“You can have everything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people to get what they want!” — Zig Ziglar
When he was a small boy, he had loved butterflies. Oh, not to net and
mount them, but to wonder at their designs and habits.
Now a grown man with his first son to be born in a few weeks, he found
himself once again fascinated with a cocoon. He had found it at the side
of the park path. Somehow the twig had been knocked from the tree and
the cocoon had survived undamaged and still woven to the branch.
As he had seen his mother do, he gently protected it by wrapping it in
his handkerchief and carried it home. The cocoon found a temporary home
in a wide-top mason jar with holes in the lid. The jar was placed on the
mantle for easy viewing and protection from their curious cat who would
delight in volleying the sticky silk between her paws.
The man watched. His wife’s interest lasted only a moment, but he studied
the silky envelope. Almost imperceptibly at first, the cocoon moved. He
watched more closely and soon the cocoon was trembling with activity.
Nothing else happened. The cocoon remained tightly glued to the twig and
there was no sign of wings.
Finally the shaking became so intense, the man thought the butterfly would
die from the struggle. He removed the lid on the jar, took a sharp pen
knife from his desk drawer, and carefully made a tiny slit in the side
of the cocoon. Almost immediately, one wing appeared and then outstretched
the other. The butterfly was free!
It seemed to enjoy its freedom and walked along the edge of the mason jar
and along the edge of the mantle. But it didn’t fly. At first the man
thought the wings needed time to dry, but time passed and still the
butterfly did not take off.
The man was worried and called up his neighbor who taught high school
science. He told the neighbor how he had found the cocoon, placed it in
the mason jar, and the terrible trembling as the butterfly struggled to
get out. When he described how he had carefully made a small slit in the
cocoon, the teacher stopped him. “Oh, that is the reason. You see, the
struggle is what gives the butterfly the strength to fly.”
And so it is with us. Sometimes it’s the struggles in life that strengthen
us the most.
Choose How you start your day tomorrow
Michael is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would replay “If I were any better, I would be twins!”
He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Michael was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.
Seeing this style made really made me curious so one day I went up to Michael and asked him. “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”
Michael replied, :”Each morning I wake up and say to myself – You have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. Each time something bad happens I can choose to be a victim, or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining, or I can point out the positive side of life.”
“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested.
“Yes, it is,” Michael said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. Your bottom line: It’s your choice how you live your life.”
I reflected on what Michael said. Soon thereafter I left the tower industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.
Several years later, I heard that Michael was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Michael was released from the hospital with steel rods in his back.
I saw Michael about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he relied “If I were any better, I’d be twins! Wanna see my scars?”
I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what went through his mind as the accident took place. “The first thing was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter” Michael replied. “Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered I had two choices. I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live.”
“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked.
Michael continued, “….the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes I read “he’s a dead man”. I knew I needed to take action.”
“What did you do?” I asked.
”Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Michael. “She asked if I was allergic to anything.
“Yes,” I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. “Gravity.”
Over their laughter, I told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”
Michael lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.
Attitude is, after all, everything. Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
“Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you, but is not defined by your existence alone.” Sen. John McCain
It’s 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 for the past 10 years or so.
It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it, 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.
Knowing 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.
Our son, Kevin, who was 12 that year was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended, and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.
These 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 the spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.
As the match began I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.
Well, 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. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish 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.” Mike loved kids, all kids, and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse.
That’s when the idea of his present came. That 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. His 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 handicapped 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, and on and on.
The 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 its contents.
As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there.
You see we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But 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.
The 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 the envelope.
Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.
“Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision” Colin Powell
AS ROADS ARE GETTING ICY, WE ARE CANCELLING EVENING CLASSES, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17.
A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it’s accepted by a majority.” ―
“A man does what he can until his destiny reveals itself.” “The Last Samurai”
“The smallest good deed is better than the grandest good intention.”