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Posts from June 2012
Ice Cream by Leanne Petty,posted Jun 29 2012 7:50AM
Last week I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace. As we bowed our heads he said: "God is good. God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more if mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And Liberty and justice for all! Amen."
Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, I heard a woman remark, "That's what's wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice-cream! Why, I never!"
Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, "Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?" As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table. He winked at my son and said, "I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer." "Really?" my son asked. "Cross my heart." Then in a theatrical whisper he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), "Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes."
Naturally, I bought my kids ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment and then did something I will remember the rest of my life. He picked up his sundae and, without saying a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman that made the remark. With a big smile he told her, "Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes, and my soul is good already."
I was meandering around the Internet the other day (kids, don't try this at home!) and happened to Google the word "hero." I saw information about a 2002 martial arts movie titled "Hero," a Wikipedia entry on the concept of "Hero," various online dictionary definitions of "Hero" and a link to Mariah Carey singing "Hero."
I clicked on that one. I like the song – and I don't mind watching Mariah Carey.
But that isn't really what I was looking for. I was interested in finding stories about contemporary heroes. So I Googled the words "Heroes for today" and I found stories about the heroes of D-Day, a literary review of a new book about the heroes of the Alamo and a USA Today story about an "Avengers vs. X-Men" comic book. With all my heart I honor the heroes of D-Day and the Alamo, and I'm kind of interested in that comic book (are you kidding? Iron Man, Captain America, Wolverine and Colossus all together? Shazam!)
But that still wasn't what I was looking for. So I went for a walk. As I stepped outside I waved at my neighbor Creig, who was cleaning out his gear for what he told me is his 12th year at Scout summer camp.
"Twelve years!" I said, trying to wrap my mind around the total cost to Creig in terms of vacation days, corny skits, flag ceremonies, tin foil dinners and s'mores. "I can't even imagine doing that. You're my hero!"
I thought about that as I walked away and headed down the street. It occurred to me that maybe I had been looking for heroes in the wrong place. Maybe they're not on Google. Maybe they're on the street. Creig is certainly one. And so is Dave, who lives two doors down and who just got back from spending two weeks in Guatemala with a group that provides medical and dental services to the poor and needy. This is like the fifth or sixth time he's made a humanitarian trip like that. That's pretty heroic, isn't it?
As I continued walking around the neighborhood I discovered that I am surrounded by heroes. As I walked past the Chen home I was reminded of how they left good jobs in China to immigrate to America because they were concerned for the future well-being of their children. Then I walked past Janet's house and remembered how she brings many of the ladies in the neighborhood together each week to tie quilts, which are then donated to charity. She's responsible for thousands of quilts being donated, which means there are likely thousands of people out there who will sleep warmer tonight because of Janet.
Suddenly it seemed to me that there were heroes everywhere I walked: Alan, who sits in the back of his church each week and interprets the services for a little girl who is hearing impaired; Bruce, who is always there when a neighbor's car needs to be repaired or garage door needs to be fixed; Daniel, a brilliant young man who spends several hours each week playing, dancing, singing and coloring with a group of mentally disabled teenagers; Ginger, whose response to being deserted by her husband of 30 years is to return to college at age 50 to get a degree that will help her control her own destiny.
Courageous? No doubt!
And heroic? Do you really need to ask?
Take a walk around your neighborhood and see if the same thing isn't true for you where you live. There are everyday heroes everywhere lifting burdens, lightening loads and looking overwhelming adversity squarely in the eye – and spitting. Their names may not show up in a search of the online world, but these folks do show up where it counts: in the home, the neighborhood and the community, making the real world a better place.
Adapted by Louis Lapides from John Powell, “Why I am Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?”
The late US syndicated columnist Sydney J. Harris accompanied his friend George to his favorite newsstand. George greeted the man selling the newspapers courteously, but in return he received gruff service. He barely acknowledged his customer and never even looked up at him when he requested the late night edition. Accepting the newspaper, which was shoved rudely in his direction, George politely smiled and wished the newsman a pleasant weekend. The proprietor grunted an indiscernible sound and seemed relieved that the two men had completed their transaction.
As the two friends walked down the street the columnist asked, "Does he always treat you so rudely?" "Yes, unfortunately, he does," George responded. "And are you always so kind and friendly to him?" "Yes, I am!" George continued as they turned a corner. "Why are you so nice when he is so unfriendly to you?" With a look of deep contemplation, George explained, "Because I don't want him to decide how I am going to act."
Who decides how you are going to act? Is it your circumstances or the difficult people in your life that determine your responses? When we allow our conflicts to control us, we behave as though getting rid of our predicaments is our only priority. Therefore, it doesn't really matter how we treat one another.
For example, we say, "This person is causing me distress right now so I don't care about exercising patience, self-control, and loving kindness. Instead, I want to let them to know how angry I am because of their actions."
We forget our trials will eventually subside. But the way we handle conflicts will influence our lives for a long time. Will you only respond to the momentary crisis or will you be more concerned about the enduring value of what kind of person you are becoming? Who decides how you will act when the pressure is on?
It's not that I didn't know this already. Our two dogs, Ricky and Lucy have been with us for about ten years. Phil, our youngest, is about three years old.
Whenever thunderstorms approach, long before we are aware of them, my dogs begin to sense them.
Sensing them means that they begin to hide, shake and it’s almost guaranteed that they won't eat as well.
When we know in advance, we will make every effort to take them into the yard a number of times to do their thing because once the storm is here, fear steps in where nature's calling ends.
So you would think by now this was all just part of our lives and it is, but then there was the July 4th fireworks and a storm.
It brought to light a new revelation.
Ricky and I sat down to "talk."
Well, I talk, he listens. Of course, I am not totally sure he is listening. My wife Marianne has that same look on her face when she "listens" to me. Experience has proven that she doesn't listen; she just tries to survive the talk.
Anyway, during my recent conversation with Ricky it dawned on me. Dogs aren't the only ones who have unreasonable fears.
"Ricky, you've been through these storms so many times before and nothing bad has happened to you," I said.
"It's just sound," I reasoned. "Sound has never harmed you."
He continued to shake a bit.
"I haven't let anything happen to you and I won't."
His eyes began to roam as he scanned the room for a quick exit.
My wife does that, too, but at least she nods her head faking agreement and understanding periodically.
Suddenly I had this "Ah Ha" moment.
People do the same thing. We fear things that we have no real knowledge of or past bad experience with and build upon that fear without logic.
"It's how I feel." That's the basis for many limitations we've come to call failures in our lives.
There's no real proof, no statistical data indicating that we should fear going back to school, moving, starting a new job, asking for a raise, taking a stand in a family situation that may not be the most popular, or a thousand other things.
"Why aren't you doing this?"
"I don't know, but it's how I feel."
That's what Ricky was saying to me.
How do I know? I speak "dog" in several breeds.
No, because dogs just don't have the ability to find logical alternative choices.
So, next time you find yourself sitting there strapped by fear knowing logically that you shouldn't be, picture me talking to Ricky... or Marianne.
Know that you do have better choices, higher intelligence and the ability to take control of a situation and rise above it all.
Research it, find the statistics that support your choice, talk to others who have similar experiences and face the storm that has kept you indoors and under the couch.
Just don't sit under a tree when there's lightning. That's a proven fact.
Now, it might storm this afternoon. I better get the dogs out.
In an American history discussion group, the professor was trying to explain how, throughout history, the concept of "beauty" changes with time. "For example," he said, "take the 1921 Miss America. She stood five feet, one inch tall, weighed 108 pounds and sported a 30-inch bust, a 25-inch waist and 32-inch hips. How do you think she'd do in today's version of the contest?"
The class fell silent for a moment. Then one student piped up, "Not very well."
"Why is that?" asked the professor.
"For one thing," the student pointed out, "she'd be way too old."
Good point -- she would be way too old. But really, beauty is a peculiar thing; it changes with perspectives and means something different to everyone. The beauty that should be most notable is authentic beauty.
Authentic beauty is something deep within -- the real you. It is the YOU that is being rediscovered with each new experience; the YOU that is so vividly reflected in those precious few who love us with all their heart.
For inside, you are more beautiful than you may ever know. It would be a waste to never realize that.
Be Happy by Leanne Petty,posted Jun 21 2012 8:45AM
By Davy Jones
Around twenty years ago I was living in Seattle and going through hard times. I could not find satisfying work and I found this especially difficult as I had a lot of experience and a Masters degree.
To my shame I was driving a school bus to make ends meet and living with friends. I had lost my apartment. I had been through five interviews with a company and one day between bus runs they called to say I did not get the job. I went to the bus barn like a zombie of disappointment.
Later that afternoon, while doing my rounds through a quiet suburban neighborhood I had an inner wave - like a primal scream - arise from deep inside me and I thought "Why has my life become so hard?" "Give me a sign, I asked... a physical sign - not some inner voice type of thing."
Immediately after this internal scream I pulled the bus over to drop off a little girl and as she passed she handed me an earring saying I should keep it in case somebody claimed it. The earring was stamped metal, painted black and said 'BE HAPPY'.
At first I got angry - yeah, yeah, I thought. Then it hit me. I had been putting all of my energies into what was wrong with my life rather than what was right! I decided then and there to make a list of 50 things I was grateful for.
At first it was hard, then it got easier. One day I decided to up it to 75. That night there was a phone call for me at my friend's house from a lady who was a manager at a large hospital. About a year earlier I had submitted a syllabus to a community college to teach a course on stress management. (Yup, you heard me. ;-) She asked me if I would do a one-day seminar for 200 hospital workers. I said yes and got the job.
My day with the hospital workers went very well. I got a standing ovation and many more days of work. To this day I KNOW that it was because I changed my attitude to gratitude.
Incidentally, the day after I found the earring the girl asked me if anyone had claimed it. I told her no and she said "I guess it was meant for you then."
I spent the next year conducting training workshops all around the Seattle area and then decided to risk everything and go back to Scotland where I had lived previously. I closed my one man business, bought a plane ticket and got a six month visa from immigration. One month later I met my wonderful English wife and best friend of 15 years now. We live in a small beautiful cottage, two miles from a paved road in the highlands of Scotland.
'THE ONLY ATTITUDE IS GRATITUDE' has been my motto for years now and yes, it completely changed my life.
First off I am not an easy fellow to inspire. When I am inspired (and it is not often), it is not because of things that would normally inspire most other people.
I happened to be driving down the road one day last year with my 3-year-old granddaughter Madison when I saw a sign that read “Friendly Upholstery,” located on Old Jesup Road here in Brunswick, Georgia. It was a small wooden shop located behind a small house which sat off the road some fifty feet or so.
When I walked inside, the gentleman was on the telephone, so I began to show Madison what they built in such a place.
As she and I were walking around, I overheard him tell whoever he was talking to that it was his birthday. I motioned with my hand and told him to take his time as I was in no hurry.
When he completed his telephone call, I began to explain to him that I had a small wooden shelf in my home office that protruded out from my computer desk and that on numerous occasions my granddaughter had banged her head into the shelf when playing with her Papa. I explained that I needed a piece leather or naugahyde material to cover the shelf to protect her head and face.
“She sure is a pretty little thing,” he said, as he reached out and rubbed the top of Madison’s head, making her laugh and then blush.
I stood watching as he headed off to a back room, near the far end of his shop. Several minutes later he returned holding out a four-foot by six-foot piece of greenish-blue leather. I reached out, took the material and stood wondering how much this leather was going to cost me.
“How much do I owe you?”
“Don’t worry about it,” he told me, as he waved his hand back and forth.
After thanking him, and shaking his hand, Madison and I got into my truck and returned home, where I covered the small shelf with foam and the leather. It was less than an hour later when she slipped off the edge of my desk hitting her face directly on the side of the shelf. A bit stunned she got up, climbed into her Papa’s lap and just lay there hugging me.
I was very much inspired by that gentleman’s act of kindness. I was inspired by his concern for someone else’s safety, rather than the almighty dollar – just another buck that he could have gotten from me, a stranger from out of nowhere.
Last week, one year later, I returned to his small shop and I thanked him once again. I wanted him to know that kindness and good deeds are truly appreciated by some, even in this day and age, and that I will forever remember that kindness.
People just being good, kind and respectful to one another is what inspires me most. Those emotions are free to everyone who wishes to use them for themselves. They are also free to those who wish to give them away.
Life isn't about keeping score. It's not about how many friends you have. Or how many people call you. Or how accepted or unaccepted you are. Not about if you have plans this weekend. Or if you're alone. It isn't about who you're dating, who you use to date, how many people you've dated, or if you haven't been with anyone at all. It isn't about who you have kissed. It isn't about who your family is or how much money they have. Or what kind of car you drive. Or where you're sent to school.
It's not about how beautiful or ugly you are. Or what clothes you wear, what shoes you have on, or what kind of music you listen to. It's not about if your hair is blonde, red, black, brown, or green. Or if your skin is too light or too dark.
It's not about what grades you get, how smart you are, how smart everyone else thinks you are, or how smart standardized tests say you are. Or if this teacher likes you, or if this guy/girl likes you. Or what clubs you're in, or how good you are at "your" sport. It's not about representing your whole being on a piece of paper and seeing who will "accept the written you".
But life is about who you love and who you hurt. It's about who you make happy or unhappy purposefully. It's about keeping or betraying trust. It's about friendship, used as sanctity, or as a weapon. It's about what you say and mean, maybe hurtful, maybe heartening. About starting rumors and contributing to petty gossip. It's about what judgments you pass and why. And who your judgments are spread to.
It's about who you've ignored with full control and intention. It's about jealousy, fear, pain, ignorance, and revenge. It's about carrying inner hate and love, letting it grow and spreading it.
But most of all, it's about using your life to touch or poison other people's hearts in such a way that could never occurred alone. Only you choose the way these hearts are affected and those choices are what life is all about.
Sucker Day by Leanne Petty,posted Jun 18 2012 7:48AM
By Steve Goodier
I've never visited the town of Wetumka, Oklahoma. But I understand the folks there celebrate a day every year when they laugh at themselves. They call it Sucker Day and they plan a town festival on the last Saturday of September to commemorate it.
It all started in 1950 when a man calling himself F. Bam Morrison arrived in Wetumka and persuaded local residents to put up the money to bring a circus to town. They did not know F. Bam, but he was a nice enough fellow and they trusted his word.
Merchants bought plenty of food, beverages, and souvenirs in preparation for the crowds of people who were bound to attend. And Morrison sold advance tickets. The townspeople were ecstatic at the thought of a circus in their very own village. Children could hardly sleep at night.
On the day the circus parade was to march down the main street, ecstasy turned into dismay when nothing happened. F. Bam had slipped quietly away in the night with any money he had left. There would be no circus. The good folks of Wetumka had been swindled.
It didn't take long for their disappointment to turn into amusement, however. Someone came up with the idea of holding a four-day celebration anyway. And why not? They had all the food and goodies. Calendars were cleared and, besides, everyone's heart was set on having a good time.
They called their party The Sucker Festival. In a display of good-natured fun, people celebrated the fact that they'd been conned, snookered and hornswoggled. And now Sucker Day is an annual event in Wetumka – a good excuse to come together, to laugh and to have some fun.
We're going to be fooled sometimes. Especially if we easily place our confidence in people. But I'm not going to give up trusting just to avoid being had.
I've observed that some of the happiest people I know are far from being the most wary – in fact, they are quite often open and trusting. These contented folks share at least two traits.
The first is that they are trustworthy. They are known to be honest and true to their word.
And the second trait these happy and satisfied people share is that they easily trust others. Sometimes their trust is misplaced, but they've discovered that the benefits of trusting usually outweigh the risks of disappointment.
I expect I'll get taken in plenty of times yet by friends and strangers I believed in. But I hope the next time I trusted when I should have been more cautious, I can learn from the good folks of Wetumka and laugh at myself.
Because I'd rather let others into my heart than shut them out. I'd rather be a sucker for a day than unhappy for a lifetime. And I'd rather believe there is goodness in most people, for that is the only way to find it.
“Dad”, Lucas said as he settled into his seat at the dinner table, with a serious look about him, “can we talk?”
I felt a twinge of anxiety. Things have been challenging lately; we were forced to move him to a new preschool due to his old one closing, and we’ve been dealing with an increased need for attention, manifesting itself in the form of tantrums and whining. It’s hard to be four when you have a baby sister and a whole new school. Earlier in the day, he had run off and had received a stern lecture about Evil Strangers Who Snatch Little Boys Who Don’t Stick With Their Parents. Gave him a good scare…maybe too good? Yep, he’s reaching that age when worry starts to set in, when kids become aware of the bad and sad in the world. I looked into his eyes, and saw a timeless question written there, and felt the urge to give him a big hug and tell him that everything was going to be ok.
“Sure”, I said.
He paused to gather his thoughts. “Dad, do bears play football?”
When the good Lord was creating fathers, He started with a tall frame. A female angel nearby said, "What kind of father is that? If you're going to make children so close to the ground, why have you put fathers up so high? He won't be able to shoot marbles without kneeling, tuck a child in bed without bending or even kiss a child without a lot of stooping.
And God smiled and said, "Yes, but if I make him child size, who would children have to look up to?"
And when God made a father's hands, they were large and sinewy. The angel shook her head sadly and said, "Large hands are clumsy. They can't manage diaper pins, small buttons, rubber bands on ponytails or even remove splinters caused by sticks used as baseball bats."
And God smiled and said, "I know, but they're large enough to hold everything a small boy empties from his pockets at the end of a day, yet small enough to cup a child's face."
And then God molded long, slim legs and broad shoulders. The angel nearly had a heart attack. "Boy, this is the end of the week, all right," she clucked. "Do you realize you just made a father without a lap? How is he going to pull a child close to him without the kid falling between his legs?"
And God smiled and said, "A mother needs a lap. A father needs strong shoulders to pull a sled, balance a boy on a bicycle or hold a sleepy head on the way home from the circus."
God was in the middle of creating two of the largest feet anyone had ever seen when the angel could contain herself no longer. "That's not fair. Do you honestly think those large boats are going to dig out of bed early in the morning when the baby cries? Or walk through a small birthday party without crushing at least three of the guests?"
And God smiled and said, "They'll work. You'll see. They'll support a small child who wants to ride a horse to Banbury Cross or scare off mice at the summer cabin or display shoes that will be a challenge to fill."
God worked on, giving the father few words but a firm, authoritative voice and eyes that saw everything but remained calm and tolerant. Finally, almost as an afterthought, He added tears. Then He turned to the angel and said, "Now, are you satisfied that he can love as much as a mother?"
The angel shutteth up...
This originally appeared in a newspaper column by Erma Bombeck. She was a well-known humorist and author. She died April 22, 1996 in San Francisco, California.
I know -- he hasn't changed a single diaper, or taken a turn staying up late with a fussy baby. He hasn't rocked his son to sleep, or bounced him on his knee, or tucked him sweetly in his cradle. And there isn't one spit up stain on any of his jackets or collars.
But he's still a father this Father's Day.
Adam's first child won't actually be born until September. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we already know he is a boy -- he and Andrea have named their son Alexander -- and that he has Adam's nose and, according to one observer anyway, Andrea's eyes (although I can't for the life of me figure out how anyone could tell that -- I mean, his eyes are still closed, for Pete's sake!).
So Adam is still a rookie when it comes to being a father. He's doing a great job of taking care of Andrea through a sometimes-difficult pregnancy, so he's earning his stripes there. But he's yet to step up to the plate and take his first swings at hands-on fatherhood.
So you can't blame him if he's a little nervous about it. These are, after all, life's ultimate Big Leagues. The margin for error is slight. You can go from Hall of Fame Father to bush league dad with one raging outburst of anger and frustration.
Plus, the other team has great pitchers throwing hard, dirty stuff at you -- stuff like drugs, alcohol, gangs, cynicism and indifference. It's tough being a good dad under the best of circumstances. These days, with an extraordinary array of negative influences swirling all around us and blurring our values and priorities, it can be overwhelming.
Especially for a rookie.
Thankfully, Adam has a great image in his mind of what a father can and should be. He had a terrific dad, with whom he had a close and loving relationship. He has seen and experienced the positive influence of a good father in his life. But his dad passed away some time ago, so he won't be available to provide on-the-job training and encouragement. His mom is a great lady, and she'll fill in as much as she can. Andrea will certainly put in her two-cents worth from time to time -- you can count on that. And he has older friends and family members who will share their insights, experiences and -- occasionally -- warnings.
But for the most part, he's going to be on his own, trying to figure out fatherhood as he goes along. Which is pretty much what we all do, now that I think about it. My dad was around for my first 25 years of fathering, and I did solicit his input from time to time. But for the most part I just winged it. And with Anita's help and God's, things turned out OK -- if you don't count the overwrought late-night lectures, the "Russia has just taken over America" experiment and the incident in the cul-de-sac.
Fatherhood isn't a science, it's an art. Which means that there are precious few hard and fast rules, and almost no absolutes. There are no textbooks, no laboratories, no scientifically calculated models that can turn you into a good father. It's something you can only learn by doing -- which means that what you do will occasionally be... well... wrong. But guided by love and fortified by faith, you can overcome your mistakes.
As you pick up that chart today and scan that green Medicaid card, I hope you will remember what I am about to say.
I spent yesterday with you. I was there with my mother and father. We didn’t know where we were supposed to go or what we were supposed to do, for we had never needed your services before. We have never before been labeled charity.
I watched yesterday as my dad became a diagnosis, a chart, a case number, a charity case labeled “no sponsor” because he had no health insurance.
I saw a weak man stand in line, waiting for five hours to be shuffled through a system of impatient office workers, a burned-out nursing staff and a budget-scarce facility, being robbed of any dignity and pride he may have had left. I was amazed at how impersonal your staff was, huffing and blowing when the patient did not present the correct form, speaking carelessly of other patients’ cases in front of passersby, of lunch breaks that would be spent away from this “poor man’s hell.”
My dad is only a green card, a file number to clutter your desk on appointment day, a patient who will ask for directions twice after they’ve been mechanically given the first time. But, no, that’s not really my dad. That’s only what you see.
What you don’t see is a cabinetmaker since the age of 14, a self-employed man who has a wonderful wife, four grown kids (who visit too much), and five grandchildren (with two more on the way) – all of whom think their “pop”is the greatest. This man is everything a daddy should be – strong and firm, yet tender, rough around the edges, a country boy, yet respected by prominent business owners.
He’s my dad, the man who raised me through thick and thin, gave me away as a bride, held my children at their births, stuffed a $20 bill into my hand when times were tough and comforted me when I cried. Now we are told that before long cancer will take this man away from us.
You may say these are the words of a grieving daughter lashing out in helplessness at the prospect of losing a loved one. I would not disagree. Yet I would urge you not to discount what I say. Never lose sight of the people behind your charts. Each chart represents a person – with feelings, a history, a life – whom you have the power to touch for one day by your words and actions. Tomorrow it may be your loved one – your relative or neighbor – who turns into a case number, a green card, a name to be marked off with a yellow marker as done for the day.
I pray that you will reward the next person you greet at your station with a kind word or smile because that person is someone’s dad, husband, wife, mother, son, or daughter – or simply because he or she is a human being, created and loved by God, just as you are.
At nine weeks of age, Hank was already a pup waiting to be rescued. His was not a case of neglect, but a set of convoluted circumstances that had befallen a tiny, baby boy. Like all puppies, he was precious and it was love at first sight for me and my husband. Nevertheless, we had no idea what a remarkable role he would play in our lives.
Shiloh, our older Schnauzer, all but danced on her hind paws when that little, snow-white fellow arrived on the scene. Time to become acquainted wasn’t necessary, for within minutes they were doing laps ‘round the couch. Hank’s stamina and determination showed immediately as his little legs dug into the carpet trying to keep up with a full-grown dog.
With oodles of extra love and attention, Shiloh had coped with the loss of her lifetime pal, Josey, fairly well. Still, she was overjoyed when that rowdy, young boy entered her life. I wept thinking we should have provided her with a new friend sooner, and before those tears were dry—more tears began—tears of joy because Shiloh was so "taken" with Hank.
That first evening, I knew there was something mystical about Hank. After a good romp and a nap, he awoke and took off to explore his new home. Soon he had located Shiloh’s food dish. He promptly picked it up by the edge, dragged it into the living room, and plunked it down at my feet. Goose bumps raced from my head to my toes; Josey had always placed her dish at my feet, no matter where in the house I might be. Yes, even in the bathroom! No doubt, Hank’s dish maneuver was Josey sending a playful "stamp of approval" all the way from Rainbow Bridge. More tears tumbled!
Hank was up for anything that involved being rough and tumble and he cared not that Shiloh was much larger. When they weren’t wrestling or playing chase, he would lavish me and my husband with kisses. From dawn until dusk his tail wagged and he bounced instead of walking. I often thought he should have been named Happy!
Life was good.
Quite abruptly and with only a few subtle signs, Shiloh was blind by the time Hank turned one year of age. My husband, Jerry, and I were overwhelmed with anxiety and fear. I read everything I could find about living with a blind animal and had lengthy visits with our vet. Regardless of all I learned, in my mind I knew Shiloh would never truly enjoy life again. She would eat, sleep, and become an old dog before her time. I was numb with sadness for Shiloh. Her active, action-packed life would become nothing more than a memory.
Well! Not only were we astonished with Shiloh’s ability to adapt to her handicap, but Hank transformed himself into her personal seeing-eye dog! He began to fetch her dish, as well as his, at chow time. Other behaviors also indicated his awareness of her plight and he worked daily making adjustments to better her life.
What’s more, Hank then appointed himself as Shiloh’s disciplinarian. When she’d begin to dig the carpet or bedding to make a nest, he’d gently grasp one of her front legs in his mouth, lift it up, and hold it! He detested when she was scolded for her naughty habit, therefore, he took care of business before we even had a chance.
The devotion of Shiloh and Hank has intensified to the point they are inseparable. And, if it is necessary for them to be apart, you’d best wear ear plugs! They have unleashed sounds of anguish that I didn’t realize could be made by man or beast.
Our one-time fears are now a thing of the past and Shiloh’s life is filled with joy, thanks to Hank! Together they have learned how to cope with her blindness, and to get past most any obstacle that comes their way.
Hank now zooms by Shiloh until he notes body language that indicates she’s "ready." He zips by her once again, in close proximity, with a favorite toy in his mouth. Shiloh strikes like lightening, grabs hold, and the tug-o-war begins! And, wrestling matches are still a part of each day. Many times Hank pretends Shiloh is winning—even though he is now the larger of the two. He rolls on his back and pretends he can’t get up while she works him over. Oh, how her tail does wag!
Shiloh is always Hank’s first concern, but he takes care of me and my husband also. If we are sick, he snuggles up in bed with us awaiting our recovery. Should we want to play ball or go for a walk, he’s ready! He is one busy, but happy, fellow.
When the four of us crawl into bed at night, Hank is literally zonked out within seconds, and it’s no wonder. His life is devoted to the needs of every member of his pack, and especially Shiloh…his blind charge.
As I drift off to sleep at night, I often wonder if Hank is really a snow-white Schnauzer, or an angel in disguise…
“Brandon” was a little kid that we had way back in 3rd grade. I say WE because he literally belonged to the whole school. He spent most of his time in the SpEd classes and was mainstreamed for only short periods. Since we had grade-leveled schools, it was my first encounter with him, but I have never seen a building of students so protective of anyone.
Since that 3rd grade year, I moved to the junior high and had the opportunity to teach some of those students again. As a part of our goal-setting curriculum, we periodically had a motivational speaker scheduled to talk to an assembly of our students. This particular speaker was dynamic, energetic, and enthusiastic, and the students hung on her every word. She described her poor, disadvantaged beginning in a neighborhood that would typically breed failure, and outlined her road to success. They loved her! At the end of her speech, she took questions from the audience, and handed each inquirer a memento in the form of a cap, t-shirt, etc.
She had no way of knowing anything about Brandon nor of his limitations. Like the other students, he was caught up in the enthusiasm and wildly waving his arms to be recognized. She called on him …Of course she didn’t realize his problem, and when he asked her his off-the-wall question which had nothing to do with anything pertinent, she gave him a sharp answer, and didn’t reward him with anything.
Believe me. You have never seen an audience turn on a speaker so fast. She literally went from cheers to jeers in seconds… and getting the students out of the gym and calmed from their irate state was a monumental task. I don’t know how many of them who had gained a “prize” by asking a question went by the office and left their memento for Brandon…they just didn’t want it any more. The principal did explain to the speaker what had happened and she promised to send a special package for Brandon. She did, eventually, but it took her almost 3 months.
People often shrink in fear at the thought of teaching in junior high, and there are challenging moments, but many times, mixed in with their cut-downs and silly moods, I’ve witnessed their softer side of compassion and caring. The speaker had some important things to present to the students that day about believing in themselves and visualizing success is possible, but I think the lesson she taught by her actions was bigger than the one she brought with her. Because of her treatment toward Brandon, the gymnasium full of students turned on her in a heartbeat. I hope she learned something from our students. I hope she learned that you never become too important to give every child his fair chance; at least that’s the lesson our students took home.
At a certain moment in Nietzsche's life, the idea came to him of what he called 'the love of your fate.' Whatever your fate is, whatever the heck happens, you say, "This is what I need." It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge.
If you bring love to that moment - not discouragement - you will find the strength is there. Any disaster that you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow. Then, when looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You’ll see that this is really true.
Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not.
I can remember when I was a child in grade school, my parents would attend the Parent Teacher Association meetings. I stayed at home shaking in my boots, fearful of what my teachers had to say about me.
I don't know why. Most of the time when they returned home, my father would say, "I asked how you were doing in class. She said "Bob's a charmer." I'd smile and sigh with relief.
"You're quite a character, Bob," my mother would tell me.
So, for most of my life I thought being a character was the most important thing.
Being a "charmer" didn't hurt either.
Then one day when I had been much too long in adulthood, I heard someone talk about my reputation.
It wasn't very flattering. Most likely truthful to some extent, but not something I'd want my parents to hear at PTA.
Being a charmer doesn't always work for good.
I also discovered that being a character isn't as good as having character. Being a character is like being a clown, an actor of sorts.
Having character involves morals and ethics.
"What kind of reputation do I want?" I asked myself that day.
It was then I really grew up. (Well, almost)
You see, I began to spend way too much time worrying about my reputation. During a discussion I was involved with one day, a man made a very strong point. One that lit the fire and sparked the desire for me to make changes in my life.
He quoted, "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." - Dale Carnegie
That was it. If one focuses on their character, one need not worry about their reputation.
Reputation is someone's interpretation of who they think you are. How they see you is based on their judgments, prejudices, and personal experiences.
Like all other views and opinions in life, it all comes down to the way you see it, the way I see it and the way it is.
In regard to reputation, how do we define "the way it is?"
Simply by using some standard, some level of basic expectations in regard to morals and ethics.
Be of good character and worry not what others think. For if anyone should think ill of a person of good standing and character, the fault lies with their judgment.
Still, I love being a charmer and quite a character sometimes. It is the sunshine after the rain for someone who may be hurting or lonely. It is the smile after the pain for someone who knows only sadness.
You're miserable and probably one of the rudest people I've ever come across.
When I approach you, you turn away and pretend that I am not there, until you're ready.
I have tried a thousand times to make you smile and you have tried a thousand times not to.
I have dreaded even having to deal with you. I even tried coming at another time only to find you there at all hours.
The hard, staid, look on your face remains unchanged no matter what day it is, what time it is or even what season.
A "Beautiful day!" gets a moan.
"Hello, how are you today?" always returns "The same."
I have given up on you, I have been angered by you, I have even thought about complaining to the manager, but didn't.
Then one day I caught myself acting just like you and realized that I must stop.
I finally resolved myself to the fact that you are who you are and I cannot change that.
You are a fact of my life and I must learn to deal with it.
You made me.
The one day that I permitted myself to return the emptiness, rude behavior, terrible attitude and silent treatment, you chose to say something.
I approached the checkout and you said, "Are you Okay?" I was stunned. I could actually feel my brow, my entire face scrunch up apparently angry that you would ask.
"Am I okay?" I said in disbelief.
"Yes." you replied. "You are usually so upbeat and chipper."
I stood in this dream-like state confused by what was going on.
You looked at me and said, "I depend on you to lift my spirits every time you come in. I work three jobs, my bills are piling up, my kids need clothes for school, my husband left me and three weeks later I found out I have cancer."
I was speechless.
"Now you come in with this attitude today," she said.
I actually apologized.
I never considered that you were much more than a clerk. I never tried to understand that behind that face was personal pain, life challenges and loss.
Sure you should learn to separate work and life, but sometimes life digs in, hurts, and you end up wearing it like an ugly dress. Fits, but no one wants to see it.
Knowing now how difficult your life is I will see you through the eyes of love.
Love is more than romantic. Love is compassionate. Love is kind. Love is forgiving. Love is seeing beyond the pain.
The Sneeze by Leanne Petty,posted Jun 1 2012 8:10AM
Based on an incident that happened May 20, 2001, at Washington Community High School in Washington, IL
They walked in tandem, each of the ninety-two students filing into the already crowded auditorium. With their rich maroon gowns flowing and the traditional caps, they looked almost as grown up as they felt.
Dads swallowed hard behind broad smiles, and Moms freely brushed away tears.
This class would NOT pray during the commencement, not by choice, but because of a recent court ruling prohibiting it.
The principal and several students were careful to stay within the guidelines allowed by the ruling. They gave inspirational and challenging speeches, but no one mentioned divine guidance and no one asked for blessings on the graduates or their families.
The speeches were nice, but they were routine until the final speech received a standing ovation.
A solitary student walked proudly to the microphone. He stood still and silent for just a moment, and then, it happened.
All 92 students, every single one of them, suddenly SNEEZED!!!
The student on stage simply looked at the audience and said,
'GOD BLESS YOU,'
And walked off the stage.
The audience exploded into applause. This graduating class had found a unique way to invoke God's blessing on their future with or without the court's approval.