Category Archives: Personal stories

My Experience With Skip Ross

This is a tribute to Skip Ross a  wonderful man I got to know 41 years ago. I was sad to learn of his passing not long ago. He is loved and will be missed by all who know him.

One of the saddest things I see is someone with a poor self esteem. I can relate. When I was in elementary school I was a slow learner. As a result of the label given me by my peers I became more unsure of myself.

Many students at school knew me, but I didn’t get close to anyone except for one good friend. We would wander the halls before school talking and waiting for the school bell to ring. Sometimes I felt very lonely, being able to talk only to the family’s pet goats. I was thankful for my little piece of heaven on our small farm.

I am thankful for amazing teachers, church leaders, people in the community, and most of all my parents who helped me believe in myself. As a result of them I started changing my self image into a more outgoing one.

The pivotal moment in my life was when my parents were in the Amway business. Part of their Amway training was how to be a better person on the inside and out. Every week my dad would travel about an hour south from our home in Salt Lake City to pick up his order of products. In part of his order was a cassette tape called ‘The Tape of the Week.” Some times I would go with him. On our way home we would listen to these tapes. This is where I first listened to Zig Ziglar, Rich Devos, Skip Ross and many more wonderful positive speakers.

One day my parents told me that Skip Ross was coming to town. They asked me if I wanted to hear him speak. I was so excited I might as well have been going to hear a rock star perform. He was a very successful motivational speaker, singer and had reached the top in the world of Amway.

While I was listening to Skip Ross live in person I saw a person with self confidence who was funny and could sing. Who could ask for more then that; he was the real deal. I also wanted to become a person that radiated self confidence.

My parents told me he had a youth camp in Rockford, Michigan. I wanted to go so I saved my money. It cost me $800 dollars to go to this camp a huge amount of money. I had a job making $3.15 an hour. It took me a year to save up enough money to go.

This was my first trip on an airplane. I was going to a camp where I didn’t know anyone so I had to stretch outside of my comfort zone. I was excited and nervous at the same time.

Every morning Skip Ross instructed us on how we could reach our full potential. After we were instructed he had many activities planned for us like swimming, horse back riding, and we even helped with the chores like feeding the horses and cleaning the barn. I felt right at home since I did barn chores everyday in Utah.

One day our activity was going to Lake Michigan. I had the privilege of sitting in the front seat with Skip Ross. I looked down and saw that he had a cassette tape of himself singing. I asked him if we could listen to it; he agreed. I thought that was very cool to be sitting next to the person who was singing on the tape as we were driving to the beach.

Going to the Skip Ross Circle A. Ranch in Michigan was a life changing experience. I learned that we can become anything we want to become or achieve anything we want to achieve. I also learned to Love yourself, for if you don’t, how can you expect anybody else to love you?”
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Would you still be at the same job? Would you go back to school and get your degree? I think we would all be the ideal weight and eat healthy. If we couldn’t fail we would have a high self esteem and we would love ourselves. The greatest love of all is learning to love yourself.

There are many different ways to understand love. We also need to remove and never use the word hate in our vocabulary. This will increase are ability to love ourselves and others unconditionally.

The Gum Crimes

When I was in 1st grade I was a slow learner. It was very painful for me to see all of the other kids learn and understand things much more quickly than myself. This is the way I saw it. At our school we read Sam, and Ann books. I was reading in book 2 and many students were in book 10. The smartest kid in the class was in book 23, I was totally amazed someone could be that far a head of the rest of the class. Every time a child would move up to the next book level they would be rewarded with a piece of candy.

The day came when I finally moved up to book 3. I was thrilled. My teacher was happy that I finally moved up to a new level. She wanted to give me a piece of candy but she didn’t have anymore. She looked in her desk, and found a piece of gum. She said “Leonard I will give you this stick of gum if you will not chew it until you get home.” I agreed. Soon it was recess and I thought no one will know I am chewing gum. I did the deed, I opened the stick of gum, and started chewing it. When I was in line to come in from recess a teacher spotted my crime, chewing gum. I was asked immediately to spit it out, and write “I will not chew gum in school.” I wrote this during my next recess.

My connection with gum, and trouble continued this same year. I came home from the store with my dad when he discovered I had taken a pack of gum. It was very obvious when he saw me chewing gum. We rarely had gum at our house. My dad put two and two together knowing we were just at the store. Once again I was guilty of a crime involving gum. My punishment was I had to talk to the store manager, and pay him for what I had taken. When you correct mistakes it leaves a very strong impression on you. I am very thankful for a dad that made sure it is important to make good choices.

Now, fast forward 45, years I am working in a school. When the students are given gum before they take the big year end test to see how much they learned. I am thinking to myself “What are the teachers thinking, don’t they know this is against the rules.” I was told there was a study showing that peppermint helps keep students alert with better memory recall. The gum was to help boost the test scores

My memory of gum got me thinking about double standards. On one hand gum was bad don’t chew gum at school, and don’t take gum without paying for it. On the other hand gum was good, it helped students be more alert, and have better recall during a big test. I think we are all guilty of double standards at one time or another.

My grandpa and grandma lost their oldest child to a drug overdose when he was seven. My uncle was given an adult prescription that killed him. As a result of this experience my grandpa became a pharmacist. My grandpa had a double standard. He said “drugs are to sell not to take. I grew up with this philosophy. I think many people have a double standard with prescription drugs as well. Some people wonder why their children are using illegal drugs when they had lots of practice taking legal drugs in the early years of their life.

I think we have many great advances with drugs, and science. Many people are alive today because of prescription drugs. On the other hand, how many of us take medicine like candy because our back hurts or we have a headache. Our society has conditioned us to use this double standard, and quick fixes in our lives.

When I get a headache I will first drink a tall glass of water. If that does not work I will find an essential oil to rub on my forehead. About 95% of the time this works for me. My last resort is taking an over the counter drug. Many people take prescriptions, and over the counter drugs, not even realizing the negative effects they can have on our bodies. If you have a choice between a convenient pill and a healthy alternative, lets choose healthy over convenience. Let’s start being more proactive with our health by removing double standards and start living again.

Pie Perfection

When I was eleven I wanted to make a homemade chocolate cream pie. My mother gave me the recipe. Then she said, “I will be in my bedroom if you need me.” She later admitted she would have gone nuts watching me cook when I was first learning this skill. The recipe called for 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. I added 3 tablespoons of baking soda instead. The recipe said “bring to a boil.” I couldn’t understand why the pie filling was foaming over the top of the pan. I called my mom into the kitchen.

No sooner did she come into the kitchen when she grabbed a large pan and poured part of the pie filling into the second pan. It just kept growing. This is when my mom started questioning the ingredients I had added. When I got to the cornstarch on the recipe card, I pointed to the baking soda container and said I added cornstarch. I was then told, “This pie filling is no good. When you thought you were adding cornstarch you were adding baking soda.” You can do everything just right except for one thing, ending up with a huge disaster.

Years later when I was 18 I had an opportunity to work at two separate places that made pies. I learned different techniques of pie making from both places. The Saturday before Thanksgiving I spent 18 hours making pies at Marie Callender’s. I am thankful for my training in pie making.

I have found myself showing several women’s groups how to make the perfect pie crust, and delicious pie fillings. My failure as a child was a stepping stone to my success with making pies today.

When you ask questions, not acting like you know it all, you will learn. I still find new ways to make things better from my past mistakes. Learning what works and what doesn’t is part of the joy.

Essential oils are a lot like my early days of cooking, when I made many mistakes with recipes. Now with essential oils I find myself continually going to my essential  oil book which outlines the oil that works best for each condition I might have when I was unfamiliar with how the oils work. I find as in cooking, and with essential oils every time I fail, I am learning important life lessons.

 

My Reading Miracle

When I was a small child I struggled with my reading ability. I was born with a lazy eye and astigmatism. The first four years of my life I wandered around half blind until I got glasses. This opened up a whole new world where I could see, but I was behind developmentally.

When I was in first and second grades I was at the bottom in all my classes at school. In my effort to catch up and improve myself, one year I received an award for reading 1,000 books to my mother and my two oldest siblings, Ramona and Sherry. The next closest person read only 400 books.

I had many helpful, caring teachers. I remember one machine that helped me read. It would make the sound of a word when you slid a card through the machine. It had a strip of recordable tape attached to cards. You would slide a card through the device, then you would hear the word you just read. I learned how to erase the right word and, replace it with the wrong word instead. The teacher was not happy with my newly discovered knowledge of the reading machine.

I find it interesting that in spite of my difficult past with reading, I have risen above my reading obstacle. I now enjoy writing, and sharing my love of essential oils. I have come full circle, sharing oils that may help small children with their ability to focus which I feel was one of my challenges as a child, and has followed me into adulthood. I have been blessed with an essential oil focus blend, that I have found greatly aids my ability to focus.

The Fundraiser

I remember a kind couple who loved my parents, John and Nome Mackaleash. They enjoyed visiting with our family. I remember one time when they came to our home that my sister Rachel was involved in a fundraiser, and was selling boxes of M&M candies for one dollar. This was big money in the 1980’s. I remember John pulled out 20 dollars and bought the whole case of candy. He then gave each one of us our own box.

Fast forward 20 years and my children are doing a school fundraiser. I totally discouraged my children from doing any fundraisers. I would say, “I will give you a dollar if you don’t do that fundraiser.” I was very nasty with everyone trying to sell me anything. One day I was listening to one of my audio books. The guy in the book is telling everyone to be more generous with their money and it will come back ten fold. I started doing this and it works. Now when children come over to the house selling things I buy from everyone. I think back to the great example and generosity of my parents’ friends. We must give more in order to receive more.

Generous giving of ourselves produces a generous harvest. I think this is why I enjoy using and sharing essential oils so much. When I use an essential oil that has personally effected my life in a positive way, I cant wait to share it with others. I love using a product that has no harmful side effects, that gives people another option for hope on their journey for better health.

Don’t Eat the Fish

When I was nine or ten I went fishing with my dad and older brother. We must have caught three or four good sized fish. Then my dad and brother gutted the fish which I considered disgusting.

When we got home my mom cooked up the fish, and I remember the entire house smelled of it. Then we sat down as a family to eat all this fried fish for dinner. I didn’t get all the bones out of my fish and I didn’t like the fishy taste. As a result of this experience, I don’t like anything to do with catching or eating fish. So my own rule is don’t eat the fish. This is a great rule for me because of a negative experience that I personally had. For many other people this would be a terrible rule.

How many of us follow rules even when we don’t understand why we are following them? Many rules that we follow are because of a negative experience that happened to someone else, or because of some unusual circumstances.

Mary was cooking a ham for dinner when one of her children asked her, “Why do you cut off the end of the ham when putting it in a pan? Mary’s response was “when I saw my mom cook a ham she always cut off the end of her hams.” Mary decided to call up her mom to find out why she cut the end of her ham off. Her response was, “my hams wouldn’t fit in any of my pans, so I cut the end off.”

Most things we do are based on how it was done in the past. When we get sick, what do we do, we reach for the pain relief capsules. We do what we were taught as children and young adults. We did the best we knew how with the knowledge we had at the time.

Now we know that with every man made drug there are harmful side effects, some minimal, others very dangerous, and compromising to our health. There is hope! I am excited to learn that there are essential oils that have no dangerous side effects, with positive results. I am happy to report my first line of defense when sick or healthy is by using powerful essential oils that have been studied for their healing properties.

My Christmas Memories

Every year at Christmas I love to reflect on past holidays. One of my earliest memories is getting out all the Christmas decorations, and start to  listen to all the fantastic music of the season. It was magical taking things out of boxes that had been stored away for an entire year while listening to Andy Williams sing It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. To this day,  I love decorating for Christmas, and never get tired of listening to the music. This ritual of listening to holiday favorites starts the first of October every year.

Coming from a large family has it’s blessings. I learned early on that making things home made saved a lot of money and allowed you to enjoy things that cost much more in the store. We loved making fudge, old fashioned taffy, popcorn balls, peanut brittle, and lots of cookies. We also made many strands of popcorn for our tree. We created silver bells out of egg cartons, and wrapped them in aluminum foil so they would shine. I remember being disappointed when I was very young opening a small present on our tree, and finding nothing in it realizing that it was a just a decoration.

Growing up on a little farm I was taught from a young age that the animals get fed first, and the goats got milked before you ate, this included on Christmas. I remember watching a movie one year where a boys gift to his dad for Christmas was waking up early, and doing all the farm chores before his dad got up. My brothers and myself decided to do this for our dad. He got a little emotional when he realized what we had done for him.   

Because there were so many kids, our parents gave us the idea of all sleeping together downstairs. I say the word sleep very loosely. We mostly played games all night on Christmas Eve. We were told once you go down stairs you are to stay there until morning. One year we decided to hang the girls long stockings for Santa to fill. At about 2:00 am, we snuck upstairs to see what we got in our stockings. We dumped all the loot on the floor in one big pile when we heard our oldest sister telling us to put the stuff back in the stockings. We hurried and put it all back. Then went back down stairs. In the morning when we looked in our stockings all the things were mixed up. I think I got nail polish, and my sisters got matchbox cars. Everyone had a good laugh. My dad seemed to know how to straighten it all out. 

Later when my youngest son was a baby he was such a medaling child my wife, and I decided to put our Christmas tree in his play pen so he wouldn’t take the ornaments off the tree. Another year we decided to go with our friends to chop down our own tree. We got home, and the trunk was too big to fit in the base. I started cutting more of the trunk off, then kept cutting until it fit. I was so frustrated by the time it fit it looked like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I think that year as soon as we opened all the presents I took the tree outside because the tree was dead and all the needles were falling off. 

I have so many fond memories and love reflecting of past Christmases. I wish you the very best, and hope your new year is full of many positive blessings.  

What is Your Love Language?

If you can figure out what your love language is, and the love language of those people that are part of your life, it will help you understand why people do the things they do. Have you ever wondered why some people love to give you gifts, or why your husband can’t understand why you don’t give him praise? This chapter will help you understand this better. In his book The Five Love Languages, author Gary Chapman discusses how knowing the love languages of others can improve your relationships with them.
Words of Affirmation
: This is when you say how nice your spouse looks, or how great the dinner tasted. These words will also build your mate’s self image and confidence. This is my love language, so it is easy for me to give others praise.
Quality Time:
 Some spouses believe that being together, doing things together and focusing on one another is the best way to show love. If this is your partner’s love language, turn off the TV now and then and give one another some undivided attention.
Gifts
: It is universal in human cultures to give gifts. Gifts don’t have to be expensive to send a powerful message of love. Spouses who never give gifts to those who truly enjoy receiving gifts, will find themselves with a spouse who feels neglected and unloved.
Acts of Service:
 Discovering how you can best do something for your spouse will require time and creativity. These acts of service like vacuuming, cooking dinner, planting a garden, etc., need to be done with joy in order to be perceived as a gift of love.
Physical Touch:
 Sometimes just stroking your spouse’s back, holding hands, or a peck on the cheek will fulfill this need.

My Family’s Love Languages
My daughter Jessie, loves quality time. For many years we have had special times when it is just the two of us. We have gone to the Utah State Fair, rode bikes, and have gone to the sand dunes. I cherish our time we spend together.
Jessie loves little children. If you can’t find Jessie she is probably helping one of our neighbor’s kids. Jessie gets a gold star when it comes to acts of service. When the doorbell rings, most of the time it is a four year- old wanting to play with Jessie.
My son Daniel also loves doing acts of service. Every day without being asked he will clean up after dinner. Even when my wife Cassie will say, “I can wash the dishes” Daniel will say, “No mom you cooked, I am going to clean up.” What a blessing to have a son who is so considerate. Daniel also loves quality time. Every night the two of us will talk about our day before we go to bed. When everyone else has fallen asleep, we love this quiet time together talking about everything and anything.
My son Nathan loves gifts. Nathan loves it when Cassie buys him special treats, even just little things like orange juice, or getting him socks when his get holes in them. Nathan is great at randomly doing kind things for others. One thing that Nathan was wonderful at doing is,writing to us every week while he was in Mexico on his church mission. This was a huge act of service keeping connected with his family.
My daughter Stephanie also loves gifts. Last year we were at a boutique in a small town. Cassie bought her a bracelet for our granddaughter. This really made her day. Quality time is huge for Stephanie. Anytime she can get together with family and friends she does. Even when she lived in northern Utah she loved to come visit us every chance she could.
My son Rick really enjoys quality time. He loves doing anything that makes you laugh, Rick loves playing games or being in nature. My favorite thing to do with Rick is go hiking or just talking. Rick also likes words of affirmation. It is very easy for him to accept words of praise as well as giving others praise.
My wife Cassie loves physical touch. Anytime I can sense Cassie has had a rough day at work I will give her a neck or back massage. Cassie also loves to do random acts of service for others. I am very blessed to have such a caring person as my wife in my life. If anyone is sick in our neighborhood, Cassie is usually right there with dinner for the family.
As for myself, I love words of affirmation. I will do a lot of extra work just to hear someone say thanks for all you do. Those simple words are like music to my ears. I love it. If people don’t know your love language, let them know. I like to make it very clear that I like words of affirmation. Learn the miracle of the love languages. It will change your life, and the lives of others.

This is a post I wrote years ago yet still applies today.

The Power of Love

Several years ago my dad was a math teacher at East High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. I never heard him say he was going to work, He said “I am going to school.” May dad was originally going to be a dentist, and would have been an excellent one. His love was teaching, and he was great at making a difference in a child’s life. He decided to change his major to high school mathematics, and never regretted this decision.

Every year on the first day of school he would write his full name up on the chalkboard in bold letters Melvin Cottam Fish, the kids thought that was hilarious. There was usually a long line of students trying to get into his class every semester because everyone knew they would learn math effectively, and he cared.

One year he had two opposing gang members in the same class, things were getting out of control, and he knew he needed to do something fast. One of the things he did was change his classroom around so his desk would face the door. As students entered his classroom each day, in his mind he would call each student by name and say “I love you.” My dad realized there was power in the words he spoke aloud, and in his mind.

At my dads funeral there were a few students that came to pay their final respects to their beloved math teacher. One of them told my mom that they didn’t remember all of their teachers names however they remember where they sat in their math class, and knew Mr. Fish loved them. What a great tribute to my father at his passing. I know he must have been smiling and sending us more love in that moment.

Learned From the Best

One of the greatest gifts my mom gave me is my love of cooking. When I was six years old, she would have me pick a vegetable that we would eat for dinner, and show me how to prepare it. From simple things like adding butter to the broccoli to helping her peel potatoes.

When I got older, she taught me how to make biscuits from scratch and making cakes by following recipes and not using a cake mix, Cooking for a family of 12 was a great way for me to learn simple math and fraction skill. Many recipes had to be doubled or even tripled. I got good at making the conversions.

Later when I was in my teens, my mom would leave me instructions on how to prepare full meals from scratch, because she would not be home in time to prepare dinner. When I was 14 years old my mom taught me how to make pie crusts for Thanksgiving. She told me she would make the pie filling for every crust I made. The challenge was on. I made over 20 pie crusts that year, and she made the filling for all of them. We had so many pies we decided to invite family and friends the day before Thanksgiving to eat soup and pie. This tradition continues to this day.

I decided to make the fillings for pies after our first successful pie supper. My mom said she would be laying down if I needed her help. Everything was fine until the filling started overflowing over the pan, I couldn’t understand why this was happening. My mom quizzed me about the different ingredients I used for the filling. I goofed, I used baking soda instead of cornstarch for making the pudding thick. We both had a good laugh. It was a great learning moment for me.

When I was a senior in high school I got tired of eating oatmeal, and other hot cereals for breakfast. I decided to get my younger brothers and sisters to help me make breakfast. For the entire school year, we made gingerbread with applesauce, muffins, waffles, pancakes, and round biscuits. Until this time our family never ate round biscuits. My mom would roll out the dough on the pan, and cut them into squares. She is also great at cooking quickly, It was three cuts horizontally, then four cuts vertically, and they were in the oven cooking.

Mom thanks for the memories, and lots of patience teaching me how to cook. Your legendary homemade bread, and soups have inspired me on my cooking journey.