1/28/2010

Help Project Angel Wings



In a world where earthquakes happen quite unexpectedly and children are left alone without parents, it is the simplest things in life that can make a huge difference. Children in Haiti are suffering alone, in many cases. Even those fortunate enough to have parents, are homeless with every possession they had gone from the face of the earth. They are hurting and missing being a child.
It was no surprise, when news of this horrible earthquake circulated, to receive an email from my dear friend, Karen Koeppe about her special endeavor to help these children. Karen always was so involved in children causes through out our years together growing up as young mothers. She had a way also of convincing others to join in whether you wanted to or not! Just the positive spirit was enigmatic enough to get others involved. We all wanted to help and have what she possessed. If that meant being a part of her current project, so be it, we were hooked! I found myself involved in everything from Bible School, a women’s group that held events for kids such as Christmas with Santa and even a teen age youth group, the most difficult age on earth to deal to children. Nothing stopped Karen when she was on a mission.
Apparently the years have not changed my dear friend. This new project is aptly called Project Angel Wings. She gave it this title because the premise behind it is about enwrapping children in Haiti with angel’s wings. Children are so innocent and Karen is so in tuned to this quality in our youth. Karen was quick to point out, aside from the most basic needs the children in Haiti are requiring; they deserve a little fun and laughter.
Her solution to this dilemma was to come up with a plan that would not be compromised by a downward economy. The premise behind it was every child deserves some toy to hold on to. She started this project simply by asking people concerned about the catastrophe to rummage through their toy boxes and garages. The idea was to spearhead donations from others for simple things to help the children there pass the time. Used items we all have around our homes that are not going to be missed by us if they disappear in a collection bin to children. Something as simple, as she put it in her initial request to others, soccer balls that seldom get used and are easy to replace, Frisbees collecting dust, doll babies long forgotten that a child in Haiti can hold. A simple request from a caring woman meant to convey love and hope to these children during trying times if people were responsive to the request.
To date, Karen has collected so many items that she needed to have a sponsor to mail the toy donations over to these children. Mathew 25 Ministries is helping her accomplish this. She is now so overwhelmed with the response that she is asking for boxes to package all the items (12 x12 x 18). I think even she is surprised at the level of responsiveness.
Instead of sitting back and watching television images on her screen, this one woman is acting. She is even going to area schools to pick up donations where she has left drop boxes. She and her husband Detlef have offered their home as a place to store all of these items given with love until February 8th of 2010. At that time, she will find a way to deliver all of the countless donations she has received and collected to the organization mailing them.
This is not the first time Karen has collected items for children either. Just recently, during the Christmas season of 2009, she collected wrapped toys for children for families in need in her area.
I know the world is a better place because of selfless people in it that are motivated to be an instrument of compassion and change as Karen Koeppe so willingly is. I could not let this generosity and concern put into positive action go by without letting those that follow my blog know what a special woman she is. I am so proud to call her dear friend, sister in Christ. I love Karen and I know the children in Haiti will also late in February when they receive their toys; they will receive the fruits of her labor and know they are children not forgotten by the world.

Contact below if you would like additional information as to how you can help:

Project Angel Wings (PAW)
Karen D. Koeppe
PO BOX 176127
Covington, KY 41017
Or email: projectangelwings@fuse.net

1/25/2010

Reach Down and Out


My last story about mothers and lost relationships has spurred a number of people to reach out to me and share their stories. I have heard quite a few happy memories of women that had mothers much like television moms, mothers that loved unconditionally with enough love of themselves to pour out love to their children.

But some women’s experiences with their mothers are of the other type; stories that are not happy with story book endings. Those touch me deeper; they reveal unreturned love a child innately has to their mother but it not being reciprocated. These stories show human frailty as its most basic level. For does not everyone deserve the love of a mother? This absence of love from a mom stays with people through out their life. I would like to share one of the stories below.

There was a woman nicknamed Jean. She was a caring loving woman that was devout in her Christian faith. She was a fantastic tailor who made things not just for herself but others in need. Her master pieces were often made for other. I was told she even once sewed every single costume for every character in a Christmas play. She brought joy to others but had a mother who did not love her, in a sense rejected her. Though her father cared about her, it is hard for a man to make up for an uncaring mother who is your primary care taker.

She had a sickly brother and what little positive attention was given by Jean’s mother was lavished on the younger brother. It was a miracle he survived his illness but the price that was paid to Jean was now not only non existent love and care but witnessing her mother giving love but to only one sibling, her brother Paul. She stood in the wings so often, even during holiday celebrations waiting for that which would never come her way, attention and positive regard. In a poor home where the only thing children can get lavished with is love, it was not to be hers.

Jean turned up pregnant and marriage seemed inevitable. The year was 1962 and in that day and age, a woman had very few options. According to her adult daughter, looking back, her mother was probably not ready to marry nor was she with the man of her dreams by any stretch. And after the marriage, the place they called home was a travel trailer that did have such enmities as a real toilet and bath tub. But of all places to situate it, he put it smack dab on this parents 20 acres so that she was within a stone throw of a mean spirited mother in law. This added to Jean’s stress and unhappiness. She was alone, no near by neighbors to call friends and with a husband where love and nurturing was lack in their marriage. Her mother in law seemed to have a mission, to make her daughter in law’s life intolerable. Her misery grew.

Her next ten years living there they did not a dime to spare. Jean stayed devout in her faith to God and that was her only salvation and source of love. When her eldest daughter was around seven years old, she turned up pregnant with a son. As the story was recanted to me, this last pregnancy may have been the final straw to put Jean mentally over the edge.

With the announcement of her pregnancy, her husband grew extremely frustrated and angry. He had plans, now that they were getting caught up on bills. He longed to save money and buy a home. He felt this postponement, due to the financial stress of another mouth to feed, was entirely her doing. He even made accusations that the son was not his, as if somehow that absolved him of any guilt. These accusations made Jean feel like a knife was cutting through her as this was so against her nature to do any discretion. She was shocked and hurt as the accusations flew. She was being scorned in her home and yet had done nothing wrong.

Jean’s world began a steady descent into a place of mental instability. She spiraled into a deep depression. Jean found herself flooded with memories of her own mother rejecting her. She remembered trying desperately to receive it but it was unreturned. Jean knew she was in a loveless marriage with a man who was not kind to her. She began losing touch with the world she wanted so desperately years ago to be a part of. All of this led her to a nervous breakdown, hospitalization and being medicated.

During this time, her son was not getting the care he deserved from her. A t some level, Jean probably knew this and yet seemed incapable of changing the outcome. Her life was on a self destructive path with no end in site. She went through the motions of being mother because the medication really did not allow her to be or feel more. The older sister of this little boy did what she could to give love to her younger brother when she could.

Somehow she did get pregnant a third time, when the eldest child was 14. This was to be her last child, and one, as she aged, that did not get along with her mother at all. She was showered with attention from her older sister’s friends and her older siblings and from, strangely enough her father. This child, almost to a fault, was lavished and allowed to be somewhat babied and not pushed to grow up and mature normally. To this day, she still lives alone, no marriage and no children, with her father.

Jean eventually confined herself to bed. She began hearing voices and labeled them as God speaking to her. She began to become totally submissive to the pull she felt was from God. She did not appear to realize she was going deep into the throes of mental illness and had a hard time separating reality from untruths. Jean sunk into the lowest of lows of depression.

As her descent continued, Jean’s children were being neglected. This was not done by choice but by an incapability to do more. The eldest daughter was heartsick inside about her mother’s sadness. She recalled days her mother sewed them Easter outfits, read them bible stories and expressed the love that she was never given herself as a child to her children. However, Jean began mentioning giving sacrifices to God, feeling some strange calling or pull to do so. Her oldest child sometimes feared one day her mother would kill her as an ultimate sacrifice. Hence, this child lived in somewhat fear, knowing fully well her mother loved her but also realizing her mother was out of touch with reality and might have the capacity to be harmful.

When the eldest daughter turned 10, Jean’s husband finally got a home. Even with this move, Jean was far into the throes of unhappiness now having suffered a nervous breakdown. A lifetime of being unloved was catching up with her and engulfed her in sorrow, she seldom felt joy. She continued her Bible readings and even, in saner moments, read Bible stories to her children at bedtime. Perhaps Jean knew, in the dark recesses of her mind, one truly sane thought, the knowledge that God could and does love unconditionally. Her daughter prayed that was enough to sustain her and give her mom some semblance of joy and possibly some reason to come back to reality.

It was not to be though. Several suicide attempts followed that were, by the grace of God, unsuccessful. Hospitalizations occurred also. After a heartfelt request, Jean vowed to her eldest daughter to not make anymore attempts on her own life. Somehow her daughter felt relieved but somewhat on guard as she knew her mother had deep seated issues that were still present.

No long after this promise, Jean was diagnosed with diabetes. She seemed to; be choice, let her health go by the wayside. Jean possibly saw an opportunity to ignore early warning health concerns due to her new diagnosed illness so as to accelerate her own death. Sores on her feet led to a need to amputate her foot. Jean was admitted to the hospital for the surgery but never made it home this time. The surgery led to her death. Jean’s life of living with mental illness was over.
Jean’s eldest daughter is left with memories of what could have been. She remembers a caring loving sweet woman who told Bible stories and believed in the love of God. Her mother was an excellent seamstress who made things that were impeccable such as Easter outfits each year for all her children that fit perfectly. Her creations were examples of the perfection she sought in life and was never equally rewarded for her efforts for love and happiness.

What survived after Jean’s tragic death was Jean’s true legacy. Her eldest child is a daughter that is everything Jean wanted to be and was in her early years. This Christian daughter is someone cheerful and positive. This lady cares about others, is giving, out going and quite vivacious. She can overcome rejection also. Yes, there are scars left over from the tragedy of her mother’s live but she lives on happy and productive in society. And she remembers her mother with kindness in her heart and a sense of loss that is irreplaceable.

She has a daughter who has an incredible work ethic. Growing up poor, Jean’s eldest does all she can to ensure she is never in that same predicament again. Her lack of children has not given her a chance to replay how differently things could have been for children in the home so she could see the reverse of a dysfunctional childhood. Those of us blessed to call Jean’s eldest daughter friend indeed feel lucky. We also know that her mother shines down from heaven with rays of joy and pride at the woman her daughter has continued to be.

Mothers come in all shapes and sizes. They parent their children in many different styles too. Each mother, we have to assume, does the best they can do with what they have. Sometimes, simply said, it is not enough. And when it is not, it is virtually impossible for a child to be unaffected by their mothers short comings. But, as we grow older and learn to separate from our parents, we can learn to look back with keen eyes and an open mind and see more clearly. We can remember and forgive poor choices our mothers made. We can be grateful also for what was done well. But, as Jean’s daughter feels, we must never forget them. The chain of dysfunction must be broken and we must be a positive legacy for the efforts our mothers made. With the understanding of the experiences from our past, our history, we can learn much about ourselves. If we can envision a better future for us, we can make it happen. Do it, reach down deep and then reach out and make that difference!

Jean, you are remembered and are now in God’s loving arms. Amen. We shall see you again one day and be blessed with your smile!

1/20/2010

Missing Puzzle Pieces


Some of us grew up never knowing one of our parents. This is particularly hard on a child when so much of their identity is tied up into their parents. I think this is particularly common in today’s world where divorce is rampant. Often times, a missing parent moves away and the child is left being raised by one parent. If the divorce is ugly, which most are, the impression children get of the missing parent is often negative, distorted by a relationship that went sour.

Negative comments made about one’s natural parents are hurtful to children. It makes them feel as if they are somehow not quite right themselves. They are innately associated with both parents in their minds and in their genes. This connection, this bond, only serves to create confusion and frustration in a child’s mind when one is out of the picture of their lives. It is particularly hard when they are bombarded with negative degrading comments about the missing parent.

Over the years, I have met so many adults who, once on their own, have reconnected with a missing parent. What they find, after many years, is their parent is not perfect by any means, but usually is one who never stopped loving them. Knowing this, that love was present in the heart of absent parent makes a huge difference. Knowing too that days went by with the missing child on their mind is soothing to the soul of the adult child. Even if the absent parent has issues, as we all do, it is still a completed circle to many adults to reconnect to their biological roots.

I recently reconnected with my mother. I have not seen her since I was thirteen years old on a brief Saturday visitation day. We still have not had a chance to meet in person again. But, I am grateful, even from afar, for the opportunity to get to know her. We live in different states making visits not easily done. I so enjoy now forming my own opinions of her. Too often in my past, it was based on everyone else’s impressions of her and not my own.

The more we talk, I see many similarities with us, and I hear it in our laughter. Many pieces of me that didn’t quite fit or make sense to me growing up now seem to mesh together quite well as I understand where those traits came from.

No, she will never be the mother many of my friends have, but, she is mine. I am a part of her life now and she is a part of mine. She does love me and she is sorry for all that she was not in my life. For me, yes, I think that is enough. As we are on a journey of discovery, I indeed feel blessed. She has been forgiven and we have moved past the past, as it should be.

May you find it in your heart to forgive those that have deserted you. If it is the right thing to do, in your situation, then perhaps, seek them out, that missing parent. Be open and honest with them too and ask for nothing less from them. May you find, in doing so, there were reasons for their desertion. Don't go into it with high expectations, accept what is as is.

Life is too short to walk around with pieces of the puzzle, the puzzle that is you, missing. It is good to go full circle with your life and put together the missing parts. You are worth it!

1/12/2010

Whether Winter Weather Matters


I have lived in the North. Northerners complain about snow, cold temperatures and too much slush and salt on their cars. They hate snowy conditions, and having to deal with getting children to school when the roads are barely passable. Schools seldom close in the North also as they are prepared for those types of conditions. If every time it snowed, they closed school, they would be going through Mid July to make up for the days missed. Hence, school is open is the norm, and if they are lucky, with a late start so the major traffic is off the road before parents and/or school buses have to venture out .

I now live in the South. Folks down here complain about not seeing snow, not having opportunities to sled and not getting to wear heavy sweaters and boots enough. When snow is even predicted in the south, schools are closed the night before. Salt must be a scarcity in the south as the road crews are not well prepared to deal with snowy conditions as it happens so rarely. The grocery stores are robbed of the essentials, milk and bread by rush hour traffic time. Apparently many are in fear it might snow and it might make the roads impassable. Many a Christmas southern folk are out putting up Christmas lights outside their homes in short sleeve shirts. All the while, they are wishing for a white Christmas.

The commonality is obvious here. There are pros and cons to the winter weather in both areas of our country. But rest assured, wherever you go, people will find fault with their area’s weather patterns in the period from November to March.
The diversity of weather patterns in different areas of the country is much like the diversity of people. It is something that should be embraced. There are wonderful assets to living in the south. No snow means no bad road days, no slush on the car, and no sub zero temperatures when you step outside. Living in the North allows you opportunities to see the landscape outlined in white virgin snow, detailing every single detail of the landscape as far as the eye can see. It is a quiet white stillness that is almost spiritual.

Whether you live in the south or the north during winter, there are advantages to each. You are blessed to be able to enjoy the seasons changing no matter where you live. Spend more time focused on what you do like about where you live and less worry on other areas in the country. You can’t change it anyways; weather patterns are not changeable due to human whims. We always want what we don’t have. It is far better to recognize that, and move on rather than waste precious time complaining.

1/05/2010

Doggie for Sale?



The best challenge in the world to all those dog lovers out there is the ability to control our dog, to Charley.

Charley is a 115 pound Labrador retriever, full of energy, that makes life, shall we say, stimulating? His energy has never faded. When most dogs hit a certain age, they slow down. Charley is almost five and we are still waiting for this metamorphosis to occur. Our vet says to not hold our breath.

When dogs are’ fixed’ it should help alleviate humping behavior. Charley had begun this nasty habit about 4 months old. We noticed him humping our couch upstairs. Our veterinarian suggested get him fixed to help. The only thing that changed, after his castration, is the couch is not good enough any more for Charley. He insists now on real action, humping other dogs. He has no biases either towards other canines, he likes humping them regardless of size, color, shape or sex. My husband begs to differ with me telling others “Charley only humps attractive dogs.” Judging by some of the dogs he has tried to hump, I beg to differ. Charley has no sense of taste whatsoever.

We brought Charley home when he was 6 weeks old in May from the breeder. Immediately we began putting him into our swimming pool. He wore a doggie lifejacket. I never knew such a thing existed before we were advised to put him in one. He looked ridiculous with it on and he hated it. I am certain, in doggie language; other dogs in our neighborhood ridiculed him for this. When folks came over to see our small puppy swim, they laughed at the site of him in this hideous thing that took as much time for us to put on him as he spent swimming.

Labs are, by nature, water dogs. His love of water extends beyond our pool, including anything with H2O. This includes our sprinkler which Charley has been known to sit literally on top of when it is on. The intent is to water our lawn but he thinks it is a play toy for him and proudly stands over it, in the process, blocking all water to the lawn.

A trainer once suggested we have a water spray bottle for visitors due to Charley’s exuberance. We were instructed to give this to visitors to our home to reprimand him for bad behavior. The thought is that by spraying the dog, he will not bother others. However, Charley simply loves it, this form of punishment. We begun to see he sees this as positive reinforcement for bad behavior as with each squirt of water aimed at him, he expertly catches the water in his mouth.

Our dog, apparently does not like the thought of captivity either. Jim, my husband, reminds him regularly that he will not find a better home than ours. Though he knows no one will take him, he still insists on trying to run away. Charley jumps both fences in the yard, the electric fence and the steel fence. He is like a fugitive running for his life when he gets free. This is something he does every chance he gets. These days, it does not happen as now he is not allowed outside without being on a leash. I am certain we look ridiculous to our neighbors walking a do with a leash in a fenced in yard. I think we hate it having to do this as much as he does!

Charley has selective hearing also. He can be in the other end of the house on a completely different floor and hear things we do not want him to hear. If the drawer that houses cheese in the refrigerator is even touched slightly, Charley can wake out of a dead sleep and come running. But, when Charley gets free in the neighborhood, he is oblivious to our cries of ‘Come home!” He dashes this way and that, not missing a smell anywhere and totally ignoring us, no matter how sweet we plead or how angry we yell. To a stranger, it looks like we are chasing a dog that does not belong to us. As we are in mad pursuit, using every trick in the book, offering cheese for his bad behavior, it normally takes some time to slow him down so we take turns following him until he gets tired and let’s one of us get close enough to loop a leash over his head.

Our neighbors have gotten accustomed to this us chasing him. Every time it happens, there never is one single sole outside. If they were, he would come up to them and they could grab him. But no one is ever there anymore. I think the neighbors find it more fun to watch us being led by our dog than helping. It is somewhat comical to bystanders to hear us asking our dog running free if he would like to take a walk to entice him to come back. We do these because he loves walking and when he is free, he is usually running! We keep hoping he will be dumb enough to fall for this line. We need some new material though because it is not working!

Charley feels no other dog or child is as worthy of our love as he. Anytime anyone comes over and gets too much of our attention, he is literally pushing his way to the front of the pack and insisting that he be pet. Other dogs are literally bull dozed down by Charley. I think he realizes if we get too close to another dog, we might try to switch and take another dog in his place. How ironic though, that when a two year old grand daughter looks at him and tells him sternly to go away and he does just that.

One summer a sales man was calling on each house on our street. He was a financial planner looking for prospects. Hearing our dog barking in the doorway would have made most strangers walk the other way. But not this man, Bill, he rang the doorbell anyway while staring at Charley’s big snout up on the storm door. Jim went out through the garage door to greet the man knowing if he dare open the front door, we would spend the next hour following Charley in the neighborhood.

Jim quickly noticed the stranger, Bill we later learned, was dressed professional, in a nice black suit. Bill was insistent about coming in our home, right then and there and meeting Jim’s wife and man’s best friend, our dog. As Bill professed to have a love of dogs, my husband told him that Charley would quickly make him rethink this passion. He forewarned Bill in no uncertain terms that Charley was a handful and hard to control with visitors but Bill was insistent he wanted to come in.

Within a mere two minutes of walking in the door, Charley was greeting Bill and letting him ‘feel the love.’ The love expression Charley chose was to jump up on the front of Bill was his dog hair flying everywhere from excitement, his mouth salivating and planting a huge kiss on Bill’s mouth. Bill was a thin man and nearly toppled over from the sheer force and weight of Charley thrusting himself on him at a breaking speed. By the time we pulled Charley off, which was seconds but felt more like hours, Bill’s suit looked nothing like it had minutes ago. In its place was now a tousled suit, wet with doggie slobber and raked with dog hair! Bill took it in stride but he never returned to our house again without a large dog bone in hand to give Charley the minute he stepped in our house.

I firmly believe Charley has a zest for life that many in this world are lacking. He greets everyone with the same vigor. His excitement is contagious, but just not controllable.

We love dogs but Charley is positively the worst behaved dog either of us has ever known. He was named after Jim’s dad who was polite, well mannered and calm. None of these adjectives describe his name sake, Charley the dog.

Our relationship with our dog is a love hate relationship. We can’t live with him or without him. He is fodder for so much conversation among all of our friends and family! We have even offered to let others keep him but have no lucky takers. When we were putting up our Christmas tree one year, he somehow slipped outdoors without us knowing. I heard a knock on the door. When I opened the door, much to my surprise, there sat Charley who had nudged the door with his large snout. He wanted back in. I opened the door but could not help saying, in all seriousness , “What’s wrong Charley, would nobody take you in?”

Signs you have a bad dog:
-Nobody will dog sit your dog when you travel

-In training, you consistently get in trouble and so does your dog for misbehaving

-Your dog sleeps on the bed with you and is a bed hog with no respect for your space

-You cannot open your front door easily without starting a barking fest and commotion

-Your neighbors know your dog only too well

-You cannot leave your house without dog hair on your clothes from head to foot

-At dinnertime, you frequently have a visitor laying his snout on the table as if it belongs

-Food that is left out disappears without a trace

-Your visitors get slobbered on and attempts are made to French kiss them by your pet

-Swimmer in your pool have to learn to dunk your dog to be left alone

-Your dog is picky with his treats preferring people food

-You get barked out when eating snacks and not sharing them with your dog

-Your dog has been known to try to steal toys from babies

-Everybody can bring their beloved dog to visit others but you!

*Please email me any other signs of a misbehaving dog that are missing on this list. I am sure Charley is not the only bad dog in this world!

1/01/2010

A New New Year’s Resolutions List


Have you started your New Year’s Resolution list yet? Does your list read the same as everyone else’s? Are you finding things like lose weight, buy a new car, find a better job or drink less on it? If so, ask yourself, a year from now what will you remember, what will truly you have done that impacted your life, your legacy?

I challenge you, instead of creating a resolution list for 2010, how about a working bucket list that accomplishes both? How about making objectives for the next 365 days that give more to your loved ones and friends and community than a ‘what’s in it for me’ list? If you are not sure how to begin or feel you need extra incentive to do so, read on.

I recently heard a story about a man that died in his late 60’s. When a pastor met with his surviving family, he asked a simple question. “Tell me all the wonderful qualitities about your father, what was so good about this man?” The room fell silent. No one uttered a word. All sat deep in thought, trying to draw from their father’s life and from their assorted memories trying to come up with something. Finally the pastor said he needed a list, some sort of response as he did not know this man directly, to help create a eulogy. Finally someone spoke up. “He loved his family dearly.”
The conversation began to flow but it began and ended with that simple thought, family meant a great deal to him. He loved golfing, drinking beer and seeing his family together. His family seldom was together in its entirety even though all lived relatively close to one another. This time they were all there, at the table but it was in his death. There were rifts in this family for years that kept them torn apart. As this story was retold to me, I could not help but wonder if this man knew of what he had not given his family, a legacy filled with adjectives like loving, caring and always supportive. If he had known, would have lived his life differently? The time is past to change this what he could or should have done.

If you are reading this, your time is not, your time is now! Make 2010 the year you begin anew. Start that bucket list for yourself, your resolutions, with this in the forefront of your mind. Make certain your choices are full of qualities you want to be known for, action items that you want to be remembered for when others describe you. Include things on the list that show you can be a risk taker, someone willing to get outside of your comfort zone. An individual who was grateful, prayerful, and faithful is someone dear to this world. Someone who lets their passion and empathetic nature help others makes a difference in our communities. Be certain your list includes opportunities to lend a hand to others in need. Small deeds like working one day at a soup kitchen will give back to you more than your gift to them.

Most of all include things on this bucket list that make you laugh with glee. This will show others your passion for life. People seek out people that are happy and show it as it reflects the spirit of enjoying life! Do you want to be remembered as someone that made others feel good just by being around them? If so, you better start now working on it before you have passed into the light.

I hope my list for 2010 leads to comments at my eulogy like she was someone with a zest for life, who enjoyed and embraced happiness and fulfilled her life’s desires. She tried to make a difference in her own small way and enjoyed the process of living. She made time for those that are dear to her. Yes, she made a difference and we are forever changed by her life….that is her legacy.
A New Year is dawning, turn the page and begin a new chapter in your life. The only one holding you back from change is you. Make this chapter about a time to learn, grow and change for the better. Your list should help you accomplish this, put you on the path to your full potential and to helping others want to reach theirs.

Creating a list is much like making a plan with your list. You will quickly find your transition on focusing on these objectives will affect your circle of friends. You will be not living status quo and others will notice! They will value you even more in their lives and the world at large will benefit from your accomplishments, the example you are creating. Just maybe you working your bucket list for 2010 can motivate others to change and ideally, help eradicate even a small amount of hate, fear and resentment in our world. Maybe it can help promote happiness and doing right by our neighbors.

At the end of the day, at the end of the year 2010, I challenge you to have created a list God could be proud of and that was attained. One by one, cross each item off your list so that it does not become nothing more than empty promises. As you create and accomplish this plan, celebrate and share your success with us all. Make God smile, as he most certainly will, at you, over what you are doing with your life here on earth.
Maybe others that knew you and loved you will be asked one day to help create a eulogy, like the man that died at age 68 on Christmas this year. Are the comments that those that knew you going to be long, memorable and without end? Your plan, your life choices for action items, affects this. My wish for you is that your eulogy, one day in the far distant future, will bring smiles of joy and thanksgiving to others. May the room light up simply by talking about you. In this way, rest assured, your life, your spirit will be alive for always in others and continue to impact those you love and hold dear!