Thursday, 30 September 2010

Pursuit Of Happiness

Five Ingredients of Happiness
By James Delrojo

Happiness is different things to different people but there are common threads that run through the achievement of happiness for most people. These threads can be broken down into five ingredients. If you have all five of these you will be happy

1. Gratitude

Happy people are grateful and appreciative of what they have, whatever that may be. They always find something good and positive in their circumstances. This attitude of gratitude is the foundation stone on which happiness is built.

By way of contrast unhappy people are not grateful or appreciative of anything in their world. They are constantly focused on the fact that there is something that they don't have. They live in lack and as a result their spirit is lacking. Nothing ever makes them truly happy.

2. Passion

Happy people are passionate people. It could be a passion for knowledge. It could be a passion for success. It could be a passion for helping others. It could be any passion at all, as long as it truly inspires the person to become more than they are now.

The unhappy person is devoid of passion. They are complacent or apathetic. They have no inspiration in their life, nothing to urge them to evolve and grow into a more developed person. As a result they tend to go around in circles; each year is similar to the year before. They are in a spiritual rut.

3. Challenge

Happy people have a challenge that they are pursuing. It could be a purely spiritual challenge such as finding enlightenment or it could be a commercial challenge such as building a successful business. It could be a sporting challenge such a winning a medal in the Olympics or it could be a career challenge.

The important ingredients of the challenge are that it is in the area of the person's passion and that it is big enough to be inspiring but not so big as to be overwhelming.

The unhappy person avoids challenges. They are waiting for someone or something to give them happiness. They believe that happiness is outside of them and that any form of challenge is work to be avoided.

4. Faith

Happy people have faith that they will achieve the destination that their challenge requires. They have faith that they have the mental and spiritual strength to take on their challenge and to grow in whatever way they need to grow in order to succeed.

They have faith that every experience has its purpose and that something positive can be gained from it, even if the experience is a bad experience or a setback.

Unhappy people are lacking in faith. On the surface they are seeking happiness but they don't really believe that they will ever find it, and they are right. You can't find happiness if you don't have faith.

5. Journey

Happy people are on a journey to their challenging destination. They have a purpose for getting up each day. They have a purpose for the things they do each day. They are doing the things required to follow their passion and they take joy from that fact.

Unhappy people are stagnant. They are not on any journey to anywhere. They are milling around, marking time. They are waiting for the world to give them happiness and they will have to wait forever because happiness requires you to take action, to grow, and to move forward in life.

Happy people have all five ingredients; gratitude, passion, challenge, faith and journey. They may be Buddhist monks on the road to enlightenment following a path of poverty. They may be billionaire business owners following a path of commercial empire building. They may be Musicians dedicating their life to mastery their instrument. They could be following any of an infinite number of paths but they all have the five ingredients of happiness.

Versatile Blogger Award

A big, big thank you to Jo Frances of Over40 Style for this award. It's awesome to come back to more comments and readers!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

But before I turn this into a complete acceptance speech, you're probably here because I've given you the same award, so here's how you claim it ...

-Link back to the person who gave you the award.
-Share 7 things about yourself.
-Pass the award along to 15 other bloggers who you recently discovered and think are fabulous.
-Contact the bloggers you chose and let them know about the award.

My 7 sharings about me ...
1 - I recently had a VP Shunt and am still reeling from the changes its bringing into my life.
2 - I LOVE books, hence the phrase 'certified bookaholic'.
3 - I am also a big fan of movies and music, no particular genre, whichever goes with how I'm feeling at the time.
4 - I am also a cereal nut, and can eat cereal at any given hour - dinner time included.
5 - I am very thankful for the readers, comments and feedback I've received on this blog and of course, look forward to more.
6 - I hope to get my book published within the next year or at least to start the process.
7 - I am looking forward to receiving more writing jobs.

And in the spirit that it was given, I am paying it forward to...
- Cupcake Sprinkles In Life
- Extreme Personal Measures
- Fabulous Finds
- Gig Girl
- Giving Up On Perfect
- I Married A Moron
- InCourage
- Layton Family Joy
- Living Out Loud
- Love Is A Journey
- Open 7 Days A Week
- Rediscovering Domesticity
- Sherbet Blossom
- Textbook Mommy
- The Few, The Proud, The Wife

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

What I Have To Give You

Author Unknown

To be honest with you,
I do not have the words to make you feel better -

But I do have arms to give you a hug -
I have ears to listen to anything
you want to talk about -

I have eyes to see the pain you are going through -
I have feet, to walk to you
the minute you need me -

And I have a heart -
a heart that is aching to see you smile again.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

If You Love Her Enough

By Bill Walls

My friend John always has something to tell me. He knows so much that young men have to have older and more worldly wise men to tell them. For instance who to trust, how to care for others, and how to live life to the fullest.

Recently, John lost his wife Janet. For eight years she fought against cancer, but in the end her sickness had the last word.

One day John took out a folded piece of paper from his wallet. He had found it, so he told me, when he tidied up some drawers at home. It was a small love letter Janet had written. The note could look like a school girl's scrawls about her dream guy. All that was missing was a drawing of a heart with the names John and Janet written in it. But the small letter was written by a woman who had had seven children; a woman who fought for her life and who probably only had a few months left to live.

It was also a beautiful recipe for how to keep a marriage together.

Janet's description of her husband begins thus: "Loved me. Took care of me. Worried about me."

Even though John always had a ready answer, he never joked about cancer apparently. Sometimes he came home in the evening to find Janet in the middle of one of those depressions cancer patients so often get. In no time he got her into the car and drove her to her favourite restaurant.

He showed consideration for her, and she knew it. You cannot hide something for someone who knows better.

"Helped me when I was ill," the next line reads. Perhaps Janet wrote this while the cancer was in one of the horrible and wonderful lulls. Where everything is -almost- as it used to be, before the sickness broke out, and where it doesn't hurt to hope that everything is over, maybe forever.

"Forgave me a lot."

"Stood by my side."

And a piece of good advice for everyone who looks on giving constructive criticism as a kind of sacred duty: "Always praising."

"Made sure I had everything I needed," she goes on to write.

After that she has turned over the paper and added: "Warmth. Humour. Kindness. Thoughtfulness."

And then she writes about the husband she has lived with and loved the most of her life: "Always there for me when I needed you."

The last words she wrote sum up all the others, "Good friend."

I stand beside John now, and cannot even pretend to know how it feels to lose someone who is as close to me as Janet was to him. I need to hear what he has to say much more than he needs to talk.

"John," I ask. "How do you stick together with someone through 38 years - not to mention the sickness? How do I know if I can bear to stand by my wife's side if she becomes sick one day?"

"You can," he says quietly. "If you love her enough, you can."

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Don't Tell Me

By Pandora Poikilos

Don't tell me
This is love
Tell me instead,
Where we were you
When I needed you most?

Don't tell me
About all the countable ways
I've hurt you
Tell me instead,
Why did you rob
My childhood from me?

Don't tell me
This is letting go
Tell me instead,
That you accept me
Just as I am.

Don't tell me
This is thoughtfulness
Tell me instead,
You'll listen to how I feel
Instead of telling me
How I am supposed to feel

Most of all, don't tell me
This is about the many ways
I need to change
Tell me instead,
How perfect are you that
you don't need change?

Peas & Carrots

By Pandora Poikilos

Maybe it was my recent posting by Bill Walls (If You Love Her Enough) which got my wheels turning to write this or maybe I just realised it was time for me to say this as I got closer to 'the day'. For those who've been reading the other postings know that Peas & Carrots refers to my other half who at most times gets very little credit for the many things he does. While in some ways we may not know each other enough, there are even other ways and more when we feel we've already known each other for a lifetime.

No, this is not a recipe for the perfect or long lasting relationship, we've got a long way to go making it 'long lasting' let alone perfect. These are merely the very small discoveries we've made about each other that will hopefully string us together like strands of thread and bond us for a journey we'd both be enriched and better shaped in taking.

Maybe it'll have me explaining patience to our 13 year old daughter or have him explaining his raunchy tattoo (stretched, wrinkled and out of shape by then) to our 5 year old grandson, I don't know. What I do know is that if I ever set out on a journey of a lifetime, he'd be the one I'd want to do it with, even if it'll require airplane loads of hard work and patience to get there.

Past, Present & Future
We've both had pasts with incidences that have enriched us but in a small way make us wonder that we could have done without them. Some of his, I understand enough to share how he feels and others I can only be there for him when he wants to talk about it. And some we can both laugh about, leaving us much the wiser when we have our own children. I've got patches of very black areas in my past that make him angry and make me bitter.

They make him curse and they make me cry. On some days, I'll want to talk about nothing else and then on others it becomes too much to even think about. This is his secret because he knows which day is which even before I realise it. So here's his biggest gift to me, he accepts me for who I am, without judging, without telling me the past is my fault. He leaves the past where it's supposed to be, the past. Yes, we both know that there are elements of my past we both will never reconcile with or even come close to accepting but it's a big step to have someone who chooses to understand your past and stands by you anyway and for this I am grateful.

He lets you talk about the painful bits but constantly reminds you that this is the present and we have a future to look forward to, a future that carries no spot of elements from the past, so you know, at the very least this is someone who is not concerned about just the best parts of you and he'll stay for the ugly bits too. He'll make you laugh even when he knows something hurts you so bad and he'll tell you to chin up when facing something as scary as a surgeon's knife, with the simple knowledge he's waiting for you, there'll be loads of things he says and does, all so that today, can be a better tomorrow.

That's a No
Very early on, I learnt that this is a person I won't always get my way with. It made me feel especially secure in knowing this is a person who will do his best for me even when I might slip in some way, in a way that you know this is the right thing to do. You know he's doing it for who you are and not because he feels sorry for you or wants to find some way of making it serve his benefit. His 'no' will be an understanding one which will usually take into consideration how whacky or quirky you are capable of being.

There isn't any bickering nor is there any drama, it usually comes from mutual understanding about how far you can actually stomp on each other's boundaries and when we are not sure, we ask. On more than one occasion I've been busted at losing track of time and still typing away at some god forsaken hour when I've promised him that I'll try to get some sleep for the day.

On another occasion when I felt I could grab brain surgery by the horns, he has gently pointed out to me, "Sweetheart, it's a bit naive to think that you can bounce back just like that two weeks after brain surgery when people with broken legs take longer to heal, isn't it?" So yes, I won't be jumping for joy every time I hear a 'no' from him but I also know he understands me enough to have a grasp at my limitations and when to reel me in from fantasy land.

Something for you, something for me and something for us
Being the word junkie that I am, he told me to listen to the eons old "Truly, Madly, Deeply" by Savage Garden, saying it had something for me, him and for us. I thought it was a very apt description for any relationship in more ways than one. Any relationship of any kind has to be beyond suffocation. We cannot spend every single moment of the day with each other or like every single thing the other person does.

One, there's no fascination and two, it's the fastest way of saying, where's the door? Some people call knowing everything, love. Tell me when you've achieved this with one person and the relationship has survived, I'll rejoice with you. We all need moments in our days when we have separate jobs, different talents or when we lock the bedroom door after the shower to have a good stretch or just the simple pleasure of sitting down with a good book without a string of questions.

There is only so much you can control in your own life, let alone someone else's. Let it go. We are different for a reason. Be individuals who've fallen in love, whose quirky differences will make for a more interesting journey. After all, you can either be a pea or a carrot. You just can't be both. Or in the spirit of one of the most remembered lines ever, "You complete me," simply be the other half.

We choose to do this
The funny thing about arguments is that you'll rarely remember why - days, weeks or months later. I remember an argument we were having recently when I insisted on behaving like a five year old and he tried every way he could to gloss over something silly he said because he wasn't paying attention to our conversation, in the first place.

As the argument carried on, more than why we argued and the need for me to push him away, I remembered him saying, "I choose to do this" and it got me thinking. There is no such thing as 'we HAVE to love'. We love because we want to. Family, friends, lovers, best friends, we love every single one of them because they've touched something within us that lets us love them. Sometimes we may get hurt and sometimes we end up on a lifelong journey, either way, we choose to love. Just like the two of us, we choose to accept people for who they are without demands of change or ransoms of perfection. This is who I am, and it's done.

Truth & Trust
Like love, truth and trust are another bundle of choices we make. When doing something, we can choose to be completely honest with the person(s) we love or we can just let it slide and let it mount to something else. But this is a two way street. Can I trust you enough to tell you things without becoming your morning coffee chit chat?

Can I tell you the truth knowing that even if you are angry, you'd be angry for me and not for yourself? Do I have to run because I can't face the truth with you or do you simply say, tell me and I'll listen and this will really be between us. Too often, I've heard people move from one gossip to another, authenticity always assured mind you, without realising that the only bit of authenticity involved is probably the person's name.

Well, here's someone who won't be a part of it. He'll tell you the truth and expect the same from you. There are, however, no compromises on this. He'll willingly stand up to the person who tries to break this bond as much as you'll have to be strong enough to respect him without blabbering details about the two of you to a list of girlfriends on your phonebook. He'll expect you to respect his privacy as much as he respects yours and have no doubt that you can trust him enough to tell you things when he is ready. Even if in telling the truth you're admitting to a mistake, you'll find forgiveness and an opportunity to learn but always remember, this is a two way street.

And there you have it, loads more to learn, loads more to laugh about and loads more to journey on. And no, I cannot make any guarantees that this will be a journey with blue skies, sunshine and flower strewn pathways, we'll have our autumn days and winter moments, there'll be minor irritations on days when I write cake and he reads biscuits or when he goes out to do something he'll call fun and I'll scream recklessness.

Yes, there'll be many days and ways, boys will be boys. But there will also be those numerous, uncountable moments, when they'll be a man, hold you close, give you kisses of hope and show you - why him, you and 'us' are all worth fighting for.

MRI - Pre Surgery

I had been all set to make my first attempt at making Carbonara.

Unfortunately, the MRI I had to do earlier in the day turned out a little different that it was supposed to. Because the MRI is to be used during the surgery, it came with a particular 'protocol' that included dye being injected into me. Normal enough.

And then it all became new. First, they couldn't get a proper spot for the needle so after loads of prodding, they finally found a tiny vein the dye could go through. When it did, I felt cold like I've never felt before.

Normal for them, completely new to me. Never mind that when I got back, I craved more for my bed than the urge to make Carbonara which I must now look forward to doing after my surgery. Till then, next week's Monday New.s will be new for a lot of people but one I'll have to do. So, here's to the surgeon's knife and to coming out of it, all intact.

Monday, 13 September 2010

The Secret Of Happiness

By Steve Brunkhorst

The old man shuffled slowly into the restaurant. With head tilted, and shoulders bent forward, he leaned on his trusty cane with each unhurried step. His tattered cloth jacket, patched trousers, worn out shoes, and warm personality made him stand out from the usual Saturday morning breakfast crowd. Unforgettable were his pale blue eyes that sparkled like diamonds, large rosy cheeks, and thin lips held in a tight, steady smile.

He stopped, turned with his whole body, and winked at a little girl seated by the door. She flashed a big grin right back at him. A young waitress named Mary watched him shuffle toward a table by the window. Mary ran over to him, and said, "Here, Sir. Let me give you a hand with that chair."

Without saying a word, he smiled and nodded a thank you. She pulled the chair away from the table. Steadying him with one arm, she helped him move in front of the chair, and get comfortably seated. Then she scooted the table up close to him, and leaned his cane against the table where he could reach it.

In a soft, clear voice he said, "Thank you, Miss. And bless you for your kind gestures." "You're welcome, Sir." She replied. "And my name is Mary. I'll be back in a moment, and if you need anything at all in the mean time, just wave at me!"

After he had finished a hearty meal of pancakes, bacon, and hot lemon tea, Mary brought him the change from his ticket. He left it lay. She helped him up from his chair, and out from behind the table. She handed him his cane, and walked with him to the front door. Holding the door open for him, she said, "Come back and see us, Sir!" He turned with his whole body, winked a smile, and nodded a thank you. "You are very kind." he said softly.

When Mary went to clean his table, she almost fainted. Under his plate she found a business card, and a note scribbled on a napkin. Under the napkin was a one hundred dollar bill. The note on the napkin read...
"Dear Mary, I respect you very much, and you respect yourself too. It shows by the way you treat others. You have found the secret of happiness. Your kind gestures will shine through those who meet you."

The man she had waited on was the owner of the restaurant where she worked. This was the first time that she, or any of his employees had ever seen him in person.


Author Unknown

A young man who had been raised as an atheist was training to be an Olympic diver. The only religious influence in his life came from his outspoken Christian friend. The young diver never really paid much attention to his friend's sermons, but he heard them often.

One night the diver went to the indoor pool at the college he attended. The lights were all off, but as the pool had big skylights and the moon was bright, there was plenty of light to practice by.

The young man climbed up to the highest diving board and as he turned his back to the pool on the edge of the board and extended his arms out, he saw his shadow on the wall. The shadow of his body was in the shape of a cross.

Instead of diving, he knelt down and asked God to come into his life. As the young man stood, a maintenance man walked in and turned the lights on. The pool had been drained for repairs.

Information Please

When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember well the polished old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother used to talk to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person - her name was Information Please and there was nothing she did not know. Information Please could supply anybody's number and the correct time.

My first personal experience with this genie-in-the-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible, but there didn't seem to be any reason in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway - The telephone! Quickly I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear. Information Please I said into the mouthpiece just above my head.

A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear. "Information."

"I hurt my finger. . ." I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.

"Isn't your mother home?" came the question.

"Nobody's home but me." I blubbered.

"Are you bleeding?"

"No," I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts."

"Can you open your icebox?" she asked. I said I could. "Then chip off a little piece of ice and hold it to your finger."

After that I called Information Please for everything. I asked her for help with my geography and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math, and she told me my pet chipmunk I had caught in the park just the day before would eat fruits and nuts.

And there was the time that Petey, our pet canary died. I called Information Please and told her the sad story. She listened, then said the usual things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was unconsoled. Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers, feet up on the bottom of a cage?

She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, "Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in."

Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone. "Information Please."

"Information," said the now familiar voice.

"How do you spell fix?" I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the pacific Northwest. Then when I was 9 years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. Information Please belonged in that old wooden box back home, and I somehow never thought of trying the tall, shiny new phone that sat on the hall table.

Yet as I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me; often in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.
Author Unknown

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about half an hour or so between plane, and I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, "Information Please".

Miraculously, I heard again the small, clear voice I knew so well, "Information." I hadn't planned this but I heard myself saying, "Could you tell me please how-to spell fix?'

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, "I guess that your finger must have healed by now."

I laughed, "So it's really still you, I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time."

"I wonder, she said, if you know how much your calls meant to me. I never had any children, and I used to look forward to your calls."

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.

"Please do, just ask for Sally."

Just three months later I was back in Seattle. . .A different voice answered Information and I asked for Sally.

"Are you a friend?" "Yes, a very old friend." "Then I'm sorry to have to tell you. Sally has been working part-time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago." But before I could hang up she said, "Wait a minute. Did you say your name was Paul?"


"Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down, Here it is I'll read it 'Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean'."

I thanked her and hung up. I did know what Sally meant.

Now I Know

By Alice Kerr

Now I know I never knew,
when you lost your child,
What you were going through.
I wasn't there,
I stayed away,
I just deserted you.

I didn't know the words to say,
I didn't know the things to do.
I think your pain so frightened me,
I didn't know how to comfort you.

And then one day me child died.
You were the first one there.
You quietly stayed by my side, listened,
And held me as I cried.
You didn't leave, you didn't go.
The lesson learned is
Now I know.

Does God Still Speak to People?

Author Unknown

A young man had been to Wednesday night Bible Study. The Pastor had shared about listening to God and obeying the Lord's voice. The young man couldn't help but wonder, "Does God still speak to people?"

After service he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways. It was about ten o'clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray, "God, if you will listen. I will do my best to obey."

As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought to stop and buy a gallon of milk.He shook his head an said out loud, "God is that you?" He didn't get a reply an started on toward home. But again the thought to stop and buy a gallon of milk. The young man thought about Samuel and how he didn't recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli.

"Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk." It didn't seem like too hard a test of obedience. He could always use the milk. He stopped and purchased the gallon of milk and started of toward home. As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, "Turn down that street." This is crazy he thought and drove on past the intersection. Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh.

Half jokingly, he said out loud, "Okay, God, I will". He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and looked around. He was in a semi-commercial area of town. It wasn't the best but it wasn't the worst of neighborhoods either.

The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people of the houses were already in bed. Again, he sensed something, "Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street." The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were already asleep. He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat. "Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid." Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk.

Finally, he opened the door, "Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to be obedient. I guess that will count for something but if they don't answer right away, I am out of here." He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear no noise inside. A man's voice yelled out, "Who is it? What do you want?"

Then the door opened before the young man could get away. The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn't seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep.

"What is it?" The young man thrust out the gallon of milk, "Here, I brought this to you." The man took the milk and rushed down a hallway speaking loudly in Spanish. Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying.

The man had tears streaming down his face. The man began speaking and half crying, "We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn't have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me. How to get some milk." His wife in the kitchen yelled out, "I ask him to send an Angel with some. Are you an Angel?"

The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put it in the man's hand. He turned and walked back toward his car and the tears were streaming down his face. He knew that God still answers prayers.

Only One Childhood

Author Unknown

I stopped to watch my little girl busy playing in her room. In one hand was a plastic phone; in the other a toy broom. I listened as she was speaking to her make believe little friend And I'll never forget the words she said, even though it was pretend.

She said, "Suzie's in the corner cuz she's not been very good. She didn't listen to a word I said or do the things she should." In the corner I saw her baby doll all dressed in lace and pink. It was obvious she'd been put there to sit alone and think.

My daughter continued her "conversation," as I sat down on the floor. She said, "I'm all fed up, I just don't know what to do with her anymore? She whines whenever I have to work and wants to play games, too. She never lets me do the things that I just have to do?

She tries to help me with the dishes, but her arms just cannot reach... And she doesn't know how to fold towels. I don't have the time to teach. I have a lot of work to do and a big house to keep clean. I don't have the time to sit and play - don't you know what I mean?"

And that day I thought a lot about making some changes in my life; As I listened to her innocent words that cut me like a knife. I hadn't been paying enough attention to what I hold most dear. I'd been caught up in responsibilities that increased throughout the year.

But now my attitude has changed, because, in my heart, I realize, I've seen the world in a different light through my little darling's eyes. So, let the cobwebs have the corners and the dustbunnies rule the floor, I'm not going to worry about keeping up with them anymore.

I'm going to fill the house with memories of a child and her mother, for we are granted only one childhood, and we will never get another.

Useless Life

Author Unknown

A farmer got so old that he couldn't work the fields anymore. So he would spend the day just sitting on the porch. His son, still working the farm, would look up from time to time and see his father sitting there. "He's of no use any more," the son thought to himself, "he doesn't do anything!"

One day the son got so frustrated by this, that he built a wood coffin, dragged it over to the porch, and told his father to get in. Without saying anything, the father climbed inside.

After closing the lid, the son dragged the coffin to the edge of the farm where there was a high cliff. As he approached the drop, he heard a light tapping on the lid from inside the coffin. He opened it up. Still lying there peacefully, the father looked up at his son. "I know you are going to throw me over the cliff, but before you do, may I suggest something?" "What is it?" replied the son. "Throw me over the cliff, if you like," said the father, "but save this good wood coffin. Your children might need to use it."

Friday, 10 September 2010

A Coupon Called Hope

By Pandora Poikilos

As surgery looms even closer, my thoughts drift from past to present to future and then sometimes I get jumbled up between all three wondering why I have so many questions and so little answers. Yet, I know the best thing to do is to have faith and hope in the knowledge that everything will work out for the best as it always does.

One thing I know for sure that the memories that keep replaying in my head are not that of everything miserable that has happened or the ones who made it so, instead my thoughts are occupied with moments of laughter, joy, support and most of all, hope.

Support Beams
There will always be family and friends in all our lives, and then of course, some friends who become like family. Forget about the ones who've gone out of their way to hurt you just because they can by any means they can. Some people realise too late that hurting people is not part of the journey to becoming 'rich'. Remember instead the voice that says, "You have to take this strong. You've made it so far, this is not going to stop you. You'll be fine, and better." Remember the encouragement you received when you kept asking "Why did this have to happen to me?" in the words that said, "Sometimes we need to fall from the clouds to the ground to see the road ahead." Even remember the ones who take every possible opportunity to tell you what they like about your work, be it your writing, your craft or anything you do and the ones who have no issues at all about shuttling you to and fro from hospital, on a regular basis. Remember their encouragement because it's their way of saying "We love you as you are and we don't want to change you. You have your own talents, use them to the best you can. We love that about you." Yes, you won't hear these things from every person that crosses your path but you'll have the few essential support beams to hold you strong and will give you the feeling that you can't give up on yourself for the simple reason, they haven't given up on you.

Peas and Carrots
The next time someone says love comes in unexpected places from the most unexpected situations, don't laugh. Because it does. It may be not everything you want or in the situation you want but it'll be what you need the most. It'll be the gentle voice that tells you brain surgery is not a walk in the park but he has no qualms about taking the journey with you. It'll be the soothing reassurance as you're about to bawl your eyes out that things will be fine and he's not giving up just because you feel like it. Even as you worry about having to go bald or scars, he'll say hair grows back and scars will heal. Mostly, he'll take every opportunity he can, across the miles or not, to say he loves you. Laughingly he'll say, the both of you are like peas and carrots, and it doesn't matter that your quirky differences make you the way you are, its what he likes about you. He'll wear his heart on his sleeve and be patient when you're having a bad day, listening to you rant just so you can feel better or just in giving you the simple consolation that you have someone to talk to at the end of each day who understands you.

Small Miracles
Children are proof that God gives us daily miracles. They come in complete bundles of questions, discoveries and a flurry of activity. I haven't been fortunate enough to have my own but I know nothing tops the feeling of having a little nose rubbing against yours or the little hands that holds yours thinking they are holding it because they need comfort when in fact, it is you who is being comforted. Yes, you'll laugh when they refer to you as the fairy godmother who helps to build an imaginary house from cushions or when they ask to make purple Christmas ornaments for an orange Christmas tree but these are the memories they will offer you without realising how much their antics actually mean to you.

Medicine Man
When faced with a perplexing medical condition, we all hope for a miracle, in any form. We want a cure, we want to be healed but most of all we just want it to go away so our lives can go back to 'normal'. Sometimes we are faced with doctors and nurses who think of us as just another patient with just another condition. They are so engrossed in the technicalities involved, they forget that you have feelings, that you're capable of worry or that you need comfort in knowing, having the condition you are having, you are normal. But don't despair. Everyone is different and I've realised that soon enough. I've been blessed with doctors and nurses who don't grimace at what I have and instead gently pat my hand before a lumbar puncture, a neurologist who takes the time to follow up on how I am doing, a neurosurgeon who calls personally when confirming surgery matters and the ones who do the most important task of all, they listen. So, yes, believe what you must about modern medicine but know this, there really are people who still think medicine is about healing people and that their talent is not another way to tap into wealth.

My w.Rites
Having already had my work published before, I know the amazing feel you can get from the simple acknowledgment that someone has read your work and likes it. And now, reading the feedback and comments coming from readers of Peace from Pieces, this has been so much more a coupon of hope than anyone would know. For those who've taken the time in posting their comments, sharing, Tweeting, Liking on Facebook or in simply reading, I thank you because knowing I've been able to touch your life in some way will be something I carry with me, in a very good way and it offers me hope to come back from surgery with more things to share.

So you see, I'm no expert with a decorated wall of certificates but I can tell you, hospital beds and risky surgeries are not about fear or worry, it resembles hope in things and of people yet to come. It is the sense of appreciation for the best things you have close to your hearts despite the worst of moments. It isn't about rediscovering old hurts, its about realising the inner strength you have in yourself held together with people who love you. I have been fortunate to be blessed with these little memories that represent my coupon of hope which I will hold dear when lying on a hospital bed and my prayer for you is that if you ever have to face something even remotely similar, you'll be blessed with the same.

New Girls! New Girls!

By Richard Greenberg
(NBC News producer)

Intellectually, I knew exactly what I was getting into when I offered to go undercover to document the child sex trade in Cambodia. Emotionally, I didn’t have a clue.

Our technical whiz and cameraman, Mitchell Wagenberg, and I didn’t really have time to think about it as we prepared for our first shoot hours after our flight landed in Cambodia. We had just traveled halfway around the world and were still in a jetlag daze when we headed to the village of Svay Pak on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

We were with Bob Mosier, a veteran cop from Virginia and the chief investigator for the International Justice Mission, a human rights group that specializes in freeing women and children from slave labor conditions, including the sex trade. Mosier told us the pimps of Svay Pak would approach us as soon as we pulled into town, and he promised we would have no problem getting footage of the kids being offered for sale for sex.

I was skeptical. Usually, it takes a few attempts to get what we’re looking for. But Mosier was right. In a matter of minutes, teenage pimps led us into the back room of a shack where a swarm of girls was competing for our attention as if vying for the grand prize of a contest.

“New girls! New girls!” exclaimed Po, a 15-year-old pimp. What he meant was the girls filling the room had arrived recently from Vietnam. Some, especially the really young ones, age 10 and under, were sent by family members, who probably were paid a few hundred dollars in return. Many of the teenagers, we learned, had been tricked, believing they were coming to Phnom Penh to work as waitresses, and now were stuck with no way to get back home.

It came down to this: these five- to 10-year-old girls, instead of playing with dolls or learning to read, were being raped so adults could make a living. As the father of two daughters, I couldn’t fathom the kind of desperation that would prompt a parent to send a child into this situation.

So there I was, sitting on a sagging mattress in a brothel facing a girl who said she was nine. “Yum-yum,” she said, using the local term for oral sex. Just in case we had any doubts, the 10-year-old standing next to her demonstrated with her hand and her mouth. Oh, yes, they insisted with smiles. They knew how to do it and told us if we weren’t satisfied after, we wouldn’t have to pay.

I’ve reported on drug trafficking, arms dealing, terrorism, political corruption, and organized crime. I’ve been in a few predicaments. But nothing compared to facing these girls, least of all when they reached across the space separating us and grabbed our crotch areas with their tiny hands.

Horrified, Mitchell Wagenberg and I stared in disbelief as we tried to figure out our next move. The girls and their pimps were supposed to believe we were sexual predators. All I wanted to do was scoop these kids up and get them out of this nightmare. I looked at their smiles and thought of my daughters. I wanted to cry.

We stood up and told the children we weren’t ready to go through with it, but would come back another time. They pleaded with us to stick around. We found Bob Mosier out in the hallway and navigated our way through the dark to the brothel door. “We’ll be back soon,” we said as we left.

We did come back about two weeks later. This time, we were on the inside of an operation set up by Mosier’s group, the IJM, to bring in the Cambodian police and rescue the girls. Once more, we had to go through the stomach-churning experience of posing as perverts.

We each found ourselves in a room with three girls. One girl in my room, we were told, was 5. She had such a sweet face. How many times, I wondered, had these girls been behind closed doors with American men who abused them? What kind of monster do they think I am? If only I could let them know why we’re really here.

Even now, months after the police raided the brothel, I take solace in the fact that at least some of the girls we met are no longer being raped. But I wonder how they will heal, and whether they will ever truly recover from the damage inflicted by the adults around them. And, often, when I lie awake in bed at night, I am haunted by the faces of the girls we saw who were not rescued and who are still being violated.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

A Prayer

By Max Ehrmann

Let me do my work each day; and if the darkened hours of despair overcome me, may I not forget the strength that comforted me in the desolation of other times.

May I still remember the bright hours that found me walking over the silent hills of my childhood, or dreaming on the margin of a quiet river, when a light glowed within me, and I promised my early God to have courage amid the tempests of the changing years.

Spare me from bitterness and from the sharp passions of unguarded moments. May I not forget that poverty and riches are of the spirit.

Though the world knows me not, may my thoughts and actions be such as shall keep me friendly with myself.

Lift up my eyes from the earth, and let me not forget the uses of the stars. Forbid that I should judge others lest I condemn myself.

Let me not follow the clamor of the world, but walk calmly in my path.

Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am; and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope.

And though age and infirmity overtake me, and I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me still to be thankful for life, and for time's olden memories that are good and sweet; and may the evening's twilight find me gentle still.

No God

Author Unknown

A college student was in a philosophy class, where there was a class discussion about whether or not God exists, The professor had the following logic:

"Has anyone in this class heard God?" Nobody spoke.

"Has anyone in this class touched God?" Again, nobody spoke.

"Has anyone in this class seen God?" When nobody spoke for the third time, he simply stated, "Then there is no God."

The student did not like the sound of this at all, and asked for permission to speak. The professor granted it, and the student stood up and asked the following questions of his classmates:

"Has anyone in this class heard our professor's brain?" Silence.

"Has anyone in this class touched our professor's brain?"

Absolute silence.

"Has anyone in this class seen our professor's brain?" When nobody in the class dared to speak, the student concluded, "Then, according to our professor's logic, it must be true that our professor has no brain!"

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

What Matters Most

By Eisie Perera

It isn't the size of your house as such
That matters so much at all.
It's the gentle hand and its loving touch,
That make it great or small.

The friends who come and the hour they
Who out of your house depart,
Will judge it not by the style you show,
But rather by the size of your heart.

It isn't the size of your head so much,
It isn't the wealth you found.
That will make you happy -- it's how you touch
The lives that are all around.

For making money is not hard --
To live life well is an art:
How people love you, how they regard,
Is all in the size of your heart.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Are You Blessed?

Author Unknown

If you woke up this morning with more health than are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to are richer than 75% of this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If your parents are still alive and still are very rare, even in the United States.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you prayed yesterday and are in the minority because you believe God does hear and answer prayers.

If you can read now, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.

Be Happy In The Next 30 Minutes

9 Things You Can Do To Be Happy In The Next 30 Minutes
Surprising ways to instantly improve your mood
By Gretchen Rubin

Being happier doesn't have to be a long-term ambition. You can start right now. In the next 30 minutes, tackle as many of the following suggestions as possible. Not only will these tasks themselves increase your happiness, but the mere fact that you've achieved some concrete goals will boost your mood.

1. Raise your activity level to pump up your energy. If you're on the phone, stand up and pace. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Put more energy into your voice. Take a brisk 10-minute walk. Even better...

2. Take a walk outside. Research suggests that light stimulates brain chemicals that improve mood. For an extra boost, get your sunlight first thing in the morning.

3. Reach out. Send an e-mail to a friend you haven't seen in a while, or reach out to someone new. Having close bonds with other people is one of the most important keys to happiness. When you act in a friendly way, not only will others feel more friendly toward you, but you'll also strengthen your feelings of friendliness for other people.

4. Rid yourself of a nagging task. Deal with that insurance problem, purchase something you need, or make that long-postponed appointment with the dentist. Crossing an irksome chore off your to-do list will give you a rush of elation.

5. Create a more serene environment. Outer order contributes to inner peace, so spend some time organizing bills and tackling the piles in the kitchen. A large stack of little tasks can feel overwhelming, but often just a few minutes of work can make a sizable dent. Set the timer for 10 minutes and see what you can do.

6. Do a good deed. Introduce two people by e-mail, take a minute to pass along useful information, or deliver some gratifying praise. In fact, you can also...

7. Save someone's life. Sign up to be an organ donor, and remember to tell your family about your decision. Do good, feel good―it really works!

8. Act happy. Fake it 'til you feel it. Research shows that even an artificially induced smile boosts your mood. And if you're smiling, other people will perceive you as being friendlier and more approachable.

9. Learn something new. Think of a subject that you wish you knew more about and spend 15 minutes on the Internet reading about it, or go to a bookstore and buy a book about it. But be honest! Pick a topic that really interests you, not something you think you "should" or "need to" learn about.

Some people worry that wanting to be happier is a selfish goal, but in fact, research shows that happier people are more sociable, likable, healthy, and productive―and they're more inclined to help other people. By working to boost your own happiness, you're making other people happier, too.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Best Kind Of Love

By Annette Paxman Bowen

I have a friend who is falling in love. She honestly claims the sky is bluer. Mozart moves her to tears. She has lost 15 pounds and looks like a cover girl.

"I'm young again!" she shouts exuberantly.

As my friend raves on about her new love, I've taken a good look at my old one. My husband of almost 20 years, Scott, has gained 15 pounds. Once a marathon runner, he now runs only down hospital halls. His hairline is receding and his body shows the signs of long working hours and too many candy bars. Yet he can still give me a certain look across a restaurant table and I want to ask for the check and head home.

When my friend asked me "What will make this love last?" I ran through all the obvious reasons: commitment, shared interests, unselfishness, physical attraction, communication. Yet there's more. We still have fun. Spontaneous good times. Yesterday, after slipping the rubber band off the rolled up newspaper, Scott flipped it playfully at me: this led to an all-out war. Last Saturday at the grocery, we split the list and raced each other to see who could make it to the checkout first. Even washing dishes can be a blast. We enjoy simply being together.

And there are surprises. One time I came home to find a note on the front door that led me to another note, then another, until I reached the walk-in closet. I opened the door to find Scott holding a "pot of gold " (my cooking kettle) and the "treasure" of a gift package. Sometimes I leave him notes on the mirror and little presents under his pillow.

There is understanding. I understand why he must play basketball with the guys. And he understands why, once a year, I must get away from the house, the kids - and even him-to meet my sisters for a few days of nonstop talking and laughing.

There is sharing. Not only do we share household worries and parental burdens - we also share ideas. Scott came home from a convention last month and presented me with a thick historical novel. Though he prefers thrillers and science fiction, he had read the novel on the plane. He touched my heart when he explained it was because he wanted to be able to exchange ideas about the book after I'd read it.

There is forgiveness. When I'm embarrassingly loud and crazy at parties, Scott forgives me. When he confessed losing some of our savings in the stock market, I gave him a hug and said, "It's okay. It's only money."

There is sensitivity. Last week he walked through the door with that look that tells me it's been a tough day. After he spent some time with the kids, I asked him what happened. He told me about a 60-year-old woman who'd had a stroke. He wept as he recalled the woman's husband standing beside her bed, caressing her hand. How was he going to tell this husband of 40 years that his wife would probably never recover? I shed a few tears myself. Because of the medical crisis. Because there were still people who have been married 40 years. Because my husband is still moved and concerned after years of hospital rooms and dying patients.

There is faith. Last Tuesday a friend came over and confessed her fear that her husband is losing his courageous battle with cancer. On Wednesday I went to lunch with a friend who is struggling to reshape her life after divorce. On Thursday a neighbor called to talk about the frightening effects of Alzheimer's disease on her father-in-law's personality. On Friday a childhood friend called long-distance to tell me her father had died. I hung up the phone and thought, This is too much heartache for one week. Through my tears, as I went out to run some errands, I noticed the boisterous orange blossoms of the gladiolus outside my window. I heard the delighted laughter of my son and his friend as they played. I caught sight of a wedding party emerging from a neighbor's house. The bride, dressed in satin and lace, tossed her bouquet to her cheering friends. That night, I told my husband about these events. We helped each other acknowledge the cycles of life and that the joys counter the sorrows. It was enough to keep us going.

Finally, there is knowing. I know Scott will throw his laundry just shy of the hamper every night; he'll be late to most appointments and eat the last chocolate in the box. He knows that I sleep with a pillow over my head; I'll lock us out of the house at a regular basis, and I will also eat the last chocolate.

I guess our love lasts because it is comfortable. No, the sky is not bluer: it's just a familiar hue. We don't feel particularly young: we've experienced too much that has contributed to our growth and wisdom, taking its toll on our bodies, and created our memories.

I hope we've got what it takes to make our love last. As a bride, I had Scott's wedding band engraved with Robert Browning's line "Grow old along with me!" We're following those instructions.

"If anything is real, the heart will make it plain."

When God Created Little Boys

Author Unknown

God made a world out of his dreams,
Of wondrous mountains, oceans and streams,
Prairies and plains and wooded land,
Then paused and thought,
"I need someone to stand on top of the mountains
To conquer the seas, explore the plains and
Climb the trees, someone to start small and grow,
Sturdy, strong like a tree and so...

He created boys, full of spirit and fun,
To explore and conquer, to romp and run,
With dirty faces, banged up chins
With courageous hearts and boyish grins."
When He had completed the task He'd begun,
He surely said, "That's a job well done."

Saturday, 4 September 2010

I Give You

By Pandora Poikilos

I give you my smile
That we may remember
The simple things that
Keep us happy

I give you my laughter
That in our very grey moments
We'll look back at happier times
And look forward to making more

I give you my hands
That we learn to always
Reach out to one another
And remember, we are not alone

I give you my arms
To build on our strengths
And not bring each other down
On our weaknesses

I give you my eyes
To watch with you
The direction our journey takes us
Left, right, straight, backwards

I give you my feet
As an assurance
That the journey between us
Is never long

Most of all, I give you my heart
To always love you
To never judge you
To always accept you
And to never leave you.

Things You Didn't Do

Author Unknown

Remember the day I borrowed your brand new car and I dented it?

I thought you'd kill me but you didn't.

And remember the time I dragged you to the beach and you said it would rain and it did?

I thought you'd say, "I told you so", but you didn't.

Do you remember the time I flirted with all the guys to make you jealous and you were.

I thought you'd leave me, but you didn't.

Do you remember the time I spilled strawberry pie all over your car rug.

I thought you'd hit me but you didn't.

And remember the time I forgot to tell you the dance was formal and you showed up in jeans?

I thought you'd drop me. But you didn't.

Yes, there were lots of things you didn't do.

But you put up with me and you loved me and you protected me.

There were lots of thing I wanted to make up to you when you returned from Vietnam.

But you didn't.

Creating Opportunity

By Jim Rohn

An enterprising person is one who comes across a pile of scrap metal and sees the making of a wonderful sculpture.

An enterprising person is one who drives through an old decrepit part of town and sees a new housing development.

An enterprising person is one who sees opportunity in all areas of life.

To be enterprising is to keep your eyes open and your mind active. It's to be skilled enough, confident enough, creative enough and disciplined enough to seize opportunities that present themselves, regardless of the economy.

A person with an enterprising attitude says, "Find out what you can before action is taken." Do your homework. Do the research. Be prepared. Be resourceful. Do all you can in preparation of what's to come.

Enterprising people always see the future in the present.

Enterprising people always find a way to take advantage of a situation, not be burdened by it.

And enterprising people aren't lazy. They don't wait for opportunities to come to them, they go after the opportunities. Enterprise means always finding a way to keep yourself actively working toward your ambition.

Enterprise is two things. The first is creativity. You need creativity to see what's out there and to shape it to your advantage. You need creativity to look at the world a little differently. You need creativity to take a different approach, to be different.

What goes hand-in-hand with the creativity of enterprise is the second requirement: the courage to be creative. You need courage to see things differently, courage to go against the crowd, courage to take a different approach, courage to stand alone if you have to, courage to choose activity over inactivity.

And lastly, being enterprising doesn't just relate to the ability to make money. Being enterprising also means feeling good enough about yourself, having enough self worth to want to seek advantages and opportunities that will make a difference in your future. And by doing so you will increase your confidence, your courage, your creativity and your self-worth, your enterprising nature.

To Your Success,
Jim Rohn

Facebook Hit List

By Paul Thompson, Daily Mail

26 August 2010 - Panic has gripped a Colombian town after three teenagers whose name appeared on 'hit list' posted on Facebook were murdered.

Terrified parents of other teenagers named on the list have sent their children away for fear they will be gunned down.

A drugs cartel is believed to be responsible for the death list that was published on the social network site with the names of 100 people.

Alongside the names was the grim warning: 'Get out of town within three days or suffer the same fate as the victims.'

Within days two teenagers whose names were on the list had been shot dead.

Diego Ferney Jaramillo, 16, and 17-year-old Eibart Alejandro Ruiz Munoz were shot and killed while riding a motorcycle near the town of Puerto Caicedo.

Days after the first killings 19-year-old Norbey Alexander Vargas was shot dead.

Police had initially not taken the Facebook threat serious.

They believe the deaths are linked to the drugs trade.

Colombian media said the killings were the work of Los Rastrojos or 'The Stubble', which is one of the most powerful drug cartels in the country.

Facebook has since removed the posting, but many families have sent youngsters to stay with relatives fearing further killings.

What Is A Good Friend?

Author Unknown

In first grade your idea of a good friend was the person who went to the bathroom with you and held your hand as you walked through the scary hall.

In second grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you stand up to the class bully.

In third grade your idea of a good friend was the person who shared their lunch with you when you forgot yours on the bus.

In fourth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who was willing to switch square dancing partners in gym so you wouldn't have to be stuck do-si-do-ing with Nasty Nick or Smelly Susan.

In fifth grade your idea of a friend was the person who saved a seat on the back of the bus for you.

In sixth grade your idea of a friend was the person who went up to Nick or Susan, your new crush, and asked them to dance with you, so that if they said no you wouldn't have to be embarrassed.

In seventh grade your idea of a friend was the person who let you copy the Math homework from the night before that you had.

In eighth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you pack up your stuffed animals and old baseball but didn't laugh at you when you finished and broke out into tears.

In ninth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who would go to a party thrown by a senior so you wouldn't wind up being the only freshman there.

In tenth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who changed their schedule so you would have someone to sit with at lunch.

In eleventh grade your idea of a good friend was the person who gave you rides in their new car, convinced your parents that you shouldn't be grounded, consoled you when you broke up with Nick [or Glenn] or Susan, and found you a date to the prom.

In twelfth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you pick out a college /university, assured you that you would get into that college/university, helped you deal with your parents who were having a hard time adjusting to the idea of letting you go...

At graduation your idea of a good friend was the person who was crying on the inside but managed the biggest smile one could give as they congratulated you.

The summer after twelfth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you clean up the bottles from that party, helped you sneak out of the house when you just couldn't deal with your parents, assured you that now that you and Nick or you and Susan were back together, you could make it through anything, helped you pack up for university and just silently hugged you as you looked through blurry eyes at 18 years of memories you ere leaving behind, and finally on those last days of childhood, went out of their way to give you reassurance that you would make it in college as well as you hadthese past 18 years, and most importantly sent you off to college knowing you were loved.

Now, your idea of a good friend is still the person who gives you the better of the two choices, holds your hand when you're scared, helps you fight off those who try to take advantage of you, thinks of you at times when you are not there, reminds you of what you have forgotten, helps you put the past behind you but understands when you need to hold on to it a little longer, stays with you so that you have confidence, goes out of their way to make time for you, helps you clear up your mistakes, helps you deal with pressure from others, smiles for you when they are sad, helps you become a better person,and most importantly loves you!

Friday, 3 September 2010

I'll Never Understand My Wife

By Steven James

I'll never understand my wife.

The day she moved in with me, she started opening and closing my kitchen cabinets, gasping, "You don't have any shelf paper! We're going to have to get some shelf paper in here before I move my dishes in."

"But why?" I asked innocently.

"To keep the dishes clean," she answered matter-of-factly. I didn't understand how the dust would magically migrate off the dishes if they had sticky blue paper under them, but I knew when to be quiet.

Then came the day when I left the toilet seat up.

"We never left the toilet seat up in my family," she scolded. "It's impolite."

"It wasn't impolite in my family," I said sheepishly.

"Your family didn't have cats."

In addition to these lessons, I also learned how I was supposed to squeeze the toothpaste tube, which towel to use after a shower and where the spoons are supposed to go when I set the table. I had no idea I was so uneducated.

Nope, I'll never understand my wife.

She alphabetizes her spices, washes dishes before sending them through the dishwasher, and sorts laundry into different piles before throwing it into the washing machine. Can you imagine?

She wears pajamas to bed. I didn't think anyone in North America still wore pajamas to bed. She has a coat that makes her look like Sherlock Holmes. "I could get you a new coat," I offered.

"No. This one was my grandmother's," she said, decisively ending the conversation.

Then, after we had kids, she acted even stranger. Wearing those pajamas all day long, eating breakfast at 1:00 P.M., carrying around a diaper bag the size of a minivan, talking in one syllable paragraphs.

She carried our baby everywhere -- on her back, on her front, in her arms, over her shoulder. She never set her down, even when other young mothers shook their heads as they set down the car seat with their baby in it, or peered down into their playpens. What an oddity she was, clutching that child.

My wife also chose to nurse her even when her friends told her not to bother. She picked up the baby whenever she cried, even though people told her it was healthy to let her wail.

"It's good for her lungs to cry," they would say.

"It's better for her heart to smile," she'd answer.

One day a friend of mine snickered at the bumper sticker my wife had put on the back of our car: "Being a Stay-at-Home Mom Is a Work of Heart."

"My wife must have put that on there," I said.

"My wife works," he boasted.

"So does mine," I said, smiling.

Once, I was filling out one of those warranty registration cards and I check "homemaker" for my wife's occupation. Big mistake. She glanced over it and quickly corrected me. "I am not a homemaker. I am not a housewife. I am a mother."

"But there's no category for that," I stammered.

"Add one," she said.

I did.

And then one day, a few years later, she lay in bed smiling when I got up to go to work.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Nothing. Everything is wonderful. I didn't have to get up at all last night to calm the kids. And they didn't crawl in bed with us."

"Oh," I said, still not understanding.

"It was the first time I've slept through the night in four years." It was? Four years? That's a long time. I hadn't even noticed. Why hadn't she ever complained? I would have.

One day, in one thoughtless moment, I said something that sent her fleeing to the bedroom in tears. I went in to apologize. She knew I meant it because by then I was crying, too.

"I forgive you," she said. And you know what? She did. She never brought it up again. Not even when she got angry and could have hauled out the heavy artillery. She forgave, and she forgot.

Nope, I'll never understand my wife. And you know what? Our daughter is acting more and more like her mother every day.

If she turns out to be anything like her mom, someday there's going to be one more lucky guy in this world, thankful for the shelf paper in his cupboard.

Love Me Now

Author Unknown

If you are ever going to love me
Love me now while I can know
The sweet and tender feelings
Which from true affection flow

Love me now while I am living
Do not wait until I am gone
And then have it chiselled in marble
Sweet words on ice cold stone

If you have tender thoughts of me
Please tell me now
If you wait until I am sleeping
Never will be death between us
And I won't hear you then

So if you love me, even a little bit
Let me know while I am living
So that I can treasure it

Wrong Number?

Late one Saturday evening, I was awakened by the ringing of my phone. In a sleepy grumpy voice I said hello. The party on the other end of the line paused for a moment before rushing breathlessly into a lengthy speech.

"Mom, this is Susan and I'm sorry I woke you up, but I had to call because I'm going to be a little late getting home. See, Dad's car has a flat but it's not my fault. Honest! I don't know what happened. The tire just went flat while we were inside the theater. Please don't be mad, okay?"

Since I don't have any daughters, I knew the person had dialed my number by mistake.

"I'm sorry dear," I replied, "but you've reached the wrong number. I don't have a daughter named Susan."

"Gosh, Mom," the young woman's voice replied, "I didn't think you'd be this mad."

In The Rain

Author Unknown

One night, at 11:30 PM, an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s.

The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxi cab. She seemed to be in a big hurry! She wrote down his address, thanked him and drove away. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home.

A special note was attached. It read: Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes but my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.

Mrs. Nat King Cole

The Rose

Performed By Bette Midler

Some say love it is a river
That drowns the tender reed.
Some say love it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed.

Some say love it is a hunger
An endless, aching need
I say love it is a flower,
And you it's only seed.

It's the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It's the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance

It's the one who won't be taken,
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying
That never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long.
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong.

Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snow
Lies the seed that with the sun's love,
In the spring, becomes the rose.

I Will Be Your Friend

By Farita Tepora Afamasaga

My friend
when inside you are hurting
and only I know
I wish the forces of nature
were at my command
I would reverse time
and make you smile

when deep inside you
a storm is raging
and your soul is but a boat
upon the lonely seas
I want to calm the waves
and bring you home

I am always here if you need me
to cry with you if you need me
to laugh with you
to pray with you
to run with you
to live life with you
You are my friend
I will never leave you

A Tear & A Smile

By Khalil Gibran

I would not exchange the sorrows of my heart
For the joys of the multitude.
And I would not have the tears that sadness makes
To flow from my every part turn into laughter.

I would that my life remain a tear and a smile.

A tear to purify my heart and give me understanding
Of life's secrets and hidden things.
A smile to draw me nigh to the sons of my kind and
To be a symbol of my glorification of the gods.

A tear to unite me with those of broken heart;
A smile to be a sign of my joy in existence.

I would rather that I died in yearning and longing than that I live Weary and despairing.

I want the hunger for love and beauty to be in the
Depths of my spirit,for I have seen those who are
Satisfied the most wretched of people.
I have heard the sigh of those in yearning and Longing, and it is sweeter than the sweetest melody.

With evening's coming the flower folds her petals
And sleeps, embracingher longing.
At morning's approach she opens her lips to meet
The sun's kiss.

The life of a flower is longing and fulfilment.
A tear and a smile.

The waters of the sea become vapor and rise and come
Together and area cloud.

And the cloud floats above the hills and valleys
Until it meets the gentle breeze, then falls weeping
To the fields and joins with brooks and rivers to Return to the sea, its home.

The life of clouds is a parting and a meeting.
A tear and a smile.

And so does the spirit become separated from
The greater spirit to move in the world of matter
And pass as a cloud over the mountain of sorrow
And the plains of joy to meet the breeze of death
And return whence it came.

To the ocean of Love and Beauty-to God.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

No Small Act Of Kindness

By Donna Wick

The day was Thankful Thursday, our "designated day" of service. It's a weekly tradition that my two little girls and I began years ago. Thursday has become our day to go out in the world and make a positive contribution. On this particular Thursday, we had no idea exactly what we were going to do, but we knew that something would present itself.

Driving along a busy Houston road, praying for guidance in our quest to fulfill our weekly Act of Kindness, the noon hour appropriately triggered hunger pangs in my two little ones. They wasted no time in letting me know, chanting, "McDonald's, McDonald's, McDonald's" as we drove along. I relented and began searching earnestly for the nearest McDonald's. Suddenly I realized that almost every intersection I passed through was occupied by a panhandler. And then it hit me! If my two little ones were hungry, then all these panhandlers must be hungry, too. Perfect! Our Act of Kindness had presented itself. We were going to buy lunch for the panhandlers.

After finding a McDonald's and ordering two Happy Meals for my girls, I ordered an additional 15 lunches and we set out to deliver them. It was exhilarating. We would pull alongside a panhandler, make a contribution, and tell him or her that we hoped things got better. Then we'd say, "Oh, by the way…here's lunch." And then we would varoom off to the next intersection.

It was the best way to give. There wasn't enough time for us to introduce ourselves or explain what we were going to do, nor was there time for them to say anything back to us. The Act of Kindness was anonymous and empowering for each of us, and we loved what we saw in the rear view mirror: a surprised and delighted person holding up his lunch bag and just looking at us as we drove off. It was wonderful!

We had come to the end of our "route" and there was a small woman standing there, asking for change. We handed her our final contribution and lunch bag, and then immediately made a U-turn to head back in the opposite direction for home. Unfortunately, the light caught us again and we were stopped at the same intersection where this little woman stood. I was embarrassed and didn't know quite how to behave. I didn't want her to feel obligated to say or do anything.

She made her way to our car, so I put the window down just as she started to speak. "No one has ever done anything like this for me before," she said with amazement. I replied, "Well, I'm glad that we were the first." Feeling uneasy, and wanting to move the conversation along, I asked, "So, when do you think you'll eat your lunch?"

She just looked at me with her huge, tired brown eyes and said, "Oh honey, I'm not going to eat this lunch." I was confused, but before I could say anything, she continued. "You see, I have a little girl of my own at home and she just loves McDonald's, but I can never buy it for her because I just don't have the money. But you know what…tonight she is going to have McDonald's!"

I don't know if the kids noticed the tears in my eyes. So many times I had questioned whether our Acts of Kindness were too small or insignificant to really effect change. Yet in that moment, I recognized the truth of Mother Teresa's words: "We cannot do great things - only small things with great love."

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Living or Dying?

By Pandora Poikilos

As we move from one chapter of our lives to another, we carry with us a sense of ignorance that the people we love will somehow be around for as long as we are. In this bubble we create and shelter ourselves in, there are no illnesses, no accidents, no heart wrenching losses. Then one day, we lose someone so suddenly that we know how short life really is and how we make it a habit of taking people for granted despite telling ourselves that's not what we do.

I lost a friend today. After years of fighting complications from her illness, she succumbed. When I got the news, I spent the day curled up and crying. Everything came to a standstill. I cried for her, I cried for the memories that we've had, I cried because there just didn't seem enough to tell her everything I wanted to, I cried for the pain she must have felt and most of all I cried because I don't have her strength. Facing brain surgery myself, something she has already been through, the first thought that came to my head was to call off my surgery and take my chances. And as much as I tried to break it down logically, I knew that it wasn't death I feared. It was the process of getting there.

The pain for which no words can do it justice and no one else can understand. The numerous treatments. Endless medication. The way someone looks at you, so thankful that they don't have what you have or that look of pity because they can't believe you've lost so much of your physical appearance for the worst. The way family or friends become tied to your bedside in literally picking you up and almost forgetting that they have their own lives outside your illness.

I became so engrossed in thinking of the downsides and of all the things that could go wrong during the surgery, I failed to come to terms with the most important thing - it's not my call to decide my time of death but I do have a choice about how I get there. I can choose the easy way out of giving up, irrelevant of how much I was loved or I could live, holding each moment of every day wrapped around me like the feel of Christmas morning and remember that every time, I choose to give up, I'm giving on the people who've not given on me.

In giving up, I lose lessons about the love that looks past your surgical scars and bald head to hold you as you sleep or the friends that will teach you that geographical distance is only in an atlas and will be with you in any means they can and most of all if I give up, I'll never get to the purpose of why I'm here in the first place.

"The soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live." (The Rose, Bette Midler)

I'm Free

Author Unknown

Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free.
I'm following the path God has laid, you see.
I took His hand when I heard His call.
I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way,
I found the peace at the close of day.

If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joys.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,
yes, these things I too will miss.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow.
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I savored much,
Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch.

Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your hearts, and peace to thee.
God wanted me now,
He set me free

Big Problems, Little Miracles

By Patricia Lorenz

My pastor called it my "midlife crisis." Personally, I think it was just a string of rotten luck, including horrendous income changes, my son's poor health winging its way into its sixteenth straight month, medical bills that could choke a buffalo, bewilderment following cross words with two of my grown children, the empty-nest syndrome looming just months away when my youngest would be leaving for college eighteen hundred miles away, daily lower back pain due to lack of exercise, arguments with a woman in Texas over a book we were coauthoring and the fact that I'd only seen the sun for about twenty-six hours all winter.

Call it any old psychobabble thing you want--midlife crisis, midwinter funk, too many lifestyle changes at once, mild depression, premenopausal angst, seasonal affective disorder or simply being sick of being a single parent after twelve years. Whatever it was, the fact remained that I was not my usual cheerful self from the end of January until mid-March that year. By then my friends and family had caught on that the big-time blues had invaded my home, heart and health.

For a time, it was all I could do to barely take care of the three basics around the house: food, clothing and shelter. For about a week, during the bleakest days of all, the smallest things could reduce me to tears. I bit my lip a lot, trying to hold back tears.

One day after a job interview, I stopped at my friend Sharon's house for a cup of tea. She knew something was wrong, even though I didn't go into all the details. She hugged me, poured a second cup and tried to make me laugh. As I was leaving, Sharon noticed one of the two buttons that hold the decorative belt on the back of my winter coat was missing, causing the belt to dangle ridiculously in the back.

At that moment, during that extremely low point in my life, I honestly could not comprehend how or when I would manage to sew that button back on. Mortified, I felt hot tears sneaking into my lower lashes as I headed for the front door.

Sharon pulled open my coat at the bottom. "Hey, look here. There's an extra button sewn inside. Take your coat off and I'll sew it on for you right now."

At that moment, I felt more love and more compassion from a friend than ever before in my life. Granted, over the years, my friends have been wonderful to me, with me and for me. But this gesture, when I was at such a state emotionally, dragging so low that a missing button was about to send me over the edge, the gift of Sharon's time, her caring and intuitive knowing that I could not muster the energy to sew that button on myself, meant more to me than if someone had come to my door with a sweepstakes check.

When I got home that afternoon, I found a silly greeting card in the mail from another friend, Kay. Inside, it simply said, "I've got a hug here with your name on it." Every time I looked at that card for the next couple of weeks, I felt loved and buoyed by the light of Kay's friendship.

A few days later, on what was probably the darkest day of all, a day I seriously considered begging my doctor for a Prozac prescription, my Texas coauthor, the one I'd had arguments with as we worked on our book, sent me a "sunshine box." Little miracles of love spilled out of that box: chocolates, red silk tulips, sunflower candles, ginger-lily bath gel and three little juice boxes of pure Florida gold.

My heart melted as I noticed for the first time that day that the sun was actually shining. I took one of the juice boxes and the candy out to the deck and sat in my favorite yellow rocker in the forty-degree weather, sipping juice and basking in the glorious sunshine and in the wonderful miracle of friendship.

That sewed-on button, the hug card and the sunshine box got me through those dark days without drugs or further mental deterioration.

And when I began taking brisk half-hour walks every morning the following week, I did a lot of thinking about those friends of mine and their gifts of love. Before I knew it, I understood one of the most amazing, most profound aspects of life: God has designed the world and his people in such a way that no matter how big our problems, the smallest gesture given in love from a friend can become the biggest miracle of all.
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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



Powered by

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

Powered by

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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