A MEANINGFUL LIFE
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genius of life is to carry
the spirit of childhood into old age."
~ Aldous Huxley...
July 25, 2005
Were The Days"
THIS WEEK'S ISSUE
From the Inside Out...
Yes You Can!...
Sierra de Trinidad - Cuba
Untangling the Web...
What a Site!
Just for YOU...
Laughing It Off...
BE the World
You Want to See!
my life, I've managed to feel young by maintaining an open mind
and continually knowing, at a deep level, that all is well in my
universe. I stay awake to 'signs' around me and am generally proactive.
With time and perspective things always turn out to be worthwhile
often in unexpected ways. For, as Henry David Thoreau said,
"There is no value in life except what you choose to place
upon it and no happiness in any place except what you bring to it
~ Chelle Thompson, Editor
From the Inside Out
As I walked home one freezing day, I stumbled on a wallet someone
had lost in the street. I picked it up and looked inside to find
some identification so I could call the owner. But the wallet contained
only three dollars and a crumpled letter that looked as if it had
been in there for years. The envelope was worn and the only thing
that was legible on it was the return address. I started to open
the letter, hoping to find some clue. Then I saw the dateline
1924. The letter had been written almost sixty years ago.
was written in a beautiful feminine handwriting on powder blue stationery
with a little flower in the left-hand corner. It was a "Dear
John" letter that told the recipient, whose name appeared to
be Michael, that the writer could not see him any more because her
mother forbade it. Even so, she wrote that she would always love
was signed, Hannah.
was a beautiful letter, but there was no way except for the name
Michael, that the owner could be identified. Maybe if I called information,
the operator could find a phone listing for the address on the envelope.
"Operator," I began, "this is an unusual request.
I'm trying to find the owner of a wallet that I found. Is there
anyway you can tell me if there is a phone number for an address
that was on an envelope in the wallet?" She
suggested I speak with her supervisor, who hesitated for a moment
then said, "Well, there is a phone listing at that address,
but I can't give you the number." She said, as a courtesy,
she would call that number, explain my story and would ask them
if they wanted her to connect me. I waited a few minutes and then
she was back on the line. "I have a party who will speak with
asked the woman on the other end of the line if she knew anyone
by the name of Hannah. She gasped, "Oh! We bought this house
from a family who had a daughter named Hannah. But that was 30 years
you know where that family could be located now?" I asked.
"I remember that Hannah had to place her mother in a nursing
home some years ago," the woman said. "Maybe if you got
in touch with them they might be able to track down the daughter."
She gave me the name of the nursing home and I called the number.
They told me the old lady had passed away some years ago but they
did have a phone number for where they thought the daughter might
be living. I thanked them and phoned. The woman who answered explained
that Hannah herself was now living in a nursing home.
whole thing was stupid, I thought to myself. Why was I making such
a big deal over finding the owner of a wallet that had only three
dollars and a letter that was almost 60 years old? Nevertheless,
I called the nursing home in which Hannah was supposed to be living
and the man who answered the phone told me, "Yes, Hannah is
staying with us." Even
though it was already 10 p.m., I asked if I could come by to see
her. "Well," he said hesitatingly, "if you want to
take a chance, she might be in the day room watching television."
I thanked him and drove over to the nursing home. The night nurse
and a guard greeted me at the door. We went up to the third floor
of the large building. In the day room, the nurse introduced me
was a sweet, silver-haired old timer with a warm smile and a twinkle
in her eye. I told her about finding the wallet and showed her the
letter. The second she saw the powder blue envelope with that little
flower on the left, she took a deep breath and said, "Young
man, this letter was the last contact I ever had with Michael."
looked away for a moment deep in thought and then said Softly, "I
loved him very much. But I was only 16 at the time and my mother
felt I was too young. Oh, he was so handsome. He looked like Sean
Connery, the actor. Yes,"
she continued. "Michael Goldstein was a wonderful person. If
you should find him, tell him I think of him often. And," she
hesitated for a moment, almost biting her lip, "tell him I
still love him. You know," she said smiling as tears began
to well up in her eyes, "I never did marry. I guess no one
ever matched up to Michael..."
thanked Hannah and said good-bye. I took the elevator to the first
floor and as I stood by the door, the guard there asked, "Was
the old lady able to help you?" I
told him she had given me a lead. "At least I have a last name.
But I think I'll let it go for a while. I spent almost the whole
day trying to find the owner of this wallet." I
had taken out the wallet, which was a simple brown leather case
with red lacing on the side. When the guard saw it, he said, "Hey,
wait a minute! That's Mr. Goldstein's wallet. I'd know it anywhere
with that bright red lacing. He's always losing that wallet. I must
have found it in the halls at least three times." "Who's
Mr. Goldstein?" I asked as my hand began to shake. "He's
one of the old timers on the 8th floor. That's Mike Goldstein's
wallet for sure. He must have lost it on one of his walks."
thanked the guard and quickly ran back to the nurse's office. I
told her what the guard had said. We went back to the elevator and
got on. I prayed that Mr. Goldstein would be up. On the eighth floor,
the floor nurse said, "I think he's still in the day room.
He likes to read at night. He's a darling old man." We
went to the only room that had any lights on and there was a man
reading a book. The nurse went over to him and asked if he had lost
his wallet, "This kind gentleman found a wallet and we wondered
if it could be yours?" Mr. Goldstein looked up with surprise,
put his hand in his back pocket and said, "Oh, it is missing!"
handed Mr. Goldstein the wallet and the second he saw it, he smiled
with relief and said, "Yes, that's it! It must have dropped
out of my pocket this afternoon. I want to give you a reward."
thank you," I said. "But I have to tell you something.
I read the letter in the hope of finding out who owned the wallet."
The smile on his face suddenly disappeared. "You read that
only did I read it, I think I know where Hannah is." He
suddenly grew pale. "Hannah? You know where she is? How is
she? Is she still as pretty as she was? Please, please tell me,"
he begged. "She's
fine...just as pretty as when you knew her." I said softly.
old man smiled with anticipation and asked, "Could you tell
me where she is? I want to call her tomorrow." He grabbed my
hand and said, "You know something, mister, I was so in love
with that girl that when that letter came, my life literally ended.
I never married. I guess I've always loved her. "
Goldstein," I said, "come with me." We took the elevator
down to the third floor. The hallways were darkened and only one
or two little night-lights lit our way to the day room where Hannah
was sitting alone watching the television. The nurse walked over
to her. "Hannah," she said softly, pointing to Michael,
who was waiting with me in the doorway. "Do you know this man?"
adjusted her glasses, looked for a moment, but didn't say a word.
Michael said softly, almost in a whisper, "Hannah, it's Michael.
Do you remember me?" She gasped, "Michael! I don't believe
it! Michael! It's you! My Michael!" He walked slowly towards
her and they embraced. The nurse and I left with tears streaming
down our faces.
three weeks later I got a call at my office from the nursing home.
"Can you break away on Sunday to attend a wedding? Michael
and Hannah are going to tie the knot!" It was a beautiful wedding
with all the people at the nursing home dressed up to join in the
celebration. Hannah wore a light beige dress and looked beautiful.
Michael wore a dark blue suit and stood tall. They made me their
best man. The hospital gave them their own room and if you ever
wanted to see a 76-year-old bride and a 79-year-old groom acting
like two teenagers, you had to see this couple. A
perfect ending for a love affair that had lasted nearly 60 years.
Arnold Fine, Editor of The Jewish Press in Brooklyn, New
To Read Many More Heartwarming Stories & Poetry
Yes You Can!
LEARN FROM EMERY
October of 2002, Emery James Peck was a 19-year-old top-ranked student
working his way to graduation as an elementary school teacher at
Ball State University. Emery
was "at the top of his game." After preparing a Hulk Hogan
Halloween costume for weeks, Emery and his band of loyal friends
went to a Halloween party on Nov. 1, 2002. Emery arrived at the
party to many compliments on his costume and said that he "felt
Beginning A Self-Diagnosis: Little did Emery know that
within 30 short minutes his life would begin to change forever.
Peck said that at the Halloween party he began to notice that the
left side of his face was losing feeling. Emery didn't want to spoil
the fun of the party, so he "just went on with the night and
made no issue of what was happening." After the party, Emery
didn't realize what would lie ahead for him. He went home to bed
hoping that he would wake up and all his problems would be washed
away. The next morning, Emery found out that sleep was not the cure-all
he hoped it would be. "I couldn't get my nostrils to flare
that next morning," Emery said, which worried him. Once the
worry had officially set in, Emery began to try and diagnose himself
on the Internet. After much searching on the Internet, Emery couldn't
seem to solve his problem - he didn't feel he had enough symptoms
to warrant an immediate trip to doctor.
worries deepened when he noticed that he had lost his appetite.
"I really got worried when I couldn't eat. I have eaten three
meals a day for years. I knew that something was happening."
Emery said his moment of clarity came when he tried to eat Tangy
Taffy on that dark Sunday a candy he calls an addiction.
Emery said he put the candy in his mouth and it "tasted like
car keys." Emery
went to class that following Monday but was too busy with school
work to visit the Health Center. Peck spoke with his mother that
Monday about his concerns."She told me I needed to get a real
diagnosis fast," Emery said.
Realization: Following a stressful weekend, Emery went to the
Ball State Health Center on Nov. 3, 2002. Peck told his doctor,
"I think I have facial paralysis." His doctor responded
with a somber look and told Emery that he had Bell's palsy. Emery
was prescribed to a steroid with the purpose of regaining/preventing
any further damage. The
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke explains
that Bell's palsy is a form of facial paralysis resulting from damage
to the cranial nerve. Approximately 40,000 Americans are diagnosed
with Bell's palsy every year, approximately 0.02 percent of the
population. Bell's palsy is not necessarily a permanent condition,
but in some cases people never recover full control of their face.
Emery did not want to become one of those people.
the diagnosis, Emery went to a friend's dorm room to break the news.
In true Emery Peck fashion, he and his friend tried to make a joke
of it. Peck said, "At first, I thought it was funny. How did
something this odd happen to me?" Emery
and his friend took pictures of Emery trying to smile with all his
might. The pictures were taken to try to help Emery see what had
truly been happening to him. After Emery saw the pictures "it
put everything into perspective." Emery knew he was facing
a major battle.
Novelty Wears Off: After dealing with his Bell's palsy for
almost two weeks, Peck felt that "the novelty had worn off."
Many changes had occurred in Emery's life. Peck said he was accustomed
to not tasting food, but he now had to wear an eye patch. Emery's
doctors ordered him to wear an eye patch because he was unable to
blink and keep dust and other debris out of his eyes. Emery faced
a constant regimen of wearing an eye patch at all times and using
Visine to re-wet his eye constantly. By
this time, Emery felt discouraged and "sick of explaining what
happened." Wearing the eye patch made Emery feel as if he "looked
like a bad Captain Hook." Emery's classroom presence challenged
him as well. "In my Art Ed 200 class, I felt out of place.
I sat in the back like a freak. My face was disconnected."
Peck's Art Education 200 class was in a large lecture hall filled
with nearly 120 students. His distorted face made the once outspoken
student into nothing but a voiceless face in the crowd.
a 2003 study by the Harvard Medical School of Health, research showed
that, "early treatment with corticosteroids improves the chances
for a full recovery by about 20%." Corticosteroids are what
Emery had been prescribed, but he had not been taking his steroids
at all. Emery said he didn't feel that the steroids were going to
help him improve. Recovery seemed bleak.
Bottom: After two weeks, Emery showed no signs of improvement.
In fact, his eye seemed to get worse. Emery's doctor now required
him to use medical eye drops to keep his eye from drying out permanently.
"When I heard permanently, I was afraid my eye would fall out.
It was like I was away from reality for so long that my mind had
created so many worst-case scenarios. It was almost like my palsy
was becoming a Lifetime movie." Emery
reached his lowest point after that visit to the doctor. He felt
like he may never return to life that he once knew. Sure, his friends
had adjusted to his distorted looks, but Emery began to think further
into the future. Emery faced the fear of losing his motivation for
teaching. Emery's concerns focused on the thought of the students'
reaction to the teacher with the disgusting face. The thought of
all Emery's hard work being given away to an infection left him
frustrated and bewildered.
Rise of Emery Peck: Emery packed his bags and began a drive
from his dorm in Muncie to his parents' home in Evansville
where his family had yet to see his "new" face. Emery
said, "Somehow during my visit I had a moment of clarity. I
went back to the way I felt at first. I was optimistic." The
Peck family showed Emery support during his visit and, much like
Emery's friends, learned to love and accept Emery's condition. Helen
Peck, Emery's mother, said, "I had bought him his favorite
grasshopper pie for Thanksgiving, and he couldn't taste it. He took
the leftovers of the cake home and froze them. He was saving it
until he could taste again." Emery's determination to taste
the pie showed his parents that his optimism was beginning to flourish.
Emery's optimism helped create a new view of how he wanted to handle
his palsy. "I became strong by recovering that humor. I would
let food fall out of my mouth in the cafeterias. I ran into walls
on purpose. I was having fun with it again, but I didn't tell anyone.
Everyone was laughing. It was selfish, but what could I do?"
recovering some of the social aspects of his life, Emery wanted
to overcome his palsy altogether. Early that December, nearly a
month after his diagnosis, Emery began his own special workout to
conquer his palsy. "I knew it all started at my eye,"
Emery said. With that realization in mind, Emery laid in bed for
hours trying to blink. When Emery wasn't lying in bed trying to
blink, he was walking to class trying to blink. After
days of attempting to regain control of his face, something incredible
happened while visiting some friends. Emery and his friends were
playing video games for hours when people began to complain about
their eyes hurting from a lack of blinking. Emery responded sarcastically,
"At least you can blink both of your eyes." After Emery
made that statement, he lifted up his eye patch and tried with all
his power to blink. And he did. Emery immediately rejoiced with
energy that hadn't been seen from him in many months when he said,
"Holy blinking Batman. I did it!" The room filled with
cheers of joy. Emery had taken a major step in his battle
without ever taking his steroids.
days after Emery blinked for the first time in a month control began
to return to the rest of his face. Two weeks after regaining control
of his face, taste began to slowly return, and he unfroze his leftover
grasshopper pie. "I had never tasted anything so wonderful,"
Emery said. Emery could feel victory was near. He was right. After
six weeks of struggling with Bell's palsy, Emery appeared fully
recovered and credits his recovery to determination.
forward to 2004: Emery is approaching graduation at Ball State
University and has fully recovered from his Bell's palsy. While
reflecting on the experience, Peck said: "Faster than any research
said I would recover, it was all back, and without medicine or outside
help. That feeling is amazing. I fought it face-to-face, literally.
I was me again, a soul survivor." The Harvard Medical School
of Health said, "Most doctors believe that medications are
effective only if the patient starts taking them within two or three
days after symptoms first appear." Emery never took his medication
and instead used courage to overcome his palsy. His story can be
looked upon as a tale of the will of one man conquering something
that can't be controlled.
True-Life Narrative ©2004 By Zachary Sampsel, a 23-year-old
journalism student at
Ball State University in Indiana, who is actually a very close friend
of Emery Peck
Resources: Interview with Emery Peck; Harvard Health Letter
April, 2003, Vol. 28 Issue 6;
Palsy: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke;
Palsy Infosite & Forums
I WANT TO SEND A WARM & FUZZY THANK YOU
TO THE 144 KIND SUBSCRIBERS WHO
in awareness of the
Universal Balance of Give and Receive
took action with loving donations to Inspiration Line
during my Annual Fundraising Appeal last month.
WE WERE SHORT OF OUR GOAL BY
I know that MANY OF YOU ( the other
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will also be making contributions as the year
...when your circumstances allow you to do so.
to All, Chelle
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Laughing It Off
hurricane came unexpectedly. The ship went down and was lost.
The man found himself swept up on the shore of an island with
no other people, no supplies, nothing to do. Only bananas and
So for the next four months he ate bananas, drank coconut juice
and longed for his old life. He fixed his gaze on the sea, hoping
to spot a rescue ship.
day, as he was lying on the beach, he spotted movement out of
the corner of his eye. It was a rowboat, and in it was the most
gorgeous woman he had ever seen. She rowed up to him. In disbelief,
he asked her: "Where did you come from? How did you get here?
"I rowed from the other side of the island," she said.
"I landed here when my cruise ship sank."
"Amazing," he said. "I didn't know anyone else
survived. How many are there? You were lucky to have a rowboat
wash up with you." She replied, "It's only me and the
rowboat didn't wash up; nothing did." He was confused. "Then
how did you get the rowboat?"
simple," replied the woman. "I made the rowboat out
of materials that I found on the island. The oars were whittled
from Gum tree branches. I wove the bottom from palm branches and
the sides and stern came from a Eucalyptus tree."
"B-B-But that's impossible," stuttered the man. "You
had no tools or hardware. How did you manage?"
that was no problem," replied the woman. "On the other
side of the island there is a very unusual rock formation exposed.
I found that if I fired it to a certain temperature in my kiln,
it melted into iron. I used that for tools, and used the tools
to make the hardware. But enough of that," she said. "Where
do you live?" Sheepishly, he confessed that he had been sleeping
on the beach the whole time. "Well, let's row over to my
place, then," she said.
After a few minutes of rowing she docked the boat at a small wharf.
As the man looked to the shore, he nearly fell out of the boat.
Before him was a stone walk leading to an exquisite bungalow painted
in blue and white. While the woman tied up the rowboat with an
expertly woven hemp rope, the man could only stare ahead, dumbstruck.
As they walked into the house, she said casually, "It's not
much, but I call it home. Sit down, please; would you like a drink?"
Trying to hide his amazement, the man accepted, and they sat down
on her couch to talk.
After they had exchanged their stories, the woman announced, "I'm
going to slip into something comfortable. Would you like to take
a shower and shave? There is a razor upstairs in the bathroom."
No longer questioning anything, the man went into the bathroom.
There in the cabinet was a razor made from a bone handle. Two
shells honed to a hollow ground edge were fastened onto it's end.
"This woman is amazing," he thought. "What next?"
When he returned, she greeted him wearing nothing but vines and
smelling faintly of gardenias. She beckoned for him to sit down
next to her. "Tell me," she began, moving closer to
him, "we've been out here for a very long time. You've been
lonely. There's something I'm sure you really feel like doing
right now, something you've been longing for all these months.
You know..." She stared into his eyes.
He couldn't believe what he was hearing! "You mean?"
he replied excitedly .................................
can check my e-mail from here?"
by Bob in St. Cloud, Florida
STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING ...
Joyful Lifestyles: Weekly Insights
EXPANDING SPIRITUALLY IN SUMMER
article for Beliefnet.com
Amy Cunningham explains that in the hot summer months we sometimes
feel overwhelmed or stuck, like there is nowhere to turn ...
then, in the heat, you expand. You tune into yourself
as a living organism, absorb the rain and sun. These are spiritual
months. You can grow larger in spirit as you move towards
harvest. You can tune into your senses. And you can completely
enjoy yourself in the process.
offers opportunities, not readily available at other times,
to appreciate the abundance in the natural order of things
and the cycle of life,' writes Virginia Beach healer MeeWah
Reynolds. 'Verdant hues and bright colors, sunny days and
soaring temperatures, the scent of newly cut grass and freshly
turned soil, less and lighter clothing, trips to the beach,
a vacation or holiday, travel, outdoor activities, weddings,
gatherings of family and friends. Many of these associations
and activities originated in ancient times and have been retained
throughout man's history to the present.' It is easy, however,
to become detached from all that keeps summer so sacred and
spiritual. Hence, here are ten suggestions to help you fertilize
your internal summer growth.
FIRST, UNPLUG THE TELEVISION: Enjoy the extra psychic
space and time. Fair warning: if you enforce this on your
children, you must spend more money at first on art supplies,
bug boxes, nets, board games and building toys. That's the
tradeoff, but within a week, you'll see behavior changes you
hadn't known to expect.
2. SWIM IN REAL WATER:
A spiritual summer calls for as much contact with a lake,
river, or ocean as possible. Life begins in water. Our bodies
are mostly made up of water. And relating to real water is
to connect with the larger world.
3. GAZE AT THE NIGHT SKY:
You can create an unforgettable evening for your family simply
by taking an old quilt to a dark hill on a clear night and
looking up into the summer sky. There it is in all its glory,
the sky that unites you to the most ancient of peoples in
4. PLANT A BUTTERFLY GARDEN
AND SET UP A HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER: You know to watch
for fireflies, but have you considered taking the concept
deeper? Butterfly spirits will come to your garden in larger
numbers if you plant a few herbs and flowering bushes that
appeal to them. Feeding migrating hummingbirds when they buzz
through your town (or linger year-round, as they do in California)
can be one of the world's most thrilling activities.
5. TAKE A MEANINGFUL WORKSHOP:
Spiritual and religious retreats and Zen centers are now hot
topics on the travel pages of many major newspapers. On the
Internet try Find
the Divine where you can locate virtually every
religious and spiritual retreat center in existence.
6. WALK BAREFOOT:
Summer is a time to be more conscious of the sanctity of the
earth and while going barefoot sometimes takes some getting
used to, it is good for you in several ways. Your feet walk
upon the Earth and through this your spirit is connected to
7. MAKE OR BUY PRESENTS
FOR THOSE YOU LOVE: If
you are a person of the spirit, you know that NOW is the time
to holiday shop. You can think. You can select, not grab,
the right gift. Forage now, collect for the coming winter,
and enjoy your December. (This is my personal favorite ...
I'm always finished buying just the 'right thing' for my loved
ones by AUGUST each year.)
8. SIT UNDER A GREAT TREE:
It is too bad that tree-hugging is now symbolic in some people's
minds of everything wrong with environmentalism and the New
Age. So don't hug the tree. Just sit and relate to it. Climb
it. Meet someone you love under it. Suspend a hammock between
two trees and climb in.
9. CONSIDER WHERE YOU ARE
BURNING OUT: Light
a torch in the yard or start a bonfire on the beach, and acknowledge
how far you've come. Then face where you are flaming out like
a flamboyant, crazy maniac. 'Normally we think of being burnt
out as something that needs to be corrected,' writes Waverly
Fitzgerald in her School
of the Seasons newsletter. 'But burnout is actually
part of the natural balance, putting an end to a period of
intense work, ceaseless giving to others or expanding achievement
Perhaps, as Arthur Waskow suggests in his book SEASONS
OF OUR JOY, the dog days of summer (named
after the dog tag star Sirius which rises in the night
sky this time of year and adorns the dog depicted in the constellation
Canis Major) provide a chance to examine where we need
to regroup and gather our resources. What tasks, projects
or commitments have taken all of your strength? How might
you symbolize that depletion with a ritual?
10. READ ETERNALLY BEAUTIFUL
THINGS: 'Read a book of spiritual depth,' says
Rabbi David Wolpe, 'and do it before a mountain, a sea, a
forest, a cave, a flower, a star strewn sky.' Spiritual author
Phyllis Tickle: 'I have assembled a shelf of carefully-chosen
books to be my companions...a lot of fiction (which I do not
normally read in any quantity), some of the Desert Fathers
and of the Celtic mystics, a volume or two on Eliot's poetry,
and a delicious collection of Jewish folk tales.'"
like a refreshing new perspective to embrace and enjoy during
these hot months, doesn't it?
Inspiration Line's Editor
"The intent of Inspiration Line is to
show What Is Possible by choosing new perspectives,
we can change ourselves from the inside out to improve our relationships,
our community and our planet."
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