no smokescreens, just pure transparent, unconditional love, given when you need it the most. As the Swedish proverb goes, Love me when I least deserve it, because that's when I really need it.

Everything will be alright
Nobody knows anything for sure. There are no plans we can make with a 100% guarantee that they will go exactly as planned as yet another proverb goes, If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. The riskiest of surgeries can churn out the best of results while the least uncomplicated surgeries can result in the most severe results but you'd be surprised the magic these four words can do. It doesn't matter that you're worried. You're worried about the surgery, imagine what the person going through the surgery or the doctors may be feeling. These four words work as hope for you and for the person receiving the surgery. And no, until confronted with exactly the opposite, you cannot believe otherwise. Hope is not something you give up on, ever.

I forgive you & I'm sorry
Show me a perfect person and I'll make you the perfect snow flake. We all love to think that we've made the best decisions and did it by the book. Truth be told, no matter how right we wanted to be, we all make mistakes. Period. Sometimes intentionally by our own doing and sometimes unintentionally when confronted with circumstances that life has to offer. But these are not the times to be holding on to past hurts or pointing fingers. It is purely a time for letting go, for good. This is the best time to not only set aside your differences but to lock them up and throw away the key because very simply put, you may never have the chance again. Being positive is necessary, being realistic is next in line. It may not be the easiest task in the world but done, it must or you'll know what it likes to wake up every morning with your first thought being, I should have done more.

We'll see you before
I remember telling someone that I'd make it a point to come visit after recovering from my surgery, she answered with, There's no reason not to come before, as well. I meant it in a way that I'd have something to look forward too after surgery but I also understand what she meant. Why hold it off? This is not about creating a bucket list and ticking off the most you can do before surgery or even keeping a list of things you'd want to look forward to doing after surgery, it's simply doing the most that you can before. Lists are great as guidelines but no list can ever express the laughs you can share or those hugs that can make this big step in life a little less terrifying but mostly it will show you the people that mean most to you and vice versa. While everyone cannot be physically present, geographical distance and time is nowadays what we want it to be and telephones do after all, work both ways, no question about it. The question that remains is only, how much effort will we each make?

Monday, 23 August 2010

Cab Ride

Author Unknown

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, and then drive away. But, I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door.

This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the door and knocked. "Just a minute", answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened.

A small woman in her 80's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. It's nothing", I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated". "Oh, you're such a good boy", she said.
When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?" "It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly. "Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice". I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.

"I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long." I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. "What route would you like me to take?" I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing. As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now." We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. "How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse.

"Nothing," I said. "You have to make a living," she answered. "There are other passengers," I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. "You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you." I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

Call Me Silly

By Pandora Poikilos

Call me silly
But I enjoy being on a beach with a good book
Minus the worry about chargers or glares on my screen
It's just me and my handsome hero, his beautiful love
In that far away land, in the middle of that intricate mess.
And what is the point of a family meal when all you hear now
Are beeps of Berries or tunes of GaGas

Call me silly
But I prefer the pleasures of a snail mail letter
In comparison with emails, pings and tweets
Instead of worrying about internet connection and hackers,
I do not need to worry about the internet service provider
Who can one day take away my precious memories
Just because his terms and conditions says he can

Yes, call me silly
But these are my memories of love and failure
Peace and turbulence, that will be my gift to my children
The silly letters that my best friend wrote to say
That he loved me for better or for worse and I believed
Without worrying that he may have another wife
That I will one day find through online Spaces or Books

Call me silly
But even as I am fascinated with the wonders
That the world of social media can give me
I worry more often about how I am misunderstood
In a world of instant travel and friendship
Where rules do not exist
And when they do, are rarely followed

Call me silly
But in a world where everything seems so easy
One click, everyone says
We spend so much time on the whole world
Instead of on those who really need us
In a world where rumours are a trend
And truth is an afterthought

Call me silly
But why do people trust what this online world says
When all it takes is this,
I have a secret you see, says this person
Let's listen, say another hundred or more
Who cares if its true? Who cares if it hurts?
Simply nobody you see

Yes, call me silly, if you will
But I think this is exactly, what it means
When our parents told us
Too much of a good thing
Can actually be a bad thing.

VP Shunt / Rare Disease Day

I take a deep breath as I write this post.

I started Monday New.s after the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, "Do one thing everyday that scares you." in the spirit of trying one completely new thing every Monday, whether it scared me or not, as long as I learned something from it.

At the time, I knew my surgery was in place and I knew it would be life altering. But nothing prepared me for what was to come. I will write more about it, soon but in the meantime, here's a link to the little gadget that has me going, a VP Shunt and that qualifies for my Monday New.s from 20 September to 4 October 2010. Nothing I would recommend you to try, but if you've had to and if you'd like to share, please go right ahead.

On this note, please also pass the word around or lend your support about Rare Disease Day - Alone we are rare. Together we are strong.

February 28, 2011

Isle of Treasures

5 Reasons To Add Penang To Your Bucket List
By Pandora Poikilos

When one mentions Malaysia, the first destination that comes to mind is the country's capital which is Kuala Lumpur. Fair enough, with the outstanding structure of the Petronas Twin Towers, diversified shopping, the Sepang circuit and of course the night life, where everyday is a party if you find the right spot, one is bound to be dazzled.

But no, it's not Kuala Lumpur that captured my heart, I went to Malaysia and I fell in love with the Pearl of the Orient, otherwise known as Penang. Located on the northern end of Malaysia you can get here by flight (you will need to transit in Kuala Lumpur), bus or car on the North South Highway or even train which is run by KTM Berhad and stops you at its mainland, Butterworth.

Even as you land in Penang and take to the streets, the only word that will come to mind is, rustic. You will see a blend of old and new, foreign and local, the luxurious and the basics all paraded on one street which brings me to the point of unity.

At the time of writing, the Malaysian government is carrying out a 1Malaysia concept which carries the objective to further strengthen and reitirate the unity among the three main races in Malaysia. Having been to most of the states in Malaysia, it is Penang that bears the emblem of this concept to perfection. You will see a mosque, a church and a chinese temple on the same street. In a hawker centre, you will find at least one spot that serves each kind of food although, in most areas, available food is Chinese food.

Now, if you're on a diet or the kind who doesn't enjoy trying food at your holiday spots, then Penang may not not be that fantastic for you. Otherwise, it's probably the other reason why Penang is known as the Pearl of the Orient. Selections are extensive and range from anything as light as roadside toasted bread for breakfast, Nasi Kandar for lunch, Ice Kacang for tea and Char Koay Teow for dinner. Now, naming a full Penang menu, well, I'd need at least a whole day. Price wise, I wouldn't call Penang food expensive, you can have one Roti Canai and a drink under RM3.00 (approx. USD1). There is a large selection of restaurants that range from middle range to luxury dining (at a minimum of RM150.00 per person) but word of the wise, the hawker food will have you salivating. The two areas where you can get most of the popular Penang dishes under one roof would be Gurney Drive or One World Park, both located in the central area of Georgetown.

While some people may often have gripes about public transportation in Penang or the non metered taxis here, there has been a vast improvement with its bus services since 5 years ago. However, transportation aside, most areas have your basic needs covered and you would usually find everything is accesible and conveniently placed in within one area. When it comes to food, there is a hawker, restaurant or cafe at least every 10 minutes of the way. When it comes to shopping centres, you have the fancy ones in the form of Queensbay mall or Gurney Plaza placed in prominent areas very accessible with public transportation and then you have hypermarket giants in the form of Tesco which has sprouted on the island and the mainland, Butterworth. You also have Carrefour on the mainland and some local hypermarket chains in the form of Giant and Econsave.

When traveling extensively to other places, you may find that history will be in a book or in a torn down building, but in Penang, chances are you'd be able to visit that building and be told the story of how it came to be. Like some of its other Asian counterparts, Penang was also once ruled by the British with Captain Francis Light landing at the sie of For Cornwallis and taking posession of the island in 1786. While outsider governance and the effects of the World Wars may hold bitter memories for some, it is also very enriching to see that in most parts of Penang, heritage has been preserved. Old schools, townhalls, fields and old buildings which over the years have been given a face lift still stand proud and erect as a reminder of past lessons for a current and future generation blessed with independence.

Most places in Asia, English serves as a second language, sometimes even a third which will usually mean that you would require a translator when walking the streets or talking to street sellers. Not in Penang. Almost everyone speaks English. And almost everyone will be more than willing to share their story with you. From the guide who will tell you of his school days in Penang to the hawker who will tell you how he raised his children by selling 'char koay teow' on a street corner, yes, everyone will have something to share if you are willing to listen.

And there you have it, I do not promise you a non-sweltering, non-insect bite Asian holiday, but I can promise you Penang will open your eyes to Asian treasures that will leave you with memories for a lifetime. She is after all, the Pearl of the Orient.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Jenny Said

By Pandora Poikilos

Jenny said
Right or wrong, true or false
So many childlike games to play
Love me he did, rob me he did
Girl one minute, woman the next
Do I really need to forgive?

Jenny said
Time is supposed to
Heal my wounds, they tell me
Time will make me better
But, so long, and my wounds are still here
Will I ever stop hurting to feel better?

Jenny said
I know my life is wrong
I know my ways can be better
I know many things that need fixing
But all I want is some loving
Can anyone love me and be accepting?

Jenny said
As he hits me, again
And tries to break me
I let my mind wander
Knowing life can be better
When will it be enough?

Jenny said
I want to leave him
I want to be away
But he loves me, you see
Maybe this is the love I deserve
Or is there really something better?

Jenny said
One day, I'll find a love
That is so great
That is so accepting
And loves me for who I am
Why can't I find this love today?

Jenny said
I am so damaged, beyond words
I am so broken, beyond repair
There are so many pieces of me
There is no peace within me
How can you love me?

Jenny said
There is no such thing as love
Love happens to other people
People who have love to give
Why do you love me
When I have none to give?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


By Portia Calleja

Do not think of what you do not have;
Instead, appreciate what you have and can still have.

Do not think of things lost;
Instead, value what you still have and may yet find.

Do not cry over spilled milk;
Instead, rejoice in what was left.

Do not think of what you are not;
Instead, be humble with what you are and can still become.

Do not think of what others say you are;
Instead, concern yourself with what you affirm to be.

Do not think of the hours and days past;
Instead, look eagerly to times that are yet to come.

Do not think of what you failed to do;
Instead, think of those that you were able to do and can still best do.

Do not think of mistakes committed;
Instead, count the things you did right.

Do not think much of the pain you have caused;
Instead, plan for ways to make amends.

Do not think of the sufferings you now bear;
Instead, look to the comfort when relief draws near.

Do not consume yourself with thoughts of what could have been;
Instead, marvel at what has become and will become.

Do not be anxious to attain greater happiness;
Instead, content yourself with the little things which bring you bliss.

Do not aspire to fill your cup at once;
Instead, have the patience to do it little by little.

And if by chance you fail, do not fret over the empty part on top;
Instead, celebrate the space filled up.

Do not condemn nature when it is at its worst;
Instead, think of the times when it was at its best.

Do not blame luck for things you miss;
Instead, learn from things in which you have been remiss.

Nor should you curse luck or others for life's misfortunes;
Instead, accept them as part of life.

I say then, Live fully, die a little,
Learn much but question less.

Have just enough but give much more,
Be contented each time to crave much less.

Doubt less and affirm a lot,
Understand more, and be understood less.

Worry a little but hope you must,
Accept all, resist the least.

For all things happen,
In due time they must.

I Choose

By Bernadette Ballezza

I choose to be happy.

I choose to live in a kind universe.

I choose to find things in common with the people that come into my life, celebrating our similarites and honoring our differences.

I choose to trust that this life isn't a random life.

I choose to reach out and help another, knowing I can make a difference, even though I may never witness the outcome.

I choose to pursue an honorable career.

I choose to believe we are all here for a reason, a good reason.

I choose friends who will restore me with support, joy and kindness and offer me the opportunity to do the same for them.

I choose to search for authentic meaning in my daily experiences.

I choose to welcome life's lessons.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

If Tomorrow Never Comes

Author Unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

There will always be another day to say our “I love you’s”, and certainly there’s another chance to say our “Anything I can do’s?”

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

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

So if you’re waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today?

For if tomorrow never comes, you’ll surely regret the day, that you didn’t take that extra time for a smile, a hug, or a kiss and you were too busy to grant someone, what turned out to be their one last wish.

So hold your loved ones close today, whisper in their ear, tell them how much you love them and that you’ll always hold them dear, take time to say “I’m sorry,” “please forgive me”, “thank you” or “it’s okay”.

And if tomorrow never comes, you’ll have no regrets about today.

One Glass Of Milk

Author Unknown

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water.

She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?”

“You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.”

He said….. “Then I thank you from my heart.” As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Years later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room.

Dressed in his doctor’s gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval.

He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill.

She read these words…..

“Paid in full with one glass of milk”

Dr. Howard Kelly

Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed: “Thank You, God, that Your love has spread abroad through human hearts and hands.”

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Dare To Be

By Steve Maraboli

When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully.

When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light.

When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it.

When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway.

When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back.

When there seems to be no hope, dare to find some.

When you're feeling tired, dare to keep going.

When times are tough, dare to be tougher.

When love hurts you, dare to love again.

When someone is hurting, dare to help them heal.

When another is lost, dare to help them find the way.

When a friend falls, dare to be the first to extend a hand.

When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile.

When you feel great, dare to help someone else feel great too.

When the day has ended, dare to feel as you've done your best.

Dare to be the best you can -

At all times, Dare to be!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Happiest Day Of My Life

By Michael T. Smith

It started innocently. Many years ago I worked in an office with large windows facing a busy overpass. I was standing by one of those windows one day when a woman in a passing car looked up and made eye contact. Naturally, I waved. A chuckle escaped my lips as she turned and tried to identify me. It was the beginning of a year of window antics.

When things were slow, I would stand in the window and wave at the passengers who looked up. The strange looks made me laugh and stress was washed away. Co-workers began to take an interest. They would stand from view, watch the reactions I received, and laugh along. Late afternoon was the best time - rush hour traffic filled the overpass with cars and transit buses, and providing lots of waving material for the end-of-day routine.

It didn't take long to attract a following - a group of commuters who passed the window every day and looked up at the strange waving man. There was a man with a construction truck who would turn on his flashing-yellow light and return my wave, the carpool crowd, and the business lady with her children fresh from day care. But my favorite was the transit bus from the docks that passed my window at 4:40pm. It carried the same group every day, and they became by biggest fans.

After a while, waving became boring, so I devised ways to enhance my act. I made signs: "Hi," "Hello," "Be Happy!" and posted them in the window and waved. I stood on the window ledge in various poses, created hats from paper and file-folders, made faces, played peek-a-boo by bouncing up from below the window ledge, stuck out my tongue, tossed paper planes in the air, and once went into the walkway over the street and danced while co-workers pointed to let my fans know I was there.

Christmas approached, and job cuts were announced. Several co-workers would lose their jobs, and everyone was feeling low. Stress in the office reached a high. A miracle was needed to repair the damage caused by the announcements.

While working a night shift, a red lab jacket attracted my attention. I picked it up and turned it in my hands. In a back corner where packing material was kept, I used my imagination and cut thin, white sheets of cloth-like foam into strips and taped them around the cuffs and collar, down the front, and around the hem. A box of foam packing and strips of tape became Santa's beard and when taped to the hat, slipped over my head in one piece.

The next working day I hid from my co-workers, slipped into the costume, walked bravely to my desk, sat down, held my belly, and mocked Santa's chuckle, as they gathered around me laughing. It was the first time I had seen them smile in weeks.

Later my supervisor walked through the door. He took three steps, looked up, saw me, paused, shook his head, turned and left. I feared trouble. The phone on the desk rung a few moments later, "Mike, can you come to my office please?" I shuffled down the hall, the foam beard swishing across my chest with each step.

"Come in!" the muffled voice replied to my knock.

I entered, and sat down. The foam on the beard creaked, and he looked away from me. A bead of sweat rolled down my forehead, the only sound was the hammering of my heart.

"Mike..." This was all he managed before he lost his composure, leaned back in his chair, and bellowed with laughter. He held his stomach, and tears formed in his eyes, as I sat silent and confused. When he regained control he said, "Mike, thanks! With the job cuts it has been hard to enjoy the Christmas season. Thanks for the laugh, I needed it."

That evening, and every evening of the Christmas season, I stood proudly in the window and waved to my fans. The bus crowd waved wildly, and the little children smiled at the strange Santa. My heart was full of the season, and for a few minutes each day we could forget the loss of jobs. I didn't know it then, but a bond was forming between my fans and me. It wasn't until the spring following the Santa act that I discovered how close we had become.

My wife and I were expecting our first child that spring, and I wanted the world to know. Less than a month before the birth I posted a sign in the window, "25 DAYS UNTIL B DAY." My fans passed and shrugged their shoulders. The next day the sign read, "24 DAYS UNTIL B DAY." Each day the number dropped, and the passing people grew more confused.

One day a sign appeared in the bus, "What is B DAY?" I just waved and smiled.

Ten days before the expected date the sign in the window read, "10 DAYS UNTIL BA-- DAY." Still the people wondered. The next day it read, "9 DAYS UNTIL BAB- DAY," then "8 DAYS UNTIL BABY DAY," and my fans finally knew what was happening.

By then, my following had grown to include twenty or thirty different busses and cars. Every night they watched to see if my wife had given birth. Excitement grew as the number decreased. My fans were disappointed when the count reached "zero" without an announcement.

The next day the sign read, "BABY DAY 1 DAY LATE," and I pretended to pull out my hair. Each day the number changed and the interest from passing cars grew.

When my wife was fourteen days overdue she went into labor, and the next morning our daughter was born. I left the hospital at 5:30am, screamed my joy into the still morning air and drove home to sleep. I got up at noon, showered, bought cigars, and appeared at my window in time for my fans. My co-workers were ready with a banner posted in the window: "IT'S A GIRL!"

I wasn't alone that night. My co-workers joined me in celebration. We stood and waved our cigars in the air as every vehicle that passed acknowledged the birth of my daughter. Finally, the bus from the docks made its turn onto the overpass and began to climb the hill. When it drew close, I climbed onto the window ledge and clasped my hands over my head in a victory pose. The bus was directly in front of me when it stopped dead in heavy traffic, and every person on board stood with their hands in the air. Emotion choked my breathing as I watched the display of celebration for my new daughter.

Then it happened: a sign popped up. It filled the windows and stretched half the length of the bus, "CONGRATULATIONS!" Tears formed in the corners of my eyes as the bus slowly resumed its journey. I stood in silence, as it pulled from view. More fans passed and tooted their horns or flashed their lights to display their happiness, but I hardly noticed them, as I pondered what had just happened.

My daughter had been born fourteen days late. Those people must have carried the sign, unrolled, on the bus for at least two weeks. Everyday they had unrolled it and then rolled it back up.

We all have a clown inside of us. We need to let it free and not be surprised at the magic it can create. For eight months I had made a fool of myself, and those people must have enjoyed the smiles I gave them, because on the happiest day of my life they had shown their appreciation. It has been more than 18 years since that special time, but on my daughter's birthday I always remember the special gift they gave me.

Monday, 9 August 2010

We Need Pencils

Sourced from HELPSudan

War broke out in Sudan in the early 1980s, largely based on racial, ethnic and religious divides just like the current conflict in Darfur. Unlike the present, the rest of the world looked the other way, while the government launched a persecution of the African tribal groups of the south and nurtured inter-tribal conflicts to their own ends.

More than 40,000 boys, aged 4-15, were orphaned, but survived this campaign of genocide by walking hundreds of miles through the wilderness to Ethiopia, back to Sudan and finally to Kakuma refugee camp, in northern Kenya. These boys, ripped from their parents, families and homes, are now known as The Lost Boys of Sudan.

Because of the war, there has been little maintenance of schools since the early 80s. Even since the signing of a peace agreement in December, 2005, restoration of the school system is slow in coming.

The initial mission of HELPSudan is to start new schools in Southern Sudan, providing pencils and notebooks for hands that might have taken up arms, and an education for minds that once only understood war.


Author Unknown

Be understanding to your enemies.

Be loyal to your friends.

Be strong enough to face the world each day.

Be weak enough to know you cannot do everything alone.

Be generous to those who need your help.

Be frugal with what you need yourself.

Be wise enough to know that you do not know everything.

Be foolish enough to believe in miracles.

Be willing to share your joys.

Be willing to share the sorrows of others.

Be a leader when you see a path others have missed.

Be a follower when you are shrouded by the mists of uncertainty.

Be the first to congratulate an opponent who succeeds.

Be the last to criticize a colleague who fails.

Be sure where your next step will fall, so that you will not tumble.

Be sure of your final destination, in case you are going the wrong way.

Be loving to those who love you.

Be loving to those who do not love you, and they may change.

Above all, be yourself.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Teaspoon, Teacup Or Bucket?

Author Unknown

During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director: "How do you determine whether or not a patient should be institutionalized."

"Well," said the Director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," said the visitor "a normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup."

"No." said the Director, "a normal person would pull the tub plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"

He Arranged My Rape, Through Craigslist

By DeeDee Correll, LA Times
Reporting from Denver

January 11, 2010

A Wyoming man is accused of posing online as his former girlfriend and soliciting someone to act out a violent sexual fantasy.

The advertisement appeared on Craigslist in early December.

"Need a real aggressive man with no concern for women," read the posting on the Internet classified advertising forum. Its purported author was a Casper, Wyo., woman, whose photo also was posted.

One week later, a man accepted the offer, forcing his way into the woman's home, tying her up and raping her at knifepoint.

"I'll show you aggressive," he allegedly said, according to court testimony.

In fact, authorities say, the woman had nothing to do with the ad. Instead, they say, a former boyfriend had posted it, soliciting her assault.

Such an incident would have been impossible -- or at least much less likely -- 20 years ago, Natrona County Dist. Atty. Mike Blonigen said. "It's probably only possible in our modern age," he said.

For Craigslist, the San Francisco-based website used by millions to sell and barter goods and services, the incident comes after a year punctuated by legal battles over its adult advertisements, as well as the highly publicized Boston slaying of a woman who advertised erotic services on the site.

Last year, Thomas Dart, the sheriff in Cook County, Ill., filed a federal lawsuit accusing the site of facilitating prostitution and urging the court to view it as a public nuisance. State attorneys general also pressured the company to eliminate what they called a "blatant Internet brothel."

Though Craigslist prevailed in the Illinois lawsuit, the website eliminated its erotic services section, replacing it with "adult services" and pledging to review every ad posted there to prevent flagrant prostitution and pornography.

Craigslist also has made headlines for cases of impersonation, including one last year in which a Long Island, N.Y., mother allegedly posted an ad seeking sex and directing men to the mother of her 9-year-old daughter's rival.

The Wyoming case began to unfold Dec. 5. Jebidiah James Stipe, 27, a Carbon, Wyo., native and Marine stationed at Twentynine Palms, Calif., allegedly posed as his ex-girlfriend and placed the ad seeking an aggressive man.

Two days later, she spotted it and contacted the Natrona County Sheriff's Office, as well as Craigslist, which took down the ad.

But Ty Oliver McDowell, 26, from Bar Nunn, Wyo., had allegedly already seen it.

McDowell, an employee of the Wyoming Medical Center's radiology department, e-mailed the address listed in the ad, according to an affidavit in the case.

McDowell later told authorities that he and the woman exchanged instant messages, and she described what she wanted -- "humiliation, physical abuse, sexual abuse," according to investigators -- and gave him her home address.

In fact, authorities say, McDowell was communicating with Stipe.

On Dec. 11, McDowell allegedly went to the woman's home and forced his way inside. He bound, blindfolded and gagged the 25-year-old woman, then raped her as he pressed a knife to her throat, the affidavit said.

Detectives said he told them he thought he was fulfilling her rape fantasy.

McDowell was arrested and charged with first-degree sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary. Stipe was also arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree sexual assault.

A maintenance mechanic who enlisted in the Marines in 2001, Stipe was in the process of being ejected for an undisclosed pattern of misconduct at the time of his arrest, a Marine Corps spokeswoman said.

Documents related to Stipe's arrest have been sealed. But as for the alleged rapist, Blonigen said his state of mind would be central to the case. Though jurors must weigh what McDowell believed to be true, they also must consider how a reasonable, objective person would view the situation, he said.

Blonigen said that although Craigslist officials had cooperated with the investigation, the fact that they published sexually suggestive ads also facilitated the crime.

"If I were king, I'd like to see them not run these personal ads," he said. "This is a debate we've had for a long time: . . . Do we censor the Internet?"

Craigslist did not respond to a request for comment.

Federal law protects Internet sites from liability for their users' actions, said M. Ryan Calo, residential fellow at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society.

"The idea was that these website platforms were truly communities assembled of random users, with no editorial control over what users were doing. Craigslist is like a hotel with millions of rooms, but it doesn't have the ability to figure out what's happening in those rooms," Calo said.

A crime committed through a social networking site is no different than one perpetrated through a newspaper's printed classifieds, he said. Yet Internet-based crimes do make it easier for police to track down suspects because they leave a cyber-trail, Calo said.

But Steve Patterson, a spokesman for the Cook County sheriff who sued Craigslist, said the website wasn't blameless. By hosting an adult services forum, "they create this specific place for criminal activity to take place," he said.

As a "good corporate citizen," Craigslist should not involve itself in such business, he said.

Authorities have not said which section of the website published the posting, but Patterson noted that Craigslist had pledged to monitor adult ads.

He said it was unclear whether or how thoroughly it was doing so, and added that the Wyoming incident suggested a lack of monitoring.

"If a woman is putting an ad online saying she'd like to be raped, I'd hope it would be stopped," he said.

Friday, 6 August 2010

5 Stages of Grief

(Sourced from Wikipedia))

The Kübler-Ross model, commonly known as the five stages of grief, was first introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying.

It describes, in five discrete stages, a process by which people deal with grief and tragedy, especially when diagnosed with a terminal illness or catastrophic loss. In addition to this, her book brought mainstream awareness to the sensitivity required for better treatment of individuals who are dealing with a fatal disease.

The progression of states is:
Denial – "I feel fine."; "This can't be happening, not to me."
Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of situations and individuals that will be left behind after death.

Anger – "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; "Who is to blame?"
Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.

Bargaining – "Just let me live to see my children graduate."; "I'll do anything for a few more years."; "I will give my life savings if..."
The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, "I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time..."

Depression – "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die... What's the point?"; "I miss my loved one, why go on?"
During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect oneself from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.

Acceptance – "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."
In this last stage, the individual begins to come to terms with their mortality or that of their loved one.

Kübler-Ross originally applied these stages to people suffering from terminal illness, later to any form of catastrophic personal loss (job, income, freedom). This may also include significant life events such as the death of a loved one, divorce, drug addiction, the onset of a disease or chronic illness, an infertility diagnosis, as well many tragedies and disasters.

Kübler-Ross claimed these steps do not necessarily come in the order noted above, nor are all steps experienced by all patients, though she stated a person will always experience at least two. Often, people will experience several stages in a "roller coaster" effect—switching between two or more stages, returning to one or more several times before working through it.

Significantly, people experiencing the stages should not force the process. The grief process is highly personal and should not be rushed, nor lengthened, on the basis of an individual's imposed time frame or opinion. One should merely be aware that the stages will be worked through and the ultimate stage of "Acceptance" will be reached.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Life Is Tough

By Jillian I

Life is tough
It can be hard
But when it gets unbearable
Don't let down your guard.

Although bad things
Happen to us all
It's important to remember
To learn from each fall.

Life is tough
But you are tougher
And just remember
It could be rougher.

Remember to cherish
The good things in life
They help you get by
In times of strife.

Don't underestimate
The worth of a friend
Because without them
Our hearts would not mend.

Always be true
To everyone you meet
If you act fake
You have suffered defeat.

Always be yourself
No matter what people say
It's a lot easier
To form lasting friendships this way.

It's important to say
What is only sincere
Words from the heart
Are the best kind to hear.

Don't worry about mistakes
From way back when
And never wonder
What might have been.

Never look back
The past is gone
Only memories remain
To look upon.

Learn to forgive
But never forget
Put things behind you
And never regret.

Always look forward
Keep moving ahead
So you can be proud of
The life you led.

But don't look too far
Or move too fast
Make the most of each day
It could be your last.

Don’t let others
Get you down
Show them a smile
When they want a frown.

Give people respect
No matter how mean they can be
The fact that they hurt you
They may not always see.

Allow yourself to grieve
It’s okay to cry
Remember life goes on
And the tears will dry.

Enjoy your life
Have fun and go crazy
Just don’t sit around
And always be lazy.

Try your best
In all that you do
Believe in yourself
And others will too.

Believe in God
He's always there
To help us learn
That life's not fair.

Because life's not a game
To win or lose
It is a gift
To love if we choose.

Being There

Author Unknown

Being there can be lending a hand, lifting a heavy load.

Being there can be a smile on a cloudy day.

Being there can be a crust of bread to the poor, giving shelter from the storm.

Being there can be a thought, a blessing, a prayer.

Being there can be showing support, and enthusiasm.

Being there can be listening quietly while someone else has something important they'd like you to hear.

Being there can be a friendly hug, or a warm embrace.

Being there can be expressions, penned on a page.

Being there can be the transferring of a certain glance.

Being there can be offering your time.

Being there can be sitting silently beside someone to watch the sun slide behind a silver sea.

Being there can be wiping a tear.

Being there can be chasing the moon at midnight.

Being there can be a whisper, a word, a soft touch at the right moment.

Being there can be riding the ferris wheel together without ever leaving the ground.

Being there can be a telephone call, closing the miles.

Being there can be a kiss on a fevered brow.

Being there can be the gift of a flower.

Being there can be teaching with kindness.

Being there can be sharing the depth of a powerful silence.

Being there can be wishing you were somewhere when you must be someplace else.

Being there can be taking someone's place when they must be somewhere else.

Being there can be driving through the blazing brilliance of autumn.

Being there can be just holding hands.

Being there can be waiting out the tough times.

Being there can be touching God through the heart, and letting His will be done.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Why Does One Love?

Author Unknown

Why does one love?
Is it to find an escape from the pains of loneliness or
Is it to feel the warmth of fulfillment that it brings to one's heart?
To me, love is the essential of all being.
One cannot exist without the love of another.
To live for another makes a life complete in every way.
Each beat of one's heart, each breath, each small thought signifies a
Small part of a love that is shared with another.

Who does one love?
Are two people destined to come together or
Is it by chance alone?
Only one's heart can tell when love has come.
It can feel the longing desire from it's deepest point and
It can feel the overpowering attraction when they are close.
One loves whom his heart has chosen and
My heart has chosen you.

When does one love?
Does one share their love in the soft mist of the early morning or
In the crisp breeze of the darkening night?
Those that are truly in love know no night or day, no dark or light.
Love is a continuous thing.
My love for you continues to grow throughout every second of time.

Why, Who, When, they all tie together,
For my love covers each of these.
Why, because you are what I have dreamed about.
Who, my heart tells me that you are the one I've been searching for.
When, now and throughout eternity.
My love for you shall never cease to exist
For there is no end to true love.

What Is Peace?

Author Unknown

There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror, for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest, perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize?

The King chose the second picture. Do you know why? "Because," explained the King, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."
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Books Sold - 6 Nov 2011 to 31 May 2012

Some of you have asked me for my total number of books sold to evaluate KDP Select so here it is. Bear in mind, that results will vary based on genre and author. Good luck and remember, Keep Moving Forward.

Total - 120,836

1. Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Amazon Kindle - 42,559
Paperback -
Smashwords -

2. Frequent Traveller
Amazon Kindle - 35277
Paperback -
Smashwords -

3. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 1
Amazon Kindle - 462
Smashwords -

4. Mirror Me Martha (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 281
Smashwords -

5. Drive On Hope (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 190
Smashwords -

6. Blog-A-Licious Directory 2012
Amazon Kindle - 1
Smashwords -

7. Pandora's Reading Room 1
Amazon Kindle -
Paperback - N/A

8. The Cat That Barked (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle -

9. Dora's Essentials - Examining Anxiety
Amazon Kindle -

10. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 2
Amazon Kindle -

11. Elevenses from Around the World
Amazon Kindle -

12. Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Amazon Kindle -

Blog-A-Licius - Sherbet Blossom



Dealightfully Frugal

Blog-A-Licious - The Few, The Proud, The Wife


My Soul Slippers

Blog-A-Licous - Textbook Mommy

Blog-A-Licious - Blue Frogs Legs

Blog-A-Licious - Pretty All True

Pretty All True

Blog-A-Licious - tbaoo



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Blog-A-Licious - The Invisible Art

Blog-A-Licious - Rediscovering Domesticity

Rediscovering Domesticity

Blog-A-Licious - Quiver Full

Blog-A-Licious - Cori's Big Mouth

Blog-A-Licious - Great Fun


Blog-A-Licious - Busy Wife

Blog-A-Licious - Steps To Happiness

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Blog-A-Licious - Toby & Max

Blog-A-Licious - Amelie

Raising Amelie

Blog-A-Licious - Peas In A Pod

Blog-A-Licious - Riley

Blognostics - Poetry


My Awards - September 2010

My Awards - September 2010
Awarded By Jo Frances

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded By Alejandro Guzman

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded by Kriti Mukherjee

My Awards - April 2011

My Awards - April 2011
Awarded By Roy Durham

My Awards - June 2011

My Awards - June 2011
Awarded By Sulekha Rawat

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