The Courage to Change Your Life Forever

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Relationships are things that can come in all kinds of degrees, shapes and sizes. It was once said that relationships are like birds, if you hold them tightly they die. If you hold them loosely, they fly away. But if you hold with care, they remain with you forever.  Some relationships can be beautiful, loving, and delightful for people who really enjoy each other and being together.

Unfortunately, there are also other kinds of relationships that can be abusive, hateful, and unbearable. In many instances, people feel trapped…wanting to get out of them but either unwilling to “take the step” or afraid…of either not knowing what to do next or of more physical and/or emotional abuse.

A few days ago, I came across the following story on that I decided that I would share on my blog, that will hopefully motivate and encourage someone who might be experiencing an unhealthy relationship right now. It is a beautiful story of courage and hope.


A man came across a folded piece of paper while he was at San Francisco airport that said ‘read me‘ on the front.  How could anyone possibly resist that invitation?  He knew he just had to look.  So, he did.

And what he discovered inside was surprising and wonderful…

“I recently left an emotionally abusive relationship After months of insults I wont repeat, false accusations, lies, delusions, broken mirrors, nightly battles…. I left. I know that I was being poisoned by each day that I stayed. So with a heavy heart, I left my lover of three years, knowing that I had already put it off too long. At first he begged, then he cursed, but eventually he packed his bags and faded out of my life like a bad dream.

For the first few weeks, my body seemed to reject this. For three years I had seen the world through him-colored glasses. I didn’t know who I was without him. Despite the kindness of friends and even strangers. I could not help feeling utterly alone.

But it was this sense of lonesomeness that set me free. Somewhere along the way, I let go. I released all the painful memories, the names he had called me, the shards of him buried deep in my brain. I stopped believing the things he had made me think about myself. I began to see how extraordinary, breathtakingly beautiful life is. I meditated, drank too much coffee, talked to strangers, laughed at nothing. I wrote poetry and stopped to smell and photograph every flower. Once I discovered that my happiness depends only on myself, nothing could hurt me anymore.

I have found and continue to find peace. Each day I am closer to it than I was yesterday. I am a work in progress but I am full to the brim with gratitude and joy. And so, since I have opened a new chapter in my life, I want to peacefully part with the contents of the last chapter. The end of my relationship was the catalyst for a wealth of positive changes in my life. It was a symbol, more importantly, it was an act of self-love. It was a realization that I deserved to be happy and I could choose to be.

And so, in an effort to leave behind the things that do not help me grow, I am letting go of a relic from the painful past. I wore this necklace-a gift from him-every day for over tow years. To me, letting it go is a joyous declaration that I am moving forward with strength and grace and deep, lasting peace.

Please accept this gift as a reminder that we all deserve happiness. Whoever you are, and whatever pain you have faced, I hope you find peace.


Leaving a toxic relationship isn’t easy, but it is most certainly possible.

Jamie’s letter shows that with courage and a measure of self-love, you can change your own life for the better, and find happiness in a way you might not have thought possible.


The Art and Skill of Listening

Photo Credit: Egrodziak via CC Flickr

We all know that life in today’s world is getting faster and faster. Lifestyles are getting busier, more complicated, and less enjoyable. One of the skills that a good number of individuals have lost along the way, has been the skill or ability to actually be quiet, listen and hear to what people (or things) are saying.

How many times have you found yourself “going through the motions” responding to people in robotic, mechanical ways, and never really hearing to what is being said?

Let’s really take the time each day to stop and authentically listen and hear to what our friends, loved ones, or other things” are being said…the results may surprise you!

Today, I have included four very short stories that will illustrate the importance of listening to different things. I hope that these stories will help you in some small way, to maybe improve your relationships with people.


Mr. President

The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who passed down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests responded with phrases like, “Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir.” It was not till the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Nonplussed, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.”

The Signal Gets Weaker

I listen to my local radio station while I’m driving in my car. When I drive away from the radio tower, the signal gets weaker and weaker.  But if I turn the car around and drive back into town, the signal becomes stronger and I can hear it again.

In the same way, we stop hearing God when we drift away from Him.  But if we will turn around and come back to Him, we’ll hear His voice again. The closer we are to God, the clearer we can hear Him. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

Kent Crockett’s Sermon Illustrations,


The Ship Wreck

On December 9, 1902, on Mt Desert Rock off the coast of Maine, a young lighthouse assistant awakened the lighthouse keeper to tell him that he thought he heard a steamboat whistle nearby. The two of them went out into the bitter cold and saw, on the tip of a rock ledge, what appeared to be a wrecked boat. The two men took a rope and fought their way through the icy wind until they saw a tugboat with several men aboard pinned to the rock. It took several attempts, but at last they reached the boat, and despite the frigid conditions, pulled 18 men to safety. Had the young assistant keeper not heard the whistle in the night, some of the crewmen might have perished, for the boat sank shortly after the last man was rescued. Afterwards, as the survivors warmed up and talked about their ordeal, they marveled that their distress whistle could even have been heard over the howling wind and pounding waves. One of the seamen remarked, “That whistle was the voice of God; and thankfully, someone heard it.” (LecAid ibid.) God speaks to us. And when you hear that word, it brings comfort, solace, strength, guidance, courage, and wisdom. God speaks to YOU. And when you hear that word, when you LISTEN to that word, when you RESPOND to that word, you have in your hands a strong rope to lead you over the most troubled waters. For God’s word is the word of life. This is the word of the Lord! AMEN.

An Old Man’s Wisdom

There is a story told of an old man and his grandson who were walking down a business street in a downtown district. As they walked along, the grandfather suddenly stopped, turned his head slightly, and tweaked his ear. After a moment he said to his grandson, “Follow me.”

They slowly moved from where they were standing to a small planter box next to a sidewalk café. The planter was filled with various seasonal plants, but as the old man gently pushed back the flowers, behind them revealed a small bird’s nest filled with baby chicks; their chirping almost indistinguishable from the din of lunchtime dinners and people on the sidewalk.

No one seemed to pay any attention to the old man, his grandson or the little nest, but the grandson was amazed. After watching for a few minutes and then moving away the little boy looked up at his grandfather.

“Grandpa, how did you hear the birds? There is so much noise, so much happening, how could you hear?”

Without saying a word the old man took several coins from his pocket and tossed them on the ground.

With the tinkling of the coins on the sidewalk it seemed everything came to a stop. People turned around. Diners stopped eating to look their way. Several almost seemed to want to reach down and pick up the dropped coins. Then as quickly as it had happened – everything went back to the way it was.

That’s when the old man spoke, “It’s all in what you are listening for, my child, its all in what you are listening for…”

Sometimes I think we are much like the crowd walking down the street. We fail to hear the most important things in life. We’ve filled our lives with so much noise that it’s difficult to hear anything anymore. And when we do hear, we often mistake what we are hearing for what we want to hear instead of what we should be hearing.

Remember this little bit of trivia: The word LISTEN has the same letters as the word SILENT!

The Purpose of Dogs According to Six-Year-Old

jimmy brown
Photo Credit: Jimmy Brown via CC Flickr

One of my favorite things in life when I was younger was having a companion that was as close as a sibling, friend, or family member….my pet dog. We did everything together…go swimming, play soccer (he was the goalie), fishing, going on walks, etc. I remember how sad I was when I learned that my dad had to “put him down” after living a long dog’s life.

I used to think, “I wonder why dogs were given to us humans?”

Well, of all of the explanations that I ever heard, the following story is probably the best explanation that I ever heard. I hope you enjoy this short little story as much as I did!


Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found that he was dying of cancer. I told the family that we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought that it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting his old friend for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animals lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly piped up, “I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. He said, “people are born so they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”

The six-year-old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, that’s why they don’t have to stay here as long.

Just One More Time…

Mark K Baird via Morguefilecom
Photo Credit: Mark K. Baird via

I recently turned the big “5-0” a couple of years ago and what was even more humiliating, was receiving an AARP membership letter in the mail the very next day…Ahhh! Anyway, I have always been a nostalgic-type guy and I have become even more so during the past months.

I usually find myself a few times each day thinking to myself, “just once, I would love to go back in time and do…..” basically, reminding myself of the days or years in my past. It always brings a type of warmth to my heart and a smile to my face thinking of the friends, people, places and activities that I used to enjoy.

I know that it isn’t healthy to “overindulge” or “dwell on the past” too much on the things of the past, but sometimes, when life gets hard, crazy, or hectic, it’s always nice to sit back and think of the special things that happened…when life was simple and pure.

So, if I could, I would love to go back and do some of these things…just one more time

Stay outside until the street lights came on…which meant it was time to come home

Have bike races around the block with baseball cards flapping in my spokes which we thought made us sound like we were riding motorcycles

Hear the dinner bell ring…which called us all home for dinner

Listen to grandma calling all of our cats letting them know that their food was ready

Go Snapper fishing with my dad off the boat docks until sundown

Help my mom decorate her classroom and get it ready for her students

Play baseball and kickball with the kids in our neighborhood for hours each day

Build a tree fort in the trees in our backyard

Play and “Hide and Seek” in the woods and discover things around creeks and ponds

Save the world from evil and chaos as super heroes Batman (and my brother) Robin

Sit on my grandfather’s lap and listen to one more of his stories

Go sleigh riding down “Mueller’s Hill”, fly off the snow ramps and navigate around the obstacles that we made

Give my mom and dad one more hug

Visit neighbors with my brother and then enjoy the treats that they would give us

Have crabapple fights with the neighbors

Build sandcastles then making a big sand wall trying to prevent the incoming tide from destroying my fortress

Smell the aromas of the sausage and pepper sandwiches, homemade French fries, fresh cotton candy and pizza that that were always present at the boardwalk

Hear the sounds of the binging and ringing of bells, whistles and other noises emanating from the boardwalk arcades

Feel the sudden pull of the line on my pole as a fish got snagged on the hook and the excitement of the “fight”

Experience my heart “skipping a beat” as I asked a girl on the first date of my life

Watch my dad take portraits of people in his photography studio

Take a family vacation with my wife and two boys

Experience the excitement and magic of dating my wife then marrying her

Go to Yankee Stadium with friends

Stand on the rock jetty by the beach, watching fishing, luxury, and other boats come in

Go to college again

Play miniature golf during a beautiful summer night

Go to a family reunion

I could go on and list more things for hours…but the one thing that I wish that I could do….just one more time…if only for a moment…would be to TELL my mom, dad and grandma…how much I loved them…and thank them for all the love that they showed me.

Life is short. Take the time each and every day to enjoy the big AND small things. Appreciate and be thankful for all the people that are in your life and let them know how much they mean to you…before they are all gone.


A Heartwarming Story of Friendship: The Jesse Owens Story

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 ~


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!


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

Pictures That Speak Volumes #72

Photo Credit:

There is nothing that is more beautiful than watching a person give the go out of their way to show their thoughtfulness and compassion for others.

The precious picture above, shows us this kind of positive love and concern for a friend. Imagine if each person in the world had this same kind of love and concern for their fellow human being.

Make it a point each day to find something to help others…you will find that you might feel blessed in a way that yo might have never imagined!  🙂

Three Kinds of Friends

Nick Russill
Photo Credit: Nick Russill via CC Flickr

Throughout the duration of our lifetime, there are many people that come into our lives. Each one of them has an unique effect on us…each in their own way.

Generally speaking, people come into your life in one of three ways: a reason, a season, or a lifetime.  When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly.  They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually.  They may seem like a godsend, and they are.  They are there for the reason you need them to be.  Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.  Sometimes they die.  Sometimes they walk away.  Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand.  What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled;  their work is done.  The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.  They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.  They may teach you something you have never done.  They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.  Believe it!  It is real!  But, only for a season.

Lastly, there are people that come into your life that will last a lifetime. LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.  Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people (anyway);  and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.  It is said that love is blind but great friendships last forever.

A Heartwarming Thanksgiving Tale

Bernard Pollack
Photo Credit: Bernard Pollack via CC Flickr

I recently came across a heartwarming story written by Charles Rogers, that I thought would be a beautiful tale to share. It shows us once again, how sometimes, despite millions of people that celebrate Thanksgiving each year, there are still untold numbers of people that are lonely and hurting.

But it can also be a time of sharing and helping others…and sometimes, one act of kindness can have an impact on someone’s life that could last a long time!


There was a time when old-time Canarsien Ned Caro, who is now 85, celebrated Thanksgiving Day just like the rest of us: with turkey and trimmings and family, and even giving a friendly toast to those pilgrims of long ago. Thanksgiving was a happy event – then.

However, things changed two years ago when his wife of sixty years passed away. “Things will never be the same,” he said, rightfully in the depths of depression. The loneliness was almost unbearable, but Ned knew his religion would see him through. “The Lord has a way of helping people like me,” he said. “I know it now because of what He did for me.”

 A long time ago, Ned was the owner of a popular bar at the corner of Rockaway Parkway and Glenwood Road, right in the heart of Canarsie, so he was used to listening to stories (“It goes with the job,” he would say). He was also used to telling stories (“That went with the job too, if you came into my place,” he added).

He then proceeded to tell his Thanksgiving story, preceding it with the notation that his late wife’s name was Rose. “Rosie,” he called her.

“My beautiful Rosie was kinda sick about six or seven years ago,” he said. “She was in her seventies and I was almost eighty and getting around wasn’t too easy, so we were getting Meals on Wheels at the time.

“Well, one day the Meals on Wheels person delivered the food and Rosie opened the Styrofoam containers the lunch was packed in and found a note in one of the boxes from the person who packed them, a six-year-old girl by the name of Erin Cohen from West-chester. The note said, ‘Whoever receives this box…please write to me. I am six years old and I would like to hear from you and I will write back.'”

Ned said Rose was “happily surprised” and sat down and read the note over and over, finally saying to him, “I think I’ll write to her.”

Rose took up her pen and note paper and sent off a thank you note to six-year-old Erin Cohen of Westchester, telling her who she and Ned were, where they were from and few insignificant details. She didn’t necessarily feel she’d get a reply, but nevertheless, she asked for one.

“And don’t you know? An answer came the very next week,” Ned said. “Rose was as pleased as she could be and that very night she sat down and answered the nice letter she got from Erin. She told her about me and our son and about how things were here in Canarsie. You know. All the basic stuff.”

She sent off the letter and nervously waited to see if the youngster would continue the correspondence.

Needless to say, she did, and sent along a photo of herself, leading to more exchanges and, eventually, a few phone calls.

Unfortunately, they never met face-to-face, though. According to Ned, the drive was “just too much” for him to try. And Erin’s parents – her father, Lawrence, is a veterinarian and her mother, Diane, an interior decorator- couldn’t make it either. Both parties promised they’d get together “soon”…and the time just went…

On March 27, 2004, at the age of 79, Rosie passed away. Ned was devastated, and, after a reasonable period, called Erin’s parents, telling them, “I really don’t know how to tell Erin that her corresponding friend is gone.” They said they would take care of it for him.

“And what do you think if I continue the correspondence from now on?” he asked.

“That would be wonderful!”

In the summer, as Ned and Erin wrote to each other, Erin’s father invited Ned to join them for dinner at a restaurant near Canarsie where he met Erin, now 12 years old.

“We talked for hours and really hit it off,” he said, excitedly. “We had a beautiful day together.”

As time went on, Ned met with the family every now and then for lunch or dinner on a weekend.

Last September, the family sent him a special invitation to Erin’s bat mitzvah, which he had to turn down.

“I don’t drive now,” Ned answered when they called him.

“I’ll pick you up, take you to our house in Westchester and take you home,” said Mr. Cohen. “How would that be?”

“Just about perfect,” was the answer.

“The story doesn’t end there,” Ned Caro said. “Hopefully, the story will continue for a long, long time because this year they invited me to come to share Thanksgiving dinner with their whole family. This year Thanksgiving will be something special to remember. Again they’ll pick me up and take me home. I mean, last year I was pretty lonely, but this year – especially at this time of year – I’ll break bread with Erin and my ‘other’ family. It’ll be almost like it used to be.

“I’ll dedicate the day to Rosie.”





My Best Friend – My Dad

My Best Friend - My Dad
My Best Friend – My Dad

I think back of all the awesome times that I shared with my dad. My dad was a photographer (long before the digital age and the internet) and he would work a lot of weddings, take portraits, and snap pictures for organizations such as the local Little League or the Boy Scouts. We used to go on these road trips just about once a week, in which he would have to drive about an hour and half away to deliver pictures to a Boy Scout camp inNorth Jersey. He had this Ford Galaxy which he called his “sacred cow” that he loved and always took special care of. Under his driver’s seat, he had a cassette player, and he would play all this German music; the polka, beer hall, German bands, etc. He would blast the music all the time and I even got pretty good at “singing” the German lyrics. He even had a little German flag attached to his radio antennae. The rides home were always glorious. We would stop by the huge railroad station in Princeton to watch the trains come and go….man, how I loved watching those things whiz by! Then we would go to out to this diner and I would always get the same thing to eat….a cheeseburger, fries, and homemade lemon lime soda…hmmmm! I can still taste it to this day.

My father was an only child and he never, I mean, NEVER played sports or knew anything about athletics. He always was found reading a book and listening to symphonies but when my brother and I started playing Little League, he always came to our games, watched, and of course, took pictures. He used to take the pictures in such a way, that when he had the film developed, the pictures looked like baseball cards. We had our own baseball cards!!!!! Now THAT was AWESOME!! All the kids in our neighborhood used to congregate at our house and we would play baseball, literally, all day. It was such a spellbinding, magical moment when, for that one short time, my dad came out and tried to play. We thought that was the coolest thing ever….even if he wasn’t that good 🙂

My dad had his own little Photography Studio in a sleepy, seaside New Jersey town.  It was always a magical time when I walked into his shop, viewed all the pictures that he took, smelled the chemicals from the Dark Room, saw his set-ups that he would use for his photo shoots. In the autumn, every Saturday after the local high school would finish their football game, they would have a parade down Main Street if they won. It was a wonderful experience sitting there in front of his shop watching the players, cheerleaders and the band while drinking an ice cold soda.  On most Saturdays my brother and I would meet him at his shop and we would go across the street and eat this awesome pizza or baked lasagna then play Pac-Man while we were waiting for the food to come out. It seemed like everywhere we went, everyone knew my dad and he knew them. It was really sort of cool. After church each Sunday, we would go to the bakery in town and get freshly made Jewish rye bread. Man, was that GOOD! The bread would still be warm from coming out of the oven. The crust would be nice and crispy and the bread itself, moist and chewy. Then we would go to his studio and watch TV and eat snacks while watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. On our way home, he would tell my brother and I to make sure that we ate a lot during the Sundaydinner so that my grandma and mom wouldn’t get mad.

Since we lived around the ocean, my dad would take us fishing around some boating piers and occasionally fish at the beach itself, surf casting. But most of the time, we fished by the piers trying to catch Snappers (or baby bluefish) around dinner time and stayed there until the sun went down. There was nothing better in life then to sit by those piers, drinking a Welsh’s grade soda, watching beautiful sunsets and watching the moon and stars begin their nightly dance. We would find sticks and try to hit the Jellyfish to watch them glow (that’s what they do when they get touched at night).

So, here I sit today, smiling to myself remembering the many special times that I shared with my dad…his laugh, his smile and his corny jokes. Today, his photography studio is gone, the bakery sold out years ago, the diner is no longer there, the Boy Scout camp was disbanded a long time ago and all of my neighborhood friends have all moved away.  My love and admiration of my father will never go away and will forever be in my heart…..for my father will always be more than my dad….he will forever be…my best friend.