Hope in the Midst of Despair

Steve Damron

Photo Credit:: Steven Damron via CC Flickr

Have you ever felt worthless? Have you experienced the isolation and loneliness that your life was going nowhere and there was nothing that you could do to help others or make a positive contribution to today’s world? If so, then I have just the thing for you that will hopefully help encourage and inspire you today.

Have you ever felt worthless and your life had no purpose? Have you experienced the isolation and loneliness that your life was going nowhere and there was nothing that you could do to help others or make a positive contribution to today’s world? If so, then I have just the thing for you that will hopefully help encourage and inspire you today.

Consider the following story….

It was a beautiful mid-April morning along the seaside port of San Francisco. The weather was unseasonably warm and there was a slight breeze lazily blowing in from the northeast. Most of the city’s population were sleeping while some of the “early birds” began to wake up and get ready for another day.

Then, at 5:45 a.m., their world changed in a disastrous instant that forever changed their lives…and the spirit of the nation. In the next horrifying minute or so, the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, shook the city to the ground. More than 3,000 people were killed and over half of the 400,000 occupants of the city lost their homes and everything that they owned.

The tremendous earthquake, (later estimated as a 7.8 on the Richter Scale) not only caused hundreds of buildings and structures to topple, but the powerful shaking also destroyed the city’s water and gas lines. The gas from the ruptured pipes soon ignited, caught fire and spread quickly throughout San Francisco, spreading more havoc and terror throughout the land. The fires went on to burn for the next three days and over 500 city blocks were destroyed.

One of the reasons the fires were so devastating and destructive was because of the destroyed water network of the city. Almost all the fire hydrants in the system were useless…except for one. This one fire hydrant was the only working one in the entire city and it, single-handedly, saved the city’s famous Mission District from certain obliteration. Located on top of a hill, the horses that pulled the fire wagons were so tired that they could not climb the hill and get to the hydrant. So, the people in the area gathered together, pushed the horses and pulled the fire wagons to the water supply and for the next few days, was the center of the water usage for the firemen.

The fireplug was later fondly nicknamed, the “little giant”, and is referred to today as “the Golden Fire Hydrant” by the folks of San Francisco. Each year, on April 18, at 5:45 in the morning, a ceremony is held in which the hydrant is spray painted once again with a fresh coach of gold spray.

So, why do I tell you about this story? A tale of this one fire hydrant that helped to save the Mission District and parts of the surrounding neighborhood? It is because of this…think of how this little structure had such an enormous impact on the surrounding community and how much this small but powerful instrument not only helped to extinguish some of the fires, but it was a tremendous encouragement and help to the people that needed it! It may have looked small and insignificant, but it had a huge impact! This is also so true with a person’s life. No matter how little and worthless or insignificant that you may feel, you were put in the world to make an impact on others. Your personality, characteristics, and abilities are unique, and they are your own. No one in the world is exactly like you. You can have an impact on someone else, your neighborhood or community in your own individual and unique way.

We all are all “little” compared with the vast, untold billions of people living in the world today, but we can be “giants” by what we do for others in the small worlds that we live in every day!

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Navigating the Seas of Grief and Despair

Jeremy Segrott

Photo Credit: Jeremy Segrott via CC Flickr

The death of a close friend, a dear sibling or spouse, or a loving relative can lead a person to great depths of grief, despair and hurt. There are times when the death seems like a blessing because the person was suffering from an illness or some other misfortune, and they are now free from their suffering. In some instances, the individual expires because of old age or in other occasions, the passing of an individual is sudden and shocking. Regardless, when someone a person knows passes from this life, there is usually a time of great sorrow and pain.

Over the course of this past year, I have had the unfortunate experience of knowing some family and friends of mine who either died suddenly or have been going through the dark valleys of their lives. I came across the following story a while back that was written by an older gentleman, who had written his response to someone who had asked the following question in an editorial in his newspaper: “My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.” Many people responded but there was one old man whose incredible comment stood out from the rest. What he stated might just change the way we approach life and death:

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, parents, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

 I wish that I could say that you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever someone I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter.” I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if that scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and love. And scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

 “As for grief, you’ll find that it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with all of the wreckage around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was…and is no more. All you can do is float. You find some piece of wreckage and hang on for a while. Maybe it is a physical thing. Maybe it is a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float and stay alive.

 “In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they crash over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. If might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave keeps crashing…but in between waves…there is life.

 “Somewhere down the line, and it is different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall…or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at an airport. You can see it coming and for the most part, you prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

 “Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come…and you will survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of love…and lots of shipwrecks.”   ~ Source: Pinterest

It is my deepest hope and prayer that this commentary can help you or someone you know who may be “drowning” in a Sea of Despair or Grief. I know this…it helped me when I read it a while ago when my lifelong and best friend died, and who I miss every day…my Dad. So’s here to hope, grace, and happiness…and remembering the times with your loved one…the memories that will last a lifetime!

The Courage to Change Your Life Forever

Pixabay

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 kindnessblog.com 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.

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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.

Namaste,
Jamie”

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.

A Man and a Fork

5908895414_7e3b59ae4c_b

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!

Coping With Grief and the Shipwrecks of Life

Lookas PHT

Photo Credit: Lookas PHT via CC Flickr

Grief. Despair. Pain. Suffering. These are just a few words that describe the feelings and emotions that millions of people experience everyday around the world. The death of a family member or loved one, the loss of a job, a separation from a spouse, personal injury, loss of a job, the passing of a pet, sickness, cancer…the list goes on and on.

 Grief and depression can sometimes be overwhelming and lead an individual to suffer from a variety of physical problems such as fatigue, headaches, sore muscles, heart and chest pains…just to name a few. People can also experience emotional stresses such as numbness, bitterness, detachment, inability to show or feel joy, etc. Like I said, grief and depression can be downright devastating!!

 If you have experienced times like these or are currently fighting through a difficult time in your life, the following story might, very well, be just for you. It tells of a great approach that you may be able to use to help you deal with grief in a positive fashion.

 I read the following short story that I felt would be a fantastic post for my blog. It is my hope and prayer that this illustration might help you, even in a small way, to change your outlook and perspective on your life and help you heal a wounded soul and a broken heart!

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Someone on Reddit wrote the following heartfelt plea online:

 “My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.”

A lot of people responded. Then there was one old man that wrote an incredible comment that stood out from the rest that might just change the way that we approach the turmoil of life, death, and other negative experiences.

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here is my two cents.

“I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever someone I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter.” I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep…so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

“As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. All you can do is float. You find some piece of wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it is a physical thing…a happy memory, a photograph, etc. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. staying alive.

“In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing…but in between waves…there is life.

“Somewhere down the line, and it is different for everybody, you will find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging onto some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

“Take it from an old guy…the waves never stop coming and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you will survive them. And other waves will come…and you will have to survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves…and lots of shipwrecks.”

Words of Wisdom of Legendary Coach Pat Summit

Photo Credit: Tennessee Journalist

Photo Credit: Tennessee Journalist

Well-known and respected women’s college basketball coach, Pat Summit, died a few days ago, at the age of 64, five years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She was the head coach of the University of Tennessee’s basketball team and won more games than any other basketball coach in Division 1 history with 1.098 wins, 8 NCAA National Championships, and NEVER has a losing season. In their list of the top 50 coaches of all-time, the Sporting News placed her at number 11. She was truly an American icon!

As a coach (and teacher) I like to find good quotes and other tid-bits of information from successful individuals and Coach Summit was no exception. I decided to share with you many of the quotes that she stated over the years. It is my hope that you can discover some inspiration from some of the quotes and share them with others!

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Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes. How can you improve if you’re never wrong?

Loyalty is not unilateral. You have to give it to receive it.

Surround yourself with people who are better than you are. Seek out quality people, acknowledge their talents, and let them do their jobs. You win with people.

Value those colleagues who tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear.

Communication eliminates mistakes.

We communicate all the time, even when we don’t realize it. Be aware of body language.

Discipline yourself, so no one else has to.

Self discipline helps you believe in yourself.

Group discipline produces a unified effort toward a common goal.

Discipline helps you finish a job, and finishing is what separates excellent work from average work.

Put the Team Before Yourself.

When you understand yourself and those around you, you are better able to minimize weaknesses and maximize strengths. Personality profiles help.

Success is about having the right person, in the right place, at the right time.

Know your strengths, weaknesses, and needs.

Teamwork doesn’t come naturally. It must be taught.

Teamwork allows common people to obtain uncommon results.

Not everyone is born to lead. Role players are critical to group success.

Make Winning an Attitude.

Attitude is a choice. Maintain a positive outlook.

No one ever got anywhere by being negative.

Confidence is what happens when you’ve done the hard work that entitles you to succeed.

Competition isn’t social. It separates achievers from the average.

You can’t always be the most talented person in the room. But you can be the most competitive.
There is nothing wrong with having competitive instincts. They are survival instincts.

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts the most.

Change equals self improvement. Push yourself to places you haven’t been before.

Handle Success Like You Handle Failure. You can’t always control what happens, but you can control how you handle it.

Sometimes you learn more from losing than winning. Losing forces you to reexamine.

It’s harder to stay on top than it is to make the climb, Continue to seek new goals.

There is no such thing as self respect without respect for others.

Individual success is a myth. No one succeeds all by herself.

People who do not respect those around them will not make good team members and probably lack self esteem themselves.

Being responsible sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions.

18 Famous Quotes of Muhammad Ali

Ian Rensley

Photo Credit: Ian Rensley via CC Flickr

America and the world lost a great human being a few days ago at the passing of boxing legend, Muhammad Ali. Ali rose to prominence in the 1960’s and 1970’s when he not only became the world heavyweight boxing champion, but also became a advocate for peace and accepted people of all races, religions, and beliefs…despite proclaiming himself as a Muslim and giving himself over to the nation of Islam.

Ali was a unique sports figure. He not only was one of the top, well-known athletes of his time but he was also known around the world. Unlike many well-known athletes of today, he infused poetry, wisdom, and humor together to spread his message of peace and unity around the globe. His humorous quips are known around the globe.

So, in today’s blog, I decided to list some of Muhammad Ali’s famous quotes for you to ponder, think about, smile, and maybe, in some small way, apply to your everyday life!

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  1. To be a champion, you must believe that you are the best. If not, pretend you are.
  2. It is lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges.
  3. Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.
  4. It isn’t the mountain ahead of you that will wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.
  5. He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
  6. It is hard to be humble when you are as great as I am.
  7. Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.
  8. Impossible is not a fact. It is an option.
  9. Inside a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It is staying down that’s wrong.
  10. The man who has no imagination has no wings.
  11. I am the greatest, I knew that before I knew I was.
  12. Don’t count the days; make them count.
  13. Not only do I knock them down, I pick the round.
  14. I should be a postage stamp, that’s the only way I ever get licked.
  15. Last week, I murdered a rock, I injured a stone, hospitalized a brick, I am so mean, I make medicine sick!
  16. A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.
  17. I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.
  18. Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.