A MEANINGFUL LIFE
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country is the world,
and my religion is to do good."
~ Thomas Paine ...
December 26, 2005
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THIS WEEK'S ISSUE
From the Inside Out...
Yes You Can!...
Make a Difference....
Give a Goat
Untangling the Web...
What a Site and
Laughing It Off...
"I Keep My
Snowman in the Freezer"
An Experience to
BE the World
You Want to See!
Keller said it best:
"It is not what we see and touch or that which others
do for us which makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first
for the other fellow, and then for ourselves."
~ Chelle Thompson, Editor
From the Inside Out
THAT'S THE SPIRIT!
just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No
name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of
our tree at this time of the year for the past 10 years or so.
all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of
Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it.
know, the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a
tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma, the gifts given in desperation
because you couldn't think of anything else.
he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties
and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came
in an unusual way.
son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school
he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a
team sponsored by an inner city church. The kids were mostly black.
youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only
thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy
blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.
the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without
head gear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was
a luxury the ragtag team obviously couldn't afford.
we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys
got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a
kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat.
seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have
won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could
take the heart right out of them."
loved kids-all kids. He understood kids in competitive situations, having coached
little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That's when the idea for his present
afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of
wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner city church.
On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike
what I had done and that this was his gift from me.
smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.
For each Christmas, I followed the tradition one year sending a group of
mentally challenged youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair
of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas
on and on...
envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened
on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with
wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal
the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope
never lost its allure. Still, the story doesn't end there.
see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was
still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up.
Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it
was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had
placed an envelope on the tree for their dad.
tradition has grown and someday will expand even further, with our grandchildren
standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation, watching as their fathers
take down their envelopes. Each of my children now grown with children of their
own, continue that tradition of spreading joy to others ... spontaneously and
spirit, like the spirit of Christmas, will always be with us.
Woman's Day Magazine 12/14/1982 from
Nancy Gavin's 'For the Man Who Hated
To Read Many More Heartwarming Stories & Poetry
Yes You Can!
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
... GIVE A GOAT
we stop and think about the forces that have helped shape our lives, many of us
can recall a loving parent or a caring teacher, or someone else who encouraged
and inspired us and made us what we are today. But how many of us can look back
and say, "I owe it all to a goat?"
young African woman by the name of Beatrice Biira can. If it werent for
her goat, Beatrice wouldnt have gone to school, wouldnt have been
lifted out of poverty, and wouldnt have won a scholarship to a college in
equator runs right across the country road that leads to Beatrice's home. You
can stand in both hemispheres. Beatrice's life has become something like that
in the last few years. She's had one foot in the African bush, and the other in
New England all because of a goat.
"It is through selling the goat's milk that I was able to go to school,"
says Beatrice, who owes her good fortune to a goat named Mugisa (which
means luck) and a charity called Heifer
International. Beatrices village, Kisinga, sits nestled
in a valley in the western part of Uganda. Beatrice remembers being hungry as
wasn't much food in our fields. And if it was there, it was almost the same meal
every other day. Like you eat cassava or sweet potatoes in the afternoon and in
the evening. And, I must say that we were hungry," she says.
yet, despite going hungry and not having much hope for the future, she later found
herself on the campus of Northfield Mt. Hermon, in northern Massachusetts.
International is known for its work distributing livestock to poor families all
over the world. In 1991, Heifer introduced 12 goats to 12 families in Kisinga.
Beatrices family was lucky enough to be among them.
9, Beatrice was performing adult chores, and yearning desperately to attend school.
But her family, one of the poorest in Kisinga, just couldn't afford it. It seemed
as though Beatrice would always be on the outside looking in. She says she kept
bugging her parents: "I was very impassioned. I really wanted to go to school."
her goat. The Heifer goats are bred to produce prodigious amounts of milk. After
struggling for years, just to feed her kids, Beatrices mother was able to
sell enough goats milk to finally send Beatrice, then 10, to the local school.
"I was very eager to go to school," recalls Beatrice. "Even when
I got there, I made sure that I did extra work, extra homework, extra help, how
to read, how to write. And I made it pretty quick."
there, she won a scholarship to a high school in Kampala, Ugandas capital.
Then, she went on to prep school in New England, where it turns out, her biggest
adjustment was winter. "It was ridiculously cold. It was really cold. Like
negative 30 degrees," recalls Beatrice. "And 20 inches of snow. That
has never occurred to me in my life." But seasons change, and for the first
time in her life, Beatrice learned how to play tennis. She might never make it
to Wimbledon, but shes pretty smart and won an award for general excellence.
Not bad for a kid who grew up with her parents and seven brothers and sisters
in a tin-roofed shack in Africa, with an outhouse nearby.
all the money donated to help fight famine around the world, with all the grandiose
plans conceived to conquer poverty, sometimes all it takes to save a child is
a goat. If you dont believe that, come to Kisinga. The sale of the goat's
milk and offspring gave Beatrice's mother enough money to send all of her children
to school. And like all members of Heifer International's projects, she passed
on the gift of the first female offspring to another family in need, continuing
the benefits of income and nutrition. You get a goat, and you share your goats
offspring with one of your neighbors. Its done in a ritual called Passing
on the Gift.
story reveals the devastating reality of poverty, and that EVEN THE SMALLEST CONTRIBUTION
toward the purchase of a gift animal can drastically improve lives all over the
world. Begin the new year with kindness and generosity. To make a difference in
the lives of families like Beatrice's, you can make a contribution through THE
MOST IMPORTANT GIFT CATALOG IN THE WORLD AT HEIFER INTERNATIONAL.
dressed in animal costumes dance in the village of Lesnovo, 30 km east of the
capital Sofia. Dancers, named 'kukers', call for good health and harvests.
This is the time when people look back over all that has happened during the year
and to believe that everything bad is already behind and the new year will only
bring happiness. The early morning of 1st January is 'New Year Tibe' when
another unusual Bulgarian custom called 'sourvakane' is performed by boys
between 5 and 16 with twigs decorated with coins, small ring-shaped buns, popcorn
and bright ribbons. In the morning they wish their parents and other relatives
Happy New Year by tapping their backs with the twigs. The custom pays homage to
ancestors and is held near the fireplace, where according to an ancient legend,
their spirits live. At the New Year's table you'll find ritual loaves of bread
made by the oldest housewife with depictions on them of the field, the vineyard,
the garden and the sheep-pen, expressing a common hope that the new year will
bring fertility to the land. 'Banitza,' a flaky cheese pie is rolled out
in a baking dish, and if you crunch up something while eating it, this is your
piece of luck. It is actually a cornel twig which symbolizes success throughout
the coming year. According to an old Slavic custom, pork is also present on the
New Year's table as chops or any other kind of meat. And last but not least
the festive table is rich in dried fruit such as plums and apricots, raisins,
walnuts and grape clusters.
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**DAILY VIRUS THREATS**
"I KEEP MY SNOWMAN IN THE FREEZER"
I keep my
snowman in the freezer,
Just behind the pies;
He likes it there, he told
I can see it in his eyes.
made him on a cold, cold morning
When the snow was fresh and deep;
he sits in the freezer
Near the fish that we got cheap.
I keep my
snowman in the freezer
And look at him each day;
If Id left him
in the garden
Hed simply have melted away.
hes like my Grandma
Living somewhere safe and nice;
a frosty, snowy palace
On a throne of coldest ice.
keep my snowman in the freezer
Near a lump of frozen beef,
got a treat for him in August:
Im taking him to Tenerife!
Joyful Lifestyles: Weekly Insights
AN EXPERIENCE TO GROW FROM
were going pretty much like always this year ... that is, until September
5th when I had a very startling "Footwear Malfunction" (not televised
on the Super Bowl, however). On Labor Day I was across the street at my good friend
Phyllis' house checking on their kitty 'Fred.' In the backyard, I took an innocent
step onto a sandy area and my left ankle started twisting out of my sandal; then
when I shifted to the right foot, there was an ominous 'snap-crackle-pop' ...
and down I went. My wonderful husband Bruce took me to the Urgent Care Clinic
where we learned that I had fractured all three bones in my right ankle and seriously
sprained the left ankle, which became big, puffy and purple.
next morning I saw an orthopedic surgeon, who performed surgery that same day
... quite a blessing, indeed. I stayed overnight for pain management and
to give Bruce a much needed stress break. He had lovingly been running all over
town to get a wheelchair, walker, bath bench and everything else I needed. Afterwards,
x-rays showed perfect bone alignment with a long screw on one side and a surgical
steel plate on the other side of my right ankle using five screws. Surprisingly,
it actually took longer for my sprained ankle to heal, since I had to hop on it
occasionally or be completely 'footless'. By November 1st I began putting partial
weight on the fractured one, then went from a wheel chair to a cane. By early
December, almost thirteen weeks later, I was finally walking on my own.
two weeks after surgery I got to experience an ethereal stop sign. I had
become overconfident in my ability to pull myself to a standing position with
the walker while going up a couple of stairs then one day SPLAT!
I didn't have my weight shifted forward enough, so I flipped over backwards! My
ankles went unscathed, but I scraped and bruised my elbows. From that point I
decided to take a sit-back-and-wait-for-the-bones-to-knit approach, rather than
engineering clever ways to still do EVERYTHING.
October, I went for a lovely birthday lunch with a dear friend here in Santa Fe.
She drove up to the restaurant entrance so I could navigate inside with my trusty
walker. It was a funny thing that, without even thinking about it, I waited for
her to open the door and hand me the walker. She said, "I guess you're used
to having your door opened for you," and we both laughed! Later, in reflection,
I realized how delightful it is to no longer care about appearing strong or perfect
or able to do everything no matter what ... real strength comes
from letting go when you need to, and being steely capable when
you choose to be. Once I elected to just 'watch my bones knit' instead of doing
acrobatic stunts to accomplish giant tasks, healing appeared in many forms.
reminds me of one of my favorite authors, Dr.
Toni Grant, who wrote in her book Being
a Woman that with strong women there is actually strength
in surrender Women who tend to operate as powerful Amazonian
archetypes can EVOLVE to a place where they are able to release the need to
always be right and the compulsion to prove themselves over and over.
I've practiced this for many years by not trying to win every argument and not
hyper-achieving in the workplace. Now I'm relinquishing the need to prove myself
at all ... which is bringing much more serenity into my life.
To All for A Glorious New Year ...
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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