Wisdom

1000 Marbles

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the basement shack with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning, turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it.

I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whomever he was talking with something about "a thousand marbles." I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say:

"Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job. I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter's dance recital."

He continued, "Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities."

And that's when he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles."

"You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years. Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime.

Now, stick with me Tom, I'm getting to the important part."

"It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail"; he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy."

"So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic
container right here in the sack next to my gear."

"Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away."

"I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight."

"Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time."

"It was nice to meet you, Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. 75 year Old Man, this is K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!"

You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about.

I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. "C'mon honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast."

"What brought this on?" she asked with a smile.

"Oh, nothing special, it's just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles..."

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Beautiful sentiments cynically slaughtered...

"If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you."
--- Winnie the Pooh
...
This was actually written to Winnie the Pooh by Mr. Hankey the Poo (of South Park, Colo)

"True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it is lost."
---Charles Caleb Colton
...
Also true of the TV remote control and car keys.

"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out."
...And says "you gotta take a bath, man!"

"Friendship is one mind in two bodies."
---Mencius
...
Also one town with two names in Adams County, Wisconsin

"Friends are God's way of taking care of us."
...A baseball bat was Al Capone's way of taking care of friends.

"If you should die before me, ask if you could bring a friend."
---Stone Temple Pilots
...
And I hope He says "no!"

"I'll lean on you and you lean on me and we'll be okay."
---Dave Mathews Band
...
First said by Cheng and Eng, the original Siamese Twins.

"If all my friends were to jump off a bridge, I wouldn't jump with them, I'd be at the bottom to catch them."


"Everyone hears what you say. Friends listen to what you say.
...Then tell you you're an idiot.

Best friends listen to what you don't say."
...Women ask "do these pants make my butt look big?"

"We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere."
--- Tim McGraw
...
That's why musicians use condoms.

"My father always used to say that when you die, if you've got five real friends, then you've had a great life."
---Lee Iacocca
...I was eleven when he told me that, and he was wondering where his bottle of 12-year old Scotch went.

"Hold a true friend with both your hands."
---Nigerian Proverb
...
Also goats.

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."
---unknown
...The singer in the band would get really, really pissed off when I did that.  

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Anna Quindlen's Villanova Commencement Address:

It's a great honor for me to be the third member of my family to receive an honorary doctorate from this great university. It's an honor to follow my great-uncle Jim, who was a gifted physician, and my Uncle Jack, who is a remarkable businessman. Both of them could have told you something important about their professions, about medicine or commerce. I have no specialized field of interest or expertise, which puts me at a disadvantage, talking to you today. I'm a novelist. My work is humannature. Real life is all I know.

Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. The second is only part of the first.

Don't ever forget what a friend once wrote Senator Paul Tsongas when the Senator decided not to run for re-election because he'd been diagnosed with cancer: "No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time in the office."

"Don't ever forget the words my father sent me on a postcard last year: "If you win the rat race, you're still a rat."

Or what John Lennon wrote before he was gunned down in the driveway of the Dakota: "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."

You walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree; there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living.

But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on a bus, or in a car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.

People don't talk about the soul very much anymore. It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is a cold comfort on a winter night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you've gotten back the test results and they're not so good.

Here is my resume. I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my profession stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the center of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.

I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.

I am a good friend to my friends, and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cutout. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.

I would be rotten, or at best mediocre at my job, if those other things were not true. You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are.

So here's what I wanted to tell you today: get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast?

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over Seaside Heights, a life in which you stop and watch how a red tailed hawk circles over the water gap or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a cheerio with her thumb and first finger.

Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Each time you look at your diploma, remember that you are still a student, still learning how to best treasure your connection to others. Pick up the phone. Send an e-mail. Write a letter. Kiss your Mom. Hug your Dad.

Get a life in which you are generous. Look around at the azaleas in the suburban neighborhood where you grew up; look at a full moon hanging silver in a black, black sky on a cold night. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted.

Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beers and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or sister. All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.

It is so easy to waste our lives: our days, our hours, our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the color of the azaleas, the sheen of the limestone on Fifth Avenue, the color of our kids eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again.

It is so easy to exist instead of live. I learned to live many years ago. Something really, really bad happened to me, something that changed my life in ways that, if I had my druthers, it would never have been changed at all. And what I learned from it is what, today, seems to be the hardest lesson of all.

I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get. I learned to look at all the good in the world and to try to give some of it back because I believed in it completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned.

By telling them this: Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby's ear. Read in the backyard with the sun on your face. Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness because if you do you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived.

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Rules Of Life.

1) You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period.

2) You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full time informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.

3) There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error: experimentation. The "failed" experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately "works".

4) The lesson is repeated until learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go onto the next lesson.

5) Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

6) There is no better "here". When your "there" has become a "here", you will simply obtain another "there" that will again look better than "here".

7) Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.

8) What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

9) Your answers lie inside you. The answers to life's questions lie inside you. All you need do is look, listen, and trust.

10) You will forget all this.

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When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember well the polished old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it. Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person -- her name was "Information, Please" and there was nothing she did not know. "Information, Please" could supply anybody's number and the correct time.

My first personal experience with this genie-in-the-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible, but there didn't seem to be any reason in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway.

The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the foot stool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear. "Information, Please," I said into the mouthpiece just above my head.

A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear, "Information."

"I hurt my finger," I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.

"Isn't your mother home?" came the question.

"Nobody's home but me," I blubbered.

"Are you bleeding?" the voice asked.

"No," I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts."

"Can you open your icebox?" she asked.

I said I could.

"Then chip off a little of ice and hold it to your finger," said the voice.

After that, I called "Information, Please" for everything. I asked her for help with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk, that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts. Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary died. I called "Information, Please" and told her the sad story.

She listened, then said the usual things grown-ups say to soothe a child, but I was inconsolable.

I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?"

She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, "Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in." Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone. "Information, Please."

"Information" said the now familiar voice.

"How do you spell 'fix?'" I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific northwest. When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. "Information, Please" belonged in that old wooden box back home, and I somehow never thought of trying the tall, shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall.

As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity, I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way West to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about half an hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, "Information, Please."

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well, "Information."

I hadn't planned this but I heard myself saying, "Could you please tell me how to spell fix?"

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, "I guess your finger must have healed by now."

I laughed. "So, it's really still you," I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time."

"I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your calls meant to me. I never had any children, and I used to look forward to your calls."

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.

"Please do," she said. "Just ask for Sally."

Three months later, I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered, "Information."

I asked for Sally.

"Are you a friend?" she asked.

"Yes, a very old friend," I answered.

"I'm sorry to have to tell you this," she said. "Sally has been working part-time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago." Before I could hang up, she said, "Wait a minute. Is this Paul?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you." The note said, "Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean."

I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Never underestimate the impression you may make on others.

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I've learned that I like my teacher because she cries when we sing "Silent Night."
Age 6

I've learned that our dog doesn't want to eat my broccoli either.
Age 7

I've learned that when I wave to people in the country, they stop what they are doing and wave back.
Age 9

I've learned that just when I get my room the way I like it, Mom makes me clean it up again.
Age 12

I've learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering someone else up.
Age 14

I've learned that although it's hard to admit it, I'm secretly glad my parents are strict with me.
Age 15

I've learned that silent company is often more healing than words of advice.
Age 24

I've learned that brushing my child's hair is one of life's great pleasures.
Age 26

I've learned that wherever I go, the world's worst drivers have followed me there.
Age 29

I've learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it.
Age 39

I've learned that there are people who love you dearly but just don't know how to show it.
Age 42

I've learned that you can make someone's day by simply sending them a little note.
Age 44

I've learned that the greater a person's sense of guilt, the greater his or her need to cast blame on others.
Age 46

I've learned that children and grandparents are natural allies.
Age 47

I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
Age 48

I've learned that singing "Amazing Grace" can lift my spirits for hours.
Age 49

I've learned that motel mattresses are better on the side away from the phone.
Age 50

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
Age 52

I've learned that keeping a vegetable garden is worth a medicine cabinet full of pills.
Age 52

I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly after they die.
Age 53

I've learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.
Age 58

I've learned that if you want to do something positive for your children,work to improve your marriage.
Age 61

I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
Age 62

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.
Age 64

I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, the needs of others, your work, meeting new people, and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.
Age 65

I've learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make the right decision.
Age 66

I've learned that everyone can use a prayer.
Age 72

I've learned that it pays to believe in miracles. And to tell the truth, I've seen several.
Age 75

I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.
Age 82

I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch - holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
Age 85

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.
Age 92

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I N S T R U C T I O N S F O R L I F E

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three Rs:
    Respect for self
    Respect for others and
    Responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.
        --The Dalai Lama

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Don't say you're not important,
It simply isn't true,
The fact that you were born,
Is proof, God has a plan for you.

The path may seem unclear right now,
But one day you will see,
That all that came before,
Was truly meant to be.

God wrote the book that is your life,
That's all you need to know.
Each day that you are living,
Was written long ago.

God only writes best sellers,
So be proud of who you are,
Your character is important,
In this book you are the "Star."

Enjoy the novel as it reads,
It will stand throughout the ages,
Savor each chapter as you go,
Taking time to turn the pages.

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Lessons from Geese

Lesson1:
As each bird flaps it's wings, it creates an uplift for the bird following. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if the bird flew alone.
Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they're going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

Lesson 2:
Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed where we want to go, and we'll be willing to accept their help as well as give ours to the others.

Lesson 3:
When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into formation and another goose flies at the point position.
Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. With people, as with geese, we are interdependent on each other.

Lesson 4:
The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
Lesson: We need to make sure our honking from behind is encouraging.

Lesson 5:
When a goose gets sick or wounded or is shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it is able to fly again or dies, then they launch out on their own with another formation or catch up with the flock.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we too will stand by each other in difficult times, as well as when we are strong.

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I asked God to take away my pain.
God said, "No. It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up."

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said, "No. Her spirit was whole, her body was only temporary."

I asked God to grant me patience.
God said, "No. Patience is a by-product of tribulations; it isn't granted, it is earned."

I asked God to give me happiness.
God said, "No. I give you blessings. Happiness is up to you."

I asked God to spare me pain.
God said, "No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me."

I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said, "No. You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful."

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said, "No. I will give you life so that you may enjoy all things."

I ask God to help me LOVE others, as much as he loves me.
God said, " Ahhhh, finally you have the idea."

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 His Father's Eyes

This teenager lived alone with his father, and the two of them had a very special relationship. Even though the son was always on the bench, his father was always in the stands cheering. He never missed a game. This young man was still the smallest of the class when he entered high school. But his father continued to encourage him but also made it very clear that he did not have to play football if he didn't want to.

But the young man loved football and decided to hang in there. He was determined to try his best at every practice, and perhaps he'd get to play when he became a senior.

All through high school he never missed a practice nor a game, but remained a bench warmer all four years. His faithful father was always in the stands, always with words of encouragement for him.

When the young man went to college, he decided to try out for the football team as a "walk-on." Everyone was sure he could never make the cut, but he did. The coach admitted that he kept him on the roster because he always puts his heart and soul to every practice, and at the same time, provided the other members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed. The news that he had survived the cut thrilled him so much that he rushed to the nearest phone and called his father. His father shared his excitement and was sent season tickets for all the college games.  This persistent young athlete never
missed practice during his four years at college, but he never got to play in the game.

It was the end of his senior football season, and as he trotted onto the practice field shortly before the big play off game, the coach met him with a telegram. The young man read the telegram and he became deathly silent. Swallowing hard, he mumbled to the coach, "My father died this morning. Is it all right if I miss practice today?"

The coach put his arm gently around his shoulder and said, "Take the rest of the week off, son. And don't even plan to come back to the game on Saturday."

Saturday arrived, and the game was not going well. In the third quarter, when the team was ten points behind, a silent young man quietly slipped into the empty locker room and put on his football gear. As he ran onto the sidelines, the coach and his players were astounded to see their faithful teammate back so soon.

"Coach, please let me play. I've just got to play today," said the young man.

The coach pretended not to hear him. There was no way he wanted his worst player in this close playoff game. But the young man persisted, and finally feeling sorry for the kid, the coach gave in.

"All right," he said. "You can go in."

Before long, the coach, the players and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little unknown, who had never played before was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him. He ran, he passed, blocked and tackled like a star. His team began to triumph. The score was soon tied.
In the closing seconds of the game, this kid intercepted a pass and ran all the way for the winning touchdown. The fans broke loose. His teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders. Such cheering you've never heard!

Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed that the young man was sitting quietly in the corner all alone. The coach came to him and said, "Kid, I can't believe it. You were fantastic! Tell me what got into you? How did you do it?"

He looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and said, "Well, you knew my dad died, but did you know that my dad was blind?" The young man swallowed hard and forced a smile, "Dad came to all my games, but today was the first time he could see me play, and I wanted to show him I could do it!"

So. Remember, right now:

Somebody is very proud of you.

Somebody is thinking of you.

Somebody is caring about you.

Somebody misses you.

Somebody wants to talk to you.

Somebody wants to be with you.

Somebody hopes you are not in trouble.

Somebody is thankful for the support you have provided.

Somebody wants to hold your hand.

Somebody hopes everything turns out all right.

Somebody wants you to be happy.

Somebody want you to find him/her.

Somebody wants to give you a gift.

Somebody wants to hug you.

Somebody thinks you ARE a gift.

Somebody admires your strength.

Somebody wants to protect you.

Somebody can't wait to see you.

Somebody loves you for who you are.

Somebody treasures your spirit.

Somebody is glad that you are their friend.

Somebody want to get to know you better.

Somebody wants to be near you.

Somebody wants you to know they are there for you.

Somebody would do anything for you.

Somebody want to share their dreams with you.

Somebody is alive because of you.

Somebody needs your support.

Somebody will cry when they read this. Me!

Somebody needs you to have faith in them.

Somebody trusts you.

Somebody hears a song that reminds them of you.

Somebody needs you to send this to them.

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Read carefully...then, just think about it.

I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting in the yard and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time at work.

Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not to endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.

I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, or the first Amaryllis blossom. I wear my good blazer to the market. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries. I'm not saving my good

"Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.

I'm not sure what my cousins would've done had they known that they wouldn't be here for the tomorrow that we all take for granted. I think they would have called family members and a few close friends. They might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think they would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, or for whatever their favorite food was. I'm guessing; I'll never know.

It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew my hours were limited. Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my wife/husband and parents often enough how much I truly love them. I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special.

Every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift from God. If you received this it is because someone cares for you. If you're too busy to take the few minutes that it takes right now to forward this, would it be the first time you didn't do the little thing that would make a difference in your relationships? I can tell you it certainly won't be the last.

Take a few minutes to send this to a few people you care about, just to let them know that you're thinking of them.

People say true friends must always hold hands, but true friends don't need to hold hands because they know the other hand will always be there.

 Author unknown

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Once upon a time, there was an island where all the feelings lived: Happiness, Sadness, Knowledge, and all of the others including Love. One day, it was announced to the feelings that the island would sink, so all repaired their boats and left.

Love was the only one who stayed. Love wanted to persevere until the last possible moment. When the island was almost sinking, Love decided to ask for help. Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat. Love said,"Richness, can you take me with you?"

Richness answered, "No, I can't. There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat. There is no place here for you."

Love decided to ask Vanity who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel, "Vanity, please help me!".

"I can't help you, Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat," Vanity answered.

Sadness was close by, so Love asked for help, "Sadness, let me go with you."

"Oh...Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself!"

Happiness passed by Love too, but she was so happy that she did not even hear when Love called her!

Suddenly, there was a voice, "Come Love, I will take you." It was an elder. Love felt so blessed and overjoyed that he even forgot to ask the elder her name. When they arrived at dry land, the elder went her own way. Love realized how much he owed the elder and asked Knowledge (another elder): "Who helped me?"

"It was Time," Knowledge answered.

"Time?" asked Love. "But why did Time help me?"

Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered, "Because only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is."

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The difference between Strength and courage:

It takes strength to be firm
It takes courage to be gentle.
It takes strength to stand guard.
It takes courage to let down your guard
It takes strength to conquer.
It takes courage to surrender.
It takes strength to be certain.
It takes courage to have doubt.
It takes strength to fit in.
It takes courage to stand out.
It takes strength to feel a friend's pain.
It takes courage to feel your own pain.
It takes strength to hide your own pains.
It takes courage to show them.
It takes strength to endure abuse.
It takes courage to stop it.
It takes strength to stand alone.
It takes courage to lean on another.
It takes strength to love.
It takes courage to be loved.
It takes strength to survive.
It takes courage to live.

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I've learned-that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.
I've learned- that no matter how much I care, some people just don't care back.
I've learned- that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.
I've learned- that it's not what you have in your life but who you have in your life that counts.
I've learned- that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you'd better know something.
I've learned- that you shouldn't compare yourself to the best others can do.
I've learned- that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.
I've learned- that it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.
I've learned- that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.
I've learned- that you can keep going long after you can't.
I've learned- that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.
I've learned- that either you control your attitude or it controls you.
I've learned- that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place.
I've learned- that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.
I've learned- that money is a lousy way of keeping score.
I've learned- that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and havethe best time.
I've learned- that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down will be the ones to help you get back up.
I've learned-that sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.
I've learned- that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.
I've learned- that just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.
I've learned- that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.
I've learned- that you should never tell a child their dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if they believed it.
I've learned- that your family won't always be there for you. It may seem funny, but people you aren't related to can take care of you and love you and teach you to trust people again. Families aren't biological.
I've learned- that no matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.
I've learned- that it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you are to learn to forgive yourself.
I've learned- that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief.
I've learned- that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.
I've learned- that just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other And just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do. I've learned- that we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.
I've learned- that you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever.
I've learned- that two people can look at theexact same thing and see something totally different.
I've learned- that no matter how you try to protect your children, they will eventually get hurt and you will hurt in the process.
I've learned- that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.
I've learned- that even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.
I've learned- that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.
I've learned- that the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.
I've learned- that it's hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice and not hurting people's feelings and standing up for what you believe.

----------------

This is (originally credited as) the Commencement address originally attributed to Kurt Vonnegut at MIT

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '98:

Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth.

Oh, never mind. You will not under-stand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind side you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, Sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.

Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

----------------

IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER
by Erma Bombeck

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television - and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."

There would have been more "I love yous"... more "I'm sorrys"... but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it... live it... and never give it back.

--In memory of Erma Bombeck who lost her fight with cancer.

--------------

Ever notice how something controls our lives, makes us do things one way or another, and then drives us crazy because we can't stop it? Somewhere down the line, we ask a question we should have asked up front, and realize how much time and energy we have wasted if only we had stopped, thought, and then asked for clarification. Here is a story that illustrates this:

One fine day, a bus driver went to the bus garage, started his bus, and drove off along the route. No problems for the first few stops-a few people got on, a few got off, and things went generally well. At the next stop, however, a big hulk of a guy got on. Six feet eight, built like a wrestler, arms hanging down to the ground. He glared at the driver and said, "Big John doesn't pay!" and sat down at the back.

Did I mention that the driver was five feet three, thin, and basically meek? Well, he was. Naturally, he didn't argue with Big John, but he wasn't happy about it. The next day the same thing happened-Big John got on again, made a show of refusing to pay, and sat down. And the next day, and the one after that, and so forth.

This grated on the bus driver, who started losing sleep over the way Big John was taking advantage of him. Finally, he could stand it no longer. He signed up for body building courses, karate, judo, and all that good stuff.

By the end of the summer, he had become quite strong; what's more, he felt really good about himself. So on the next Monday, when Big John once again got on the bus and said, "Big John doesn't pay!," the driver stood up, glared back at the passenger, and screamed, "And why not?"

With a surprised look on his face, Big John replied, "Big John has bus pass."

What things do we need to step back from, observe, and then ask the right question to clarify today? Keep our cool and get our ideas straight.

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SUBJECT: Good Advice for '99

1) Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you criticize him, you are a mile away from him and you have his shoes.
2) A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk I have a work station....
3) I believe five out of four people have trouble with fractions.
4) I was thinking that women should put pictures of missing husbands on beer cans.
5) I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older. Then it dawned on me - they were cramming for their finals.
6) Employment application blanks always ask who is to be notified in case of emergency. I think you should write "A very good doctor."

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INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIFE:
1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully
2. Memorize your favorite poem.
3. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have, or sleep all you want.
4. When you say, "I love you," mean it.
5. When you say, "I'm sorry," look the person in the eye.
6. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
7. Believe in love at first sight.
8. Never laugh at anyone's dreams.
9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only
way to live life completely.
10. In disagreements, fight fairly.  No name calling.
11. Don't judge people by their relatives.
12. Talk slow but think quick.
13. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, "Why do you want to know?".
14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great
risk.
15. Call your Mom.
16. Say "bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.
17. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
18. Remember the three R's---
        Respect for self;
        Respect for others;
        Responsibility for all your actions.
19. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
20. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
21. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
22. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, his/her conversational skills will be as important as any other.
23. Spend some time alone.
24. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
25. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
26. Read more books and watch less TV.
27. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll get to enjoy it a second time.
28. Trust in God but lock your car.
29. A loving atmosphere in your home is so important. Do all you can to create a tranquil harmonious home.
30. In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation, don't bring up the past.
31. Read between the lines.
32. Share your knowledge.  It's a way to achieve immortality.
33. Be gentle with the earth.
34. Pray. There's immeasurable power in it.
35. Never interrupt when you are being flattered.
36. Mind your own business.
37. Don't trust a man/woman who doesn't close his/her eyes when you kiss them.
38. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
39. If you make a lot of money, put it to use helping others while you are living. That is wealth's greatest satisfaction.
40. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of luck.
41. Learn the rules, then break some.
42. Remember that the best relationship is one where your love for each other is greater than your need for each other.
43. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
44. Remember that your character is your destiny.
45. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

----------------

 The Present

Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every cent? Of course!

Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the "tomorrow." You must live in the present on today's deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success! The clock is running. Make the most of today.

To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.

To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the train.

To realize the value of ONE-SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident.

To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.

Treasure every moment that you have! And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time. And remember that time waits for no one.

It's National Friendship Week. Friends are very rare jewels, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their heart to us.

Show your friends how much you care. Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND. If it comes back to you from someone else, then you'll know you have a CIRCLE OF FRIENDS.

"Yesterday is history; tomorrow, a mystery.

Today is a gift; that's why it's called the Present"

--------------

     An Angel Wrote:

Many People will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints.

To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart.

Anger is only one letter short of danger.

Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.

God gives every bird it's food, but He does not throw it into it's nest.

He who loses money, loses much;

He who loses a friend, loses more;

He who loses faith, loses all.

Beautiful young people are acts of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.

The tongue weighs practically nothing, but so few people can hold it.

Friends, you and me... you brought another friend... and then there were 3... we started our group...Our circle of friends...and like that circle... there is no beginning or end...

---------------

A British family journeyed to Scotland for a summer vacation. The mother and father were looking forward to enjoying the beautiful Scottish countryside with their young son. But one day, the son wandered off all by himself and got into trouble.

As he walked through the woods, he came across an abandoned swimming hole, and as most boys his age do, he took off his clothes and jumped in. He was totally unprepared for what happened next. Before he had time to enjoy the pool of water, he was seized by a vicious attack of cramps. He began calling for help while fighting a losing battle with the cramps to stay afloat.

Luckily, it happened that in a nearby field a farm boy was working. When he heard the frantic cries for help, he brought the English boy to safety. The father whose son had been rescued was of course very grateful.

The next day, he went to meet the youth who had saved his son's life. As the two talked, the Englishman asked the brave lad what he planned to do with his future.

The boy answered, "Oh I suppose I'll be a farmer like my father."

The grateful father said, "Is there something else you'd rather do?"

"Oh, yes!" answered the Scottish lad. "I've always wanted to be a doctor. But we are poor people and could never afford to pay for my education."

"Never mind that," said the Englishman. "You shall have your heart's desire and study medicine. Make your plans, and I'll take care of the costs." So, the Scottish lad did indeed become a doctor.

Some years later, in December of 1943, Winston Churchill became very ill with pneumonia while in North Africa. Word was sent to Sir Alexander Fleming, who had discovered the new wonder drug, penicillin, to come immediately. Flying in from England, Dr. Fleming administered his new drug to the ailing Prime Minister. In doing so, he saved Churchill's life for the second time.

For it was the boy, Winston Churchill, whom Alexander Fleming had rescued from the swimming hole so many years before.