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Olympic swimmer Tom Dolan, who won gold medals in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, has struggled with severe asthma all his life. Because of his health problems, Dolan has had to train harder, and smarter, in order to keep up with other world-class athletes. A reporter once asked Dolan how many medals he might have won if he had never struggled with asthma. Dolan replied that without the asthma, he might not have won any medals. It was the challenge of overcoming his asthma that shaped Dolan into such an outstanding athlete.
“Unstoppable” by Tom Dolan Guideposts July 2003 pp. 66-70.
At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, wrestler Brandon Slay lost the gold to Alexander Leipold of Germany. Slay had been sure of victory. He was in great shape, he had been undefeated in all his previous rounds, and he had studied every one of Leipold’s moves, so it was a shock when Leipold was declared the winner. The defeat was especially painful, because Leipold had used some unethical tactics to win, tactics that the judges overlooked.
The next day, as Slay was brooding over his defeat, he received an e-mail from a fan. It was a verse from Scripture, Proverbs 16: 16, “How much better to get wisdom than gold and understanding than silver.” As Slay pondered that verse, he realized that God was teaching him valuable lessons through his defeat. He decided to leave the matter in God’s hands, and to rejoice in his second place medal. He returned to his hometown with a newfound peace and confidence.
A few weeks after returning to Texas, Olympic officials announced that Alexander Leipold had tested positive for steroid use. His gold medal would be taken away and awarded to second-place finisher Brandon Slay. At the second awards ceremony, a reporter asked Slay if this gold medal was the best thing to ever happen to him. To everyone’s surprise, he answered that winning the silver medal was actually the best thing that ever happened to him. It was only through defeat and disappointment that Brandon Slay gained wisdom and understanding. --
“Silver Lining” by Brandon Slay, Guideposts, August 2004, pp. 49-52.
By trying, we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man’s, I mean. -- Mark Twain
When Mel Carnahan, the Missouri governor who was running for senator died in a plane crash in 2000, it was too close to the election to remove his name from the ballot. Supporters asked his wife, Jean, who had long worked behind the scenes of his career to serve in her husband’s place if he won. Jean agreed and wen from being a wife to a widow to U.S. senator in just four months.
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Senator Carnahan visited victims’ families and rescue teams at the Pentagon. “I’ve found that it helps to get up in the morning and do the immediate thing at hand,” says Carnahan, author of Don’t Let the Fire Go Out. “With the support of family, faith and friends, you life a day at a time, a step at a time--and you get through.” -- “Rediscovering Happiness” by Barbara Bartocci, Family Circle, June 15, 2005, p. 40.
Lois Murphy, who studied resilience, found that one third of all kids don’t regress with stress but put forth even greater efforts to solve problems. She found that the difference between normal and disturbed kids wasn’t in a lack of problems, but rather in the ways problems were handled. Murphy felt that children too carefully raised were bland by adolescence. She concluded that while it was probably good to have basic necessities, it was important for kids to have some kind of “hunger.” An object or goal just out of reach stimulated kids to maximal effort. She recommended that parents help kids find moderate challenges and suggested an optimal balance between gratification and frustration. Murphy quoted a mother of a strong child who said to her son, “This is a hard life and you’d better get used to it.” The mother of a handicapped child told her son, “Everyone has a handicap. Yours just shows.” -- The Shelter of Each Other, Mary Pipher, Ph.D., Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, (New York, N.Y., 1996)
In his book At the Corner of Mundane and Grace, writer Chris Fabry quotes comedienne Gilda Radner, who died young from ovarian cancer. Radner once said, “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Like my life, this book is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.” -- From Gilda Radner, It’s Always Something (Sydney: Simon & Schuster, 1989), 268. Chris Fabry. At the Corner of Mundane and Grace (Colorado Springs, CO.: Waterbrook Press, 1999), p. 199.
Respect for the elderly is a central value of many Eastern cultures. From the country of Laos comes a folktale about a king who disrespected his society’s elders. We will refer to him as the foolish king. The foolish king only valued the young people of his kingdom. One day, this foolish king decreed that all the elderly persons in the village should be banished to the distant hills. The citizens obeyed their king, but with great sadness. One young man, an advisor in the foolish king’s palace, refused to banish his elderly father. He hid him in a room under the house instead.
A few days later, a neighboring king threatened to invade their village. He would only call off the invasion if the foolish king could pass a test of the wits: he handed him a stick and said, “Within seven days you must tell me which end of the stick comes from the higher part of the tree.” If the king failed, he would invade the kingdom and enslave the people.
Day after day, the foolish king’s advisors puzzled over this problem, but none of them had the experience and wisdom to solve it. The young man who had disobeyed the king approached his elderly father and asked for his help in solving the problem. The father answered, “Place the stick in a large bowl of water. The end which sinks under the water came from the lower part of the tree; the end of the stick which rises above the water came from the top part of the tree.”
The next day, the king from the next village came to test the foolish king. He was ready to declare war on them if they did not have an answer to his question. The young advisor stepped forward and demonstrated which end of the stick came from the higher part of the tree. The king retreated, vowing to live peacefully with his neighbors from now on. The foolish king asked his young advisor how he had answered a question that had perplexed everyone else in the kingdom. The advisor confessed that he had not banished his elderly father, but had kept him hidden away in the house. It was his elderly father’s wisdom that had solved the puzzle. That day, the foolish king decreed that all the elderly citizens be brought back into his village and restored to their rightful places of honor, because society could not operate without their experience and wisdom. -- Cathy Spagnoli. Asian Tales and Tellers (Little Rock: August House Publishers, Inc., 1998), pp. 63-65.
Finally a Barbie I can relate to. At long last, here are some “NEW Barbie
dolls” to coincide with her and OUR aging gracefully. These are a bit more realistic . . .
Bifocals Barbie. Comes with her own set of blended-lens fashion frames in six wild colors (half-frames too!), neck chain, and large-print editions of Vogue.
Flabby Arms Barbie. Hide Barbie’s droopy triceps with these new,
roomier-sleeved gowns. Good news on the tummy front, two-Muumuus with tummy-support panels are included.
Bunion Barbie. Years of disco dancing in stiletto heels have definitely taken their toll on Barbie’s dainty arched feet. Soothe her sores with the pumice stone and plasters, then slip on soft terry mules.
No-More-Wrinkles Barbie. Erase those pesky crow’s-feet and lip lines with a tube of Skin Sparkle-Spackle, from Barbie’s own line of exclusive age-blasting cosmetics.
Soccer Mom Barbie. All that experience as a cheerleader is really paying off as Barbie dusts off her old high school megaphone to root for Babs and Ken, Jr. Comes with minivan in robin-egg blue or white and cooler filled with doughnut holes and fruit punch. -- Quotes of the Day
An elderly gent was invited to his old friends’ home for dinner one evening. He was impressed by the way his buddy preceded every request to his wife with endearing terms-calling her Honey, My Love, Darling, Sweetheart, Pumpkin, etc. The couple had been married almost 70 years, and they were still very clearly in love.
While the wife was off in the kitchen, the man leaned over and said to his buddy, “I think it’s wonderful that, after all the years you’ve been married, you still call your wife those loving pet names.”
The old man hung his head. “I have to tell you the truth,” he said, “I forgot her name about ten years ago.”
The nice thing about being senile is you can hide your own Easter eggs.
During the Revolutionary War, Alexander Hamilton’s regiment came under heavy fire in a battle in New York City. They were soon surrounded. General Israel Putnam and Major Aaron Burr were sent to save evacuate Hamilton’s regiment. In doing so, Aaron Burr most likely saved Alexander Hamilton’s life.
Twenty-eight years later, Hamilton and Burr found themselves on opposite sides of the political fence. Hamilton’s newspaper, the New York Evening Post, published articles attacking Burr’s judgement. Burr demanded an apology. Hamilton refused, so Burr challenged him to a duel of honor.
Just before the two men armed themselves, Hamilton took a friend aside and told him that he planned only to shoot in the air over Burr’s head. He believed that the duel would end without any injury to either party. Unfortunately, Aaron Burr was a very good shot, and he had no intention of misfiring. That afternoon, Aaron Burr killed the man whose life he had saved so many years before. -- “Hamilton Takes Command” excerpted from Alexander Hamilton: A Life by Willard Sterne Randall (HarperCollins Publishers, 2003). Excerpted in Smithsonian January 2003 pp. 64-71.
While grieving the sudden death of her son, Edith Kunhardt Davis writes that she felt a great deal of unexpected anger. No one had told her that this was a normal part of the grieving process. At one point, her anger became so overwhelming that she had fantasies about stealing a gun and shooting someone. She didn’t have anyone particular in mind. She just wanted to express her anger in some concrete way. -- Edith Kunhardt Davis. I’ll Love You Forever, Anyway (New York: Donald I. Fine, Inc., 1995), p. 32.
German submarines experimented with an acoustic torpedo, which steered toward its target by “listening” for the ship’s engines. Some of the first experiments with acoustic torpedoes were disasters--because the submarine’s engines were louder than those of the target, the torpedo turned around and blew up the submarine! -- Stephen Biesty and Richard Platt, INCREDIBLE CROSS-SECTIONS, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf)., p. 17
When England closed it’s Libyan Embassy Muammar Qaddafi became so angry that he ordered England to be removed from all maps in Libya. If you buy a map in that country today, that area will be represented by a new arm of the North Sea bordered by Scotland and Wales.
A New York lawyer went duck hunting here in the mountains of East Tennessee recently. He shot and dropped a bird, but it fell into a farmer’s field on the other side of the fence. As the lawyer climbed over the fence, an elderly farmer drove up on his tractor and asked him what he was doing.
“I shot this duck, and it fell in this field, and now I’m going in to retrieve it.”
“This is my property,” the old farmer replied. “And you are not coming over here.”
“I’m one of the best trial lawyers in New York,” said the lawyer. “And if you don’t let me get that duck, I’ll sue you and take everything you own.”
“Apparently, you don’t know how we do things in these parts of Tennessee,” said the farmer. “We settle disagreements like this with the Tennessee three-kick rule.”
“And just what is the Tennessee three-kick rule?”
“Well, first I kick you three times, and then you kick me three times, and so on, back and forth, until someone gives up.”
The attorney quickly thought about the proposed contest and decided that he could easily take the old-timer. He agreed to the local custom. The old farmer slowly climbed down from the tractor and walked up to the city slicker. His first kick planted the steel toe of his heavy work boot in the lawyer’s shin. The man fell to his knees. His second kick nearly put a hole in the man’s stomach. The old man then quickly delivered the third kick to the side of the attorney’s head. Slowly, the disoriented lawyer managed to get to his feet.
“OK, you old codger,” he said. “now it’s my turn.”
The farmer smiled and said, “Naw, I give up. you can have the duck.” -- Dave Stone, KEEPING YOUR HEAD ABOVE WATER (Loveland: Group Publishing, 2002).
There’s a small village in Austria named Anger.
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