If you’re lucky enough to fall in love…to have love enter your life…

from your parents, your friends your relatives, your partner or your wife…


Once you have been blessed …and that seed of love is planted

you cherish every moment……you take not a thing for granted.


For over the years there is a truth…a lesson about love that you’ve learned:

how it feels wonderful it when you give it…and even more wonderful when it’s returned..


And you truly believe that this feeling will forever be extending

never giving a thought that your love story has an ending.


You get so involved in love

in its mystery, its excitement and it’s laughter

that you think the only way your fairy tale will end

is happily ever after.


But when someone you love stops loving you

when they say they’ve had enough

or when a loved one dies…or for whatever the reason

the road turns from smooth…to rough


you find yourself crying and moaning

and you hope 

and you wish 

and you pray…

because in your heart you know that fairy tales

aren’t supposed to end this way.


Then somehow with the help of your friends,

your siblings, your father and your mother

you discover the end of one fairy tale 

can be the beginning of another.


So you jump on your white horse

and with your injured soul

and your heart in need of mending

you turn to the next page of your Fairy Tale…


in search of your happy ending.


I was brought up quite religiously…

I was taught heaven was somewhere in the sky.

Where if a person was good down here on Earth, 

there was a place for them on high.


A place where we will walk among the softness of the clouds

in a paradise floating above…

where miracles happen every day

and where we’re always surrounded by love.


When I grew up and began to think for myself

to question…to clarify

I kept returning to the concept of Heaven…and began to wonder why?


Why do we look up to Heaven, for when we look straight ahead, 

side to side…up or down

there are a myriad of miracles to see…right here on the ground.


Look at the diversity of life created right here beneath our feet

from natures beauty that surrounds us to the daily foods we eat.


I have been at the birth of my children and grandchildren 

and don’t think it’s preposterous to say

in the maternity ward of a hospital you walk among angels every day. 


I’ve experienced love

I’ve seen beauty, 

I’ve seen a family grow and blossom and thrive

I’ve seen sunrises and sunsets and rainbows,

all while I’m still quite alive.


I wonder if I’ve had this concept of Heaven all wrong…

if religions aren’t a little remiss

for when I look around at the blessings in my life 

I wonder…can it get any better than this?


Sure there may be a Heaven high in the sky 

which we may experience in our rebirth

but let’s not forget…while we’re alive

the Heaven…

right here 


on Earth.

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Camping is always an adventure you don’t know what will happen day to day

but as a microcosm of life we wouldn’t want it any other way.


Yesterday followed that pattern…as once again we felt blessed

To have a day filled with adventures that were different from the rest.


Days gives us a chance to learn if we’re willing to listen to what they teach

We learned the Atlantic ocean’s roar is loud on a morning walk along the beach.


We learned despite the roar there is a beautiful silence far from the usual crowds

We learned a sunrise can be beautiful even when she hides behind the clouds.


We learned pelicans flying overhead put on their own unique air show

We learned walking on a shell filled beach sounds like walking in the snow… 


We learned walking up 219 steps to the top of a lighthouse 

makes you winded…and takes some time

But once you make it to the top…it’s worth every stair you climb.


We learned that time when on vacation happily seems to move slow

We learned eating seafood at a local restaurant is the only way to go.


We learned eating donuts for breakfast is a diet every now and then we’d like to try

And any day that starts with donuts…is great to end with a slice of pie.


We learned how, as we talk to people…once we stop and learn their name

to our astonishment and surprise…most of us are the same.


For after we meet new people and exchange the everyday niceties

The conversation quickly turns to our adventures, our friends and families


And when we bed down for night…we’re blessed with a feeling we can’t ignore

That today was the best day we’ve ever had…

Even a little better than the day before.


Yes, life is an ever-changing adventure…

Is something we always think about when it comes to the end of the day

And as we close our eyes and fall asleep


we wouldn’t want it any other way.

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You may think this is a little crazy but I think of it as more carefree

When the other day I found myself having a conversation…with a tree.


This tree stands next to the ocean…and when I saw him I had to grin

There was an eerie beauty in the way he stood.

The way he was influenced by the wind.


I said, “You look a little old and weathered.”

The tree replied, “That is true….I have a few wrinkles on my bark

but then again…so do you.”


“I’ve lost most of my leaves,” he said, “as year after year has passed me by.”

I smiled as I leaned against his bark…“That’s funny…so have I.”


“But look how strong you still are,” I said,

“Even after all the storms that you’ve been through.”

The tree chuckled and I felt his laughter.

“But then again…so are you”.


“I like to think I’m still beautiful.” the tree said as he let out a deep sigh…

“Oh but you are .”I answered quickly…“and I like to think…so am I”.


“What is your secret to a full and happy life?” I asked the tree

“what do you recommend?”

“The key for me”, the tree replied “lies in my ability to bend”.


We talked a little while longer 

about our branches

About our trunks, our crowns…our roots

About how we love the wind and the rain

and other shared attributes.


As I walked away I stopped, turned around

then waved and smiled at that old tree…

And I can’t be sure but I think I saw him wave and smile back at me…


And I remember thinking as I left him gently bending by the sea….


How lucky and proud I was that day…to have a conversation with a tree.

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We watched the sun rise on the west coast of Florida

over a landscape vast and wide

Then we drove 200 miles across the state

to watch it set on the other side.


This morning we watched it rise again

200 miles away from our home by car

And I thought isn’t it amazing how the sun rises 

on all of us

no matter who we are?


Each morning without a doubt in her mind

she rises and our day begins…

She doesn’t care about our nationality, 

our religion

or the color of our skin.


She doesn’t care about our sexual preferences

if we are athletic, 


or lame.

Every morning without fail…

she rises just the same.


She doesn’t care if we’re fat 

or thin,

if we’re tiny, 



or tall

When she rises she doesn’t seem to care

what any of us look like at all


Perhaps the sun is sending us a message…

as sunrise after sunrise we see…

If she can rise above all our differences

Perhaps she’s saying…


so can’ we.

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I’ve made a few mistakes in my life. I can say that with aplomb

I wore a blue brocade tux with a top hat and cane to my junior/senior prom.


I once let a beautician curl my hair...now that was really astute!

I thought a curly head of hair would do wonders for my new blue leisure suit.


She said a perm would make my baldness seem fuller and my love life it would prolong.

When it was over it took but one look in the mirror to know that she was wrong.


My hair looked like a rebellious Brillo pad and I’m not being indiscreet

when I say the only female attracted to me was a French Poodle down the street!


In college while out drinking with friends I pretty much sealed my fate

when I cozied up to a pretty cheerleader and asked her for a date.


Was it the alcohol or was it love that made me forget I’d have to contend

With her boyfriend…sitting next to her…

was he the quarterback or a tight end?


I don’t remember, but I know my distilled confidence made me feel bold and brave and brash.

What happened next is a bit of a blur...

I woke up face down in the trash.


The point here is we all make mistakes

 they await us around every turn.

We shouldn’t be afraid to make them 

because from them we’ve so much to learn.


Without mistakes we wouldn’t have the chocolate chip cookies so many of us crave.

The slinky would have never been invented...

no post it notes or microwaves.


There would be no penicillin, 

no fireworks would ever be seen.

Without mistakes we’d see a straight tower in Pisa 

and miss that beautiful lean.


We will try and fail many times in our life, 

sometimes we’ll crash...

sometimes we’ll fly

but the biggest mistake we will ever make...

is when we fail to even try.


True I didn’t get a date with the cheerleader 

but I still remember to this day

Her smile and that wink she gave me 

as her huge boyfriend dragged me away.


I remember that moment with fondness...

I know as a couple we would have been cute.

She, the beautiful cheerleader, 


and me in my blue leisure suit.

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There is a wise old saying…an ancient Chinese gem: 

When three people walk together my teacher is among them.


We had a simple dinner with some friends and the first thing I was taught

was if you listen but a little…you’re bound to learn a lot..


I learned a lot about sadness

sadness that our basic foundation seems destined to destroy…

I learned if we are ever to survive that sadnesses

we must discover joy. 


I learned a lot about how the sadness of a natural disaster, 

of divorce

of sickness 

of wars that never seem to end

can be offset by the joy that floats around a table

filled with family and friends. 


I learned in the midst of a sad world

there is more joy than one might think

as I watched the laughter, support and wisdom 

of people sharing food and drink. 


As luck would have it other friends came into the restaurant

It was like a holiday!

They were celebrating their 5th grandchild…

born earlier that day.


I learned although weakness can come from sadness, 

meant to injure, to bruise…to annoy

our courage, our determination…our strength

comes from our faith, our love…our joy.


I learned this simple lesson which I will from this day forward now employ….

I shall not close my eyes to sadness

but I shall open them more…to joy…


Any ancient Chinese scholar sitting in that restaurant would have smiled…

It would have been easy for he…or she…to see

there was more than one teacher in that room that night…


In truth…they were surrounding me.

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Once a year it comes in the mail…a kind of annual rebirth

It’s a card…it’s from a realtor…asking…

“What is your house worth?”


This year’s card again got me thinking…and I’m sure Deborah would agree

the value of our house is different for the realtor than it is for Deborah and me.


A realtor might pause in front of that bedroom door and frown

wondering who in their right mind could have hung it upside down.


She could not know I worked on that door for almost an entire day

and though it is a little different we kind of like it hanging that way.


A realtor might want the writing on our closet door erased…

He might not realize it’s part of our family’s lore…

that our children’s and grandchildren’s every changing heights are written on that door.


A realtor might see the lights in the kitchen…she might laugh or scoff

wondering why to turn them on…you actually turn them off.


She’d have no way of knowing…the switch will stay that way forevermore

having been installed by the same person who hung that bedroom door.


A realtor might want that swing in our backyard replaced…its old and shows its wear

He couldn’t know our children and grandchildren grew up swinging out there. 


A realtor might see the cracks in the ceiling and become enraged.

She wouldn’t see them as we do…wrinkles that come with age.


Yes, a realtor might look at out house and see imperfections behind every window and every door

Never comprehending, in our house, 

it’s those imperfections we adore


To a realtor this is just another house as in search of houses to sell they roam 

but a long time ago it became more than that, 

when it became our home.


So back to the question of the moment, how much is our old house worth?

The house that has seen us through sadness and joy; through marriages and births.


The house where for over 30 years our family has laughed and cried and sat...

The answer is quite simple, you can’t put a price on that.


At least that’s what I was thinking as I read on the card the realtor would pay cash!


And why I smiled so contentedly…when I tossed it in the trash.

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I had a dream last night…

I know dreams aren’t always as they appear…

this one had me teaching……and I’ve been retired for 6 years.


For me to remember a dream…is extraordinarily rare

and I don’t remember this entire dream…just bits and pieces here and there.


When I awoke on the other side of my dream…ready to begin my day

I had to stop and wonder what my dream was trying to say.


Perhaps it was reminding me…trying to make me comprehend

that even in retirement…teaching never ends.


That there is always someone out there…someone I can reach

someone with whom to share my wisdom…someone I can teach.


Another reason for my dream was easy to discern…

to remind me I will always be a student…who has a lot to learn.


Reminding me in life through adventures big and small

no teacher…no person in this world…

ever knows it all.


Reminding me in life…through my successes and my flops

if I’m lucky…if I’m truly blessed

my learning never stops


Reminding me wherever I go…east, west, north or south…

A good teacher is one whose ears…get as much exercise as their mouth…


Yes, I had a dream last night…

that I was still teaching

and still learning too…

and I woke up this morning realizing…


that dream keeps coming true.

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