Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blessings To You

  • If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who won't survive the week.
  • If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation you are ahead of 20 million people around the world.
  • If you attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than almost three billion people in the world.
  • If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.
  • If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.
  • If your parents are still married and alive, your are very rare, especially in the United States.
  • If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.
  • If you can hold someone's hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder, you are blessed because you can offer God's healing touch.
  • If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read anything at all.
  • You are so blessed in ways you may never even know.
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Friday, November 9, 2007

Trusting Your Intuition

Why is it most of us lack faith in our intuitive ability when in fact it is a natural ability given to us the day we were born? It is our guiding force in life that leads us to a higher level of knowledge. I question, what’s not to trust? Could it be that someone following their intuition is often thought of as one with special “psychic” abilities? Could the word “psychic” be related to someone you think is “strange” or “weird” or even considered “lost in space” as was the case coined in my ignorance of the word.

We so often ignore our intuition and put our trust in the reasoning mind even when the reasoning mind cannot locate the right answer…for all it knows is stuff from the past or deceitfully worries about things of the future. We must learn to drop what doesn’t serve us and take time out to nurture our spiritual self. We all have the ability to sense what is around the corner if we will just “switch off” and listen, to gain understanding and see more than what is visible to our more familiar senses. Using or developing a better connection with our guiding force will crystallize our thoughts to serve us better in life and help us cope in time of need. We can either “use it or lose it”. What will you choose today?

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Minimize Holiday Stress Now

Holiday! Did I say “Holiday”? Heightened states of anxiety are upon us, typically during the months of November and December. This time of season can be full of excitement and promise. Also, with this time of year inevitably comes stress. I could sense it coming on after conning my teenage daughter into going to the bank with me and she in retrospect conned me into going to the Mall with her. Store shelves are already stocked with holiday decorations and yes, the Christmas trees and wreaths are out.

The problem isn’t the holiday season but rather my trigger response to it. In the midst of my negative self-talk I remembered to take heart, that it was possible to restore my personal peace. In the Mall lounging area I gracefully parked myself in a comfortable cushioned chair and with feet resting high upon an ottoman while waiting for my daughter, I gazed amazingly upon the most beautifully clothed Christmas tree, standing so proud and tall, all for my enjoyment. Not an anxious thought could find me.

So, enjoy those small daily pleasures. Expand your awareness. Live in the moment. Be a good person. Help someone out. The holidays are suppose to be a happy time, not an endurance test. Let yourself enjoy the holidays with whatever you have, whoever you’re with, wherever you are. Perhaps it’s that simple to minimize holiday stress now.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

My American Hero

This story I am about to tell is one close to my heart. It is one about a courageous man, Fran McNeil who has beaten all odds from a life-threatening injury that happened 4 years ago on September 11, 2003 aboard the USS George Washington off the coast of the Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia. A full story coverage made headlines in my weekly newspaper yesterday (the Transcript, North Reading, Massachusetts, November 1, 2007).
Fran McNeil resides in North Reading, MA and is the brother-in-law to my sister. This is what makes this story so personal and close to my heart. As I read the article, it recalled to memory, as if it were yesterday, the phone call from my sister, 4 years ago, telling me that Franny had been in a tragic accident and lay in a coma. That was all that was said. We held our breath which seemed like eternity.
What happened on that fateful day. On September 11, 2003 Franny McNeil, “Chief Mac” as he was known amongst his friends in the Navy, was doing a job he loved. During a training mission for pilot certification onboard the George Washington, Chief Petty Officer Francis P. McNeil and his unit of a dozen or more mechanics were working on an airplane on the flight deck where Franny was the deck coordinator. As a pilot was attempting to land an F/A-18 Hornet, the arresting wire that caught the jet’s tailhook snapped. The jet skidded into the ocean and the pilot safely ejected. But in it’s wake, the thick medal cable tore across the flight deck striking Franny in the head and arms. The force of the snapped cable damaged two other planes and injured four other sailors but none as seriously as Fran. The heavy-duty helmet he was wearing saved his life; the helmet which Franny now has in his possession with a six-inch diameter hole in the top of it.
Two weeks later and still in a coma, Franny’s mother and father who were at his side at the Trauma Center noticed something different that day about their son. A few hours later Franny emerged from the coma. Franny’s father called his son’s Commanding Officer to tell him “Chief Mac wants to see you”. As Captain E. Mark Chicoine (now retired) entered the room, Chief Mac’s eyes tracked him from right to left and under the most devastating of circumstances took his right hand and brought it to his forehead attempting to salute his Commanding Officer.
After months of recovery in VA, Franny was transported to the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, MA where he stayed for quite a while until his discharge to go home. Franny had high hopes that he would walk again someday. He said he would not retire from the U.S. Navy…a job he loved for 22 years…until he could do so on his own two feet.
That day has arrived. On September 13, 2007 “Chief Mac” returned to his old hangar at Norfolk Naval Station for a special retirement ceremony in his honor where hundreds were gathered. The receiving line was one and a half hours long which was Franny’s favorite part of the ceremony. He enjoyed talking to his old friends and shipmates as well as those who had worked for him and his superior officers, including his Commanding Officer who was one of the guest speakers.
As Franny walked slowly down the red carpet and up to the podium to address those gathered in the VAW-120 Hangar, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Those who were the proudest of them all were his mother and father, sister and brother-in-law, and his 13-year-old daughter.
For his bravery and selfless devotion to duty, Chief Mac was presented the Meritorious Service Medal. He was given a special plaque in honor of his retirement wishing him “fair winds and following seas”. And in respect and affection from fellow sailors and pilots for Chief Mac was the naming of a plane in his honor. A tradition typically reserved for pilots whose name and rank appear beneath the pilot’s window was inscribed “AMC F.P McNeil Chief Mac”. It provides an opportunity for those who knew Fran to recount the story of his bravery to those who have come after him.
It has been a long road for Franny. He has overcome both brain and spinal cord damage, fractured sinuses, the loss of his pinkie finger on his right hand and he also has a plate in his arm. He continues physical therapy as an outpatient at Spaulding Rehab and works out at the YMCA three times a week using all of the machines and then a one hour walk on the treadmill.
But in spite of it all, Franny strives to gain the strength required to attain his second goal; to learn to drive again as well as live on his own. Franny has become increasingly independent in his daily routine. And of course one day Franny plans to ride that Harley Davidson motorcycle he bought a few weeks before the accident.
I salute you Franny McNeil. We all do. You are our American Hero.

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