Inspiring stories and poems!
Through Facebook, I recently made contact with a friend and colleague from way, way back!
Alton Douglas was a very entertaining and successful cabaret and television 'warm-up' comedian with whom in the 1970's I regularly shared the bill, particularly in Midland venues. Alton still lives in the Birmingham area and continues to be successful - as a writer! Mostly of local history books, but also writes on comedy (jokes, limericks and anecdotes etc.). He has even produced an autobiography!
Check out his website.
for Alton's impressive body of work.
A WISDOM STORY... THE 3 HAIRS.
There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. "Well," she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today." So she did and she had a wonderful day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. "Hmmm..," she said, "I think I'll part my hair down the middle today." So she did and she had a grand day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. "Well," she said, "Today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail." So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head. "YAY!" she exclaimed. "I don't have to fix my hair today!"
Attitude is everything. Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. Live simply, Love generously, Care deeply, Speak kindly.
Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass... It's about learning to dance in the rain.
May we all learn to "Dance in the rain!"
My friend Alex Wallace who lives in Edinburgh (Scotland's beautiful capital city), posted the following story on Facebook. I had heard it before but had forgotten it! I think it deserves to be here:
THE MAYONNAISE JAR
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the following mayonnaise jar story.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.
When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.
He then asked the students if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.
The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.
He then asked the students again if the jar was full.
They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.
Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He asked once more if the jar was full.
The students responded with a unanimous 'yes.'
The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.
The students laughed..
'Now,' said the professor as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things---your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else---the small stuff.
'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.
The same goes for life.
If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Spend time with your children.
Spend time with your parents.
Visit with grandparents.
Take your spouse out to dinner.
Play another 18.
There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.
Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter. Set your priorities.
The rest is just sand!
Ed Solomon, my friend in the U.S. has just sent me the following link. It is certainly one of the most inspiring stories I have heard for a long time.
It shows how much can be achieved with will and determination - plus the help and encouragement of good friends and those you love:
Who have YOU encouraged recently?
Ignore the advertisements preceding the story and...
This is a poem sent to me some time ago although I vaguely remember learning it at school - many years ago!
It has a certain poignancy.
The Clock of Life
by Robert H. Smith
The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.
To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed,
To lose one’s health is more,
To lose one’s soul is such a loss
That no man can restore.
The present only is our own,
So Live, Love, toil with a will
Place no faith in “Tomorrow”.......
......For the clock may then be still.
From a two-times cancer survivor.
I recently received an email from Karen Rice. The story she told me was truly inspirational and I asked if I might pass it on.
Some time ago Karen was diagnosed with breast cancer and reacted in the way that most people would. She was devastated by what she thought was a death sentence. She suffered the humility of surgery and follow-up treatment and was at an emotional low point. Worse was to follow – a few short years later she was diagnosed with cancer of the colon!
Karen began to question God. Why had she been selected to suffer this double challenge? What had she done to be so singled out? She was unhappy with how she looked and constantly had to deal with excruciating pain.
And then she made a decision.
Instead of bemoaning her fate she decided to look for positives. There had to be a reason for all that had happened to her.
Karen had what she calls 'An Awakening'. Instead of being negative, she began to realise that she IS still here; after all the surgery and treatment - which she is even now currently receiving - she is still alive! Karen felt the compulsion to write and turn her experiences into therapy. She wrote a poem called 'Peace' , added it to several other poems she had composed during her breast cancer period and submitted it for publication. The book of poems was accepted and is published under the title, “True Simple Poems of Life, Faith and Survival.”
Karen goes on to say that she never anticipated becoming a writer, “I just became one!” She continues to write and hopes that her poetry might help others similarly afflicted with tragedy and life threatening conditions. Karen's writing continues to give her strength. She has had another inspirational book published – this time for children - “If Only I Could Fly, Said Mattie-Bee” and is working on a third.
“I would never have become a writer”, she claims, “producing inspirational stories, if I had not gone through all that I did.”
Karen is a true example that you can survive any cancer not once, but twice, providing that you catch it in time. She points out that it is not all easy but says that you must have faith and allow that faith to direct your path. She finishes by saying that her experiences with cancer have made her a true believer.
If you have been touched by Karen's story and would like to contact her about her experience or ask about her books, you can email Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org
"As long as we have Memories, yesterday remains, As long as we have Hope, tomorrow awaits, and as long as we have Friendship, each day is never a waste..."
Passed on by Dot Boyle, Ex-Butlin Redcoat; friend and colleague (11.10.12.)
Lynette sent me the following story in May, 2011. She wrote it for her little boy, who couldn't understand why his big brother had gone away...
The Little Bear Who Lost His Boy
If you have a child grieving for a lost sibling, perhaps Lynnette's story can help.
Here is a story sent to me by an American friend (Ed Fowler). He says he received as a 'Forward message', so some of you may already have seen it.
I like the tale and the message has to inspire:
Anyone who has pets will really like this. You'll like it even if you don't and you may even decide you need one!
Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named 'Lucky.' Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.
Mary or Jim would go to Lucky's toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky's other favorite toys. Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.
It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease......in fact; she was just sure it was fatal.
She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her....what would happen to Lucky? Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary's dog through and through. If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won't understand that I didn't want to leave him! The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.
The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and miserable.
Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn't even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap...
Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn't come to her when she called. It made Mary sad but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed.
When Mary woke for a second she couldn't understand what was wrong. She couldn't move her head and her body felt heavy and hot. But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned! While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved
mistress all his favorite things in life. He had covered her with his love.
Mary forgot about dying. Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day. It's been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free. Lucky, he still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure.
Remember......live every day to the fullest. Each minute is a blessing. And never forget....the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care for us.
If you see someone without a smile today give them one of yours! Live simply. Love seriously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
A small request
Please pass this story on, even if it is only to one more person, in memory of anyone you know that has been struck down by
cancer or is still fighting their battle.
This is a tale sent to me by storytelling colleague and friend, Del Reid. Del lives near London and has relatives in the United States. They often send him stories and he in turn, passes some of them to me. This one I liked so much that I asked Del if I may include it on my Inspiring Stories page.
Like the true gentleman that he is, he kindly agreed. I think that YOU will like it too!
I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily appraising a basket of freshly picked green peas.
I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the store owner) and the ragged boy next to me.
'Hello Barry, how are you today?'
'H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas. They sure look good.'
'They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?'
'Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time.'
'Good. Anything I can help you with?'
'No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas.'
'Would you like to take some home?' asked Mr. Miller.
'No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with.'
'Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?'
'All I got's my prize marble here.'
'Is that right? Let me see it' said Miller..
'Here 'tis. She's a dandy.'
'I can see that. Hmmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?' the store owner asked.
'Not zackley but almost.'
'Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble'. Mr. Miller told the boy.
'Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller.'
Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile she said, 'There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, when they come on their next trip to the store.'
I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado , but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering for marbles.
Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died.
They were having his visitation that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.
Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts...all very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband's casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her, and moved on to the casket.
Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one; each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.
Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago and what she had told me about her husband's bartering for marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket.
'Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim 'traded' them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size.....they came to pay their debt.'
'We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,' she confided, 'but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho.'
With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.
The Moral: We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath...
Today I wish YOU a day of ordinary miracles ~ A fresh pot of coffee you didn't make yourself...An unexpected phone call from an old friend...Green stoplights on your way to work...The fastest line at the grocery store...A good sing-along song on the radio...Your keys found right where you left them.
Send this to the people you'll never forget.
If you don't send it to anyone, it means you are in way too much of a hurry to even notice the ordinary miracles when they occur.
IT'S NOT WHAT YOU GATHER, BUT WHAT YOU SCATTER THAT TELLS WHAT KIND OF LIFE YOU HAVE LIVED.
Have a Great Day!
Occasionally I receive an email that I feel really resonates and I have to share the message with everyone!
The item was sent to me in October 2003. For a long time it was tucked away in my Newsletter Archive. It moved me at the time and I felt the need to preserve it for others to read. I was concerned however that perhaps insufficient people would visit that area and wouldn't therefore see it! And that would have been a shame!
If YOU are a storyteller and have ever questioned the worth of your storytelling, read this email from John McDonald and I think that you will be as moved as I was.
Now 58 y.o.and Grandad to a wonderful three year old, (Jessica) and a four month old (Harry), I am on a voyage of re-discovery. The stories I told to my own children have dimmed in my mind through lack of telling and at each recounting another little bit is remembered.
There is much mirth as Jessica frequently picks me up on the slight change in the story line with the words, "you never told me that bit last time". And now I know that the magic of the "Story" is within her. She really listens, and takes it all in. The childhood world of unconstrained imagination is open. And I love it!
They live a long way away so we don't see them very often. Each evening she telephones us and seems now to be always asking for "just another story Grandad". So thank you so much for your website. It has made the distance much shorter. Jessica loves it when she hears the words, "and they all lived happily ever after", as this is her cue to say, "The End". It just cracks me up!
We are now discovering the interactive side of the Story" where she wants to be the character/part of the plot, like the horses in Cinderella or the clock striking twelve, and I have to play some other part and change my voice as it progresses.
It is a wonderful world of two way communication on the telephone, just Grandad and grandaughter, wrapped up in the moment, and always she just kills me with her one line "I love you, Grandad". Very precious moments indeed!
I just had to share that with someone, and I hope it sparks a memory for you too.
Doesn't that make you all feel good? Absolutely wonderful! Thank you John - Your joy is a tonic to us all!
Inspiring thought for the day:
"Life is not what happens to you, but how you react to it...for what caused you to react will surely pass, but how you continue to react can only be passed by you."
Here is a great tale with inspiring visuals, that I think you will like:
But come right back - we have more!
Jack Disbrow, a magical colleague recently posted this poem onto an internet digest to which I subscribe.
When I asked him for permission to include it here, he very kindly agreed so "Thank You" Jack.
Whilst the poem is over 100 years old, the message (though more 'thought-provoking' than inspiring) is as true today as it was then!
Incidentally, neither Jack or I know if or where any copyright for this item lies, so if anyone 'out there' knows of a copyright owner, please let me know so that I can obtain the appropriate permission and give credit.
One day through the primeval wood
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled,
And I infer the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale:
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bellwether sheep
Pursued the trail o'er hill and glade
Through those old woods a path was made.
And many men wound in and out
And dodged and turned and bent about
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because 'twas such a crooked path;
But still they followed - do not laugh -
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.
This forest path became a lane
That bent and turned and turned again;
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;
And thus, before men were aware,
A city's crowded thoroughfare.
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.
Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed this zig-zag calf about
And o'er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day;
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.
For men are prone to go it blind,
Along the calf-paths of the mind;
And work away from sun to sun,
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.
They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move.
But how the wise old wood gods laugh,
Who saw that first primeval calf!
Ah! Many things this tale may preach
but I am not ordained to teach!
(Edited from a poem by Sam Walter Foss, 1895)
Who are the wealthy ones?
In March 2005, my daughter Amanda went on a nine-day all expenses paid holiday to East Africa. She had been invited to accompany her cousin Julie who is a sales rep. with a big pharmaceutical firm here in the U.K.
Julie's company operate an annual 'rewards' scheme and that year her team had received 'The President's Award'. It was gifted in the form of the above mentioned holiday. Amanda and Julie have always been good friends and Julie asked Amanda to go with her.
They had a great time and came home with lots of stories and photographs. They had flown to Nairobi and went on safari in The Serengeti National Park. They also had a couple of days in Zanzibar.
While in the Serengeti, they spent time with a community of Maasai. The hospitality showered upon them by these extremely poor (measured by western standards) villagers was the outstanding memory of an amazing trip. They were especially moved at the sight of the village school, where the children have no books, pencils or even benches to sit on. And yet all seemed happy and content with their primitive lifestyle.
Upon their return, Julie and Amanda were inspired to put together an illustrated presentation of their experience and on Friday, 3rd. June 2005, took it to a local church hall for its first outing. They raised £200.00 for the church fund. Such was the success of the evening that they resolved to take their show on a local tour of church halls and community centres to raise funds for this little village school in Tanzania.
I felt very proud that night to be in attendance at this show presented by my daughter and niece. My abiding memory was the line delivered by Amanda at the closing. She said, "Although these people don't have what we have, they have more - they all have smiles on their faces".
another inspired tale with a message from Ed Solomon
A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package.
"What food might this contain?" He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap!
Retreating to the barnyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning.
"There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"
The big black hen clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."
The mouse turned to the Pinkie the pig and told him, "There is a
mousetrap in the house."
The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers."
The mouse turned to the cow. Old Bossy said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose."
So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap alone.
That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a big, fat rattlesnake whose tail the trap had caught.
The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the barnyard to get the soup's main ingredient.
But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.
The farmer's wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.
So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem or is causing one, and think that it doesn't concern you, it might be worth considering that when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.
Robin Ellwood is a storytelling colleague who lives in the north-east of England. He recently sent me this tale that I thought I would share with you all:
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their military service, where they had been on holiday.
Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.
Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it. In his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days and weeks passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital
attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.
It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.
Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.
If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy.
"Today is a gift, that's why it is called the present."
Here is yet another offering by Ed Solomon, my friend from America:
"As a child I can remember my grandmother sharing with me little bits of wisdom that gave me the basis of my faith and belief system. I can remember telling her that I wished that I had this or that or I wished that I could do thus and so. Her gentle response was always this little cliché.
"If wishes were horses then beggars might ride."
Her logic was always my teacher and guide.
In the 1930s there was a song about wishes. "Wishing Will Make It So" was the title. Another was "When You Wish Upon a Star."
It seems that the depression era made a lot of folks wish for better times and a better way of life.
Here is a story about wishes that really has a lot of feeling. It is a story that would lend itself to a little touch of magic. I liked it and hope you will enjoy it also:
I WISH YOU ENOUGH.
Recently, I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport as the daughter's departure had been announced. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said, "I love you and I wish you enough."
The daughter replied, "Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom." They kissed and the daughter left.
The mother walked over to the window where I sat. Standing there, I could see she wanted and needed to cry.
I tried not to intrude on her privacy but she welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?" "Yes, I have," I replied. "Forgive me for asking but why is this a forever good-bye?"
"I am old and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is the next trip back will be for my funeral," she said.
When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, "I wish you enough." May I ask what that means?"
She began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone." She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail and she smiled even more. "When we said 'I wish you enough' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them". Then turning toward me, she shared the following, reciting it from memory,
"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye."
She then began to cry and walked away.
They say it takes a minute to find a special person. An hour to appreciate them. A day to love them. And an entire life to forget them.
TAKE TIME TO LIVE!
To all my friends and fellow storytellers,
I WISH YOU ENOUGH
Sometimes we just need to be reminded!
A well-known speaker started off his seminar by
holding up a $20.00 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, "Who would like this $20 bill?"
Hands started going up.
He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this."
He proceeded to crumple up the $20 dollar bill. He then asked, "Who still wants it?"
Still the hands were up in the air.
"Well", he continued, "What if I do this?"
And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe.
He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty.
"Now, who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air.
"My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.00.
Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.
We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.
Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased,
you are still priceless to those who love you.
The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE.
You are special- Don't EVER forget it.
Count your blessings, not your problems.
And remember: amateurs built the Ark ..
professionals built the Titanic."
This story was recently sent to me as a 'Pass it on' email. I have left it mostly intact as it arrived:
Two choices - What will you do? You make the choice! Don't look for a punch line; there isn't one!
Read it anyway. My question to all of you is: Would you have made
the same choice?
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.
After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: "He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?" The audience was stilled by the query.
The father continued. "I believe that when a child like Shay, physically and mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes, in the way other people treat that child." Then he told the following story:
Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, "Do you think they'll let me play?" Shay's father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.
Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shay could play, not expecting much. The boy looked around for guidance and a few boys nodded approval, why not? So he took matters into his own hands and said, "We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning."
Shay struggled over to the team's bench put on a team shirt with a broad smile and his father had a small tear in his eye and warmth in his heart. The boys saw the father's joy at his son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat. At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible 'cause Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing the other team putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least be able to make contact.
The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher. The game would now be over, but the pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have
easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been
out and that would have been the end of the game.
Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the head of the first baseman, out of reach of all team-mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, "Shay, run to first! Run to first!" Never in his life had Shay ever ran that far but made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled, "Run to second, run to second!" Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to second base.
By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball, the smallest guy on their team, who had a chance to be the hero for his team for the first time. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions and he too intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.
All were screaming, "Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay" Shay reached third base, the opposing shortstop ran to help him and turned him in the direction of third base, and shouted, "Run to third! Shay, run to third" As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams and those watching were on their feet were screaming, "Shay, run home!" Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the "grand slam" and won the game for his team.
"That day," said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "The boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world." Shay didn't make it to another summer and died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making his father so happy and coming home and seeing his mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!
AND, NOW A LITTLE FOOTNOTE TO THIS STORY: We all send thousands of jokes through the e-mail without a second thought, but when it comes to sending messages about life choices, people think twice about sharing. The crude, vulgar, and often obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion about decency is too often suppressed in our schools and workplaces.
If you're thinking about forwarding this message, chances are that you're probably sorting out the people on your address list that aren't the "appropriate" ones to receive this type of message.
Well, the person who sent this to me believed that we all can make a difference. We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the "natural order of things."
So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice: Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up that opportunity to brighten the day of those with us the least able, and leave the world a little bit colder in the process? A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats its least fortunate amongst them.
You now have two choices: 1. Delete 2. Forward
Here is another story sent to me by email. It doesn't have the same spiritual 'ring', but still carries a worthwhile message:
A Donkey's Tale.
One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.
He invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quietened down.
A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.
As the farmer's neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.
Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.
2. Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.
3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.
An aunt of whom I was very fond recently passed away. the following poem by Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933) was read at her funeral. I found it both moving and inspiring:
GONE FROM MY SIGHT.
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says:
‘There, she is gone!’
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, ‘There, she is gone!’
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad
‘Here she comes!’
There is a final line which was ommitted at the funeral. I
also have deliberately left it out, I think it superfluous but
you might like to know what it is, so for completeness, the last
line of Van Dyke's poem is:
'And that is dying'
I think I have mentioned before that I subscribe to an internet digest in which like-minded storyteller/magicians contribute stimulating material.
Marlene Clarke is one such. Marlene recently posted the following story, which I very much enjoyed. She doesn't claim authorship. She says it arrived in her email box one day and she liked it. If anyone reading this recognises it as their own, or at least knows its origin, please let me know so that I can give suitable acknowledgement.
Here is the tale. I have given it the title:
A TIMELY GIFT.
It had been years since Jack had seen the old man who lived next door to his childhood home. College, girls, career and life got in the way of remembering the man who had stepped into his life after his father died. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams.
In the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past or even to spend time with his wife and son. He was working on his future and nothing could stop him. One night his mother called him. "Mr. Belser died last night," she said. "The funeral is Wednesday."
Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat
quietly, remembering his childhood days. "Jack, did you hear me?"
"Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I thought of him. I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago."
"Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were doing. He'd reminisce about the many days you spent over 'his side of the fence' as he put it." "I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said. "He's the one who taught me carpentry. I wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important...Mom, I'll be there for the funeral."
Jack was busy, but he kept his word and flew to his hometown. Mr.
Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away. The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house one more time. Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture, until.....Jack stopped suddenly.
"What's wrong?" his Mom asked.
"The box is gone," he said.
"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he ever said was that it was the thing he valued most." But the box was gone. Everything was exactly as Jack remembered, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.
"Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said.
Jack flew home the next day. About two weeks later, Jack discovered a note in his mailbox: "Signature required on a package, no one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days."
Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. It was old and looked like it had been addressed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention: "Mr. Harold Belser.
"Jack took the package to his car ripped it open. Inside was the gold box plus an envelope. Jack's hands shook as he read the note it contained: "Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It's the thing I valued most in my life."
A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. Inside, he found a beautiful gold pocket watch. Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside, he discovered these words engraved: "Jack, Thanks for your time! - Harold Belser."
"The thing he valued most was...my time," Jack said to himself.
Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days! "Why?" asked Janet, his assistant. "I need some time to spend with my son," he said. "Oh, by the way Janet thanks for your time!"
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.
Thank you Marlene for the story.
And to all visitors to my website may I also say, “Thanks for YOUR time!”
I spend much of my working life in schools and in the company of schoolteachers and I am always amazed and humbled at the skill, patience and devotion that they lovingly give to the children in their care.
So this next piece entitled, "Heroes" is dedicated to schoolteachers, the ones I know, the ones I have yet to meet and also to those I never shall. You all deserve the nation's gratitude.
While the story (sent to me via Dee Solomon, wife of my good friend Ed, who regularly sends me stories) originates in the U.S. and cites American examples, the sentiment expressed applies with equal validity here in the U.K. and I suspect, in schools throughout the world.
“Where are the heroes of today?” A radio talk show host thundered. Many blame society's shortcomings on education. Too many people are looking for heroes in all the wrong places: movie stars and rock musicians, athletes and models aren't heroes, they're celebrities.
Heroes abound in public schools, a fact that doesn't make the news. There is no precedent for the level of violence, drugs, broken homes, child abuse, and crime in today's America. Education didn't create these problems, but deals with them every day.
You want heroes?
Consider Dave Sanders, the schoolteacher shot to death while trying to shield his students from two youths on a shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Sanders gave his life, along with twelve students, and other less heralded heroes survived the Colorado blood bath.
You want heroes?
Jane Smith, a Fayetteville, N.C., teacher was moved by the plight of one of her students, a boy dying for want of a kidney transplant. So this woman told the family of the fourteen-year-old boy that she would give him one of her kidneys. And she did. When they subsequently appeared together hugging on the Today Show, even Katie Couric was near tears.
You want heroes?
Doris Dillon dreamed all of her life of being a teacher. She not only made it; she was one of those wondrous teachers who could bring the best out of every single child. One of her fellow teachers in San Jose, Ca., said, “She could teach a rock to read.” Suddenly, she was stricken with Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is always fatal, usually within five years. She asked to stay on the job….and did. When her voice was affected, she communicated by computer. Did she go home? Absolutely not! She is running two elementary school libraries! When the disease was diagnosed, she wrote the staff and all the families that she had one last lesson to teach….that dying is part of living. Her colleagues named her Teacher of the Year.
You want heroes?
Bob House, a teacher in Gay, Georgia, tried out for “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” After he won the million dollars, a network film crew wanted to follow up to see how it had impacted his life. New cars? Big new houses? Instead, they found Bob and his wife still teaching. They explained that it was what they always wanted to do with their lives and that would not change. The community was both stunned and gratified.
You want heroes?
Last year the average schoolteacher spent $468 of their own money for student necessities…. workbooks, pencils…supplies kids had to have that they could not afford. That’s a lot of money from the pockets of the most poorly paid teachers in the industrial world.
Schools don't teach values?
The critics are dead wrong. Public education provides more Sunday school teachers than any other profession. The average teacher works more hours in nine months than the average 40-hour employee does in a year.
The band directors and the coaching staff get an average of two weeks off in the summer when you get right down to it.
You want heroes?
For millions of kids, the hug they get from a teacher is the only hug they will get that day because the nation is living through the worst parenting in history. An Argyle, Texas, kindergarten teacher hugs her little five and six year olds so much that both the boys and girls run up to her when they see her in the hall, at the football games, or in the mall years later.
A Michigan principal moved me to tears with the story of her attempt to rescue a badly abused little boy who doted on a stuffed animal on her desk…one that said: “I love you.” He said he’d never been told that at home. This is a constant in today's society…two million unwanted, unloved, abused children in the public schools, the only institution that takes all in.
You want heroes?
Visit a special education class and watch the miracle of personal interaction, a job so difficult that fellow teachers are awed by the dedication they witness. There is a sentence from an unnamed source, which says: “We have been so eager to give children what we didn't have that we have neglected to give them what we did.”
What is it that our kids really need? What do they really want? Math, Science, and Social Studies are important, but children need love, confidence, encouragement, someone to talk to, someone to listen, and standards to live by. Teachers provide upright examples, the faith and assurance of responsible people.
You want heroes?
Then go down to your local school and see our real live heroes...the ones changing lives for the better each and every day.
This was sent to me on 8th. February 2008 by a storyteller friend who lives in London. He received it from a relative in the U.S.
I think it deserves a wider audience - If it resonates with YOU, please feel free to send it to your friends.
"I grew up with practical grandparents who had been frightened by the Great Depression of the 1930's, of a mother, God love her, who washed aluminium foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it... A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.
Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, and dish-towel in the other. It was the time for fixing things; a curtain rod, the kitchen radio, the screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep.
It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that
repairing, eating, re-using, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more.
But then my mother died, and on that clear summer's night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any more.
Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes
away...never to return. So... While we have it... it's best we love it... and care for it.... and fix it when it's broken..... and heal it when it's sick.
This is true... for marriage.... and old cars.... and children with bad report cards..... and dogs and cats with bad hips.... and aging parents.... and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it. Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with.
There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special.... And so, we keep them close!
I received this from someone who thinks I am a 'keeper,' so I've sent it to the people I think of in the same way... Now it's your turn to send this to those people who are 'keepers' in your life. Good friends are like stars.... You don't always see them, but you know they are always there.
Keep them close!!!"
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