Mary’s Story – The Pain of Childlessness

Desires of a Barren Woman By Emily Hurd

Mary’s Story – The Pain of ChildlessnessA lifetime longing for life in one’s belly
is not a joyful life.
The most wonderful love can’t fill this void
no matter how hard he may try.
For what sin am I punished,
That I may never enjoy,
clinging to my breast, a blonde haired baby boy?
To know the love of a sweet child,
and the feeling of being whole-
These are the things I’ve always wanted to know.

Mary sat at her dressing table and brushed her hair carefully as she had most nights of her 57 years. She smiled as she looked in the mirror; and, she liked what she saw. She was wearing the nightgown that Joe had given her on their 2nd honeymoon five years ago.

Joe was out walking Gilbert and Sullivan, their adopted mutts. He didn’t know it yet, but when he got home, he was going to get “lucky.”

As she brushed, the mirror carried her back over the years as it often did. But the memories weren’t painful anymore. They were just the building blocks that made her life so special now.

She and Joe had grown up in devoutly Catholic homes just a few blocks apart. They had both gone to the same parochial school; then she had gone to the girl’s high school and Joe had gone to the boy’s high school. They were dear friends all through high school. Their lives were good in those days.

During college, they had dated more seriously and began to plan a future together. They were both going to work for two or three years to build up their nest egg and then start their family. Both wanted lots of kids because that was how they had grown up – big families, with lots of friends around all the time.

Theirs was the first wedding among their college circles; and there were lots more over the next few years. Weddings were always fun and offered such hope for the future for all of them.

Mary kept working after they started trying to have a baby in earnest.

Before long their married friends were expecting their first children. Mary and Joe were excited for them.

Then some of those couples started having their second child. Mary was still excited but a little anxiety started to creep in.

Family dinners were beginning to have the stigma of Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe. She truly loved and enjoyed their nieces and nephews but loving them didn’t fill the growing dread of her being unable to have her own child.

After a few more years, Mary convinced Joe that they should at least get a medical evaluation to see if there was a reason they could not conceive. They did several times; and the results were always the same: no apparent medical or physical reason on the part of the male or female that would prohibit or inhibit conception.

The root of bitterness

Mary found it easier to send regrets to invitations from other couples than it was to feel the pain in her heart as she sat and listened to them chatter on about their children. Oh, they tried to be kind, but it was natural for them to talk about what meant most to them: their children.

Mary and Joe were both advancing with their jobs. Joe was in sales with a well-established regional company and Mary was in human resources with an national company. Money wasn’t an issue but Mary read somewhere that stress could be an issue in conception. She was able to get a 12-month leave of absence to try to relieve the work-related stress.

Unfortunately, she was reminded every time they tried that she had to get pregnant in 12 months; then 11 months; and so on; or she would have to return to work without any a baby to come home to.

It hurt a lot when she was reminded each month that she was not yet pregnant. She took to her bed with a bigger burden of pain than her regular monthly discomfort.

They tried all the infertility treatments that church doctrine allowed with no success. There was a lot of embarrassment and a lot of dignity and money spent in these attempts.

Joe traveled a lot in his job and Mary began to look forward to the nights he would be away. She could be free to cry or scream or curse at all the unfairness they were suffering.

It was getting to the point that seeing a pregnant woman or a woman with her children in the mall would cause her to clinch her jaw and taste the bile rising in her throat.

Drinking and drugs were so repulsive to her that she wasn’t tempted to use them to mask her pain.

Instead, she would take to her bed, curl into a fetal position, and clutch the pain within her as if her womb was aching for the baby it would never carry.

She could get through the weekdays because work was a sufficient distraction. Nights and weekends were awful.

Mary didn’t know who to blame.

Some nights she blamed herself; other nights she blamed Joe. The most painful nights were the ones when she blamed God; her guilt was overwhelming.

Confession didn’t help. The priest would tell her to remain true to God and do the appropriate penance but nothing would ever really take the pain away.

She finally decided that she was never going to bear a child; but that didn’t ease the pain of the loss she felt continuously.

Joe suggested adoption but she had no desire whatsoever to adopt. She wanted a baby to form in her own body, to birth it, and then watch it grow up; something like all their brothers and sisters were enjoying.

They started another round of weddings with nieces and nephews; and another round of pain at the prospects of the newlyweds against the impossibilities in her own life.

Over time, she had lost all desire for Joe and he had reluctantly moved to the bedroom down the hall. She obeyed the church edict in her spousal duties; but the church couldn’t make her enjoy it.

The day came when she told Joe that she had taken a promotion with her company that would require her to move to the home office in the mid-west. She didn’t want Joe to move with her.

Joe was dismayed and explained that he understood her lack of desire for him but he didn’t understand why she wanted a separation. He committed his love to her and reminded her that he had promised twenty years before to stand by her “for better and for worse.”

If she needed to move, he wouldn’t stand in her way, but as far as he was concerned, they were still married.

His commitment to her actually made her feel more guilty, but she didn’t let on. They’d both done a lot of acting over the years, especially Mary.

They explained the separation on her job and the demands of his career; and family and friends accepted it with appropriate sympathy for both Mary and Joe.

Making Changes

Mary got settled in her new apartment and plunged into her new job. She felt a little more peace due to the excitement of making a change. Days were busy but the nights were still filled with more of the same pain and longing.

She still felt the same despair when she saw women with their children. There was a park across from her apartment and most evenings she cried as she sat on her balcony listening to the children laughing and playing in the park; knowing that she would never hear the laughter of her own child.

Professionals had told her years before that she needed medication for her anxiety but she had always refused. She didn’t like having to take pills just to live her life.

There was a church a few blocks from her apartment and she decided to go to Mass one Saturday after she had been there a few months.

She looked forward to the mass and she went early so she could have confession and take the sacraments. The priest listened as she described her anger and pain. Then he said something very strange.

He absolved her and told her that an appropriate penance would be for her to look into Hannah’s Sisters. She could find a brochure in a rack in the narthex.

Mary learned that Hannah’s Sisters was a group for women who were living through emotional pain regardless of the source of the pain.

The original group was for barren women and was named for Hannah, the barren woman who made a vow to give her child to God if he would give her a son. God honored her request and her son, Samuel, lived to become a great prophet and high priest for Israel. You can read Hannah’s story here.

The brochure had contact information. When Mary awoke the next morning after another night of tossing and turning, she decided to call the woman.

She called that evening and they made an appointment to meet for coffee the next day.

Margaret, the Hannah’s Sisters leader, was waiting for Mary. They got their coffee and found a place where they could talk undisturbed.

After exchanging pleasantries, Mary asked her about the group.

Margaret explained that there were only three members at the present time.

Mary asked, “Why are there so few members? Surely there are more women hurting around here than that.”

”Of course, there are,” Margaret replied, “but we don’t keep them around for long.”

“What do you mean!”

“Mary, we’re not a social club. Women don’t use us to provide an on-going social function like so many self-help groups. We want to help women overcome their pain, and when they do that, they can make the appropriate decisions to be reconciled with their families and friends.”

“I’m not sure I understand,” Mary said doubtfully.

“Mary, if there were a way that you could be free of your emotional pain in just a few weeks, would you be interested in knowing more about that?”

“Of course,” Mary answered, “but I doubt that’s possible after what I’ve gone through.”

“Mary, we care a whole lot more about where you want to go than about where you’ve been. In fact, we will never ask you about the source of your pain. If you want to learn about a simple and effective way to be free from your pain, whatever is causing it, come by the parish hall tomorrow night at seven o’clock and we’ll explain everything to you.”

The next evening, Mary joined Margaret and three other women on couches in a small room off the parish hall.

After introductions, Margaret explained that every week they review the three Life Principles and share their progress. She explained that they never talk about their problems because dwelling on past hurts always makes the hurt worse.

Most emotional pain is caused by rumination. In many cases, the original cause of the pain occurred far in the past. And if the pain is ongoing and there is no solution to the problem, then ruminating on it can cause more anxiety with inevitably leads to stress, depression and even physical pain.

She explained that the life principles they teach offer an easy way, that anyone can use, to deal with the negative thoughts that cause so much emotional pain.

“You asked yesterday, ‘why so few members?’”, Mary reminded her. “We’ve had over two hundred members over the years; but as they become successful in applying these principles in their lives, they don’t need us any more. So currently, we only have three members; four, if you want to join us.”

Mary nodded and Margaret went on to explain the three principles.

Three Life Principles

Life Principle 1 – Whenever a thought enters your mind that makes you angry, sad, or bitter, you simply 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.”

“If you prefer, which I do, you can say “I take this thought captive,” because that phrase comes right out of the Bible.

Each time we dismiss a thought, the thought is compelled to go away because that’s the way we are made. We own our thoughts and we do not have to think about anything that hurts us.

Margaret explained that this idea had been around for thousands of years. “We simply do not have to let negative thoughts control our lives,” she said.

She explained that each time we “take a painful thought captive,” we create a little bit of peaceful space in our emotions. As you take more negative thoughts captive, you create more peaceful space.

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

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

She 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 take this thought captive” consistently, it concludes over time that we don’t really want to think about those things and it will stop sending those negative thoughts to us. It’s like our subconscious blocks those negative thoughts automatically.

Doing this consistently replaces your habits of anger, sadness, or bitterness with a new habit of peace.

Life Principle 3 – Use your habit of peace to make the best decisions for you and your future. She 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 painful 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 reconcile with our loved ones.

Margaret said that she’s sure these principles work because she has shared them with women for over 20 years. She said they all have learned to break their habits of anger, bitterness, victimhood, or whatever and create new habits of peace.

Margaret handed Mary a card. The card had the Three Life Principles on one side and blocks for each day of the week on the back. She explained, “Every time a negative thought pops into your mind, I want you to say out loud to yourself, ‘I will not think about that’ or ‘I take this thought captive.’” If you’re someplace where it would be weird speaking out loud, put your hand over your mouth like you’re covering a cough and say softly, ‘I take this thought captive.’

“Then put a check card in the block every time you dismiss one of your negative thoughts. Each week when we meet, we review how each of you is doing. I predict by the end of four or five weeks, you will be making very few check marks on the card because the Life Principle 2 will be taking effect in your life. The question now is, ‘Will you do this?’”

Mary must have looked a little skeptical because Margaret suggested,”Mary, I suspect that you have a negative thought right now telling you that this stupid idea will never work for you. This is a good place to start taking it captive.”

Each of the women shared her results of taking their thoughts captive for the previous week. Each had fewer negative thoughts that the week before. One girl, who was in her seventh week said this was her second week with no negative thoughts at all.

Still skeptical, Mary said to herself several times driving home and that evening, “I take this thought captive.” Each time, the thought went away briefly.

When the painful thoughts of childlessness barged in like they did every night, Mary took them captive out loud. She was amazed when each thought went away. They came back, like Margaret said they would and she took them captive again. After doing this several more times over the next half hour, Mary dropped off to sleep; the first time in years she had done so without crying.

The weeks passed quickly. Mary made good progress and she was excited as the number of negative thoughts diminished daily.

Mary found she had time to think about Joe and about the fact that she would never have children.

She called Joe one week and asked if she could come home that weekend; she had something to tell him. Joe was definitely puzzled; but he readily agreed to pick her up at the airport on Friday.

After freshening up at their house, Joe took her to her favorite restaurant and they enjoyed a very nice meal. Over dessert and coffee, she explained to Joe what she had been doing at Hannah’s Sisters.

She told Joe that she was at peace with the fact that she would never be a mother. And she then asked Joe to forgive her for all the pain she had caused him over the years. With tears in his eyes, Joe forgave her and asked her to come back home to him.

Her heart was full as Joe paid the check and they walked to the car. For the first time in years, she was actually enjoying being with her husband; and her heart was doubly full that God had given her a faithful husband who had continued to love her in spite of the trouble she had given him.

Out of habit, Joe started down the hall to his room until Mary touched his arm and said, “Joe, will you sleep in our room tonight?”

It took a few weeks to ease out of her position at headquarters and for a spot to open back in the office where in their home town; but the company made it happen for her.

She used that time to talk with Margaret about making Hannah’s Sisters a formal, legal organization that could expand into a number of locations where its alumni were living. Almost without exception, the women who had learned to live without pain were eager to share the Three Life Principles with other women.

She heard the front door open and Gilbert and Sullivan scampered across the living room and kitchen to their beds in the mud room. She heard Joe start down the hall. Joe may be lucky tonight, but Mary dimmed the lights thinking about how lucky and truly blessed she was – she was free of pain after hurting for years and she was helping other women find their freedom, too.

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 Three Life Principles. 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 Peacehttp://findingpersonalpeace.com. 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 findingpersonalpeace.com. 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 Peacehttp://findingpersonalpeace.com. 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.

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