A mix collection of inspirational stories gathered from the internet and personal experiences.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Listening to the Whispers Within

By Michelle C. Ustaszeski

Beginning in our younger years, and reinforced time and time again, we have been encouraged to reach for the stars and to follow our dreams, yet so few of us actually voyage through such a beautiful, satisfying, and difficult journey to its end. It is the journey of finding our soul's desire, recognizing and following signs along the way, while listening only to the songs and the harmony of what our hearts sing. It is allowing our souls to find their way back to where they belong. to a place where we can exhale and rest in peace once our time here has come to an end. We allow guilt to overcome, fear to overwhelm, time to discourage, and we give permission to our daily routines and current circumstances to imprison our own fate. We deny ourselves from reaching our own destinies and from the true happiness that we all deserve.

We learn many lessons throughout our lives. Some of these lessons may interfere, challenge, or overcome other, more important lessons. We have been told that focusing on ourselves, our own needs, and our own desires can be an act of selfishness. We've learned that pleasing and thinking of others before ourselves is an act of heroism. Perhaps we feel that following our own hearts and dreams, doing what we love to do, and aiming for such pleasures is being selfish, but it's not. Perhaps we feel ashamed for climbing the ladder of success when it demands change and possibly a level of discomfort for those we love the most who travel this journey along with us, but we shouldn't. And perhaps we feel we are to blame because with each step, each reach, we must leave something or even someone behind, but we aren't.

While letting go of guilt and giving ourselves permission to follow our hearts, we have to also be aware that fear dictates our every move. The fear of failure may be universal, but so is the fact that if we do not try, we are giving ourselves a life sentence of nothingness. a life where we will simply exist. Although it can be frightening to move forward into the unknown armed with nothing more than faith and to gamble with the lives, people, and things we treasure the most, it is much more frightening to be aware that if we don't, the fear that is holding us back today will transform itself into regret later in life. The fear we experience should be regarded and compared to nothing more than a mother's tender, loving, and protective embrace. Once she sees your strength, your courage, and how well you have learned to fly, she will set you free.

In a world where instant gratification is becoming more and more rampant, the issue of time itself can become a discouraging factor when imagining how long our journeys may take. Each dream and journey could take years, even a complete lifetime to obtain and travel to. Time is essential to the process as there are necessary experiences that we will need to endure and valuable lessons that we will have to extract in order to reach our destination. Do not allow the uncontrollable to discourage you. Just as a mother cannot rush the birth of her miracle until it has gone through each of its necessary stages, we must let our days unfold and go through each of their own stages. If we continue to nurture our dreams, we too, will hold our own miracles.

What is in front of us today may actually be our hearts most dangerous keeper... a master in disguise, concealing the truth while imprisoning us within an easy dwelling and comforting zone. Although our prison cells are made up of nothing more than a layer of haze placed before our eyes only, for all of our other senses know, we remain motionless as if surrounded by an indestructible barricade. The circumstances we live in and our daily routines hinder our dreams from moving forward and prevent our desires from taking action without even being aware of it. We sometimes confuse an eventful life with a fulfilled one. We allow our days to interfere with our destinies by focusing most or all of our emotions and actions on insignificant and irrelevant matters. We are all born with dreams and desires and have places we want to go. Do not let the longing to find a place where you can stop and rest cause you to settle down short of your destination. Extract your lessons and continue on with your journey.

We need to step away from the world we live in from time to time, sit in silence, and hear what our hearts and souls are whispering within us. We need to remove ourselves from the everyday sameness and think about where it is that we want to go. We need to follow our hearts by closing our eyes and becoming aware of our inner surroundings. We all have an imaginary sanctuary that we travel to when we close our eyes to rest at night or when the world we live in is not in harmony with whom we really are or who we really need to be. Why not close your eyes, visit that place as often as you can, and listen to each and every whisper. so that one day. when you do open your eyes, you will know exactly where to go and how to get there. Then you, your mind, your heart, and your soul can finally all rest as one.

Go now, sit back in silence, and listen to the whispers within.

Michelle C. Ustaszeski is a writer and photographer of inspirational and motivational art. She believes that if you can prematurely feel the emotions of your desired outcome, your reservations have been made and reaching your destination is simply a matter of time.

In 1998, Michelle created Sam-n-Nick's Inspirations, named after her two children, and located at http://soulfuel.com when she combined her love of writing together with the digital camera. Sam-n-Nick's Inspirations produces and sells scenic and enlightening framed art, bookmarkers, stationary, music, books, candles, bath products and other comforting gifts to warm the hearts and souls of her customers through private home parties.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Bag of Nails

There once was a little boy who had a bad Temper.

His Father gave him a bag of nails
and told him that
every time he lost his temper,
he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.

The first day the boy
had driven 37 nails into the fence.

Over the next few weeks, as he learned
to control his anger,
the number of nails hammered daily
gradually dwindled down.

He discovered
it was easier to hold his temper than to
drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came
when the boy didn't lose his temper at all.

He told his father about it
and the father suggested
that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that
he was able to hold his temper.

The days passed and the young boy
was finally able
to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the
hand and led him to the fence
He said, 'You have done well, my son,
but look at the holes in the fence.

The fence will never be the same.

When you say things in anger,
they leave a scar just like this one.

You can put a knife in a man and draw it out.
It won't matter how many times you say I'm
sorry, the wound is still there.

A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.

"Friends are very rare jewels, indeed.
They make you smile and encourage you to succeed.
They lend an ear, they share words of praise
and they always want to open their hearts to us."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yes You Can!

(c) 2008 Carrie Wilkerson

Our team has been busy, busy as usual - but one of us has been especially busy. LauraLee, our 11-month old, has been really focusing on her walking! She will be 1 in a few weeks (where has the last year gone?) and she decided about 6 weeks ago that walking looked like something she wanted to figure out! This is my 4th walker and so I've not been rushing her, but I have been intently watching the process.

She's wobbly. She falls a lot. She sometimes needs a hand to hold, sometimes just a pinkie or finger for confidence. She prefers to walk towards someone who is reaching out their arms for her. She's bumped and scraped from obstacles. When she hits her head (or any other body part) it doesn't seem to hurt as much as normal because she's so focused on her destination. But, most importantly, she keeps getting up and trying again.

Things I've noticed about those of us around her. We clap when she takes steps (even if it's just one or two). We reach out to help her up when she topples. We praise her and cheer for her (yes, even if she falls flat). We hold our arms out for her so she knows where she can fall safely. We tell everyone about her successes. We dwell on the steps, not the tumbles. And most importantly, we encourage her to get up and try again.

Not ONCE have I heard anyone say, "well, you've fallen - this walking stuff might not be for you. You should stick to crawling."

"I know someone that tried that and still can't walk, just save yourself the trouble."

"Wow, that sure is taking you a long time to figure out. Your sister walked a lot faster than you did."

"You know you're not supposed to walk yet. This is too early. Sit back down and let us carry you for awhile."

"Why would you want to bother with that when you're already so good at crawling?"

"Don't, Don't, Don't - you know you always fall when you do that!"

Interesting, isn't it?? There are SO MANY parallels in this lesson that I hardly know where to begin! Are you surrounding your family, friends, and business associates with encouragement, praise, and positive words? Are you telling them why they CAN succeed instead of why they cannot?

And just as important - are you surrounding YOURSELF with others that encourage YOU in that same way? LauraLee knows she is in a safe place, surrounded by people who love her and want her to be the best baby she can be! We want her to learn new things, to progress in her 'walk,' her journey. I want to be one of those people for YOU! And in the meantime, will you choose someone today that might need your arms reached out? They might need a finger to hold (or just the end of your pinkie)? Is there someone that needs you clapping for them? Find them today. Help them in their walk.

As "The Barefoot Executive" Carrie educates, coaches and advises work-at-home women (and those who want to be) as they achieve their goals of personal & career fulfillment! Carrie and her husband, "Mr. Barefoot" - work together at home and share the joy of raising their 4 children (infant to 12 years) together. For a free motivational audio and transcript...go to www.The-Barefoot-Executive.com

Friday, October 24, 2008

Life is Coffee

A group of alumni, all highly established in their respective careers,
got together for a visit with their old university professor. The
conversation soon turned to complaints about the endless stress of work
and life in general...

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went into the kitchen and soon
returned with a large pot of coffee and an eclectic assortment of cups:
porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal - some plain, some expensive, some
quite exquisite. Quietly, he told them to help themselves to some fresh

When each of his former students had a cup of coffee in hand, the old
professor quietly cleared his throat and began to patiently address the
small gathering... ''You may have noticed that all of the nicer looking
cups were taken up first, leaving behind the plainer and cheaper ones.
While it is only natural for you to want only the best for yourselves,
that is actually the source of much of your stress-related problems."

He continued... ''Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the
coffee. In fact, the cup merely disguises or dresses up what we drink.
What each of you really wanted was coffee, not a cup, but you
instinctively went for the best cups... Then you began eyeing each
other's cups....''

''Now consider this: Life is coffee. Jobs, money, and position in society
are merely cups. They are just tools to shape and contain Life, and the
type of cup we have does not truly define nor change the quality of the
Life we live. Often, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy
the coffee that God has provided us. God brews the coffee, but he does
not supply the cups. Enjoy your coffee!''

The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make the
best of everything they have... So please remember: Live simply.

Love generously. Care Deeply. Speak Kindly. Leave the Rest to God.

And remember - the richest person is not the one who has the most,

but the one who needs the least .

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Will Share Your Bird

by Denise Masiello (c) 2008

I first met Bebe almost three years ago. After advertising at my church for my in-home care services, her daughter had taken Bebe my card. Sitting in her living room I saw a petite soft-spoken lady looking much younger than her years. She explained what she needed on a daily basis but the job was only to be as a fill in for her other helper while she was on vacation. Well, OK I thought, I can do that.

I didn't hear back from Bebe for a few months but when she finally called I was anticipating just working for a few days. But at the end of my first day she asked me when I could come back. I inquired if it would only be one more time and she said no, it would be permanent. I was overjoyed!

We got into a familiar routine twice a week; trips to the hairdresser, grocery store, doctor appointments, and fabric stores.

But monthly she talked, about many things. For a long time I felt guilty that my day was spent sitting instead of working?. But then I realized that I was doing what she needed and I began to relax and enjoy my work?.

I heard great stories about her and her husband's (lovingly called L.A.D.) many trips with family and friends, which included square dancing, bird watching, and visits to destinations rich in history. Many stories were from her youth, including the antics of her brothers and sisters. And I laughed at the time when she and her husband raised baby crows, which terrorized the neighborhood looking for shiny objects to steal.

The things she spoke most of were her bird-watching adventures. She had a great window seat at her table where many birds came to visit. The past few years she has seen wild birds diminishing and local sparrows taking over. Dumb brown birds, she called them.

One sparrow she talked about fondly was a fox sparrow, she named Foxy. This particular bird was off its beaten path for the 17 years it came to visit every winter. Although a member of Audubon, she didn't want to advertise the presence of this bird too much as it would bring a lot of unwanted traffic that may scare Foxy off. This bird was spotted and photographed by a local Audubon member so she and he knew that she had the real deal right in her back yard.

At the end of winter last year she felt that Foxy had been taken by one of the hawks that also frequented the neighborhood. Before that though, I had happened to take one of the last pictures of him. After she felt that he was truly gone I framed that picture and gave it to her for her birthday. I saw the tears in her eyes and knew we had connected.

Occasionally in the past Foxy had traveled with another fox sparrow and Bebe had hoped that this other one would come back this past winter. We both watched as the weather became cooler. One day he appeared in late fall. She was so excited that she would have another fox sparrow visiting for many years to come. This one she named Smudge as the dark spot on his chest was slightly smudged as if someone has smeared a freshly painted spot.

Now, I am the opposite of a professional birder. I throw out bread on the lawn; no elaborate feeding station for me. But this winter I went a little further and threw some seed out on a covered patio. It was a rough winter and even the dumb brown birds needed food.

One morning I was up early and looked out and saw a solitary bird, darker in color, larger, stripes on its chest, with that unmistakable dark spot where the stripes meet.

No way, I thought. It can't be; a fox sparrow visiting a non-birder, eating my meager offerings from my patio floor? But yes it was, right there in front of me. I grabbed my camera and took the best picture I could. I looked for him again in the evening, as is their trait, to come in early and late in the day. He came back! I took more pictures. I needed proof before I took my speculations to Bebe. I brought my camera to her house and could hardly contain my excitement as I explained what I saw. I put the camera in front of her and as I zoomed in on the bird in the dark background I saw her face begin to light up.

You got one! She exclaimed.

The day was sparked with excited talk of this little bird. She seemed to think that possibly there was more than one fox sparrow visiting our area, which was a good sign for the species. But personally I liked to think that we were sharing the same bird and that he followed me home because of our connection over him. I made two batches of suet this past winter to make sure our fox had plenty to eat. All winter long we talked about our mutual visits and I saw him as often at her house as I did at mine. It was like we had a little secret between us.

My husband and daughter even got caught up in the excitement of our new friend. Every day they would ask ?Did you see the fox?? We took turns peeking out the window as not to disturb him. And my day felt complete if I had at least one sighting of him a day.

You just never know what kind of a connection you will find with a person and what joy that can bring both of you. I miss his visits now as spring is approaching and he left a few weeks ago.

But if I am lucky, next winter Bebe and I will be watching together for the return of Our Bird.

Denise Masiello lives in Spokane, Washington with her husband Tony who is an author and intuitive consultant. They share their home with daughter Faith, who also loves to write, and one very cool dog. This is Denise's first attempt at writing and she can be cheered on to write more at kdmas58@hotmail.com

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Cab Ride

by Kent Nerburn

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. It was a cowboy's life, a life for someone who wanted no boss. What I didn't realize was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and weep.

But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night.

I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partiers,or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.

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, 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 80s 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 and 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 rearview 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.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

And They Ask--- Why I Like Retirement????

Question: How many days in a week?
Answer: 6 Saturdays, 1 Sunday

Question: When is a retiree's bedtime?
Answer: Three hours after he falls asleep on the couch.

Question: How many retirees to change a light bulb?
Answer: Only one, but it might take all day

Question: What's the biggest gripe of retirees?
Answer: There is not enough time to get everything done .

Question: Why don't retirees mind being called Seniors?
Answer: The term comes with a 10% percent discount .

Question: Among retirees what is considered formal attire?
Answer: Tied shoes.

Question: Why do retirees count pennies?
Answer: They are the only ones who have the time.

Question: What is the common term for someone who enjoys work and refuses to retire?
Answer: NUTS!

Question: Why are retirees so slow to clean out the basement, attic or garage?
Answer: They know that as soon as they do, one of their adult kids will want to store stuff there .

Question: What do retirees call a long lunch?
Answer: Normal

Question: What is the best way to describe retirement?
Answer: The never ending Coffee Break.

Question: What's the biggest advantage of going back to
school as a retiree?
Answer: If you cut classes, no one calls your parents.

Question: Why does a retiree often say he doesn't miss work, but misses the people he used to work with?
Answer: He is too polite to tell the whole truth .

Question: What do you do all week?
Answer: Monday to Friday; Nothing
Saturday & Sunday I rest.

Share this one with all the retirees that you know.
I'm sure they can relate to some of them!

AND, If you have not yet retired, look what you have to look forward to.

Happiness is a voyage, not a destination,
there is no better time to be happy than...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Mistakes Men Make about Women

By Bob Smallwood

Men often assume that the things that motivate them will motivate women just as effectively. They don't. Not only does a woman have a different view of the world, she has a measurably different brain that works in a different way.

Not so many years ago, saying that men and women's brains are different was non-PC. Radical feminists maintained that all differences were the result of early conditioning. Fortunately, the differences in structure and activity have now been proven by solid science. One demonstration that impresses me is the mirror tracing test. This is simply tracing the outline of an object, the twist being that the object, hand, pencil and paper are seen through a mirror. A right-handed male usually freezes solid for a while, until his confused brain has laboriously sorted out which way to move his hand. The left side of the brain controls the right hand but a man can only do spatial processing with his right brain. Women don't have these problems as their more flexible brains can do spatial processing on either side. Men have generally better spatial processing but they can only do one thing at a time and communication between the two halves of the brain is restricted.

Hopefully, society has moved on and we are trying to get the best out of both sexes by recognising that equality is not sameness. Rubies and sapphires can be equally attractive, but they are hardly the same!

What turns men on and women off? There are five big areas that appeal to men but are turn-offs for women:

  • Competition
  • Violence
  • Risk
  • Cold logic
  • Obsession
Competition, beating the other guy or team, is a prime motivator for men. If there is nobody to compete with, it may not get done at all. One guy on a desert island will sleep in a cave. Put a few guys on the island and they will compete for best hut. Although some women are very competitive, they don't compete directly. Men struggle to understand that a woman believes that she is competing with herself, even when someone else has set the scoring system. Achieving personal best is crucial, being the best is important; beating the others is a side effect. That's the opposite of a man's priorities.

Violence is action. Action is the automatic male reaction to emergency or threat. It is positive when protecting loved ones from wild animals, but negative when used as the way to settle an argument. Men express their emotions through action rather than communication. Asking a man to get in touch with his emotions is inviting rage! Teenage boys need to learn to control their natural inclination to violence, some never do. To be socially acceptable, violence and aggression are sublimated into playing or watching sport. A sports fan lives and feels his team's aggression. Not many men watch sport objectively to see the best team win. Violence sells men's films too. Tarantino's work has far less appeal to women.

Risk. You only have to listen to way men and women say the word to get a handle on the different attitudes. To him, risk is spice, challenge, excitement, adrenalin rush. To her, risk is danger, instability, loss of control. Women are better bank employees, follow policy and work more consistently, yet more than 90% of exchange traders are men. Very few women enjoy the high pressure, high risk life of a trader, but men can become literally addicted to the endorphin rush they get when a high-risk trade pays off.

Cold logic. Men emphasize the logic, women the cold. On any problem in the family or at work, a women will chew through all the different opinions and attitudes that the players and even the observers are likely to have, both before and after the implementation of any solution. To a man, it all looks and sounds like a waste of time. The fix is obviously logically correct, so get on and fix it. In his world, emotions take second place to logic. In truth, he lacks the ability to empathize with those involved, so cannot take their feelings into account. So mentally, he minimises their impact and relies on demonstrating the logic of the solution to persuade doubters. He is quite surprised when it doesn't work! Even politicians fall into this trap. Despite their armies of advisers and PR consultants, politicians regularly press for measures that make logical sense but don't work at an emotional level.

Geeks, nerds, birders, plane spotters, storm chasers and music freaks. How many are women? Obsessive collecting, observing, analysing, refining or dissecting are not favourite female pastimes. More than one woman has remarked that maleness is only one step away from autism. The ability to concentrate on one thing, to the total exclusion of anything else, is a male characteristic. This ability underlies man's greatest achievements (and women's greatest frustrations). Women stay in touch with the real world and easily manage to do several things at once. Men call that multi-tasking and claim it requires a super-computer! Women have hobbies that are useful, social, fun or a mixture of these. Men have obsessions.

Talking of obsessions, it seems the only one that women consistently have is dirt. For women, all dirt is bad, probably disgusting. She may even claim it smells bad when it has no smell at all. Men might not notice the dirt, "a detail". When he does notice it, he finds it unattractive or inconvenient rather than offensive. He might go as far as claiming that dirt from working in the garden or DIY is good, honest dirt: but she will never agree.

Men and women are different and that's part of what makes life interesting. If we tried to understand each other better, life might get a little easier!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Photo Trip around the World

Cherry Blossoms Japan



Autumn in

The beauty of Antarctica

Scenery of Europe

German's New Swan Castle

View of Holland

Beauty of Tibet

Disney Castle

Golden Maple Leaf

Edge of Glacier

Lavender Farm and Tree

Lavender Farm

The Night Scene of Eiffel Tower

Blue Sea


Mirror Lake

Lavender at the Foot of the Mountain

Comet (Make a wish)

The Purple Romance

The Beauty of the Desert

Breithorn Peak ( Switzerland )

Deep Autumn

The Moon and Star on Earth

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008


Please Read all the way to the bottom:

If you will take the time to read these. I promise you'll come away with an enlightened perspective. The subjects covered affect us all on a daily basis:

They're written by Andy Rooney , a man who has the gift of saying so much with so few words..


I've learned.... That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I've learned.... That when you're in love, it shows.

I've learned..... That just one person saying to me, 'You've made my day!' makes my day.

I've learned.... That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

I've learned.... That being kind is more important than being right.

I've learned. ... That you should never say no to a gift from a child.

I've learned.... That I can always pray for someone when I don't have the strength to help him in some other way.

I've learned.... That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

I've learned.... That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

I've learned.... That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.

I've learned.... That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

I've learned.... That we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for.

I've learned.... That money doesn't buy class.

I've learned.... That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

I've learned... That under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

I've learned.... That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

I 've learned.... That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.

I've learned.... That love, not time, heals all wounds.

I've learned.... That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

I've learned.... That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

I've learned.... That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

I've learned... That life is tough, but I'm tougher..

I've learned.... That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.

I've learned.... That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

I've learned.... That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away

I've learned..... That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

I've learned.... That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

I've learned.... That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you're hooked for life.

I've learned.... That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.

I've learned
.... That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

To all of you.... Make sure you read all the way down to the last sentence.

It's National Friendship Week. Show your friends how much you care. Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND, even if it means sending it back to the person who sent it to you. If it comes back to you, then you'll know you have a circle of friends. HAPPY FRIENDSHIP WEEK TO YOU!!!!!! YOU ARE MY FRIEND, AND I AM HONORED! Now send this to every friend you have. And to your family. This was sent to me by a friend.

from a forwarded e-mail

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Grandpa's Rootbeer Logic

By Larisee Lynn Stevens

Our family was large and spread across the nation, but summers were the highlight of the year for the grandkids. Each of the two dozen grandkids spent any where from a week to a month during the summer with our grandparents living the idyllic life. We cousins loved playing together, even though Grandpa made us get up by 8 a.m. and go to bed by 10 p.m.

Grandma and Grandpa lived in a small town. We could ride bikes and go to the park at will. We made forts, went to the movies, and went swimming every day. There were usually enough of us visiting at any one time that we could play group games such as hide and seek. It was a great time of fun and drawing closer to our kin and every one of we cousins loved summers at our grandparent's house.

While lighthearted and appreciating a good joke, Grandpa lived by a strict code of rules. He believed in honesty, logic, respect, hard work, living life on a schedule and healthy living. Fresh air, plenty of exercise and a nutritious diet limited in sweets was his idea of the proper way to live. Two of his rules for a proper diet, which, for most of the year he vigorously lived up to, were no snacking between meals and no soda pop.

Most kids can find an adult's vulnerability to exploit and we learned Grandpa had a crack in his strict facade of rules when we discovered his weakness for ice cream and root beer! Now he would never admit to this weakness and he worked hard to justify it, bending his ever-present logic to cover his lapse in conviction. We knew not to kill opportunity when it knocked, so we didn't point out the broken rule.

The highlight of our days occurred on the front porch with Grandpa giving in to his weakness. Every afternoon when we arrived home from swimming, he would gather us on the porch and serve up root beer floats! If our parents happened to comment or complain (because they never got root beer floats as children) on his loosening his rule about snacking, he called it "a late dessert from lunch." (Never mind that Sundays were the only time Grandma made dessert.)

We also learned he considered root beer "different" from soda pop, although he never explained how. We never argued with Grandpa's logic, which usually got us refills.

A grandmother myself now, I can still see the satisfied grin on Grandpa's face as he exclaimed over the great satisfaction one got from a "really good root beer float on a hot day." Every time I go for an afternoon piece of chocolate cake, I remember Grandpa and his "late dessert from lunch" concept for bending a self-discipline rule. Thanks Grandpa! I salute your insight!

Larisee Lynn Stevens is a speaker, writer, and teacher who lives in Amarillo, Texas and misses the simplicity of life in her childhood but isn't shy about using the wonderful technology of today. You can read more of her stories in 'Making the Blue Plate Special' by Florence Littauer, Lauren Littauer-Briggs, and Marita Littauer. Lairsee can be reached at mariahsplace@suddenink.net