Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lilncoln’

Offer to help others who cannot return the favor

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Abraham and Tad Lincoln

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

“Ab Trout, a poor barefooted boy, was chopping wood one cold winter day. Lincoln came 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


Phil made me feel exceedingly comfortable when I first joined Toastmasters. I felt a little awkward at the meetings because I didn’t know anyone. But Phil, a longtime member, took care of that. He was always one of the first persons in the meeting room and every time I would walk in, he loudly announce, “Here’s the professor. How are things going at the university?” It made me feel exceptionally welcome, and put me at ease, even though I was not a professor, but merely a researcher, at the university. Nonetheless, I gracefully accepted the comical promotion that Phil gave to me.

Fast forward five years. Phil falls down and breaks his leg. He goes through surgery and spends weeks in rehab. I visit him virtually every day at the rehabilitation clinic. We wile away the hours chatting, playing checkers and putting puzzles together. Phil, still at the top of his game, at 95 years old, in short order makes friends with the staff and other patients.

Mental note to self: There’s a lot to learn from Phil.

My Sworn Enemy – The Thorny Bush

One of my worst enemies is a thorny bush that blocks a sidewalk which students use

Janette Scott facing down evil plants

to walk to a high school near my house.

I’m pretty sure that it is possessed by the devil. If not cut, branches with huge thorns grow through a fence and force students to walk around it or risk cuts to their arms and legs. It’s even more dangerous at night because you can’t see the branches.

Twice a year, wearing a long sleeve shirt and leather gloves, I fight back against the devil brush branches, like Janette Scott in The Day of the Triffids. I cut the branches and carefully load the large branches into the bed of my truck. The thorns can go right through my gloves, and haul them to a large trash can in the alley behind my house. The last time I did it, I accidently stepped on one of the branches and a thorn pierced through the sole of my shoe and into my foot. Yikes!

I chalk it up as a war injury in my never-ending battle with the sinister thorn bush.

The Lone Ranger

I often do house repairs for neighbors and friends who need help. I’m pretty good at it since I often repair my rental houses. Just last week, Cynthia, an older friend and former neighbor, who had just returned from mouth surgery, called and said,

“Terry, my toilet is leaking. Can you take a look at it?”

“Sure, I’ll be right over.”

I grabbed my tool box, stopped by Ace hardware to buy a toilet repair kit, and drove over to Cynthia’s house.

I ring the doorbell.

“Hi Terry. Thanks for coming.”

“You’re welcome. How’s your mouth feeling?”

“Okay, but sore. I still can’t speak too clearly yet.”

“Did you just say, ‘Okay you bore. I steal cans of peak to clean ear pets?”


“Sorry. I was just rattling your cage. Show me where the leak is.”

She leads me to the bathroom.

As I suspected, the fill valve was broken and leaking. I replaced the valve and the flange too, for good measure. It worked like new.

“Can I pay you something?”

“No thanks. I’m the Lone Ranger. Justice is the only reward I desire. If you need anything else, give me a call.”

“Okay. You helped me a lot. Thanks kemo sabe.”

I gallantly drive away with music from the William Tell Overture playing on my cd player. I feel as pleased as punch.

I often get so wrapped up in my own life that I can’t see that other people have problems too. Imagine that! Even a minimal effort on our part to help someone, can have a huge impact on another person’s life.

Love Completely Without Complete Understanding

Sometimes it’s not readily apparent how to help others, yet we can still act.

Like when my mom was near the end of her life. I feel I could have done better, but at least I always tried to be at her side when she needed me the most.

As Norman Maclean said in A River Runs Through It and Other Stories,

“Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, but what, if anything, is needed? Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.”

Upcoming Pesentations:

April 14, 2018. “Publish or Perish.” Pen to Podium Toastmasters. Hardesty Center, 1100 S. Alvernon. Tucson, AZ, 9:00 am.

June 5, 2018. “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Arizona Society for Professional Hypnosis. Scottsdale Senior Community Center,1700 North Granite Reef Road, Meeting Room 7, Scottsdale, AZ, 6:30 pm.

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



Amazon Link


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.”

Awaken the Sleeping Giant Within – The Abe Lincoln Way

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

“Abraham Lincoln was liked by every person who knew him. He made himself useful in every way that 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 neighbor.

“It cannot be too often stated that cheerful friendliness was the most striking feature of his (Lincoln’s) personality.” Albert J. Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1858.


Treat Strangers Like Friends

I was walking my dog, Blackie, one morning. As I began to cross the street, a van suddenly appeared and was barreling towards me. The lady in a van stopped to let me cross. I thought it was my neighbor, Pat. I waved for her to go first, then I gave another wave and smile as she passed. As she went by I realized it wasn’t Pat, but rather, a complete stranger.

The remarkable point of this incident is that I can pretend that the people I meet are just like someone I already know and like. Then I find I have the same warm feelings for that stranger as I do for an old friend. If I project traits I know about a person I am acquainted with to a new person, I try harder to understand them instead viewing their actions in a negative light.

My friend, Mark, is a “type A” personality. He is capable of pushing himself to accomplish great things and he can be very kindly towards others, but he is also easily frustrated and angered when things don’t go the way he expected. When I meet someone with a personality like Mark, I know what buttons to push to make him smile and what buttons to avoid so he is not upset, based on my experience with Mark.

Forced to be Affable

As a landlord and owner of rental houses, recently my wife and I were really low on money (i.e., broke). We are always feel like we’re low on money, but this time the well was really dry. We maxed out our credit card to purchase a new air conditioner for a property.

Big Lou

On top of this, we had to pay for a hotel room for a tenant, when the old air conditioner went out and he and his family could not live in my rental house, due to the heat. This unexpected (No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!) combination of large expenditures hit us like a Lou Ferrigno-sized tsunami. I feared we might have to sell a rental house to get out of debt, something I have eluded because we are relying on the rental houses as a future source of retirement income.

We desperately needed new tenants in this house. We found two promising, albeit quirky, tenants. I was so motivated to avoid this financial cliff we were facing that I bent over backwards to keep the tenants happy. I assumed an exceptionally affable personality.

Affable Personas

My attitude was that the tenants could do no wrong, even though they did things that under normal circumstances would rub me the wrong way, such as: they had a dog in the house for a short period (no pets allowed); they paid the rent late; they didn’t transfer the utilities into their name; they were pushy in asking for minor repairs that they could easily do themselves. How hard is it to buy a $1.00 bathtub drain plug?

Yet, I maintained my amiable, easygoing attitude. Anything that happened, regardless of how shocking, I acted as if it was exactly what I had anticipated. My response was always, “No problem. We can handle that. It’s a piece of cake.”

Some typical tenant problems and my response:

“I have a leaky faucet.” No sweat. I’ll change the washer.

“The door is squeaking” I’m on it. Let me put some WD 40 on the hinge.

“I dropped a pencil on the floor.” Leave it to me. No project is too small.

Surprisingly, since I’m normally an intense worrier, this positive attitude grew on me like a barnacle on a ship. It has made me feel much more relaxed.

To Change the Present, Come Back From the Future!

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote that we should live each moment as if for the second time. We recognize that we didn’t fully appreciate our experience the first time around and now have a chance to return to the moment and do it right (as mentioned in Lynne Spreen’s “Any Shiny Thing – Life After 50” Blog.)

Marty and Doc Brown

To come back from the future, we don’t need a time machine built from a DeLorean car like Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) in Back to the Future. Rather, the trick is to pretend like we are in the future, but we imagine we have traveled back to the present.

For example, I am 63 years old, but I imagine that I am really 83 and I have returned from the future to enjoy this day, as if for a second time. I take the things that happen as though it’s my last chance to see these people I love, in this stage of their lives. I imagine that I have already experienced this day once before and I focus on really treasuring the people and experiences in this second opportunity.

Putting My Affable Persona to the Test

In my adventures as a special education substitute teacher, I frequently come across kids with extreme anti-social behavior. Since all of the other teachers in the class (there can be three or four teachers in some classes) are already burned out from working with that one kid, I am usually paired up with him.

As I approach each new classroom, my thought is, “You never know what you are going to get. That’s the exciting part about life.”

Recently, I walked up to the classroom door and surprisingly, the door was locked.  I knocked. The teacher opened the door just a crack and shoved a boy at me. In an exasperated voice, she said, “This is Angel. Can you just watch him for a while? We have to get him out of this classroom. I don’t care what you do, just don’t let him hurt anyone.” The door closed and locked behind us.

10 Year Old Imp

I was alone in the school hall way with this 10-year-old imp who was just expelled from his classroom. Our eyes locked. My mind was churning with foreboding thoughts.

Suddenly, a continuous stream of expletives flew out of his mouth. He ran down the hallway ripping papers off bulletin boards and yelling insults at teachers and students he passed. I herded him into a teacher preparation room where I kept him blocked in, thinking it was be safer for everyone if I isolated from the rest of the school population. He threw papers, pencils and markers on the ground, put pens in the toilet, and taunted me with insults. His favorite name for me was “pink lips.”

Yet, I kept the Lincoln perspective firmly in mind and maintained my affable persona. I would chuckle at some of his over-the-top taunts, or reply to a particularly creative insulting name for me with, “That’s a good one.” I found a Goosebumps book in the prep room and started reading it out loud as I continued to try to neutralize Angel’s destructive efforts. He took an interest in the story and calmed down a bit.

I returned Angel to his classroom in a slightly better frame of mind than I got him, although that might have been because he just needed a rest. Yes, I was happy to be rid of him, but I was more pleased to have maintained my calm demeanor.

Later, I went home and kicked my dog. (Just kidding.)

An Affable Waiter

Let’s try to be as affable as the imperturbable waiter.

“I’m sorry, but I only have enough money for the bill. I have nothing left for a tip,” I once told a waiter.

“Let me add up that bill again, sir,” the waiter responded.



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

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

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

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

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

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

Sunday, February 28th, 2016


“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
– Joseph Campbell

The Hero’s Journey

In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell describes the Hero’s Journey as a life-altering quest where, after passing through trials, the hero is transformed to a higher level of consciousness.

The stages of the journey are:cave

1) The “call.” The hero sets off on a quest.

2) The journey into unknown territory.

3) The supreme ordeal. As Campbell puts it, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

4) Sharing the wisdom gained.

Being on a Hero’s Journey enhances the hero’s perception. They feel like unseen forces are intervening to protect and guide them. The hero has a sense that everything happens for a reason.

The Hero’s Journey of Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was on a Hero’s Journey in his life long quest to become president. In Lincoln’s case, his Hero’s Journey made him aware of the lessons and stories in every day experiences. Life had meaning and seemingly random incidents held significance. He could draw out the deeper gist that existed just below the surface of most people’s perception.

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Clip 2:


Grasping “The Big Picture”

Several years ago, when I worked in Honduras, I came across two stonecutters.

“What are you doing?” I asked the first stonecutter.

“Squaring the stone,” the man replied.

“What are you doing?” I asked the second stonecutter.

“I am building a cathedral,” the man replied.

Okay. The second guy was a little presumptuous, but he still gets points for seeing the big picture.

Your Hero’s JourneyHerosJourney41

I believe that we are all on a Hero’s Journey, and like Lincoln, we are endowed with the ability to discern the profound stories and parables that unfold before our eyes every day. We have only to be prepared to see them.

Convert Affliction to Anecdote (Activity)

Put yourself in the right perspective to capture the stories of your daily life.

Write down the significant bad things that have happened to you in life. Then, as bad and unfair as these incidents might have seemed at the time, identify some lessons you learned from them, or how you became a better person as a result.

Here are some examples (based on personal experience):

1) How missing a flight and having to spend the night in a strange city with your kids became a treasured memory.

2) How an illness indicated you that you needed to make changes in your unhealthy life style.

3) How being replaced by a chimpanzee at your job led you down the challenging path to work that was closer to your heart.

4). How you looked deep inside yourself for the fortitude to bounce back from a dismal failure.

Are the catastrophes of life bad, or is life just trying to teach us a lesson?

The Hero’s Perspective: Change Your Unholy Mess to Unparalleled the-wicked-witch-of-the-west-ozMetaphor

You show me someone who is on a Hero’s Journey and I’ll show you a resilient, unflinching individual who converts life’s challenges into stories of inspiration, strength and humor.

To paraphrase author Norman Maclean, from A River Runs Through It,

“In the end, all our failures and successes merge into one, and a story runs through it.”

Upcoming Presentations:

March 21, 2016, 7:00 am. “Finding Stories in Your Hero’s Journey.” Aztec Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 9, 2016. “Storytelling and The Hero’s Journey.” Cometitive Edge Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 14, 2016, 12:30 to 1:30. “Use Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds & Funny Bones, Like Abraham LIncoln Did.” Moon Valley Women’s Club, Phoenix, Arizona.

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

Virtue Is Its Own Reward

Boldness had Genius, Power and Magic In It

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

“Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

Following in Lincoln’s Footsteps: My presentation to the ALP Convention (video)

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015


Participants at the 2015 ALP Convention in Vandalia

Last Saturday, I made a presentation to the Association of Lincoln Presenters Convention  entitled, “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones,” based on my book.

The presentation took place in the Old Vandalia Statehouse, Vandalia, Illinois, (Illinois state motto – Please Don’t Pronounce the “S”) in the chambers where Lincoln actually served as a state representative. I thought I could feel Lincoln’s spirit in that venerable place.

It didn’t hurt that all the Lincoln Presenters were decked out in full Lincoln contume (“with a great beard comes great responsiblity”). They were the most receptive audience I’ve ever had. I felt they all loved Lincoln as much as I did.

At the age of 28, while serving in the Illinois General Assembly, Lincoln made one of his first public declarations against slavery, in the Vandalia Statehouse. Lincoln stated,The institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy”

One historian called it “The first formal declaration against the system of slavery that was made in any legislative body in the United States, at least west of the Hudson River.”

Lincoln also received his license to practice law in the Vandalia Statehouse in March of 1837.

On Lincoln’s Trail

While in Illinois, I availed myself of the opportunity to visit the “sacred” sites where Lincoln lived and worked. I saw Lincoln’s log cabin in Lerna where I met E,D. Dowling, who worked at the site, and who also was distant relaive of Dennis Hanks, a cousin of Lincoln’s mother.

I visited Lincoln’s two-story house in Springfield, and his burial plot in Oak Ridge

Lincoln Springfileld Home

Cemetery, where Lincoln, his wife and three of his four sons are buried.

I also visited the cemetery plot of Lincoln’s stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln. Lincoln had a storng bond with her and before he left Illinois to assume the presidency, he went back to Lerna on a sentimental journey to visit her.

In an interview with William Herndon after Lincoln’s death, his stepmother said,  “His mind and mine, what little I had, seemed to run together, more in the same channel.”

My Presentation

Here are a few highlights from my presentation to the Lincolns:

Cemetery Walk Tours

One memorable convention activity was cemetery walk tour in the Old Vandalia Cemetery. It involved actors portraying the roles of the people buried in the cemetery. It really touched my heart to hear such a vivid presentation of how their lives were changed by the civil war, and the various joys and tragedies they encountered in life.

Most moving was a slave who had been given his freedom by a kindly slave owner. After Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation,the former slave joined the Union army and following the war, led a productive life as a free man in Vandalia.

Vandalia Cemetery Walk Tour


Abe’s favorite book! (aka John Mansfield)

Newspaper Summary of Lincoln Presenter’s Convention in Vandalia  

Upcoming Presentations/Activities:

June 5th, 2015. Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy. Tucson, AZ.

 Other Lincoln Articles:

Follow Abe Lincoln’s Storytelling Example

Lincoln and Storytelling – Morning Blend Interview (video)

Abe Lincoln Storyteller Radio Interview with Rich Peterson

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Connect with People

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Win the Presidential Nomination (a lesson for the 2016 Candidates for President)

Abraham Lincoln and Storytelling – The Story Behind the Book

What Mr. Lincoln Taught Me About the Power of Stories

7 Book Promotion Tips by Radio Host Bob Schmidt

Abe Lincoln Storyteller Radio Interview with Rich Peterson

Lincoln Storytelling at AZ Senior Academy and Aztec Toastmasters (Video)

Abraham Lincoln and Leadership through Storytelling

Volunteering at Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy Job Fair

Review of “The Hour of Peril” – 5 Abe Lincoln Anecdotes

Abraham Lincoln and the Kindergarten Class