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Of course miracles happen. Sometimes in the strangest and most unexpected of places. Sometimes they look like coincidences. Sometimes they are just too weird to be shrugged off as simple coincidences.

Just before our escape from Czechoslovakia, my Mom bought a car. A very ugly, a very old, a very orange car. The make was "Skoda". In Czech, that means "pity". Itís good to know that, sometimes, there actually is truth in advertising. The car consumed more oil than gas and wherever we went, the car left a black cloud of smoke around us. How my Mom expected to be able to make a trip a few days long with this natural wonder was beyond me. Although, I did start to understand when she taught me a few new prayers.

The first potential deal-breaker happened on the morning of the day before our departure. Mom woke up with her sixth sense telling her to check the timing belt in the car. My mother, an extremely rational and logical mathematician, obeyed the voice despite its lack of logic. At some point, she discovered a cut that ran straight through the belt. Seeing this, Mom was able to somehow locate another timing belt and replace it. Even her ability to get another timing belt in the country of "we donít have it" on such short notice was quite a miracle.

With a new timing belt, we were ready to leave our homeland. When we got to the border between Czechoslovakia and Hungary, Mom discovered a fatal flaw in our plans. We had too much money with us. To ensure that people leaving for vacations would be less tempted to escape, the communist government limited the amount of foreign currency people were allowed to take - to $5 US per day. Mom asked me to throw the extra in the garbage. I did and wondered how many others did the same thing. The local janitors must have loved their jobs.

We got through the border without a major incident but faced a problem just after. The car (surprise, surprise...) decided to break down. Something wrong with the rear wheel. The solution? Get a mechanic or Mom could fix the car with a specific three-foot long wrench. Both posed a problem. Getting a mechanic was not just a matter of flipping on the cell phone and calling the local Automobile Association. The art of getting a mechanic involved an elaborate bottle-of-rum bribing ceremony. If successful, the mechanic would agree to fix the car within a month. Without the bottle, the wait could be six months. Not workable enough. The fix-it-ourselves solution would work, but where does one get a three-foot long wrench at a border station?

Right. Not an easy task. The drivers whose cars we stopped to ask told us rudely what they thought of us. Needing to declare defeat, we were ready to go back home. Then something told me to look towards the border guard station. And there, along the road, marching straight towards us...

A tall, lean man with a moustache. And nothing else with him but a three-foot long wrench underneath his arm. With our lack of Hungarian, it took a while to persuade him to give us the wrench but finally he did. It was the exact wrench we needed.

I have found that intuitions and coincidences like these happen to people going beyond what they know; they rarely happen to people who play it safe. This kind of "luck" seems to predictably wait for those who risk and persevere. Ready to be convinced? You donít even have to believe in miracles. Just rely on them...

"Most people never run far enough on their first wind, to find out if they've got a second. Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you."
William Jamest

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I did my first "time" at a daycare the other day. What in the world am I doing giving my time at a daycare? Aside from trying to silence the loud sounds of a biological clock gone somewhat mad, I figured that the simplicity of the world of children would be a good place to get some perspective and life lessons.

I think I was right. Whatever time I gave to them, I got back a thousand fold. So simple, yet so precious. Some singing, some clapping, reading of a story about friendship from Winnie The Pooh. I donít think I was the only one touched by the story. The kids listened just as intently as I did.

We went for a walk around a lake, stayed at a playground, and I got invited to take part in the imaginations of a few three year olds. They are AMAZING - you ask "who are you?" and they, without hesitation, say "I am the neighbour's cat" and "she is the neighbour's dog" and who knows what else. If you say "and why are you green when you are a cat?", they donít stop you to say "wait a minute, I am not green, and I am not a cat". They just make something up. If you go along with them, youíll discover a world that you didnít even know could exist.

Kids splash in puddles and don't care about getting cold or wet. They stick tongues out at each other when they get upset (wouldn't you just love to do that to a bank clerk the next time you stand in line a little too long?), and they laugh and hug without inhibition. I do have a bit of a problem with their ways of resolving conflict. Whacking your opponent doesnít seem fair, and crying about getting whacked may not be the best reaction. But at least, itís immediate. No prolonged lawsuits.

Hereís my favourite lesson. One kid had a lot of little fish crackers as part of her lunch. She shared with everyone else and I said it was nice of her to do that. One of the other kids was quick to educate me on the deed. "Sharing is what friendship is all about." So there. Wisdom from a three year old. I figure next time I should take a few CEOs along to this place to learn with me...

""The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them."
George Bernard Shaw

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I obviously havenít travelled too much yet, because I still find most airplane flights fascinating. It seems like a neat opportunity to know that I am inaccessible and that I am free to read trashy magazines, chat up a fellow traveller imprisoned in another tiny seat beside me, observe, or just stare into space. Occasionally, I may even get somewhat deep.

It seems that, no matter how nice or how ugly the weather is on the ground, when the airplane gets to a high enough altitude, the sun is always shining there. I find that fascinating and it makes me think of how our lives tend to be.

Sometimes, our lives are going very well and everything in them seems easy and "sunny". We can almost do no wrong, no matter how much we are goofing up. And then, there are the other times, when it rains and pours for days, even months on end. Kind of like the usual Vancouver winter weather. At those times, it is very tempting to get caught up in the ugliness of the present as being somehow real and ever-lasting "all there is and will be".

But isnít it just like in the airplane? If we step far enough, get a bigger enough perspective and see the cloudy reality from a high enough altitude, isnít there always far more sunshine to be grateful for and to smile about?

"Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out."
James Bryant Conant


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"I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific."
Lily Tomlin






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