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Veterans' Appreciation

"Richard (my husband) never really talked a lot about his time in Viet Nam other than he had been shot by a sniper. However, he had a rather grainy, 8x10 black & white photo he had taken at a USO show of Ann Margaret with Bob Hope in the background that was one of his treasures.

A few years ago, Ann Margaret was doing a book signing at a local bookstore. Richard wanted to see if he could get her to sign the treasured photo, so he arrived at the bookstore at 12 o'clock for the 7:30 signing. When I got there after work, the line went all the way around the bookstore, circled the parking lot, and disappeared behind a parking garage.

Before her appearance, bookstore employees announced that she would sign only her book, and no memorabilia would be permitted. Richard was disappointed but wanted to show her the photo and let her know how much those shows meant to lonely GI's so far from home.
Ann Margaret came out looking as beautiful as ever and, as second in line, it was soon Richard's turn. He presented the book for her signature and then took out the photo. When he did, there were many shouts from the employees that she would not sign it. Richard said, "I understand. I just wanted her to see it".

She took one look at the photo, tears welled up in her eyes and she said, "This is one of my gentlemen from Viet Nam, and I most certainly will sign his photo. I know what these men did for their country, and I always have time for "my gentlemen". With that, she pulled Richard across the table and planted a big kiss on him. She then made quite a to-do about the bravery of the young men she met over the years, how much she admired them, and how much she appreciated them. There weren't too many dry eyes among those close enough to hear. She then posed for pictures and acted as if he was the only one there.

Later at dinner, Richard was very quiet. When I asked if he'd like to talk about it, my big strong husband broke down in tears. "That's the first time anyone ever thanked me for my time in the Army", he said.

Richard, like many others, came home to people who spit on him and shouted ugly things at him. That night was a turning point for him. He walked a little straighter and, for the first time in years, was proud to have been a Vet.

I'll never forget Ann Margaret for her graciousness and how much that small act of kindness meant to my husband. I now make it a point to say "Thank You" to every person I come across who served in our Armed Forces. Freedom does not come cheap, and I am grateful for all those who have served their country."

— Author Unknown

Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.  They come to us not knowing that truth.  We are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient the chance to go to work.

— Albert Schweitzer, MD

Accomplishment Needs Not Be Large

Some days, every aspect of my life seems overwhelming and crazy, and I feel so confused. On these days, I need to remember that I only have to do what needs to be done today. I do not have to worry about next week, next month, or next year – only what needs to be done today. I can make a list of things to do. When I finish something on my list, I can cross it off and feel proud of what I've accomplished, even if it's as simple as doing the dishes or making a phone call. When I accomplish something, I can be proud of myself.

Copyright© 1999 Judith R. Smith


A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks right to the top, rocks about 2" in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full? They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them in to the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The students laughed.

He asked his students again if the jar was full? They agreed that yes, it was.

The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

— Author Unknown

Release Love

Release love into every situation and see what happens.

— Eileen Caddy

Some say love and fear are our two most primary emotions. We can choose to live in a fear-focused or love-focused reality. We might say we have no choice, that life gives us loving or fearful situations to respond to. It's true that we don't deal life's cards, but it is also true that we have a choice about the cards we wish to keep and those we decide to toss out. Believing we are powerless and that life is stacked against us will keep us in the lap of fear.

Fear and love are both powerful emotions that are recharged at opposite ends of our energy fields.  Fear takes a lot of our energy, and love returns our energy in abundance. Many of us who have lived fear-focused lives have a hard time switching on the light of love. We are finding that the first step towards love is to learn to let go of fear. This might seem like a big order, but people all over the world are finding creative and spiritual ways to release fear and replace it with trust and love. No matter how many years we have carried the burden of fear, it is possible to begin to lay it down today.

Today, let me let go of one fearful thing and replace it with one loving thing.

Copyright © 1994 by Salley Coleman and Maria Porter


Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first, it is ridiculed. In the second, it is opposed. In the third, it is regarded as self evident.

— Schopenhauer

Look for the Good

Life is an interpretive experience. What happens is less important than how we respond to our circumstances. An intense stimulus that some people report as pain, others report as pleasure. It is we who decide what the interpretation will be.

Are you a "good-finder"? A recent study of the country's millionaires showed that the most common trait they all shared was the ability to discover good in any situation. This trait is also common in "triumphant survivors" — those individuals who overcome adversity and emerge strengthened and renewed.

A sincere spiritual seeker suffering from a chronic illness wondered, "Why haven't my prayers been answered?" One day, in deep meditation the reply came: "Look for the good in your situation and you will see that the answer has already been provided."  Suddenly this woman realized that her crisis provided a wonderful opportunity. She embarked on a program of nutrition, exercise, and yoga which led to a dramatic improvement in the quality of her life.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Your state of mind is up to you. Choose now to look for the good.

Copyright © 1991 Douglas Bloch

Redefining the Past

Nothing can hold you back — not your childhood, not the history of a lifetime, not even the very last moment before now. In a moment you can abandon your past. And once abandoned, you can redefine it.

If the past was a ring of futility, let it become a wheel of yearning that drives you forward. If the past was a brick wall, let it become a dam to unleash your power.

The very first step of change is so powerful, the boundaries of time fall aside. In one bittersweet moment, the sting of the past is dissolved and it's honey salvaged.

A Daily Dose of Wisdom from the Rebbe
— words and condensation by Tzvi Freeman
2 Shevat, 5762 * January 15, 2002

Life is not a race

Have you ever watched kids

On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading 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'd 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 see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say "Hi"
You'd 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 is like an unopened gift.... thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

— Author Unknown

Recipe for a Happy New Year

Take twelve whole months.
Clean them thoroughly of all bitterness, hate, and jealousy.
Make them just as fresh and clean as possible.
Now cut each month into twenty-eight, thirty, or thirty-one different parts, but don't make up the whole batch at once.
Prepare it one day at a time out of these ingredients.
Mix well into each day one part of faith, one part of patience, one part of courage, and one part of work.
Add to each day one part of hope, faithfulness, generosity, and kindness.
Blend with one part prayer, one part meditation, and one good deed.
Season the whole with a dash of good spirits, a sprinkle of fun, a pinch of play, and a cupful of good humor.
Pour all of this into a vessel of love.
Cook thoroughly over radiant joy, garnish with a smile, and serve with quietness, unselfishness, and cheerfulness.
You're bound to have a happy new year.

— Author Unknown

Trust Over Hope

Trust transcends hope, as the space beyond transcends the atmosphere below.  When the mind clings to a thread of hope, it is anchored to earthly bounds.  The thread snaps, and the mind looks up and sees nothing more than the open sky.  All limits are gone.  That is Trust: When you stop suggesting to your Maker what He should do.  When you are ready and open to surprise and miracles.

A Daily Dose of Wisdom from the Rebbe
— words and condensation by Tzvi Freeman

New Eyes of Understanding

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

— Marcel Proust

How have we felt when we return to our hometowns, childhood homes, old playgrounds, or high schools after years of absence? Suddenly each place isn't as it once seemed because we're looking through the eyes of someone older and changed.  Where we once saw our high school through the eyes of students, we now look at it through the eyes of adults--in a much different way.

So it is with all areas of our lives: our jobs, homes, families, friends, or partners. Many of these people and places haven't changed for a long time. Yet, we change every day.   Instead of seeing our job as the same old job or our home as the same old home, we can start to look at them differently.

Tonight we don't need to change things on the outside to feel better on the inside. We can change how we look at things from the inside out. We can start to see who and what are outside of us as if we were looking at them for the first time. Tonight the ho-hums in our lives can turn into ah-has just by changing the way we see them.

There may be many things in my life that haven't changed, but I'm not one of them. Tonight I can see them all with new eyes.

Copyright © Amy E. Dean 1986

Change your thoughts and you change your world.

— Norman Vincent Peale

We learn from the Program that all of our lives are made up of changes. Life for us can be like the seasons of the year. The uncomfortable blizzards of winter will pass. Spring brings flowers. Chattering birds fill the air with song where once there was wind, snow, and ice.

We know summer will follow spring. We learn to take the bad with the good. Hardships can make us stronger. Suffering cannot last forever. The key is to see life with optimism. We know that the changing of the seasons is like the changes in our lives.

When we use the Serenity Prayer, we may occasionally lose sight of its meaning. We need to concentrate on the differences between what we can change and what we can't.

I trust and I believe that the changes in my life are like the changing of the seasons. They are necessary and good for me.

From the book "Easy Does It "

Forrest Gump Goes To Heaven

The day finally arrived: Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven.  He is at the Pearly Gates, met by St. Peter himself. However, the gates are closed and Forrest approaches the Gatekeeper.

St. Peter says, "Well, Forrest, it's certainly good to see you. We have heard a lot about you.  I must inform you that the place is filling up fast, and we've been administering an entrance examination for everyone. The tests are short, but you have to pass them before you can get into Heaven."

Forrest responds, "It shore is good to be here St. Peter, sir. But nobody ever tolt me about any entrance exam. Shore hope the test ain't too hard; life was a big enough test as it was."

St. Peter goes on, "Yes, I know, Forrest, but the test is only three questions.

Here is the first one: What days of the week begin with the letter "T"?

Second: How many seconds are there in a year"?

Third: What is God's first name"?

Forrest leaves to think the questions over. He returns the next day and sees St. Peter, who waves him up and says, "Now that you have had a chance to think the questions over, tell  me your answers.

Forrest says, "Well, the first one — how many days in the week begin with the letter "T"?  Shucks, that one's easy. That'd be Today and Tomorrow."

The Saint's eyes open wide and he exclaims, Forrest, that's not what I was thinking, but you do have a point and I guess I didn't specify, so I'll give you credit for that answer." "How about the next one?" asks St. Peter.  "How many seconds in a year"?

"Now that one's harder, says Forrest, but I thunk and thunk about that and I guess the only answer can be twelve."

Astounded, St. Peter says, "Twelve! Forrest, how in Heavens name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year"?

Forrest says, "Shucks, there's gotta be twelve: January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd ... "

"Hold it, St. Peter interrupts, I see where you're going with this, and I see your point,  though that wasn't quite what I had in mind either, but I'll have to give you credit for that one too." Let's go on with the next and final question. Can you tell me God's first name?

"Sure," Forrest replied. "It's Andy".

"Andy!!" exclaimed an exasperated and frustrated St. Peter. "Ok, I can understand how you came up with your answers to my first two questions, but just how in the world did you come up with the name of Andy as the first name of God"?

"Shucks, that was the easiest one of all", Forrest replied. I learnt it from a song. "ANDY WALKS WITH ME, ANDY TALKS WITH ME, ANDY TELLS ME I AM HIS OWN".

St. Peter opened the Pearly Gates and said, "RUN, FORREST, RUN".

— Author Unknown

Being in Charge of Self

Accepting powerlessness lightens our burden.  Coming to believe that we are not responsible for solving anyone else's problems or making anyone else's decisions frees us to pursue our own dreams and aspirations with greater  concentration.  But it's not easy to give up our control of other people. It's how we thought we were supposed to live. Their burdens had become ours.

We surely have lots more time to take care of ourselves now that we have begun letting others be in charge of themselves. But we have to watch out for slipping back into our old controlling behaviors.

Ingrained habits are hard to change. We have to learn how to savor the extra hours in our day now that we only have ourselves to control. As our accomplishments multiply, we'll find that letting others take care of themselves will be easier.

I am in charge of myself. What do I want to accomplish? I can begin right away.

Copyright © Karen Casey 1993

Sharing Our Lives

The familiarity of isolation is both haunting and inviting. In our separateness we contemplate the joys of shared hours with others while seeking the freedom from the pain that likewise hovers on the heels of intimate relationships. The question eternally whispering around our souls is, "Do I dare let you in, to share my space, to know my heart's longing, to feel my fears?" Only when we trust to say yes will we find the peace our souls long for.

Passage through the doors that separates us, frees us to change, to grow, to love ourselves and others. We must plant our feet in the soil of shared lives to quiet our longing.

Copyright © Karen Casey 1985

Yielding to Resistance

I must love the questions themselves...like locked rooms, full of treasures to which my blind and groping key does not yet fit.

— Alice Walker

We have many questions and few solutions. We are sometimes faced with problems that seem to defy fixing. When an answer finally appears, we are not left to rest on our laurels as new questions and personal mysteries challenge us.

Happiness is really to be found flowing in between the lines of life, in the weaving of our day-to-day tapestry. When we learn the sweetness of yielding and non-resistance, we steady and enrich our travels.

It has been said the pain is not in the change but instead in the resistance to the change. Our life continues to be a series of ups and downs, questions, answers, and more questions. It is made up of change. When we resist change, we resist life itself. Learning to relax and enjoy the experience is the key to joy.

Today, let me know I am always protected and on a right course.

Copyright © Salley Coleman and Maria Porter 1994

I Am What I Am

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware, I sit content,
And if each and all be aware, I sit content.

— Walt Whitman

When we're feeling low and we're afraid we aren't good enough, we can practice self-affirmation – active, positive self-acceptance. We can affirm, "I am what I am."

Daily doses of "I am what I am" therapy is an antidote to the poison of perfectionism. Many of us grew up believing that approval depended on what we did. And we could never do enough, good enough. So today, we still worry that we aren't acceptable, that we are never finished, presentable, good enough.

As we practice self-acceptance, we let go of that old anxiety. The more we tell ourselves we are fine just the way we are, the less worry we have about what others think. We become less self-conscious, more relaxed. We discover that people like us just the way we are.

All day long, whether I am conscious of it or not, I will receive positive messages that say, "I am perfect today in every way."

"The Color of Light" by Perry Tilleraas 1988

When You Can't Smile

On those days when nothing's right
When sorrow seems to be your plight
Give a thought to me, I'm always there
I'll lend a smile, you know I care!

If happiness seems far away
And dark clouds cover up the day
I'll send you something you can't find
A lovely thought to ease your mind

Life's journey may not be so smooth
But friends can lighten up your mood
Reach out to me, you'll find me there
When you feel lost and life's unfair

I'll lend this smile and helping hand
Knowing you will understand
One day I'll be reaching out to you
When it's my turn for feeling blue

So on this journey that we share
I'll keep you close in thought and prayer
May angels guard you all the while
But let me know, when you can't smile.

— Copyright © Karen Shaw Matteson 2001


Roots nourish, give us life and bind us safely to earth. Plant them well.

— Anonymous

All trees have different root systems. The pine grows quickly, with shallow roots that spread in every direction. A maple is a slow-growing tree, whose roots run deeper, seeking out moisture far into the earth. Both root systems give life, but when the weather turns stormy and the wind howls through the branches, the maple, with its deeper roots, will hold fast. Though the pine grows faster and needs only surface moisture, it cannot withstand the storm as well.

We often want things immediately. We want to play the piano, but only if we can learn it fast. We want others to love us right away, or we'll give up on them. If something we're doing doesn't go just so right from the start, we give up.

But the permanent things in life take time to develop. If we want our relationships, our skills, our accomplishments, to resist the storms we all encounter, we must allow time for them to grow and deepen within us, and marvel, in the meantime, at how much we can learn from the world around us.

What deep roots am I setting down right now?

— Anonymous

The Seven Wonders of the World

A group of Geography students were asked to list what they considered to be the Seven Wonders of the World. Though there was some disagreement, the following got the most votes:

1. Egypt's Great Pyramids
2. Taj Mahal
3. Atlantis
4. Panama Canal
5. Empire State Building
6. St. Peter's Basilica
7. China's Great Wall

While gathering the votes, the teacher noticed one student, a quiet girl, hadn't turned in her paper. So she asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list. The quiet girl replied, "Yes, a little. I couldn't quite make up my mind because there were so many."  The teacher said, "Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help." The girl hesitated, then read, "I think the Seven Wonders of the World are:

1. to touch
2. to taste
3. to see
4. to hear
5. to run
6. to laugh
7. and to love

It is far too easy for us to look at the exploits of man and refer to them as "wonders" ...
May you be reminded today of those things which are truly wondrous.

— Author Unknown


If the only prayer you say in your whole life is "thank you", that would suffice.

— Meister Eckhart

"An attitude of gratitude," we sometimes hear, will help us on our path. There certainly are enough things for us to worry about, grieve over, and complain about. They have their place. But as we mature and no longer use addictive escapes, we learn that joy can exist side by side with grief.

Gratitude is a tonic for our self-pity. Saying "thank you" actually opens us to receive more of life's blessings which sit there waiting for us to notice.  In a pleasant moment we can look around and say, "Aren't we lucky!" That's a kind of prayer, and it connects us with our Higher Power. No matter how painful or worrisome a day may be, we can be thankful for our growth. Gratitude is so simple we sometimes dismiss it while looking for a more complicated answer in our lives. We can say "thank you" for all the simple things like trees, cool air, food to eat, and love between people. It is a risk to be so grateful. Who will be in control?  Perhaps God. 

God, thank you for all that comes to me without my efforts.

— Copyright © Touchstones by Anonymous 1986

Love's Balance

In our quiet moments we dream of the gifts that accompany being loved and imagine ourselves as always filled with laughter, a glowing warmth, a serene perspective. But how short-sighted our vision. Love promises us growth as well, and growth may mean a loved one's choice to depart for a time, or a struggle for agreement about future directions. Tears and fears are commonplace when we enter the realm of love.

Let's not forget that all experiences, even the dreaded ones, are meant for our good. We are never given more than we can handle, and we will be given a balanced set of circumstances. A measure of joy will follow a period of sadness. As experience has shown, quick on the heels of the fear of loss is the realization that in the spiritual realm we're secure and all is well.

How grateful we might become that love offers us so much to grow on.

From "Worthy of Love" by Karen Casey

Once upon a time . . .

Once upon a time there was an island where all the feelings lived; happiness, sadness, knowledge, and all the others, including love.

One day it was announced to all of the feelings that the island was going to sink to the bottom of the ocean. So all the feelings prepared their boats to leave. Love was the only one that stayed. She wanted to preserve the island paradise until the last possible moment. When the island was almost totally under, love decided it was time to leave.

She began looking for someone to ask for help.

Just then Richness was passing by in a grand boat.  Love asked, "Richness, can I come with you on your boat?"  Richness answered, " I'm sorry, but there is a lot of silver and gold on my boat and there would be no room for you anywhere."

Then Love decided to ask Vanity who was passing by in a beautiful vessel.  Love cried out, "Vanity, help me please."  "I can't help you", Vanity said.  "You are all wet and will damage my beautiful boat."

Next, Love saw Sadness passing by.  Love said, "Sadness, please let me go with you."  Sadness answered, "Love, I'm sorry, but I just need to be alone now."

Then Love saw Happiness.  Love cried out, "Happiness, please take me with you."  But Happiness was so overjoyed that he didn't hear Love calling to him.

Love began to cry.  Then she heard a voice say, "Come Love, I will take you with me."  It was an elder.  Love felt so blessed and overjoyed that she forgot to ask the elder his name.  When they arrived on land the elder went on his way.  Love realized how much she owed the elder.

Love then found Knowledge and asked, "Who was it that helped me?"  "It was Time", Knowledge answered.  "But why did Time help me when no one else would?", Love asked.

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

— Author Unknown

Our Intuitive Core

There is an intuitive core at the depth of your being.

— Helene Lerner-Robbins

Deep within ourselves, we know everything. We haven't yet learned to tap this inner source of wisdom, but now that we have found this spiritual program, lessons will be forthcoming. This means that each of us is fully capable of understanding the best way to attain a serene life. Within our souls lie all questions and their answers. Our self-centeredness commonly blocks the information that's trying to rise to our awareness. However, when we can keep our ego small, our humility large, we'll understand clearly why we are here, what we need to know, what we have to do.

When we are frustrated, it's hard to believe that we have the wisdom we need within us. We race from one meager option to another, finding no solution. But if we still the mind, the information we seek will bubble forth. Hard to believe? Not once we've tried it. Hard to remember? Not with enough practice.

I am wise. The knowledge I need today will rise to my mind's eye.

— Copyright © Karen Casey

No Doubt The Universe Is Unfolding As It Should

When we begin to think all is wrong and out of control, when we think our troubles are insurmountable, perhaps we should stop, acknowledge there is power greater than self, consider those blessings we do have, realize we never were in control, find out what part we have played in our own troubles, turn over all things outside of our control, become responsible for what we are able to change and then get on with our lives.

— Richard G. Shuster 12/30/01

Healing The Other Way

There are two approaches to healing.

One is to find whatever has been weakened and damaged by illness, then repair and strengthen it.

Another is to find whatever remains viable and healthy, and support and strengthen it. Since it is one body, fortifying one aspect brings healing to all the rest.

So too, the healing of the spirit.  One path is to grab the weakness by its horns and fix up your act.  Another is to focus your energies on the spiritual resources that are working well. Since it is one soul, when one area is enriched, the rest is elevated with it.

So, too, in repairing whatever is amiss in your world. When you see others are not doing their job, important work is being mishandled and valuable opportunities passed up, it is not a time for anger or despair.  It is a time for you to strengthen many times over the good work you are doing in your own sphere.

And since we are all one, the energy you invest in your little corner of the world pays off in every other portion as well.

A Daily Dose of Wisdom from the Rebbe
— words and condensation by Tzvi Freeman
13 Tevet, 5762 * December 28, 2001


Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment.

— Napoleon

Courage never operates in a vacuum; we are always courageous about something. And we need to believe that there will be some consequence to our acts of bravery. We are looking at the long term for some kind of salvation for ourselves and for others.

Love, too, needs a sense of future, time to develop and flower. Only passion lives for the moment, and passion, like the flame-red rose, often doesn't last out the year.

So love and courage are similar and often work together for our own good and the good of others.

In our life's travel we prize love and courage as we gain more wisdom and serenity. We come to believe in the long term and in things that endure.
We know we can't change in a day, but with love and courage, and the hope on which they depend, we can do wonders.

I believe in my courage to change day by day.

— Anonymous

Believing in a Higher Power Changes Everything

Faith in a Higher Power doesn't come easily for many people, particularly those for whom the past has been painful. Acting as if there is a God is the best many people can do at first. And that's good enough.

What's to be gained from believing in a Higher Power? Peace of mind comes first. Knowing that we're not alone, that we have a companion to share every burden with, makes any struggle easier to handle.

But belief doesn't mean that we'll no longer have problems, that we'll be guaranteed happiness. Life is ebb and flow, good and bad, up and down.
Nothing has to destroy us, though, and that's where our faith comes in With our knowledge that God is present always, we can move through troubling experiences, confident that we'll survive – confident, in fact, that we'll grow from the experience.

With my Higher Power's help, I will get hope and relief today in all my experiences, no matter how troubling.

Copyright © Karen Casey 1993

Benefits of a Faith Lift

"The journey to a new way of life – physically, mentally, and spiritually – includes the joy of rediscovering a faith that had been lost."

— Louise A. Rice

What does it mean to have faith?  How does having faith make our lives different?  Having faith doesn't make us into totally new people.  Our pattern of speech may not reveal our newfound faith, and our daily routine may remain much the same.

But there are subtle differences.  We tense up less often.  We seldom experience excessive fear over how something will turn out.  We enjoy more energy.  We are more at ease with the people in our lives.  We come to believe that all things are working out for the best, and we trust that we will be given the information we need to make decisions or new choices when the time is right.

Faith gives us serenity and frees up many hours that were previously consumed by tension.  We can fill these hours creatively when we trust the outcome.

Surely this is the program's best gift.  I will let my faith work in my life today.  Nothing has to upset me.

Copyright © Karen Casey 1994

Thorns or Roses

Why pick thorns, when you can pick roses?

— Karin W.

We've all known unhappy souls who seem to spend their whole lives collecting insults, searching for proof that the world is a terrible place. "What did he mean by that?", they wonder suspiciously. Expecting the worst, that's usually just what they find.

Bad things happen, but something positive can be found in almost every situation. Sometimes it takes close looking, but it's there if we're willing to apply faith, time, and elbow grease.

Life is like a jigsaw puzzle; we see only one little piece at a time. Who knows what wondrous things may come from today's misfortune? Mold growing in a pan of water turned out to be penicillin. A drug invented for use in dentistry was found to control schizophrenia. And the same rain that ruins our shoes grows our food. Unhappiness, misery, insult, death, and destruction come to us all. But so do goodness, beauty, decency, love, and comfort. We find what we look for.

Today help me be patient with bad news and annoyance. Help me pick the roses instead of the thorns.

Copyright © Body, Mind, and Spirit by Anonymous 1990

Happiness: An Inside Job

The trouble is not that we are never happy - it is that happiness is so episodical.

 — Ruth Benedict

Happiness is our birthright. The decision to be happy is ours to make, every day, when confronted with any experience. Too many of us grew up believing that life needed to be a certain way for us to be happy. We looked for the right lover, the right job, the right clothes. We looked outside of ourselves for the key to happiness. In time, we even looked to alcohol, drugs, food perhaps – to no avail.

Happiness lies within. We must encourage it to spring forth. But first we need to believe that happiness is fully within our power. We must trust that the most difficult circumstances won't keep it from us when we have learned to tap the source within.

Life is a gift we are granted moment by moment. Let us be in awe of the wonder of it, then revel in it. We can marvel at creation for a moment and realize how special we are to be participants. Happiness will overcome us if we let it. We can best show our gratitude for the wonder of this gift by smiling within and without.

That I am here is a wonderful mystery to which joy is the natural response. It is no accident that I am here.

Copyright © Karen Casey 1982


Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. "I will come next Tuesday," I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call. Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove there.

When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren, I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road was invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!"

My daughter smiled calmly and said, "We drive in this all the time, Mother."

"Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her. "I was hoping you'd take me over to the garage to pick up my car."

"How far will we have to drive?"

"Just a few blocks," Carolyn said. "I'll drive. I'm used to this."

After several minutes, I had to ask, "Where are we going? This isn't the way to the garage!"

"We're going to my garage the long way," Carolyn smiled, "by way of the daffodils."

"Carolyn," I said sternly, "please turn around."

"It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."

After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand-lettered sign that read, "Daffodil Garden."

We got out of the car and each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns-great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.

"But who has done this?" I asked Carolyn.

"It's just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's her home."

Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory. We walked ! up to the house. On the patio, we saw a poster.

"Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking" was the headline.

The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs," it read.

The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and very little else."

The third answer was, "Began in 1958."

There it was, The Daffodil Principle. For me, that moment was a life-changing experience.

I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun – one bulb at a time – to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world. This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of ineffable magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.

The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time – often just one baby-step at a time – and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time.

When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.

"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to achieve!"

My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way.

"Start tomorrow," she said.

It's so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make living a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, "How can I put this to use today?"

— Author Unknown

With thanks to friends who have sent these wonderful thoughts.


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Most recent revision Saturday, August 24, 2002