Category Archives: Authors helping authors project

My Special Boy, Obi – An Inspiring Story by Ashley Howland

What an Incredible Dog!

Obi and Ashley

Ashley Howland lovingly portrays Obi, her intuitive golden Lab, so smart and loving that you just wish your could reach out and hug him.

Obi influenced the lives of all whose lives he touched through his work and play both at school, at home and in a Labs ‘n Life program back in Ashley’s home in Australia. Obi also touched many hearts, and once you read this story, it is bound to touch yours as well.

My Special Boy, Obi, a 2014 Tales2Inspire winner, is now published in
Tales2Inspire ~ The Sapphire Collection
Stories that Echo In The Mind


 Click to oder

Lois W. Stern
Bringing you one inspiring story at a time,
From Tales2Inspire

LOVE IS PRICELESS – An Inspiring Story

This video is dedicated to all for the Mothers Out There. And when you watch it,  have the tissues ready!

When a young boy presents his mother with an IOU for all the tasks he has done to help her, she responds to him in this most inspiring video. Take a moment to watch it now.


Brought to you from

Lois W. Stern


Bringing you one inspiring story at a time.

Thanks you Natalie Hecht for this one.

* THE GIFT OF FAMILY by Donna Surface

When I was introduced to Pat Surface he was sitting down. Then he stood up to shake my hand, and it seemed like he just kept going . . . up. I am only 5′ tall and at nearly 6’8″ Pat’s stature, and his story, both really impressed me.

Pat’s future didn’t look very promising in 1957. He was abandoned as a newborn infant and brought to an orphanage in St. Paul, Minnesota. Little Pat was placed in a series of foster homes, where, he later learned, he was treated pretty badly. After the last family brought him back to the orphanage, he was completely traumatized. As a result, he ‘acted out’ in ways that made him, well, less than ‘adoptable.’

But in every happy ending story there is a turning point, and in this story it started with a phone call from the orphanage to Lillian and A.J. Surface, a couple who had already adopted two children from their agency. ”Would they consider adopting one child more?” Well, they honestly couldn’t afford a third child, so this was not an easy decision for them. But an inner voice whispered to them and, fortunately for Pat, they listened. Pat says he was ‘rescued’ instead of adopted when he was brought to Grand Rapids, MN to live with his new family. He thinks of his adoption date as the day he was born.

A surprise for Pat’s parents – he grew tall. Very tall. They struggled to keep him in clothing that fit. Pat didn’t stop growing until he reached nearly 6’8″, a natural basketball star in the making. Actually he did become a college all-star, a MVP of the largest amateur basketball team in the country, a member of a semi-pro exhibition team, and eventually a college basketball coach. But he yearned for more.

Pat grew up with his brother, Jim, of Korean and Hispanic heritage, and his Native American sister, Linda. The gift of being included in this blended family fueled his appreciation of diversity. It never occurred to him to view anyone as ‘different.’


Pat and his beloved guitar

 Pat’s future didn’t look very promising in 1957. He was abandoned as a newborn infant and brought to an orphanage in St. Paul, Minnesota. Little Pat was placed in a series of foster homes, where, he later learned, he was treated pretty badly. After the last family brought him back to the orphanage, he was completely traumatized. As a result, he ‘acted out’ in ways that made him, well, less than ‘adoptable.’

But in every happy ending story there is a turning point, and in this story it started with a phone call from the orphanage to Lillian and A.J. Surface, a couple who had already adopted two children from their agency. ”Would they consider adopting one child more?” Well, they honestly couldn’t afford a third child, so this was not an easy decision for them. But an inner voice whispered to them and, fortunately for Pat, they listened. Pat says he was ‘rescued’ instead of adopted when he was brought to Grand Rapids, MN to live with his new family. He thinks of his adoption date as the day he was born.

A surprise for Pat’s parents – he grew tall. Very tall. They struggled to keep him in clothing that fit. Pat didn’t stop growing until he reached nearly 6’8″, a natural basketball star in the making. Actually he did become a college all-star, a MVP of the largest amateur basketball team in the country, a member of a semi-pro exhibition team, and eventually a college basketball coach. But he yearned for more.

Pat, center, with his sister, Linda and brother, Jim

Pat grew up with his brother, Jim, of Korean and Hispanic heritage, and his Native American sister, Linda. The gift of being included in this blended family fueled his appreciation of diversity. It never occurred to him to view anyone as ‘different.’

Another gift from his family was his love of music. His mom was born a LaPlant, a family with a strong musical heritage. Her mother, Bessie LaPlant, was related to William Boyd, known as Hopalong Cassidy, The Singing Cowboy. She passed her musical legacy on to her eleven children. Years later, Pat wrote the song, “Belle of the Ball”, to honor her.

The LaPlants have been fiddle champions for decades, best known for their gospel and bluegrass music. They are also well-recognized for their instrument building skills with LaPlant crafted instruments, described by The Minnesota Monthly Magazine as “exquisite guitars and flawless mandolins of national note”. Pat remembers the day he received his first LaPlant guitar – he was 19, it was Christmas, and the gift changed his life. To this day, Pat plays the guitars hand-built by his eighty-two year old Uncle Lloyd LaPlant – the master builder whose amazing guitars and mandolins are used by famous bluegrass performers even today.


Uncle Lloyd, Pat, his mom, and Uncle String

Music was calling Pat, and in 1987 it became his full-time commitment.

This story continues in the Tales2Inspire™  


Emerald Collection


For more than a decade, Great Blue Herons had a special meaning for Brad and Cindy. During those years, Brad had no hint this special meaning would one day acquire a much deeper significance.

The couple enjoyed watching the graceful herons at their summer cottage feed one hundred feet away, drawn by schools of minnows in a bay below their deck.

Brad and Cindy also saw the birds feed in a cove where they often anchored their boat overnight.Blue herons became their favorite bird. To celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary they commissioned a watercolor of a pair of blue heron.

Blue Heron

Watercolor of a pair of Blue Herons, commissioned by Brad and Cindy for their 30th wedding anniversary

The years slipped by, as they will.  Those thirty years edged toward thirty-five. Their prized painting hadn’t been framed.  One day, Brad sneaked it out and got it framed. On the night of their 35th anniversary, as they prepared to turn in, there was the framed painting above their bed, where Brad had just finished hanging it minutes earlier.

Three years later, Cindy lost her battle with cancer.  And Brad, well . . . was lost, too.

At Cindy’s memorial service, her  dear friend, Ellen led the service. She wanted to help Cindy’s young grandchildren comprehend what had occurred. Here is the story she told:

Once upon a time, a happy group of tiny bugs were playing on the bottom of a lily pond. One by one, the bugs climbed up a lily stem and disappeared. Those left behind wondered what had happened to their friends.  Then they agreed the next bug to venture beyond the surface of the pond would return and tell the others what they’d experienced.  

One day, a bug left and found itself on a lily pad. It fell asleep. When it awoke, the warm sunshine had dried its body. Instinctively, it spread the wings it had grown while asleep and began flying away. The bug had become a beautiful dragonfly with four resplendent wings. Then it remembered the promise. It swooped back toward the surface of the pond and headed downward. The dragonfly hit the surface and could go no farther. It was not able to return. Finally, it realized the others would just need to have faith that it was going to be all right.


Original photo contributed by Sonia M. Smith

Before she passed away, Cindy had asked Brad to make two promises to her:




Finalist award – 2013



If you think that it takes a competitive type-A personality to succeed in the political arena, you need an introduction to Allison Dysart. Born in 1880 in the little village of Grande Digue, New Brunswick, Allison began his education in a school in Cocagne, eventually attending Agricultural College in Guelph, Ontario. After completing college, he started raising chickens and prize cattle. One day his brother Robert came home and found that the chickens were roaming around the house and had soiled some furniture. Robert said, No more farming for you. You are going to be a lawyer. This would have a profound effect on Allison’s future as  well as the future of New Brunswick.


Allison as a young lawyer

Allison obtained his LL.B. from Dalhousie University in 1912, was called to the Bar of New Brunswick in 1913 and set up his law practice in the small friendly town of Bouctouche, N.B,. He spent 23 years as a politician, never losing in any election, even though he was a Catholic running in a predominantly Protestant province. In 1921 Allison became the Speaker of the House. He fulfilled the functions of his office admirably, with a commanding presence, strong voice and agreeable manner. Under his regime the legislature maintained its reputation for dignity.

‘Judgie’, as his wife and family called him, was a pleasant, fun loving man with a warm, jovial personality. He became a great orator,  usually holding the audience in the palm of his hand, telling his many stories while at the same time selling his side of a political issue. It was said that, He could give a speech in the middle of the summer, wearing a three piece tweed suit, and never sweat a drop.


Allison (left) taking time out for some lunch

When his party lost power in the 1925 elections, their leader resigned to become Postmaster General in the Dominion Cabinet of W.L. MacKenzie King. Many Liberal insiders believed that their party lost power because their defeated candidate was a Catholic and the people would never support a Catholic as Premier.

The Conservatives called an election for June 27, 1930. Despite his general support at the widely attended Liberal convention, Dysart bowed out of the leadership race under pressure from the executive, and nominated Wendell Jones, a former cabinet minister, as the new leader of the party. The election returned the Conservative Government to power with fewer seats than it held before. Ironically, Wendell Jones lost the  election and Dysart was re-elected and once again resumed leadership of the party. The executive were wrong in not backing Dysart.

Some of the executive of the Liberal party continued to be convinced that although Allison was an excellent leader for the party, they would never be successful in gaining power with a Catholic as their leader in the next elections. In 1932 one of the Liberal executives wrote to the National Association seeking their backing to have Allison Dysart step down as leader of the provincial party and have John McNair lead them into the election in his place. He was convinced that they would gain power if led by a Protestant. MacKenzie King refused to get involved.

A later letter from the same man said that on poling some of the party members he was now convinced that McNair would win over Dysart at the next party convention. He could not have been more wrong. Allison Dysart beat John McNair in every riding with an overall 82.7 % of the votes at the convention. About this time the Liberals disclosed that a “letter” purported to have been issued by the Ku Klux Klan of Canada was being circulated. The “letter” urged the Klan members not to vote for Allison Dysart because he was a Catholic. It claimed that if Dysart were elected, the Province of New Brunswick would be run from Rome by the Pope.

The headline of the Moncton Daily Times on June 27 read, Swing Victory for Tilley Government. The article went on to say, On the eve of voting in the Provincial election, reports from all constituencies throughout New Brunswick indicate that the Tilley Conservative Government will be handsomely sustained at the polls. However the actual results turned out to be the exact opposite. The Liberals were swept into power by an overwhelming majority. The headline in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner on June 28, the day after the election, read, OPPOSITION SWEEP THE PROVINCE IN ELECTIONS – Liberals elect 43 of the 48 seats Premier Tilley and his Cabinet Ministers All defeated.  What an upset!

The Premier’s office consisted of three rooms plus a washroom and a cloak room. There was an old carpet that was threadbare and musty. The Premier occupied the private office; his secretary, Robert Tweedy, and two stenographers occupied the outer office, with the third office being for the Superintendent of Insurance.

Although Allison’s schedule was busy enough to warrant his being the first Premier to employ a full-time secretary at the public’s expense, he was generally unhurried in his personal manner. When he arrived late for a meeting he would nonchalantly stride in, full of good cheer and joke that he was, Working on Bouctouche time. Dysart’s secretary, Robert Tweedie, describes Allison as being, A big burly and very handsome man with a personality to match. Tweedie goes on to say that it was impossible to remain angry with him for more than a few minutes because of his manner. Apparently Allison relished a good time and did not take life too seriously. He usually greeted those he knew well with, Behold the Monarch of the Wood, and when the conversation ended he would say, On with the dance.

In 1937 Dysart went to London, England representing New Brunswick at the coronation of Edward VII. On his return, he warned New Brunswick producers that they would have to watch their step if they intended to retain or extend their British markets. He predicted that British consumption had reached its peak and saw the possibility of a curtailment.

Allison’s gave his ministries and committees the widest latitude in freely administering all matters which fell under their purview. As a result, the Liberal Party did not always act as a harmonious unit.

Since New Brunswick, was still recovering from the Great Depression, the Dysart Government concentrated on programs to improve the economy. With these programs they accomplished the first government surplus in nineteen years. The Liberals were re-elected in the 1939 elections but Allison found it necessary to resign for health reasons. He then became a judge of Westmoreland and Kent Counties. He died in 1962.

Allison Dysart hardly fit the stereotype of the hard driven politician. He led a successful life as a farmer, lawyer, elected official, orator and judge. He was also a good family man and friend. Allison accomplished a great deal for the Province of New Brunswick in spite of the fact that he was a Catholic from a small farm outside a small village and the country was still recovering from the Great Depression. . . .

Allison Dysart was my wife’s great uncle.


* AND THE MUSIC PLAYS ON by Charles Musgrave

Dan Johns is the ultimate all-round musician in our band – a tremendous leader with lots of enthusiasm. He started playing as a grade school child and joined a dance band in junior high school. Dan was an exceptional musician. He was chosen to play in every all-state high school band in Nebraska. Recognizing his talent as well as his thorough enjoyment of music, Dan’s band director suggested that he continue his musical studies in college. However, the United States Armed Services called him first to play in several army bands.

When he was discharged, Dan did enter a college music education program and signed up for the Nebraska Cornhusker marching band. The university band director, Dr. Don Lentz, selected Dan to be head Drum Major because he already had plenty of trumpets and needed someone tall to direct the band on the football field.

Drum_Major_with_Nebraska_Cornhusker Band

Dan in college as head Drum Major

Academically, Dan found that he also had a talent for woodworking and carpentry. He graduated with a degree from the Vocational Department so he could teach Wood Shop to high school students. Soon afterwards, Dan obtained a teaching position in Colorado at their new high school in Springs, Colorado, where he spent the rest of his teaching career.

But that’s not the end of this story, only the beginning!  You see, his trumpet was his best friend (after his new wife, Jean) and he continued playing it in local dance bands every chance he got.. He landed a job as lead trumpet in the Tavern Band at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs and played there for 30 years. During that time, as many musicians did, he was a smoker without thinking too much about it.  It was just a way to pass the time during breaks in the “gig.”

Jean and Dan retired to Arizona in 2001 because breathing in the high country of Colorado was becoming a problem and he had been diagnosed with C.O.P.D.


Dan with his wife Jean

The dry desert air was what made life a lot more tolerable for him and his playing. He immediately volunteered with several of the bands in Sun City, Arizona. He found that several dance bands and concert bands were looking for talented retirees. He sat first chair in every band, and life was good. But during the next 10 years, breathing continued to become more and more difficult.


Dan after his move to Arizona

In 2009, the doctors suggested that oxygen would alleviate some of the stress caused by the COPD. As most patients of this disease know, it is a “downhill run” as the body continues to lose lung capacity.  He tried to hide it from his friends for quite some time, until I challenged him to forget his vanity, and improve his performance.


Dan, with some oxygen support, blowing his horn

In the spring of 2011, Dan’s medical condition worsened and he became weaker, needing more oxygen than his failing lungs could provide. Dan entered the local Del Webb hospital for tests to evaluate his lung function, which was found to be at only 15%.  As his breathing became more stressful, he had to take more rest periods assisted by larger and larger doses of morphine.

The members of the Desert Brass band wanted to give Dan a surprise concert at the hospital. I approached the hospital administrator with the idea. He gave us his full support. and even allowed us to gather beneath his window for this event. Dan was beside himself with emotion. He couldn’t believe his own eyes and ears. To think that his colleagues would give of their time and talent to support him.  It was so inspiring to watch his face.

Finally, Dan’s doctors determined that his body was in need of more care than the hospital could provide and called for Hospice supportive services to step in. Their mission was to maintain him while keeping his pain and stress levels to a minimum.


topaz reduce_1


winner_mintWINNER – 2013


“Better be careful with that little bundle of yours.”

The voice startled me as I cradled my 6-week old son, “Toots,” while tiptoeing to my car from the neurosurgeon’s office in a small, one-story building. Leaving the usual puddles as its calling card, a typical Florida storm had come and gone quickly and made me mindful of each step. Tears partially clouded my view of a broom and pail at the edge of the parking lot. I stopped.

 “E-e-a-sy now.”

Towering over me was a burly, dark-skinned man in a white shirt and dark blue pants which I assumed to be the uniform of some maintenance crew. A large set of keys hung from his belt and he held a squeegee in one hand, as if getting ready to do something about the wet patches. I didn’t bother with a response because my mind was in the grip of fear over what was going to happen to my baby.

When “Toots” was born, my mother-in-law took to calling him “doll boy” because he was as perfect in her mind as a baby could be. His round face was topped with a wisp of blonde hair and his eyes were as blue as the waters surrounding Miami where we lived. He ate and slept like a champ and showed early signs of being a good-natured, easy-to-care-for baby. The pediatrician had declared him “perfectly healthy.” There was just one thing he wanted to have checked out by a neurosurgeon, he said, and that’s what had taken me to the small building I knew so well from our old friend Zacharias, who had his long-time dental practice in the same place.

Picture 1

Toots at 4 months of age

Picture 2

Growing s-o-o big

“Wait…,” the man said when he saw me turn away. “Why are you crying?” His voice was both insistent and surprisingly velvety for such a big man. You can tell me.

“N-n-no,” I stammered. The thought of sharing my despair with a stranger made my stomach churn. I come from strong Scandinavian stock and we’re all about not showing vulnerability in the face of adversity.

At first I hadn’t been alarmed when our pediatrician felt something unusual on the top of my baby’s head. “We want to make sure the bones aren’t growing together prematurely,” he said in his usual, calming way. I completely trusted this old-timer in the community, this man who was often called “the doctor’s doctor.” It wasn’t until the recommended consultation that I understood the life-threatening situation. First I watched in amazement as the specialist laid his hands on the head of “Toots” and almost instantly pronounced, He needs surgery. Then he said the plates he’d have to put into the skull were part of a procedure that he often performed but – and, somehow, I already sensed there was going to be a “but” with this doctor – the real danger was in the anesthesia. He rambled on about statistics and low percentages of survival as I stoically tried to take it all in, till it hit me. Toots was going to die.

I don’t recall how I got from the doctor’s office to the edge of the pathway. I just wanted to get into my car without having to talk with anyone, but then that man seemingly appeared from nowhere.

“Is it the baby? Something the matter with him?”

I was surprised when I heard myself speak, but somehow the look of genuine compassion in the eyes of this stranger made me feel as if he already knew what I was going to say. “My baby is dying… he won’t survive the operation… I’m going to lose him …”, I whimpered.

He put his hand on my arm and, strangely, this gesture made the words that followed stick in my mind. “I’ve been around a long time; never missed a day of work”, he said slowly with great tenderness. “Believe me, your baby’s not dying; he’ll be fine. Just have faith.”

Normally, if somebody talked about faith I’d recoil. Personal statements like that cut into the very core of everything ingrained in me from my Scandinavian upbringing, particularly when they had to do with spiritual matters. Embarrassed, I mumbled something and hurried into my car. But in the flurry of the coming weeks his words stayed with me. When the pediatrician agreed with the surgeon and everyone decided the only chance for a normal life was the operation, I suddenly thought of the maintenance man and I was surprised by an overwhelming wave of hope. But hope turned to self-recrimination. What kind of mother was I? What foolish person would listen to somebody like that talk about a life-threatening matter? Who was that man, anyhow? With stubborn resolve I finally managed to push the stranger out of my mind.

Two hours before the scheduled surgery one of the nurses called for us.



Emerald Collection 

winner_mintWINNER – 2013

LEGACY OF LOVE by Micki Peluso

 I stood in the small church, supported by the prayers of loved ones, mantled with the soulful whine of the church organ playing its dirge of death. I felt a separation of mind and body.  Someone was standing here, but it couldn’t be me. The smell of incense permeated my senses, overwhelming with its cloying scent. Next to me, covered with a shroud, stood the casket of my child. I would not look at it, could not.

The words of the priest droned on and on, completing the Mass, and the ceremony finally drew to a close, but I was lost in a sea of unrelated thought. I heard nothing; I felt nothing, except a desire to be done with this, to be free to face my grief alone.


 Remembering Noelle

The ride to the cemetery was torturously slow. We climbed the long winding mountain road to the top of the cemetery, surrounded by grotesquely beautiful tombstones, the only proof of former lives.It was over at last. We walked, my family and I, down the endless aisle of concerned, tear streaked faces, united in a mélange of emotion, following the one who would never again walk among us. Then out into the overcast day, whose sun had the dignity not to shine, we entered the limousines and headed for the cemetery to say our final goodbye.

Surely this was just a dream. I would awaken soon and rebuke the nightmare that enveloped my senses, sighing with relief. Oh God, please let this be a dream. But no, the grass was too lushly green. Tear shaped droplets of rain hung precariously from misted, succulent leaves. The dark gray clouds swirling in anger as the sun tried vainly to push them aside in a futile effort to dominate the day, were too real. Yes, this was actually happening.

There were over a hundred people standing behind me; their silence bearing down upon me like the crush of ocean waves. I fought the compulsion to slide into oblivion and let this travesty proceed without me.

There was a small crucifix on top of the darkly ominous box which was now my daughter’s residence. I tried to focus on that one object in an effort to retain my sanity. The voice of the priest, overflowing with empathy, broke the silence with, I was told later, a moving and beautiful eulogy. His words rained down over me, covering me with compassionate warmth, but I comprehended no meaning. Closing my mind to everything around me, the box and I stood alone together in the macabre stillness of a lonely mountain top, whose residents, except for birds and trees, were all stone cold and unfeeling.

There was no life here, not even serenity, just the vacuous emptiness of space and time, devoid of animation. What a cruel, unlikely place to leave one who was so vivacious, so seething with spirit, so very much alive. I had to leave this place. My daughter was not here.

After the funeral, our family unit was forever altered. Yet life went on and swept us along; children had to be fed and cared for, careers had to be maintained.

The ten-day wait in the Intensive Care Unit was over. Family, neighbors and friends moved on with their own lives and we were forced to continue ours, in spite of the gaping hole left by the absence of Noelle. There would be no more hovering by her bedside, praying for the miracle that would heal her severed spinal cord; broken by the thoughtless drunk driver who struck her down in broad daylight miracle that was not meant to be. Noelle’s fourteen years of life were over and her two brothers, three sisters, her father and I had to somehow face the future without the child who had lit up our lives and had given us constant pleasure.

The other children reacted in different ways. One became bulimic and suicidal, another, anxious and panic stricken. Yet another raced his car at high speeds, defying death to take him too, while his brother became withdrawn, depressed and barely spoke. Our oldest child, at twenty one, left home to deal with her grief away from us; we caused her too much pain.

Two years later, our oldest daughter had married and was bearing her firstborn child. She had a long and life threatening labor and did not, nor did the rest of us, notice that when she finally brought her son into the world–it was on the day that Noelle died. Upon realizing this, she was horrified and sobbed as she lay in recovery. The rest of us were equally appalled and awestruck by what by what we perceived to be one of life’s cruel ironies.

And then the miracle happened. During the next few years the tragic day that claimed the life of Noelle became, instead, the birthday of a beautiful little boy. Noelle had somehow sent us the gift of healing. Today, as we continue to celebrate that day, our grief is temporarily put aside, and the memories of Noelle have become sweet, bittersweet, yet softened by the little boy born on the date she died. Ian was two years old when he told his mother, Kim, that “when I grow up and become Noelle, the truck will miss me.”


Ian’s son. Seth at age 2, visiting Noelle


Ian’s son. Seth at age 2, departing gravesite

At 14 years old, he traveled with his grandmother to Rome and in a narrow alley, a car whizzed by and the rearview mirror (like the one that severed Noelle’s spinal cord) missed him by inches. Other grandchildren seemed obsessed with Noelle as well, even though we did not speak of her often. Nicole’s two year old son, Nicholas told his mother that Noelle was in the room with them. His mother thought he meant her picture but he insisted he could see her. It was her birthday. Kelly’s son, Brandon pointed at the ceiling and babbled until he could talk and then reported seeing Noelle everywhere, once in the front seat of the car next to his mother. He claimed that Noelle had told him not to play in the street with the big boys. He also claimed that he could not see Noelle as often around Christmas because the sky was filled with angels. There were many instances like this. As I lay dying from back to back heart attacks, Noelle came to her father, smiled and gave him the thumbs up—I lived. These visits we believe were Noelle’s way of assuring us that her soul was alive and well, her way of easing our grief–her legacy of love.




I enter my magical meditation garden the same way I enter into self-hypnosis, starting with deep breathing and relaxation. I like to go there right before a nap or bedtime, often falling asleep in the midst of one of my visits there. Once inside, I walk down a long imaginary staircase—or if I am especially tired or if it’s a day when my back is giving me an argument – I use an escalator to transport me at least four flights down.  That would be my conscious mind reminding me that I’m not as young as I once was.

When I feel I’ve reached my destination, I stop at a landing, which is a foyer of sorts with large sliding glass doors leading out to a beautiful countryside.  There are times when the garden will not open to me and when that happens, I just try again another day.

My garden is an Eden-like area of grass, flowers, trees and a small stream.  The sky is azure with puffy white clouds. A gentle breeze wafts about, the temperature just right. It’s quiet as I walk over to a large oak tree, sit down and lean against its smooth bark. Slowly animals appear and the air rings out with birdsong.  A white snow owl perches on a branch above me. She’s lovely, but quite sarcastic. She has no patience for my complaints or excuses and accuses me of knowing the answers to my problems, but refusing to act on them. She seems to be a part of me-my subconscious, perhaps. A large blue-gray Alpha wolf comes up and nuzzles me, his deep blue eyes full of compassion, assuring me that I am loved. His mate, shy and cautious, stands behind him. The wolf offers me strength and courage. Sometimes, a roly-poly black bear cub tumbles out and plops on top of me, insisting on having some fun and cuddling. There is always a sweet doe next to me who does not judge me, but offers unconditional love. Rabbits, raccoons and a red fox often join the group, but usually only the owl, wolf and doe speak to me.

Song of the Whippoorwill inspired artist Lori Kennedy to sketch this beautiful drawing.

In late summer when we lost Noelle . . . 


TALES2INSPIRE™          The Topaz Collection


Micki began writing after a personal tragedy, as a catharsis for her grief, leading to publication in Victimology: An International Magazine and a 25 year career in Journalism. She has freelanced, been staff writer for one major newspaper and written for two more. She has published short fiction, non-fiction, and slice of life stories in magazines and e-zines. Her first book was published in 2008; a funny family memoir, . . .AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG.


                   Get more info, ‘how to’s’ and ‘what if’s’ about Lois’ Tales2Inspire project


* NEW LIFE IN THE COUNTRY – by Luke Potter

Building your own home can be an incredibly satisfying journey, particularly as you see your dreams take shape and become real. This is the story of my wife Leanne and me in following our dreams to build a kit home in the district of Budgeree at the foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges of southern Australia. Starting with practically nothing, we were amazed at what we were able to create using a good plan, some basic skills and a clear idea of what we really wanted.

Once you have lived in the country, it is difficult to return to the boundaries of suburban life. However, like many, that is what Leanne and I did at differing times of our lives. Leanne grew up in Budgeree – a place of rolling grassy hills that in the closing decades of the 19th century was cleared for dairy cattle and is now the home to an eclectic mix of beef cattle, market and hobby farmers, and simply those seeking a quieter life. She left for Melbourne to study teaching in her late teens, but home was never far away. A two-hour drive would see her at the kitchen table of her parents, with coffee in hand, catching up on local news.

I had but fleeting experiences of the country compared with Leanne, but those experiences have stayed with me. Most memorable was living in the hinterland of northeastern Australia whilst in my early teens.  Pineapple farms, friendly people that would treat you as one of their extended family, bare feet, and living most of the day outside made me feel as though I was truly home.

This yearning to return to the country grew inside Leanne and me to the point where we were unable to ignore it any longer. So we made the decision to sell our home in the suburbs, and move to that part of Budgeree where Leanne grew up.

We arrived in Budgeree in January 2007 to a bare paddock, and a shipping container filled with our personal belongings from our previous home. Our only refuges were our caravan and a rickety and breezy shack. Built in the 1880s as the original district schoolhouse, the shack was pulled down on bullock dray from the settlement of Budgeree in 1901. It was then converted into a house, and mid last century was turned into a hayshed. In its current form, it offered some protection from the rain and no protection from the wind and cold, but did sport two working fireplaces.

We had just returned from a trip around Australia financed from the sale of our home in the suburbs, towing the camper van that would be our home for the next 4 months. Leanne and I are people that love to explore roads less travelled, filled sometimes with excitement, sometimes with apprehension of what the next bend in the road may bring. And, it was in these extremely remote places that we got to know each other all over again and found a sense of contentment in living simply. Thoughts of self-sufficiency and to living more in-tune with nature crystallized into ideas for our new home.


The TALES2INSPIRE™  topaz reduce_1  Topaz Collection


finalist FINALIST – 2012


ABOUT THE AUTHOR Luke is an Electronic Systems Engineer and Computer Scientist with a passion for sustainable technologies that can help make our life easier and reduce our impact on the planet. Luke seeks to challenge our thinking about sustainable building and living. It is not about spending a fortune to achieve a meagre gain. Rather, it is about living a comfortable life, lowering your dependence on consumption, and living in harmony with the earth and all things around you. Luke lives at Budgeree House with his wife Leanne, and his three children – Lauren, Ryan and James. Click here to visit his website. 

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