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With One Leg and One Arm

When I was in China, I saw a Chinese modern dance competition. One couple won the top prize. The lady had one arm and he had one leg. They performed gracefully and beautifully.

The lady was a dancer and was trained as one since she was a little girl. As a teenage she got into an accident and lost her left arm and was depressed for a number of years.

Later in her 20s she was asked to coach a children’s dancing group and from that point on, she realized she could not forget dancing. She still loved to dance. She wanted to dance again.

So she started to do some of her old routines. But by her losing an arm, she also lost her balance. It took her a while before she could even make simple turns and spins without falling. With persistence she became better and better.

She heard of a man in his 20s that had lost his leg in an accident. He also fell into the usual denial, depression and the emotional roller coaster of anger. She was able to locate him in another province and after much conversation persuaded him to dance with her.

He had never danced. And to dance with one leg? Are you joking with me? No way. But she didn’t give up. He reluctantly agreed.  “I have nothing else anyway,” he said.

She started to teach him Dancing 101. The two broke up a number of times because he had no concept of how to use his muscles, control his body, or even the basic dancing steps.

They hired a choreographer to design routines for them. She would fly high being held by him flying in the air with both his arms while she had only a sleeve for one arm.

He could bend horizontally supported by one leg with a crutch for the other and she leaning on him. They danced beautifully and on their own merits beat the others in the competition.

To see the couple dance please click here.

~ Author Unknown ~

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A Gift with Meaning

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it. The overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma. The gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike.

The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church, mostly black.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings were the only things holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and new wrestling shoes.

As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, they swaggered around with their sense of false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly,

“I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.”

Mike loved kids – all kids – and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse.

That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.

On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.

For each Christmas, I followed the tradition. One year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure.

The story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.

Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.

Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

~ by Nancy W. Gavin ~

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Three Hairs, Two Hairs, One Hair, None

There once was a woman who woke up one morning,
looked in the mirror, and noticed
she had only three hairs on her head.

Well,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today.”

So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up,
looked in the mirror and saw
that she had only two hairs on her head.

“Hmm,” she said, “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.”

So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up,
looked in the mirror and noticed
that she had only one hair on her head.

“Well,” she said, “today I’m going to wear my hair in a pony tail.”

So she did and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up,
looked in the mirror and noticed
that there wasn’t a single hair on her head.

“YES!” she exclaimed,

“I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

Attitude is everything.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.

It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

~ Author Unknown ~

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The Father’s Last Gift

Every Bosnian child knows the story of a poor woman who caught a golden fish, released it and in return gained wealth and happiness.

The 150 Muslim families in Jezero, a northwestern village surrounding a lake, lived a quiet life before the Bosnian war – except for holidays, when the men returned from jobs in Western Europe loaded with presents. In 1990 Smajo Malkoc came back from Austria with an unusual gift for his teenage sons, Dzevad and Catib: two goldfish in an aquarium.

Two years later, war arrived. As Bosnian Serb forces advanced on Jezero, the women and children fled and the men resisted. Malkoc was killed. When his wife, Fehima, sneaked back into the destroyed village to bury her husband and take what remained of their belongings, she spotted the fish in the aquarium.

She put them in the lake. “This way they might be more fortunate than us,” she recalls thinking.

In 1995, Fehima Malkoc returned with her sons to Jezero to find ruins, nothing left from the idyllic past except memories. When she turned toward the lake, she glimpsed something strange. She came closer – and caught her breath.

“The whole lake was shining from the many golden fish in it,” she said.

Fehima Malkoc and her sons started feeding the fish and then selling them. Now, homes, bars and coffee shops in the region have aquariums with fish from Jezero – some shiny gold, others with black and white spots like the original pair Smajo Malkoc brought home.

The Malkoc house, now rebuilt, is one of the biggest in the village. Other residents are welcome to catch and sell the fish. But most defer to the Malkocs and the last gift from their father.

“They threw the fish into the lake,” said a villager who identified himself only by his last name, Veladzic. “It’s their miracle.”

~ Los Angeles Times 1998 article “The Wartime Balkan Fairy Tale” ~

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The Hand of a Teacher

Thanksgiving Day was near. The first grade teacher gave her class a fun assignment, to draw a picture of something for which they were thankful.

Most of the class might be considered economically disadvantaged, but still many would celebrate the holiday with turkey and other traditional goodies of the season. These, the teacher thought, would be the subjects of most of her student’s art. And they were.

But Douglas made a different kind of picture. Douglas was a different kind of boy being frail and often unhappy. As other children played at recess, Douglas was likely to stand close by her side. One could only guess at the pain Douglas felt behind those sad eyes.

Yes, his picture was different. When asked to draw a picture of something for which he was thankful, he drew a hand. Nothing else. Just an empty hand.

His abstract image captured the imagination of his peers. Whose hand could it be? One child guessed it was the hand of a farmer, because farmers raise turkeys. Another suggested a police officer, because the police protect and care for people. Still others guessed it was the hand of God, for God feeds us. And so the discussion went, until the teacher almost forgot the young artist himself.

When the children had gone on to other assignments, she paused at Douglas’ desk, bent down, and asked him whose hand it was. The little boy looked away and murmured,

“It’s yours, teacher.”

She recalled the times she had taken his hand and walked with him here or there, as she had the other students. How often had she said, “Take my hand, Douglas, we’ll go outside.” Or, “Let me show you how to hold your pencil.” Or, “Let’s do this together.” Douglas was most thankful for his teacher’s hand.

Brushing aside a tear, she went on with her work.

The story speaks of more than thankfulness. It says something about teachers teaching and parents parenting and friends showing friendship, and how much it means to the Douglases of the world. They might not always say thanks. But they’ll remember the hand that reaches out.
~ Copyright 2004 by Steve Goodier who is publisher of many books as well as a free newsletter on sharing life and love at: This story is used by permission ~

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