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RISE


Maya AngelouIn her 1969 autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou recounts some of the traumatic events of her early years. As many know, she overcame those events to become an actress, poet, dancer, civil rights activist, author, educator….Her accomplishments go on and on.

She did not let the negative experiences of her past dictate her future. There were no excuses. She rose above it all, and said it best in one of her best known works – STILL I RISE.

R.I.P. Maya Angelou 4/28 – 5/14

 

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
Just ’cause I walk as if I have oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like suns and like moons,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hope springing high,
Still I rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Don’t take it so hard just ’cause I laugh
As if I have gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You can shoot me with your words,
You can cut me with your lies,
You can kill me with your hatefulness,
But just like life,  I rise.

Does my sexiness offend you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance as if I have diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past rooted in pain
I rise
A black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak miraculously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the hope and the dream of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou

 

SOMETHING MORE


Something MoreIf you’ve perused the ‘Inspirational People’ page on this blog, then you’ve seen the mini profile for Nick Vujicic, a remarkable man who hasn’t let his physical limitations put a limit to the extraordinary life he has led. He has inspired thousands with his positive outlook on life. Please watch the touching video below. The message is very powerful, especially for anyone who might be going through a difficult situation or thinks that they have obstacles which are too big to overcome. Most importantly, please share. You never know if someone you know needs to see it.

 

 

Judging Others…Growth


At the end of 2013, many made resolutions that they were going to make changes in 2014 to “be better”. It’s unfortunate that some continue to bring so much negativity into the new year.

The internet makes it easy for anyone, at any time, able to voice their opinion – warranted or not – on everything. Sometimes, statements and opinions are helpful. Sadly, others choose to take their right to voice their opinion to the extreme of bashing others. Not only is this prevalent on social media sites, but,  just take a look at comments on blogs, comments on YouTube videos, or even comments on random articles on any benign subject matter. It is sad.

Some judge what others do, how they live their lives, what they wear, how they look, etc. It baffles me how many people can be so negative towards others – especially of those they’ve never met –  yet, if the situation were reversed, they would probably be the first to respond, “They need to mind their business!”

No one is perfect. We all make mistakes and fall at varying degrees far from perfection. The goal is NOT to be a perfect person, but, to grow on a daily basis to become better than we were the day before. As with anything, the more you practice at anything, the better you become at it.  Before making a negative comment about another, you might want to shine a light on yourself and make note of your own imperfections.

Examples of some negative comments made online:

  • Newborn baby video on YouTube:

  • Blog on Golden Globe Red Carpet dresses:

  • Comment on a music video performance on YouTube:

  • The following clip from OWN TV, of the Mowry Twins, brought tears to my eyes.

 

Stop Judging Others

 

Love, Patience and Time


The following is a very touching true story. There are many lessons in it. I will leave it the reader to determine what those lessons are to them.
By: Kent Nerburn, from his 1999 book ‘Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace’
There was a time in my life twenty years ago when I was driving a cab for a living. It was a cowboy’s life, a gamblers life, a life for someone who wanted no boss, constant movement, and the thrill of a dice roll every time a new passenger got into the cab.What I didn’t count on when I took the job was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, the car became a rolling confessional. Passengers would climb in, sit behind me in total darkness and anonymity, and tell me of their lives.We were like strangers on a train, the passengers and I, hurtling through the night, revealing intimacies we would never have dreamed of sharing during the brighter light of day.In those hours, I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh, and made me weep. And none of those lives touched me more than that of a woman I picked up late on a warm August night.I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partyers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover or someone going off to an early shift at some factory in the industrial part of town.When I arrived at the address, the building was dark except for a single light in a ground-floor window. Under these circumstances many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a short minute, and then drive away. Too many bad possibilities awaited a driver who went up to a darkened building at two-thirty in the morning.But I had seen too many people trapped in a live of poverty who depended on the cab as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door to try to find the passenger. It might, I reasoned, be someone who needed my assistance. Would I not want a driver to do the same if my mother or father had called for a cab?So I walked to the door and knocked.

“Just a minute”, answered a frail and elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman, somewhere in her eighties, stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like you might see in a costume shop or a Goodwill store or in a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The sound had been her dragging it across the floor.

The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. “I’d like a few moments alone. Then, if you could come back and help me? I’m not very strong.”

I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm, and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.

“It’s nothing”, I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated”.

Oh, you’re such a good boy”, she said. Her praise and appreciation were almost embarrassing.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”

“It’s not the shortest way,”

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice”.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.

“I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor said I should go there. He says I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to go?” I asked.

For the next two hours we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they had first been married. She made me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she would have me slow down in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a tar driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. Without waiting for me, they opened the door and began assisting the woman. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her: perhaps she had phone them right before we left.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase up to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers,” I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent over and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. “You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”

There was nothing more to say. I squeezed her hand once, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me I could hear the door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I did not pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the remainder of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten a driver who had been angry or abusive or impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run or had honked once, then driven away? What if I had been in a foul mood and had refused to engage the woman in conversation? How many other moments like that had I missed or failed to grasp?

We are so conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unawares. When that woman hugged me and said that I had brought her a moment of joy, it was possible to believe that I had been placed on earth for the sole purpose of providing her with that last ride. I do not think that I have done anything in my life that was any more important.

PLEASE SHARE THIS TOUCHING STORY

Don’t Be Blind


PLEASE read the following parable.

There was a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind. She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She told her boyfriend, ‘If I could only see the world, I will marry you.’ One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend. He asked her,’Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?’ The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn’t expected that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him. Her boyfriend left in tears and days later wrote a note to her saying: ‘Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before they were yours, they were mine.’

This is how the human brain often works when our status changes. Only a very few remember what life was like before, and who was always by their side in the most painful situations. LIFE IS A GIFT. Today, before you say an unkind word – Think of someone who can’t speak. Before you complain about the taste of your food – Think of someone who has nothing to eat.. Before you complain about your husband or wife – Think of someone who’s crying out to GOD for a companion. Today before you complain about life – Think of someone who went too early to heaven. Before whining about the distance you drive Think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet. And when you are tired and complain about your job – Think of the unemployed, the disabled, and those who wish they had your job. And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down – Put a smile on your face and think: you’re alive and still around.
  ♥
Think of the above as 2013 comes to a close….and, as you begin 2014. 🙂
Have a very blessed New Year!
Less than an hour after I uploaded this entry, I saw that a Facebook friend tagged me in the video below, because as she stated, “If I tagged you it’s because I think you love horses or just a positive story about friendship and animals.” Coincidentally, the story is about the relationship between a blind horse and a goat. I decided to share it with the parable above.

I have received many responses to many of the posts on this blog, thus far. However, may I request that you please reply in the comment section of the blog  – as opposed to on Twitter, Facebook, emails, etc. – so that all responses will be together. Your comment may be helpful to others who come across something that they can relate to. You can comment anonymously.

Thank you and many blessings.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old


1. Not traveling when you had the chance.

Not traveling when you had the chance.

Traveling becomes infinitely harder the older you get, especially if you have a family and need to pay the way for three-plus people instead of just yourself.

2. Not learning another language.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
Apatow Productions / Dreamworks

You’ll kick yourself when you realize you took three years of language in high school and remember none of it.

3. Staying in a bad relationship.

Staying in a bad relationship.

No one who ever gets out of a bad relationship looks back without wishing they made the move sooner.

4. Forgoing sunscreen.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
SNL

Wrinkles, moles, and skin cancer can largely be avoided if you protect yourself.

5. Missing the chance to see your favorite musicians.

Missing the chance to see your favorite musicians.

“Nah, dude, I’ll catch Nirvana next time they come through town.” Facepalm.

6. Being scared to do things.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
Paramount Pictures

Looking back you’ll think, What was I so afraid of?

7. Failing to make physical fitness a priority.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
Columbia Pictures

Too many of us spend the physical peak of our lives on the couch. When you hit 40, 50, 60, and beyond, you’ll dream of what you could have done.

8. Letting yourself be defined by gender roles.

Letting yourself be defined by gender roles.

Few things are as sad as an old person saying, “Well, it just wasn’t done back then.”

9. Not quitting a terrible job.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
20th Century Fox

Look, you gotta pay the bills. But if you don’t make a plan to improve your situation, you might wake up one day having spent 40 years in hell.

10. Not trying harder in school.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
Jive Records

It’s not just that your grades play a role in determining where you end up in life. Eventually you’ll realize how neat it was to get to spend all day learning, and wish you’d paid more attention.

11. Not realizing how beautiful you were.

Not realizing how beautiful you were.

Too many of us spend our youth unhappy with the way we look, but the reality is, that’s when we’re our most beautiful.

12. Being afraid to say “I love you.”

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
Fox

When you’re old, you won’t care if your love wasn’t returned — only that you made it known how you felt.

13. Not listening to your parents’ advice.

Not listening to your parents' advice.

You don’t want to hear it when you’re young, but the infuriating truth is that most of what your parents say about life is true.

14. Spending your youth self-absorbed.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
Fox

You’ll be embarrassed about it, frankly.

15. Caring too much about what other people think.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
SNL / Paramount

In 20 years you won’t give a damn about any of those people you once worried so much about.

16. Supporting others’ dreams over your own.

Supporting others' dreams over your own.

Supporting others is a beautiful thing, but not when it means you never get to shine.

17. Not moving on fast enough.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
NBC

Old people look back at the long periods spent picking themselves off the ground as nothing but wasted time.

18. Holding grudges, especially with those you love.

Holding grudges, especially with those you love.

What’s the point of re-living the anger over and over?

19. Not standing up for yourself.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
New Line Cinema.

Old people don’t take shit from anyone. Neither should you.

20. Not volunteering enough.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old

OK, so you probably won’t regret not volunteering Hunger Games style, but nearing the end of one’s life without having helped to make the world a better place is a great source of sadness for many.

21. Neglecting your teeth.

Neglecting your teeth.

New Line Cinema

Brush. Floss. Get regular checkups. It will all seem so maddeningly easy when you have dentures.

22. Missing the chance to ask your grandparents questions before they die.

Missing the chance to ask your grandparents questions before they die.

Most of us realize too late what an awesome resource grandparents are. They can explain everything you’ll ever wonder about where you came from, but only if you ask them in time.

23. Working too much.

Working too much.

No one looks back from their deathbed and wishes they spent more time at the office, but they do wish they spent more time with family, friends, and hobbies.

24. Not learning how to cook one awesome meal.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
Parkwood / Columbia

Knowing one drool-worthy meal will make all those dinner parties and celebrations that much more special.

25. Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment.

Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment.

Young people are constantly on the go, but stopping to take it all in now and again is a good thing.

26. Failing to finish what you start.

Failing to finish what you start.

“I had big dreams of becoming a nurse. I even signed up for the classes, but then…”

27. Never mastering one awesome party trick.

Never mastering one awesome party trick.

You will go to hundreds, if not thousands, of parties in your life. Wouldn’t it be cool to be the life of them all?

28. Letting yourself be defined by cultural expectations.

Letting yourself be defined by cultural expectations.

Don’t let them tell you, “We don’t do that.”

29. Refusing to let friendships run their course.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
Comedy Central

People grow apart. Clinging to what was, instead of acknowledging that things have changed, can be a source of ongoing agitation and sadness.

30. Not playing with your kids enough.

Not playing with your kids enough.

When you’re old, you’ll realize your kid went from wanting to play with you to wanting you out of their room in the blink of an eye.

31. Never taking a big risk (especially in love).

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old

Knowing that you took a leap of faith at least once — even if you fell flat on your face — will be a great comfort when you’re old.

32. Not taking the time to develop contacts and network.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
Tri-Star Pictures

Networking may seem like a bunch of crap when you’re young, but later on it becomes clear that it’s how so many jobs are won.

33. Worrying too much.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
ABC

As Tom Petty sang, “Most things I worry about never happen anyway.”

34. Getting caught up in needless drama.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
Oxygen Network

Who needs it?

35. Not spending enough time with loved ones.

Not spending enough time with loved ones.

Our time with our loved ones is finite. Make it count.

36. Never performing in front of others.

Never performing in front of others.

This isn’t a regret for everyone, but many elderly people wish they knew — just once — what it was like to stand in front of a crowd and show off their talents.

37. Not being grateful sooner.

37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old
NBC

It can be hard to see in the beginning, but eventually it becomes clear that every moment on this earth — from the mundane to the amazing — is a gift that we’re all so incredibly lucky to share.

Origin of this blog post: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mikespohr/37-things-youll-regret-when-youre-old

Peaks and Valleys


PeaksValleys A few days ago I came across the following post on Facebook:

The main reason why I wanted to repost her comment (with her permission, of course) is because of the message that it conveys — that although someone may be going through a difficult time, it doesn’t mean that it will forever be that way.

We all go through tough times, and during some of those times it may feel as if things will always remain the same. Sadly, some people choose to give up. In a future chapter of my autobiography, I will go in-depth about the worst year of my life – 1991.  However, more recently, I went through another “bad” time.

After losing my job and running out of unemployment in 2008, it was a very desperate time. No money for bills, no money for food and I actually lived for a month in my apartment with NO electricity. I prayed a lot and put my things in storage. After being unable to pay the storage bill, I lost EVERYTHING – all of my possessions – furniture, electronics, mementos, etc., many of which I had for thirty plus years. All I had was the clothes on my back and a few clothes I had in a carry-on bag. Before moving out of the state, I was even working a part-time telemarketing job, making approximately $75 a week. I couldn’t believe the position I was in, but I didn’t give up. After reminding myself of  “1991”, I knew that this wasn’t the worst and things weren’t going to remain the same. I slowly started crawling my way back towards the end of that year.

I briefly skimmed over that year, but, I just wanted to share the story, because that time in my life and many others was the impetus for starting this blog. I try to post uplifting quotes and stories from a place of having been where so many people have been – or still are. I’ve learned so much from my experiences and I just want to share as much as possible, so those who choose to read my blog, and can relate, will realize that they are going through what many before them have gone through. You are not alone. Thank you to Mia and God Bless anyone who may be going through a tough time. Hang in there and remember….

*** Coincidentally, I JUST read the following on Facebook. (It’s a few hours after I posted the above entry). I think it goes hand in hand with my blog entry above:  

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

MORAL :
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred – Forgive.

2. Free your mind from worries – Most never happens.

3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less from people but more from yourself.

You have two choices… smile and close this page,