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  • In: healing | Hopes
  • Comments Off on Inspirational father and son running team
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/dDnrLv6z-mM]

This is the story of Dick & Rick Hoyt, the most inspirational father and son team to race in an Ironman. Ricky told his Dad his disability disappeared when they ran. So they ran. The doctors didn’t expect severely disabled Ricky to live, but his parents wouldn’t give up on him. They were right. He graduated from high school and college. And he and his father became famous as they competed in running events.

At minute 5:05 Rick said “if anyone takes the time to get to know me, they’ll realize I’m just like anybody else”. Watch them finish the Ironman at 4:27.


g4“Los Reciclados” — “The Recycled Orchestra” — is a youth orchestra in Cateura, Paraguay, whose instruments are made out of the very trash that the town is built on.

Due to the resourcefulness of these garbage pickers, an orchestra came together, and they play violins, cellos, and other instruments artfully put together from trash. A concert they put on for The Associated Press also featured Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” and some Paraguayan polkas. Los Reciclados de Cateura is now an independent orchestra and performed in Brazil and Colombia before planning a world tour with input from fans on a thriving Facebook page. The orchestra will play this year in Argentina, the US, Canada, Palestine, Norway and Japan. Chávez has also received an invitation to play at June’s Meltdown festival in London.

Rocio Riveros, 15, said it took her a year to learn how to play her flute, which was made from tin cans. “Now I can’t live without this orchestra,” she said.

Word is spreading about these kids from Cateura, a vast landfill outside Paraguay’s capital where some 25,000 families live alongside reeking garbage in abject poverty.

Ada Rios, a 14-year-old first violinist, greeted the AP with sleepy eyes and a wide smile at her family’s home on the banks of a sewage-filled creek that runs into the Paraguay River.

“The orchestra has given a new meaning to my life, because in Cateura, unfortunately, many young people don’t have opportunities to study, because they have to work or they’re addicted to alcohol and drugs,” she said.

Her little sister Noelia announced with the innocence of a 12-year-old that “I’m famous in my school thanks to being in the orchestra.”

Their 16-year-old aunt next door, Maria Rios, 16, also is a violinist.

“My mother signed me up in teacher Chavez’s school three years ago. I was really bothered that she hadn’t asked me first, but today I’m thankful because she put my name in as someone who wanted to learn violin,” Maria said.

Her mother, Miriam Rios, who has 14 children in all, said Maria was born when she was 45.

“My neighbors said she would be born with mental problems because I was so old, but an artist was born!” Rios said, her voice breaking with pride as she brushed away tears.

As you can imagine, hope for the future is hard to find when you’re growing up in a place where children have to work combing through mountains of trash each day. The young people of the community often become addicted to drugs and alcohol due to the insane conditions around them.

The project was born in 2006 when Favio Chávez, 37, began work at the landfill as a technician, helping recyclers to classify refuse. Over time he started to get to know many of the people that lived there. He looked around and saw the struggles that the people there were having to face day after day, especially the children. But his passion for music took him home each weekend to the small town of Carapeguá, 50 miles from Asunción, to conduct a youth orchestra.

After he brought the group to Cateura to perform, the gancheros asked Chávez if he could teach music to their children, many of whom would spend afternoons playing in the rubbish as they waited for their parents to finish work.

But as the months passed, Chávez – a longtime fan of Les Luthiers, an Argentinian band that uses homemade instruments – realised the ever-growing number of children under his tutelage needed to practise at home if they were to progress.

“A violin is worth more than a recycler’s house,” says Chávez. “We couldn’t give a child a formal instrument as it would have put him in a difficult position. The family may have looked to sell or trade it.

Enter Cola. That’s Nicolas Gomez, nicknamed Cola, and he has worked at the Cateura landfill for a long time. He picks through the trash items that have a bit of hope of becoming useful again and then gathers them up to take back to his workshop.

He had to drop out of school when he was younger to go to work breaking rocks at a quarry but over the years he developed a great skill on his own using the workshop at his home to make discarded items useful again.

Cola had never even heard of Mozart but when Favio brought him a normal wooden violin and asked him to make one out of trash that worked the same, he was up to the task.

He took measurements from the regular violin and studied it closely. He did his best crafting the landfill violin out of the most promising materials. Then he gave the violin to Favio to be played and… it sounded good! And through trial and error he made more adjustments and the sound got even better.

Cola hadn’t simply made something in the same shape of a violin, he had made a beautiful sounding instrument. Now any child in Cateura that wanted to play music could have their own instrument.

Favio’s music program grew from there, and it’s changed many of the kids’ lives. The music program gives them something positive in their lives and a way to work through the extreme issues they face living in such a place without needing to turn to drugs and alcohol.

Now with the aid of colleagues, Chávez – who has been teaching music since he was 13 – uses the instruments to give classes to around 70 children and also directs weekly orchestra practice.

But he has a goal that goes beyond music. Chávez believes the mentality required to learn an instrument can be applied more widely to lift his pupils out of poverty.


  • In: best-wishes | healing
  • Comments Off on 11 Habits That Impact Emotional Health and Happiness

Uncover what’s standing in the way of your emotional health and happiness


By Camille Noe

Your mind and spirit may be the most overlooked—and under appreciated—components of your well-being. But research has shown that nourishing them not only lowers stress, lifts mood and improves relationships but can also protect your health. “Mind, body and spirit are interdependent, so if you take care of your spirit, your body and mind will reap the rewards,” says Linda Sapadin, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of It’s About Time! The Six Styles of Procrastination (Penguin, 1997).

1. You don’t breathe deeply.

It sounds simple, but studies show that taking deep breaths keeps you alert and relaxed. Make an effort to inhale and exhale for two to three counts each throughout the day.

2. You don’t get enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling jumpy, disoriented and unable to cope, says Rosalind Cartwright, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Disorder Center at Chicago’s Rush Presbyterian Medical Center. She recommends that you lighten your mood before bed—by reading a humorous book, for example—since being cranky can lead to less- rejuvenating sleep.

3. You’ve banned chocolate.

“Chocolate stimulates mood-enhancing brain chemicals like serotonin,” says Debra Waterhouse, author of Why Women Need Chocolate (Hyperion, 1995). The amount in just two Hershey’s kisses will do the trick, she adds.

4. You neglect to exercise

Working out can significantly ease depression, according to a recent study from Duke University. To get the feel-good chemicals flowing, aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week.

5. You stay indoors all day

Lack of sunlight, even during summer, can leave you lethargic and depressed. Just 20 minutes is enough to brighten your outlook, so if you work inside, take a brisk walk outside at lunch.

6. You eat only fat-free food

“Bad” fats, like saturated fat, can lead to high cholesterol and heart damage. But “good fats,” such as omega 3’s, keep your memory sharp and your mood steady. Good sources include tuna, salmon, flaxseed oil, walnuts and beans.

7. You skimp on calories

Eating too little-less than 1,200 calories a day-can make you tired and irritable, says Kelley Brownell, Ph.D., director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders. Eat a healthy, balanced diet of at least 1,500 calories to maintain energy.

8. You skip breakfast

A recent Canadian study found that having a morning meal of carbohydrates, protein and fat (such as bran cereal with one percent milk) enhances memory. If you’re on the run, at least grab a meal-replacement bar.

9. You’re still smoking

If the threat of lung damage hasn’t convinced you to quit, a new study from the Kentucky Center for Reproductive Medicine discovered that chemicals in cigarettes may lower your libido-and less sex makes for an unhappy relationship. For help kicking the habit, go to quitnet.org.

10. You don’t make time for sex

“It’s believed that having sex stimulates the release of feel-good chemicals called endorphins,” says Constance Ahrons, Ph.D., director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at the University of Southern California in TK. Plus, the intimacy it fosters is the glue that binds couples together. Make time by scheduling a “date” with your partner at least twice a week.

11. You have more than two alcoholic drinks a day

A new study found that women who drink excessively may suffer permanent memory damage. Alcohol also acts as a depressant, ultimately lowering your mood. Stick to one glass of wine at dinner.

50 Mind, Body, Spirit Mistakes (Even Smart Women Make).

Nancy Lower. Photo: heraldextra

Nancy Lower fell from a rooftop in Mauritania while working as a medical director for the Peace Corps in 1999. As she lay on the ground looking up at her husband, George, she knew she was seriously injured and that she had to stay conscious.

“I knew immediately that my neck was broken,” Lower said. “I felt all the energy draining from the lower part of my body. I knew I had to keep my eyes open to avoid a coma and to make myself breathe.”

Forty-eight hours later she arrived in Geneva, Switzerland, for neck surgery. Although her spinal cord had not been severed the scarring from her accident left her a reverse quadriplegic. She cannot move her upper body and has very little movement in her lower body. She spends most of her day in a wheelchair.

Members of the Springville Community Presbyterian Church decided to raise money for Lower with a dinner on Oct. 27. The funds will be used to help pay for the caregivers Nancy and George need to stay together in their home and help with medical costs not covered by insurance.

“After my illnesses of the past few months I have had some setbacks. I actually was able to move four steps today for the first time using a walker,” Lower said with a smile. “Last winter I had pneumonia, several strokes, seizures and cardiac arrest but I am finding joy in my life and I still enjoy many things. I love to read especially books about joy. I love to read the New Testament. I love Romans 8:28, which tells us that we know that all things work together for good to them that love God. Now at age 76 I am rejoicing and remembering and sorting.”

The Lowers enjoy going to plays throughout the valley and attend sporting events and search out local ethnic restaurants. They are looking forward to going to the BYU-Oregon State game with tickets they received because of George’s service as a pastor at the Orem Community Church. Reverend Lower is now 81, and before his wife’s accident he had retired as the pastor at the Springville Presbyterian Church.

The Lowers changed their retirement plans and came back to Springville to a renovated home prepared by the Presbyterian congregation and the LDS ward in the area. While George Lower is busy with his congregation in Orem, Nancy continues to lift everyone around her with her gifts and notes of encouragement. Although she is unable to use her hands, she paints with watercolors using her mouth. She is the choir director for her congregation and coordinates the music for their services.

“We have been married for 51 years,” George Lower said. “We enjoy doing many things together and yes, I do spend a lot time caring for Nancy. Without the caregivers we have it would be impossible for her to live at home with me. They are my right arm.”

“My caretakers are extensions of my hands,” Nancy Lower said. “My husband, George, feeds me, puts me to bed every night and even helps me garden by lifting me up so I can be a part of the planning and planting. My daughter Emily now lives with us and helps care for me and takes care of the house. I also have three part-time caregivers who come in and they are wonderful.”

Rocio Rivas comes three days a week to cook and help Lower shower and dress. She was hoping to find a position caring for just one person after working in a large assisted living facility.

“Nancy is always happy — every morning I ask her how she is doing and every morning she says good and smiles her happy smile,” Rivas said. “I love her and she inspires me to do many things. I am writing my childhood stories because of her example. I have my own garden here because I live in a small apartment. That is how kind the Lowers are to me and to everyone.”

Carol Day is part of the committee of friends from the Springville Community Presbyterian Church who decided to raise money for Lower.

“Nancy is such an inspiring woman. She has done so much for so many people and now it is our chance to do something for her,” Day said. “We are having a delicious dinner and great entertainment at the Springville Senior Center on Saturday, Oct. 27 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Jonah Hadlock is a very talented composer and performer and he will provide some of the entertainment along with the Lower’s granddaughters.”

Tickets for the fundraiser are $15 for the dinner and entertainment. To purchase tickets or make a donation, call the Days at (801) 489-5168, the church offices at (801) 489-4309, or emailscpcoffice@gmail.com.

Friends raising funds for quadriplegic woman.

10 Tough Truths that Help Us Grow

As you look back on your life, you will often realize that many of the times you thought you were being rejected from something good, you were in fact being redirected to something better.  You can’t control everything.  Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that things will work out.  Let go a little and just let life happen.  Because sometimes the truths you can’t change, end up changing you and helping you grow.

Here are twelve such truths…

  1. Everything is as it should be.  It’s crazy how you always end up where you’re meant to be – how even the most tragic and stressful situations eventually teach you important lessons that you never dreamed you were going to learn.  Remember, oftentimes when things are falling apart, they are actually falling into place.
  2. Not until you are lost in this world can you begin to find your true self.  Realizing you are lost is the first step to living the life you want.  The second step is leaving the life you don’t want.  Making a big life change is pretty scary.  But you know what’s even scarier?  Regret.  Vision without action is a daydream, and action without vision is a nightmare.  Your heart is free, have the courage to follow it.  Read Awaken the Giant Within.
  3. It’s usually the deepest pain which empowers you to grow to your full potential.  It’s the scary, stressful choices that end up beingthe most worthwhile.  Without pain, there would be no change.  But remember, pain, just like everything in life, is meant to be learned from and then released.
  4. One of the hardest decisions you will ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or take another step forward.  If you catch yourself in a cycle of trying to change someone, or defending yourself again someone who is trying to change you, walk away.  But if you are pursuing a dream, take another step.  And don’t forget that sometimes this step will involve modifying your dream, or planning a new one – it’s OK to change your mind or have more than one dream.
  5. You have to take care of yourself first.  Before befriending others, you have to be your own friend.  Before correcting others, you have to correct yourself.  Before making others happy, you have to make yourself happy.  It’s not called selfishness, it’s called personal development.  Once you balance yourself, only then can you balance the world around you. Read Psycho-Cybernetics.
  6. One of the greatest freedoms is truly not caring what everyone else thinks of you.  As long as you are worried about what others think of you, you are owned by them.  Only when you require no approval from outside yourself, can you own yourself.
  7. You may need to be single for awhile before you realize that, although the co-owned belongings from your failed relationships might not have been divided equally, the issues that destroyed the relationships likely were.  For how can you stand confidently alone, or see the same issues arising in your newest relationship, and not realize which broken pieces belong to you?  Owning your issues, and dealing with them, will make you far happier in the long run, than owning anything else in this world.
  8. The only thing you can absolutely control is how you react to things out of your control.  The more you can adapt to the situations in life, the more powerful your highs will be, and the more quickly you’ll be able to bounce back from the lows in your life.  Put most simply: being at peace means being in a state of complete acceptance of all that is, right here, right now.
  9. Some people will lie to you.  Remember, an honest enemy is better than a friend who lies.  Pay less attention to what people say, and more attention to what they do.  Their actions will show you the truth, which will help you measure the true quality of your relationship in the long-term.
  10. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough.  If you are thankful for what you do have, you will end up having even more.  Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold; happiness dwells in the soul.  Abundance is not about how much you have, it’s how you feel about what you have.  When you take things for granted, your happiness gets taken away.  Read The Happiness Project.
  11. Yes, you have failed in the past.  But don’t judge yourself by your past, you don’t live there anymore.  Just because you’re not where you want to be today doesn’t mean you won’t be there someday.  You can turn it all around in the blink of an eye by making a simple choice to stand back up – to try again, to love again, to live again, and to dream again.
  12. Everything is going to be alright; maybe not today, but eventually.  There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong.  And you might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t.  Sure the sun stops shining sometimes, and you may get a huge thunderstorm or two, but eventually the sun will come out to shine.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of us staying as positive as possible in order to make it to see the sunshine break through the clouds again.

12 Tough Truths that Help You Grow.


As an archer aims his arrow, the wise aim their restless thoughts, hard to aim, hard to restrain.

As a fish hooked and left on the sand thrashes about in agony, the mind being trained in meditation trembles all over, desperate to escape the hand of Mara.

Hard it is to train the mind, which goes where it likes and does what it wants.

But a trained mind brings health and happiness.

The wise can direct their thoughts, subtle and elusive, wherever they choose: a trained mind brings health and happiness. Those who can direct thoughts, which are unsubstantial and wander so aimlessly, are freed from the bonds of Mara.

They are not wise whose thoughts are not steady and minds not serene, who do not know dharma, the law of life. They are wise whose thoughts are steady and minds serene, unaffected by good and bad. They are awake and free from fear.

Remember, this body is like a fragile clay pot. Make your mind a fortress and conquer Mara with the weapon of wisdom. Guard your conquest always.

Remember that this body will soon lie in the earth without life, without value, useless as a burned log.

More than those who hate you, more than all your enemies, an undisciplined mind does greater harm.

More than your mother , more than your father, more than all your family, a well-disciplined mind does greater good.

Buddha – Dhammapada 3 : 33-43

Azadi Monument, Tehran, IRAN

Azadi Monument, Tehran, IRAN

World Wide Window

One day I discovered I could see Iran through my window
An awesome sight, throngs of people
old and determined, young and defiant
So many, they dwarfed the capital’s grand monuments
Filling the streets, the squares, the parks
Jewel bright flashes of green everywhere

I had never really looked at Iran before
Now I found it mesmerising: I couldn’t look away
The scenes changed, peaceful green scorched by fiery orange,
stained with bloody red. Surrounded by dark shadows
Strong, noble green prevailed
Day by day it became the colour of Iran

Around the world, people were drawn to the window
Day after day we watched
We wrote tiny messages of support
Maybe they would realise they were not alone
We bore witness. We watched and waited

Life away from the window began to lose its colour
I sat in my grey world and stared at Iran,
hungry for any glimpse of green
Time goes by, still we watch and wait
Infinite confetti of hope and friendship, sympathy and love
rains onto Iran from a million windows

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June 2018
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