Archive for December, 2008

Spreading the Gospel of Skype!

December 31, 2008

I love Skype! And I love introducing people to Skype! Essentially, Skype is a free video phone on your computer. I use Skype all the time to talk to my daughter who lives 60 miles away. Talking on the phone is nice but being able to actually see her while we’re talking is a hundred times better! It feels like we’re actually sitting down and talking face to face. Then again, that’s exactly what we’re doing! Oh, and did I mention it was free?

This is what my daughter sees on her laptop when we Skype

This is what my daughter sees on her laptop when we Skype

What’s really cool is I can now video conference with friends all over the world. I sometimes Skype with my friend Michael in Bangledesh, where he and his wife work as school teachers and administrators. By doing a screen capture while we’re talking, I can “take a picture” of Michael at his desk. Think about that! Wherever I am with my laptop—at home, at a restaurant, or even in my car near a wifi connection—I can literally take a picture of the inside of a home, school or office building anywhere in the world! How cool is that! (more…)

Stay Close to the Fire

December 30, 2008

red-yellow-sunsetWhile some may argue that belief in God requires a leap of faith, great philosophers throughout history have concluded that the existence of divine intelligence is logical and inescapable.

Thirty-three centuries ago, Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten beheld confirmation of God’s presence in everything from the lowliest of creatures to the vastness of the universe.

A thousand years later, Aristotle argued that all of creation is imbued with inherent purpose, and that the synthesis of order, direction, and continual motion in the universe cannot be a byproduct of chance.

Sixteen more centuries passed before (more…)

Explore. Dream. Discover.

December 29, 2008

man-on-top-of-mountain-slab-armsIf you yearn to live life to the fullest, to wear out rather then rust out, you must embrace uncertainty and boldness as the dearest of friends.

Train yourself to fear regret more than failure. When the mountain you need to climb seems to grow higher by the day, tell yourself that your anxiety will pale in comparison to the anguish you will surely feel in the years to come—when you face yourself in the mirror and admit that you let your dreams slip away.

Much may be asked of you. Do not worry that you are not up to the task. All that is expected is the very best that you can give. (more…)

Beware of Woundology

December 28, 2008

Caroline Myss

We all suffer at times. Regrettably, there are those who use the authenticity of their suffering as an excuse to not heal. Caroline Myss coined the term “woundology” to describe how some people define themselves by their physical, emotional, or social wounds.

In Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, Myss writes that many people hoping to heal “are striving to confront their wounds, valiantly working to bring meaning to terrible past experiences and traumas, and exercising compassionate understanding of others who share their wounds. But they are not healing. They have redefined their lives around their wounds and the process of accepting them. They are not working to get beyond their wounds. In fact, they are stuck in their wounds.” (more…)

Practice Devotion Through Prayer

December 26, 2008

famous-painting-of-praying-handsDevotional prayer does not seek God’s help in acquiring something. It is a heartfelt plea for eternal, unbroken attunement with divine will.

Begin your prayer by silently expressing your boundless love and devotion for God in the language of your heart.

Your words are far less important than the purity and intensity of your yearning. What you are thinking pales in significance to what you are feeling.

When you feel attuned to divine consciousness, you can thank God for all your many blessings or you can simply (more…)

Dr. Dean Ornish on His Recovery from Depression

December 26, 2008

Sometimes it seems like half the people I know are on antidepressants. It’s an epidemic with no end in sight. I’ve learned a lot about clinical depression over the years but I gained an even deeper insight into the subject when I interviewed Dr. Dean Ornish for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything.

Ornish is the author of five best-selling books, including his tour de force, Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease,  which I can’t recommend highly enough. (Don’t let the title fool you; it should be required reading for anyone who wants to enjoy a healthy, happy life.)

Ornish is a giant in his field. He was recognized as “one of the most interesting people of 1996” by People magazine, featured in the Time 100 issue on alternative medicine, and chosen by LIFE magazine as “one of the 50 most influential members of his generation.” 

Here is the start of his story in my book. It’s the fourth, bolded paragraph that I found especially insightful.

After finishing high school in Dallas, I began studying at Rice University, a small, extremely competitive university in Houston. Over half the students there had graduated either first or second from their high school, and most of them acted as though academic success would define their net worth. It did for me. It’s no surprise that Rice also had the highest suicide rate per capita of any school in the country.

From the beginning, I worried that I wouldn’t do well enough to be accepted to medical school. I got into a vicious cycle—the more I worried, the harder it became to study; the harder it was to study, the more I worried. My mind was racing so fast that I couldn’t sleep. I would lie down and watch the hands of the clock go around and around until morning. At one point, this went on for about ten days in a row. (more…)

Same Song, Next Verse

December 25, 2008


This wonderful story, by Judy Loggia, of Paramus, New Jersey, is further evidence that coincidence is just God’s way of remaining anonymous. It appeared in the January 2009 issue of Guideposts.

My ten-year-old, Donna, burst through the front door. “Mom, I made a new friend at school today,” she said. “Can she come over tomorrow?” Donna was a shy kid and I had been praying for her to make some friends to bring her out of her shell.

“Sure, honey, that sounds great,” I said, thinking back to my own best friend growing up.

Lillian and I lived across the street from each other in Washington Heights, New York. We met at age ten too, and were instantly joined at the hip. Like my daughter, I was introverted, but Lillian drew me out and boosted my confidence. She was one of the friendliest people in school. And beautiful too—with shiny black hair, so shiny it was almost indigo, and a mile-wide smile. I knew we would be best friends forever. (more…)

The Lion and the Gazelle

December 24, 2008

At a 1998 weekend workshop I attended, Dr. Ibrahim Jaffe, founder of the University of Spiritual Healing and Sufism, shared a life-changing story with his students.


Ibrahim said that after watching a TV nature program in which a lion savagely ripped apart a gazelle, he had been distraught. Retreating into meditation, he implored God, How could you allow such carnage and tragedy to exist? The response he received humbled him and restored his faith in divine intelligence. “I felt and saw through inner revelation how this incident was experienced from a higher level as pure love and that it was beautiful beyond description,” he told those of us in his class.

It all comes down to perspective. To our unenlightened eyes, this world may appear cruel and harsh, but even the brutality (more…)

What Do Women Want? Here’s the Answer, Guys!

December 23, 2008

bald-guy-scratching-his-headI was two weeks shy of 22 when my daughter was born. I was naïve and blissfully immature. My wife was five years older than me and an outspoken feminist. Not surprisingly, she often became exasperated with me because I just “didn’t get it.” And though I didn’t much like the way she expressed her frustration at times, I disciplined myself to pay attention to what she said rather than how she said it. And so I learned.

I also received quite an education simply by keeping the lines of communication open with my daughter as she grew older. She shared virtually every detail of her life with us, which afforded me the opportunity to get an eye-opening, behind-the-scenes look at how teenage girls viewed boys and life in general. I paid attention when she said things like, “Dad, I don’t want you to solve my problems, I just want you to listen.” And so I learned.

What I learned is the answer to the question, What do women want? If you’re one of the three billion men on this planet who claim to have no clue, the answer is very simple: Women want to be cherished.

But you already knew that, didn’t you? You’ve just been pleading ignorance because you think becoming a true life partner with a woman requires too much work. After all, looking out for number one is a full-time job and then some for most men.

It’s all about perspective. Women liken a relationship to a plant that needs daily watering. Men liken a relationship to a cactus that only needs watering every few months. (more…)

The $25 Plunge!

December 22, 2008

Umm, no, this isn't me. If this was me, I'd be plummeting down feet first while holding my nose

My daughter Erin had just finished sixth grade when I lost my job at a small investment management firm. Unemployment was stressful but the good part of it was that Erin and I spent many happy days at Shady Oak Beach that summer.

We would wade out to waist-deep water, where I would hold my nose, dive under the surface and lie face down on the sandy bottom. Erin would then step on my back and “Daddy surf,” never missing an opportunity to plant her foot on the back of my head and grind my face into the sand. I loved it!

From the beginning of the summer, Erin was determined to jump off the high diving board but kept on chickening out. I offered her $5 as a reward but she couldn’t muster the courage to do the deed. I upped it to $10, but she just couldn’t do it. Each time that she tried and failed I added another five bucks. Her bounty eventually swelled to $25, at which point I said that it would go no higher. Finally, on the last day of July, she took a deep breath and took the $25 plunge. Victory was sweet . . . and profitable!

Then, gulp, it was my turn. I had always been afraid of the water. More than once, I took swimming lessons as a kid but always flunked out. The thought of finding myself in water that was over my head panicked me. As an adult, I could manage to dogpaddle in deep water but was very uncomfortable doing so. (more…)

Fear Takes Flight

December 21, 2008

I love earth angel stories! This one, by Vincent Yeo of Pasadena, California, appeared in the January 2008 issue of Guideposts.

I’m a motivational speaker, flying all over the country giving speeches. But for years I had a terrible fear of flying. My hands would sweat and my pulse race the minute I reached the jet way. This is irrational, I’d tell myself, but it made no difference. The fear was overwhelming. I’d grip the armrests till my knuckles turned white. Takeoffs and landings were particularly hard. The irony of giving speeches to help other people yet having such a crippling fear myself wasn’t lost on me.

I began to pray every Sunday, asking God to remove the fear. But months passed and my fear remained. Then one Sunday, kneeling beside my wife in church, I looked up. At that moment, a man stood several rows in front of me. He turned and smiled at me, then walked up the aisle, stopped at my pew and handed me what appeared to be a business card, then he continued up the aisle. How odd, I thought. I finished my prayer, stood and glanced at the card. (more…)

Love, Me

December 20, 2008

I was just pulling into the parking lot of my daughter’s high school early one evening. In the back seat were my mom and dad, who had driven 70 miles to see their grandgirl perform in a school choir concert.

RIght before I was going to turn off the ignition, Collin Raye’s song, Love, Me began playing on the radio. I said, “Mom, you’ve got to hear this,” so we sat in the car and just listened. As the song ended, my mom burst into tears and said, “That is so sweet.” When I talked to her a few days later, she had already (more…)

The Inspirational Paul Potts

December 19, 2008


Paul Potts

I got chills the first time I watched Paul Potts‘ audition for the 2007 edition of Britain’s Got Talent. I still do. What added to the power of his performance was his ordinariness. Here he was, a mobile phone salesman, living a nondescript, average life. Then, BOOM!, he’s a household name, a YouTube sensation and an international singing sensation.

Who doesn’t love a good Horatio Alger rags-to-riches story when the recipient is a humble, insecure, down-to-earth guy who happens to be blessed with an amazing talent?

As soon as Paul starts to sing, he lays bare his soul, and every last drop of  beauty, joy, longing, passion and hurt he’s ever experienced rushes forth in a torrent. I don’t know of (more…)

Life, Death and Chocolate Cake

December 18, 2008

In the early 1990s, I read the following commentary on the Opinion page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

by James Batson

path-in-woodsWhen I was 12 years old, sitting in Mrs. Larson’s math class one afternoon, a thought came to me about the purpose of life: that we live life for the experience it gives us. Maybe that should be Experience with a capital E. My next thoughts probably returned to finding the square root of x. So much for the purpose of life.

At any rate, that thought, insipid as it may be, has stood me well for a few years now. Not without a little elaboration, mind you. Just the same, that thought, along with courage, steadfastness and a good recipe for chocolate cake, has helped me slog through a few messes.

Si what have I experienced? I’m 33 now, having spent a half-dozen of the ensuing years smoking dope and another dozen years recovering from my misspent youth. (more…)

A Most Excellent Rolle Model!

December 17, 2008

Myron Rolle (photographed by Steve Boyle:

Myron Rolle is giving student-athletes a good name! The 22-year-old Florida State Seminoles football player is not only one of the most talented safeties in the college game, he’s also a Rhodes Scholar! He’s forsaking a chance to play in the NFL in order to study at Oxford for the next two years, although he plans to join the NFL after his studies are done and before he becomes a neurosurgeon. The man has a plan! Now this is the kind of story we need more of.


And here is his story from the Seminoles website:

High academic achievement? Check. Integrity of character? Check. A spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor? Check, check, check and check. (more…)

Alex: The Life of a Child

December 16, 2008

Frank Deford

Frank Deford, who turns seventy today, is one of my writing heroes. His book, Alex: The Life of a Child, is the most moving memoir I have ever read, probably because my daughter Erin and I feel like Frank’s relationship with his daughter Alex mirrored our own. Alex had her “little Daddy” wrapped around her little finger, and he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Alex was eight years old when she died of cystic fibrosis on January 19, 1980, seven months after Erin was born. This book, the story of Alex’s life, is so eloquent and intimate that neither Erin nor I can read it without sobbing. But that’s a good thing. Reading about Alex’s short but heroic life inspires us to be better, to appreciate every drop of life we are given, and to express our love and appreciation of others.


I was fortunate enough to interview Frank for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 life-changing stories from prominent people whom I interviewed. When I asked Frank to comment on an incident involving one of Alex’s many surgeries, he agreed that he also would have selected this incident for the interview because it was the most powerful of all the moments he shared with Alex.

Frank’s was the only story in the book that I excerpted, word for word, from the author’s own book. The thought of rewriting Frank’s account struck me as sacrilege.

Here is the first of two excerpts I used from Alex: The Life of a Child. Each excerpt was followed by (more…)