The Mother Who Became A Hero

I have always found that the power of words and what people say to other individuals, a fascinating thing. We all know how much words can affect people…whether they be good or bad…we all need to watch and be careful what we say. Sometimes words that are spoken wrongly, can hurt or crush a soul, while transversely, words that are vocalized in a positive manner, can uplift and encourage a person…sometimes more than they could ever imagine.

Thomas Edison
Photo Credit: Unknown

Such is a story that I found on the web site, The Meta Picture.com It a story about a mother who changed her son’s life forever. The son later became a famous American inventor and enjoyed world-wide fame. This is a great lesson about the power of words.

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One day, when Thomas Edison was just a boy, he came home after school one day and gave a paper to his mother. He told her, “My teacher gave this paper to me and told me to only give it to my mother.”

His mother’s eyes were tearful as she read the letter out loud to her child: “Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have enough good teachers to teach and train him. Please teach him yourself.”

Several years later, after Edison’s mother died and he was now one of the greatest inventors of the century, Thomas was looking through some old family things when he came across a folded paper in the corner of a drawer in a desk. He took it and opened it up. On the paper it read: “Your son is addled (mentally ill). We won’t let him come to school anymore.

Edison cried and cried for hours and then he wrote in his diary: “Thomas Alva Edison was an addled child that, by a hero mother, became the genius of the century.”

The Foundations of Success

Success
Photo Credit: Unknown

I recently came across this picture that gives us a fantastic,simple and true illustration of the building blocks of success. What are the things that define a person who is successful? Again, check out the picture and discover for yourself the answers…in a simple and clear way!

 

How Deep is Your Love?

Photo Credit: Unknown
Photo Credit: Unknown

It has always been fascinating to me how strong and fervent the power of love can be. It can make the simplest and humblest individual into a person who is incredibly courageous, strong, and brave…especially in the time of harm and danger.

Such is the story that you will read today. I can’t help but think…how many people would have the determination, love, and bravery that this man, husband and son had when his life was at one of its darkest depths? It makes you think…. 

In March 2001, Japan got hit with the most devastating and deadly Tsunami’s that have ever hit the country. Millions of people lost their homes, businesses, belongings, etc., and tens of thousands of people either were injured or lost their lives.

One of the towns that was struck was named Ishinomaki where a man named Hideaki Akaiwa was working in his home.. Realizing his wife was trapped in their home, he ignored the advice of the emergency personnel and other professionals, who told him to wait for the army to arrive and help him with a search and rescue.

Instead, he found a wet suit, jumped in the furious water current…dodging cars, houses, and other  kinds of debris that was being dragged around and carried away by the current…any of which could have killed him instantly. He navigated the now submerged streets in the pitch dark, freezing water until he found his house.

Swimming inside, he discovered his wife alive on the upper level with only a small amount of breathing room and pulled her to safety. If he had waited for the army, his wife, of 20 years, would have been dead.

But Hideaki wasn’t finished. A short time later, he realized that his mother was also missing. So he jumped back into the water and managed to save her life as well.

Every day, for weeks after the tsunamis struck, Hideaki got into the water on one-man search and rescue missions, saving countless lives. This proved that two natural disasters in a single day…and insurmountable odds…can’t stand in the way of love.

Source: themetapicture.com

 

The Four Wives We All Have

Eksley
Photo Credit: Eksley via CC Flickr

Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best.

He also loved the 3rd wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another.

He also loved his 2nd wife. She was his confidant and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem, he could confide in her, and she would help him get through the difficult times.

The King’s 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her!

One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, “I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I’ll be all alone.” Thus, he asked the 4th wife, “I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No way!”, replied the 4th wife, and she walked away without another word. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart.

The sad King then asked the 3rd wife, “I have loved you all my life. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No!”, replied the 3rd wife. “Life is too good! When you die, I’m going to remarry!” His heart sank and turned cold.

He then asked the 2nd wife, “I have always turned to you for help and you’ve always been there for me. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?” “I’m sorry, I can’t help you out this time!”, replied the 2nd wife. “At the very most, I can only send you to your grave.” Her answer came like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated.

Then a voice called out: “I’ll leave with you and follow you no matter where you go.” The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was so skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect. Greatly grieved, the King said, “I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance!”

In truth, we all have 4 wives in our lives: Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die.

Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others.

Our 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.

And our 1st wife is our Soul, which is often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. However, our Soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go. So cultivate, strengthen and cherish it now, for it is the only part of us who will follow us to the throne of God and continue with us throughout Eternity. When the world pushes you to your knees…..You’re in the perfect position to pray. Think about this… Are you aware that if we died tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days? But the family we left behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives. And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more into work than to our own family, an unwise investment indeed, don’t you think? And we often treat strangers and co-workers better than members of our family.
Have you hugged and loved your family today and told them that you love them? If not, what are you waiting for?

The love of a family is life’s greatest blessings!

 

 

 

One of Life’s Highest Honors

Thomas Leuthard
Photo Credit: Thomas Leuthard via CC Flickr

It was once said that the reason that humans are put into this world is to help and encourage others. Think about it. What makes you the happiest? When you are receiving something or getting something?

 The most important things in life aren’t the things that you can see…like money, houses, boats, clothes, etc. The things in life that REALLY matter and have infinite meaning to people, are the things that are priceless and unseen such as kindness, love, thoughtfulness, etc….ways that you TREAT others.

 Today’s short story is a great example of the ULTIMATE way that a person can repay someone with kindness and goodness.


A son took his father to a restaurant for an evening dinner.

The father, being very old and weak, while he was eating, dropped food and his shirt and pants. Other diners watched him in disgust and revulsion while his son was calm and enjoyed hit time with his dad.

After they were finished eating, the son, who wasn’t embarrassed at all, quietly took his father to the washroom, wiped off the food particles, removed the stains, combed his hair and fitted his glasses firmly. When they came back out, the entire restaurant was watching them in dead silence, not able to grasp how someone could embarrass themselves publicly like that.

The son settled the bill and started leaving with his father.

At that time, an old man sitting among the diners called out to the son and asked him, “Don’t you think that you have left something behind?”

The son replied, “No sir, I haven’t.”

The old man retorted, “Yes, you have! You have left a lesson for every son…and hope for every father.”

The restaurant was silent.

To care for those who once cared for us, is one of life’s highest honors!

Showing Mercy in the Midst of War

Tony Hisgett
Photo Credit: Tony Hisgett via CC Flickr

How many of us have ever known someone that we really didn’t like? They were someone that we considered our rival, our opponent, our enemy. If we were given the chance, we would “take care of them”, hurt or destroy them. But how many of us have ever been in a situation that we could actually take take out our hate and anger on our enemy…then decided to show mercy and take the honorable thing…take the high road and help them?

Today’s tale is a true story that took place during World War 2 in the skies over Europe. It is my hope that you can learn a simple lesson today…that having compassion and mercy for our enemies actually takes more boldness and courage than to take revenge.

Charlie Brown was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot with the 379th Bomber Group at Kimbolton, England. His B-17 was called “Ye Old Pub” and was in a terrible state, having been hit by flak and fighters. The compass was damaged and they were flying deeper and deeper into enemy territory instead of heading home to Kimbolton.

After flying the B-17 over an enemy airfield, a German pilot, Franz Steigler was ordered to take off and shoot down the B-17.

When he got closer the B-17, he could not believe his eyes. In his words, he “had never seen a plane in such a bad state”. The tail and rear section was severely damaged, the tail gunner was wounded and the top gunner was all over the top of the fuselage. The nose of the plane was smashed and there were holes everywhere.

Despite having ammunition, Franz flew to the side of the B-17 and looked at the English pilot, Charlie Brown, and saw that Brown was scared and struggling to control his damaged and blood-stained plane.

Aware that they had no idea where they were going, Franz waved at Charlie to turn around 180 degrees. Franz escorted and guided the stricken plane back to the North Sea and to England. He then saluted Charlie Brown, turned away and headed back towards Europe.

When Franz landed he told his commanding officer that he had shot down the B-17 over the sea, and never told the truth to anyone.

Meanwhile, back in England, Charlie Brown and the remains of his crew told everyone at their briefing what had happened, but were then ordered never to talk about it.

More than 40 years later, Charlie Brown wanted to find the German Luftwaffe pilot who had saved his crew. After years of research, Franz was finally found. He had never talked about the incident, not even at post-war reunions. The two pilots met in America at the 379th Bomber Group reunion…together with 25 people who are now alive…all because Franz showed mercy and compassion and never fired his guns that day.

When asked why he didn’t shoot them down, Stigler later said, “I didn’t have the heart to finish off those brave men. I flew beside them for a long time. They were desperately trying to get home and I was going to let them do that. I could not have shot at them. It would have been the same as shooting a man in a parachute.”

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“Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.” ~ Dalai Lama

The Real Heart of A Lion

Billy_Miske_portrait
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Many of us struggle with a times of trouble or hardship during their lifetime. There are two directions that a person can go when they are experiencing a tough situation: they can either learn from it and become stronger because of what they have learned…or they can become negative, bitter and dwell on the quagmire of pessimism.

The people that make up their minds to overcome a bad situation by working hard and remaining focused on the task-at-hand, usually find themselves becoming a better, happier person despite of their unfortunate circumstance.

Thus is the story that I found recently on totalprosports.com that tells the tale of a successful boxer who competed almost 90 years ago. His story is a great reminder to us the importance of enjoying the things that you do and when unpleasant times come your way…you can overcome ANYTHING…if you put your mind to it!!


 

Billy Miske (1894-1924) was by all accounts one of the most under-appreciated boxers of his era. He had a record of 48-2-2, which included wins against some of the biggest names in boxing and losses to two champions. But it’s not Miske’s boxing prowess that makes his story inspirational. It’s his willingness and determination to make the ultimate sacrifice for his family.

You see, Miske was diagnosed with a terminal kidney disease by his doctor, given 5 years to live, and told to retire. However, because he knew his family was depending on him financially, he kept jumping the ring and told no one—not even his wife—about his illness. Eventually, after a one-round knockout loss to the great Jack Dempsey, he finally decided to call it quits. But just 11 months later, with his family struggling to get by, Miske somehow conned promotors into giving him a huge fight.

By this time, he could barely walk and thus could not train for the fight. Nevertheless, he entered the ring and knocked out his younger opponent in the 4th round. He took the $2,400 he earned to buy back furniture he hap pawned several years ago, as well as some toys for his kids and a piano for his wife. Then he died just a week later at the age of 29.

Think about that next time you complain about your job.

“Keep Yourself at 17 Inches”

Nations_Park_Home_plate
Photo Credit: Gerald Klein (Nations Park Home Plate) via Wikimedia Commons

I recently came across a fantastic story written by Coach Sperry, that a couple of friends of mine sent to me via Face Book. I thought that it was something that should certainly be shared with everyone and worth the read…especially parents and coaches.

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the heck is John Scolinos, I wondered. Well, in 1996 Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate. Pointed side down.

Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally …

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.

“No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?”came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls.

“And what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over these seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Bobby. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of throwing the ball over it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause.

“Coaches …”

Pause.

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? What do we do if he violates curfew? What if he uses drugs? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.

Then he turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful….to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.

“… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.

The Story of a REAL Superman!

Scott Feldstein
Photo Credit: Scott Feldstein via CC Flickr

We all love super heroes. When most of us were growing up, we always had a role model, someone we looked up to, or a super hero that we wanted to be when we grew up. It was fun thinking (and sometimes still do) about the awesomeness of having the super power to fly, leap higher than the tallest building, run faster than lightning, become bulletproof, and a host of other things.

Sometimes, unbeknownst to us, there are sometimes REAL super heroes in our midst…and we have no idea who they are! Such is the case of today’s story of a person that was a super hero despite of the “evil” said by others.

I am sure that today’s short story will touch your heart in a special way and, maybe, bring a tear to your eye…but it is a story and a lesson that you may never forget…

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While sitting on a train one day, a young boy about 7 years old got on dressed as Superman. He had the biggest smile on his face…his eyes beaming…and joy just emanating from his soul. Suddenly, a heartless and callous man asked the boy, “Hey kid, you aren’t Superman! So why are you dressed up like him?”

The young boy just looked at him and said, “I may not look like Superman to you, but I’m going to see my mom who is very sick in the hospital and she smiles every time she sees me…so I’m her Superman…and that’s why I am dressed like this.”

Absolutely Precious!

A Beautiful Story of  911: God Bless Our Military

Instapinch
Photo Credit: Instapinch via CC Flickr

AFTER FLIGHT 77 hit the Pentagon on 9/11, the following incident occurred:

A chaplain, who happened to be assigned to the Pentagon, told of an incident that never made the news. A daycare facility inside the Pentagon had many children, including infants who were in  heavy cribs. The daycare supervisor, looking at all the children they needed to evacuate, was in a panic over what they could do. There were many children, mostly toddlers, as well as the infants that would need to be taken out with the cribs.

There was no time to try to bundle them into carriers and strollers. Just then a young Marine came running into the center and asked what they needed. After hearing what the center director was trying to do, he ran back out into the hallway and disappeared. The director thought, “Well, here we are, on our own.”

About 2 minutes later, that Marine returned with 40 other Marines in tow. Each of them grabbed a crib with a child, and the rest started gathering up toddlers. The director and her staff then helped them take all the children out of the center and down toward the park near the Potomac River.

Once they got about 3/4 of a mile outside the building, the Marines stopped in the park, and then did a fabulous thing – they formed a circle with the cribs, which were quite sturdy and heavy, like the covered wagons in the Old West. Inside this circle of cribs, they put the toddlers, to keep them from wandering off. Outside this circle were the 40 Marines, forming a perimeter around the children and waiting for instructions. There they remained until the parents could be notified and come get their children.

The chaplain then said, “I don’t think any of us saw nor heard of this on any of the news stories of the day. It was an incredible story of our men there.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. The thought of those Marines and what they did and how fast they reacted; could we expect any less from them? It was one of the most touching stories from the Pentagon.

It’s the Military, not the politicians that ensures our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s the Military who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag. If you care to offer the smallest token of recognition and appreciation for the military, please pass this on and pray for our men and women, who have served and are currently serving our country, and pray for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

A Heartwarming Story of Friendship: The Jesse Owens Story

745px-Jesse_Owens3
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

I decided that for the next few blog posts, which I am going to share some great stories of friendships that I have found. When you read this (and other forthcoming stories), try to envision yourself in the environment and situation that these people were experiencing at the time. Hopefully, it will give you a “feel” of how they felt and why their story of friendship is so special.

The 1936 Olympics was held in Berlin, Germany. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party had risen to power three years earlier and were already to spread their evil beliefs of racism and hate.  Hitler believed that the “perfect” person was from an Aryan race…a blue-eyed, blond haired, the perfect physique without any blemishes or handicaps.

Hitler saw the Games as an opportunity to promote his government and ideals of racial supremacy to the world. The official Nazi party newspaper wrote in the strongest terms that Jews and Black people should not be allowed to participate in the Games. However, when threatened with a boycott of the Games by other nations, Hitler relented and allowed Black people and Jews to participate.

After much deliberation and debate whether or not to boycott the Olympics, the United States and other nations decided to participate in the Games.

One of the American athletes was a Track and Field star named Jesse Owens and he was black. Jesse Owens seemed sure to win the long jump at the 1936 games. The year before he had jumped 26 feet, 8 1/4 inches — a record that would stand for 25 years.

As he walked to the long-jump pit, however, Owens saw a tall, blue eyed, blond German taking practice jumps in the 26-foot range. Owens felt nervous. He was acutely aware of the Nazis’ desire to prove “Aryan superiority,” especially over blacks. At this point, the tall German introduced himself as Luz Long. “You should be able to qualify with your eyes closed!” he said to Owens, referring to his two jumps. For the next few moments the black son of a sharecropper and the white model of Nazi manhood chatted. Then, Long made a suggestion. Since the qualifying distance was only 23 feet, 5 1/2 inches, why not make a mark several inches before the takeoff board and jump from there, just to play it safe? Owens did and qualified easily. In the finals Owens set an Olympic record and earned the second of four gold medals.

The first person to congratulate him was Luz Long — in full view of Adolf Hitler. Hitler was furious and embarrassed. Owens never again saw Long, who was sent out to the front lines and was killed in World War II. “You could melt down all the medals and cups I have,” Owens later wrote, “and they wouldn’t be a platting on the 24-carat friendship I felt for Luz Long.”

~ David Wallechinsky in The Complete Book of the Olympics ~

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This is an amazing story of how a friendship trumped the hatred and racism of a nation and a crazy man’s ideology! How thankful are you of the friends that you have? Could your friendship(s) withstand the “storms” of life and the hard times that might come your way? How much can you go out of your way to be a friend to someone in unpleasant situations? REALLY good friends are hard to find…and if you have one…Be THANKFUL!

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“Prosperity begets friends, adversity proves them.”  ~ Unknown ~

The Importance of Self-Confidence

Robin Zebrowski
Photo Credit: Robin Zebrowski via CC Flickr

Self-confidence and a strong belief in oneself and the things that you can achieve is a strong trait that an individual can have. When a person has a good self-image, they find that they can not only accomplish their goals but they can achieve things far and above anything that they ever imagined. In other words, sometimes a person who possess a high level of self-confidence, can discover something within themselves that they might not have thought never existed.

Today’s story is a great illustration of this power of self-confidence.

One of the greatest violinists of all time was named Niccolo Paganini. He was born in 1782 and he enjoyed a well-known and memorable career before his death in 1840.

One day as Paganini was about to perform before a packed opera house, he suddenly discovered that he had walked out on stage with the wrong violin. What he was holding was not his valued instrument but one that belonged to someone else.  His cherished violin was made by the master violin maker, Guarneri.

Paganini was horrified and panic-stricken but knowing that he had no other choice, he began to play with all of the skill that he possessed. Everyone agreed, after the performance, that he had given a performance of a lifetime. When he finished his concert, the audience gave him a standing ovation.

After the concert, in his dressing room, he was praised and commended for his marvelous performance, Paganini replied, ” Today, I learned the most important lesson in my entire career. Before today, I thought the music was in my violin but today I learned that the music is in me.”

 

 

 

The Unfortunate Power of Negative Thinking

BS md-wallenda-p1.jpg
Karl Wallenda takes a walk – 60 feet above the harbor -as the first attraction of the fourth Baltimore City Fair Sunpapers photo Lloyd Pearson published September 22, 1973

There has been an untold amount of research over the years that the power of positive thinking can have a fantastic effect on the way a person lives their life and how they feel about themselves. They have better self-esteem, self confidence, a healthier outlook with life, suffer less stress related illnesses, etc. Many successful individuals in all areas of life, become that way because of the approach that they have towards their life, the jobs they have, their faith, and other aspects of their life. For example, athletes use a method called “mental imagery” in which the athlete closes their eyes, visualize game situations that they would experience in real-life competitions, envision themselves reacting in certain ways, etc. Then, later on when they are actually playing in a actual game…they perform better because they have experienced the situations many times before.

Transversely, there is also the flip-side…the power of negative thinking. People fail many times because they either do not envision themselves at succeeding at a certain task or job, or they lack the confidence, motivation, or will-power to accomplish a specific goal.

Such is the case of the story of one the greatest tightrope walkers of all time, Karl Wallenda. He walked tightropes over great distances, high in the air, and he did so without a safety net.

As he grew older, Wallenda continued to do his death-defying walks. He performed the same breathtaking stunts up into his seventies that he had done as a young man in his twenties.

Then in 1978, he fell to his death while walking a tightrope between two buildings in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

His wife was interviewed on television several weeks later and was questioned about Wallenda’s fall.

“It was very strange,” she said, “For months prior to his performance, he thought about nothing else. But for the first time, he didn’t see himself succeeding. He saw himself failing.”

Mrs. Wallenda went on to say that he even went so far to personally check the installation and construction of the wire itself. “This,” she said, “was something Karl had never done previously.”

There seems little doubt that Karl Wallenda’s negative mental imagery and fears contributed to his failure.

The lesson and encouragement is this: Believe in yourself and be confident knowing that you will succeed with the tasks, jobs, and projects that may come your way. Stay strong and persevere when things or situations get tough and be assured, that you will be rewarded with the satisfaction knowing that you just enjoyed the power of positive thinking!

Your Life Is Not Your Own

german
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

This is a re-post of an article that I posted a couple of years ago around Memorial Day. It is a powerful message that you will not soon forget. This an amazing account of incredible sacrifice during World War 2 involving simple towns people. Warning: Tissues WILL be required!

Around this time each year, Memorial Day, I am reminded of a story that I once heard. Though the exactness of it I cannot confirm, I am assured its basis is quite factual, and its message definitely deserves to be retold.

The story is of a man, Andrew, who was known all his life for selfless sacrifice and good works. He always stood in defense of the defenseless, and toiled without tiring, standing up for the downtrodden and underprivileged. As he grew old, and people tried to honor him for his well-lived life of service, he was reluctant to accept the praise and attention that his community desired to heap upon him. It was then, for the first time, that he told a story that had burned deep in his heart and was hard for him to relate.

Andrew was a young man, thirteen years old and living in Austria, when the Germans invaded. The Austrians, brave and proud, decided to fight back. In the town where Andrew lived, the men and teenage boys organized and destroyed a power plant that the Germans relied on to continue their war effort. The men and boys all knew this would cause great hardship on themselves as well, for they also relied on the power from the plant. But the thing they had not counted on was the swift and severe retribution that would come from the Nazi invaders.

The next morning, before the sun was even up, trucks rolled into town. Soon, the sound of marching soldiers was heard in the streets. The men and boys of the town, twelve years old and older, were ordered to the town square. Andrew found himself standing in a line with the other men and boys, still trying to wipe the sleep from his eyes.

The commanding officer berated them, and told them they were fools to think they could stand against the might of the German army. He told them they were nothing, and their minuscule efforts would not slow down the German war effort, but it would hurt them because a price was going to be paid for their rebellion. He then said that every 20th man in the line would be shot.

As each 20th man was pulled from the line and marched away, Andrew looked down the line and started counting. With horror, he realized that he stood in a 20th position. He trembled with fear as the soldiers moved closer and closer to him, and the shots started to ring out at the edge of town where the unfortunate men were being taken.

As the Germans continued to move down the line, Andrew could see others counting and their eyes turning to him with a look of pity and concern. Andrew found himself wanting to flee, but too frightened to move. Even if he tried to run, the soldiers on the trucks, with the mounted machine guns, would cut him down before he could get ten yards.

But then, in the instant that the last man before Andrew was pulled from the line, the Germans turned their eyes away, and Andrew felt a hand on his shoulder. The hand tightened quickly, and before he knew what had happened, he was jerked forcibly over one spot, and the old man who had been standing next to him moved swiftly to switch positions.

Andrew looked up at the silver haired man and the man smiled. Just before he was taken from the line and led away, the old man spoke quietly to Andrew. “Your life is no longer just your own. Live it for both of us.”
Andrew watched silently as the old man disappeared from view toward the edge of the village. His heart jumped as the shots sounded, shots that Andrew knew should have been his own. In that instant, tears flowing down his face, he determined he would indeed live his life for both of them. From that day he had tried to live so that the unknown old man would have felt his sacrifice was well repaid.

Each time I consider the flags flying by the many graves in the cemetery, thinking back on Andrew’s story, I realized that no one’s life belongs just to them. Each of us owes a debt to many who have paid prices through hardship, hard work, and even the sacrifice of their lives, from which we have benefited.

With the wind gently whipping the flags in the breeze, I, too, renewed my own dedication in how I live my life.
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(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at daris@darishoward.com; or visit his website athttp://www.darishoward.com)

Keeping A Dream Alive: A Story of Perseverance and Courage

 

Sarah Ackerman
Photo Credit: Sarah Ackerman via CC Flickr

There are many things that a person may endure in a lifetime that may require an incredible amount of courage and perseverance such as dealing with a disease, a health condition, a family tragedy, or a host of other circumstances. Throughout these times and down through the ages, two types of people usually emerge from these trying times: individuals that give up on life and become depressed, miserable, and despondent or, a person that shows strength, courage and perseverance who overcomes the adverse situation and becomes an encouragement and inspiration to others.

 Today’s story is a tremendous illustration of astonishing courage and unbelievable commitment. It is my hope that it will serve as a reminder of the strength and power of the human spirit…one that we all might be able to use if needed.

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The Brooklyn Bridge that spans over the river tying Manhattan Island to Brooklyn is truly a miracle bridge. In 1863, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea for this spectacular bridge. However, bridge building experts throughout the world told him to forget it: it could not be done.

Roebling convinced his son, Washington, who was an up and coming engineer, that the bridge could be built. The two of them developed the concepts of how it could be accomplished and how the obstacles could be overcome. With unharnessed excitement and inspiration, they hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge.

The project was only a few months under construction when a tragic accident on the site took the life of John Roebling and severely injured his son, Washington. Washington was left with permanent brain damage and was unable to speak or walk. Everyone felt that the project would have to be scrapped since the Roeblins were the only ones that knew how the bridge could be built.

Even though Washington was unable to move or talk, his mind was as sharp as ever, and he still had a burning desire to complete the bridge. An idea hit him as he lay in his hospital bed, and he developed a code for communication. All he could move was one finger, so he touched the arm of his wife with that finger, tapping out the code to communicate to her what to tell the engineers who were building the bridge.

For thirteen years, Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger until the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge was finally completed!!!

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So, when things get tough and it seems like all hope is gone…BE PERSISTENT and have the COURAGE and you WILL PREVAIL!!!