Monthly Archives: July 2015

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 29, 2000

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the fridge,
and I immediately wanted to paint another one…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat and I learned that it was good to be
kind to animals…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake for me and I learned that the
little things can be the special things in life…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I heard you say a prayer and I knew there was a God I could
always talk to and I learned to trust in God…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick
and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had
nothing and I learned that those who had something should give
to those who don’t…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it
and I learned we have to take care of what we are given…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw how you handle your responsibilities even though you
didn’t feel good, and I learned that I would have to be
responsible when I grew up…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes
things hurt, and it’s ok to cry…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything that I could

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I learned most of life’s lessons that I needed to know to be a
good and protective person when I grew up…

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
I looked at you and wanted to say, “Thanks for all the things I
saw… when you thought I wasn’t looking.”

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
 so credit can be given
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 29, 1998

If you have ever been discouraged because of failure, please read on.

For often, achieving what you set out to do is not the important thing. Let me explain.

Two brothers decided to dig a deep hole behind their house. As they were working, a couple of older boys stopped by to watch.

“What are you doing?” asked one of the visitors.

“We plan to dig a hole all the way through the earth!” one of the brothers volunteered excitedly.

The older boys began to laugh, telling the younger ones that digging a hole all the way through the earth was impossible.

After a long silence, one of the diggers picked up a jar full of spiders, worms and a wide assortment of insects. He removed the lid and showed the wonderful contents to the scoffing visitors.

Then he said quietly and confidently, “Even if we don’t dig all the way through the earth, look what we found along the way!”

Their goal was far too ambitious, but it did cause them to dig. And that is what a goal is for – to cause us to move in the direction we have chosen; in other words, to set us to digging!

But not every goal will be fully achieved. Not every job will end successfully. Not every relationship will endure. Not every hope will come to pass. Not every love will last. Not every endeavor will be completed. Not every dream will be realized.

But when we fall short of our aim, perhaps we can say, “Yes, but look at what we found along the way! Look at the wonderful things which have come into our life because we tried to do something!”

It is in the digging that life is lived. It constitutes the joy in the journey.

Life may not be the party we hoped for… But while we are here, we might as well dance. If we can’t see the bright side let’s polish the dull side.

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
 so credit can be given
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 27, 2007

The holiday season brings with it a time to gather together and share stories. Many people reflect upon family, others about gifts, and some about gratefulness. Mine is a collection of all three.

When I was a young boy of 8 years old, I witnessed a professional magician perform miracles before my very eyes. I enjoyed the show so much my parents bought me an Authentic Magic Set for Christmas that year. That very afternoon, I hurriedly learned my first trick. It was the amazing feat of having small authentic felt balls pass through solid authentic plastic cups – just like on TV.

I raced downstairs to the kitchen to perform my first miracle for my family. My brother and sister were too busy with their own toys, and my father was next door helping the neighbors with an electrical problem, but my mother happily stopped doing the dishes and became my authentic audience of one.

I remembered the instructions perfectly, and when the felt ball magically appeared under the cup, my mother rose to her feet in astonishment and applause! Before booking my flight to Vegas, I thought I’d do one more free show for my father and our neighbors.

Through the freshly fallen snow, I ran without a coat or even a magic cape, from our back door to theirs. I found the two frustrated fathers in the family room surrounded by wires and bulbs. They obviously needed a diversion – magic. I called them over to the center of the room, and told them to, “Prepare to be amazed!”

While setting up my cups and balls on the coffee table, I explained, using the authentic banter from my direction booklet, how I was about to mesmerize them by making the felt balls pass directly through the sturdy plastic cups. With a professional flourish, I scooped up the first cup and ball, and they stopped me. “What about the ball you hid under the 3rd cup?” they said.

I was stunned. My powers of prestidigitation were gone. I was more than embarrassed… I was crushed.

They quickly got back to work on the pressing problem of malfunctioning Christmas lights. I gathered my authentic supplies and left.

As I slowly trudged back home replaying everything in my mind, I couldn’t figure out what had gone so wrong. I mean, I performed this trick flawlessly just minutes earlier. My mother had no idea how the ball – then it hit me. I did the exact same trick, with exact same lack of skill for my mother. She HAD to see the same mistake. She KNEW the ball was under that cup all along. But, like she always did, she cared enough to make that moment about me instead of her.

I was stunned. The power of love welled inside me. I was more than happy – I was grateful.

The circle of life continues to roll on. This Christmas, my son will receive his first magic set. And while I know there will be lights that won’t work and dishes to clean, I’m prepared to be amazed!

Thanks Mom.

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
 so credit can be given
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 29, 2004

On Christmas Eve, a young boy with light in his eyes,
Looked deep into Santa’s, to Santa’s surprise;
And said as he sat on Santa’s broad knee,
“I want your secret. Tell it to me.”

He leaned up and whispered in Santa’s good ear,
“How do you do it year after year?”
“I want to know how, as you travel about,
Giving gifts here and there, you never run out.

How is it Dear Santa, that in your pack of toys,
You have plenty for all of the world’s girls and boys?
Stays so full, never empties, as you make your way…
From rooftop to rooftop, to homes large and small,
From nation to nation, reaching them all?”

And Santa smiled kindly and said to the boy,
“Don’t ask me hard questions. Don’t you want a toy?”
But the child shook his head, and Santa could see,
That he needed the answer. “Now listen to me,”

He told that small boy with the light in his eyes,
“My secret will make you sadder and wise;
“The truth is that my sack is magic inside,
It holds millions of toys for my Christmas Eve ride.

But although I do visit each girl and each boy,
I don’t always leave them a gaily wrapped toy;
Some homes are hungry, some homes are sad,
Some homes are desperate, some homes are bad.

Some homes are broken, and the children there grieve.
Those homes I visit, but what should I leave?
“My sleigh is filled with the happiest stuff,
But for homes where despair lives toys aren’t enough.

So I tiptoe in, kiss each girl and boy,
And I pray with them that they’ll be given the joy;
Of the Spirit of Christmas, Christ that lives,
Will in the heart of this dear child, it is He who gives.

“If only God hears me and answers my prayer,
When I visit next year, what I will find there?
Homes filled with peace, and with giving, and love,
And boys and girls gifted with Light from above.

It’s a very hard task, my smart little brother,
to give toys to some, and to give prayers to others.
But the prayers are the best gifts, the best gifts indeed,
For God has a way of meeting each need.

“That’s part of the answer. The rest, my dear youth,
is that my sack is magic. And that is the truth;
In my sack I carry on Christmas Eve Day,
More love than a Santa could e’er give away.

The sack never empties of love, or  joys
Cause inside it are prayers, and hope. Not just toys;
The more that I give, the fuller it seems,
Because giving is my way of fulfilling dreams.

“And do you know something? You’ve got a sack, too.
It’s as magic as mine, and it’s inside of you.;
It never gets empty, it’s full from the start.
God fills it with love- it’s your heart.

And if on this Christmas you want to help me,
Don’t be so concerned with the gifts ‘neath your tree;
Open that sack called your heart and share,
Your joy, your friendship, your wealth, your care.”

The light in the small boy’s eyes was glowing,.
“Thanks for your secret. I’ve got to be going.”
“Wait, little boy,” Said Santa, “don’t go.
Will you share? Will you help? Will you use what you know?”

And just for a moment the small boy stood still,
Touched his heart with his small hand and whispered, “I will.”

by Betty Werth
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 22, 2015

I have distant friends, neighborhood friends, basketball friends and online friends.  However, I have one group of friends that has really been special to me.

In the fifth grade, my twin sister, Monica, and I transferred to a new school.  Without any hesitation, I went.  I didn’t argue.  Since my mom taught there, I would no longer have to ride the bus with a bunch of rowdy boys and worry about stuff.

At my old school, I hadn’t made any real friends.  I was treated like a complete dork because of the way I looked.  I had glasses, baggy clothes, pimples and blemishes.  I rarely smiled and hardly ever laughed, wore a belt and was overweight.

So, on the first day at my new school, I just hoped that I would make friends.  For a few weeks, I was always alone.  Monica ended up having a different lunch period than I did, so I would just read during recess and lunch.

Then one day, a girl in my class named Cori came up to me at lunch and asked if she could sit by me.  We began to talk, and since we both are twins, it gave us a lot to talk about.

Soon, Cori introduced me to friends of hers – Adriane, Hannah and Toni – and I introduced them to Monica.  Then Cori’s twin, Cole, and his friends Matt and Ross started hanging around with us.  We became one big inseparable group. We did everything together.

Ever since we’ve been together, my friends have always been there for me – even the boys.  They liked me, for me.  Having them in my life changed the way I felt about myself.  Their friendship gave me a sky-high feeling.

I began being more outgoing, like getting involved in student council and entering writing contests – some that I even won!  Then came the sixth grade, our last year of elementary school and the last year for all of us to be going to the same school together.

Adriane, Hannah, Toni, Matt and Ross were going to Tison.  Monica and I would at least still be seeing Cori and Cole since the four of us were all going to Hall Junior High.

I’d also be seeing my “old” classmates from the other elementary school, including some I had run into recently.  Boys who had teased me in my old school, stood staring at me not even knowing who I was.

The girls who previously had treated me like vapor now paid attention to me and called me by name.

I couldn’t figure it out.  I didn’t know why.  I thought that I was the same old me.  But then when I looked in the mirror, I realized that I was a lot different than I had been before.

I wasn’t short and stubby anymore.  I had grown tall and slender and my complexion had cleared up.  The glasses were gone and so were the belts.

I realized then that my friends had done more than just make me feel good – they had made me feel confident because they had supported me, and slowly my appearance had changed.

With their help, I had pushed my weight off. I learned to properly wash my face with the help of my friend Hannah and her magical beauty tips.   With the help of Cori, my belt was gone. Adriane suggested that I wear my glasses only when I really needed them.

My sister, Monica, loves clothes and helped me pay attention to how I dressed. It really helped to hear her say, “Wow, Michelle, that looks FANTASTIC on you!  Man, why couldn’t I have gotten that?”

As I gaze into the mirror, I turn to the left and then to the right.  I smile at my reflection, because I now realize that these people, my true friends, never saw me as a dork. They liked me and I became pretty. They made me bloom.

In conclusion, I have to say…thanks, Cori, Cole, Hannah, Matt, Adriane, Ross, Toni and Monica…Your friendship gave me a life to look forward to. You are the best friends anyone could ever have. I hope I can be that good of friend to the new people I meet.

By Michelle Strauss,
from Chicken Soup for the Soul...
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 21, 2015

Debbie was a young girl, a neighbor of my grandmother, Burla.

Debbie and her father lived alone. Her mother died when she was a baby. Debbie was eleven years old, and I was nine. Debbie had one problem in life – she had a face that was deformed. It looked almost like a bent beer can. Her eyes bulged out a bit. She had an abnormally high forehead and a pointed chin. Debbie lived a life apart from other people. She went to a special school for handicapped children, even though she was not handicapped. Debbie had a misshapen face.

One day while visiting my grandmother I saw Debbie playing in her yard, our eyes met but she looked away. I walked over to her, “Hi. I’m Don,” I said. “I’m Debbie,” she shyly responded.

Out from my 9 year old brain popped, “I don’t care about your face, you wanna play?” She turned with a surprised look, “Sure.” I handed her one of my cowboy pistols and off we went.

Debbie and I were weekend buddies when I visited my grandmother. We played ball and would sneak around the neighborhood playing military spy games. Her father always told her not to leave the yard. She had to ask permission for anything. Her father structured every hour of her life. To her dad I became the bad influence in Debbie’s life. Actually I was a freeing influence for her. I helped her break the prison rules.

About a month after our first meeting my parents asked if I would like to invite Debbie for the weekend. “Oh yeah!” I answered.

Debbie’s father said “No, she’s not a well girl.”

Well, you never said no to my parents, ever. After many calls to the father, he at last said, “Yes.” Debbie was going to be allowed out to the land of the living for a weekend.

While my friends and I waited for Debbie to arrive, I told my friends more about Debbie. My stories shaped her into my exotic older friend. Finally my grandmother’s car turned onto our street. Debbie was in the back seat of the car peering out, looking a bit lost. My friends gasped as they saw her face, but her smile and charm won everyone over. We all began talking at once.

The knocking on the door started early the next morning. “You guys gonna come out and play?” my friends shouted. Finally we finished breakfast and Debbie and I went into the yard. Five of my friends were waiting under the willow tree in the front yard. “What we gonna do?” “I donno!” “Lets go to the creek!”

Everyone thought going to the creek was a great idea. We started walking towards La Balona Creek, laughing, shoving, playing. The creek was pretty full of water for June. There was only one thing to do, “Let’s go in!”

We all started taking our clothes off. “Oh no!” Debbie cried, “I can’t do that!”

“Sure you can. We don’t care. Com’on, let’s go in. Com’on!” I shouted to Debbie. My friends and I were starting a water fight when Debbie walked in the water, snow white and blushing. We all laughed. She laughed. We started mud fighting, gray clay was flying every which way. Debbie seemed like a transformed person. She had a constant smile on her face and was no longer self conscious about any deformity. Debbie became our water buddy. It was a moment of total freedom and joy. Debbie was one of us.

The afternoon rushed by, and it was getting late. My friends and I tried to pull Debbie from the water. She refused to get out. “Com’on Debbie, we gotta go home. We’ll get into trouble if we don’t.”

“I don’t want to leave, it’s wonderful!” She screamed.

“Debbie we’re gonna get into big trouble if we don’t leave.”

“OK!” She finally got out of the water and got dressed. We all ran back home leaving a trail of dripping water and a dust cloud behind us. That weekend we played more than ever before, me, my friends, and Debbie.

Saturday night my mom had a Bar-B-Que for all of us. We didn’t go to bed until very late. Debbie and I played Batman and Robin. We took turns playing the Batman role.

Sunday evening arrived, and it was time for Debbie to leave. Debbie didn’t want to leave, but my grandmother was in her car waiting. The kids from the neighborhood gathered around Debbie saying “good-byes.” She kissed a couple of boys. My mom gave her a green stone necklace and put it on her neck before she climbed into the car, Debbie was crying. I was crying too.

“I’ll see ya next weekend Deb…” I shouted.

She smiled and waved. She was wiping away tears. We all stood silently waving to her as the car pulled out the driveway and slowly moved down the street.

I spoke with Debbie a few times on the phone after her visit, but never saw her again. Debbie and her father moved to the San Fernando Valley. A friend of Debbie’s father who knew my grandmother told her how outgoing Debbie had become. She was in regular school and had many friends. She played piano and had a love of music.

A few years later my grandmother’s friend called again. Debbie had died. But the last years were her best. They started with “a day at the creek”.

Author unknown - Please comment if you know the author
 so credit can be given


Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 21, 1991

It’s a great honor for me to be the third member of my family to receive an  honorary doctorate from this great university. It’s an honor to follow my  great-Uncle Jim, who was a gifted physician, and my Uncle Jack, who is a remarkable businessman. Both of them could have told you something important about their professions, about medicine or commerce. I have no specialized field of interest or expertise, which puts me at a disadvantage, talking to you today. I’m a novelist. My work is human nature, real life is all I know.

Don’t ever confuse the two, your life and your work. The second is only part of the first.

You walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree; there will  be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you will  be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on a bus, or in a car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.

People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to  write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is a cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad or lonely or when you’ve gotten back the test results and they’re not good.

Here’s what I wanted to tell you today: Get a life.

A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house. Do you think you’d care so very much about those things if  you blew an aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast?

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a  breeze over Seaside Heights, a life in which you stop and watch how a red tailed hawk circles over the water gap or the way a baby scowls with  concentration when she tries to pick up a Cheerio with her thumb and first finger.

Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work.

Each time you look at your diploma, remember that you are still a student, learning how to best treasure your connection to others. Pick up the phone.  Send an e-mail. Write a letter. Kiss your Mom. Hug your Dad.

Get a life in which you are generous. Look around at the azaleas in the  suburban neighborhood where you grew up; look at a full moon hanging silver in a black, black sky on a cold night. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted.

Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beers and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or sister. All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.

It is so easy to waste our lives: our days, our hours, our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the color of the azaleas, the sheen of the limestone on Fifth Avenue, the color of our kids eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again.

It is so easy to exist instead of live. I learned to live many years ago.  Something really, really bad happened to me, something that changed my life in ways that, if I had my druthers, it would never have been changed at all.

And what I learned from it is what, today, seems to be the hardest lesson of all. I learned to love the journey, not just the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get.

I learned to look at all the good I’ve gotten and to try to give some of it back because I believe completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this:

Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby’s ear. Read in the backyard with the sun shining on your face. Learn to be happy. And think of life as if you have a terminal illness; because if you do, you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived.

Anna Quindlen 
Commencement Speech at Villanova... c2000
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