I do not like the word different…it cuts too much like a knife

It adds to the trouble in our world…it causes so much strife.


When we see someone as different fear seeps into our minds

and where there’s fear…animosity and prejudice are never far behind.


What starts out merely as a way to tell that person apart from you or me

somehow ends up with people treating one another differently.


We end up in a word of labels, a world of discrimination and entropy.

A world of injustice, a world of oppression, of wars and bigotry. 


A world where suspicion and distrust rule and seeds of animosity are sown 

all caused when we find traits in people that are different from our own.


What if we looked at one another in a completely different way?

What if there is a word that would keep our fear at bay?


What if we weren’t afraid of diversity but reveled in it’s mystique

and instead of seeing others as different…we saw them as unique?


Perhaps then, in each life, we might focus on the good things that we see

and in the end create a world filled with peace and harmony.


I imagine by now many of you are thinking this man is different, he’s a freak

but I suggest I am not different…I, like you, am totally unique!


(Did you notice when you called me different a host of negatives abound

but when you use the word unique...see how wonderful I sound?)


It seems to me we should strive for a world where differences are not critiqued…

a world where people are more accepting…


now wouldn’t that be unique!

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The older I get the more and more I become aware

that when you stop to look at little things…there’s always magic there.


Yesterday we walked the Appalachian trail…

not the entire trail

no, our walk was incomplete

I estimate we actually walked about three hundred feet.


But in the little bit we hiked much to our surprise

we saw flowers, trees and mushrooms and a host of butterflies.


Once down from the trail we hit the white water…actually we didn’t pick up an oar.

We watched, as other people braved the rapids, from the safety of the shore.


But we climbed on rocks, we skipped stones…and with the river running fast

as the rafters cleared the final hurdle we cheered them when they passed.


We waved at a train, talked to people we didn’t know, felt a cool breeze in our hair, watched insects crawl among the rocks as we were sitting there.


We stopped to have a picnic…picking up hot boiled peanuts along the way.

We drove home the Blue Ridge Parkway…pausing to enjoy the beauty of the day.


When we returned to the cabin…

after a morning where so many little things fell into our laps

We took a little time…and took a little nap.


Later in the evening…seated in our rocking chairs

we watched the sun set and the moon rise…as the sound of crickets filled the air.


And I had to smile as I sat in the rocker thinking of all we happened to see 

as I was one again reminded of how big the little things can be.


And how important, it is…after a week like we’ve had in our country,

where sorrow has reigned as king…

in the midst of a sadness so big


to look for happiness in little things.

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Their mom opened up the cookies in the car…

it was tradition on their trips

their children couldn’t wait for that first bite of cookie to meet up with their lips…


The youngest was named Billy, who was blind, 

not as lucky as you and me

being born into a world of darkness…a world he’ll never see.


But they never bemoaned his affliction, 

tried never to get angry, swear or cry.

They decided if Billy needed help seeing…

they would offer him their eyes.


“But this trip would be a little different.” their mom said, 

"Today you’re all in for a surprise

before I pass out the cookies…

I want you all to close your eyes.”


“Today you’ll see the way Billy sees…

a little test you’ll be completing.

Keep your eyes closed and see if you can tell me 

the kind of cookie you are eating.”


“Chocolate chip!” came a quick answer…

the rest of the children nodded their heads.

Then all eyes turned to Billy who smiled…

”It taste’s like Grandma!” is what he said.


Billy quickly sensed his family’s confusion…

but the smile on his face remained…

and when he finished chewing…he immediately explained.


“You know how Grandma always sings when she bakes cookies…

well I learned  long ago

that as she sings I can hear the music settle in the dough…”


Then I hear the music mixing 

when she turns on the beater

which makes any cookie baked by Grandma 


and taste a little sweeter.”


“There’s more to her cookies than you can see 

if you use your ears not just your sight.

when you close your eyes you can taste it...

Grandma’s songs in every bite.”


“OK!” Mom said. “Everyone close your eyes again…

a second test we’ll be completing.

And after handing out the cookies she asked,

“What kind of cookie you are eating?”


As the children ate their cookies in silence…listening…

their faces were easy to read….

“It still tastes like Grandma!” Billy said…


and everyone agreed.

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The beginning of another Summer means the end of another Spring

and I wonder as with all transitions what this new beginning will bring…


And it makes me think about beginnings and endings

will this new beginning bring us joy…or strife

and it makes me wonder how beginnings and endings

fit into a life.


Life is a series of beginnings and endings

they loom in the shadows like silhouettes

Every birth has a death, every start has its finish, 

every sunrise…its sunset


And though it’s true we experience beginning and endings

wherever we go and in whatever we choose to do

most of our life is spent in the middle

living between the two.


Certainly every beginning is important

as are the times we bid adieu

but isn’t it in the middles of our life

where most of our dreams come true?


So the next time you think about a beginning…

or an ending

take a moment

close your eyes…

and remember all that happened in between…

in the middle…


where our happiness lies…

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How often do we cross paths with people only for a moment…then

once that moment’s over… our paths never cross again?



She came into the bookstore with her mom…they went to separate nooks.

Her mom headed to the latest fiction…she…to children’s books.


She quickly found a book…then sat in a chair to read it…

“Mom!” I heard her yell across the store….“You see this book…I need it!”


“You still have some birthday money.” her mom said, “take it out…and count.

You can buy that book all by yourself…if you have the right amount.


“Can you tell me how much this book is?” she asked in a voice low and refined…

“Sure.” I said as I smiled at her.  “That’ll be eight dollars…ninety-nine.


She reached into her pocket…I could tell that she was thrilled

as she laid out on the counter… a pile of crumpled bills.


She counted each one to herself…at a slow and steady pace

and when she finished counting…a smile crossed her face.


“I’m pretty sure I have enough.” she said proudly…(this time I was thrilled)

As she handed me in her outstretched hands…nine still crumpled bills.


I counted each one as I un-crumpled them…I said, “Why yes you do.”

(I didn’t have the heart to tell her with tax…it came to nine dollars sixty-two.”)


Luckily in my pocket…I had my own crumpled dollar bill

which, when she wasn’t looking, I slipped into the till.


I rang her up, handed her the book…and with everything arranged

she started to walk away when I called out, wait…don’t forget your change…


I handed her the thirty-eight cents…and her smile…I’ll never forget

Just to see that smile on her face was worth going one crumpled dollar in debt…


I wonder if the lesson here as we randomly encounter people

as pleasantries we exchange…

Is to understand if we’re lucky 


we all leave with a little change.


When you hold the hand of a child…you cannot help but smile

two hands joined that once were two apart

There’s something innocent and pure once they put their hand in yours

you feel it all the way down to your heart.


You may not think it matters much…when an old and young hand touch…

but a memory immediately spikes.

The moment you feel that tiny hand…at once you understand

as you remember what innocence was like.


Your memory turns back slow…to a time not long ago

when you held onto a hand …perhaps an arm

and you know this to be true…how they put their faith in you

and it’s your responsibility to keep them safe from harm.


And though you never go to church that doesn’t mean you do not search

which makes this moment both wonderful…and odd

For when your fingers interlace…as you’re two hands then embrace

you wonder it this is what it’s like…to hold the hand of God.


That’s why old people understand…when a child holds our hand

for a moment…or a littlest of whiles

for that moment we are blessed that their hand in ours is pressed

and that is why we can’t do anything…but smile.




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As parents…regular and grand we’ve come to understand

We live a life of schedules…where so much of it is planned.


Yet with our aging eyes we still can recognize

moments of perfection…when they arise.


To us it is quite clear…with friends and family near

we need to enjoy these moments…before they disappear.


Our youngest grandchildren came to stay…one night while their parents were away

and we were amazed how many moments of perfection came our way…


Picking up the two…once their day at school was through

singing songs with the radio like we used to do.


To the music we ‘got down’…(do people still say ‘getting down?)

a breezy ride in our golf cart…then a walk downtown.


It seemed just like a dream…we watched the full moon gleam

we played Wii games…ate tacos and ice cream.


Like we did when they were small…we watched a movie…we were enthralled

knowing why…still wondering…when did they get so tall?


Now seeing eye to eye…with a simple hug goodbye

we smiled at our good fortune and we sighed…


Because here’s another thing…learned on the back of life’s fleeting wings

perfection can be found in the simplest of things.


This is why we understand…though different for every woman…every man


these perfect moments…we need to catch them when we can.

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We have a chance each morning…before we walk out of our door

to be a better person…than we were the day before…


Right away we notice…when our feet first hit the floor

that we’re a little different than we were the day before.


Certainly we’re a little older…but there’s also something more…

more than just our age that makes us different than before.


Love and loss…victory and defeat…we never know what’s in store

Whatever happens…good or bad makes us a little different than before.


Each day brings with it new adventures…each moment we’re awake

and we hope we learn as much from our successes as we do from our mistakes.


But on we go…we forge ahead…out into the world we soar…

hoping today we are a little better than we were the day before.


Perhaps a little kinder, more compassionate, more accepting…and what’s more…

perhaps a little wiser than we were the day before.


If not…there is one consolation…tomorrow…when our feet first hit the floor


We’ll be given another chance to be a little better than we were the day before.

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If we knew today was our last day…

If we knew tomorrow was the end of our bloom

what would we do

how would we act

what would we say…

and to whom?


Would we sprinkle words of love a little freer

before we pass this way

Would we hold those we love a little tighter 

than we held them yesterday?


Would we stop and smell the roses

as we head out your front door…

Would we notice a little more beauty today 

than we did the day before?


Would we smile and laugh a little more

Would we sit and watch a river flow

Would we notice the birds and the clouds a little more 

than we did a day ago.


And so I wonder…


if there are things we would make it a point to do

before we pass away

So many things we want to say or do


why wait til our last day?

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