Thought of the Day!

A positive "Thought of the Day" can start your daily schedule on an positive note. In addition to my thoughts and stories I share below, I've started offering this free service as a way to help people start their day on a positive note.

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Insight of the Day

03/25/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

The Daffodil Principle

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come and see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. Going and coming took most of a day - and I honestly did not have a free day until the following week.

"I will come next Tuesday," I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call. Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove the length of Route 91, continued on I-215, and finally turned onto Route 18 and began to drive up the mountain highway. The tops of the mountains were sheathed in clouds, and I had gone only a few miles when the road was completely covered with a wet, gray blanket of fog. I slowed to a crawl, my heart pounding. The road becomes narrow and winding toward the top of the mountain.

As I executed the hazardous turns at a snail's pace, I was praying to reach the turnoff at Blue Jay that would signify I had arrived. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these darling children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!"

My daughter smiled calmly, "We drive in this all the time, Mother."

"Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears - and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her.

"I was hoping you'd take me over to the garage to pick up my car. The mechanic just called, and they've finished repairing the engine," she answered.

"How far will we have to drive?" I asked cautiously.

"Just a few blocks," Carolyn said cheerfully.

So we buckled up the children and went out to my car. "I'll drive," Carolyn offered. "I'm used to this." We got into the car, and she began driving.

In a few minutes I was aware that we were back on the Rim-of-the-World Road heading over the top of the mountain. "Where are we going?" I exclaimed, distressed to be back on the mountain road in the fog. "This isn't the way to the garage!"

"We're going to my garage the long way," Carolyn smiled, "by way of the daffodils."

"Carolyn, I said sternly, trying to sound as if I was still the mother and in charge of the situation, "please turn around. There is nothing in the world that I want to see enough to drive on this road in this weather."

"It's all right, Mother," she replied with a knowing grin. "I know what I'm doing. I promise, you will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."

And so my sweet, darling daughter who had never given me a minute of difficulty in her whole life was suddenly in charge - and she was kidnapping me! I couldn't believe it. Like it or not, I was on the way to see some ridiculous daffodils - driving through the thick, gray silence of the mist-wrapped mountaintop at what I thought was risk to life and limb.

I muttered all the way. After about twenty minutes we turned onto a small gravel road that branched down into an oak-filled hollow on the side of the mountain. The fog had lifted a little, but the sky was lowering, gray and heavy with clouds.

We parked in a small parking lot adjoining a little stone church. From our vantage point at the top of the mountain we could see beyond us, in the mist, the crests of the San Bernardino range like the dark, humped backs of a herd of elephants. Far below us the fog-shrouded valleys, hills, and flatlands stretched away to the desert.

On the far side of the church I saw a pine-needle-covered path, with towering evergreens and manzanita bushes and an inconspicuous, lettered sign "Daffodil Garden."

We each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path as it wound through the trees. The mountain sloped away from the side of the path in irregular dips, folds, and valleys, like a deeply creased skirt.

Live oaks, mountain laurel, shrubs, and bushes clustered in the folds, and in the gray, drizzling air, the green foliage looked dark and monochromatic. I shivered. Then we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight, unexpectedly and completely splendid. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes where it had run into every crevice and over every rise. Even in the mist-filled air, the mountainside was radiant, clothed in massive drifts and waterfalls of daffodils. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow.

Each different-colored variety (I learned later that there were more than thirty-five varieties of daffodils in the vast display) was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue.

In the center of this incredible and dazzling display of gold, a great cascade of purple grape hyacinth flowed down like a waterfall of blossoms framed in its own rock-lined basin, weaving through the brilliant daffodils. A charming path wound throughout the garden. There were several resting stations, paved with stone and furnished with Victorian wooden benches and great tubs of coral and carmine tulips. As though this were not magnificent enough, Mother Nature had to add her own grace note - above the daffodils, a bevy of western bluebirds flitted and darted, flashing their brilliance. These charming little birds are the color of sapphires with breasts of magenta red. As they dance in the air, their colors are truly like jewels above the blowing, glowing daffodils. The effect was spectacular.

It did not matter that the sun was not shining. The brilliance of the daffodils was like the glow of the brightest sunlit day. Words, wonderful as they are, simply cannot describe the incredible beauty of that flower-bedecked mountain top.

Five acres of flowers! (This too I discovered later when some of my questions were answered.) "But who has done this?" I asked Carolyn. I was overflowing with gratitude that she brought me - even against my will. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"Who?" I asked again, almost speechless with wonder, "And how, and why, and when?"

"It's just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's her home." Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory.

We walked up to the house, my mind buzzing with questions. On the patio we saw a poster. "Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking" was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs," it read. The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman, two hands, two feet, and very little brain." The third answer was, "Began in 1958."

There it was. The Daffodil Principle.

For me that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than thirty-five years before, had begun - one bulb at a time - to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top. One bulb at a time.

There was no other way to do it. One bulb at a time. No shortcuts - simply loving the slow process of planting. Loving the work as it unfolded.

Loving an achievement that grew so slowly and that bloomed for only three weeks of each year. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world.

This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of ineffable magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.

The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principle of celebration: learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time - often just one baby-step at a time - learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time.

When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.

"Carolyn," I said that morning on the top of the mountain as we left the haven of daffodils, our minds and hearts still bathed and bemused by the splendors we had seen, "it's as though that remarkable woman has needle-pointed the earth! Decorated it. Just think of it, she planted every single bulb for more than thirty years. One bulb at a time! And that's the only way this garden could be created. Every individual bulb had to be planted. There was no way of short-circuiting that process. Five acres of blooms. That magnificent cascade of hyacinth! All, just one bulb at a time."

The thought of it filled my mind. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the implications of what I had seen. "It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to achieve!"

My wise daughter put the car into gear and summed up the message of the day in her direct way. "Start tomorrow," she said with the same knowing smile she had worn for most of the morning. Oh, profound wisdom!

It is pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson a celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, "How can I put this to use tomorrow?"

Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards

03/24/11 Thought of the day...

"Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there's love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong."

Ella Fitzgerald, 1917-1996
Jazz Singer

03/23/11 Thought of the day...

"You will never be the person you can be if pressure, tension and discipline are taken out of your life."

James G. Bilkey

03/22/11 Thought of the day...

"It's the little things that make the big things possible. Only close attention to the fine details of any operation makes the operation first class."

John Willard Marriott, 1900-1985
Founder of Marriott Corporation

03/21/11 Thought of the day...

"Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it."

Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1821-1881

03/18/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

Is Happiness Around The Corner?

For lots of people, happiness is just around the corner. They just need to get their degree, a particular job, a promotion, or a raise. Maybe they're waiting to get married or have a child. Perhaps they will be happy when they retire.

Alfred D' Souza said, "For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life." John Lennon put it another way, "Life is what happens while you are making other plans."

The point is our lives are happening now. If we are to get the satisfaction and fulfillment we want, we have to learn to draw pleasure and joy from everything that happens to us and around us because these experiences are the very essence of our life. The more conscious we are that life consists of the journey, not the destination, the more likely we are to get the most out of it.

So, if there are things you want to do, begin to fit them in now or accept the fact that you can be happy whether or not you do them.

Happiness isn't just around the corner. It's now or it's never.

The good news is you have everything you need to be happy. Philosophers, poets, and scientists all agree it can't be attained through money, prestige, or power. Happiness is not a fact, it's a mindset. All you need is optimism and gratitude.

Michael Josephson

03/17/11 Thought of the day...

"People with goals succeed because they know where they're going. It's that simple."

Earl Nightingale, 1921-1989
Author of "The Strangest Secret"

03/16/11 Thought of the day...

"I am grateful for all of my problems. After each one was overcome, I became stronger and more able to meet those that were still to come. I grew in all my difficulties."

James Cash Penney, 1875-1971
Founder of J.C. Penney Department Stores


03/15/11 Thought of the day...

"Humans think they are smarter than dolphins because we build cars and buildings and start wars etc., and all that dolphins do is swim in the water, eat fish and play around. Dolphins believe that they are smarter for exactly the same reasons."

Douglas Adams, 1952-2001
Writer and Dramatist

03/14/11 Thought of the day...

"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude."

Cynthia Ozick

03/11/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

Don't Let Life Get In The Way Of Your Life

The memories are so very clear. We had just put the final touches; the last giant cubes of marble and concrete were setting in. It didn't matter that they were really big rocks and chunks of dirt and mud on the walls. What a magnificent structure! No Indians, no Cavalry, no Kings Men and no Attila the Hun could storm these walls. My friends and I had built this magnificent fort to withstand any assault from our imaginary enemies. It never occurred to us that this fortress, this pillar of strength could crumble at any moment. It had taken us days to build but they were wonderful days. The sun was blistering hot. July days in southern Ohio would get that way. The Great Miami River sparkled in the distance as we slaved and struggled to build this edifice to engineering. Of course we didn't know that's what we were building but that's what my memory of those days has etched in my dreams. We had built something that nobody else had ever built and we'd defend it to the last man; or 8 year old boy. Life was so exciting back then and this fort represented all that was good. And then the rains came. Two days of torrential rain and the river kept rising and the insurmountable, the un-breachable fort was gone, carried away in the deluge. Dreams were destroyed that week in 1953 but they would appear again. We just didn't realize it at the time. It didn't cross our minds that we were actually learning one of the basics of an adventuresome life. Nothing lasts forever

It's interesting how memories and dreams sustain us as we grow older. Life often becomes what we want it to be based on those dreams of long ago. Sadly, we too often forget to live those dreams and we forget that anything is possible in a dream.

I've always been a bit of a dreamer so those memories of long ago have stayed with me as if they happened yesterday. That doesn't mean it hasn't rained on my forts just a few times. Those memories have helped me rebuild many forts and continue to do so today. Forts though get bigger, stronger and harder to rebuild as we get older but they don't disappear. They just take more work. I've learned over these many years that those rebuilt forts have led to the greatest lessons I've ever experienced. These are the lessons that make life worthwhile, more challenging and satisfying than almost all of the other lessons combined. I like to describe them as just one of many rebirths.

My youngest daughter had just gotten married a few weeks prior to me visiting the doctor in May of 1998. This wasn't a comfortable visit but it was one where I pretty much knew what the outcome would be. As a runner and avid weight lifter I knew right away the signs of a hernia and thus my visit to the doctor. Little did I know that this visit would change my life and it would never be the same.

Over the next couple of weeks I was told that my kidneys were down to about 25% functioning and I soon required emergency surgery on my hernia. I was forced to delay the original hernia surgery due to the kidney issue. The prognosis I was given set the stage for life altering events that would take me in a direction I had never dreamed. The lessons I would learn would change me in ways that were unimaginable before that day. I would never be the same.My fort was being destroyed by torrents of bad news. My internal fortress was washed away, seemingly to never be found again.

Thus was my introduction to one of the most life altering moments in my fifty plus years and the beginning of a journey that continues even today. It's strange how these forts we build in our lives can crumble overnight. We think we can withstand anything and then the unexpected storm happens and the walls come tumbling down. What we do at that point creates the defining moments in our lives. Who we are and what we are made of screams out at us to make a statement and be heard. Whether we do or not attests to our makeup and sets the stage for making those dreams come true or letting them wash away with the turmoil.

For me it wasn't traumatic or even frightening. It was more like a slap across the face when I wasn't quite ready. Have you ever had a slap like that? A slap that hits you square in the face when you least expect it. It usually happens when we aren't looking with the painfully delivered message that life was changing forever. I had kidney disease and I actually lost my breath. My fort had failed to keep out the enemy. My walls crumbled and the invaders were close at hand. I was facing hand to hand combat and I didn't even have a weapon; or did I?

That was June of 1998 and I had just come through a pretty stressful few months. I lost my mother, mother-in-law and brother-in-law all between the first week in October, 1997 and Christmas. My youngest daughter had just gotten married in May, 1998 and I had just completed one of the most lucrative consulting assignments I'd had since starting my business in 1992. To say my life was turned upside down was an understatement. I almost didn't know what to deal with first, my grief over losing my loved ones, my joy over my daughter's marriage, my elation that my business had finally taken off or the crash of a life altering illness. It was a lot to deal with but as I look back, I realize that this 8 month period of time would define my life from that point forward. I now know why we say, everything happens for a reason. I now truly understand my purpose in life. Kidney disease pushed me over the hump and forced me to see more clearly what I needed to do and that it was not as difficult or confusing as I had always made it. What I finally found was the direction I'd searched for most of my life and that direction was forward. All the trials and tribulations, all the struggles and setbacks, all the losses and seeming failures in life as well as the victories and happy times were simply a part of life. My fort could be rebuilt just like that one many years earlier. Why hadn't I seen it before?

We all have our forts destroyed at some time in our lives. Many of those forts aren't all that big or strong and some, like mine, don't fall so easily, but when they do, we need a plan to rebuild. We need to think clearly and rationally and believe in our hearts that it was just a structure. It had a foundation and walls and rooms that were pieces of a life well lived but it didn't have to have a roof. It didn't have to have a ceiling that stopped us. When we realize this, we're on our way to success. So how do we rebuild those forts? We keep our wits and think things through.

We slow down and analyze the problem. Overreaction can be the death of any good plan.

We act. We do something. Procrastination never accomplishes anything.

We logically move forward, one step at a time.

We believe that this is the beginning of a new chapter in life and it may very well be the best one.

I read one time where it's never too late to become what we might have been. Don't let your life get in the way of your life. It's just not all that complicated.

Jim Dineen

Jim Dineen is an author, speaker and writer who has experienced dialysis and transplant and all of its ensuing complications in a not so complicated way. His first book, "Life's Just Not That Complicated" very concisely looks at life's challenges and asks, if it's really as difficult as we make it. He can be contacted at

03/10/11 Thought of the day...

"I will meet the world's demands and win!"

Bob Proctor
Author, Speaker and Personal Coach

03/09/11 Thought of the day...

"You have a clean slate every day you wake up. You have a chance every single morning to make that change and be the person you want to be. You just have to decide to do it. Decide today's the day. Say it; This is going to be my day."

Brendon Burchard
Author of "The Millionaire Messenger"

03/08/11 Thought of the day...

"If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it."

John Irving
Academy Award Winning Screenwriter and Novelist

03/07/11 Thought of the day...

"Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking."

Marcus Aurelius, 121-180
Roman Emperor and Philosopher

03/04/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

Have Faith and Move Forward

I remember about a year or so ago I decided to reread Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking. I was going through a hard time. I had just been diagnosed with Breast Cancer and I was very scared!

I didn't really know what stage the cancer was. I was in the middle of having surgery to have the tumor removed and had not yet found out how far the cancer had progressed and if it was in an early "curable stage". The good news is it was, and my treatment was nothing compared with what some woman go through. I was still so scared and the emotional toll it placed on my mind and feelings was probably the hardest thing for me to deal within my life.

Anyway, just before I was diagnosed with cancer, I had decided to expand my business. I own an art gallery in a very wealthy area of California, but found that the downtown area had become less busy in the last few years. I wanted to have a "satellite store" in another part of town that was heavily populated with shoppers.

I had found the "perfect" spot. It was positioned between two "perfect" stores and was in a small shopping center in town that had just been renovated and was bustling with shoppers! The space had been rented and remodeled, but then the tenants backed out of the lease and it was ready for me to rent it! The rent was inexpensive and it was "MY" spot!

I had made an appointment to meet the landlord and sign the contract the next day....then I received a call from my Doctor saying that I had in fact, had Breast Cancer and we needed to operate as soon as possible. I was not able at that point to sign the contract and had to let my "perfect spot" go. It was rented shortly after that.

Within the last two years every time I had gone by that shopping center I would grunt to myself, "that space should have been mine". "If I hadn't gotten cancer, I would be in that space and all would be well". I started feeling sorry for myself.

That's when I decided to reread The Power of Positive Thinking. I remember reading in the book about a man that had lost his promotion to another man that the company had brought to fill the position. He was so angry and felt that it was so unjust for the company and God to not let him have this promotion. He had worked harder and longer than the other man in the company and felt he was the "perfect" man for the job. He was devastated.

He and his wife struggled to let go of that promotion and focus on moving forward and accept that this was not the time or the job for him at this point in his career.Two years later the President of this company stepped down from his position and this man became the President of that company! What an inspirational story I thought to myself. Yes, they tell me all the time "sometimes when things pass you by it's because there is something better waiting for you in the wings", " You need to have faith and move forward", so that's what I did. I had faith and I moved forward.

It's been a little over two years since my cancer diagnosis and I feel like I'm back to normal again. I have moved forward and a couple of weeks ago, out of the blue, a friend of mine called me to tell me that there was a space opening up beside him in a very good building that has only art galleries in it. It is a building known for having very good high end galleries and collectors from all over the country and the world come to visit this building and the galleries that are in it. Well, I'm sure you know that this was my "Perfect" spot! Yes in deed....I got a bigger space, in a better place, for less money!!!! I can't tell you how the story of the man in the Norman Vincent Peale Book came rushing back to my mind. Yes, it is true! It is! Faith and the ability to let go and move on is what was needed. I did that, I trusted and I gave myself and God time to work things out.

Next month the gallery opens and though it is a small gallery space, it is a "perfect" space, it is the space that was given to me by God.

Karen Imperial

Feel free to email your thoughts to Karen on her story to: and take the time to view her gallery website at:

03/03/11 Thought of the day...

"We all have to start with ourselves. It is time to walk the talk. Take the journey of making very difficult decisions. Start removing things from your life that are not filling your cup and adding things that bring joy in to your life."

Lisa Hammond
Author of "Dream Big"

03/02/11 Thought of the day...

"Most people are so busy knocking themselves out trying to do everything they think they should, they never get around to do what they want to do."

Kathleen Winsor, 1919-2003

03/01/11 Thought of the day...

"The big secret in life is that there is no secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you are willing to work. It is called massive action. Action is the gas in the tank. Without you, the car will not run."

Marcy Blochowiak
CEO Marketing Director with World Financial Group

02/28/11 Thought of the day...

"Everybody is like a magnet. You attract to yourself reflections of that which you are. If you're friendly, then everybody else seems to be friendly too."

Dr. David Hawkins
Physician and Lecturer

02/25/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

What do you fear?

I watched a child in the mall yesterday as she was kicking and screaming. Her parents were trying their best to calm her down.

I also watched the people passing by them. Some shook their heads and saw the child as a spoiled, "give me what I want now" child. Others paused and offered a few kind words to both the child and parents.

"You're such a beautiful little girl. Such a beautiful girl shouldn't cry," one lady said.

"Don't be so sad. We all have bad days," added another.

"I think she's a spoiled brat," I heard one whisper to a friend.

None of them were right. The child was neither spoiled nor having a bad day.

She was afraid.

The parents told me afterwards that someone carrying a coat scared her. She's afraid of dogs. The coat looked like a big dog.

They went on to explain that it is a challenge for them to go places. Friends have dogs, neighbors nearby walk their dogs down the street.

So, you can imagine what it's like to try to get through a day without sending your child into a panic.

I can remember, as a child walking up the steps at night I would get the feeling that someone or some thing was going to grab my feet. So, I ran most of the time.

I'll admit that occasionally as an adult I do the same thing.

Fear - what you fear the most in life, owns you, controls you, limits you.

I struggle with the fear of heights, but I fight it. My wife sent me off in a glider on my 60th birthday. I was fine. I was better than fine, I was great!

If I could have one foolish child-like wish come true it would be to have the ability to fly like a bird.

The truth is fear can be debilitating. Fear cripples many, limits abilities to enjoy even the simplest things in life and in some cases stops people from having medical procedures that could prevent major health issues.

Fear also crushes dreams.

Sometimes our own fears are imposed on others around us affecting their views and impacting their ability to live life fully...all in the name of love, concern and good parenting.

Someone once used the acronym F.E.A.R as False Evidence Appearing Real.

I'm not sure that applies to all fear. One might have had a bad experience with a dog and now that fear is real, relevant in their lives.

But, I think the kind of fear I believe we can deal with is the fear that reinforces doubt.

In particular poor self image issues either self imposed or wrongfully fed to you by others in your life or the world in general.

Fear and doubt are enemies of faith. They are the enemy that you permit to control your decisions, even when you declare your faith in God.

You give them power over you. The enemy doesn't want you to be happy, successful, or faithful. The enemy wants you to fail and stay there. Why?

Because successful, happy, healthy people give credit for their happiness to God even when they face their fears they declare their belief in the God who fears nothing.

"Fear prevents, faith prevails!"

Bob Perks

Bob Perks is an inspirational author and speaker. Bob's book "I Wish You Enough" has been published by Thomas Nelson Publishers. A collection of stories based on his Eight Wishes expressed below. 

"I Wish You Enough!"
(c) 2001 Bob Perks

- 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 "Hello's" to get you through the final "Goodbye."

02/24/11 Thought of the day...

"You need to overcome the tug of people against you as you reach for high goals."

George Patton, 1885-1945
World War II Army General

02/23/11 Thought of the day...

"The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication."

Cecil B. DeMille, 1881-1959
Film Director and Producer

02/22/11 Thought of the day...

"The secret of joy in work is contained in one word - excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it."

Pearl Buck, 1892-1973
Winner of both the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize

02/21/11 Thought of the day...

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature nor do the children of man as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."

Helen Keller, 1880-1968
Blind/Deaf Author and Lecturer

02/18/10 Thought of the day.

Here is your Friday story,

The Pages Long Forgotten

Mike stepped into the used bookstore, smelled the age of old pages and smiled.

Here was a wealth of old stories, history waiting to be read, and a host of other joys. On a back shelf, he found what he was looking for, two tiers crammed with the forgotten. They'd served their use to those who once held them dear, but now gathered dust in the darkest corner of the store.

There were Italian, American, French and Greek. They contained secrets from around the world. There were collections of chicken, beef, pastries, bread, and desserts. They waited, hidden in a little explored part of the store, and hoped someone discovered their treasures.

Mike knew what to do. He picked one up, held the spine in his hand and let the book fall open. They always opened to the most used pages, the recipes loved by lost generations. The page in front of him was for a recipe called, "Beef-filled cornbread". The picture showed a delicious layer of meat and cheese, layered with cornbread and covered with a hot sauce. The pages were stained with splatters of tomato sauce. It was obviously a favorite of the previous owners. He'd try this one.

Those used the most are the best.

He found several other books, each with its own marked pages, carried them to the counter and made his purchase.

"I hope you found something you like." The cashier said.

"Oh yes. Very much! I'm sure these are exactly to my taste."

He paid for his purchase, left the store and carried them in a bag on his way to work.

In the locker room, he placed his books on the top shelf and changed into his scrubs. The recipes would wait. He had a duty.

Freshly dressed, he walked his floor. "Hello, Mrs. Smith!" He smiled at the elderly lady sitting in the sun-room reading a book. In her day, she must have been a beautiful woman. She still was, for a woman in her eighties. "How was your day?"

"Horrible!" she growled. He sat beside her, held her hand and looked into her eyes. "My grandson didn't visit me," she continued. "He promised me he'd be here today." She adjusted her shawl and tried to hide the tears about to spill from her wizened eyes.

"Maybe tomorrow." he replied. "You know how busy these young people are." He noted the tear in the corner of her eye and changed subject. "Mrs. Smith, didn't you tell me you lived during the great depression?"

A smile came to her face. "Oh, yes. What a time that was. There was no work, ya know. But we survived."

"How did you get by?"

"Well, we all worked together. Everyone worked together. We helped each other." She frowned. "It's not like today, where people are too busy to worry about anyone but themselves. In those days, we worked together. If you didn't, you starved."

"It must have been a hard time, Mrs. Smith. I don't know how you did it."

"I didn't," she grinned. "We did. We did it together, the neighbors and my family."

He left her smiling and hoped her grandson paid a visit the next day.

He moved down the hall and stepped into Mr. Walker's room. "Hey, Walk! How's things?" He used the name Walk, as all the others in the center called him. It made Walk feel comfortable.

Mr. Walker looked up from a puzzle he leaned over. "Could be better, Mike. This damn puzzle has me stumped. These eyes aren't what they used to be."

"I know, Walk. Just take your time. There's no rush."

"There is too." Walk chuckled. "I need to finish it before I die."

"Not too soon I hope." Mike said.

"Soon enough. Be glad not to have to work on this darn thing anymore anyway. Say! Have I told you about the guy who walks into a bar with a giraffe under his arm?"

Mike chuckled. Walk loved a good joke. "I don't believe you have."

Walk's face broke out in a smile. "You see, this guy walks into a bar with a giraffe under his arm. He has a few beers. The giraffe falls asleep on the floor. The bartender looks down, sees the giraffe and asks, 'What's that lying on the floor?'

"The guy says, 'That's not a lion! That's a giraffe.'"

Walk broke into a laugh that turned into a coughing spell. Mike slapped him on the back. "Come on, Walk. Cough it up."

Walk got himself under control. "Thought I wasn't going to finish this damn puzzle after all."

"You're OK now. I got your back."

I know about covering someone's back." Walk sat straight his seat. "I was in WWII ya know."

"I heard that. Did you have a hard time?" Mike asked.

"Mike, you have no idea. It was the winter of '41, or was it '42. I can't remember now. Snow was up to here." Walk pointed to his thigh. "We were on the front. The enemy was close ."

Thirty minutes later, Mike said, "WOW! That's a story, Walk." He paused. "Walk, I knew you were in the war, but I don't think I ever thanked you. I want to say, 'Thank you.' You made us safe."

"Ah, stop it. It was nothing." Walk turned to his puzzle, too embarrassed to continue their talk. He and others knew what they did, but don't want to take credit. It's an unspoken rule between the veterans. They did what they had to.

Mike continued on his rounds, held hands, shared hugs and listened.

Here they were, like the cookbooks, sitting in dark corners, ignored. Mike knew what to do. He held them, let their hearts fall open, and found the pages stained with use.

They are the most valued. They are the pages long forgotten.

Michael T. Smith

Michael lives with his lovely wife, Ginny, in Caldwell, Idaho. He works as a project manager in Telecommunications and in his spare time writes inspiration stories. He has recently been published in two Chicken Soup for the Soul Books (All in the Family and Things I Learned from My Cat), in "Thin Threads - Life Changing Moments" and in Catholic Digest.

02/17/11 Thought of the day...

"You'll seldom experience regret for anything that you've done. It is what you haven't done that will torment you. The message, therefore, is clear. Do it! Develop an appreciation for the present moment. Seize every second of your life and savor it. Value your present moments. Using them up in any self-defeating ways means you've lost them forever."

Wayne Dyer
Author and Speaker

02/16/11 Thought of the day...

"Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn't stop to enjoy it."

William Feather, 1889-1981

02/15/11 Thought of the day...

"One half of life is luck; the other half is discipline - and that's the important half,
for without discipline you wouldn't know what to do with luck."

Carl Zuckmeyer, 1896-1977
Writer and Playwright

02/14/11 Thought of the day...

"I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition."

Martha Washington, 1732-1802
First American First Lady

02/11/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

She Never Left My Side

"PUUUSH...PUUUSH," I called out to my friend, but it appeared that there was no use in trying anymore. My car was stuck in the mud and I was on a double date. Being a 16 year old boy, I wanted to make a good impression on my pretty and intelligent date. However, hearing the motor rev with the car still stuck in the mud did not earn "brownie points" for my friend or me in the eyes of our dates.

We continued to push and push, but there was no getting my car "unstuck" from the mud. Sharon, my date, was revving the car's engine while Jeff and I were pushing and pushing. Finally, I said, "Enough!" Embarrassed, I approached Sharon as she sat behind the wheel of my mother's red station wagon. Before I could speak I noticed the gear on the car: IT WAS SET ON "NEUTRAL!"

I set the gear to "drive," instructed Sharon to wait until I gave her the signal to press down on the accelerator, and then went back to help Jeff push the car out of the mud.

That was our first date. Even though it resulted in my getting mud on my slacks, Sharon caused me to have love in my heart. I was "stung" by the Love Bug.

Sharon and I dated seriously throughout high school. I went away to college as Sharon was finishing her senior year in high school. Our love, which was blooming, was only matched in size by our long-distance telephone bills.

The next year, Sharon joined me at the University of Texas. We were so happy. We thought we were at the top of the world. We thought our lives were set. That was true until that eventful evening when in a split second our lives changed forever.

On February 18, 1981, we were studying at the library of the University. It was late and Sharon told me that she had to return to her dormitory to go to sleep. We slid into my car and headed toward her dorm, but, unfortunately, my gas gauge was registering "empty." I pulled into a nearby convenience store, borrowed $2 from Sharon, and walked into the store to pay for the gas.

Things do not always work out as one plans them. Unfortunately, the store was in the midst of a robbery, and one of the thieves forced me into the cooler. He followed me, pushed me to the floor, and calmly shot me in the back of the head -- execution style!

The story does not end there. Yes, the criminal thought I was dead; thus eliminating any witness to the crime. However, when the thieves left the store, I still had a faint pulse.

Very few people believed I would remain alive much longer. That is why the police transferred my case to the Homicide division. That is also why the neurosurgeon when he was awakened at his home to see me at the hospital came quickly but returned home as he believed an operation would be futile.

However, when the doctor returned to the hospital in the morning, he was shocked to see that I was still alive. He told my parents that an operation was necessary, but he added that he would be surprised if I survived the surgery.

I fooled all of the medical experts and survived the surgery. However, the surgeon warned my parents that even though I was still breathing I would probably never be able to communicate with anyone or understand anyone who was attempting to communicate with me. Basically, the surgeon stated, I would be "a vegetable."

Hearing those words, my father told Sharon, "Get on with your life."

Sharon quickly replied, "Mike is my life."

Even though we were not yet married, Sharon believed in the vows, "in sickness and in health." She dropped out of college for one semester to be with me at the Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston where I was eventually transferred. Sharon was spending her time with her "drooling boyfriend in the hospital" while other college freshmen were spending their time at parties.

Eventually, Sharon returned to Austin to continue her college education. Once again we had enormous phone bills.

My goal was to also return to Austin, to the University of Texas, to be with Sharon. Eighteen months after no one thought I would survive, I accomplished that goal. One of the primary reasons was ... Sharon; my love, who refused to give up or give in.

Four years after returning to college I graduated. For me, that meant I could finally propose to Sharon, my light at the end of the dark tunnel. She was the one who would always encourage me to look forward and not to focus on the past.

On a beautiful day in May, Sharon and I exchanged vows and were married. We were meant to be together. We had dated for nine long and eventful years, but I realized at the wedding that it was worth everything. Sharon was truly my soulmate.

We have been married for many years and we have a beautiful daughter, Shawn. We have experienced so much -- some bad, but more, much more, good.

This is not merely a "love letter" to my wife. Rather, it is the story of a girl's overcoming everyone's "rational" thoughts to stay behind with her critically injured boyfriend. To me that shows what kind of woman Sharon is--a beauty both inside and out. Further, it shows the lesson of never giving up on one's dreams. I give Sharon all the credit for my recovery--not me. I don't know where I would be without her--definitely not where I am today.

Sharon, I love you so very much.

Michael Segal, (c)2003 all rights reserved

Michael Jordan Segal, who defied all odds after being shot in the head, is a husband, father, social worker, freelance author (including a CD/Download of 12 stories, read with light background music, entitled POSSIBLE), and inspirational speaker, sharing his recipe for happiness, recovery and success before conferences and businesses. To contact Mike or to order his CD, please visit and please take a moment to check out his YouTube video at: - you will be glad you did.

02/10/11 Thought of the day...

"Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well."

Voltaire, 1694-1778
Philosopher and Writer

02/09/11 Thought of the day...

"The highest reward for a man's toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it."

John Ruskin, 1819-1900
Writer and Art Critic


02/08/11 Thought of the day...

"Think BIG. There are unseen forces ready to support your dreams."

Cheryl Richardson

02/07/11 Thought of the day...

"There are no such things as limits to growth, because there are no limits on the human capacity for intelligence, imagination, and wonder."

Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004
40th President of the United States

02/04/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

Courtesy Is Kindness in Action

As a society, we have become almost obsessed with identifying and asserting our rights - to think, say, and do what we want. That's not surprising, given the history of our country and the prominent role the Constitution and Bill of Rights have played in shaping our culture.

We have a right to be unkind, thoughtless, and disrespectful - but it isn't right. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson pointed out, "Life is short but there is always time for courtesy."

The idea is to act in ways that make the people we are dealing with feel valued. Courtesy is kindness in action.

It starts with good manners - saying please, thank you, and excuse me. But real courtesy involves more thoughtful ways of showing respect. Courtesy is a form of kindness.
 It matters how we address people and how we greet them, as well as how we eat, talk, and cough in their presence.

Courtesy involves remembering important occasions, buying thoughtful gifts, and sending personal thank-you notes.

Making people feel important is part of courtesy, so it's important to remember that whether or not people remember what we say or do, they do remember how we made them feel.

Make eye contact, truly listen, and show genuine interest in the lives of others by asking them questions and remembering their answers. A good start is to keep in mind H. Jackson Brown's insight: "Everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something."

Always be kinder than necessary because you can never be too kind.

Michael Josephson

02/03/11 Thought of the day...

"To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time."

Leonard Bernstein
Conductor and Composer

02/02/11 Thought of the day...

"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."

John Quincy Adams, 1767-1848
Sixth President of the United States

02/01/11 Thought of the day...

"Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I shall have the belief that I can do it. I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning."

Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948
Indian Nationalist Leader

01/31/11 Thought of the day...

"Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. What you see reflects your thinking. And your thinking but reflects your choice of what you want to see."

From "A Course In Miracles"

01/28/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

Why Is This Person in My Life?

Many people believe that the Law of Attraction says that if someone shows up in their lives, it's because they attracted that person. I know that when I'm in a lousy mood and I get into my car, it sure seems that every bad driver and tailgater in the vicinity is in my lane. I'm irritated, they're aggressive, and we are all resonating together. If you could "hear" our vibration, it would sound like a head-banging, heavy-metal rock song called "Get Out of My Way!"

But on that same road there are drivers who are tuned in to a different frequency. They've got "Take It Easy" playing on the car stereo. They're smiling as all the angry drivers zip through the lanes and wear out their accelerators. These travelers let the others pass and give them no energy or attention.

The Law of Attraction has been misinterpreted by some to mean that we are actually acting as magnets, drawing in and repelling people and situations that perfectly match up with our vibration. This is a mechanistic view of how attraction and resonance works.

Like attracts like, so you will notice, approach, and interact with those you feel a connection to. However, you're not personally responsible for everyone who is on the freeway today just because you chose to go for a drive. You, like everyone else, will always be surrounded by people who are angry and intense, and others who are calmly enjoying the ride. The Law of Attraction simply ensures that you'll notice those vibrating at your level and overlook everyone else. So which song are you going to tune in to?

Colette Baron-Reid
Colette Baron-Reid Author of The MAP: Finding The Magic and Meaning in the Story of Your Life

01/27/11 Thought of the day...

"My experience of the world is that things left to themselves don't get right"...

T.H. Huxley,1825-1895
Biologist and Author

01/26/11 Thought of the day...

"Because you're human, it is your nature to journey, to discover that what you've been looking for is all around you. Very often the grassy spot you seek is right under your feet. You just need to awaken to that knowledge that's hidden from your conscious mind. Yes, you're wearing ruby slippers and can go home anytime you like. For now, embrace this grand adventure."

Colette Baron-Reid

01/25/11 Thought of the day...

"The day you catch an idea you fall in love with, even a small one, is a beautiful day."

David Lynch
Filmmaker and Television Director

01/24/11 Thought of the day...

"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties."

Erich Fromm, 1900-1980

01/21/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

Daring to Take Risks

The first time anything new and creative is proposed, it gets labeled. And the label put on these novel things is likely to be "risky." Can't you just hear it?

"Let me get this straight, Orville. You and Wilbur are building a machine that will do what? Heavier-than-air flying machines are the riskiest hoax anybody ever palmed off on two gullible boys like you Wrights. Get a real job!"

Or maybe it was somebody's harebrained idea of taking pictures, black and white children attending the same school, or people walking on the moon. More than one person was berated simply for giving voice to such "silly" ideas.

It turns out that some of the people who dared to propose such outlandish possibilities are now regarded as geniuses - revolutionaries - heroes. And it was only because they dared to question others and to question themselves. They challenged the limitations others were willing to take for granted.

There is something in your profession or business, your family or church that could be done better. A situation could be more productive. A relationship could be healthier. An objective could be clarified. Some lofty ideal to which all in the group give lip service could actually be implemented. But I warn you up front: Like restoring a car or house, it will take twice as long as you thought, cost far more than you anticipated, and strain every important relationship in your life!

Only you can decide if it will be worth it to undertake something so ambitious and costly. There will be false starts. There will be embarrassing mistakes along the way. But the potential outcome could be as important to your personal situation as the achievements of the Wright brothers, Rosa Parks, and Neil Armstrong were to their time and place.

The problem with our world is not that there are no more frontiers to challenge and conquer. It's that there are too few explorers. There are too few people willing to ask the obvious questions and challenge the traditional wisdom. In a word, too few of us want to take the risks that could make us look stupid.

If you are fortunate enough to have a dream in your heart, be willing to make mistakes in pursuit of it. Be a risk-taker. You just might change the world.

Rubel Shelly

Rubel Shelly is a Preacher and Professor of Religion and Philosophy located in Rochester Hills, Michigan. In addition to church and academic responsibilities, he has worked actively with such community projects as Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, From Nashville With Love, Metro (Nashville) Public Schools, Faith Family Medical Clinic, and Operation Andrew Ministries.

01/20/11 Thought of the day...

"Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed...every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle...when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."


01/19/11 Thought of the day...

"Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man's training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly."

Thomas H. Huxley, 1825-1895

01/18/11 Thought of the day...

"The individual who wants to reach the top in business must appreciate the might of the force of habit and must understand that practices are what create habits. He must be quick to break those habits that can break him and hasten to adopt those practices that will become the habits that help him achieve the success he desires."

J. Paul Getty, 1892-1976
American Oil Tycoon

01/17/11 Thought of the day...

"Often we allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. We lose many irreplaceable hours brooding over grievances that, in a year's time, will be forgotten by us and by everybody. No, let us devote our life to worthwhile actions and feelings, to great thoughts, real affections and enduring undertakings."

Andre Maurois, 1885-1967

01/14/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

Love for No Reason

Through the train window, she watched the villages and vineyards of the Italian countryside go by. It was 1942 and Sussi Penzias, a young Jewish woman who'd fled Nazi Germany, was traveling alone, hoping to remain unnoticed. Since she'd arrived in Italy three years earlier, she'd been moving from place to place, staying with friends and friends of friends, hiding from the authorities. Now she was on her way to yet another safe house in a new town.

Suddenly, the door at the end of the train car swung open and two police officers came in. Sussi's heart beat wildly. They were wearing the black uniform of the Fascisti, the government police. To Sussi's horror, the policemen began making their way down the aisle, stopping at every row to examine the papers of each passenger.

Sussi knew that as soon as the policemen discovered she had no papers, she would be arrested. She was terrified she'd end up in a concentration camp, and would face unimaginable suffering and almost certain death.

The officers were getting closer, just a few rows away. There was no escape. It was only a matter of minutes before they would reach her seat. Sussi began to tremble uncontrollably, and tears slid down her cheeks.

The man sitting next to her noticed her distress and politely asked her why she was crying.

"I'm Jewish and I have no papers," she whispered, hardly able to speak.

To her surprise, a few seconds later the man began shouting at her, "You idiot! I can't believe how stupid you are! What an imbecile!"

The police officers, hearing the commotion, stopped what they were doing and came over. "What's going on here?" one of them asked. Sussi began crying even harder.

The man turned a disgusted face to the policemen and said, "Officers, take this woman away! I have my papers, but my wife has forgotten hers! She always forgets everything. I'm so sick of her. I don't ever want to see her again!"

The officers laughed, shaking their heads at the couple's marital spat, and moved on.

With a selfless act of caring, the stranger on the train had saved Sussi's life. Sussi never saw the man again. She never even knew his name.

* * * * *

When Sussi's great-niece, Shifra, told me this story, I was in awe. I wondered, "What is it that inspires someone to extend himself, even risk his life, for someone he doesn't know? The man on the train didn't help Sussi because she'd made him a great breakfast that morning or had picked up his dry cleaning. He helped her because in that moment of heroism he was moved by an impulse of compassion and unconditional love."

I'm not talking about Hollywood or Hallmark-card kind of love, but love as a state of being-the kind of love that is limitless and doesn't ask to be returned.

Is it possible to live in that state of unconditional love all the time?

That was the question I set out to answer when I started writing my most recent book, Love for No Reason. And what I learned through my research is that each of us can grow in unconditional love, the kind of love that doesn't depend on any person or situation. Imagine loving people, not because they fill your needs or because their opinions match your own, but because you're connected to a state of pure love within yourself.

This simple but profound shift creates remarkable changes in every area of life. Instead of feeling a little hungry all the time-for love, security, more stuff, more recognition, more everything-people who are unconditionally loving feel full and complete. It affects how they show up in every moment. In fact, though a person's life might not depend on making this shift, the quality of his or her life does. When people live in unconditional love their world turns from black-and-white to dazzling Technicolor.

By Marci Shimoff. Adapted from "Love for No Reason: 7 Steps to Creating a Life of Unconditional Love" (Free Press, December 2010), which offers a breakthrough approach to experiencing a lasting state of unconditional love.

01/13/11 Thought of the day...

"Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use."

Earl Nightingale, 1921-1989

01/12/11 Thought of the day...

"No one ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him; it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction."

Charles Kendall Adams, 1835-1902
Professor of History and Author

01/11/11 Thought of the day...

"The best way to keep relationships happy, healthy, and supportive can be summed up in one word: appreciation. What you appreciate, appreciates. When we demonstrate our appreciation for the support we receive from others, it reinforces that behavior and deepens our connection to them."

Marci Shimoff
Author of "Love For No Reason"

01/10/11 Thought of the day...

"It is a great mistake for men to give up paying compliments, for when they give up saying what is charming, they give up thinking what is charming."

Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900
Writer and Poet

01/07/11 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

Lessons Learned From Merlin
Written December 23, 2003

For the last hour, I've been scuffling about my kitchen in my oversized UGG slippers (it's not a hazard as long as I don't try the stairs), whipping up a sugar cookie recipe that requires a full pound of Crisco, and wondering how in the world I'm going to write this year's Christmas novella.

For those of you who've been the recipient of said novella for the last - uh - 18 years or so, I'm well aware that last year's Armitage family Christmas letter was conspicuously missing. I just can't possibly let you down again, heaven forbid, but HOW do I explain this year's proceedings?

I'm going to start with an event that occurred today. It's not meant to be morbid and it IS directly connected to one of the more memorable events of my year, so kindly bear with me.

Today, Merlin came home to me by way of a UPS truck. If you haven't heard already, my beloved, forever shedding Great Pyrenees partner in crime these last 11 years passed on to another form of life on December 8th. He died because half of his heart had given out, proving my suspicions from his puppyhood that he, like the Whoville Grinch, had a heart that was simply several sizes too big.

After I kissed his nose for the last time, I arranged to have his ashes delivered to me, which was supposed to take a day or two at most. Instead, they called me yesterday (14 days later) to tell me they'd accidentally tried to deliver him to another family and that he was still on the UPS truck, on his way to me this time. Today, true to form, a sweating UPS truck driver sprinted to my door with Merlin solidly lodged under his arm.

As I carried Merlin (in his new state) upstairs, I couldn't help but chuckle. Nothing in the entire world caused greater gnashing-of-teeth for Merlin than the UPS truck and its attached men in brown. It was the only single thing that taunted him into trampling down fences and sprinting for blocks down rush-hour traffic streets...and here's how he ended up, lodged in the bowels of the evil incarnate monster itself (AND during the holiday season to boot) in herkyjerky, stop-and-go fashion for two full weeks.

That, my friend, is Karma. Take it from Merlin: If you're chasing after anything in life with some level of misdirected anger, that very thing will likely get the better of you in the end.

That being said, I'll give Merlin credit for helping me maintain misdirected anger over the last 11 years - even this last year. Merlin was a high-spirited, conniving creature who liked to skitter around on his tippy-toes and create instant wainscotting in every home by sliding drooly, dirty tennis balls along the wall. But he'd also follow me from room to room when he knew I was upset until I'd finally flump down and throw my arms around him. He loved me unconditionally with great warmth and a giving soul that knew no other way to be. And that was a lesson I did, indeed, learn from Merlin.

This last year didn't start well. As the New Year began, I found myself struggling with a business I didn't really like, and paying rent I didn't really want to pay anymore. So, 'round about March, Merlin and I had a talk and decided to stop with the misdirected anger and start creating a better story.

And so we did. As I say in all the stuff I write, "If you don't like the situation you're in, recognize you created it and fix it." It was time to take my own medicine. Mer and I drove all around the town of Laguna in my little convertible until we found our new home. With the move made in March to a lovely place just a block from the beach, I then tackled the not liking-my-business issue with grim determination. Fact is, if you're not doing what you love to do every day, you're cheating yourself. I knew there were too many good and exciting people out there to work with and as I focused on THIS fact, those very people started coming in the door.

It wasn't until July that I got up the nerve to e-mail the one person I wanted to work with most - my most favorite past client. This client and I have tried and failed at working together twice before, and hitting that initial "SEND" button this time around wasn't easy. Ten minutes later, however, we were on our way to working together again and now we're back on track and working quite harmoniously. I delight in what I do every day for this man's company. It's not easy and it's got its tenuous, warbly-chin, pounding headache moments. But, I delight in it. Pure and simple as that. It's supposed to be that simple, I believe.

On a connected note - I've also "happened" upon a couple solid web programming teams, both of which are quite capable of handling all my client urgencies. What I find most amazing about these web teams is that I was very solidly prepared to NOT like working with them after all the experiences I'd had through the years with not-so-great programming teams. But, again, it's all about focusing on what I want to expand, not on what I don't want to expand. Fortunately, somewhere along the way, I also realized that chasing programmers down rush-hour streets while barking my fool head off was only going to succeed in getting ME killed - yet another lesson I learned from Merlin, who always and eventually gave up the chase with a shrug.

On the opposite end of the work spectrum, I somehow ended up in an outrigger canoe club on the wild ocean this summer. How a landlocked Denver girl ever found her way to jumping in and out of a Hawaiian-style 6-man canoe is something I still can't quite fathom myself, much less explain to anyone else. My friend, Deb, a fellow spin-class victim, made me promise to try it and, after my first grudging day, I was hooked. Line and sinker, I might add.

What I thought would be something kind of friendly and social and interactive, like a bowling league on Monday nights, turned out to be a highly competitive 7-month season that entailed a minimum of 15-hours of weekly practice and full days of racing just about every weekend. I was the "stroker" - the Seat #1 gal - for my novice team and we happily and surprisingly won more than we lost. In August, we were imported into the "big girls' boats" - the gals who'd been paddling for years. In our last race of the season, we paddled 31 miles to Catalina Island in about 4 hours.

Aside from this odd sport opening up a host of uncommon injuries and new battle scars, the sport also opened up a whole new community of fun, athletic people to me - people from all walks of life who never would have crossed my path otherwise. This, coupled with my ever-lasting and loving friends in Denver and around the continent, my burgeoning group of wonderful friends from spin class, and my growing community of buddies and neighbors in this small town of Laguna Beach has made for a most enjoyable and busy year. I can't say I remember enjoying myself so much - ever.

So, here I sit on Christmas Eve's Eve with Merlin perched on my lap. (This must be nirvana for Merlin - he is, at last, a lap dog.) And his lessons are here in my head:

. If you chase after something in anger, it will find a way to bite you back.

. Be sure to follow your closest friends from room to room when you know they're upset.

. Give generously of your warmth and soul. You've got more where that came from.

. Be the first to press the "SEND" button when you haven't talked to someone in a while.

. If you're trying to chase something off because it seems like a threat to you, it might be better to stop, shrug and give it up.

. Delight in your days. It's supposed to be that simple.

. And lastly, never lose sight of your family and friends. They're the home you want to return to, even if the only way to get there is by UPS truck.

Diane Armitage

Diane Armitage - - is a renowned marketing writer, Internet strategist and fixer of lame web sites. When she's not coming to clients' web site rescue, she can be found writing mounds of copy for her popular blog, and traveling/writing for entities and causes around the world.

01/06/11 Thought of the day...

"I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything."

Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865
Sixteenth President of the United States

01/04/11 Thought of the day...

"If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one."

Dolly Parton

01/05/11 Thought of the day...

"Do your little bit of good where you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world."

Desmond Tutu
Activist and Christian Cleric

12/31/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

A Tribute To A Baker

"HUUP...ONE, HUUP...TWO, HUUP...THREE..." Those melodious orders sounded like the commands of a tough marine drill sergeant. However, in reality the man's name was Tom Williams and he was an executive with the Houston Oilers (of the National Football League) and a world class trainer of famous athletes -- Earl Campbell, Darrell Green, Mike Singletary, Hakeem Olajuwon -- to name but a few.

During the off season he operated a Kolache shop, baking cookies and meat filled delights.

Approximately 200 yards from this Kolache shop was his famous "Hill", a very steep embankment, which led to the bayou. Tom would have his athletes train on that hill, running up and down to build stamina or to help rebuild muscles or ligaments damaged after an injury or surgery.

As for me, I had always wanted to be a pro athlete, but early on I realized that I was not quick enough nor tall enough to become one, so I focused my dreams on becoming an Orthopedic Surgeon, helping my athletic idols to recover from devastating injuries.

That dream, however, was smashed during my sophomore year in college when I was seriously injured as an innocent victim of a convenience store robbery. I was shot in the back of the head, and very few thought I would even survive. However, many months later, after several surgeries and lengthy hospital rehabilitation programs, I met Tom, the eternal optimist.

The first day my family and I encountered Tom he was barking out orders for his athletes on the "Hill". He told my parents he could definitely help me, but I would have to discipline myself to work four straight hours every single day, including weekends.

At first, my parents would watch Tom work with me in the back of his Kolache shop. Tom would cover the tables he would normally use to knead his dough, and now would "knead" my muscles, massage my limp right arm, and struggle with me as I learned to walk again.

Then, one day, Tom barked, "Mike, let's go to the 'Hill'."

I was scared as I limped toward the bayou, and my parents were equally petrified. The "Hill" was so steep that I thought even a Billy goat would have difficulty trying to climb it.

Initially, Tom ordered two husky athletes to lift me under my arms and "drag" me down the hill. When we got to the bottom, one of the athletes screamed up to Tom, "What do you want us to do now?" Tom calmly replied, "Drag him back up."

At that point, my father, who by profession is a rabbi, told my mother that he thought Tom was going to kill me and they should get me away from him as soon as possible.

My father, wanting to be polite, thanked Tom and stated that we had to go home. But Tom replied, "It's only 2 o'clock, and Mike is to be here until 5, and by the way, bring him a little earlier tomorrow."

Even though my father was adamant about leaving, my mother truly felt that if Tom could help "million dollar athletes" recover, he could surely help her son.

My father went home, never returning to the Kolache store because he told my mother, "Tom is going to kill Mike," and my mother never volunteered any information to my father about my progress with Tom as the days wore on.

One day, a number of weeks later, Tom called my father at home and said, "Father, this is Tom Williams and you need to get here fast!" With that, Tom slammed the phone down.

My father thought I was dead or badly injured, the victim of a severe injury while tumbling down that "Hill." He quickly sped toward Tom's shop, jumped out of his car, and noticed many people huddled near the corner of the "Hill." With great trepidation my father peered over the "Hill" and saw me slowly climbing the "Hill" -- alive. When I reached the top of the "Hill" I quickly turned around as Tom instructed me and went back down to the bottom, to the bayou. Tears welled up in my father's eyes as Tom approached him and said, "Rabbi, you might give great sermons, but you don't practice what you preach. You tell everyone to have faith, but you did not have faith -- faith in me, faith in your son, and faith in God. You simply said, 'I give up,' and you went home."

My father pondered seriously as to what Tom had just said and watched as I slowly reached the edge of the "Hill" on my return trip. At that moment, with tears of great joy, my father and I fell into each other's arms and embraced one another.

That was just one of the many lessons I learned from Tom over the next few years. Even though I still have many physical disabilities as a result of the gunshot wound, the "Hill" taught me that even the impossible could become the possible.

Everyone in life has his own "Hill" to climb, some small, some large. On that day Tom taught me the most important lesson of my life: "Never give in; never give up."


Even though Tom was a world class trainer of athletes, he learned that his true love was helping "ordinary" people, and soon after my success on the "Hill" Tom opened a Rehabilitation Center where he worked with spinal cord and head injured and stroke patients. In the "old days," Tom would use only a simple table in the back of his Kolache shop on which he prepared his pastries to help his clients. Now, he had a state of the art, modern Rehabilitation Center along with his own man-made "Hill" so Tom could encourage many more to defy the experts.

Tom received referrals from all over the country for he had a special ability to make patients want to excel. His patients improved and his Center was a huge success.

For the next few years I would regularly go to the Center, not only to exercise but more importantly to work out for the "Master," Tom.

I had developed a strong emotional connection with Tom. He had extended to me a lifeline to enjoy life once again which many physicians and therapists stated no longer existed.

However, later Tom became extremely ill with cancer and passed away. The funeral was huge. Many of his athletes were there to say their last "good byes" and "thank yous." I was an honorary pallbearer because his family thought that our relationship was a special and unique one.

After everyone left the cemetery I went up to Tom's grave to utter my final prayer and statement of thankfulness that such a wonderful man had been a part of my life. As I glanced at the inscription on the tombstone I read:

Forever Loved In The Hearts Of Those He Touched Tom Williams April 11, 1927 -- June 11, 1995

At that very moment I realized why we were so deeply connected: April 11 is also my birthday!

(c)2001 by Michael Jordan Segal, MSW

Michael Jordan Segal, who defied all odds after being shot in the head, is a husband, father, social worker, freelance author (including a CD/Download of 12 stories, read with light backgroud music, entitled POSSIBLE), and inspirational speaker, sharing his recipe for happiness, recovery and success before conferences and businesses. To contact Mike or to order his CD, please visit and please take a moment to check out his youtube video at: You will be glad you did.

01/03/11 Thought of the day...

"Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain.

The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?"

Mary Manin Morrissey
Minister, Author and Speaker

12/30/10 Thought of the day...

"One day at a time - this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone: and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering."

Ida Scott Taylor, 1820-1915

12/29/10 Thought of the day...

"The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous."

Margot Fonteyn, 1919-1991
Classical Ballet Dancer

12/28/10 Thought of the day...

"It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret."

Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Multiple Olympic Gold Medal Champion

12/27/10 Thought of the day...

"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."

Thomas Edison, 1847-1931
Inventor and Entrepreneur

12/24/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

The following story is a tradition with Insight of the Day just before Christmas. If you have not seen it before it is well worth the read. If you have, it is worth the reminder.

White Envelopes

It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband, Mike, hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it, overspending , the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma, the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son, Kevin, who was 12 that year was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended, and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in the spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them." Mike loved kids, all kids, and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse.

That's when the idea of his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition, one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there.

You see we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.

Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope. Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

Nancy W. Gavin
The White Envelope Project

This story is a true story and inspired four siblings from Atlanta, GA to start The White Envelope Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting this tradition and charitable giving. The White Envelope Project founders are regularly in touch with the family in the article and are thrilled to have their support. The Gavin family and now thousands of others continue to celebrate the "white envelope" tradition each year. For more information about The White Envelope Project or to honor a loved one through a "white envelope" gift this year, please visit their website at

12/23/10 Thought of the day...

"Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose."

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, 1926-2004
Psychiatrist and Author

12/22/10 Thought of the day...

"Do not wait; the time will never be 'just right.' Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along."

Napoleon Hill, 1883-1970
Author of "Think And Grow Rich"

12/21/10 Thought of the day...

"It doesn't matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions."

Jim Rohn, 1930-2009
Speaker and Author

12/20/10 Thought of the day...

"Every decision you make - every decision - is not a decision about what to do. It's a decision about Who You Are. When you see this, when you understand it, everything changes. You begin to see life in a new way. All events, occurrences, and situations turn into opportunities to do what you came here to do."

Neale Donald Walsch
Author of "Conversations With God"

12/17/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

It Must Be Raining

The images flash across my television screen as I sit there in the comfort of my home.

"It's that time of year again," I thought to myself.

Then realizing how foolish that was to say, I sat up in my chair and watched closer.

The news reporter was telling the story of one of many food banks in our area that were serving those in need of the basics for the holidays.

This particular place had both food and clothing. Food for the body and warm, second hand coats for children.

"It's that time of year again," replayed in my mind.

I meant that throughout the holidays we see such reports over and over, unlike the other 11 months when the same people are hungry, in need of clothing, basic services and a little help with life.

Maybe I said it because I was becoming numb to it all, like watching the same commercials a hundred times.

I was about to feel the real impact of it all.

I was sitting at the counter having breakfast at a local diner the next day.

It's a small "quaint" place. Local people, husband and wife cook and serve.

A man walked in and sat next to me. There is little elbow-room as it is, and he was a big fellow.

On top of the milk dispenser is a small television placed there for both the customers enjoyment and the owners when things get slow.

It just so happened that the news was on and once again that same report on the food bank. This time it included more information and a few interviews of some of the people who participated.

There was a little girl looking through the coats. The reporter asked her if she found something that fit.

She turned toward the camera and smiled. She flipped her soft brown hair up over the collar as she pulled and tugged at the front to make sure it would zipper properly.

"I like this store. Mommy said I could have any coat I wanted, but I'm getting this one for my friend. Her daddy won't come here. Mommy says he's too proud. Whatever that means. All I know is Mandy needs a coat."

Out of the corner of my eye I could see the man next to me lower his head. Without looking up he fumbled for a napkin and began to wipe his eyes.

"Incredibly sad, isn't it?" I said.

He didn't respond.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"Yes," he said quietly.

"Hey, don't feel bad, I've shed many tears through the holidays for those who don't have nearly as much as I, and I am in no way financially set for life," I told him.

"I'm a writer. I live on my dreams," I added.

He turned toward me. I could still see the dampness of tear filled eyes. He raised his hand to his chest and pointing at himself he said..."I'm Mandy's father. That's the first I've seen that. The little girl goes to school with my daughter."

Oh, my god! My chest tightened, my hands shook and I shared in his tears.

"It must be raining," he joked.

We spoke for a few more minutes about how he felt and what he needed to do. Turns out he's unemployed for more than a year now and doing odd jobs to pay bills.

We said our goodbyes and I approached the register.

I whispered that I wanted his check.

"He only gets coffee," she said.

"Well, here. This is for my meal, his coffee and tell him this is for Mandy. He'll understand."

Many years ago I spoke at my friend's church in Atlanta, The Ark of Salvation. A woman came up to me and said God told her to give me everything she had in her wallet. I was shaken by the thought and began to refuse it. Things were better for me back then. I couldn't justify what she offered.

God spoke to me as I listened to her explain.

"It isn't very much, but God said that it would multiply. Please take it."

I did. I shared the story with Nathaniel Bronner, the pastor of the church and he smiled assuring me I did the right thing.

It was $57. I always carry it with me until this very day. I give it away and replace it. It has indeed multiplied many times.

God is an amazing God Who has never failed to replace that $57 each and every time I use it.

I turned to walk away and another man sitting at the counter grabbed my arm and said... "I overheard your conversation with that man. I'll help him, too."

He then wiped his eyes and said, "He's right. It must be raining."

Bob Perks

Bob Perks is an inspirational author and speaker. Bob's book "I Wish You Enough" has been published by Thomas Nelson Publishers. A collection of stories based on his Eight Wishes expressed below.

"I Wish You Enough!"(c) 2001 Bob Perks

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 "Hello's" to get you through the final "Goodbye."

12/16/10 Thought of the day...

"When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps."

Confucius, 551-479 BC

12/15/10 Thought of the day...

"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you."

Henry Ward Beecher, 1813-1887
Clergyman, Social Reformer and Abolitionist

12/14/10 Thought of the day...

"Let's choose today to quench our thirst for the 'good life' we think others lead by acknowledging the good that already exists in our lives. We can then offer the universe the gift of our grateful hearts."

Sarah Ban Breathnach
Author of "Peace and Plenty"

12/13/10 Thought of the day...

"Before you begin anything, remind yourself that difficulties and delays, quite impossible to foresee, are ahead. You can only see one thing clearly, and that is your goal. Form a mental vision of that and cling to it through thick and thin."

Kathleen Norris, 1880-1966

12/10/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

The Perfect Gift You Can't Wait to Give

The idea comes to you like a lightning bolt. A-ha, that's it! It's the perfect gift. It is thoughtful and personal and it will bring great joy to the other person. You can imagine their face when they open it; the big smile, the surprised and delighted eyes and perhaps a tear or two. It's the kind of shared joy you want to experience in person. You just can't wait to give it.

Have you ever given that perfect gift? Have you ever experienced the sheer bliss and excitement that comes with it? Your delight is unrelated to any acknowledgement or accolades you might receive in return. It comes from deep inside you - from your desire to bring joy to others.

My perfect gift was birthed when I took a huge leap of faith and unabashedly followed my calling. I had been speaking, teaching and coaching people on how to be unstoppable for over a decade while a deeper passion had been evolving. I had been involved in many philanthropic endeavors throughout the past years that brought me sheer joy. But over the last couple of years, a deeper calling emerged.

Something captured my heart like never before. In my travels to undeveloped countries, I witnessed children and their families barely surviving and living without hope of a better future. I also saw a few communities where the children actually had a school to go to, but they were nothing more than shacks made of sticks, dung and dirt floors. These children literally ran to these huts in pure delight for the opportunity to learn and have hope for a better future. The fact that 120 million children, 30% of whom live in Africa, will never step foot into a classroom was something that haunted me.

Feeling called to do something to support these children and their communities, I started to do research and found that there is no magic bullet to eliminate poverty. But if there was something close to magic, it would be universal primary education. Education has a larger impact than any other form of help or aid we can give. Studies show that for every year of education a child receives, HIV rates go down, early pregnancy rates decrease and earning potential increases. Just by learning to read and write 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty.

With that information, I got inspired to create my first project. In 2008, I decided to turn my birthday into a fund-raiser and invited everyone I knew to a party to help me with this mission. That evening was truly magical for all who attended and we raised $80,000 that helped fund two schools in Uganda in partnership with Vivian Glyck, Founder of Just Like My Child Foundation.

That night I got hooked! I thought if I could raise the money to build two schools in one night, what could I do if I really put my mind to it? It was now a full-blown passion of mine.

The following two years, I shared this mission with virtually everyone I encountered and have raised enough money to build 11 schools in Africa and educate a few thousand children. While I was deeply grateful for what we had been able to do so far, I was compelled to do more.

This past summer, I went on my fourth trip to Africa and visited the communities we were in partnership with. When I arrived, I was unaware that I was about to receive the perfect gift.

We were met by the entire community. There were hundreds of people who had lined the streets, waiting for hours in the sun for our arrival. As we made our way down the bumpy and dusty road, we were greeted by the mamas and their children who were singing and dancing. Elders of the community and parents had come for miles to welcome me and the group of donors who joined me in this trip to thank us for our partnership. It was a huge celebration with a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of one of the school's we had funded and I joined the women as we danced our way into the building that represented such hope for this community.

In that moment, they were giving me the perfect gift. Their smiles of gratitude and open hearts were the most treasured gifts I had ever received.

When I came home from that trip I knew what I had to do. I could no longer participate in this amazing work on a part-time basis. Now keep in mind, I was single with no financial support coming from any other sources but my own business. My live coaching courses and speaking engagements were my primary source of income and if I weren't doing both, I wasn't bringing in enough money to support myself. While the idea of leaving the security of my business petrified me, I called my associates and said it would no longer be business as usual and that I was now focusing 100% of my energy on my mission.

Leaving my business behind, I came up with my first project. I would leverage the relationships I already had and invite leaders in the personal development, business, and internet marketing world to do something that's never been done before. I would ask them to donate their best-selling programs to my foundation for free - some currently selling for hundreds and even thousands of dollars - to generate donations to help educate children.

That's how was born. My goal was to create a new way of funding this important mission that went beyond just asking for donations - I wanted it to be a campaign that tangibly rewarded the giver and the receiver.

I put a strategy together and hit the phones. My mentors encouraged me to call at least three people each day to ask them for support in whatever capacity they could contribute. Even if their answer was 'no' that was okay. What was more important was getting into consistent action.

As I shared my vision with deep conviction, people started stepping up. Experts were happy to donate their amazing products to the cause and friends stepped up to contribute to help fund the launch. I even got a sponsor who donated money for the campaign. All of these small (and large) miracles began to happen because I had the courage to take the first step.

By the time I was ready to launch on November 30, 2010, I had 30 bestselling authors and experts donating products that they were currently selling for hundreds (even thousands) of dollars each - for free - for a small donation to educate a child!

If you have ever had fear or anxiety about what it would take to follow your passion, I hope that my story will encourage you to take your first steps. You don't need to know how it will all work out, you only need to have faith that when you are committed, you will be supported. As you connect with a Divine calling that is bigger than yourself, miracles await you.

Cynthia Kersey
Chief Humanitarian Officer, Unstoppable Foundation

12/08/10 Thought of the day...

"Laugh at yourself and at life. Not in the spirit of derision or whining self-pity, but as a remedy, a miracle drug, that will ease your pain, cure your depression, and help you to put in perspective that seemingly terrible defeat and worry with laughter at your predicaments, thus freeing your mind to think clearly toward the solution that is certain to come. Never take yourself too seriously."

Og Mandino, 1923-1996
Author of "The Choice

12/07/10 Thought of the day...

"Asking is the beginning of receiving. Make sure you don't go to the ocean with a teaspoon. At least take a bucket so the kids won't laugh at you."

Jim Rohn, 1930-2009
Author and Speaker

12/06/10 Thought of the day...

"Even though you may not know how to achieve a lofty goal, set it anyway. You will be surprised at how inspired you'll be and you'll likely take action you wouldn't normally have taken."

Peggy McColl
Author and Speaker

12/03/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

200 Feet At A Time

I have the great pleasure of working with young people. They are so full of promise and potential as they stand at the threshold of their adult lives.

Sometimes, though, I'll see a young person struggle with the belief that before they set out for their dream they must first know the precise plan to follow and its exact outcome.

Part of the work I do is to help such a person understand that not knowing is OK; it's not even necessary. And I help them realize that their unique gift is always right there with them; though they might have a little trouble recognizing it. Because sometimes it looks very different than what they were expecting.

That was certainly the case for me...

"You! A model??... You're kidding, right?"

As if it was yesterday, I can still remember the stunned look on her face as I gathered up my courage and admitted my dream to a close high school friend.

But I wasn't kidding. Not only would I become a model, but I had every intention of becoming the world's next supermodel (though I decided that moment probably wasn't the best time to share this particular detail with my friend).

In fairness to her, I should say that most people would have been hard pressed to share my vision. I was by anyone's account less than, shall we say, "glamorous".

Actually I was about as far away from glamorous as one could get. Yes, I was taller than everyone I knew, including the boys in my school. But I was also rail thin, freckle-faced, with frizzy hair and braces. Oh, and did I mention awkward and painfully shy?

No matter. I knew I was going to 'make it'; it was only a question of time. How I would make it was something else entirely. The truth was, I had no idea how I would get from my small town school to the covers of the world's top fashion magazines.

But therein lies the true power of pursuing your dream. It begins with seeing your destination clearly and starting to move towards it, even if you can't say for sure how you will reach it.

Bob Proctor has compared this to driving in a car on a dark night and I agree. All you can ever see is 200 feet at a time by the glow of the headlights, but that's enough to advance you the next 200 feet, and so on all the way to your destination.

Sometimes you may take a fork in the road and discover that your destination changes as a result, and that's OK too. In fact if my name is not a household word today, that's because my own destination changed along the way.

Don't misunderstand-I fully expected to be the world's next supermodel and I did all I knew how towards that end. But early on I realized one crucial fact-I'm not particularly photogenic. And when it comes to supermodels, being very photogenic is pretty much 'Square One'.

The 'light of my headlights' had brought me to the awareness that I would not be an international cover girl. This was a blow to both my ego and my plans. But because I had begun the 'drive', I was about to discover something about myself I hadn't realized beforehand.

My 'fork in the road' presented itself to me a while later in San Francisco, where I was attempting to get a modeling job, or 'booking'-any booking-in print work. I would have been happy to appear in a flyer for the local car wash, but no client seemed to want me.

Then one day Calvin Klein himself came to town to put on a gala fashion show at the San Francisco Opera House. He brought with him several models from New York, but he was holding a casting to select a few local models as well.

Any girl in San Francisco who called herself a model was there, including the most successful and in demand print models I was trying so hard to emulate.

I remember my interview with Calvin Klein. He was smiling and gracious. He asked me to try something on and walk for him, and I did. Then, I watched as his smile grew wider and he booked me on the spot!

And then came the evening of the show. Everything changed for me on that runway. I felt totally natural, at ease and inspired there. I could sense that I had found my 'true place'.

Afterwards people came backstage and asked me where I'd learned to walk like that. I answered, "I don't know!" and it was true. I didn't know because I'd never done it before!

All this time I'd been trying with all my might to be a cover girl when it was now clear to me that runway was my gift. But I never would have known that had I not believed in my original dream and started moving towards it as best I could, '200 feet at a time'.

Soon afterwards I moved to Europe where, unlike San Francisco, 'high fashion' was the look and the runway market was very strong. I went first to Milan and then to Paris, where I still live today.

Ultimately I became an international high fashion runway model, working with top designers such as Armani, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, and many others. I enjoyed a fantastic career spanning more than a decade.

I traveled to over 50 countries and have done shows before royalty and heads of state. I met some of the world's most interesting and fascinating people; some of them rich and famous, some completely unknown but rich in other ways.

And I got the education of a lifetime.

None of this would have happened if I had been 'stuck' on just one possible outcome and continued to try and become a top international cover girl at all costs. As Ken Keesey Jr. says "To be upset about what we don't have is to waste what we do have."

Each of us has what I call a 'Unique Package'; that singular combination of our unique inner and outer selves. And through that package comes our gifts.

Discovering what our gifts are and then expressing and sharing them is what we're all here for. There are no 'better' sets of gifts and talents. They are all needed. We are all needed.

Or as the French say, "Il faut de tout pour faire un monde," which translated means, "It takes everyone to make a world."

The dream you have inside is not there by accident. There's a reason it's calling to you.

I firmly believe that if you'll step onto the path of your dream, always giving your best, the Universe will step up and meet you more than half way.

And even if your destination changes, as did mine, I can promise you this: You will definitely have more, do more and above all be more, for having made the journey.

Kim Luret

Click here for a special video commentary from Bob Proctor on today's story.

12/02/10 Thought of the day...

"Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourself a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles."

Helen Keller, 1880-1968
Blind and Deaf Educator

12/01/10 Thought of the day...

"The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer."

Nolan Bushnell
Founder of Atari

11/30/10 Thought of the day...

"Champions aren't made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision."

Muhammad Ali
Three-Time World Heavyweight Champion Boxer

11/29/10 Thought of the day...

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."

Walt Disney, 1901-1966
Cartoon Artist and Filmmaker

11/26/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

Getting Started

Chris's parents were proud of him when he graduated from college. But it's been six months and he hasn't gotten a job yet. In fact, he hasn't looked seriously. He has no idea what he wants to do and he's thinking of grad school.

He's living at home with his parents and things are getting tense, especially with his father, who accuses Chris of being lazy and afraid to enter the real world.

Chris thinks his dad is being totally unreasonable. After all, he's only young once and he needs some "space." During a recent argument, Chris said, "I'm not you, Dad. I have my own way of doing things. I want a job I enjoy."

His dad replied, "That's a nice idea, but in the end they call it 'work' because it's about making a productive living - not having fun."

There are many youngsters like Chris who are having trouble getting started with a serious job and becoming self-reliant. Some, like Peter Pan, just don't want to grow up. Some are afraid of making a wrong decision or of being rejected. Others are victims of what psychologists call "magical thinking." They believe that when the time is right, everything will fall into place. So they wait for opportunity to come knocking or until they feel inspired or excited about their next step.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. What's crucial is to begin. Things happen and opportunities appear most often when we're moving, not standing still.

Momentum is vital. Basic physics says it's easier to alter the course of a moving object than to start movement initially. In the end, it's not really about finding yourself. It's about making yourself.

The first steps are the hardest, but the key to success in anything is getting started.

Michael Josephson

11/25/10 Thought of the day...

"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."

William Arthur Ward, 1921-1994

11/24/10 Thought of the day...

"If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less than excellent work."

Thomas Watson, 1874-1956
Founder of IBM

11/23/10 Thought of the day...

"I've always believed that a lot of the troubles in the world would disappear if we were talking to each other instead of about each other."

Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004
40th President of the United States

11/22/10 Thought of the day...

"The most wonderful gift one human being can give to another, is in some way, to make that person's life a little bit better to live."

John Assaraf
Speaker and Author

OK, lightning just struck twice.

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11/19/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

Be Incredible

There is nothing better than a championship. It doesn't matter if it's my college roommate and me in the horseshoe championship of Northeast Missouri State University (which we did win in 1992). Or, a real championship, such as a high school basketball title; championships are special.

To that end, I used to attend as many of the Missouri State high school basketball championships as I could. Every March, my wife and I would make our way to the Hearnes Center on the University of Missouri campus to watch the best of the best play for a chance to experience a dream, wear a medal and call themselves the best.

It's something really, the championship game. Each team is given a corner of the arena. There, teen-agers dressed and painted in school colors pack together to cheer their team. Over the years, we have heard all sorts of cheers. I remember cheers, more like yells and screams, from the cheerleaders from the all boy private prep schools. I recall cheers from cheerleaders with enough team spirit that they may have been pulled for a 'speed' drug test. I recall another cheering squad with as much enthusiasm as the coach's white board. But, the cheer that stands out didn't come from a cheer leading squad, but from a student body and community, with one memorable word.

The game pitted two opposites. The legendary Vashon High School Wolverines from East St. Louis, an inner city type school with a great basketball tradition. They were facing another St. Louis school, a private St. Louis school, known for wealth. The private school had cheerleaders and a very large following, probably filling in over 4,000 seats.

Vashon was much the opposite. Behind Coach Floyd Irons, the team traveled with a fraction of the fans and no cheer squad. 'They will have to do their talking on the court,' I thought as the game began with the opening tip.

Both teams were talented. Led by a short and strong point guard, Vashon was poised and in control. The private school was talented as well, and aggressive on defense. The game went back and forth early, with both teams trading baskets. But, by the mid-point of the second quarter, Vashon opened an eight-point lead. After a time out, the private school trapped a Vashon ball handler in the corner. That's when the Vashon crowd, above the noise and screams of the 4,000 fans in the opposite colors could be heard chanting, "Be incredible. B-E IN-CREDIBLE...Be Incredible, Be incredible." And, right on cue, the ball handler broke the trap, passed to a teammate who found another for an easy basket.

And, that's how the game unfolded. Vashon held on tightly to a ten-point lead, fighting off a talented team and huge opposing crowd. Each time they were challenged, their fans would stand and cheer, "Be incredible, B-E INCREDIBLE. Be incredible, be incredible!"

"It is a very funny thing about life," W. Somerset Maugham once wrote, "if you refuse to accept anything but the best you very often get it." It has been well over a decade since I watched gold metals being gently placed around the necks of the young Vashon players. I have forgotten the score of the game, the name of the preppy private school and even each team's colors. But, when life is pressing me down and I seem to be double teamed in a corner, I will pause, take a deep breath and recall a cheer from my past. One that pulls and tugs greatness out of me when I don't think it's there. A cheer that is full of confidence in what I can do, even when I'm not. I pause and allow an echo in my head, "Be Incredible, B-E In-credible!'

Matt Forck

Matt Forck, CSP & JLW, is a speaker and author residing in Columbia, MO. This story is from Matt's book called, "Check Up From the Neck Up - - 101 Ways to Get Your Head in the Game of Life" - a book focused on helping the reader increase energy, gain perspective and find and keep balance.

11/18/10 Thought of the day...

"Every memorable act in the history of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no matter how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity but with it you can accomplish miracles."

Og Mandino, 1923-1996
Author of "A Better Way To Live"

11/17/10 Thought of the day...

"Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate."

Dr. Albert Schweitzer, 1875-1965
Medical Missionary and Nobel Prize Winner

11/16/10 Thought of the day...

"Dwell not on the past. Use it to illustrate a point, then leave it behind. Nothing really matters except what you do now in this instant of time. From this moment onwards you can be an entirely different person, filled with love and understanding, ready with an outstretched hand, uplifted and positive in every thought and deed."

Eileen Caddy, 1917-2006
Spiritual Teacher and Author

11/15/10 Thought of the day...

"Here's the problem. Most people are thinking about what they don't want, and they're wondering why it shows up over and over again."

John Assaraf
Speaker and Author

OK, this is important...

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P.P.S. John's also giving you his "Mind and Money" Formula that shows you how to reprogram your subconscious for wealth.

11/12/10 Thought of the day...

Here is your Friday story,

You Can't Do That

Jeff Lograsso, a United States marine sergeant stationed in Japan, and his wife Regina sat in their hotel room in Korea, where they vacationed to watch a softball tournament. Their eighteen month old son, Kyle, played with the remote control to the television. He hit the button to change the channel over-and-over. On one punch of the button, a golf tournament or an infomercial about golf was on. His parents don't remember which it was, but it was golf.

Kyle stopped. He focused on the television. The golfers intrigued him. He watched them swing. Kyle mimicked them with the remote control. When they swung their clubs, Kyle swung the remote.

Jeff, Regina and their son returned to Japan. They bought Kyle a plastic golf club. Whenever golf was on television, Kyle watched and swung his club with professionals. Golf became his Sesame Street.

Jeff didn't golf, but a good friend of his did. He watched young Kyle swing and said, "Jeff, Kyle has a perfect swing."

Jeff thought nothing of it. His son was not even two. It was too early to think of sports.

A few months before Kyle turned two, Regina noticed something strange. When Kyle turned his head in a certain way, and the light was just right, there was a white spot in her son's eye. She took him to an optometrist. The doctor looked in his eye. "I think Kyle has a cataract." He paused, looked again, "It sure looks like one. It can be removed easily, but just to be sure, I'm going to recommend a specialist."

Regina watched as the specialist examined Kyle. She'd seen and experienced eye examines. The doctor seemed to take longer than normal. Time passed. Her anxiety grew. The doctor stared into Kyle's eyes and finally looked up. "Mrs. Lograsso, I think this is more serious than a cataract. I think your son has cancer. It's in both eyes.

"I'm certain Kyle has bilateral retinoblastoma. It's a cancer that develops quickly in the cells of the retina and spreads. It's very rare. Fewer than one hundred children in the United States develop it in a year."

Regina sat in silence. Was she hearing correctly? Did her little boy have cancer? Her voice returned. Tears streamed down her cheeks. "What can be done?" she finally asked.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Lograsso.' The specialist stroked Kyle's hair. "This is a very aggressive cancer. We have to remove his left eye. With chemotherapy, we may save his right. If we don't do this, the cancer will spread to his brain. Your son will only live three or four months."

Regina, stunned, said, "What?"

The doctor repeated.

Regina's world spun. How could her little boy have cancer? He was too young!

"Mrs. Lograsso?" the doctor questioned.

She wiped tears from her eyes. "We'll do what has to be done for Kyle."


Jeff and Regina sat by Kyle's bedside. A patch covered the spot where he once had a left eye. His recovery began immediately. Four hours after his operation, he stood on unsteady legs ands swung his plastic club. Kyle was going to be alright.

Kyle was fitted with a glass eye. Life returned to normal for a little while. One night he became ill. He labored for air. Regina stared at her young son as he gasped for air. She grabbed him up, wrapped him in her arms, put him in the car and sped to the hospital.

Part way there, she knew she wouldn't make in time to save her son's life. Regina pulled to the curb and knocked on the first door she came to. "Call 911!" she pleaded.

Regina sat in the back of the ambulance as the paramedic administered to her son. Kyle's pulse dropped so low, the paramedic yelled to the driver, "You better hurry!"

Regina closed her eyes and prayed.

Kyle developed a blood infection due to the chemotherapy. His life was in jeopardy. They arrived at the hospital. His temperature was one hundred and five degrees. With treatment, the young man recovered. At the age of three, he defied death once again.

Kyle's dad, Jeff, wanted his son to experience a real golf course, but he thought it best if his son took lessons first. He called several golf professionals in their area, but none would work with such a young kid. Only one man said, "I don't normally work with children so young, but why don't you bring him over? I'll take a look at him and make a decision."

The professional took one look at Kyle and recognized a Tiger Woods replica. He used his computer, superimposed Kyle and Tiger swinging together. They were a perfect match. Their swings were the same.

Kyle is just a little boy with an amazing talent. He has two older sisters. One day, he took his glass eye out and put it in the box of cereal his sister would eat for breakfast. She took a spoonful, started to chew, felt something, pulled it out, and began to scream. Kyle laughed and ran for cover.

Boys will be boys!

Jeff takes Kyle to the golf course whenever he can. Although he doesn't know the game, Kyle does. Dad caddies and young Kyle plays. Jeff says people groan when they learn they have to play with a kid but they soon change their tone.

On the fourth hole of one round, a member of Kyle's group called his wife. "Hun, you won't believe this, but I am being beaten by a four-year-old boy!"

At the time of this writing, Kyle is seven years old and is cancer free. His best score is 89. For a nine hole course, it's 38. These are scores I can only dream of. He would play more, but he has two older sisters. They need their parent's attention for their activities too.

When I spoke to Regina, I asked her, "How does Kyle do it? I suck at golf, and I have two eyes. Just how does he do it?"

Regina said, "Mike, the doctors think he had little or no sight in his left eye from the beginning. He sees what he always saw." I thought about that. Young Kyle sees what he always saw. He grew up in a two dimensional world. It's his world. No one told him he couldn't golf, so he does it.

Kyle is the adventurer of this decade and many more to come. He will amaze many with his extraordinary skill and make us all reflect on the things we never attempted, because we were told, "You can't do that!"

Michael T. Smith
Michael lives with his lovely wife, Ginny, in Caldwell, Idaho. He works as a project manager in Telecommunications and in his spare time writes inspiration stories. He has recently been published in two Chicken Soup for the Soul Books (All in the Family and Things I Learned from My Cat), in "Thin Threads - Life Changing Moments" and in Catholic Digest.

11/11/10 Thought of the day...

"All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim; have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible."

Orison Swett Marden, 1850-1924

11/9/10 Thought of the day...

"It's really important that you feel good. Because this feeling good is what goes out as a signal into the universe and starts to attract more of itself to you. So the more you can feel good, the more you will attract the things that help you feel good and that will keep bringing you up higher and higher."

Joe Vitale
Author and Speaker

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