What We Focus on is What We See

When I was in my early teens, a new minister came to our church.  Our family was actively involved in the church and my father wanted to invite him to dinner…  but he was concerned about having the minister in our home because he had a large red nose with a mole on one side that was the color of dirty silly-putty.  Our father was afraid that one of his five children would say something about the minister’s nose that would be hurtful to the minister and humiliating for him and our mother.

When he shared his concern with her, our mother told him not to worry, that she would give each of us something else on which to focus.

Having the minister as a guest was an important event for our family.  I remember our mother planning the meal, polishing the silver, setting the table with her special dishes and making a centerpiece with the soft pink peonies she picked from her garden.  I also remember that shortly before the minister arrived she called the five of us to her.

She asked if we remembered what she had taught us to do when we saw someone with a handicap and we nodded.  Our mother had taught us not to stare, to look the person in the eye and smile at them.  She had taught us to do whatever we could to make them feel comfortable and good about themselves… and then, once we had passed them by, she had taught us to say a little prayer for them in our heart.

When she was satisfied that we remembered, she told us about the minister’s nose.  Then she gave each of us something to talk about or listen for, so we could participate in making him feel welcomed and comfortable in our home.

I don’t remember the minister’s nose.  What I remember is that he had a wonderful sense of humor and the ability to make even the shyest of us, which was probably me, feel smart and funny.  I also remember our parents, sitting at opposite ends of the table… and how relaxed and confident and proud they seemed.

When we finished the meal, I remember how the five of us cleared the dishes, carried plates of still-warm apple pie into the dining room and put our mother’s best cups and saucers at her end of the table.

I remember how sweetly she smiled as she poured the first cup of tea for our guest.  I remember the gracious way she leaned forward just a little… and then I remember the softness and kindness in her voice as she said, “Mr. Peterson, would you like cream or sugar in your nose?”

…..and that is how I came to believe that WHAT WE FOCUS ON IS WHAT WE SEE.

As this New Year begins, let us join together in our resolve to change our focus just a little.  May we look for and acknowledge the gifts we are given and the good and precious moments in our daily life.  May we focus on finding small opportunities to touch the lives of others…  with something as simple as a smile, a nod, a kind act or word.   In the midst of our sometimes troubled and tremulous world, let us remember to focus on finding what is healing and possible…. And may we continually remember that WHAT WE FOCUS ON IS INDEED WHAT WE SEE.

Warmly Gail

Bringing the Magic of Possibility into Your Home and Your Life



Every Moment is Precious

This tender, bittersweet time of the year is so often filed with a mixture of joy, sadness, expectation and disappointment. It is touched by the memories of precious moments in the past and dreams that have yet to come true.

Sometimes, particularly in challenging times, there seems so little we can do on our own.  And yet, we are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves.  Lately, I’ve been wondering what might happen if each of us placed a candle on our kitchen counter and burned it for just a short time every morning.


All too often we save candlelight for special
moments, forgetting that every moment in life is special.

What if that kitchen candle raised our spirits and expanded our sense of what is possible?  What if it helped us begin our day by remembering what is most precious in our hearts?

What if the simple act of lighting a candle could empower us to become just a little kinder, a little more patient and a little more compassionate as we go out into the world?  How might lighting a simple candle touch and heal our own lives as well as the lives of others on our path?

My gift to you this year is a copy of a poem I found long ago and the heartfelt wish that your holiday season and the brand new year that lies ahead will be filled with countless precious moments.

The Candle

A candle is a simple thing, a bit of wax upon a string.
Yet clipped and dipped with patient hand
It gathers wax upon the strand,
Until complete and snowy white, it gives at last a lovely light.

Life is so like that bit of string, each deed we do a simple thing.
Yet day by day if on life’s strand, we work
With patient heart and hand,
It gathers joy, makes dark days bright,
And gives at last a lovely light.

                                        –  Author Unknown


Warmly, Gail

Bringing the Magic of Possibility into Your Home and Your Life

The Present

Yes, yes, I know.  I said I’d tell you about the first ordinary moment I noticed once I’d begun to look for them …. and I will, but its Christmas time and I’d like to insert a few holiday thoughts before I tell you the  story I promised.

While it’s my intent to post a new blog-story every week, these first few blogs will be a little less regular, so please bear with me for now.

I wrote this poem several years ago and some of you have already seen it…but I re-read it myself at this time of the year and I hope you won’t mind reading it with me…   If it speaks to you and if you would like to pass it along, you are more than welcome to do so.

The Present

T’was the holiday season and as usual I
Was frantically thinking of presents to buy.
I’d been shopping and wrapping and baking like mad,
But I didn’t feel peaceful.  I didn’t feel glad.

My checklist was growing.  I couldn’t get through.
My mind kept inventing one more thing to do.
There were parties to go to and people to see.
The angel was crooked on top of the tree.

Something was wrong with this beautiful season.
I stopped for a moment to search for the reason.
And in that silent moment, the reason was clear.
I’d forgotten the most precious present this year!

A present so precious, it couldn’t be sold.
It couldn’t be purchased for silver of gold.
A present too precious to place on a shelf,
One I couldn’t give, till I had it myself.

For the present most precious, the present most rare,
Is just that, the present, the moments we share.
For the things we achieve or collect are fast gone,
But the love we create in the present lives on.

So if I were dreaming, perhaps what I’d see,
Is fewer gifts piled up ‘neath the Christmas tree.
There’d be simpler meals and tasks that could wait,
We’d be there for each other, before it’s too late.

And so I wish you and all those you hold dear,
A most loving and joyfully abundant New Year.


Gail Van Kleeck

Bringing the Magic of Possibility into Your Home and Your Life

The Story Teller

Welcome to the Story Teller’s Blog

Hello! Since this is my first blog, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Gail Van Kleeck and I’m a story teller. I believe that all of us are story tellers and what we focus on is what we see. I also believe in the magic of possibility and our ability to risk and learn and change and grow.

Once I tried to write a blog, but it wasn’t very successful. I was too worried about using key words so people could find me. I won’t be doing that here. I want to write authentically. I want to share my stories, because some of them may also be yours. I want you to know that you are not alone, that we drink from the same stream.

I will be telling you some of the things I’ve discovered since I first became a story teller, nearly fifty years ago. While the characters in my stories have different names, they are really about me….and perhaps some of them will also be about you.

One of my books is called There is a Story Teller in My Closet. While, at first glance, it may seem to be a book for children, it is really a book for the child in each of us.

Fifty years ago I was the story teller in my own closet, but I didn’t know that then.

At that time I was simply a young mother with two small children, who had moved many times and whose husband was a good, but often emotionally unavailable man.

It was a dark day in mid-winter, a day as bleak and grey and miserable as I felt. I bundled the children up, sent them off to school and watched my husband back down the driveway on his way to work.

I straightened the kitchen, swept the floor and opened the closet to put the broom away. Then, without thinking, I climbed into the closet with the broom and pulled the door shut. As though I was expecting the ceiling to fall, I hunched over a little and put my hands up over my head.

I don’t remember how often I did that. It could have been only a few times, but I think it was probably more.

Years later, when I was feeling happier and more confident, I told a friend about that time and how thinking about it still made me sad for the lonely girl who once was me.

My friend was quiet for a moment and then she asked, “What if you were simply taking care of yourself? What if that person in the broom-closet was your personal story teller? What kinds of stories would she tell?”

What I discovered, as I thought about that question, was that although some of life’s lessons come from catastrophic events, most of them come to us in the seemingly ordinary moments of our daily life.

In my next bog I will tell you about the first ordinary moment I noticed and how it became an important life-lesson.

I hope you’ll come back to visit and share my stories.


Gail Van Kleeck

Bringing the Magic of Possibility into Your Home and Your Life

Books and Products by Gail