Dragons and Princesses . . .


Dragons and Princesses
Ron Atchison
The Mayor of Inspiration Peak

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

I was in Tokyo last spring, walking beneath neon signs and cherry blossoms with my dear friend Kirsten. Right about the time the sun was setting, we heard the sound of a jazz band coming from an alley. Turns out it was a group of four very hip Japanese college students playing their hearts out for anyone who would listen.

But not everyone was enjoying the music. In the middle of the second song, an older homeless man broke through the crowd and started yelling at the band. The musicians did their best to ignore him but the apparently intoxicated man would not go away. It seemed he was angry about the loud noise.

There were probably two dozen of us watching this unfold – none of us knowing what we could or should do. I remember feeling very helpless, because first, I don’t speak much Japanese, and second, the homeless man was starting to get more and more violent. At one point, he picked up a stick and started banging on the drum set.

This was more than the young drummer could take and he finally stopped playing, stood up and pushed the old man to the ground.

It was then that a young Japanese man made his way through the crowd very quietly. He knelt down next to the old man, took hold of his hand and asked him if he was alright. I couldn’t understand what was being said, but I’ll never forget the way this young man helped bring the fallen man to his feet. And I’ll never forget the way he carefully placed his arm around the old man’s shoulders and quietly walked him away.

After reading the above quote by Rainer Maria Rilke, I can’t help but wonder. Maybe this old man was a prince in disguise. And maybe he was waiting to see someone act, just once, with beauty and courage.

Consider this: Where is your presence needed today?

The trouble tree . . .


The Trouble Tree
Author Unknown

The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.

On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When opening the door he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.

“Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied.” I know I can’t help having troubles on the job, but one thing’s for sure, troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again.”

He paused. “Funny thing is,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick ’em up, there ain’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”

Consider this: How do you handle your troubles?

I Would Pick More Daisies


I Would Pick More Daisies
Don Herold (Adapted)

When the late Nadine Stair of Louisville, Kentucky, was 85 years old, she was asked what she would do if she had her life to live over again.

“I’d make more mistakes next time,” she said. “I’d relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been on this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

“You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, and a raincoat. If I had to do it over again, I would travel lighter than I have.

“If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds and I would pick more daisies.”

Consider this: Live one moment after another, and not too many years in advance of today.

The Carpenter’s House . . .


The Carpenter’s House
Author Unknown

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family.

He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by. The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said, “my gift to you.”

What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.

So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built. If we had realized that we would have done it differently.

Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely. It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity. The plaque on the wall says, “Life is a do-it-yourself project.” Your life tomorrow will be the result of your attitudes and the choices you make today.

Consider this: What choices are you making today?

12 Short stories to inspire you to action . . .


These 12 short stories are all very good lessons that make you think twice about the daily happenings in our lives as interact with others.

1. Today, I interviewed my grandmother for part of a research paper I’m working on for my Psychology class. When I asked her to define success in her own words, she said, “Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you smile.”

2. Today, I asked my mentor – a very successful business man in his 70s – what his top 3 tips are for success. He smiled and said, “Read something no one else is reading, think something no one else is thinking, and do something no one else is doing.”

3. Today, after my 72 hour shift at the fire station, a woman ran up to me at the grocery store and gave me a hug. When I tensed up, she realized I didn’t recognize her. She let go with tears of joy in her eyes and the most sincere smile and said, “On 9-11-2001, you carried me out of the World Trade Center.”

4. Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying. And just before he died, he licked the tears off my face.

5. Today at 7AM, I woke up feeling ill, but decided I needed the money, so I went into work. At 3PM I got laid off. On my drive home I got a flat tire. When I went into the trunk for the spare, it was flat too. A man in a BMW pulled over, gave me a ride, we chatted, and then he offered me a job. I start tomorrow.

6. Today, as my father, three brothers, and two sisters stood around my mother’s hospital bed, my mother uttered her last coherent words before she died. She simply said, “I feel so loved right now. We should have gotten together like this more often.”

7. Today, I kissed my dad on the forehead as he passed away in a small hospital bed. About 5 seconds after he passed, I realized it was the first time I had given him a kiss since I was a little boy.

8. Today, in the cutest voice, my 8-year-old daughter asked me to start recycling. I chuckled and asked, “Why?” She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.” I chuckled again and asked, “And why do you want to save the planet?” Because that’s where I keep all my stuff,” she said.

9. Today, when I witnessed a 27-year-old breast cancer patient laughing hysterically at her 2-year-old daughter’s antics, I suddenly realized that I need to stop complaining about my life and start celebrating it again.

10. Today, a boy in a wheelchair saw me desperately struggling on crutches with my broken leg and offered to carry my backpack and books for me. He helped me all the way across campus to my class and as he was leaving he said, “I hope you feel better soon.”

11. Today, I was feeling down because the results of a biopsy came back malignant. When I got home, I opened an e-mail that said, “Thinking of you today. If you need me, I’m a phone call away.” It was from a high school friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years.

12. Today, I was traveling in Kenya and I met a refugee from Zimbabwe . He said he hadn’t eaten anything in over 3 days and looked extremely skinny and unhealthy. Then my friend offered him the rest of the sandwich he was eating. The first thing the man said was, “We can share it.

Consider this: The best sermons are lived, not preached. Which one do you need to live today?

Who Are My People . . .

Monday Morning Inspiration

‘Who Are My People,’

by Rosa Zagnoni Marinoni
Italian-American Poet

My people? Who are they?
I went into the church where the congregation
Worshiped my God. Were they my people?
I felt no kinship to them as they knelt there.

My people! Where are they?
I went into the land where I was born,
Where men spoke my language…
I was a stranger there.
‘My people,’ my soul cried. ‘Who are my people?’

Last night in the rain I met an old man
Who spoke a language I do not speak,
Which marked him as one who does not know my God.
With apologetic smile he offered me
The shelter of his patched umbrella.
I met his eyes… And then I knew…

Consider this: We are each other’s people under the shelter of the umbrella.

Accidental Angel . . .

Monday Morning Inspiration

Accidental Angel

by Scott Shaunfield

When I was in school, I participated in an undergraduate internship with a hospital chaplain. This largely consisted of me visiting with specific hospital patients and then discussing the interaction with the chaplain. I had no specific training in this, and introducing myself to strangers was not one of my natural talents.

On one particular visit, I cautiously entered a darkened room to find an elderly man lying in the bed. There was no one else in the room, and I initially thought he was sleeping. When I moved closer to the bed, I realized that he was very much awake, but also very confused and anxious. He desperately wanted to communicate something, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. He seemed weak and frail, and I couldn’t tell if he was in pain, or just scared. I knew nothing about this man’s life or history, and I felt totally helpless. He obviously didn’t want me to leave, but I felt so lost and uncomfortable that I had to leave the room after only a couple of minutes.

The next time I was at the hospital, I was assigned to make follow up visits with the same list of patients. I expected my time with the confused man to be just as short as the last time…if he was even still alive. It seemed pointless to frustrate myself trying to interact with someone so disoriented.

As I arrived at the room, the first thing I noticed was that the lights were on. His daughter was there visiting with him. He was sitting up in the bed and much more alert. I introduced myself to the daughter and explained that I had come by before. Addressing the patient, I then suggested that I was certain he didn’t remember me at all.

He corrected me immediately, saying “I remember you. You were the angel that gave me hope in my darkest hour!” I would have thought his memory was delirious, but he then accurately recounted enough details of our first meeting to remove any doubt of his clarity. I was so amazed that, once again, I didn’t know how to respond. We talked a little more, I told him I was glad he was feeling so much better, and we said goodbye.

In the brief moment of my initial interaction with this inconsolable patient, I had no idea what to say or what to do. I knew of nothing I could offer him. I did absolutely nothing to help this man… except show up. I may never be able to explain it, but somehow he found in me something he needed at a critical point in his life, just because I was there.

I have thought about this encounter often over the past 25 years. It has shaped the way I see life, the way I see myself, and the way I see others. It has influenced not only my career path, but also the decisions I make on a daily basis. It makes me want to offer whatever kindness I can to others, and I try to recognize and appreciate the kindness that others share with me. Obviously, we can’t know the impact our actions, or even just our presence, will have on life.

I don’t know who he was. I don’t know his name, where he came from, or what happened to him after that. It took years of hindsight for me to recognize the gift he had given me, so I didn’t even know to thank him at the time.

So a stranger in the form of a frail old man changed the rest of my life with a single comment. Who was the angel to whom?

Consider this: Just show up!

Do not believe . . .


Do not believe in anything simply
because you have heard it.

Do not believe in anything simply
because it is spoken and rumored by many.

Do not believe in anything simply
because it is found written in your religious books.

Do not believe in anything merely
on the authority of your teachers and elders.

Do not believe in traditions simply
because they have been handed down
for many generations.

But after observation and analysis,
when you find that anything agrees with reason
and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all,
then accept it and live up to it.


Consider this: What are you observing?

To Believe . . .

Monday Morning Inspiration

To Believe

Author Unknown

To believe is to know that every day
is a new beginning.
It is to trust that miracles happen,
and dreams really do come true.
To believe is to see angels dancing among the clouds,
To know the wonder of a stardust sky
and the wisdom of the man in the moon.
To believe is to know the value of a nurturing heart,
The innocence of a child’s eyes
and the beauty of an aging hand,
for it is through their teachings we learn to love.
To believe is to find the strength
and courage that lies within us.
When it is time to pick up the pieces and begin again.
To believe is to know we are not alone,
That life is a gift and this is our time to cherish it.
To believe is to know that wonderful surprises
are just waiting to happen,
And all our hopes and dreams are within reach.
If only we believe.

Consider this: What do you believe?