This Is What Beauty and Courage Look Like

April 14, 2014
Cancer patients Rylie, Rheann and Ainsley (photo by Lora Scantling)

Cancer patients Rylie, Rheann and Ainsley (photo by Lora Scantling)


This stunning photograph shows three-year-old Rylie, six-year-old Rheann and four-year-old Ainsley sharing a special moment. Incredibly, the three girls hadn’t met each other before the photo shoot.

Photographer Lora Scantling conceived the photo shoot to raise awareness about the struggle faced by children who are diagnosed with cancer. “I just wanted something that showed the strength and the bond and that they weren’t alone,” she told Oklahoma City’s KOCO News. Watch KOCO’s video report here.

As for the girls, Rheann is stricken with brain cancer, Rylie is Read the rest of this entry »

The Secret to a Happy Kidhood

April 12, 2014


It’s funny how a seven-minute commercial made in Thaliand for Wacoal, a lingerie maker, can bring a tear to my eye and send me on a trip down Memory Lane. The young mother and her daughter (who is the second-cutest girl cub in the history of the world) remind me of my own childhood. I had a mom and dad who loved me unconditionally and always did special things for me.


My mom and me at Christmas

My mom and me at Christmas

When I was seven, my mom bought me some packs of baseball cards to while away the time on a train ride to my grandparents’ home. I still remember my happiness in opening a pack and finding Read the rest of this entry »

A Hero On and Off the Field

April 11, 2014

Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera




Given the way I worshiped baseball players as a kid, it warms my heart to learn of players who accept the responsibility of being a role model and express it gracefully and with compassion. Mariano Rivera plays that role beautifully.

This article, Exit Sandman: Baseball bids adieu to Mariano Rivera, by Tom Verducci in the September 23, 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated.






EXIT SANDMAN: BASEBALL BIDS ADIEU TO MARIANO RIVERA
by Tom Verducci

Rivera thought about retiring last season, but when he blew out his knee shagging batting practice fly balls in Kansas City on May 3, 2012, he vowed he would not leave baseball on the back of a cart. Knowing this would be his final season, he approached Zillo with an idea: In each road city he wanted to personally meet “behind-the-scenes” people who had dedicated their lives to baseball or had known illness or tragedy. While baseball wanted to say goodbye to Rivera, with the attendant going-away gifts and photo ops, Rivera wanted to say goodbye to baseball, which for him meant all the people who toil in anonymity.

Mariano Rivera meeting the Bresette family in Kansas City on May 11, 2013. (Photo courtesy of John Sleezer/Landov)

Mariano Rivera meeting the Bresette family in Kansas City on May 11, 2013.
(Photo courtesy of John Sleezer/Landov)

On May 11, Rivera met Ryan Bresette, his wife, Heather, and their three sons, Joe, 13, Sam, 9, and Tyler, 6, in the media room at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium. (The Bresettes’ daughter, Anna, 14, was unable to attend the pregame gathering because of a soccer game.) Bresette worked as a clubhouse attendant for the Royals from 1982 to ’94 and had never met Rivera.

On March 22 the Bresettes, while returning home from a vacation in Florida, had been standing next to a mammoth flight-status display board in the -Birmingham, Ala., airport when the board, estimated to weigh more than 300 pounds, fell Read the rest of this entry »

The Grandmother of All Reunions!

April 10, 2014


Jose Fernandez

Jose Fernandez


You’re a teenager, trying to escape from a communist country for the fourth time. You’re in a small boat with a bunch of other defectors on the ocean in the middle of the night. You hear a splash so you dive in to save whoever fell, only to discover that it’s Read the rest of this entry »

It Makes No Difference to the Sun

April 9, 2014

This is a nice analogy that speaks to the existence and the ubiquity of God. You’ll find it on page 56 of the book, I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.

i-am-that-nisargadatta-maharajIt is like entering a dark room. You see nothing—you may touch, but you do not see—no colors, no outlines. The window opens and the room is flooded with light. Colors and shapes come into being. The window is the giver of light, but not the Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Not About the Nail

April 7, 2014


jason-headley

Jason Headley




This brilliant, 101-second video is the creation of Jason Headley, who also stars in it. Living with a wife and daughter, I certainly learned this lesson the hard way. Guys, do yourself a favor. Watch this video and save yourselves years of beating your head against the wall.





Jason’s short films have been featured on NBC’s TODAY Show, the front page of Reddit, the front page of Read the rest of this entry »

Maysoon Zayid Rocks the House!

April 6, 2014


Maysoon Zayid

Maysoon Zayid


This Ted Talk by Maysoon Zayid, a Palestinian stand-up comedian and actress from New Jersey, unexpectedly moved me to tears. Why unexpectedly? Because Maysoon, a cofounder of the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival, stated right up front that her talk wasn’t going to be inspiring.

Yeah, right. Not only is her indomitable spirit in dealing with her Read the rest of this entry »

The Gift of Addiction

April 5, 2014
Sherry Burditt, Clinical Director of the Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat in Hemet, California

Sherry Burditt, Clinical Director of the Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat in Hemet, California



This phenomenal piece of work was written by my friend, Sherry Burditt, Clinical Director of the Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat in Hemet, California.

If you are struggling with addiction, if you cannot overcome your inner demons, if you are in a dark place and see no way out . . . know that where there is life, there is hope. You are not a bad person, you just need help . . . and a new way of looking at the world.







I wrote my book, Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, with the hope that people—especially those who are struggling—would find comfort and inspiration in its pages. Sherry told me that the book was helping her addiction patients look at life in a new and better way. She was kind enough to write this testimonial:

through-gods-eyes-book-cover



I use this book every day in my staff meetings by just randomly opening to a page. Somehow like magic, the message seems to address the day’s challenges. Similarly, our therapists have begun using it in group therapy sessions with our patients. They LOVE it! Thank you for compiling so much wisdom in such a compact space!








send-an-email-illustration-finger
If you wish to contact Sherry directly, click here to send her an e-mail. Sherry has dedicated her life and career to helping those who are valiantly striving to overcome addiction.







THE GIFT OF ADDICTION:
THE UNRELENTING PATH TO THE DIVINE
by Sherry Burditt

ADDICTION SAYS:
I will make you lie, cheat and steal
I will take your self-respect
I will take your confidence
I will take your family
I will take your children
I will take your livelihood
I will ruin your body
I will take your sleep
I will derange your mind
I will Read the rest of this entry »

One Good Denny Deserves Another . . . And Another . . .

April 3, 2014
Chuck Denny

Chuck Denny

A couple of nights ago, I was eating dinner at the Lotus Cafe in Encinitas when I heard a man two tables away tell a server, “I’m a Minnesota boy who lives in Del Mar [just a few miles away from Encinitas].” As he and his son were preparing to leave, I walked over and introduced myself as a fellow Minnesotan. When he said his name was Kevin Denny. I asked, “Are you related to Chuck Denny”? “Yes, that’s my father,” he said. Quite the synchronicity!

In 2012, I was editing a book called Leadership and the Art of Struggle, in which Chuck Denny was praised by the author, Steven Snyder thusly:

Of all the leaders I met during my interviews, no one exudes the type of gratitude and appreciation for life’s precious moments more than Chuck Denny. Denny has endured more than his share of struggles and heartache. His wife suffered through tuberculosis and breast cancer before ultimately losing her battle with Alzheimer’s. They lost three children at very young ages. Yet Denny continues to persist in seeing the bright Read the rest of this entry »

A Very Good Day in Chelseaville

April 2, 2014

We all know people (or are people) who have struggled mightily just to keep their head and hopes above water until something breaks their way. It’s always heartwarming to see someone who is deserving of a break to get one.

Well, in the above video, a waitress named Chelsea had a very good start to her shift . . . and it kept getting better and better! The best part about stories like this is that Read the rest of this entry »

A Thank You Letter to a Grocery Store Angel

April 1, 2014

This blog post from Andrea’s blog, True Stories of a Midwest Yankee, powerfully illustrates the impact that a simple act of kindness can have on the lives of strangers. Let it serve as a reminder to stay alert for opportunities to help others. You are quite literally surrounded by opportunities to be somebody’s angel for the day; all you have to do it is hold the intention that you wish to help and stay aware for the right time to step forward.


 TO THE WOMAN BEHIND ME IN LINE AT THE GROCERY STORE

Dear woman behind me in line at the grocery store,

grocery-store-receipt-stranger-paidYou don’t know me. You have no clue what my life has been like since October 1, 2013. You have no clue that my family has gone through the wringer. You have no clue that we have faced unbelievable hardship. You have no clue we have been humiliated, humbled, destitute.

You have no clue I have cried more days than not; that I fight against bitterness taking control of my heart. You have no clue that my husband’s pride was shattered. You have no clue my kids have had the worries of an adult on their shoulders. You have no clue their innocence was snatched from them for no good reason. You know none of this.

What you do know is I tried to buy my kids some food and that the EBT machine was down so I couldn’t buy that food. I didn’t have any cash or my debit card with me. I only had my SNAP card. All you heard was me saying “No, don’t hold it for me. My kids are hungry now and I have no other way of paying for this.” You didn’t judge me. You didn’t snarl “Maybe you should have less kids.” You didn’t say “Well, get a job and learn to support yourself.” You didn’t look away in embarrassment or shame for me. You didn’t make any assumptions at all.

What you did was you Read the rest of this entry »

Praise Brings Peace

March 22, 2014

silhouette-woman-rejoicing-on-beach-hlding-butterflies


Calmly and joyously welcoming whatever life brings to you requires a major shift in understanding, perception, and attitude.

He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.
Lao Tzu




Try this exercise: Think of the most difficult situation you have ever had to contend with. From the depths of your being, thank God for Read the rest of this entry »

A Moving Tribute to Children with Down Syndrome

March 21, 2014


girl-with-down-syndromeToday is World Down Syndrome Day, and there’s no better way to commemorate it than this heartwarming video produced by CoorDown, an Italian Down Syndrome advocacy group.

When an expectant mother learned the baby she was carrying had Down Syndrome, she reached out and confessed her anxiety to CoorDown. She asked a simple question: “I’m scared: What kind of life will my child have?” They answered with this Read the rest of this entry »

Spring Equinox 2014 Update From Astrologer Laurie Baum

March 20, 2014

Laurie Baum

If you enjoy astrology, you will like this Spring Equinox update written by my good friend Laurie Baum, MSW, a psychological astrologer and psychotherapist in practice in Encinitas, California.

Laurie writes a free astrological newsletter about how planetary alignments affect our lives on earth. Click here to e-mail Laurie to subscribe at no cost, or visit Laurie’s website and click on “Free Email Newsletter.”

Laurie is a former newspaper Read the rest of this entry »

Is It Logical You Are Orphaned Now?

March 4, 2014

kabir-postage-stamp




The aphorism, “When we lose God, it is not God who is lost,” is expressed beautifully in this short poem by Kabir, a fifteenth-century mystic poet and saint of India.









UNTITLED POEM
by Kabir, translated by Robert Bly

I talk to my inner lover, and I say, why such rush?
We sense that there is some sort of spirit
that loves birds and animals and the ants—
perhaps the same one who gave a radiance to you in your mother’s womb.
Is it logical you would be Read the rest of this entry »

Missing Grampo

February 10, 2014
My sister Cyn and me with our beloved Grampo

My sister Cyn and me with our beloved Grampo




Ortonville.

One word. A lifetime of memories. Ortonville is the small Minnesota town where my dad grew up and where our family went to visit his parents—Grammo and Grampo to my sister, Cyn, and me—for most holidays and just because, year after year after year. It was a second home to us.



I still get the Ortonville Independent in the mail, the newspaper that’s been run by the Kaercher family for three generations. Jimmy Kaercher is around my mom’s age and still writes a weekly column. His daughter, Sue, recently took over the reins of day-to-day operations.

In the January 28, 2014 issue, Sue wrote in her column, Sue’s Muse:

Another building is gone from Ortonville’s main street. The old brick building that stood on the northeast corner of Second Street and Jackson Avenue was leveled early Saturday morning. The building, which had been vacant for decades, was owned by the EDA after it went to the county in back taxes. Bricks were falling off it, windows were broken and the roof was in need of repair. It had become dangerous.

That doesn’t make it any easier to see it come down. It was a landmark to the community, part of the town’s identity. The building was referred to as the “Odd Fellows” building because it was built to house the meeting room for the Odd Fellows fraternal organization.


At this point, I had lost interest in the story because I didn’t know what building Sue was referring to. Just before I tossed the paper in the recycling, I glanced at the next paragraph and Read the rest of this entry »


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