Myra’s Story – No Lists

It’s the Sunday before Christmas and Myra is having a struggle getting ready to drive over to St. Anthony’s Assisted Living to visit nolistsAunt Grace, her only remaining relative on her mother’s side. Aunt Grace is in her nineties, is mentally very alert, but she can’t walk due to arthritis and is virtually blind. It’s not a chore to visit her; it’s just that everything around the holidays is like dragging a heavy weight around. It would be easier to go to bed and forget about everything. Continue reading


Brenda’s Story – Playing the Blame Game

“Yourself to Blame.”

If things go bad for youBrenda's Story - Playing the Blame Game

And make you a bit ashamed

Often you will find out that

You have yourself to blame


Swiftly we ran to mischief

And then the bad luck came

Why do we fault others?

We have ourselves to blame


Whatever happens to us,

Here is what we say

“Had it not been for so-and-so

Things wouldn’t have gone that way.”


And if you are short of friends,

I’ll tell you what to do

Make an examination,

You’ll find the faults in you…


You’re the captain of your ship,

So agree with the same

If you travel downward

You have yourself to blame


Author: Mayme White Miller

Be inspired. Look beyond the blame and let no distract you from your goals, nor convince you otherwise.



Brenda was packing. She’d been at it all morning and had to leave in an hour; but her packing kept being interrupted by sometimes angry, always sad, and sometimes wistful thoughts that swirled through her mind.

She’d found herself sitting on the edge of the bed wondering why Marsha, her best friend from junior high had invited her back to the 40-year class reunion of the class in which she and Marsha would have graduated together had her father not dragged her away from the life she knew to a life that with which she never completely identified. She blamed her father, long dead, for the lifetime of pain that she had suffered because he wanted to start a new business 800 miles away from the town where she and Marsha had lived.

Brenda and Marsha had been Christmas-card and birth-announcement close for the past 45 years. Life had become too busy and too complicated to be any closer than that. She had little desire to see child-hood friends, but Marsha had been so insistent in her invitation and on the phone. “It would be so good to reconnect,” she’d encouraged.

There was an arrival drinks party on Thursday night. She’d need a nice slightly-more-than-casual pants and blouse outfit for that.

Brenda never quite got over blaming her father for his decision; and blaming her mother for being so weak as to let him put everything they owned on the line for his pipe dream. Hardly a day passed that she didn’t spend at least a few minutes in an emotional battle with her father, her mother, or both. Depending on what else was going on in her life, her emotions could range from smoldering hurt to outright rage.

Brenda had never made any real friends in high school and college. The town where they moved was so into Southern heritage and “being part of the right family” and Brenda had neither the heritage nor the family. So she spent a lot of time on the outside looking in.

Every party that she spent standing by the wall watching other kids have fun was the direct result of her father being so mean and stupid as to move the family without considering what it would do to all of them, especially Brenda.

She had no expectations that this reunion would be any different, but Marsha was so persuasive. And Brenda’s kids had thought she should go back home for the weekend, so here she was packing.

Friday’s events included a golf outing, shopping, and an informal dinner in the evening. So she needed to pack daytime casual and something a little dressy for the dinner. Brenda had no interest in the shopping, so when Marsha suggested renting a golf-cart and riding along as others played golf, she’d agreed to do that. Marsha said it would give them lots of time to “catch up.”

Robert had loved golf. Brenda had met Robert in college and married him 4 months out of college. She had no idea why he’d fallen in love with her. She’d never been really happy. She had blamed him secretly for her unhappiness. She didn’t understand why she had felt that way toward him. She was unhappy and it had to be somebody’s fault.  Robert had been totally devoted to her and had provided a good life for her and their son and daughter. He’d also been thoroughly entranced by their grandchildren. That had ended with his heart attack four years ago. So the golf outing with Marsha would be sort of a memorial to Robert, even though she blamed him for leaving her alone.

She’d often wondered why he stayed with her because her kids certainly didn’t. Well it wasn’t that bad, she thought. Both kids lived within an hour, just in different directions. They just didn’t visit her very often. It had always been Robert and Brenda visiting them instead of the other way around. The fact the she was often moody and bitchy (her choice of words) made life hard on her family. As soon as the kids left for college, time together became occasional weekends and holidays.

Robert had always gone to church, but Brenda seldom went. She didn’t think she fit in very well with the church crowd. They’d always gone to church when she was a child and she had lots of friends there. When they’d moved, they had tried church. She still remembered all the faces turning and looking at the weird people from up north as they walked in and took their seats.

That same “outside” feeling persisted throughout high school and college. There were times when she acknowledged that she could have been more friendly; but mostly, they didn’t want her there and she didn’t want to be there; and why did they have to be that away?

Her father’s business venture failed and they lost just about everything but their home. So there wasn’t any money to go back north for college, the out-of-state tuition and travel costs being prohibitive. So she went to an in-state school. It wasn’t too bad, but her shyness and moodiness made it easier for people to have other friends. The frustrating thing was that she had had lots of friends before they moved; and her father destroyed all that; and her mother had let him get away with it.

Robert and Brenda had done okay financially, but the memory of her father’s failure made her worry all the time about going broke. She shared her fears often with Robert and his assurances were never quite enough. She blamed Robert for her worries about money.

She’d told Marsha that she would really like to spend Saturday morning driving around and seeing the town she remembered. Marsha agreed with that and suggested some nice places for lunch. There was a tour of the old school scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

There was a dinner-dance scheduled for Saturday evening and she’d need to pack something dressy for that. She pulled open her lingerie drawer and decided that was absolutely no need to pack anything other than the white utility pieces. She certainly had no black-lace expectations about the dinner-dance.

Marsha met her at the airport about 5:30 and took her to her hotel. The cocktail party was at the hotel so they had a nice time visiting with a lot of old friends. Marsha apparently had prepped everyone about inviting Brenda because not one person asked why she was there since she was not actually part of the graduating class of 1970.

Marsha was twice-divorced and declared that her life was complete with her two daughters, handsome sons-in-law, and the five, delightful grandchildren. She had absolutely no interest in another romantic relationship at this stage of her life, she laughingly shared.

This attitude puzzled Brenda. How could Marsha be so light-hearted and happy considering her history?

Friday was a beautiful day and after lunch Marsha had driven them out to the country club where they arranged for a golf cart to follow the golfing crowd. Brenda was more and more intrigued how Marsha was so happy and jovial with everybody!

After an hour, Brenda steered the cart over to the little bluff overlooking the lake and they found some comfortable park benches and sat down for the talk Brenda had been planning to have all morning.

“How can you be so upbeat with your life: two divorces and everything else?” she asked.

Marsha’s quick reply was, “I just don’t think about it.”

“You don’t think about it! It happened to you, not once, but twice! How can you not think about it? I can’t help but think about the things people have done to me!”

“I have too many blessings to think about,” Marsha replied. “I don’t have time to mess up my life thinking about stuff that will only make me unhappy.”

Brenda didn’t reply, so Marsha asked her, “What do you think about most of the time.”

Thinking for a moment, Brenda answered, “When I’m busy, I think about what I’m doing. But when I have time on my hands, which I have a lot of these days, I tend to think about how my father destroyed my life by moving us away from here; and about how my mother let him do it. I think about Robert dying and leaving me alone. I think about worrying about money so much. I think about my kids not having any time for me anymore.”

“And how does all that thinking make you feel?” Marsha asked.

“It makes me miserable, to tell the truth. I sometimes get so worked up that I have to take a sleeping pill to get to sleep.” As if on a roll, she continued, “It causes me lots of anxiety and stress. I’m such a bitch sometimes that people don’t want to be around me. Then I blame them for being so stuck-up and judgmental. If they only knew how much I’ve suffered in life, they would be more sympathetic.”

“If thinking all those negative thoughts makes you so miserable, to use your word, then why do you think those thoughts?

Brenda shot back, more emotionally than she intended, “Why do I think about the negative thoughts? They’re the history of my life. How can I NOT think them?”

Marsha smiled warmly, “Whenever one of those negative thoughts pops into your mind, you can simply say “I will not think about that.”

Brenda almost shouted, “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard!”

Marsha waited for Brenda to calm down and then said gently, “Let me tell you my story.”

“When my first husband walked out on me for a younger model after twenty-five years of marriage, two children and, at the time three grandchildren, I was furious and I made sure that everybody knew how furious and hurt I was. I was able to calm down after some years and during that time I met husband number two.”

“But every time I saw number one at a family event with yet another bimbo on his arm, I’d get furious all over again blaming him for all my pain.”

“After three years, husband number two told me that he had better things to do with his life than listen to a bitch complain about her first husband; so he left me. And he had the nerve to blame it on me.”

“So I became double trouble as a bitch. My girls stopped coming around, my friends at church deserted me, and I had nothing left but work and misery.”

“My Aunt Annie, since deceased, was in assisted living and I visited her one day. She was sharp as a tack; she just couldn’t walk and take care of herself any longer. I had just gotten off the phone trying to plan something with my daughters and they were using every excuse in the book to avoid being with me. I guess I was wearing my emotions on my sleeve when I walked in Aunt Annie’s door.”

“My ever-direct Aunt Annie nailed me after about five minutes. ‘I’ve known you since I changed your diapers all those years ago and I’ve never seen you this wrought up. Do you want to tell me what’s going on in your life?’”

“So I told her. When I’d finished, she asked me the same question I just asked you, ‘If those thoughts make you unhappy, why do you think them?’”

“I answered exactly the same way you did; ‘How can I not think about them?’”

Aunt Annie shared with me what she called a simple and effective Rule for Peace that she said had served her well for most of her ninety-two years.

She told me that whenever a negative thought pops into my mind, I should say out loud to myself, “I will not think about that.” Then I go ahead with what I’m doing. If the thought pops up again, I should say again, out loud, “I will not think about that.” I can say it softly, but I must say it out load to myself.

She told me that if I was in a social situation where it would be awkward to say it out loud, I could simply use my hand as if covering a cough and say it into my hand, “I will not think about that.”

She told me that I wouldn’t notice much difference at first. But she promised me that if I would dismiss my negative thoughts consistently, it will make all the difference in the world to me emotionally.

She then challenged me to keep a calendar of dismissing my thoughts. I should make a note on the calendar each day of how many times I had said, “I will not think about that.”

She also said that since she got lonely at the home, I should visit or call her at least once a week and tell her the numbers I’d written on my thought calendar.

“Skeptical, I left and had the opportunity to say the phrase in my car leaving the parking lot; and several other times before I got home. I made the notations in my calendar like Aunt Annie suggested.”

“Brenda, I have to tell you that I was amazed to see the numbers on my calendar. By the end of the first week, I was saying the phrase half as often as when I started. And more amazingly, I discovered that I was thinking more positive thoughts, not because I necessarily wanted to, but because I have the emotional peace where I could think about other things.”

“I faithfully reported to Aunt Annie every week but after about four weeks, we didn’t talk about my negative thoughts anymore. Each of my visits was filled with all sorts of stories about my family and the life that Aunt Annie had lived. What joy and peace!”

“When she died three years ago, I felt like I’d lost a dear friend, but more than that, I knew I have been given a priceless gift – the gift of personal peace.”

“Do you see why I wanted so much for you to come to this reunion? I had sensed that you were lacking peace and I wanted to share Aunt Annie’s Rule for Peace with you. I’ll tell you this, if you hadn’t come up here this weekend, I would have invited myself down to see you in a matter of weeks.”

“This is a fact, Brenda, You can experience personal peace in your life and it will make a world of difference to you!”

Marsha reached in her bag and gave me a card with Aunt Annie’s Rule for Peace and challenge on it.

“Brenda, I promise you this works because it worked for me. I predict that before I finish this sentence, you’ll be thinking to yourself, ‘This will never work for me. My problems are too bad.’ That needs to be the first time you say to yourself, ‘I will not think about that.’

At the dinner-dance that night, Brenda felt like a giddy teenager sharing a secret when she discovered how many times she discreetly covered a fake cough and said to herself, “I will not think about that.” She had a great time visiting with childhood friends and even sharing a few dances with some of the guys from the past. Each time she faked the cough, she would glance a Marsha and share a eye-smile.

At the Sunday brunch and later on the way to the airport, she thanked Marsha for caring enough to share Aunt Annie’s Rule for Peace. She truly felt optimism and hope for the first time in forty-five years; and that was a blessing.

The end.

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written or spoken about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts and to minimize the effects of emotional or physical pain in our lives. The danger of ruminating on emotional pain is, in addition to more pain, stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and worse.

Children as well as adults can easily understand the simple Rule for Peace that will work for many negative emotions that result from almost any negative thinking.

 This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peace The course leads you through these life principles and also covers topics like making good decisions, and dealing with serious stuff like death, illness, abuse, and addiction.

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning the habits of negative emotions into the habits of peace and freedom. You can read other short stories on life issues by searching the category, Short Stories, at the right. You can start with the course today and begin to find more personal peace in your life immediately.

All the best.

Copyright 2014 Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.


Jarvis’ Story – Running to Freedom; Freedom to Run

Jarvis’ Story – Running to Freedom; Freedom to RunCoach Jarvis Newcombe and the reporter walked slowly across the infield of the track. A photographer trailed them framing and snapping pictures of the young people working all around them. Some were running; others were working on the track; some were handling the equipment; and even more were serving as trainers and taping and icing sore ankles.

They had already toured the Freedom Center and  seen kids working on all sorts of developmental projects.

The news story was to help celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Freedom Track Club that Jarvis had led for ten years helping boys and girls learn and practice the skills to survive in an increasingly difficult world.

Any kid, between fifth and twelfth grade could participate as long as they remained in school and out of trouble.

The name was somewhat a misnomer because a kid didn’t have to be an athlete to be included. But more about that later.

Jarvis’ Personal Track

At age twelve, Jarvis was well on his way to serious trouble. He’d been in Family Court twice already. He mother couldn’t handle him and his father was non-existent. Jarvis was an outgoing kid who always seemed to be on the front row when trouble began and he had learned that there was some status to be had by being quick; quick to hit, quick to snatch something he wanted that didn’t belong to him; or quick to talk smack that usually led to a fight.

The family court had done a thorough workup of Jarvis, and had learned that he was also quick in another way – he was a really, really fast runner for his age group.

As he faced the judge a third time, his options were made very clear to him.

One, he could spend twelve months in Juvie for this second shoplifting charge. Or;

Two, he could agree to join a local track team that was run by Coach Maxwell Anderson.

The judge told him that it would be tough; that he would be monitored by a probation officer; and that Coach Anderson was a taskmaster who demanded total effort as well as keeping out of trouble. The reward would be staying at home and learning how to manage his life better. The downside was if he appeared in Family Court again, he only had one option left.

He looked at his mother sitting on the row behind him. The look on her face was pleading him to take the second option.

Coach Anderson

His first session with Coach Anderson was something he had never forgotten; not because it was awful, but rather because for the first time in his life, he felt an adult treating him with respect and expectations.

On the wall behind Coach Anderson’s table was a banner, “Freedom to Run; Run to Freedom.” On the banner he saw the names and signatures of dozens people.

Coach Anderson explained that Jarvis was looking at the name of every person who had successfully finished this program.

There were four requirements for successfully finishing the program.

One – he had to stay in school and make C’s or better.

Two – he had to stay out of trouble with the law.

Three – he had to treat other people with respect

Four – he had to agree to practice the three Principles of Freedom as long as he was in the program.

Coach Anderson explained the requirements.

Staying in school with a C average or better meant that he had to make a decision every day to do the work he needed to do that day to do well in school. He couldn’t play around in school and expect to succeed in the track club or in life. He also had to recognize when he needed help in school and ask one of the volunteer tutors to help him. Coach Anderson said, “Jarvis, nobody can read your mind. You have to make the decisions that will help you do well in school.”

Staying out of trouble with the law sounded obvious. Coach Anderson explained that staying out of trouble came from making good decisions every day. He would make a choice who he wanted to hang with. He would make a choice where to hang. He would make a choice whether to stop or to keep walking. As long as he made the right choices, he would most likely stay out of trouble.

Treating other people with respect flew in the face of typical neighbor behavior, where smack-talking and trash-mouthing others were the norm. “Jarvis, you will be treated with respect here; and you must treat others with the same respect. You must be man enough to apologize when you disrespect someone else; and you must be man enough to choose to walk away when somebody disrespects you.”

A look crossed Jarvis’ face that told Coach Anderson he had struck a nerve. “Jarvis, can you tell me what you’re thinking right now?”

“What you’re saying ain’t easy. There’s people out there who will push me around and then beat me up if I don’t fight back.”

“What I’m saying is not easy, Jarvis.”

“And I agree with you. I lived on those same streets as you. I know where you’re coming from. But let me see if I can explain the difference.”

“There are different laws in effect today and we choose the laws we want to live by.” Seeing the puzzled look on Jarvis’ face, he continued.

“On the streets, lots of people live under the law of victimhood. They accept the premise that they are victims of their circumstances and that there’s nothing they can do about it. So they do whatever necessary to be as invisible as possible so as to avoid trouble.”

“This is a bad law.”

“Then there is the law of control. Those people measure their worth by the number of people under their control. Their goal is power. These are the people who will beat you up if you don’t play the victim and beat you up if you stand up to them. When you think about it, the people who want to control others are victims in that they can’t do what they need to do to prosper under a higher law. And they can’t have power by themselves. They have to be part of a gang to give them any strength at all. Without their gang, they don’t have any power.”

“This is a bad law.”

“The common laws are established by the people through their government and are enforced by the prosecutors and the police. Part of respecting yourself is choosing to live under this law when other people are trying to force you to live as a victim.”

“This is a good law.”

“The last is the Higher Law that is superior to everything else. This law is characterized by the premise, ‘Do to other people like you would have them to do to you.’ It also says that you should love and respect other people the same as you love and respect yourself.”

“Part of loving and respecting yourself is being willing to say “No” when you’re tempted or threatened to fall under another law.”

“This is the best law.”

“The beauty of this law is that the Giver of the Higher Law does not ask us to do something that we’re not capable of doing. He gives us tools and created us in such a way that we can live by the Higher Law; and this gives us freedom.”

“Lastly, let me share with you the Three Principles of Freedom.”

“Jarvis, I’m guessing that you are like most of the young men living in this neighborhood in that you have a lot of angry thoughts rolling around in your head. Is that right?”

Jarvis thought about that and finally nodded his head.

“I lived with that too, Jarvis, for many years. Then I learned these Principles of Freedom.

Three Principles of Freedom.

Principle of Freedom 1 – Whenever a thought enters your mind that will cause you pain, tempts you to do wrong, or keep you from being the best you can be, you say to yourself out loud, “I will not think about that.” When the thought comes back, and it will, you say it again, “I will not think about that.”

Coach Anderson explained that this idea had been around for thousands of years and it’s even mentioned in the Bible. “We simply do not have to let negative thoughts control our lives,” he said.

He explained that we can get so distracted by negative thinking that we sometimes aren’t able to do the things what we’re perfectly capable of doing like doing well in school or staying out of trouble.

“The reason this works so well is Principle of Freedom 2.”

Principle of Freedom 2 – When you consistently practice the first law, negative thoughts will pop up less and less often until you really don’t think about them at all.

He explained that we all have a part of our mind, called the subconscious, which has the role of helping us be happy and content. If our subconscious thinks that we are happy thinking about negative things and getting all worked up all the time, it will keep feeding us those negative thoughts so we can be happy.

But if our subconscious hears us saying “I will not think about that” consistently, it will learn over time that we don’t want to think about those things and it will stop sending those negative thoughts or temptations to us. It’s like our subconscious blocks those negative thoughts and temptations automatically.

This principle gradually replaces our habits of anger or whatever with a new habit of peace.

Principle of Freedom 3 – Use your habits of peace to make the best decisions for you and your future. He explained that this is true freedom: the freedom to do what we need to do when we need to do it to become the best that we can be.

When we’re not spending all our time thinking about negative things, we have peace. We can use this peaceful time to think about ways to get along better with others, to do the right things, and to better ourselves for the future.

Coach Anderson said that he’s sure these principles work because he has shared them with all the members of his track team for over 30 years. He said they all have learned to break their habits of anger, fear, and victimhood and create the habits of peace and freedom.

“And those men who learned how to be free are the names you see written on this banner,” he said pointing back with his thumb. “I expect your name to be added to that banner in just a few years.”

He asked Russell if the laws made sense to him. When James responded with a “yes,” Coach Anderson continued.

“Here’s what I want you to do. Every week, pick up a card from that rack by the door there. Keep it in your backpack. There’s a place for your name and there are blocks on the card for each day of the week. Every time a negative thought pops into your mind, I want you to say out loud to yourself, ‘I will not think about that.’ If you’re in class or someplace where talking out loud would be inappropriate, put your hand over your mouth like you’re covering a cough and say softly, ‘I will not think about that.’”

“Then put a check card in the block for that day every time you dismiss one of those negative thoughts. Bring the card back with you next week and put it in the other rack by the door. Then get a fresh card. I predict by the end of four or five weeks, you will be making very few check marks on the card because Freedom Principle 2 will be taking effect in your life. The question now is, ‘Will you do this?’”

Jarvis must have looked a little skeptical because Coach Anderson suggested, ”Jarvis, I suspect that you have a negative thought right now telling you that this idea will never work for you. This is a good place to start.”

Jarvis smiled and said, “Yes, sir.” As he picked up the card and walked out of the office, he said to himself, “I will not think about this.”

Over the weeks that followed, Jarvis found that he really was not thinking as much about the negative things and he was thinking more about what he wanted to do with his life. Soon, he was not thinking about the anger and resentment at all.

Every day, he walked with two other boys from his school to the building where the track team met. In the first hour, they had to do their homework with Coach Anderson and some volunteers serving as tutors.

Three days a week, they worked out on the track. Coach Anderson was really good with running techniques and Jarvis’ speed was increasing every month when they did time trials.

Two days a week, they worked indoors learning about nutrition, hydration, and exercises they could use for strength and flexibility. They also learned study skills, how to speak in front of people, and neighborhood survival skills. The older boys learned how to write resumes, apply for a job, and do well in an interview.

On Saturdays, they had their meets with other community, club, and sometimes school teams from the area. There were always big crowds at the meets; and Jarvis soon noticed that some of the crowd had clipboards and stopwatches. Coach Anderson said these were college and university track coaches that he invited to the meets.

Jarvis was devastated when his grandmother died in her sleep during his ninth-grade year. Coach Anderson went to her service, and later found an opportunity to talk to Jarvis.

“Jarvis, the Principles of Freedom also work for grieving. It’s perfectly normal to be very sad when you lose someone you love.”

“So grieve. Be sad. But when the grief thoughts start to distract you from the things you need to do in your life, you can use Principle of Freedom 1 to keep that from becoming a habit of grief.”

By junior year, Jarvis consistently had an A-B average in school. He was also winning most of his meets running in the 400, 1000, 1500, and 2000 meter events. College coaches were coming to his home to talk with Jarvis and his mother about running for their schools.

Jarvis was also helping Coach Anderson work with some of the younger runners in the club.

He was also developing a plan for the future, but it was too soon to go public with that now.

Jarvis will never forget the day that he graduated high school, signed a grant-in-aid scholarship to run for the university; and most importantly went with a small group of special people, including his mother, to Coach Anderson’s office.

Coach made a little ceremony; the minister of his church said a prayer; and Jarvis signed the banner. He had never been so moved in his life. He actually did cry a little bit.

Jarvis ran track in college and eventually earned All-American honors. He ran in the Olympic trials but didn’t make the cut. He saw that as a blessing when he considered his ultimate plan.

Jarvis had majored in Business with a minor in Community Development. He went to work with a major state-wide utility headquartered in his city.

He could finally share his plan with Coach Anderson because his plan totally depended on receiving Coach Anderson’s blessing.

Over the years, Coach Anderson had spoken several times about retiring. He was over 70 years old and he just didn’t have the energy to head the track program much longer.

Jarvis’ Plan

Jarvis had Coach Anderson over to lunch in their corporate dining room. When they finished lunch, Jarvis asked him if he was still considering stepping down. When Coach Anderson told him he was, Jarvis asked for permission to show him something.

Jarvis opened his laptop and quietly went through a PowerPoint presentation about what he called the Freedom Track Club. He’d chosen that name because that was what Coach had given him: freedom to be the man that he wanted to be.

He envisioned a club that welcomed all kids from fifth grade to twelfth grade who agreed to he same requirements that Coach Anderson had required.

He pointed out that some really great kids would never be runners; but there was a place for them. There were all sorts of life skills they could learn on their own personal track to Freedom.

He had located a closed school that could be converted to the Freedom Track Center. The school board would lease the property to the track club for $1 a year in exchange for them maintaining the property. There was a run-down track on the property that could be restored.

The Three Principles of Freedom would always be the centerpiece of the program.

Jarvis’ company had agreed to keep him on full-time pay but he could spend half his time working as a Community Liaison. They would let him transition in to full-time liaison as the track club grew.

Jarvis outlined a plan for volunteers to continue tutoring and athletic training; and he wanted to add volunteers to teach health training, track maintenance, grounds maintenance, nutrition, social skills, and more to the kids.

There weren’t going to be any athletic stars. All the kids would be involved in all the growth and development programs they offered.

Jarvis would do the fundraising accompanied whenever possible by older kids to help with the presentations. This would be their training for participating in the world of business and industry.

They would have a club website maintained by the kids.

All Jarvis needed was Coach Anderson’s agreement to stay on the board as Coach Emeritus and his blessing to the plan.

Coach Anderson was thrilled to see his dream expand into new generations. He didn’t notice Jarvis nod discretely to a man across the room.

Jarvis stood as two men, the President and VP of Community Affairs of his company, approached their table. He introduced them to Coach Anderson as the Coach Emeritus of the Freedom Track Club.

They obviously were well aware of Jarvis’s vision and they sat down and committed the power of their offices to raise funds and bring the vision into reality.

As they talked, Jarvis reflected on the twelve-year-old boy who had stood before the judge so many years ago. He was excited and deeply grateful for the opportunity to affect hundreds of lives over the years ahead just like the Principles of Freedom and the Higher Power had changed his life.

The end.

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written or spoken about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts and to minimize the effects of emotional or physical pain in our lives. The danger of ruminating on emotional pain is, in addition to more pain, stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and worse.

Children can easily understand the simple principles of the Three Principles of Freedom. The principles work for many negative emotions that result from almost any negative thinking.

 This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peace The course leads you through these life laws and also covers topics like making good decisions, and dealing with serious stuff like death, illness, abuse, and addiction.

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning tje habits of negative emotions into the habits of peace and success. You can read other short stories on life issues by searching the category, Short Stories, at the right.

Copyright 2014 Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.

Question: If you could change something in your life . . .

Poll: If you could change something in your life . . .A friend challenged me recently. His challenge seemed to directly affect what I’m trying to do with this blog; that is, help people find personal peace in the face of often increasing negative issues in their lives.

He challenged me that I could not offer meaningful help to someone unless I first knew what help they wanted. He used an example of his own experience: that of beginning a project that he had fully developed and was ready to launch to discover only lukewarm, yet cordial, support from the people he wanted to help.

It finally occurred that he was living in the glory of his plan rather than the urgency of their needs.

So, thusly challenged, I propose this poll to you. I write a lot about dealing with emotional issues. My writing would be more effective if I were writing about issues that are important to you and other readers.

Please complete this little one-question poll. You’ll be telling me what is important to you. And you get to see how your important issues stack up beside the important issues of others. Please come back later as the responses grow. And feel free to share this poll with others.

All the best,

Poll: If you could change something in your life . . .

Rod Peeks

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

P.S. We’ve written several short stories with some good life lessons. You can check them out by searching by the category, Short Stories, at the right. My son told me that Ben’s Story gave him something think about in his life. Thanks.

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for December 29, 2013

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for December 29, 2013Welcome to the December 29, 2013 edition of Blog Carnival –  Finding Personal Peace containing 5 interesting articles on a variety of topics.

Thanks for visiting our Blog Carnival, Finding Personal Peace. Please review the subjects below and make note of any that interest you. At the bottom of the page, you will find a link that takes you to more information about each post. If you find a post you like, please make a comment to encourage them or even engage in a discussion with them.


  • Martin Poldma presents Why Anger Management Does Not Work 


  • Jon Rhodes presents How To Get Up Early 
  • Robin Bremer presents What is Around you will Surround you – You Are Sowing


  • Jana presents How To Manage and Respond To Fear 

To view the articles, Click here or click on Blog Carnival in the tabs at the top. You’ll want to check out these articles and share them in your circle of influence. We’ll be receiving submitted articles and posting them each week. Please share with your friends. Thanks.

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for November 10, 2013

Blog Carnival – Finding Personal Peace for November 10, 2013Welcome to the November 10, 2013 edition of Finding Personal Peace containing 13 interesting articles.

Thanks for visiting our Blog Carnival, Finding Personal Peace. Please review the subjects below and make note of any that interest you. At the bottom of the page, you will find a link that takes you to more information about each post. If you find a post you like, please make a comment to encourage them or even engage in a discussion with them.


  • Markeyus presents Top 5 reasons why you’re a boring person
  • Jossalyn Wilson presents Peace not Pieces

emotional issues

  • Jana presents How To Leave Your Past In the Past
  • Rod Peeks presents Dylan’s Story – A Short Story
  • Rod Peeks presents Rachel’s Story – A Short Story
  • Erik Matlock presents Let it go
  • Rod Peeks presents Cody’s Story – A Short Story
  • Rod Peeks presents Erik’s Story – A Short Story
  • Markeyus presents Don’t let fear kill your dreams – Live2Conquer
  • Diane Mottl, MSW presents Cocooning after a crisis…


  • David Leonhardt presents Spare a smile? – The Happy Guy
  • Lucy presents The Crazy Creative’s Guide to Handling Criticism

social anxiety

  • Tony Regan presents Life of Mediocrity

To view the articles, Click here or click on Blog Carnival in the tabs at the top. You’ll want to check out these articles and share them in your circle of influence. We’ll be receiving submitted articles and posting them every Sunday. Please share with your friends. Thanks.

Erik’s Story

Erik's StoryA Short Story About a Teen Dealing with Anger

Erik was a mess! All his life, he would explode into anger for the slightest reason and sometime for no real reason at all. He was 14 and felt out of control; and he didn’t know what to do about it.

His mom had long since given up on him. When he was little, she would put him in time out and take away privileges but it didn’t do any good. His dad wasn’t in his life since he was a baby. He didn’t have any brothers and sisters. All he had were his mother and his grandfather.

As a kid, he would throw a tantrum if somebody picked up a toy he was playing with. He never hit anybody – somehow he knew that was wrong – but his verbal abuse was pretty heavy.

It usually didn’t take him long to calm down and he always felt really bad afterwards. And in the middle of his outburst, he felt like he was someone else watching this bratty kid act up.

He had some good friends who had learned how not to cross him. He didn’t like surprises and he didn’t like somebody making fun of him or disrespecting him.

Friends would also come and go. Erik was outgoing and made friends easily. Sooner or later someone would offend him, usually in a tiny way, and he would fly off the handle. Lots of new friends decided life wasn’t worth the drama and moved on.

He got to know his school principals really well. He’d get sent to the office for an outburst and by the time he got there, he was calm again. Principals and counselors always asked why he got angry and it was usually something like “they took something of mine” or “they got in my way.”

Mom had even arranged some professional counseling for him. He enjoyed visiting with the counselor, but nothing really meaningful ever came from it. Erik promised Mom that he would try harder. He really didn’t want her to spend so much of her money for a lost cause.

Erik was beginning to feel like a lost cause. He couldn’t imagine having a relationship with a girl that would extend beyond the first or second outburst.

He played sports and he was a pretty good basketball player; but the first foul usually caused Erik to lose it and he’d end up on the bench for the rest of the game.

Summer was coming up and Mom had just taken a new job where she worked long hours; so she asked Erik to consider going to Grandpa’s farm for the summer. That was fine with Erik. Grandpa was cool; he could swim in the pond; ride the horse; and he liked working with the livestock that Grandpa still maintained.

There were some kids who lived near Grandpa that Erik enjoyed hanging with. They would fish, swim, ride horses, and sometimes camp out in the piney woods on Grandpa’s property.

So that became his summer vacation.

It was good to see Grandpa again; they hadn’t been together since Christmas.

It was also good to renew his acquaintance with Jason who lived on the next farm and with Matt who lived next down the road.

They had fun exploring, swimming, walking into town, camping, and playing video games at Jason’s house.

Everything was cool until the day they were tossing a football around and Matt cut in front of Erik to intercept a pass. That made Erik mad; he stewed for about 3 seconds and then he started yelling right in Matt’s face.

The next thing Erik knew, he was flat on his back with a throbbing jaw. Shaking his head to clear the cobwebs, he saw Matt standing over him with clinched fists.

“I don’t know how you do things in the city, Erik, but around here we don’t get in people’s faces yelling and screaming like that,” Matt told him calmly and evenly, “and if you ever do that again, I’ll hit you again.”

Then Matt stepped back and then he reached his hand down to Erik. “I’m sorry, Erik. I shouldn’t have hit you first. I overreacted.” He pulled Erik to his feet.

“What happened anyway?” Matt wanted to know.

“I really don’t know,” Erik answered, “I lose it sometimes when I think people have gotten in my space or disrespected me.”

“I don’t like it,” he continued, “but I don’t know why I do it and I don’t know what to do about it. In fact, I think that’s why mom sent me to Grandpa’s this summer. She was having trouble coping with my anger and a new job at the same time.”

Jason spoke up saying, “Erik, why don’t you consider talking with your Grandpa about this?” Everybody around here thinks he’s just about the wisest man ever.”

“Maybe I should. I don’t know how he’ll react.” Erik thought for a minute. “Okay, I will . . . if you guys will go with me. You owe me, Matt, because I think part of my jaw is lying back there.”

The boys laughed as they headed across the field to Grandpa’s house.

They fetched some Cokes and cookies from the kitchen and found seats on Grandpa’s front porch.

Erik opened with what had just happened in the field; and then spent a few minutes explaining how he would lash out in rage whenever something displeased him or somebody crossed him. Erik then asked his Grandpa if he could help him.

Grandpa reached over to compare Matt’s fist with Erik’s jaw and said, “I’m glad you went down the first time, Erik. This guy could hurt you.” Everybody laughed.

“Actually, I’d like to ask a couple of questions, if you don’t mind,” Grandpa began.

Grandpa began, “I think I should say this for both you boys. You would agree, Matt, that you reacted pretty quickly too, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes, sir. Sorry about that Erik.”

“Do you boys realize that you’re about to lose it, or is it a total reaction?”

Matt spoke first, “In my case, I thought Erik might hit me, so I overreacted.”

Erik thought for a minute, and then cautiously said, “When something happens, I can feel my reaction building up. I think something like, ‘This guy just offended me and I don’t have to take that.’”

“So,” Grandpa asked, “it’s your thinking about being offended that causes you to go off on somebody, right?”

“I guess that’s right,” Erik agreed.

“Then the solution is simple; don’t think that thought,” Grandpa suggested.

“Huh,” all three puzzled boys said.

“Let me tell you about an old friend of mine,” Grandpa settled back in the settee.

“George and I grew up together in the 1960’s in Alabama. We were so much alike. We liked the same things; we read the same books; and we worshipped the same God. The only difference is that we didn’t go to the same school; worship in the same church; and the color of our skin was different.”

“George got along well with everybody, but there were other kids at his school that seemed to get in a lot of trouble. When people – crude, ugly people – said unkind things about George or his community, many of the other kids would respond angrily. They would often fight. In those days, the black kids who fought always wound up in jail; usually with a few bruises that came from being arrested and not from the original fight.”

“But George never fought or responded with anger. I asked him why. He told me that his grandmother, who had been born on a plantation to slave parents, had taught George that a wise man always is the master of his thoughts.”

“What she meant was that when you realize that you’re thinking about anger, blame, or excuses, the best thing you can do is send those thoughts away. Just say to yourself, ‘I’m not going to think about that.’ It’s not easy at first, but the more you send negative thoughts away, the easier it becomes.”

“George told me he learned that his own thoughts could cause him more trouble than the taunts of crude people and he learned to control his negative thoughts by sending them away, out of his mind.’

“George was convinced that over time he trained his mind to filter out negative thoughts. He used periods of peace when the negative left to think of appropriate responses instead of angry responses. In time, George became a famous diplomat and served our State Department all over the world. He was an expert negotiator.”

“So what does this mean for me, Grandpa?” Erik asked.

“When you realize that you’re going to become angry, simply say to yourself, ‘I’m not going to think about that.’

“It’s important that you say it out loud – that’s the way your subconscious learns from you.”

“George told me that when he was in diplomatic negotiations and somebody said something offensive, he would put his hand over his mouth like he was deep in thought and say softly to himself, ‘I’m not going to think about that.’”

“Erik, you have three more weeks up here and I think that’s just enough time to break your habit of reacting with anger. Jason and Matt, you can help him.”

“I want you to look for ways to get in Erik’s space. Not mean spiritedly. Just crowd him in ways that make him uncomfortable.”

“Erik, when you feel the urge to respond angrily, speak into your hand and say, ‘I will not think about that.’ Boys, let me know how it goes for Erik.”

Jason and Matt were up to the challenge. They tried to aggravate Erik in all sorts of ways. Early on, he responded angrily a couple of times and they called him on it.

As the weeks passed, Erik reacted less and less angrily, and learned a lot about the give and take of a relationship. He discovered that the ‘thoughtful hand in front of the mouth’ gave him time to react in a more acceptable way.

Erik’s confidence grew day by day. Both of his friends and his Grandpa commented on the difference.

Like George, not being angry gave Erik time to look for positive things in his life.

He realized that he was looking forward to going home and let his mom and his friends get acquainted with the new Erik.

School was going to be different this fall. He had no doubt that he was not going to react with anger at his friends. He was simply “not going to think about negative things.”

Life had become exciting. It’s amazing how much good could come from a sock in the jaw.

Note to parents:

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts. The danger of rumination is stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and worse.

Your children can understand the simple principle that “if I think a lot about something that makes me sad, I can choose not to think about it.”

This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peace –

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning a habit of sadness into a habit of peace.

The concept works for virtually every negative emotion that results from negative thinking.

This story is fiction and any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

To read other short stories on life issues for kids and teens, click here.

Copyright 2013 Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!