The Joy of Changing A Life

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Photo Credit: August Brill via CC Flickr

The joy and satisfaction of making a life-long difference in a person’s life is an experience and accomplishment of untold fulfillment. I have been a teacher for more than 30 years and have had the opportunity to teach thousands of people. It is such a gratifying and rewarding sentiment when I see my “kids” grow up, go to college, and become successful men and women in their professions and families.

Personally, there is honestly one thing that I have always felt that has been satisfying more than this…and that would be the instances when I had the chance to encourage and support a “less fortunate” individual. Watching them gain confidence and self-esteem as they journeyed down the “road of life”, gives me an amazingly sense of accomplishment.

Today’s story is a tremendous illustration of times when we judge people wrongly, by their looks and actions…then, fortunately, open their eyes to their REAL situation . The following is a heartwarming, inspirational true story of such an instance.

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Mrs. Thompson stood in front of her fifth grade class on the first day of school and told a lie, a big lie.  As she welcomed the students, she said that she would treat them all the same.  But that was not true because there was one student she would not treat the same – his name was Teddy Stoddard.

The school district hired Ms. Thompson the year before and she couldn’t help but notice Teddy last year.  He was a known problem child with a lousy academic record. He didn’t play well with others; his clothes were a mess; he always looked like he needed a bath, and he had a bad attitude.  Consequently, Mrs. Thompson delighted in marking Teddy’s papers with a broad red pen and placing big bold ‘X’s on all his wrong answers.  She loved putting a large ‘F’ at the top of his papers so other students could see his grade when she handed them out.

School policy required that each teacher review the records of their students during the first week of December.  Mrs. Thompson held Teddy’s file off until last.  When she finally sat down to review his file, she was taken aback.  Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child who does neat work and has excellent classroom manners. He is a joy to have in my class – I will miss him next year.”

His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an above average student who is well liked by his classmates.  He has been having trouble lately because of his mother’s illness, and life at home has really been a struggle for him.”

His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s recent death has been very hard on Teddy.  He tries hard to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life is negatively affecting him.”

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a withdrawn child who doesn’t show much interest in school.  He has few friends, often comes to class unprepared, and is frequently disruptive.”

Mrs. Thompson was now ashamed of her behavior. She felt even worse a few weeks later when her students brought in their Christmas presents for her.  All were wrapped in holiday paper and tied with ribbons except for one.  Teddy’s was clumsily wrapped in brown paper from an old grocery bag with no ribbon.  Mrs. Thompson opened Teddy’s present first.   Some children laughed when they saw a rhinestone bracelet with several stones missing and an old bottle of perfume only 1/4 full; but Mrs. Thompson quickly stifled their laughter by commenting on how beautiful the bracelet was as she put in on.  She then dabbed some perfume on each wrist, inhaled deeply and said it smells wonderful.

Before he left class that afternoon, Teddy walked up to Mrs. Thompson’s desk, slowly leaned in and said, “I just want you to know you smell just like my Mom use to.”  Then he ran out of the room.  When all the other students left, Mrs. Thompson cried at her desk. That was the day she vowed to quit teaching.  Never again would she teach reading, writing or arithmetic, instead she would start teaching children.

She began to pay attention to Teddy.  As she worked with him, his mind came alive.  The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded.  By the end of the school year, Teddy was one of the brightest students in her class.   Despite “her lie to treat all students the same,” it was obvious Teddy was her pet.  The following year, Teddy transferred to middle school and Mrs. Thompson never saw him again.

Towards the end of the next school year, Mrs. Thompson found a note under her door.  It was a note from Teddy telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Seven years passed before she received another note.  This time Teddy wrote he had just finished high school – third in his class – and that he would be going to college and that, by the way Mrs. Thompson, you are still the best teacher I ever had in my whole life.

Four more years went by when a letter from Teddy arrived explaining he had graduated from college and was planning on going to medical school in the fall and, by the way Mrs. Thompson, you are still the best teacher I ever had.

Several years passed before another letter arrived.  In this letter, Teddy stated he met a woman and they would be getting married in June.  He explained that his father died a few years earlier and he was wondering if she, Mrs. Thompson, would agree to sit in the place of honor reserved for the groom’s parents at the head table. This letter was signed Theodore J. Stoddard M.D.

Of course Mrs. Thomson agreed. She arrived at the plush wedding ceremony wearing an old rhinestone bracelet with several rhinestones missing and carried a scent of a perfume that Teddy once said reminded him of his mother.  Dr. Stoddard came forward and hugged her.  As he inhaled the fragrance of her perfume, he whispered in her ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for making me feel important and thank you for making a difference in my life.” Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back, “No Teddy you have it wrong.  I need to thank you. You taught me. You taught me I could make a difference.”

Author Unknown

The Need of Caring for Others

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Photo Credit: Artis Ram via CC Flickr

I have stated in previous blogs, that I firmly believe that the reason people are put on this earth is to assist other individuals and show compassion and empathy towards them. When we really love our neighbors as ourselves, we find that we feel more content, satisfied, and happy about our own lives. Many, many times, you will discover that the happiest people in the world, are the ones that help and care about others.

Today’s story is a beautiful illustration of the love that a son shows his elder father which, once again, is a small sample, of how much we should assist other people, like our loved ones, as they get older.


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

His father, being very old and weak, while eating, dropped food on his shirt and pants. The mess that he made disgusted the other diners in the restaurant while his son remained calm.

After they were finished eating, the son, who was not embarrassed at all, quietly took him to the wash room, wiped off the food particles, removed the stains, combed his hair and fitted his glasses firmly, When they came 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 to leave the eatery with his father.

At that time, an old man amongst the diners called out to the son and asked him, “Don’t you think you 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 went silent.

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

Encouraging Quotes of Gratitude and Thanksgiving

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Photo Credit: Hey Paul Studios via CC Flickr

I have always felt that the one thing in the world that make people truly the happiest, is when they do and give things to other people. How many times that you remember, have you felt really good about yourself, when you have helped someone? Said an encouraging word? Giving thanks for everything that you have?….or maybe just a small thing? Gratitude and Thanksgiving…both words go hand together…or like Forest Gump would say, “Like peas and carrots.”

I decided to find some inspiring quotes from all kinds of people, to hopefully, encourage you, enlighten your soul, or inspire you to say “thank you” or help someone today. Make it a goal of yours to show gratitude and compassion to at least one person every day!

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“There is joy without gratitude” ~ Brene Brown

“At times our own flame goes out, and is rekindled by a spark from another person… Each of us had cause to think, with great gratitude, of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” ~ Karl Barth

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them>” ~ John F. Kennedy

“When you love what you have, you have everything you need.” ~ Unknown (one of my favorites though 🙂

“Be thankful for what you have, you’ll end up having more>”  Oprah Winfrey

“Nothing os more honored than a grateful heart.” ~ Seneca

“Gratitude and Thanksgiving is more than an attitude, it’s a lifestyle.” ~ Jenni Mullnix

“If the only prayer you ever say is “Thank You”, that would be enough.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

“Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.” ~ Unknown

“I’m thankful for every moment.” ~ Al Green

“No one has ever become poor from giving.” ~ Maya Angelou

“What if, today, we were grateful for everything?” ~ Charlie Brown


A Final Thanksgiving Poem Just For You!!

May you stuffing be tasty

May your turkey be plump

May your potatoes and gravy

Have nary a lump

 

May your yams be delicious

And your pies take the prize

And may your Thanksgiving dinner

Stay off your thighs!

~ Unknown

Time is Precious

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Photo Credit: Vincent Albanese via CC Flickr

The speed and pace of today’s world is absolutely incredible. It seems as though time is flying by quicker and quicker, and we find ourselves with less time to do the things that we once did. The Technology Age, computers, the internet, social media, etc., has made it so that information can be found instantly and at the touch of a button.

Unfortunately, statistics also show us that people are under more stress, have less social skills, and are more out of shape, then ever before. How often do we desire to do something with our loved ones, family or friends…then “put it off”, and never get to do it?

The following poem, “Slow Dance,” written by David Weatherford, is an awesome reminder of the importance of spending our time wisely. Using our limited time here on Earth, to enjoy friendships, the beauty of the world, the joy of life, etc. It is my hope that the following words touch your heart and inspire you to understand the sweet importance of time and how we should use it.

“SLOW DANCE” by DAVID WEATHERFORD

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round

Or listened to rain slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight

Or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

Do you run through each day on the fly?

When you ask, “How are you?” do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

Ever told your child, “We’ll do it tomorrow,”

And in your haste not seen his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die,

’Cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

When you run so fast to get somewhere,

You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

It’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life is not a race, so take it slower,

Hear the music before your song is over.

 

The Power of Laughter

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Photo Credit: Farhad Sadykov via CC Flickr

There is nothing better in the world than a nice, big laugh…a good belly-laugh. Laughing and smiling is an awesome remedy for the soul. It can brighten your day. It can turn a dark time into an enjoyable light. It’s funny how an individuals view of life can sometimes drastically change when they “take the frown and turn it upside-down.”

I recently came across the following story which demonstrates to us the wonderful power of the gift of laughter. It is my hope that this story might help someone who may be suffering some kind of hardship.

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Many years  ago, Norman Cousins was diagnosed as “terminally ill”. He was given six months to live. His chance for recovery was 1 in 500.

He could see the worry, depression and anger in his life contributed to, and perhaps helped cause, his disease. He wondered, “If illness can be caused by negativity, can wellness be created by positivity?”

He decided to make an experiment of himself. Laughter was one of the most positive activities he knew. He rented all the funny movies he could find – Keaton, Chaplin, Fields, the Marx Brothers. (This was before VCRs, so he had to rent the actual films.) He read funny stories. He asked his friends to call him whenever they said, heard or did something funny.

His pain was so great he could not sleep. Laughing for 10 solid minutes, he found, relieved the pain for several hours so he could sleep.

He fully recovered from his illness and lived another 20 happy, healthy and productive years. (His journey is detailed in his book, Anatomy of an Illness.) He credits visualization, the love of his family and friends, and laughter for his recovery.

Some people think laughter is a waste of time. It is a luxury, they say, a frivolity, something to indulge in only every so often.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Laughter is essential to our equilibrium, to our well-being, to our aliveness. If we’re not well, laughter helps us get well; if we are well, laughter helps us stay that way.

Since Cousins’ ground-breaking subjective work, scientific studies have shown that laughter has a curative effect on the body, the mind and the emotions.

So, if you like laughter, consider it sound medical advice to indulge in it as often as you can. If you don’t like laughter, then take your medicine – laugh anyway.

Use whatever makes you laugh – movies, sitcoms, Monty Python, records, books, New Yorker cartoons, jokes, friends.

Give yourself permission to laugh – long and loud and out loud – whenever anything strikes you as funny. The people around you may think you’re strange, but sooner or later they’ll join in even if they don’t know what you’re laughing about.

Some diseases may be contagious, but none is as contagious as the cure. . . laughter.

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By Peter McWilliams
From “Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul”

A Man and a Fork

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Photo Credit: Waferboard via CC Flickr

There was a young man who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as he was getting his things ‘in order,’ he contacted his Priest and had him come to his house to discuss certain aspects of his final wishes.

 He told him which songs he wanted sung at the service,what scriptures he would like read, and what outfit he wanted to be buried in.

Everything was in order and the Priest was preparing to leave when the young man suddenly remembered something very important to him.

 

‘There’s one more thing,’ he said excitedly..

 

‘What’s that?’ came the Priest’s reply.

 

‘This is very important,’ the young man continued.

‘I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.’

 

The Priest stood looking at the young man, not knowing quite what to say.

That surprises you, doesn’t it?’ the young man asked.

 

‘Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,’ said the Priest.

 

The young man explained. ‘My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement.

In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say,

‘Keep your fork.

 

‘ It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming …. like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.

 

Something wonderful, and with substance!’

 

So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’

 

Then I want you to tell them:

‘Keep your fork … the best is yet to come.’

The Priest’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young man good-bye. He knew this would be one of  the last times he would see him before his death.

But he  also knew that the young man had a better grasp of heaven than he did. He had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice his age, with twice as much experience and knowledge.

 

He KNEW that something better was coming.

 

At the funeral people were walking by the young man’s casket and they saw the suit he was wearing and the fork placed in his right hand. Over and over, the Priest heard the question, ‘What’s with the fork?’ And over and over he smiled.

 

During his message, the Priest told the people of the conversation he had with the young man shortly before he died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to him.

 

He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

 

He was right. So the next time you reach down for your  fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.

 

Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed.

They make you smile and encourage you to succeed.

 

Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share. Being friends with someone is not an opportunity, but a sweet responsibility.

Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND… and  I’ll bet this will be an Email they do remember, every time they pick up a fork!

And just remember … keep your fork!

The BEST is yet to come!

14 Ways Sports Parents Can Greatly Influence Their Young Athletes

Photo Credit: Jim Larrison

Photo Credit: Jim Larrison

Well folks, it getting to be that time of year again when a variety of sports begin: soccer, football, tennis, etc. The start of the fall sports season also signals the involvement of thousands upon thousands of eager little athletes as they take the fields and get ready for action.

Along with these adolescent competitor, will be a host of parents who will either be spectators or coaches. Today’s blog, has to do mainly with the moms, dads, and relatives who will be watching the festivities on the sideline.

Many of you know that I have been a teacher and coach for over 30 years. I have coached and taught at just about every age level throughout my career. It was once said that if a person loves what they do, they never work a day in their life…and you know what? That’s the way I feel..I love what I do.

So, today I decided to share with you (if you are a parent of a young athlete) 14 “keys” that can help parents be a positive influence in their young athletes lives. I found this list from a college basketball coach who got this list from someone else…therefore the author of this list is unknown but very, very good!!

Please feel free to share this list with anyone who you feel could use it!!

Tell your child every time that you watch them play, “I loved watching you play!”: Please think about how that would make you feel! I know that that would make anybody feel great!

Do not soften the blow for your child after a loss: If they lose, teach them not to make excuses, to learn from the loss and move on. Many times the players move from the loss quicker then the parents. We get better through set-backs if we face our challenges head on. It also makes us mentally tougher and resilient…two important life skills.

Do not coach your child: Coaching your child may confuse your child. Allow them to experience how to deal with others. Encourage your child to listen to their coach. The #1 advice I could give a parent is to find a program where you agree with the philosophy of the coach and then allow them to coach. A very simple definition of each person’s role puts it into perspective: Players=Play, Coaches=Coach, Parents=Support, Officials=Officiate. Make sure to play your role well and not someone else’s role.

Teach them to be a part of something greater than themselves: Teach them this by applauding their effort and their ability to be coached. Do not coach them to look to score, “take over” the game, show-off their talent, shoot more, or run-up the score. If you teach them to be “me” players, they will miss the experience of being part of a team. Teamwork teaches humility and makes life work…all players need to learn it.

Do not approach your child’s coach about playing time: Encourage your child to speak with their coach. A coach should be honest with their players about where they stand and what they need to do to improve. Your job is not to approach the coach about playing time. Your child needs to learn to advocate for themselves and learn how to communicate with others. Remember that a player being a valuable member of the team is important…it is not all about playing time. Also, they may be a less experienced player and may need to develop. Many players do not come into their own until their senior year.

Do not compare your child to others, but encourage them to be the best that they can be! If a parent is constantly trying to have their child be better than someone else, the child will always be second best…but if you encourage your child to be the best that they can be and compete to be that way everyday, they will get better and they will reach their potential.

Cheer for all!…AND never speak negatively about your child, another child or a coach: We would not want anyone to speak negatively about our child, so do not speak of someone else’s child in a detrimental manner.

Be Self-Disciplined: Sports can be very emotional…they can bring out the best in us and the worst in us if we are not careful. Keep your emotions under control. Would you want someone yelling at you from the stands? Would you want someone yelling at you from work?

Let it be your child’s experience: In order to do so, we must acknowledge that we cannot control the experience of our child…that’s why it is called an experience. When we experience something we will have good times and bad times, great moments and average plays, we will deal with victory and defeat…allow your child to experience these highs and lows in sport which will allow them to experience the ups and downs of life…if we try to control the experience, our child is not being prepared for life.

Teach them to play for the love of the game (NOT A TROPHY): Teach your child that they are playing for the love of the game, for their teammates, for the love of competition. Think about if you could teach your child to be a great competitor, a great teammate and love what they do…that would be special!! In youth sports, we need to get away from the fact that everyone gets a trophy…if we do, we are teaching them to play for the reward rather then understanding that the reward is playing the game itself.

Focus on process: Sports like life are a process and we need to attack the process everyday to               grow and get better. The process is hard work, knowledge, attitude, perseverance,                                        teamwork, coachability, dealing with success and failure…and winning is the by-product…in sports             and in life!

Enjoy the journey of your child: Any journey we take is bound to have great moments,some bad moments, and some moments that we laugh at….enjoy the journey with your childand do not agonize over every single play, a decision by the coach, a good or bad game by the team or your child. In 25 years, you will wish you were watching your child play…so enjoy the journey!

Be a parent, not a fan: Your child will make mistakes, your child is not always perfect. Teach them when the time is right and make sure to compliment them when needed.

Do not make excuses: “The teacher or coach does not like me” is a familiar excuse…in the end, coaches like children that play hard, are coachable, have a great attitude, show perseverance, are a good teammate, and know how to deal with success and failure in positive ways…the important thing is to teach your child all of these attributes!,