Inspiring Stories About Life

Strong Kids – Echo Shaffer on finding her focus

Echo Shaffer has a smile that lights up a room. And a voice that lights up a stage. The fifteen year-old, whose middle name is Wren, has kept a song in her heart since before she was born. Her mom, Brenda, sang to Echo and then watched the tables turn as her toddler,...

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Who is your elevator?

Who is your elevator? That person who lifts you up and makes you believe in yourself and something bigger. I’m blessed to have more than a few “elevators”. Family. Friends. Community members. And colleagues. They might not realize it, but their encouragement and...

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A Golden Reunion – Lou and Toni’s story

You might say that Toni Schiavoni and Lou Durbin have a stonemason and a Golden Reunion to thank for finding each other after more than 50 years. In fact, that’s exactly what they say. In 2012, Tomas Lipps, a world renowned stonemason was called from Sante Fe, New...

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60 Years of Mom

When she became a widow at the age of 35, she was left with five children. The youngest was two.   When she went back to work as a Registered Nurse, she worked full-time. And gave us twelve years of Catholic education.   When it was Sunday, we went to...

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Finding the forgotten: A Christmas Eve Caper

Tonight, 16 year-old Ben Williams won’t be thinking about the Neurofibromatosis that causes benign and sometimes painful tumors to grow in his nervous system. He’ll forget about the four hour MRI’s he receives twice a year requiring anesthesia. And he won’t give a...

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People Who Inspire – The Book

Everyone has a story – our neighbors, friends, and the strangers we pass by. If we just take a moment to have a conversation, we can be inspired. That's the idea behind the “People Who Inspire” series at MaryMotivates.com. I’m pleased to announce that a collection of...

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Sam Brooks – The Man Behind the Music

Take smooth jazz sounds, add pop and mash it up with songs that are classic and contemporary. What do you get? The just-released debut EP of Sam Brooks. This self-titled album is his first and represents a new chapter on his musical journey. Mixing classic jazz with...

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Dalton’s Heart: A mother’s gift of life

Dalton Igoe plays quad drums in his high school marching band. But thanks to the gift of an organ donor, he’s also marching to another beat – the sound of his new heart. The 18 year old Altoona Area High School senior was born with six congenital heart diseases and...

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5 ways to bring balance to your life

With all of the things we have stacked in our day, living a balanced life may seem impossible. But it can be done. I asked master stone balance artist, Tim Anderson, what it takes to create the perfect picture of balance. It turns out the five things Tim does to...

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People Who Inspire: Charlie Batch on Purpose

What Charlie Batch found on the football field as a kid, was purpose. It’s where he found father figures in the coaches that pushed him. It’s where his mother put her foot down. And it’s where he channeled the pain of losing his sister into something good. The retired...

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People Who Inspire: Ethan Keedy on never giving up

Ethan Keedy gives back - even when he could have chosen to give up instead. The 21 year old college junior and pizza shop entrepreneur is on a mission to serve and to make his father proud. “When I was 15 years old, my dad worked the 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. shift at...

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8 things a cancer patient wants you to know

I remember a conversation I had with my mother 25 years ago when she was going through treatments for ovarian cancer. She wanted to talk about planning her funeral. Although this is a topic anyone can discuss at any time, I brushed it off saying something like, ‘Oh...

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Comparing our lives to others

My daughter and I went to an evening reception straight from working all day. We were dressed well – or so we thought. But as guests arrived in their best evening wear, we didn’t feel so well dressed anymore. We didn’t blend in and we felt it. And that’s when it hit...

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Discovering who we are and where we want to go

“How did your audition go?” That was a question I overheard last week on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University as a group of students walked by. Moments later, as I approached the “Walking to the Sky” sculpture, it was another reminder that this life is a journey...

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5 leadership lessons learned on a zipline

I did something this weekend that took me outside of my comfort zone. After suiting up with harnesses and learning the safety rules, I took my fear of heights and trekked up a hill to climb a rope ladder onto a platform 50 feet high that swayed a back and forth in the...

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A Tribute to Lucille Ball’s Unstompable Spirit

Remember the I Love Lucy episode in which a famous Italian director casts Lucy in his movie called “Bitter Grapes”? She assumes the movie is about wine making and sets out into the countryside to immerse herself in the role. It doesn’t take long for Lucy to find a...

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Sydney’s five pet choices for a happier life

Given the choice to lie on the hardwood floor or on the plush carpet, our dog Sydney will choose the carpet every time. And she’ll bring along her favorite toys, positioning them in a way that assures they’ll be there when she wakes up from her nap. Sydney is making a...

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People who Inspire: Emily’s Update

  Last week, my People who Inspire post was about Emily Ruggieri, the six year old Girl Scout with a goal so big it would take an entire country to get her there. Her Girl Scout Troop #26683 has chosen Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (CHP) to be the recipient of...

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Turning a New Year’s resolution into a goal

What's better than making a New Year's resolution? Making it a goal instead. "A resolution is a solution to a problem". That’s what Dr. Caroline Cederquist, medical director for bistroMD and the Cederquist Medical Wellness Center shared in a CNN report. Breaking the...

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The greatest gift of all

"It’s not what you have, it’s who you have in your life.” This timely reminder came from Fr. Gerry, a visiting priest in-residence from the Philippines, during his homily at Mass this weekend. A couple of things happened recently that brought this message home....

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How to reach your goals on the road less traveled

This week, I was driving over the mountain to a high school in Somerset County, PA to do a motivational, kick-off assembly for The Challenge Program, Inc. There were two ways I could go - the road less traveled or the road more traveled.  I thought civilization would...

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Counting your blessings: Make it a healthy habit

Counting your blessings, it turns out, is a healthy thing to do. Doing so every day? We’ll, that would be 365 times better for you. In his book, “Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier”, Dr. Robert Emmons,a psychology professor at the University of...

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How being happy can make you successful

If there’s one thing a yellow rubber duck can do, it’s make people smile. So when a 40 foot rubber duck floated into Pittsburgh recently for a three week visit, it’s not surprising that more than a million people flocked to see it. It’s a sure bet too that everyone...

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Living life on purpose

There was something about this day that would cause me to pause and reflect. Maybe it was the young girl I had just met or maybe it was the majestic sky. They both had the same message. I was at a high school career and technology center presenting a motivational...

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Paying 5 Forward

The other day, I experienced an act of kindness that got me thinking - How can I pay it back? I was pulling into a drive-thru restaurant when another car approached the same spot at the same time. We both stopped and he motioned for me to go ahead. As I waved to him...

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5 things teaching a high school class taught me

When I was invited by my high school alma mater to guest teach two classes on public speaking, I was ready - or so I thought. I brought along my “10 Simple Steps to Becoming a Confident Public Speaker” and some activities to challenge students. I thought I could teach...

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Memorial Day: What it means to one US Navy veteran

"O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” - These words have special meaning for Ron Shroyer, a retired and decorated US Navy Command Master Chief. A former lead singer with the US Navy Band, Ron has sung "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Naval ceremonies at...

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The best motherly advice from 10 mall shoppers

This Mother’s Day, I was in search of people willing to share the best motherly advice they received. I knew the best place to talk to people who had moms on their mind this weekend was at the mall. So I went shopping. From the J.C. Penney’s handbag department, to the...

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5 things my mom taught me

The best way to remember my mother, Mary Ann Ruggieri, on this 20th anniversary of her passing is to reflect on what she taught me. It wasn’t so much what she said. It was her example that made such an indelible impression on me. Be kind. She was not only a kind and...

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The Heroes of Boston

Emerging from the chaos and smoke at the Boston Marathon were profound images of people rushing to the aid of victims. In a split second - runners, bystanders, race volunteers and first responders became rescuers – and heroes. What is it that people possess that...

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Water Cooler Lessons: Mentoring Matters

Learning the ropes as a college freshman, Ryan discovered one sure thing - having a mentor could make all the difference. “I had just started school when my finance professor sat me down and showed me the resumes of seniors. He told me that by the time I was a senior,...

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To be like Underdog, all you need is this…

It may have been a cartoon, but the message of Underdog packed a powerful punch. In real life, we’ve got Underdogs all around us. Some are famous. Most are not. But they all have one thing in common – Like Shoeshine Boy, motivated by a greater good, they rose to the...

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Getting out of your jar

You can’t see the label from inside the jar. Think of your own customer service experience with this saying in mind. You walk up to the counter to place an order and what do you see? Do the employees on the other side of the counter look neat and professional? Are...

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A Note of Motivation

Since the start of the new-year, I’ve been doing something that’s well, new.  Each morning, I write a note of motivation – six words or less – to keep me focused on achieving one specific goal throughout the day. I’m pretty sure the seed for this idea was planted one...

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An attitude of gratitude

Attitude. It’s the one thing that never leaves us. Like a child’s favorite blanket, we carry it with us wherever we go. It's ageless too. Eunice was just about to turn 100 years old when she was named "Queen of the Nursing Home" for her special talent. She could...

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You Can Do It!

I learned a lesson one day in high school that I’ll never forget. It was the last class of the day – Problems of Democracy (POD) with Mr. Rossi. He pointed to a paper on the wall and told me, “You should sign up for this. It’s the Jaycees annual speech scholarship...

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Facing Forward

A new year is the perfect time to look ahead. Like the freshly fallen snow, it’s a clean slate. Sooner or later though, you’re going to have to put down some tracks. Where will they lead? Even the best GPS in the world can’t map this trip. Only you can. Start by...

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