Inspiring Stories of Will Power, Mind Power, More
Issue Number 33
Welcome to Inspirations! Global Community For All sends out this e-zine filled with short, inspiring stories of love, healing, and empowerment once every three months. We share these wonderfully inspiring stories of will power, mind power, and more to encourage and inspire each other to be the best we can be each day of our lives. Thanks for joining us, and may these words inspire us to ever deepen our commitment to love, heal, and empower; to open to divine guidance; and to choose what's best for all.
The four inspiring stories for this issue are:
A Dad Who Truly Cares – Rick Reilly
Power of the Mind to Heal Shown By Pioneering Scientist – Claire Smith
Academic Mayor Transforms Bogota – María Cristina Caballero
Paul's Unstoppable Will Power Turns Wasteland to Forest – Adam Khan
A Dad Who Truly Cares
– Rick Reilly
I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay for their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.
But compared with Dick Hoyt, I'm lousy. Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on bicycle handlebars -- all in the same day. Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. on a bike. Makes taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?
And what has Rick done for his father? Not much -- except save his life.
This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs. "He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life," Dick says doctors told him and his wife when Rick was nine months old. "Put him in an institution."
But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help the boy communicate. "No way," Dick says he was told. "There's nothing going on in his brain."
"Tell him a joke," Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a lot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? "Go Bruins!" And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, "Dad, I want to do that."
Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described "porker" who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he tried. "Then it was me who was handicapped," Dick says. "I was sore for two weeks." That day changed Rick's life. "Dad," he typed, "when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"
And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon. "No way," Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then they found a way to get into the race officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the qualifying time for Boston the following year.
Then somebody said, "Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?" How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick tried. Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii. It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you think?
Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? "No way," he says. Dick does it purely for "the awesome feeling" he gets seeing Rick with a cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together. This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992 -- only 35 minutes off the world record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the time. "No question about it," Rick types. "My dad is the Father of the Century."
And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries was 95% clogged. "If you hadn't been in such great shape," one doctor told him, "you probably would've died 15 years ago." So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life.
Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass., always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day.
That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy. "The thing I'd most like," Rick types, "is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once."
From Sports Illustrated Issue date: June 20, 2005, p. 88
To see the inspiring website of Team Hoyt: http://www.teamhoyt.com
To see photos of the Hoyts (click on photos to enlarge): http://www.teamhoyt.com/Gallery.html
For a CNN article on Team Hoyt, click here.
Don't miss the most amazing four-minute video of the deeply moving Hoyt team at:
Power of Mind to Heal Shown By Pioneering Scientist–Claire Smith
http://news.scotsman.com/scitech.cfm?id=1386262004 - The Scotsman (a top daily paper in Scotland)
It was during a weekend of fire-walking that scientist David Hamilton decided to change his life.
As an organic chemist with a major pharmaceutical company, he was on a good salary, developing a new generation of drugs by synthesising molecules found in nature. But Hamilton was never convinced that man could improve on nature, and instead was becoming more and more fascinated by the potential healing power of the mind. So, inspired by his body's ability to withstand heat during fire-walking, he began a quest to investigate the mysteries of the mind-body connection.
He also began hosting seminars where he encouraged people to believe in the power of their mind to positively improve their health. Unlike many self-help gurus, Hamilton backs his arguments with scientific research and combines his work with a post as a part-time lecturer in chemistry at Glasgow University. In his first book, It's The Thought That Counts, due to be published next year, he will put forward the scientific arguments about the mysterious mind-body connection and argue that powerful human states such as happiness and optimism can actually change your DNA.
"I'm interested in the whole self-improvement thing but I am the only scientist talking about it," he says. His interest in the power of the human spirit began when he was working as an organic chemist for a major pharmaceutical company. Put in the fast-track by the company because of his skill in the field, Hamilton worked on creating new drugs by re-creating molecular structures found in nature with slight differences in order to develop new drugs. "You study nature's molecules and re-create them slightly differently," he says. "The idea is to take nature and improve on it."
However, he was not sure that was the right approach. He was also becoming uneasy about the way pharmaceutical companies were operating, particularly in the developing world, and became fascinated by the placebo effect, the scientific principle which shows that in drug trials, people given sugar pills often recover just as well as those on other medication. "On average, placebo effects cure anything between 30 to 90%. That has been written up in many scientific journals. I thought, 'Why not see if you could extend it'," he says.
On a weekend retreat with Tony Robbins, the pioneer of fire-walking, Hamilton decided it was time to change his course in life. "When you walk on fire for the first time you feel incredibly euphoric. At the end of it I felt like I could do anything, and, more specifically, that I could live my dream."
He set up New Awakenings, giving talks and workshops about the power of the mind over the body. While many new-age types talk about positive thinking, Hamilton is different, in that he gives listeners a view based on the latest developments in chemistry, biology and physics. By presenting arguments backed by science, he hopes to motivate people to work on their minds in order to improve their health: "With faith, hope and determination people can change the state of their health, life and world".
"I have found around 500 scientific papers from mainstream academic journals which directly talk about the effect that thought, feeling and faith have on the body's systems," he says. Recent research into spontaneous remissions from cancer found that a radical change of belief system seemed to be a common factor. While few would argue with the idea that a good attitude can speed the healing process, Hamilton believes emotions, such as happiness, can change DNA.
What is surprising is that a growing body of scientific thought appears to agree with him. As an example, Hamilton quotes the work of Eric Kandel, joint winner of the 2000 Nobel prize for medicine, who carried out pioneering work into the way genes can be switched on or off by social influences. Kandel's conclusion is that many genetic differences between people are influenced by society and conditioning, rather than incorporated in the genetic makeup of the parents.
Hamilton says: "About 99.9 per cent of our genes are exactly the same. The differences between us are determined by whether our genes are switched on or off. "There is a whole branch of medicine called psycho-neuro-immunology, which studies the effect of thoughts and emotions on our biochemistry. The biochemistry is intimately connected with the DNA, so if these biologichemical components are affected by thoughts and emotions then thoughts and emotions must also affect our DNA."
He also cites a well-known scientific study of rat pups which showed that two separate growth hormones are switched off in those deprived of a mother's touch. By pulling together the evidence that love and kindness can have a positive effect on health, Hamilton hopes to make people more aware of their own healing power. "The most powerful cure for anything is faith, hope and determination."
Antanas Mockus had just resigned from the top job of Colombian National University. A mathematician and philosopher, Mockus looked around for another big challenge and found it: to be in charge of, as he describes it, "a 6.5 million person classroom."
Mockus, who had no political experience, ran for mayor of Bogotá. He was successful mainly because people in Colombia's capital city saw him as an honest guy. With an educator's inventiveness, Mockus turned Bogotá into a social experiment just as the city was choked with violence, lawless traffic, corruption, and gangs of street children who mugged and stole. It was a city perceived by some to be on the verge of chaos.
People were desperate for a change, for a moral leader of some sort. The eccentric Mockus, who communicates through symbols, humor, and metaphors, filled the role. When many hated the disordered and disorderly city of Bogotá, he wore a Superman costume and acted as a superhero called "Supercitizen." People laughed at Mockus' antics, but the laughter began to break the ice of their extreme skepticism.
Mockus, who finished his second term as mayor this past January, recently came to Harvard for two weeks as a visiting fellow at the Kennedy School's Institute of Politics to share lessons about civic engagement with students and faculty.
"We found Mayor Mockus' presentation intensely interesting," said Adams Professor Jane Mansbidge of the Kennedy School, who invited Mockus to speak in her "Democracy From Theory to Practice" class. "Our reading had focused on the standard material incentive-based systems for reducing corruption. He focused on changing hearts and minds - not through preaching but through artistically creative strategies that employed the power of individual and community disapproval. He also spoke openly of his own failings, not suggesting that he was more moral than anyone else. He is a most engaging, almost pixieish math professor, not a stuffy 'mayor' at all. The students were enchanted, as was I."
A theatrical teacher
The slim, bearded, 51-year-old former mayor explained himself thus: "What really moves me to do things that other people consider original is my passion to teach." He has long been known for theatrical displays to gain people's attention and, then, to make them think. Mockus, the only son of a Lithuanian artist, burst onto the Colombian political scene in 1993 when, faced with a rowdy auditorium of the school of arts' students, he dropped his pants and mooned them to gain quiet. The gesture, he said at the time, should be understood "as a part of the resources which an artist can use." He resigned as rector, the top job of Colombian National University, and soon decided to run for mayor.
The fact that he was seen as an unusual leader gave the new mayor the opportunity to try extraordinary things, such as hiring 420 mimes to control traffic in Bogotá's chaotic and dangerous streets. He launched a "Night for Women" and asked the city's men to stay home in the evening and care for the children; 700,000 women went out on the first of three nights that Mockus dedicated to them. When there was a water shortage, Mockus appeared on TV programs taking a shower and turning off the water as he soaped, asking his fellow citizens to do the same. In just two months people were using 14 percent less water, a savings that increased when people realized how much money they were also saving because of economic incentives approved by Mockus; water use is now 40 percent less than before the shortage.
"The distribution of knowledge is the key contemporary task," Mockus said. "Knowledge empowers people. If people know the rules, and are sensitized by art, humor, and creativity, they are much more likely to accept change." Mockus taught vivid lessons with these tools. One time, he asked citizens to put their power to use with 350,000 "thumbs-up" and "thumbs-down" cards that his office distributed to the populace. The cards were meant to approve or disapprove of other citizens' behavior; it was a device that many people actively - and peacefully - used in the streets.
He also asked people to pay 10 percent extra in voluntary taxes. To the surprise of many, 63,000 people voluntarily paid the extra taxes. A dramatic indicator of the shift in the attitude of "Bogotanos" during Mockus' tenure is that, in 2002, the city collected more than three times the revenues it had garnered in 1990. Another Mockus inspiration was to ask people to call his office if they found a kind and honest taxi driver; 150 people called and the mayor organized a meeting with all those good taxi drivers, who advised him about how to improve the behavior of mean taxi drivers.
Yet Mockus doesn't like to be called a leader. "There is a tendency to be dependent on individual leaders," he said. "To me, it is important to develop collective leadership. I don't like to get credit for all that we achieved. Millions of people contributed to the results that we achieved ... I like more egalitarian relationships. I especially like to orient people to learn."
Taking a moral stand
Still, there were times when Mockus felt he needed to impose his will, such as when he demanded that every bar and entertainment place close at 1 a.m. with the goal of diminishing drinking and violence.
Most important to Mockus was his campaign about the importance and sacredness of life. "In a society where human life has lost value," he said, "there cannot be a higher priority than re-establishing respect for life as the main right and duty of citizens." Mockus sees the reduction of homicides from 80 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1993 to 22 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2003 as a major achievement, noting also that traffic fatalities dropped by more than half in the same time period, from an average of 1,300 per year to about 600. Contributing to this success was the mayor's inspired decision to paint stars on the spots where pedestrians (1,500 of them) had been killed in traffic accidents. "Saving a single life justifies the effort," Mockus said.
The former mayor had to address many fronts simultaneously. In his struggle against corruption, he closed down the transit police because many of those 2,000 members were notoriously bribable. When he assumed power, many city positions were distributed according to council members' recommendations. "I stopped that, and some called me an anti-patronage fundamentalist," Mockus said. He remembers that when he handed a text explaining his goals of transparency to one key council member, the council member first smiled, but later resigned.
Mockus was a constant presence in the media, promoting his civic campaigns. "My messages about the importance of protecting children from being burned with fireworks, protecting children from domestic violence, and the sacredness of life reached many, including the children," he said.
Once the mother of a 3-year-old girl called his office to say that meeting Mockus was her daughter's only birthday wish. But the meeting also revealed, said Mockus, that Colombian society has a long way to go. During the visit, the mother told him: "When I am going to hit her, she runs to the telephone and says that she is going to call Mockus. She doesn't even know how to dial a number, but obviously she thinks that you would protect her." Mockus, who has two daughters himself, was shocked at the woman's nonchalance about striking her daughter.
There is almost always a civics lesson behind Mockus' antics. Florence Thomas, a feminist and a professor at Colombian National University, pointed out to Mockus that in Bogotá women were afraid to go out at night. "We were looking for what would be the best image of a safe city, and I realized that if you see streets with many women you feel safer," Mockus explained. So he asked men to stay home and suggested that both sexes should take advantage of the "Night for Women" to reflect on women's role in society. About 700,000 women went out, flocking to free, open-air concerts. They flooded into bars that offered women-only drink specials and strolled down a central boulevard that had been converted into a pedestrian zone.
To avoid legal challenges, the mayor stated that the men's curfew was strictly voluntary. Men who simply couldn't bear to stay indoors during the six-hour restriction were asked to carry self-styled "safe conduct" passes. About 200,000 men went out that night, some of them angrily calling Mockus a "clown" in TV interviews. But most men graciously embraced Mockus' campaign. In the lower-middle-class neighborhood of San Cristobal, women marched through the streets to celebrate their night. When they saw a man staying at home, carrying a baby, or taking care of children, the women stopped and applauded. That night the police commander was a woman, and 1,500 women police were in charge of Bogotá's security.
A bigger classroom?
Mockus noted that his administrations were enlightened by academic concepts, including the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist Douglass North, who has investigated the tension between formal and informal rules and how economic development is restrained when those rules clash; and Jürgen Habermas' work on how dialogue creates social capital. Mockus also mentions Socrates, who said that if people understood well, they probably would not act in the wrong way.
Mockus—a sterling example of the current vogue in Latin America for "anti-politicians"—says that transforming Bogotá's people and their sense of civic culture was the key to solving many of the city's problems. He is looking forward to returning to the classroom at Colombian National University after a sabbatical year. But Mockus is also considering the possibility of launching a presidential campaign—and perhaps being in charge of a 42 million student classroom.
See full original article with photos at: http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2004/03.11/01-mockus.html
Paul's Unstoppable Will Power Turns Wasteland to Forest–Adam Khan
Author of: Self-Help Stuff That Works
When Paul was a boy growing up in Utah, he happened to live near an old copper smelter. The sulfur dioxide that poured out of the refinery had made a desolate wasteland out of what used to be a beautiful forest. When a young visitor one day looked at this wasteland and saw that there was nothing living there – no animals, no trees, no grass, no bushes, no birds ... nothing but fourteen thousand acres of black and barren land that even smelled bad – well, this kid looked at the land and said, "This place is crummy." Little Paul knocked him down. He felt insulted. But he looked around him and something happened inside him. He made a decision: Paul Rokich vowed that some day he would bring back the life to this land.
Years later Paul was in the area, and he went to the smelter office. He asked if they had any plans to bring the trees back. The answer was "No." He asked if they would let him try to bring the trees back. Again, the answer was "No." They didn't want him on their land. He realized he needed to be more knowledgeable before anyone would listen to him, so he went to college to study botany.
At the college he met a professor who was an expert in Utah's ecology. Unfortunately, this expert told Paul that the wasteland he wanted to bring back was beyond hope. He was told that his goal was foolish because even if he planted trees, and even if they grew, the wind would only blow the seeds forty feet per year, and that's all you'd get because there weren't any birds or squirrels to spread the seeds, and the seeds from those trees would need another thirty years before they started producing seeds of their own. Therefore, it would take approximately twenty thousand years to revegetate that six-square-mile piece of earth.
So he tried to go on with his life. He got a job operating heavy equipment, got married, and had some kids. But his dream would not die. He kept studying up on the subject, and he kept thinking about it. And then one night, Paul looked at what opportunities were right in front of him. He decided to get up and take some action. He would what he could with what he had. This was an important turning point.
Under the cover of darkness, he sneaked out into the wasteland with a backpack full of seedlings and started planting. For seven hours he planted seedlings. He did it again a week later. And every week, he made his secret journey into the wasteland and planted trees and shrubs and grass. But most of it died. For fifteen years he did this. When a whole valley of his fir seedlings burned to the ground because of a careless sheepherder, Paul broke down and wept. Then he got up and kept planting.
Freezing winds and blistering heat, landslides and floods and fires destroyed his work time and time again. But he kept planting. One night he found a highway crew had come and taken tons of dirt for a road grade, and all the plants he had painstakingly planted in that area were gone. But he just kept planting.
Week after week, year after year he kept at it, against the opinion of the authorities, against the trespassing laws, against the devastation of road crews, against the wind and rain and heat ... even against plain common sense. He just kept planting. Slowly, very slowly, things began to take root. Then gophers appeared. Then rabbits. Then porcupines.
Eventually, the old copper smelter saw the results and gave him permission to plant. Then later, as times were changing and there was political pressure to clean up the environment, the company actually hired Paul to do what he was already doing, and they provided him with machinery and crews to work with. Progress accelerated. Now the place is fourteen thousand acres of trees and grass and bushes, rich with elk and eagles, and Paul Rokich has received almost every environmental award Utah has.
Recently, Paul mused on his long decades of dedicated work, "I thought that if I got this started, when I was dead and gone people would come and see it. I never thought I'd live to see it myself!" It took him until his hair turned white, but he managed to keep that impossible vow he made to himself as a child.
What was it you wanted to do that you thought was impossible? Paul's story sure gives a perspective on things, doesn't it? The way you get something accomplished in this world is to just keep planting. Just keep working. Just keep plugging away at it one day at a time for a long time, no matter who criticizes you, no matter how long it takes, no matter how many times you fall. Get back up again. And just keep planting.
Read more about Paul & the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine
All the darkness of the world cannot put out the light of a single candle.
Thanks for sharing in these inspiring stories with us. We wish you lots of love, inspiration, and all the very best in the months ahead.
www.momentoflove.org - Every person in the world has a heart
www.personalgrowthcourses.net - Dynamic online courses powerfully expand your horizons
www.WantToKnow.info - Reliable, verifiable information on major cover-ups
www.weboflove.org - Strengthening the Web of Love that interconnects us all
Inspiring Stories: Dad Who Cares, Power of Mind, Transformational Mayor, Willpower