Climb Every Mountain In Life
By: Sean Swarner
I'm actually the first (and only) cancer survivor to summit the world's highest mountain... Mt. Everest. When I was only 13, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and given three months to live. When I was 15, I was diagnosed with Askin's Sarcoma. The prognosis was much worse as the doctors gave me only two weeks to live. Again, I survived.
Being the only person in the world to have ever had these two cancers, I really felt I should share my story to help motivate others and influence lives. On May 16th, 2002 at 9:32am, I became the first cancer survivor to summit Mt. Everest.
Since then, I have been lucky enough to reach the summits of three more of the world's seven highest peaks and have spoken internationally about my life and adventures to countless people and organizations. On the summit of Everest I brought a flag adorned with names of people who have been affected by cancer and left it on the top of the world forever commemorating the struggle of cancer patients worldwide.
I did the same to the highest point in Africa, Europe and just recently returned from 23,000-foot Aconcagua in South America! My ultimate goal is to climb the highest mountain on each continent AND trek to the North and South poles.
I am covering the globe with inspiration. There are plans for live chat sessions during the expeditions as well as TV spots and live summit bids from a number of the mountains! The reason for these expeditions is to inspire those affected by cancer (as well as anyone with a pulse!) to dream big and never give up.
A Touch of Heaven.
By: Tim Reynolds
It had been a very disheartening day. The doctors had given us the worst of news. Our daughter, who had just completed her first brain surgery to remove a tumor and was going through radiation treatments, was now offically given a two percent chance of survival as this type of cancer had no cure.
My wife and I decided to take our daughter to lunch before continuing our afternoon conversations. We went to a local resteraunt where we sat in silence waiting for the waitress. Our daughter Molly wouldn't hear of such sadness or silence so she played happily with crayons and paper while we sat and stared at the floor.
I noticed a very elderly couple sitting a few booths away, they too in silence never speaking a word. I couldn't help but wonder what challenges they had faced in their life and if they ever faced such terrible news about a child of theirs.
We eventually ordered our lunch and still sitting in silence we ate what we could. At some point I became intrigued by the old couple and I watched them more intently with each passing minute. I thought to myself that they hadn't yet spoken to each other and I wondered if it was the peace they were enjoying or the food or maybe both. However, at some point I lost interest and put my focus back on my lunch.
Molly was still talking away and enjoying her meal and her mom and I both listened and tried to be happy in her presence but it wasn't going very well. All of a sudden I saw this hand come out of nowhere. It was huge and I could tell that it had been afflicted with arthritis. The knuckles were swollen and the fingers were crooked and off center. I couldn't take my eyes of that hand. The hand drifted down and landed on my daughter's tiny six year old hand and as it did I looked up; it was the old woman who had been sitting with the old man in silence eating their lunch.
I looked into her eyes and she spoke, but not to me. She looked at my daughter and simply whispered, "If I could do more for you I would." And then she smiled and moved away to join her husband who had moved towards the door.
I heard a "Hey look, a whole dollar." Molly spoke with excitment as she discovered that the old lady had placed a crumpled one dollar bill on the back of her hand. I looked down and saw the dollar bill and quickly realized that it had been left behind by the old lady. I looked up to thank her, but she was gone. I sat stunned, not sure what had just happended and then I looked over at my wife. In almost unison, we broke out into a smile. The sadness of the day had been wiped out by the crippled hand and generous touch of an old lady.
The dollar, although exciting to Molly, was not what made us smile or begin to feel differently, it was the offer from an old lady who felt our hurt and our suffering. The crippled hand symbolized a healing touch and made us realize that we did not have to fight this battle alone; that others cared and wanted to help. We felt up-lifted and soon our day filled with more happy thoughts as we spent the rest of our lunch planning the next day at home with fun filled activities for eveyone.
I will never forget that crippled arthritic hand that taught us such an important lesson. One does not have to go through life facing hardships all alone; the world is full of compassionate and understanding people. Even those that are suffering from their own afflictions have much to give to each other.
The hand that covered Molly's on that day still covers it. And although Molly is no longer with me, I can see her holding hands with that old lady now, both hands perfect and both faces filled with smiles and laughter. And though Heaven has these two perfect angels now, the lessons that they both taught me will remain forever in my heart.
My Biggest Hero Was Nine Years Old.
By: James Garner
When my son was in second grade I was the leader of his Cub Scout Den. Before his third grade school year started, a Cub Scout Pack leader called and asked if I would take on another boy. We had a large group and I knew it wouldn't be easy, but so did everyone else in this age group.
The kicker of the deal was that Tray was a cancer patient and an amputee, one leg at the knee. I had a hard time making up my mind about exposing "my" boys to what I was almost positive would surely end in a lot of anguish and sadness for all of us. I finally decided to take him in, but before I said yes to our Pack leader I called all my parents to let them know what I planned to do and get their feedback.
To a person, they all supported my decision. Only one mother verbalized the fears I had for the emotional well being of my little charges, but she too supported my plan. We felt like it would help teach them compassion and generosity, it did and us too!
When Tray came to us I found out that not only did he have severe health and physical problems, his family was incredibly poor. But they wanted Tray to have all the experiences he could in what would most likely be a short life. His parents did their very best to provide it.
Tray was without a doubt the most enthusiastic member of my scout den. There wasn't anything he wouldn't try to do. When we did the things for all their little badges he was right in there with us, and most often excelling. ALL of my boys encouraged him and helped whenever they could, this carried over into their school life as well.
Even the physical fitness segment of our program he did well in, better than most other boys save for the broad jump. Tray just couldn't get far enough to match the standards the Cub Scout Manual said had to be met to achieve this badge. I passed him on this one because I deduced that the skills were written for boys with two legs and since Tray only had one his goal should only be half that of the other boys. Tray acheived that half and a great deal more, in fact was only just a little short of the minimum anyway.
We all progressed along through Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Lion ranks and went on to Webelos. Over the years our Pack's leadership made sure that somehow Tray had all the hats, uniform parts, etc. that was necessary for him to be just like everyone else. Most of the time I knew that some of the things required weren't in his folks budget but they found ways and when they couldn't we found ways to make sure it just happened.
We all suffered with Tray on days he had just come from chemo and was so sick he couldn't go 10 minutes without a trip to the bathroom. But he was in there with all of us and insisted on coming to meetings when any one of the rest of us, child or adult, would have been too ill to go.
Just before the end of the Cub Scout program I took them all to a Boy Scout meeting to see how it was and help them make the final yes or no decision to continue on in the Scouting program. Tray was ready. I helped him choose a Troop and introduced him to their leader and such to prepare him for the sixth grade year when he would move to Boy Scouts.
My proudest moment was to watch all my boys go through the Arrow of Light ceremony, Tray included. This ceremony marks the transition from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts if they choose to go on. All my other boys' interests had changed over the years and they were into sports, band and other things; not Tray, he would be my only Boy Scout.
The summer before sixth grade came and went and just before the next school year was to start Tray was taken from us. I like to think he was just asked to join another troop whose leader is far better than I could have ever hoped be.
We all learned a lot from Tray; "my" boys, their parents and me. Yes, there is a plan and purpose for us all and, I think, I am not the only one in my community who has a nine-year-old hero.
Now, when I am in difficult situations I often think of how Tray would have handled it. This makes the going a lot easier because I know he would have tackled the challenge with greater gusto and zeal than anyone else and finally succeed in the end.
How I Rose From Abject Poverty.
By: Aaron Robinson
As I sit back in my office chair, gazing at the computer monitor that has a graphical layout of Consciousness Magazine, I begin to reminisce about some of the obstacles and challenges I went through. At a younger age, these challenges molded my life long passion for creativity that has motivated me up to this point. Going through these stages were long lasting, inspiring, artistic, and unpredictable. In most scenarios, these unpredictable events would seem to have had a negative impact on my life, but instead, led me down a righteous path that has always had a happy ending.
If it weren't for these challenges I may have never developed my skills in fine arts and recording rap and hip-hop vocals. I say this because trials and tribulations, life long pain, and believing in a higher power has motivated me to become passionately aware of the gifts I was blessed with. When these talents were combined with my social, interpersonal, disciplined, and leadership skills, the innovative "Consciousness Magazine" was born.
Consciousness Magazine wasn't an overnight realization; it took nearly a year of strategic business planning after graduating from Columbia College in Chicago and living the life as a starving hip-hop recording artist and professional graphic designer. I can remember when the manifestation of this project was only a thought.
About three years ago, at a grocery store on the West side of Chicago, I saw a vision that I was changing people's lives by inspiring them. I came to a halt and began reflecting on the environment I was living in at the present time. At this given moment, my spirit was uneasy, due to the fact that I was upset with the ignorance of people in general. I told my business partner Lahad about the vision, and that a pamphlet is needed to provide people with inspiring information that they may not be conscious of. He said, "That's a great idea!"
I felt as if this could be the catalyst to address people's problems and complaints. It was our calling to help "make a difference!" I felt as if I needed to take action and do something about this perpetual epidemic of ignorance that is causing people to destroy themselves and others.
A couple of years later I drew out the conceptual layout of the pamphlet. I never anticipated developing a magazine so early at the beginning of my career.
While pursuing and working diligently on many projects in my life, I can say that Consciousness Magazine has been the most challenging, especially pulling together a group of people for a staff that have full time jobs, families, or are college students. My staff started off with about 10 people. At the completion of this issue only four of those original members were still around. Nevertheless, God blessed me with about 30 or more people who played an important role in putting together this publication.
While continuing to reminisce on life over the past several years, I believe that my childhood drove me to start my own business, Atron Productions, Incorporated. I always knew that I would someday be an entrepreneur. I consider myself to have noble intentions. I want people to know that there is hope out here. For the longest time I was struggling and I was determined to be a voice for people letting them know that they can overcome all obstacles that may be set in front of them. With this in mind, I pulled together my staff and contributors to put together a magazine that has these qualities. These days' people need inspiration, a need I feel that they don't get satisfied from contemporary media outlets. This belief was shaped by my youth and life experiences.
I was born on the Westside of Chicago. When I was a few years old, my parents moved my siblings, mentally ill uncle, and I to Hopkins Park, Illinois, a poverty stricken rural area. My father being a shade tree carpenter and my mother a house-wife; it was hard for my siblings and I to get some of the things we needed for school and as children.
I can recall only having two pair of pants when I was in the fifth grade. Students showed no empathy when they saw me wear clothes back-to-back along with the holes that were noticeable in my shoes. It didn't bother me. I always knew that I would one day grow into a man and be able to get everything I ever desired. Being blessed with the talents to be a fine artist, I knew that there would be a possible way out of poverty. This belief along with people constantly telling me, at a young age, how important an education is are the key reasons as to why I always wanted to help people change their lives so that they would not have to go through the embarrassment and shame I've been through. I didn't know how I was going to pursue this at such a young age.
I always had a strong family. Like most families, we had our problems. I honor my mother who has "Southern hospitality." She instilled in her children the importance of values and family at a young age. My siblings and I are all close. We all went to college except my oldest sister who became mentally ill at a young age.
The family encountered a lot of tough times. I lost count of all the times that I can recall our electric being shut off, and going without a house phone for months due to lack of finances to pay the bills. During these conditions it was sometimes difficult for us to meet some of our everyday needs such as eating the necessary foods for a complete diet. The winters were worse but we strived every year to make life better. I can recall us having a wood heater. We would block off the rooms and all of us would sleep in the kitchen or living room bundled up to keep warm.
Some nights before school, we washed our clothes with our hands. We would hang them up over a fan to dry. On warm days we would leave them to dry on an outdoor clothing line or fence. Also, when the electric was cut off we pumped water from an outside well to supply us with water. We protected and concealed our foods in metal or plastic containers to protect it from the rats and roaches that contributed to the extra holes in the walls and floors of a once condemned home that was progressively renovated by my father.
Since then, a new home has been built due to the fact that our house was burnt to the ground several years ago because of a furnace problem. I can recall there was nearly two feet of snow on the ground during the time of the burning. It was a blessing that everyone made it out safely. This was a difficult time of our life, especially when we had no home insurance. Could you imagine the only thing you owned were the clothes you stood shivering in on a freezing winter day? By the time the fire department arrived to our property, there was only one wall standing. Since then, I learned to not take anything for granted, appreciating life and valuing people to the fullest.
During the time of the fire, I was a student at Kankakee Community College. My grades began to drop. I dropped one class. I felt deprived, feeling as if I had nothing to live for. I basically gave up all hope and faith. I was enrolled in two art classes and also gave up on those. Prior to the burning, I could recall on a daily basis waking up around 3 in the morning to work on art pieces. Sad to say, that drive was no longer there. I now found myself with nothing to do.
While our family was partially living with my Aunt Olivia, I had to plan days ahead to figure out how I was going to commute from Hopkins Park to school four times a week. It became very difficult because I did not have reliable transportation at the time and didn't know where my next meal or money was going to come from. My parents needed to spend more time running around trying to get life back in order after the fire and the car wasn't always available to me.
Sometimes I packed extra clothes in my book bag and lived out of it occasionally. Since the college was 20-30 minutes away from Hopkins Park I sometimes stayed with a friend or my sister who lived in Kankakee. Having no place to stay and bouncing from house to house was very detrimental. Nevertheless, I never made any excuses not to go to class. I knew that I had to be in class even if I was discouraged and didn't do the homework for the next day. Stepping foot in the school always gave me a sense that I was still doing something with my life.. I just loved being in a productive atmosphere.
Deep down inside I was angry at the world, wanting a normal life. I would always question myself: "Why am I going through so much hardship?"
The influential people in my life such as family, friends, strangers, and my former art instructors helped me to change my negative attitude, and thinking pattern on how I felt about life at the time. This is one of the reasons I hope to give out scholarships, so that I can give someone the opportunity they think they may not have.
As time progressed, God was looking over me as I cried out for help and wanting change. Within music, rather mine or others, I gradually found therapy, spirituality, and a source of healing power. I repetitively played the song "God's Grace" by the inspirational group Trinity 5:7. An insertion of the lyrics in the song reads: "No weapon formed against thee shall prosper." I strongly believe in this quote, which is a partial verse from Isaiah 54:55. Some people may assume I am religious but I'm a spiritual and humble individual. I don't think that categories and titles make up a persons character; it's all about what's in his or her heart.
If it wasn't for my passion for the arts, I may have fallen victim to the influence of taking more to the street life or maybe ended up as another statistical black male in the court system by making uneducated and unwise decisions. Believe me, nothing came easy. If you have a gift you must continue to perfect it. That makes it more rewarding. It kept me out of trouble. As, far as I can remember, I continued to draw, paint, write, record, and take up hobbies, such as collecting sports trading cards to escape my reality. I didn't know that it was going to have so much of an impact upon my future and the lives of others.
I can recall drawing graphical images at a younger age. During that time, I didn't know that I was in preparation to earn a B.F.A. in Graphic Design or working on a magazine publication. When I was recording music with a small radio and speaking into a broken microphone, I didn't know that I was going to meet and perform with a professional music artist, or get interviewed for radio stations.
Sometimes my life reminds me of the Richard Wright biography "Black Boy." While Reading this book many years ago I can relate to some of the trials and tribulations he overcame, such as leaving the South and moving to Chicago for a better opportunity to become a successful writer. Along the same lines, I once moved to Chicago to finish college to become a successful artist. Also, when Wright was younger, his house burned down.
As I went back and read the book for the second time, I became mesmerized, drawn into the story of his life thinking, does Richard Wright live in me? He may not but he really motivated me to express myself by writing, whether it was lyrics for music or dialog for a movie script. I like to write in my spare time. Creative writing relieves my stress. For the most part, it positions me in my own world.
I can say that I've truly been blessed. Sometimes you may feel that it's the end of the world as you cope with certain problems or situations. All along, it is happening for a reason. At the same time, we must acknowledge the small details in our life that cause us to have problems. Sometimes we consciously or unconsciously make incorrect decisions, which lead to pain and suffering. In most cases, situations are unpredictable. Work them out, move on, and try to make some sense out of the situation if you can. Don't dwell on the problem if it can't be fixed at the moment. Let time take its course. Then go to your favorite relaxation spot like I go to my office. Sit back, reminisce, meditate and appreciate the present moment.
The Power of Belief.
By: Scott DiCicco
After the teams for the 2003-2004 MBHL Hockey Season our team was thought to be the worst team in the league. My team battled throughout the whole season losing to teams large amounts. Everyone got down on themselves and thought that we couldnt do it.
With six games left in the season we had to win all of them to make it to the playoffs. Our coach told us that if we wanted to show everyone that we were a good team we had to make it to the playoffs. My team battled hard and we did it we made it to the playoffs.
We made 2 huge upsets in the playoffs to make it to the League Championship against the #1 team who was undefeated and had beaten us 12-0. Before the game our coach got us motivated and prepared for the biggest game of our lives.
We came out with heart and we were determined to win and we did 3-2 in overtime and we shocked the whole league. We had pulled a huge upset and won the 2003-2004 League Championship with heart, hard work and never losing sight of our dream.
A Wake Up Call.
By: Catherine Pulsifer
During the month of September, a dear friend of mine lost her husband suddenly in an accident. The tragedy was a shock to everyone.
This accident was sudden and certainly unexpected. It drove home the realization that you just don't know when a loved one is no longer going to be with you. We sometimes take our love ones for granted, and we expect that they will be with us forever. However, as we all know, life does not work that way and sometimes we get a wake up call that shocks us and makes us stand back and realize how short life is.
In consoling her, I tried to imagine if I was in her shoes how would I feel. It was impossible to imagine what she was going through. What words do I say to help her?
Sometimes words just can not express our feelings. Sometimes our actions are much more meaningful than words. A hug can sometimes express more than our words will ever express. Sometimes, just being there to listen is more meaningful and helpful to people.
A SECOND WAKE UP CALL.
As I was leaving the funeral parlor, I ran into a Marilyn. Marilyn has been a true friend to me over the years. She is one of those friends who is with you in the good times and is always by your side in the bad times. She has a sense of humor that makes everyone laugh and she makes everyone feel at ease. We chit chatted for a few moments, and then she asked me how my job was. So I started talking and talking and talking (am sure she wished she had never asked, ha) I was having a stressful week with my job and I was telling her all the issues and how I was feeling. She listened to me as I was raving about my frustrations, then without saying a word, she took her hands and placed them on my face, and said to me, "But at least you had a day."
The touch of her hands on my cheeks, the calmness in her voice, and the words she spoke, "BUT AT LEAST YOU HAD A DAY", hit me like a ton of bricks. All the frustrations, all the stress that was building up inside of me - came to a complete stop.
Since that day, when I start feeling stressed, I remind myself of Marilyn's words - but at least I had a day! Things could be a lot worse, the stress of the situation always could be worse, but I am alive and I have a lot to be thankful for - so I shall not waste my days with stress and frustrations - Life is too short!
Leaving The Child Behind.
By: Fatimah Musa
I looked at my father for the last time before he was finally laid to rest. And I said to myself, "I forgive you father." I have forgiven him but I have not forgotten the turmoil, terror and abuse that I went through.
My father was working away most of the time when I was growing up. But when he was home, he was violent. I remembered crying in the middle of the night listening to him beating up my mother. I could hear her sobs. And I wept because I could not do anything about it.
I was terrified of him. We were not supposed to do any thing wrong according to his terms. When I was six years old he pushed my head so hard onto the floor. I still have the scar on my forehead.
When my mother was diagnosed with depression, the four of us siblings had to move and we lived with him. He hired someone to take care of us while he was away at work.
There was so much fear in us when he was back. My father was so angry with one of my brother's one day that he turned him upside down and wanted to throw him off. I watched that episode with horror.
From then on, I tried not to make any mistakes. I wept inside because he did not want to hear any whimpers. And I continued watching him vent his anger on the rest of my siblings.
When my father divorced my mother, I did not know how to feel or react. My mother was back with us but her depression kept relapsing. We were neglected.
I found solace from friends at school. I enjoyed reading stories and literature. I spent my time in the school library. There was no home sweet home.
My mother could not take care of me. My father took me away to live with his new family. It did not work out. I was sent to a welfare home.
I did not deserve to be abandoned but I was helpless. I was mad with my father. I was not angry with my mother but I just did not understand why she had to be sick.
Until recently, I did not want to admit that my childhood affected me emotionally and mentally. I have brought the memories of bygone age along into my daily existence.
In all my relationships, everything went well until my partners suggested on serious commitments. I would then sabotage the relationships.
I was not able to open up to anyone. I was very defensive when given any advice or opinion on my attitude and behavior.
When there were arguments, I clamped up or walked off. I never wanted to face any issues and resolve them.
And I would not cry in front of anyone no matter how sad or hurt I was. I remembered a time when my sister was badly wounded and hospitalized. I did not want anyone to see me cry. I walked away and cried my heart out alone in a secluded place.
I excelled in my career by putting in lots of hours and efforts. Now I realized that it was one way of escaping reality. I kept myself so busy so that I do not notice things that needed attention. I was using work as a means to avoid commitments.
There was one thing that I gained from the experience of being abandoned. I was able to sit quietly alone for hours and reflect.
It has developed my fascination on nature's beauty. I love the feel of the wind blowing on my face. I enjoy watching the rain falling. And no matter how bad the weather is, it is still beautiful.
I became curious about many things. I questioned others and myself about life and how some things happen to certain people. I wondered why people behave the way they do. I looked for the answers.
I have developed the strength to persevere. But that is not enough. I want to become a survivor who is able to balance her life and enjoy the abundance that the universe has to offer.
I have decided to break myself free from the shackles of my fragile upbringing. I promise myself that I will not allow my past to continue ruining my future.
This child has grown up and will not weep in silence anymore.
Breaking Through Uncertainty
By: Jim McCormick
We all question our ability at times. Uncertainty plagues us. It is even more intense if the ability we are questioning relates to something we have never tried or not succeeded at in the past.
Set backs are common, but we rarely welcome them. We are inclined to respond negatively to adversity. It may be time to revisit that reflexive response.
I had an experience recently that caused me to reconsider whether a negative response to adversity is always justified when I was confronted with a life-threatening situation.
It was mid-morning on a warm and pleasant Saturday. I was in the midst of my first skydive of the day. It was my 2,123th jump since having taken up the sport fifteen years ago.
After about one minute of freefall and 5,000 above the ground, I parted ways with my fellow jumpers to get far enough away from them to open my parachute safely. I initiated opening around 3,000 feet above the earth.
My parachute opened with some twists in the lines between the parachute and me. This is not that uncommon. What was different this time was that I was not able to clear the twists.
The twists in the lines caused my parachute to take on an asymmetrical shape. Receiving asymmetrical inputs, the canopy did what it is designed to do and initiated a turn -- that's how it's steered. The problem occurred when the turn quickly became a rapid, diving downward spiral that was spinning me a full 360 degrees about once every second. This was a problem.
I looked up to assess my canopy and saw something I don't often see - the horizon clearly visible ABOVE the trailing edge of my canopy. This meant my canopy and I were now on roughly the same horizontal plane. In that I could see the horizon behind it, I was actually above my parachute and it was leading our fast spinning parade rapidly towards mother earth.
My first need was to acknowledge that I was not going to be able to solve this problem. This is not as easy as it seems. Having successfully completed over 2,100 jumps without having to resort to my second parachute, it was hard for me to believe I had really encountered a problem I could not solve. I had a natural inclination to assume I could fix this problem as I had all those in the past.
Sound familiar? It's always easy to lapse into denial when confronted with a problem. Until we acknowledge the problem and our possible inability to solve it - or to use the methods we have used in the past - we don't have a chance of making things better.
Fortunately, the urgency of this situation caused my hard-headed nature to yield much quicker than usual. That decision probably took a second or two.
The next step, having accepted the need to follow a different course than in the past, was to determine the course. Fortunately fifteen years of training and practice before every day of jumping took hold.
I looked straight down at the two handles on either side of my chest - one to release me from my malfunctioning canopy and one for deploying my reserve parachute - and realized I needed to quickly get them in my hands. I could not help but notice when I made eye contact with them, as had been ingrained in me during my First Jump Course way back in 1988, that by now the rapid spins had turned me back to earth and there beyond my toes was once again the horizon. This was bad!
Time was of the essence at this point not only because I was now rapidly progressing toward the horse pasture below me, but also because the centrifugal force I was starting to experience would soon make it impossible to get my hands to those two handles.
With my hands now securely on the handles, I was confronted with a bothersome question, "Now, which one goes first." The wrong order could cause my reserve parachute to deploy into my spinning main parachute which would result in an incurable entanglement.
Fortunately, ingrained training once again took over and I pulled them in the right order. First the handle on the right side which released me from my spinning main parachute followed by the handle on the left side to deploy my reserve parachute.
This brought on a wonderful experience. My malfunctioning black, teal and magenta canopy was replaced with a bright, yellow never before used reserve parachute. What a lovely sight! And all this by 1,700 feet - plenty of time to spare.
Many years ago, I read a book about the challenges and responsibilities of Secret Service agents. One of the sad aspects of that profession is that agents who never have the chance to validate their years of training by responding to a threat sometimes struggle severely in retirement. They are faced with not knowing - with certainty - how they would respond when faced with the paramount challenge their career can deliver. For this reason, agents who have faced such a challenge successfully are admired within the culture of the Service.
That Saturday morning, I had the privilege of facing a similar, life-threatening and I now realize life-defining challenge. I faced what Secret Service agents call "the dragon."
For all of us the greater dragon is not the external threat, whether it be an assassin's bullet, the unforgiving and fast approaching earth or another challenge. The real dragon is the self-doubt we carry within us.
For those few splendid moments after landing safely, I was able to put my foot firmly on the neck of the dragon ... and it felt great.
Keep this in mind the next time you are confronted with adversity. On the far side of the experiences the adversity presents, there could be a valuble gift - a renewed confidence and certainty.
A Little Compassion.
By: Dan Malone
A good friend of mine named Christina has an amazing gift, I think many people forget they have it in themselves. The gift of compassion. Why do I call it a gift? Because she gives it to others.
You see Christina fosters kittens who have no home. She goes out and rescues kittens from the wild. She cares for them, makes sure they are healthy and finds good homes for them.
One very special kitten recently came in to her life. Her name is Savannah. When Christina found Savannah she was not in good condition. She was dirty, afraid and unhealthy. As with all new kittens, Christina, takes them in to her home, cleans and feeds them. Once they have reached 2 pounds, she takes them to the vet where they are tested and vaccinated. I remember this day well. Christina had called with sadness when she found out Savannah had tested positive for FIV. It's a disease that is specific to felines and is similar to AID's.
Not doing much better then the day Christina found her, Savannah had stopped eating and began loosing a lot of weight. You could see the bones through her thin skin. Finally she stopped walking and eating altogether. Many would consider this a loosing battle. Christina would spend nights holding Savannah, simply trying to make her feel better. All the time, Christina herself was getting worse. She would be in tears, worrying about Savannah. The thought of Savannah loosing her life was tearing Christina apart.
There are many in the world that see FIV as a life sentence. Kittens with FIV are not expected to survive and the ones who do often need special care. Since FIV is easy to spread when kittens are playing, Savannah had to be kept apart from all the other kittens. Christina was the only friend she had come to know.
Christina though sad and hurting herself, never gave up. She had awoken early one morning and began searching the internet for information. After a little searching, she found that there was some hope for Savannah. With some special medicine, and care, she found out that Savannah might have a chance to get better and live a healthy life. Christina made many calls trying to obtain the medicine, caring nothing of the cost. She was finally able to find a shelter that would order the medicine for her, at no cost. She began to give Savannah the medicine, and feeding her fluids with a syringe.
In short time, Savannah began to gain a little weight, and start walking again. It was no time before she was up and playing. One night Christina brought Savannah over to play. I will never forget the look in Christina's eyes, and the feeling of playing with a kitten who many would have given up on. This was a truly heart warming experience.
Savannah had just recently been tested again. This time she came up negative for FIV. In many cases, mothers can pass this disease on to her kittens, and in some cases the kittens, are able to shed it off over time. Savannah was now a healthy playful kitten, with the rest of her life to enjoy a world she may have never known.
There is no doubt in my mind that Savannah will have a better life because of Christina. I also know that Christina herself will have a better life because of Savannah. I have read a-lot of inspirational stories, but this one, the one I have been able to write will live with me forever. It reminds me that love and compassion do make a difference, and to never give up on someone or something you believe in.
Today is Wednesday the 23rd of June 2004. Savannah will be going to the Vet to set spade tomorrow morning. In a week or two she will be ready for adoption. Hopefully to a family that she can have a loving and compassionate impact upon.
A Small Piece of Carpet
By: Charlie Badenhop
Have you ever noticed how the way you feel about yourself sometimes depends on whether or not you get confirmation of your value from others? When you enter into challenging situations with a positive self identity you will discover that you are living your life with a greater sense of enjoyment and fulfillment.
I have learned a lot about nurturing a positive identity of love and appreciation from the man who taught me to train dogs. Dogs and humans both have a "self identity" that determines perception of the world, behavior, and one's sense of self worth. Let me explain how my teacher nurtured a positive self identity in the dogs he trained.
Frank had a very fascinating way of helping the guard dogs he trained, to feel respected, protected and loved, regardless of the situation/context they were in. Here is how he accomplished this. First of course, he started out by treating his dogs with love and respect, and by showing them an infinite amount of patience as they were learning. This of course is crucial.
Then, the next thing he did was a true stroke of genius. He would cut a small piece of carpet for each dog he trained. He would place the carpet in the dog's sleeping area, for him to lay on each night. He would also take this carpet during the day and set it down in various locations, and sit the dog on the carpet, as he praised the dog for being good. Whenever he moved to a new location, he would have the dog stand up, and he would pick up the carpet and carry it to the new location, set it down, sit the dog down, and again, praise the dog for being a "good boy." Soon the piece of carpet took on the distinct odor of the dog, and Frank said that this led the dog to feel "at home" when sitting on the carpet.
Next, Frank would teach the dog to pick up the piece of carpet himself, and carry it to wherever they were going. The dog would then set the piece of carpet down when they stopped, and sit on top of it, with Frank all of the time praising him for being a good dog. Now Frank said, "The dog begins to feel that he truly belongs in every place that he travels to, and no matter where he goes, he receives my love and appreciation. Soon the dog takes on this love and appreciation as the primary core of his identity."
And I ask you now, if this strategy works so brilliantly with dogs, would the same basic strategy not work just as well with human beings? Ask youself, "What is the small piece of carpet you carry around with you wherever you go?" "Would your life not be very different if you changed your piece of carpet to one of self love and appreciation?"
"Abide In Me."
By: Staci Stallings
"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you."
Abide in me. The three words with which Jesus invited his disciples to place their faith in His love as they walked to the Garden of Gethsemane that last fateful night. He wasn't just talking to the disciples though. No, He was talking to us, too. And these three simple words, if understood and acted upon, can make all the difference in a Christian's life. The problem is that many of us have never really even noticed they were spoken - much less taken their message to heart.
What does "abide" mean anyway? According to Webster's Dictionary, "abide" means to remain. That makes sense, remain with Me, stay with Me, stay by My side. Ah, but Jesus doesn't say "with," He says "in." Simply put Jesus is not saying He wants us to walk with him, or be with Him. He is saying He wants us to remain in Him - as close as we could ever get to actually to Him without being Him.
This is just semantics, you say. A play on words. What possible significance could such a tiny distinction make? I can tell you that in my life, it has made all the difference.
I must confess first that until recently I didn't put words to this phenomenon. I knew it was in my life, but explaining it wasn't easy to do. At the time I called it "faith." As a writer, I put great faith in the belief that God would light my path, that if I surrendered the project to His care, I would have the right words at the right time.
The opportunities to use this faith were boundless. For example, when my two year old deleted five pages of the new manuscript I was working on, I distinctly remember saying, "Well, I guess God didn't want it said that way." Or when my publicist threw a major curve into my plans by saying the cover for my second book (which I had chosen) would never work, and we had no choice but to change it. True it took me awhile of being furious with her before I realized that it was God, not she, that had a better idea. Once I surrendered to that understanding, the new cover came into focus, and it was far and away better than the original.
For several years these were the types of ways I tried to "abide in Him" although "faith" was probably the better term because I was still relying on some outside entity - not a spirit that permeated me.
Recently, however, I came into contact with Bruce Wilkinson's Secrets of the Vine, and my understanding took a giant leap forward. In Secrets, Wilkinson talks about the phrase "abide in me" and what Jesus really meant when he spoke those words. After reading that book, I was having a discussion with a friend about my writing. For the first time ever this friend is getting to experience the writing process with me as she is reading the book I am working on as I am writing it.
The strange thing is: it is not just she who is growing through this project as I am now getting to experience the writing process in a whole new light. A light which has opened my eyes to what has been happening for years. When it would happen in the past, however, I couldn't adequately explain it to anyone else and therefore it was easier to overlook or to not take the time to really examine. Nonetheless, I believe this experience is the best definition for "abiding in me" around.
A couple of examples: during the course of writing my current book, I was introduced to two songs that so embody the book that their entrance into my life could not be called mere "coincidence." Also, I received an email that depicted the exact kind of person characterized in the book in a way that visually detailed the precise message I am trying to portray. A sign possibly that I am on the right track?
Perhaps most intriguing I received a magazine which gave me in perfect form the insight I needed to understand why this character was acting the way he was. Of course, everyone receives magazines every day, and it was one that I was subscribed to, so that shouldn't be all thatnoteworthy. Except for this: the post office had changed our address and that particular magazine was one I hadn't changed the address on yet. I hadn't received that magazine for four weeks, and when that copy got here, it had the old address, which the post office had said they refused to deliver to anymore. More than that, I haven't received either of the next two editions although I have now changed the address. So, why then did that one come through with exactly what I needed despite every obstacle against it?
I think the answer can be found in those three words: abide in me. Tell me honestly, do we really think that some little post office crisis can keep God's plan from working out in our lives? If you do, then I challenge you to question how many of these "coincidences" in your life you are either missing out on-or overlooking right at this very moment.
As a firm believer in these words, I can tell you that if you will take them to heart. If you will accept that Jesus is not just an "out there entity" that you can have faith in but truly a spirit that permeates your very life. If you will truly accept His presence in every aspect of your life, every minute of every day, then He will abide in you, and your life will never again be the same.
After all it was His promise.
NO EXCUSES, NO LIMITS.
By: Denny Chipollini
Over a decade ago, I experienced a series of life-altering events that started with a serious car accident I was involved in which severed both of my legs. Doctors reattached both legs, but my reattached left leg eventually had to be amputated due to massive injury and infection.
Today I refer to my accident and leg as "gifts" because these events helped me to change my life for the better! Two months after my accident and while I was undergoing one of 15 surgeries to try to save my leg, my wife was wheeled into the same hospital to give birth to our son, Nicholas. Doctors told me I would never walk again, but I refused to accept that diagnosis and instead started my own rehab with Nicholas as my main motivation to walk again. With a lot of sweat and pain I used visualization and what every exercises I could do will laying in a hospital bed.
Nicholas and I learned how to walk together, something I will never forget. 4 years from my accident I ran in my first 5k with the use of a prosthetic leg to thank all my family and friends that had supported me and my family through this difficult time. But this incredible accomplishment was soon overshadowed by devastating news about my son.
Nicholas was diagnosed with an incurable genetic disorder, neurofibromatosis (NF). NF causes tumors to grow on the nerve endings of the body internally and externally as well. Lesions can be removed but usually grow back in clusters. There is a risk of developing optic gliomas behind the eyes and brain tumors, to names just a few of the possiblies. NF also carries along with it, learning disabilities, ADHD and Tourrette Syndrome as well.
I did a lot of soul-searching to find the positive in what was happening, and as a result I realized that I could share my personal story of confronting and overcoming adversity to inspire others, especially children, to overcome whatever adversity they may be struggling with. I also realized the media attention I attracted when I ran the 5k, so I decided to use my 'gift' that was given to me in the accident to run marathons to help raise awareness and funds to find cures not only for NF, but also for other childhood disorders, diseases and disabilities.
I also have a mission to educate people on these disorders, diseases and disabilities so understanding can breed compassion and acceptance. In 2001, in addition to running in the Olympic Torchbearers Relay in Philadelphia and the Paralympic Torchbearer Relay in Utah, I was told I was one of the few people to do so I also ran in the San Diego (2000), Pittsburgh (2001) and NYC marathons (2001), three marathons in 18 months, to get the word out to help children who need our help.
I have turned a dream of mine into reality by starting a non-profit organization called Generation Hope to put my dreams into action by inspiring and educating kids and adults alike to overcome adversity and accept diversity with "no excuses and no limits" (that's my motto for life!).
In May, I successfully walked and biked over 400 miles across the state of Pennsylvania (from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia) to share my message of perseverance and hope, and to model for kids and the country what it means to take action in your life to help others-it's my way of not just talking the talk but also literally walking the walk! I have been fortunate enough to receive many honors and awards including being an Olympic Torchbearer, UPS' Community Service Award, Ford Motor Company's National "Commitment to Kids" Award, "Distinguished Graduate" from the high school I went to and being featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles and on various news programs.
I am honored to be featured as one of the twelve inspiring stories in Montel Williams' new book, A Dozen Ways to Sunday, and I had the thrilling experience of being a guest on the Montel show. While these honors and awards mean a great deal to me, being able to present in schools and share with students my message is truly my greatest honor!
My motivational talks with kids in schools helps me to fulfill my commitment to making a positive difference for kids by letting them see what it means for one person to overcome adversity which we all face in one degree or another, by sharing with them the importance of accepting and celebrating diversity in themselves and others, and by motivating others to believe in themselves to achieve worthwhile goals and to find the hero within themselves.
And what is most exciting to me is that I am seeing my efforts pay off with the most important people in my life-my children-and the changes are especially evident with Nicholas. The past years in school were very difficult for Nicholas because his classmates were teasing him with names (with NF, some physical affects are freckling of the skin and so kids began teasing him by calling him names like "freckle boy" and "freakazoid"), bullying him, and isolating him from activities and friendships because of his differences. What's so unfortunate is most of us, regardless of the generation we grew up in, can probably remember kids in our classes that were different and rather than being befriended and seen as the heroes they are for what it takes for them to get to school and function at a level to keep up with others, they were instead teased, isolated and picked-on.
Part of my mission to is shift this behavior and it's happening with Nicholas! I have given talks in Nicholas' school to help his classmates understand his disorder and to challenge them to ask themselves if they would pick on someone who, for example, has a prosthetic or some other difference or would they instead befriend and help that person. With his classmates having a new perspective and understanding, Nicholas is having a great year in school and his grades and friendships are showing it! It's living proof that my message does have an impact on kids and it makes a difference, and it motivates me to continue sharing it with others.
I am committed to sharing with others my experiences so they can find ways to connect with the compassionate and inspired side of life without having to go through a tragedy. Now faced with another challenge due to a blood transfusion, I received after my car accident. I started a drug therapy, for hepatitis C, which can make me very sick for a year. It is a life-threatening ordeal, but I will continue to talk to kids. See I work best when I have a challenge in front of me. We use exercise as a family affair. My wife Suzanne, is an ACE certified trainer and along with training adults, she is working on fitness programs for children as well. Exercise and God's love has helped me to reach inside myself and in doing so I can now reach way beyond the stars. "NO EXCUSES, NO LIMITS."
I am a concerned parent, please help us to get the message out. This message is so important in today's world. My story and my son's story hits hard. Many kids have tears in their eyes and some have even passed out when I give my presentation. There is no tolerence for bullying or any other type of this behavior. Many people of all ages can be effected, although everyone can benefit from the message. If you think we can work together to help each other's causes, well lets do it. Thank you for your time and God bless.
I'm Glad I Got Sick.
By: Ron Link
Twenty-seven years ago I got sick. The reason I can remember the date so well is because being sick is what caused me to choose my future wife. She was just a good friend, but because she came over to my apartment, brought me medicine, and made me breakfast, I thought for the first time "what a super wife she will make for someone."
I took her out to eat in Nashville, Tennessee for helping me get over the flu. After that we became even better friends, but still no thought of marriage. A few months later I was going to take a new job in the Atlanta area with a Community College, so Cathy helped me pack up boxes to get ready to leave. We had a great time that day and had lunch together. Near the end of that day I noticed a few tears in Cathy's eyes, so I asked what was wrong.
She said, "I don't know if I can live without you, you are my best friend." I said, "I know, I've been thinking the same thing." That day we decided to get married and we have been married ever since. We have had our tough times,as many others have had, but we are still BEST FRIENDS!
When I get to the family unit in my Health class and we talk about marriage ...I always tell this story. My students seem to love it because they learn for the first time that giving, sharing and caring about others is all that really matters in life, and that sex, looks, money and other things are secondary.
By the way, my wife is 12 years younger than me, and she is beautiful. Coaches constantly kid her about marrying me, they say she must be blind. We have 2 beautiful children, but we still have dates on every week-end.
Cathy is the greatest thing (other than becoming a Christian) that has ever happened to me! She is a fantastic mother, and the best wife a coach could ever have. THANK GOD I GOT SICK 27 YEARS AGO!!
In Honor of My Wife,
Coach Ron Link
Can We Really Have it All?
By: Sue Dickinson
Someone asked me this week if I thought we really can have "it all." My immediate answer was "of course," but after thinking it over, I concluded that it depends on a lot of things. I think three main questions to ask are (1) Do YOU think you can have "it all"?; (2) Do you have a clear definition of what "it all" is?; and (3) are you willing to change your definition of "it all" as you life changes?
In my opinion, the answer of whether or not you can have "it all" has to vary from person to person because we are all so different, and everyone has a differing definition of "it all". In fact, I believe that even the same individualís definition of "it all" varies over their life. Most babies believe they have "it all" when they are in the arms of their mommy enjoying a good meal. Thatís all it takes! But, as that baby matures, their definitions become more complex, and finding "it all" becomes increasingly a private matter.
I have learned a lot of important life lessons during my search to have "it all." It began in Junior High School, when to have "it all" meant having my own room, getting HBO, and being on the "A" volleyball team at school. And, yes, I achieved those goals and had "it all." At least for a little while. Because the first lesson I learned about having "it all" is that as soon as you get "it all", you want more!
In High School, I thought I only needed one thing to have "it all." I wanted so badly to be a member of the Madrigal Singers, a prestigious choir sponsored by our school. I finally worked up the nerve to audition, despite the fact that no one had ever told me I had a special singing talent or that my voice was unique. At least, until my audition, when the director of the choir had no problem telling me how LITTLE talent I had! When I didnít make the choir, I learned that if my definition of having "it all" means having something that isnít a god-given gift, I will always be defeated. If, however, I choose to pursue goals that fit with the talents I have, the chance to have "it all" is unlimited!
In college, my quest for "it all" became more mercenary: a great job, a car, the grades I needed to be "sellable" after graduation. As I started my career, these goals were only expanded to include more and more "stuff": a house, nicer car, better job ... the list went on and on.
About two years after my husband, Marty and I were married, I thought we were really getting somewhere. We were making more money than we ever had before (and, I might add, spending more money, too). I remember one evening we were on our first real vacation since getting married, and were feeling pretty proud of ourselves. We were dining in a very nice restaurant, enjoying each otherís company, good food and cocktails. We were doing a great job of congratulating ourselves for all weíd achieved. In our minds, that night, we actually had "it all."
Well, God really does have a sense of humor, because two weeks after we returned from vacation "it all" went up in smoke when Martyís company decided to close his division, and eliminate his job in the process. I quickly learned another lesson: if having "it all" is reliant on circumstances outside our control, we can easily be disappointed.
So began several adventurous years where Marty and I moved across the country, changed careers, and started a family, always in search of a new and improved definition of "it all." In the process, Iíve learned some more important lessons.
Most importantly, Iíve learned that the best "all" I can strive for is in my head. I canít lie, money, a nice house, clothes, cars and jobs are important to me, but they are easily lost. Tony Robbins has often said that there is nothing in life you can control except the way that you perceive things. And, in order to place a positive perception on any circumstance that comes my way, Iíve learned that I must do three things.
First, I must be at peace with myself, comfortable that I am always doing the very best that I can with the hand life has dealt me.
Second, I must be happy and secure in my relationships with those closest to me, with my husband, son, family and especially with God.
Finally, third, I must be constantly growing and improving, always trying to learn just a little bit more. For me, when I can achieve those three things on a consistent basis, I believe I really will have "it all."
Since every person is different, I canít tell you what it will take for you to have "it all." But I do know, that if you keep looking for the answers, the lessons you learn during your life will guide you until you, too will find the answer. Always continue to ask. Do YOU think you can have "it all?" Do you have a clear definition of what "it all" is? Are you willing to change your definition of "it all" as your life changes? If so, Iím positive that you will not only achieve "it all," but have a great time in the process Ė Yes, we CAN have it all!
Wish Upon a Star
By: Sue Dickinson
Several years ago I worked in Downtown Denver on the 16th Street Mall. The Mall is an eclectic place, where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. You will see teenagers with spiky hair and leather clothing on the Mall shuttle, side by side with businessmen in suits. Musicians perform on the corners for donations, and lawyers and clerks hurry through the streets, anxious to get to court.
But, in the midst of this diverse gathering, there was one mall resident that nobody could quite believe. He was a large man, tall and about 250 lbs, and he spent every lunch hour roller skating through the Mall ... in a tank top and tutu. Quite a spectacle, but this man didnít seem to even notice the commotion he was causing. He skated blissfully on, beaming, lost in his fantasy.
I still think of that man/ballerina sometimes. I donít know what his life was like. I donít know what his "day job" was, if he had a home, or a family. But I do know that for a short time, each day, in his mind, he was a beautiful ballerina on skates. And thatís exactly what he wanted to be.
Imagination and fantasy can play an important role in achieving the things we fear. Children know this very well. Fred Epstein, in his book "If I make it to Five" tells the story of Matthew, a four-year-old boy with a tumor in his spinal cord. He endured several surgeries and a whole lot of pain by mastering his imagination.
Matthew loved to pretend, and he particularly loved costumes. Many people found it strange that Matthew preferred to dress as Zorro, Spiderman, or in any of the many other superhero costumes he owned, but Dr. Epstein explained that it was actually a brilliant way for his young mind to handle the terrifying and painful life he led.
Dr. Epstein went on to tell the story of Matthewís third trip to the operating room for spinal surgery. Matthew was terribly afraid the night before they were scheduled to return to the hospital. "Maybe I could go as Batman" he whispered to his mom. Although she had avoided purchasing the expensive costume, she relented, and the next day Matthew 'arrayed himself in a cocoon of superhuman strength,' as he, now the powerful Batman, swaggered through the hospital halls, coolly raising his hand in acknowledgement to the people greeting him along the way. And Matthew, girded with the strength of his fantasy, successfully made it through the surgery.
The power of imagination need not be reserved for the children and the eccentric among us. We all have the power to use our fantasies to attempt things we never thought possible, to endure things that seem unendurable, and to go places we never believed we could. Motivational speakers call it "imagery". Psychologists call it "self-actualization". I prefer Walt Disneyís interpretation: "If you can dream it, you can do it."
Donít worry, Iím not suggesting you go out and purchase roller skates and a tutu, or dress as a superhero for your next job interview (although Iíve always wanted a couple of those magic Wonder Woman bracelets). But, next time you are tested in a way that seems insurmountable, imagine what it would take to overcome it. Become the person you need to become to triumph over your challenge Ė and do it in your mind first.
You may be surprised at how fantasizing about a victorious conclusion will very often give you the strength and the resources you need to make it come true. Walt Disney further reminds us "When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true." So, let your imagination run wild, and dare to dream! It can happen to you!
The Mystery of the Boots
By: Sue Dickinson
Despite the three feet of snow surrounding us, and more falling, we plodded our way down our now unfamiliar looking street to the sledding hill. The snow had changed the appearance of everything around us, creating the feeling that although we had walked it a thousand times, it was our first trip.
I discovered a few things during that short three block walk. First, It isnít easy to blaze a trail through snow a yard deep. You have to have strong leg muscles, good lungs and patience. My husband, Marty was faring alright, although I did hear his breath getting heavier and heavier as we progressed.
Our son, Douglas had no problem at all. Although the snow was taller than he in places, he plunged on, laughing and joking the whole way. I followed more slowly, trying to pick my way in the footprints of those who went before me. Soon after our walk began, I From : Words of Wisdom
The Mystery of the Boots
By: Sue Dickinson
Despite the three feet of snow surrounding us, and more falling, we plodded our way down our now unfamiliar looking street to the sledding hill. The snow had changed the appearance of everything around us, creating the feeling that although we had walked it a thousand times, it was our first trip.
I discovered a few things during that short three block walk. First, It isnít easy to blaze a trail through snow a yard deep. You have to have strong leg muscles, good lungs and patience. My husband, Marty was faring alright, although I did hear his breath getting heavier and heavier as we progressed.
Our son, Douglas had no problem at all. Although the snow was taller than he in places, he plunged on, laughing and joking the whole way. I followed more slowly, trying to pick my way in the footprints of those who went before me. Soon after our walk began, I discovered my snow boots had a small leak. Nothing huge, but big enough to allow snow to creep in and hide amidst my warm socks, melting and creating a soggy, cold wet feeling.
We finally arrived at the sledding hill. Marty and Douglas were off, constructing the "perfect jump" to plummet the sled over. I found a comfortable looking snow mound to settle in and watch. It was beautiful. Not many people had ventured out of their homes yet, and the subdivision was unusually silent. Snowflakes drifted down and settled on my coat. I looked at each separate flake, perfect in its formation, truly different from every other. At that moment in time, despite my sodden socks, the world felt right.
Then my eyes settled on a strange sight. There, in the snow, sat a pair of boots. No person in sight, just boots. They sat on top of the snow, so they were left after the blizzard, not before. It had taken us at least 30 minutes to hike through the unplowed streets and parking lots to get here.
So, where, I pondered, was the owner of the boots? And how, (asked the mom in me) did he get home?
As my imagination took over, I envisioned a child, eight or nine years old, sledding probably just a few short hours ago. He was having a great time, laughing and joking like my boys were doing right now - running up and down the hill, trying to catch the perfect air.
And then, like me, he discovered his boots had a leak in them. Trudging up the hill wasnít so much fun anymore. Each step further drenched his socks and lowered his mood. It got so bad, he couldnít stand it anymore. He had to make a change.
Now, if I asked any one of your reading this today what you would do at this point in the story, Iím sure you would say you would make your way home and THEN remove your boots. But not this child! Instead, he went straight to the root of his problem, the leaky boots, and removed them immediately. And, while this may have seemed like the right thing to do at the time, Iím sure he learned a valuable lesson during his journey home in socks even soggier than they were before.
As I stared at the abandoned boots, something became clear to me. In my struggle to achieve all that I plan to accomplish, I have often acted just like the boy with the leaky boots. Behaving on impulse. Sure that, at ALL times, action is better than no action. But, I realized that although action is a critical element to achieving any goal in life, at times, there is wisdom in NOT acting, in keeping my boots on. In fact, it is possible that a rash action can result in a situation even worse than I had in the first place.
As Marty and Douglas made their way back to me for our voyage home, I glanced one last time at the boots. The snow was increasing, burying them and their story before my eyes. I may never discover the answer to the mystery of the boots. But I will remember them often. And maybe, because of them, Iíll more often curb my tendency to act with no thought to the consequences. Instead, before pulling off those boots, Iíll think first of the long walk ahead of me. And make my decision from there.
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