Archive for the ‘Storytelling’ Category

Terry Sprouse for President

Monday, March 27th, 2023

My fellow Americans.

Let us examine what “politics” really is.

The word politics is comprised of 2 words.

First the Latin word “poly” meaning “many or various.”

Second, the word “tics” meaning “blood sucking parasites.”


Furthermore, you might have noticed that many politicians are also lawyers. A profession that ranks slightly lower than snakes in most opinion polls.

I ask you, “What is the difference between a lawyer and a jellyfish?”

One is a spineless, poisonous blob, and the other is a form of sea life.


Many people have asked me, “Terry, when are you going to throw your hat into the ring to become president and straighten out the mess we are in?”

I have a two part answer to that question;

  1. Yes it could be done.
  2. I don’t think the country is ready for a person with my bold vision of the future and dynamic leadership skills.

My qualifications for this job are almost impeccable.

I have served in nearly every Toastmaster club level leadership position including as President. And I have served as an Area Director.

Yet, some of my critics maintain that this alone is not enough.

I remind you, Abe Lincoln became president with only 3 years of formal education. And he was never even a Toastmaster.


You may ask, “Terry, where do you stand on the issues?”


One of my top priorities is to protect the environment! 

Look at the Grand Canyon. Many years ago that must have been a beautiful piece of land. But we have allowed massive erosion to destroy it.

What about the Post Office?

The federal government spends millions to mismanage postal service. I could lose your mail for half of that.

What about Inflation?

I am prepared to solve that problem no matter how much money it takes.


Let us examine my opponents.


There’s a big campaign in Florida to nominate Ron Desantos for the presidency. You also hear a lot of talk for Donald Duck.

Joe Biden has been the anti-malarky president, but my question is, can Sleepy Joe stay awake long enough to serve one more term?

If Donald Trump emerges as a presidential candidate, I may vote for him, just so I can see what he is up to at all times.


As your candidate. I am prepared to hit the campaign trail running. Kissing hands and shaking babies.  

I must choose my words carefully in order to avoid a negative interpretation. Among politicians this is known as “lying.”

My motto to solve the gargantuan problems facing this great nation  is that ‘we must think inside the box.’


Who is Terry Sprouse?


I am just a common, ordinary savior of America’s destiny.

God bless you and God bless the Untied states of America!


A speech presented at “From Pen to Podium Toastmasters,” 3.25.2023.

With a salute to the inimitable, Patrick Layton Paulsen.

Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Always Say “Yes”

Be a Master of Disaster – Ponder the big picture

Nourish humor and tell stories, so people say — “I felt like I had known him/her my whole life and we had long been friends.”

Stories Embedded in My Heart

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

1) Twinkies and Grape Juice


A young boy was packing his backpack with Twinkies and bottles of grape juice.

“Where are you going, Tommy?” asked the mother.

“I am going to find God,” Tommy replied.

The boy walked for a while and then found a park. He sat down on a park bench next to a homeless woman. They chatted and eventually Tommy got  hungry. He took out a Twinkie and offered one to the lady. They both ate their Twinkies. He took out 2 bottles of grape juice, gave one to the lady. They clinked their bottles together and laughed. They continued to chat.

Later, Tommy came home.

“How was your day?” asked his mother.

“Well, I found God and she was not anything like I expected,” he replied.

“How are you doing?” asked a friend of the homeless woman in the park.

“I just talked to God, and he was a lot younger than I thought he would be,” she said.


2) Baseball Practice

Some moments in life are so delightful and precious that they should never come to an end. Those are the ones we preserve in our memory, like pickles in vinegar.

One of my favorite memories is when my father would come home from his job on the military base and often play catch with my brother Mike and I. Mike was 6 and I was 4.

We all had baseball gloves and we would toss the ball around for a while. Then my father would be the umpire. My brother and I would take turns, one of us would hit while the other pitched, then we switched roles.

My father kept us entertained. Sometimes after catching a pitch, which only traveled at the speed of 1 0r 2 miles per hour, he would whip off his glove, shake his fingers and blow on his hand. 

“Don’t throw those pitches so fast, my hand is burning,” he would say.

Other times he would call a strike by shouting out “STRIIIIIIKE,” and pump his arm furiously, to our delight.

My father could take an everyday game of catch and turn it into a stupendous adventure.

When he was ready to rest or go to dinner, we begged him not to stop.

“Just 5 more minutes,” we would shout.

“Okay,” he would say, and the game would continue that day, and ultimately find a permanent place in my heart.


3) Mom and Movies

When I was 5 or 6 years old, I was curious about the birds and the bees.

 I asked my mother, “Where do babies come from?”

She thought I said ‘rabies’ and she said, “That is when a sick dog bites someone.”

I nodded my head and said, “ooooh.”

That kept me perplexed for years to come.

My mother used to take me shopping with her on Saturday mornings to Pennys and Woolworths. In Penny’s she would shop for clothes while I would look at toys. 

Sometimes I got lost in the store. 

“I can’t  find my mother,” I would tell a clerk with tears in my eyes and a shaky voice. 

The clerk, with precise enunciation,  would announce over the loudspeaker. “Will the mother of Terry please come to the front cashier and collect her lost son.”

Often, after shopping, my mother would take me to watch a kid movie.

I have a crystal clear memory of watching movies like  “Alakazam” about a young monkey that studied to become a magician, then saved his village from an evil force. I also keenly remember, “The Magic Sword,” which had an evil wizard, a damsel in distress and a rugged young knight who was not afraid to fight monsters or giants.

I’m not sure how much enjoyment it was for her, but it was absolutely thrilling for me.

Other times, I would go with her to the grocery store and we would stop along the way at Winchell’s Donuts where we both would get a coke and a donut. My favorite donut was one with white frosting and chocolate sprinkles.

At the grocery store I would turn in glass soda bottles that I had collected and receive 5 cents for each bottle. The money I received, sometimes as much as 50 cents, seemed like a fortune to me at the time.

My father passed away from a heart attack in 1982. It was a shock to me. Even though he had been taking “nitroglycerin” pills to thin his blood, and we had driven him to the emergency ward several times for heart palpitations, I always thought of him as invincible. 

It seemed strange to me the morning after he passed away. I watched the cars of people zooming to work and people continuing their normal lives as if  nothing had changed. At the same time it was a cataclysmic event for me. The man I admired most in my life was gone forever.

I phoned my mom almost every day after that to check on her.

One day I made a list of my fondest memories of my time together with my mother and I gave it to her in 1997. 

When she passed away in 2013, I began to organize all of her possessions. I found a suitcase that contained many of her important papers. It was filled with receipts, warranties and several photos that I had never seen. Inside of one folder I found the list of memories that I had written for her. It warmed my heart to think that she had kept it all those years.

Stories give comfort and keep us connected to the past. In addition, they are much cheaper than therapy.

Did you see God today? 

You might never know unless you capture the stories that pass before your eyes each day.

A Speech presented at From Pen to Podium Toastmasters  2.11.2023

Related Links

Always Say “Yes” 

My Doozie of an Experience as Santa Claus 

Places in the Heart

The Mt Lemmon Rescue

Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

I say, “If you want to have a good memory, you must do something that is memorable.”

Let me tell you about my son, who I affectionately refer to as “Bub.”

Bub studies engineering at the University of Arizona. He lives with my wife and I and, to say the least, he likes to ride his motorcycle.

Exactly two of weeks ago, Bub rode his motorcycle up to mount Lemon late in the afternoon. He had sent me some pictures of some cows around 8 pm. I was expecting him back soon but then he texted me at 9 pm to say “My motorcycle broke down on the far side of Mt Lemon. Come to the Control Road and drive south towards Oracle. I will start walking up the mountain to meet you.”

“I’m on the way.” I texted back.

My wife jumped in the truck with me and we sped up Mt. Lemmon, like a race car in the Indianapolis 500. We arrived in the village of Summerhaven, at the top of Mt Lemon, around 10:30 pm. We didn’t know exactly where the Control Road was but we eventually managed to locate it, near the Fire Station.

We were worried because we lost communication with Bub. He must have walked out of phone range. I had horrible thoughts about Bub walking up the mountain and being attacked by bears or snakes. I had a flashback to when we would take Bub hiking in the mountains as a child. When he got tired of walking, I would carry him on my back.

I wished that I could protect him that easily now.

My heart skipped a beat when it started to rain and bolts of lightning flashed around us, like a nightmarish scene out of a Franz Kafka novel. We drove down the rough and craggy road at about 2 miles per hour, weaving back and forth across it to avoid the large rocks. With each turn in the road and no sign of Bub, we became more filled with dread. It weighed heavy on our hearts that we had no communication with Bub for 3 hours.

I stopped the truck when I saw the road take a sharp dip down. I got out to examine the road to make sure we were able to get through.

Just then, a female deputy sheriff officer, drove up beside us with jeep lights flashing.

“Are you looking for Jimmy?” she asked.

“No we are looking for our son Bub. His motorcycle broke down up here.”

She said, “I received a call earlier tonight. Someone reported seeing him walking down the road. He should be about 4 miles away. Follow me and I will lead you.”

My heart leapt in joy to hear that Bryan was on the radar screen.

She barreled out in front of us and proceeded down the mountain at a rapid pace. We continued down at our cautious snail’s pace. 20 minutes later she came back up the mountain. Bub was in the car with her.

It was a happy reunion. He got in the truck and we proceeded to drive back down the road another 3 miles to collect Bryan’s broken motorcycle. I brought a 2 x 8 board that we use as a ramp to load the motorcycle on the bed of the truck. Unfortunately, the back wheel of the motorcycle was frozen and would not turn. To get the motorcycle into the truck we had to lift the back half of the motorcycle and push it up the ramp at the same time. Like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain for eternity.

And when I say “we” pushed the motorcycle up the ramp, of course I mean only Bub, who is as strong as an ox. My wife and I could only offer minimal assistance, considering our wide assortment of hernias, sore backs and other ailments. With much gratuitous grunting Bryan got the cycle on the pickup and he drove back up the mountain through the rain and lightning.

It was 2 am as we headed home. I was grateful that everything turned out as well as it did. I thought to myself, “This is one adventure that will stick in my memory, like a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe.”

This is a speech I delivered to “From Pen to Podium” Toastmasters, 8.13.2022.

My Doozie of an Experience as Santa Claus

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”

— Mother Teresa

The 3 stages of a man’s life are:

1) He believes in Santa Claus.

2) He doesn’t believe in Santa Claus.

3) He is Santa Claus.

I work as a substitute teacher in Tucson, Arizona

There are good days and bad days in the life of a substitute teacher. Sometimes, I am satisfied to just survive and live to teach another day.

My substitute teacher motto is: “I am proud to be a substitute teach, until I win the lottery.

Simpson Elementary School is where I often teach. I know the teachers and the students and we are usually one, big happy family.

One day, Ms. Sandy, a giant of a woman who looms over me, asked, “Mr. Terry, the other teachers and I would like you to do us a big, big favor.”

“Ms. Tammy, as you well know, I do the work of 3 men. Larry, Moe and Curley. So ask away.”

“Mr. Terry, would you be Santa Claus for us at the Christmas celebration this year?”

“Some people might consider me too thin to be Santa Claus,” I say. “They allege that I am so thin that I have to move around in the shower to get wet, but I am a warrior; not a worrier, and I have a big pillow.”

“Ms. Tammy it is my honor to be Santa Claus.  Count me in!”

When the big day arrives, about 60 kids, parents, and teachers are packed into the library like sardines in a can.

I put on my Santa costume in a library storage room.

I hear the sing-singy voice of Ms. Tammy. “Okay Santa we are ready for you.”

I bound out of the closet. “Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!” I say.

“Yaaaaay” The kids scream. Some kids gap in amazement. Many kids run up and hug me. They surround me like the Munchkins did to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

Wearing the Santa costume has transformed me. I could actually channel the spirit of Santa Claus. I radiated overwhelming love for the kids and I absorbed their love for me.

I wedged my way through the wall of little bodies to get to the Santa Chair.”

The teachers had the students form a line.

The first little girl in line was Maria. She just stood there. Tears ran down her cheeks. Impatient kids behind her in line, shouted “hurry up” and “keep moving.”

“Tell Santa what you would like for Christmas,” I say.

Maria just stares and cries.

“Okay Maria, why don’t you think about what you would like and I will ask you again later.”

The teachers removed her from the line and the bottleneck is cleared.

Next in line was Jimmy. After climbing on my lap, he said. “I want an X-box a computer game, a Frozen movie, a toy race car . . ..,”

I interrupt him. “Whoa Jimmy! Slow down! Santa has a new rule. Only one toy request per child.”

After Jimmy, my job becomes a repetitive assembly line process. A child sits on my lap. They tell me what toy they want. I say “Ho Ho Ho.” The parent snaps a picture.

The pace is broken when Enrique gets on my lap. I know he is a trouble maker. He finished 3rd place in the Curley Howard Look Alike Contest.

“You’re not Santa Claus. You’re Mr. Terry,” he spouts.

“Ho ho ho, that’s impossible, Mr. Terry does not have a long white beard, as I do.”

“No, you are Mr. Terry,” he said and he pull on my beard.

“Alright Enrique, Santa Claus puts you on probation. No Christmas gift for you until you are nice to people. I will be in communication with your mother.”

I nudge him off me lap.

When, the last child slides off my dog-tired lap, I stand up.

I say, “Merry Christmas to everyone! I will now return to the North Pole to get Christmas gifts ready.”

“Yaaay!” the kids shout.

As I walk away, Maria popped out of the crowd, ran over to me and hugged my leg. In a tiny voice, she said, “Please bring me a doll.”

I put one my knee on the floor and I looked her in the eye.

In my most sincere Santa voice, I said, “I’ll do my best. Merry Christmas.”

At the end of the day, I know that I was not the greatest Santa Claus in the world, but I put my heart into.

I did not do a great thing, but I did do a small thing with great love.

Best Stories about Abe Lincoln – The Lightning Rod

Monday, July 6th, 2020

The Lightning Rod

When Lincoln was a candidate for re-election to the Illinois Legislature in 1836, a meeting was held in the court house in Springfield, at which candidates of opposing parties were to speak.

George Forquer was a prominent citizen of Springfield. He had been a Whig, but became a Democrat – possibly to secure the position of Government Land Register from President Andrew Jackson. He had the largest and finest house in the city, and there was a striking addition to it, called a lightning-rod!

Forquer, although not a candidate, asked to be heard for the Democrats, to reply to Lincoln. He was a good speaker, and well known throughout the county. His special task that day was to attack and ridicule the young man from Salem.

Turning to Lincoln, who stood within a few feet of him, he said: “This young man must be taken down, and I am truly sorry that the task devolves upon me.” He then proceeded to attack Lincoln in a very overbearing way, and with an air of great superiority. He was fluent and adept at rough sarcasm. He ridiculed Lincoln’s appearance, dress, and opinions so fiercely that Lincoln’s friends feared the he would be too embarrassed to respond.

Lincoln stood calm, but his flashing eye and pale cheek indicated his indignation. Lincoln took the podium and stated,

“The gentleman commenced his speech by saying that ‘this young man,’ alluding to me, must be taken down. I am not so young in years as I am in the tricks and the trades of a politician, but, live long or die young, I would rather die now than, like the gentleman (pointing to Forquer), change my politics and with the change receive an office worth $3,000 a year. And then, feel obliged to erect a lightning-rod over my house, to protect a guilty conscience from an offended God!”


Lincoln home in Springfield, IL with no lightning rod attached!



This story is a recollection of a speech made by Lincoln in 1836, as told to William Herndon by Lincoln’s long time pal Joshua Speed. From, How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones, by Terry Sprouse.

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

“No matter how busy or how deeply engrossed in his work Mr. Lincoln might be, whenever anyone came in he would greet him with a pleasant or humorous remark, and before he left would inevitably tell a joke or anecdote.” John H. Littlefield, law clerk

“If a friend met or passed Lincoln (on the streets of Springfield), something would remind him of a story, and tell it he would.” William Herndon, Herndon’s Life of Lincoln

“In the midst of the most stirring and exciting — nay, death-giving — news, Mr. Lincoln has always a story to tell.” Adam Gurowski, State Department

“Mr. Lincoln’s wit and mirth will give him a passport to the thoughts and hearts of millions.” George Goutwell, Secretary of Treasury.


Three Factors that Inspired Lincoln to Connect to People with Humor

“I like people”

1) He had a gregarious personality. He liked people and enjoyed getting to know them.

2) He knew that his appearance was intimidating to others. He was extremely tall and had a homely appearance. To compensate for that, he put people at ease with his humor.

I once worked with a guy named Frank who had a hostile face. If he looked at you, you’d think he was angry with you, but he actually had a very friendly personality. Every time I saw him Frank had a joke or a funny quip to tell. Like Lincoln, Frank used humor to mitigate people’s reaction to his stern appearance.

Leo Gordon as Frank

3) As a politician and lawyer, Lincoln’s quickest path to success was to have the type of personality that allowed him to quickly connect with people.

Building Friendships One Person at a Time

I can’t think of anything more valuable than building lasting friendships. However, we must be subtle and have a plan when first meeting new people. Rather than just launching into a long winded anecdote or knock-knock joke, the best way to meet a new person is to keep your opening remarks short and simple.

Five Ways to Break the Ice

1) Tell an appropriate quip or make a humorous observation.

Use a humorous observation or a pithy quote, from your collection of quips and quotes as a way to show your friendliness and social grace (savoir faire).  If you don’t have a collection, now is a good time to start one.

For example if the topic of lawyers comes up, I’ll say, “It’s unfortunate that 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.”

2) Be lighthearted

Channel your tense energy into just exuding happiness. Smile. Take the attitude that, “I’m just here to be friendly and have fun.”

3) Poke fun at your own distinctive characteristics or personality

I am skinny, balding, 63 years old, incessant worrier, so I am entitled to make fun those characteristics. People quickly recognize that we have certain outstanding characteristics, and they feel more comfortable with us when they know that we recognize these characteristics in ourselves and can make fun of them.

When speaking about my job, I like to say that I do the work of three men – Moe, Larry and Curley.

4) Joke with others in ways that are complimentary to them

One comment I use that pokes fun at a person, while acknowledging respect for them at the same time, is if they say or do something insightful, I respond, “That’s pretty good, for someone who used to be (or who is) a cop.” I say it with a smile. Of course, I would substitute in the appropriate profession, such as teacher, or psychologist, or whatever job they had, or presently have. When said in a jokey way, it works.

5) Express genuine interest

This one hits pretty close to home. How do you think a guy like me, with my prehistoric social skills, ever got married? Fortunately, opposites attract, and I found a wife who had advanced conversational skills. She was able to carry the conversation long enough for us to get married. All I had to do was to act interested.

Very few people don’t open up and come alive when they sense that you really are interested in them, in what they are doing, or what they are interested in.

Practicing for job interview

A Grrrrr8 Job Interview

When I applied for a job as Border Coordinator for the Arizona Department of Water Resources, I was selected as one of three finalists. I had to go in for an interview with the director, who would select the winning candidate. Normally, I have a reserved personality. My philosophy is, “A closed mouth gathers no feet” (Oscar Wilde).

However, I knew the director was a lawyer and lawyers are usually very verbal and assertive. I made up my mind that I would respond to her questions in  the interview in the same vein, as if I too were a lawyer, and like Lincoln, I would shoehorn in some humor.

I had several little jokes and quips memorized for use during the interview. I knew it may not go exactly the way I planned, but my father always told me, ‘As you walk through the cow pasture of life you’re bound to step into the truth once in a while.’ I realized during the interview that the director was enjoying my jokes and quips and that I felt really relaxed with the way things were going.

A few days later, the Director called and said that I was hired.

Extemporaneous Quips Lighten the Workload

Sometimes a good quip will pop into your mind when a humorous situation unfolds.

The other day, I was teaching in a special education class with three other teachers. A boy named Jose, who was unable to speak, had an electronic toy that spoke the letters of the alphabet. Jose apparently liked the letter “D” because he pressed it continuously for about 20 minutes. “D!,D!,D!,D!,D!” It sounded like a jack hammer pounding into the very core of my being.

Judy, one of the other teachers, was working across the room from Jose. She said, in an exasperated voice, “Jose, can you please select another letter. That one is driving me crazy.”

I was sitting next to Jose and I broke the tension in the room by commenting, “Sorry Judy, but Jose is not taking any requests right now.” The other teachers chuckled at my quip.

Enhancing Our Posterity

If we season our conversation with quips or humorous comments, they fizz and sparkle. People remember what we say. It’s like the delicious green frosting on a Christmas sugar cookie.

As Edward Bulwer-Lytton said, “I must leave behind me the remembrance of a bon mot or I shall be forgotten.”

Upcoming Pesentations:

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones. Prescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.





Related Links

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Abe Lincoln and Inner Guidance – stay close to the “cave of the winds”

Angry Cow! (video)

Monday, October 9th, 2017


I never saw a Purple Cow,

I never hope to see one,

But I can tell you, anyhow,

I’d rather see than be one!


Most people have a favorable view of cows. We make light of them in poetry, as in the famous “Purple Cow” poem. We even joke about them.

I remember my father telling me, “Terry, you haven’t finished your milk. We can’t put it back in the cow, you know.”

In 1985, I became a Pearce Corps Volunteer in Honduras and that forever changed my point of view of the seemingly humble cow.

My assignment in the Peace Corps was to work with small farmers (5’ 5” tall or shorter) in a small village in northern Honduras. The crops they grew were corn and beans.

My work routine in Honduras consisted of getting up early in the morning, with the chickens, and walk out to farms to collaborate with the farmers. I had to cross the river to reach the fields. There was a large tree trunk laying across the river that served as a bridge.

On either side of the road was tall grass infested with voracious, industrial sized insects that were ready to suck the blood out of my body.

I walked my usual route out of the village. As I approached the river, I hear screaming and shouting up ahead. Then 4 or 5 people from the village were running back towards me shouting “vaca loca” “vaca loca.” “Correle.” “Crazy cow. Crazy cow. Run away.”

One man told me “Mr. Terry, you cannot cross the river today. There is a cow blocking the road.”

I said, “I’ll take care of that cow. I will just shoo him away.”

“Mr. Terry, for the sake of the entire village do not anger the cow.”

“Pfffft! Have no fear, Terry is here.”

I boldly march over to the river. I turn the corner around some trees and my eyes locked on an enormous Arnold Schwatzenegger-sized cow. As big as a house. He had enormous horns. He scraped the ground with his massive hoof! Steam came out of his nostrils as breathes.

I looked into the eyes of the cow and we had a “mind meld.” I could feel his fury and his desire to flip me like a pancake if I tried to cross that stream.

Immediately, my family jewels rose up to my Adam’s apple and my ignorant bravado about ‘shooing’ away the cow, gave way to a feeling of stark raving terror. I stood there trying not to look too horrified. I inched my way back to the villagers.

“Did you shoo the cow away, Mr. Terry?” one villager asked.

“No. for the good of the village, I have revised my plan. Now, I think we need to just give the cow his personal space,”

Just then the cow came around the corner moving towards us. “AAgggh!” we screamed in unison.

The villagers bolted back to the village so fast that they left a vapor trail.

I jumped over a fence on the side of the road, still thinking I had to see the farmers, and I walked through the insect infected plants. The voracious bugs feasted on my body like a ravished high school football team at an all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut buffet.

I knew these were tough mosquitoes. When I slapped them, they slapped me back.

I managed to circle around behind the cow and limped out to see the farmers.

Later, when I dragged myself back home. The last few feet I was actually crawling back into my house.

Long after I returned home to the United States, I still harbored a fear of cows. Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat. How long will I have these horrible memories? Yes, you guessed it, until the cows come home.

Upcoming Pesentations:

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones. Prescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.





The Keys to Success on the Road Less Traveled

Edited by Terry Sprouse


The 15 authors of The Keys to Success on the Path Less Traveled, illustrate the different shades and colors of the word ‘success.’ We view success as:  realigning one’s life following the death of a loved one; channeling the energy of rejection into writing comic books; recognizing the daunting sacrifices of one’s mother; finding inspiration in working with disadvantaged youth; recognizing the trials of being teacher; celebrating the nobility of ‘man’s best friend;’ capturing the essence of life through the lens of poetry; overcoming the past and finding ways to love yourself; among many other intriguing ways.

The title of this book, The Keys to Success on the Road Less Traveled, refers to the subtle insight that we glean from reflecting on the experiences of life, and embracing the nuances of meaning that life presents to us.

As Albert Schweitzer said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

We are what we think


“You, who are on the road, must have a code, that you can live by;
And so become yourself, because the past is just a good bye.”

— Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

 We all operate our lives by a “code of conduct,” yet we generally never put pen to paper and jot down our code. Our code operates behind the scenes, in our subconscious mind, guiding our every action.

The same held true with Abraham Lincoln, who never spoke of affirmations, or a code of conduct, but like our own, they were imprinted in the recesses of his mind.

In my attempt to distill the essence of who Lincoln was, I examined extensive observations of Lincoln by his family, friends, and acquaintances. From these “historical snapshots,” I unearthed the preeminent notions that rattled around inside of Lincoln’s head. The compass if you will, that directed him on his “hero’s journey,” all the way from his modest beginnings in rural Kentucky to the White House.

Here then, are the affirmations that Lincoln utilized in every situation, and with each person he met.

For each affirmation, I cite quotes from Lincoln’s contemporaries, or from Lincoln himself, to elucidate the idea.

Channel Your Inner Abe Lincoln

1)  Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

“He greeted me cordially as though we had known each other for a long time. There JFK Kruschevwas no strangeness about him. He knew men on the instant.” William O. Stoddard, journalist.

“He approached, extended his hand, and gave mine a grasp such as only a warm-hearted man knows how to give.” New York journalist.

“Mr. Lincoln shook hands with me in his kindly way, and the direct simplicity and naturalness of his bearing were then and still remain the exact impression upon me of his daily manner. There was a natural courtesy and real interest shown toward me.” Charles Zane, law student

2)  Be prepared with a “quip of the day”

“No matter how busy or how deeply engrossed in his work Me. Lincoln might be, whenever anyone came in he would greet him with a pleasant or humorous remark, and before he left would inevitably tell a joke or anecdote. Sometimes he told the same story to four or five different person.” John H. Littlefield, law clerk, Lincoln-Herndon Law office

“If a friend met or passed Lincoln (on the streets of Springfield), something would remind him of a story, and tell it he would.” William Herndon, Herndon’s Life of Lincoln

“In the midst of the most stirring and exciting — nay, death-giving — news, Mr. Lincoln has always a story to tell.” Adam Gurowski, State Department

“Mr. Lincoln’s wit and mirth will give him a passport to the thoughts and hearts of millions.” George Goutwell, Secretary of Treasury.

3)  Employ an affable persona – be gentle, kind and courteous

“He was liked by every person who knew him. He made himself useful in every way affablethat he could. If the water-bucket was empty he filled it; if wood was needed he chopped it; he was always cheerful and in a good humor.” Caleb Carman, New Salem resident

“Mr. Lincoln quickly gained the confidence of strangers, and, if they were much with him, their affection as well. I found myself strongly drawn to him from the first, and this feeling remains to me now. He had genuine kindness of heart.” Horace White, journalist

“There was such a blend of dignity and gentleness in his (Lincoln’s) voice and words, that there came a degree of relief to the tension of my first impression (of him).” Henry C. Bowen, editor of the New York Independent and organizer of Lincoln’s Cooper Union Speech (from Lincoln at Cooper Union by Harold Holzer).

4)  Listen to friends, keep open communication channels 

“The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships,” Lincoln letter to Joseph Gillespie, 1849.

“Wherever he moved he found men and women to respect and love him. One man who knew him at that time says that ‘Lincoln had nothing, only plenty of friends.’ ” Josiah G. Holland, author

5)  Inner guidance – stay close to the “cave of the winds”

“The name of the man had come to stand for what he was. In the ‘cave of the winds’ cavewhere he saw history in the making he was far more a listener than a talker. The high adventure of great poets, inventors, explorers, facing the unknown and the unknowable, was in his face and breath, and had come to  be known, to a few, for the danger and bronze of it.” Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln

“In traveling on the circuit, he was in the habit of rising earlier than his brothers of the bar. On such occasions he was wont to sit by the fire, having uncovered the coals, and muse, and ponder, and soliloquized, inspired no doubt by that strange psychological influence which is so poetically described by Poe in ‘The Raven.’ ” Lawrence Weldon, lawyer

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” Oscar Wilde

6)  Note your own flaws, share them with others

“Self-deprecating humor came naturally to Lincoln; once after being called ‘two-faced,’ he quipped, ‘If I had two faces, why would I be wearing this one?’ ” Francis B. Carpenter, portrait painter, 1865

“While riding a train, I was once accosted … by a stranger, who said, ‘Excuse me, sir, but I have an article in my possession which rightfully belongs to you.’ ‘How is that?’ I asked, considerably astonished. The stranger took a jackknife from his pocket. ‘This knife,’ said he, ‘was placed in my hands some years ago with the injunction that I was to keep it until I found a man uglier than myself. I have carried it from that time to this. Allow me now to say, sir that I think you are fairly entitled to the property.’ ” Abraham Lincoln, as told to Francis B. Carpenter, portrait painter, 1865

7)  Constantly improve – push the envelope of your comfort zone

“The way for a man to rise is to improve himself in every way he can.” Abraham

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”
Abraham Lincoln

8)  Offer to help others who cannot return the favor

Ab Trout, a poor barefooted boy, was chopping wood one cold winter day. Lincoln feedinghomelesscame up and asked what he got for the job, and what he would do for the money. Ab said, “One dollar” and pointing to his naked feet said, “A pair of shoes.” Abe told him to go in and warm up and he would chop a while for him. Lincoln finished the work, and told him to go buy the shoes.  William Herndon, Herndon’s Informant’s

Lincoln defended the son of the widow Armstrong, in a murder case. Lincoln saved her boy from the gallows. The only possession she had in the world was 40 acres of land, which she offered to give to Lincoln as payment. “Aunt Hannah,” he said, “you took me in years ago when I was poor and homeless and you fed me and mended my clothes, and I shan’t charge you a cent now.” Andrew Carnegie, Lincoln – The Unknown

“Lincoln chopped wood for widows and orphans. When he saw travelers bogged down, he stopped to help them.” Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life

9)  Look for the big picture

“We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.” Abraham Lincoln.

“Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” Abraham Lincoln, Cooper Institute Address, 1860

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” Abraham Lincoln, 1854.

“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” Abraham Lincoln, Speech to 140th Indiana Volunteers, 1865

“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.” Abraham Lincoln, 1858

10) Nourish humor and tell stories, so people say, “I felt like I had known him my whole life and we had long been friends.”

“In ten minutes I felt as if I had known him all my life. He had the most wonderful joke bookfaculty I have ever seen in a man to make one feel at ease.” Rufus Rockwell Wilson, Intimate Memories of Lincoln

“He talked in so simple and familiar a strain, and his manner and homely phrase were so absolutely free from any semblance of self-consciousness or pretension to superiority, that I soon felt as if I had known him all my life and we had long been close friends. He interspersed our conversation with all sorts of quaint stories, each of which had a witty point applicable to the subject in hand.” Carl Schurz, Union General

“From the first moment of my interview with him I seemed to myself to have been acquainted with him for years. For while he was among the most solid of men I ever met he was among the most transparent.” Frederick Douglass, author and orator.

“I really think that Mr. Lincoln’s propensity for story-telling has been exaggerated by his enemies. I had once the honor of conversing with him, or rather of hearing him converse, for several minutes, and in all that time he only told four little stories.” Sarah Jane Lippincott, author

Lincoln Affirmation Card




Upcoming Presentations:

November 30, 2016. “Uncommon Friendliness: Abraham Lincoln’s Miraculous Formula to Squeeze Every Drop of Inspiration and Illumination Out of Each Day.” Breadkfast Lions Club. Radisson Inn. Tucson, AZ.


Related Posts:

Yard Sales, Heroic Cats and Zombies

Overcome obstacles and doubts by doing more than anyone expected

Give yourself permission to feel frustration, then relax and let it go #tmoy #storytelling

A feather is better than a hammer to win an argument #tmoy #storytelling

Don’t let pride stand in the way a brighter future

Use warm memories to replace negative thoughts

A Light Heart Lives Long #EurekaMoments 6

Act Out Characters to Make a Story Sizzle (video)

Turn frustration into creative energy #LifeLesson 7

Disarm Hostility with Friendliness #LifeLesson 8

You Only Live Twice – Life Provides Second Chances LL #9

Donald Trump vs. Abe Lincoln – #LifeLesson10 

Failures Can Be Transformed into Strength – #LifeLesson 11

Is it better to remain silent, or to speak up and confirm you’re an idiot? LifeLesson #12

Convert Affliction to Anecdote – Utilizing the Stories from Your Hero’s Journey

Virtue Is Its Own Reward

Boldness had Genius, Power and Magic In It

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was


Grant Workshop

Arizona Grantwriters “How-To” Conference (for beginners). Nov. 5, 2016, Tucson AZ.

A conference for new and aspiring grant writers who want to unlock the secrets to building winning grants! Attend educational sessions and network with other professionals in the grant writing and non-profit community. Participate in an afternoon Bootcamp experience designed to prepare you to write your next grant. 

Registration information.

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

“Yes, I do own a comb. Why do you ask?”

“Do I not destroy my enemies by making them my friends?” – Abraham Lincoln 

Can you remember the last time someone made fun of you because of some physical characteristic that you had? None of us are immune. Aren’t we all too tall, too short, too fat, foo skinny, too young, or too old?

This type of comment seems funny to the critic, but it can sting the recipient.

How should we respond to this type of criticism?

Step 1) Look deep inside yourself and acknowledge the fact that, yes, you do have quasimodo_03certain physical characteristics that make you distinct. (Maybe not as distinct as Quasimodo, but still distinct.)

Step 2) Use self-deprecating humor to deflect criticism.

There is great power in looking inside of ourselves, acknowledging who we really are, and in making fun of ourselves.

Abe Lincoln Example

Abraham Lincoln had a target on his back because he had two unique traits.

1) He was extremely tall and really thin. He stood six foot four inches tall and weighed only 170 pounds.

2) His face was so homely that it frightened small children and horses.homely face

Yet, despite being called “string bean,” “scarecrow” and “gorilla,” Lincoln was bullet proof from this type of criticism because he was better and funnier at criticizing himself than were his enemies.

Lincoln was invited to speak to a conference of newspaper editors in Chicago, some of whom were his fiercest critics. To break the ice he told this story:

One day I was riding along a mountain trail on my horse.

From the other direction came a woman on her horse. She stopped her horse and looked at me.

“I do believe you are the ugliest man I have ever seen,” she said.

‘That may be true, madam, but there’s not much I can do about it,” I replied.

“No, perhaps not, but you might at least stay home.”

The audience of editors laughed with Lincoln instead of at him. Lincoln’s goal was not just to respond to criticism, but to allow people to see his plight and bring them into his circle of friends.

Who, Me? Too Skinny?

Just last week, two so-called “friends” of mine made fun of me for being too skinny.

“Terry you looked like a broom wearing glasses,” said one person.

“Terry it’s so windy today, I’d better tie a sting to you before you fly away,” said the second one.

Okay I get it, I’m skinny. I laughed but I felt a little tinge of pain in my heart.

steve rrevesAs a child I always wanted to be strong and powerful like Hercules. I wished I could throw huge boulders at armies of men and single handedly defeat lions and bears. But, fate insisted that I have a DNA more like Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife. There is nothing I can do about that.

I thought about how Lincoln would have used this situation to convert enemies into friends, and I replied,

“In my defense, my doctor told me that I weigh the exact right amount for someone this awesome.”

My frenemies laughed with me instead of against me. Like Lincoln, I felt I had drawn them a little closer to my circle of friends.

A Deeper Perspective

How do we look at this from a deeper, philosophical view?

We could say, “Their dogma was to criticize me, but my karma allowed me to respond with humor.”

Metaphysically speaking, “my karma ran over their dogma.”

Upcoming Presentations/Events: 

June 10th, 2016. Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy Job Fair. Tucson, AZ.

November, 2016. “Utilizing Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Downtown Lions Club, Tucson, AZ.

Related Posts

Yard Sales, Heroic Cats and Zombies

Overcome obstacles and doubts by doing more than anyone expected

Give yourself permission to feel frustration, then relax and let it go #tmoy #storytelling

A feather is better than a hammer to win an argument #tmoy #storytelling

Don’t let pride stand in the way a brighter future

Use warm memories to replace negative thoughts

A Light Heart Lives Long #EurekaMoments 6

Act Out Characters to Make a Story Sizzle (video)

Turn frustration into creative energy #LifeLesson 7

Disarm Hostility with Friendliness #LifeLesson 8

You Only Live Twice – Life Provides Second Chances LL #9

Donald Trump vs. Abe Lincoln – #LifeLesson10 

Failures Can Be Transformed into Strength – #LifeLesson 11

Is it better to remain silent, or to speak up and confirm you’re an idiot? LifeLesson #12

Convert Affliction to Anecdote – Utilizing the Stories from Your Hero’s Journey

Virtue Is Its Own Reward

Boldness had Genius, Power and Magic In It

“Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

Boldness had Genius, Power and Magic In It

Sunday, May 1st, 2016


Snapshot 1 (4-14-2016 9-55 PM)

Speaking to Moon Valley Women’s Club


“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”



Moon Valley: The Force Awakens

In my presentation to the Moon Valley Women’s Club, at the Phoenix City Grille, I rattled on about the importance of viewing ourselves as being on a quest , or a “Hero’s Journey.”

Here is how W.H. Murray (in The Scottish Himalayan Expedition) famously related the benefits of his own Hero’s Journey:

The moment one definitely commits oneself,

Then Providence moves too.

All Sorts of things occur to help one

That would never otherwise have occurred.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision,

Raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen

Incidents and meetings and material assistance,

Which no man could have dreamt

Would have come his way.

My point is, we light a flame inside of ourselves when we begin to view our life as a Hero’s Journey. What’s more, we light the flame inside of others by converting our obstacles and challenges into stories of inspiration, motivation and humor.

Life as Tragedy

Of course, not everyone sees life as a quest. My friend Henry refers to himself a “serial entrepreneur” (code for “unemployed” or “unemployable”) and he sees life as more of a a tragedy. The other day he told me,

“You know Terry, ten years ago we had Steve Jobs. We had Bob Hope. We had Johnny Cash. Now, we have no jobs; we have no cash; and we have no hope.”

I am more optimistic than Henry is. My response to Henry is, “Martin Luther King never said ‘I have a complaint.’ ”

Disaster as Inspiration

I often relate my incident of being stuck overnight in the Phoenix airport after a flight cancelation, which turned into an extraordinary bonding experience with my two young boys (as related here).

Disaster/inspiration activity

Disaster/inspiration activity

One of the activities in my presentation is to have participants write down experiences in which disaster or tragedy has struck. Then, I ask them to write the story again, this time identifying how the disaster resulted in inspiration or humor, when viewed from the rear view mirror of life.

These heartfelt “tragedy to inspiration” stories can be quite poignant. For example:

1) A son who survived surgeries for a serious illness, now wants to study medicine and become a doctor;

2) Dropping out of college resulted in a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity; and,

3) A divorce became the opportunity to start a new, more inspired, life.

Many a story has tingled my back or brought a tear to my eye.

It can inspire awe to look back on challenging incidents and realize how they fit into the bigger picture of life.

Upcoming Presentations/Events

June 10th, 2016. Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy Job Fair. Tucson, AZ.

June, 2016. Time & date TBD. “Utilizing Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Lions Club, Tucson, AZ.

Related Posts

Virtue Is Its Own Reward

 Convert Affliction to Anecdote – Utilizing the Stories from Your Hero’s Journey

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

“Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

May 21st, 2016