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1. Life Is a Balancing Act

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An Overview


A millionaire at age 56, Stan Zundel was a handsome, imposing man. From outward appearances he

had nothing to worry about, but this was of little comfort to him in the face of mounting professional and business pressures as a vice-president of one of the world’s largest banks. With increasing tension and worry came ulcers, followed by heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.



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Like so many people, Zundel realized almost too late that he had paid a great price for success.



His physicians predicted that within one year, Zundel would be a complete invalid from an arthritic spine condition. Then a cancer specialist told him, “The malignant cells are multiplying in your bloodstream and the probability is that they will attack some vital organ, producing a lethal tumor within two years.” In a deep depression, Zundel realized that his life was ebbing away. What do you think was the uppermost concern in his mind? His inner thoughts were, I yearn for the lost opportunities of a joyful relationship with my family.


We can have everything, but without health, we lose the ability to enjoy the best and most important things in life.


Stan Zundel’s story does not end here. He set as his goal a recovery of health sufficient to enable him to climb mountains. He said, “I was sure that if I could conquer the mountains, I could conquer myself.” In addition to chemotherapy, for his corrective therapies Stan decided that he would change his lifestyle to include time with his family, exercise, positive thinking, proper nutrition, emotional serenity, mental balance, and trust in God.



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Stan Zundel returned to the essentials



Gradually, with much difficulty, Zundel began to change his way of life. His health and strength slowly increased during his healing mountain-climbing experiences. He reported, “Amazingly, the mountains started me growing again.” He climbed the Matterhorn in Switzerland, a grueling test of human endurance. This feat he repeated many times in subsequent years. In his documentary film, he shared his amazing recovery: “My family and associates soon noticed that my quick temper had disappeared and the chip on my shoulder had long since fallen to the ground.” With a few lifestyle changes, this amazing man lived years beyond the limit that his physicians had predicted for him, and he enjoyed a quality of life that he never thought possible. Stan Zundel returned to the essentials.[i]



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Crazy Busy Schedules




Dr. Edward M. Hallowell wrote a book intriguingly titled, CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! You may feel a little like this at times. Perhaps the day-to-day responsibilities are overwhelming and stressful, and you feel anxious because you cannot accomplish all that life requires of you. Most of us struggle to balance career, family, and social obligations. Sometimes factors that bring the greatest rewards, like physical, spiritual and relational wellness, are squeezed out. In spite of the rushed pace of your existence, you can choose a balanced life.


Steps toward a balanced life begin by analyzing your lifestyle. Next you make conscious decisions for future goals. Decide what is not essential, what you can leave out, and what you can change. This is a good beginning. There is hope. You can choose how to live, for you are the architect of your life and destiny. God will guide your decisions.



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The balanced life


How can you balance the various demands of life, health, and family? Life is a balancing act. It isn’t always easy.


Jean Francois Gravelet, better known as the Great Blondin, was the first man to cross the huge gorge of Niagara Falls on a tightrope. This amazing man seemed to have perfect balance. On June 30, 1859, Blondin successfully crossed the falls on a three-inch manila rope stretching from the American side to the Canadian side, a span of 1,100 feet. While he spent twenty minutes crossing the frothing Niagara River, twenty-five thousand onlookers watched almost breathlessly. Halfway across the river, he calmly sat down, stretched out on his back and rested the balancing pole across his chest before rising to his feet to resume his crossing. When he neared the Canadian shore, he shocked the crowd by performing a back somersault on the rope.



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“The Great Blondin” Perfect Balance


During subsequent crossings, Blondin performed other acts such as walking on stilts and crossing on a bicycle. He also pushed a wheelbarrow containing a small sheet-iron stove across the gorge. During this trip across, he proceeded to fire up the stove and cook an omelet that he lowered to the passengers aboard the boat, Maid of the Mist.[ii]


How do tightrope walkers do it? Someone asked a famous tightrope walker what was the secret of walking the rope. His response was, “The secret is looking ahead at where you are going. You tend to go where your eyes go.” That’s the way it is in life. Keep your eyes fixed on the goal.


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This is the balancing act that really counts!


 Finding an equilibrium of Body, Mind-Spirit, &       Family in a BALANCED LIFE


A higher goal—a balanced life. Blondin’s feats were amazing, but for a man or a woman, a boy or a girl to be able to perform the high-wire act of a daily balanced personal life is more valuable. This entails discovering equilibrium of mental, spiritual, physical, and relational health. What a challenging goal for most of us! But it’s worth it.


Let’s look at a preview of dimensions of a balanced life that are often omitted in our fast-paced, frenzied lifestyle.



  1. It’s a balancing act to sleep right.



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It’s a Balancing Act to SLEEP RIGHT.


Do you know anyone who is just tired out? Up to 80 percent of Americans are chronically sleep-deprived and up to 25 percent of children suffer from sleep problems.[iii] How does loss of sleep affect our hormones? Rats deprived of sleep compromise their immune systems, fall ill from bacterial pathogens, fail to maintain body heat, and die in about three weeks.[iv] Do we want to learn how to rest from our stresses? Jesus said, “Come aside . . . and rest a while.”[v] Someone quipped, “If we don’t come apart, we may fall apart!”


2. It’s a balancing act to eat right.



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It’s a Balancing Act to EAT RIGHT. 


2/3 of the deaths in the U.S. are related to diet.      

U.S. Surgeon General’s

 Report on Nutrition & Health




A Canadian study of data from fifty-two countries found that 35 percent of heart attacks globally are caused by diets heavy in fried food, salty snacks, and meat.[vi] People are digging their graves with their teeth. C. Everett Koop, former Surgeon General of the United States, warned that the majority of U.S. deaths are related to their diet.[vii] Chicago’s Rush Institute for Healthy Aging reports that respondents eating adequate nutrient-filled vegetables showed 40 percent less mental decline than those who ate few or no vegetables. Those respondents eating lots of green leafy vegetables showed remarkable levels of brain function expected in people five years younger than they were.[viii]


So what is the message for a balanced diet? When you eat your veggies and fruits, you may need fewer visits to the doctor. You will have a better quality of life.

3. It’s a balancing act to exercise consistently.                                                                                                                                             


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It’s a Balancing Act to get your EXERCISE.


30 minutes of walking a day has many health benefits.



Walking thirty minutes a day cuts the risk of heart attack by 50 percent, decreases cancer risk,[ix] and dramatically reduces anger, fatigue, and tension.[x]  Exercise in the physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions spells the difference between dreaming of doing something great and actually doing something great. The WIN! Wellness plan will help you achieve your exercise goals and bring balance to your life.


  1. It’s a balancing act to drink enough water.



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It’s a Balancing Act to DRINK ENOUGH WATER.


Drinking adequate pure water can improve your thinking.


The human brain, which is 70 percent water, begins to shrivel up like a plum that’s turning into a prune when deprived of water, progressively losing its functions. Drinking six to eight glasses of pure water daily is vital not only for brain function but also in preventing heart attacks, aiding kidney function, beautifying skin, and helping cleanse the inward body. Drinking warm to hot water is especially helpful at the start of the day, giving a mental wake-up call to aid digestion.



      5. It’s a balancing act to think right.



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It’s a Balancing Act to THINK RIGHT.


A keen mental edge is key to successful decision making.


Our brains are affected for good or bad by the pace of life, by the incessant bombardment of the media, by our choice to exercise or not to exercise, and even by the food we eat.


How can I think clearly and make decisions based on fact, not just on feeling or fancy? How can I use my brain to make tough decisions and not merely take the path of least resistance? Am I maintaining that mental acuity which is the secret to successful decision making and keeping my brain sharp and active? Consider these questions as you focus on an improved, balanced life. If you really want to make decisions effectively, think clearly, and have a keen mental edge, drink adequate water, exercise, obtain sufficient sleep, and eat your fruits and vegetables.


It is possible for us to change from being governed by the lower brain, where feelings, sexual drives, and instincts predominate, to being governed by the higher brain, which is the seat of the power of choice and reason. A balanced, healthy brain with the frontal lobe in charge can switch off negative thinking and switch on positive thoughts that are health producing. We have the ability to choose and to be intentional about our health, family, lifestyle, and even spiritual decisions



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The frontal lobe of the brain can help you be a Good Choice Maker and a Bad Habit Breaker.


Did you know that much illness comes from negative or crooked thinking and that positive-thinking people have healthier bodies? Those who participate in wellness strategies find with God’s help that they can sense a transformation in their thought lives, which actually enhances their daily balanced lives. So, make a choice toward thinking right.


  1. It’s a balancing act to live your life with hope.


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It’s a Balancing Act to live your life with HOPE.


Hope is celebrating today the realities of a future dream.


With hope, you can awaken to the dawn of a new day full of optimism and a determination to make your dreams come true. People with hope live longer and healthier. As we talk to God in prayer, we receive special blessings. When we tell God about our hopes and dreams, we can trust and have confidence that He will make the best things happen for us. That gives Him great joy.


We are living in uncertain times, with the world economy spiraling downward and people losing jobs, homes, and security. There is a searching and a longing in this time of loss. We are in the middle of a story, but God tells us the end of the story. The outlook may be dire, but the uplook is full of hope. It is time for us to talk hope in a hopeless world.



7. It’s a balancing act to prioritize our time.



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It’s a Balancing Act to Prioritize our TIME

to put first things first.




The story of Stan Zundel illustrates the importance of family. The WIN! Wellness Homes of Hope and Health series includes topics designed to improve our relationships—Love, Appreciation, Family Time, Communication, Facing Crisis, Resolving Conflict, Social Support and Commitment. Research reveals that when these factors are understood and practiced, they have a positive impact on our physical wellbeing.


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God designed human beings to live in healthy families, for each individual to be cared for and to care about others.


Hedrick Smith, in a documentary on PBS in the United States, talked about the problems in the new economy, where “making a living has gotten out of sync with making a family and having a life.” One of the problems in some Western countries is that “family time for the average working couple has shrunk by 22 hours a week since 1970.”[xi]



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How can we use the 86,400 seconds of each day to bring balance into our family life and enhance relationships?


Too often we run out of time before we accomplish our to-do list. If the day is already packed and we add something more, what are we willing to let go?



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Victoria’s Story


Victoria was in a social gathering, holding a cup of hot tea and ready to stir it, when she spotted her strong five-year-old nephew running straight for her. Victoria knew what was coming next. She quickly put the teacup on the counter and braced herself. A moment later he grabbed her around the legs and squeezed tightly. He was just showing love and wanted a hug from auntie, but her hands were full. The only way Victoria could hug him back was to stop what she was doing, set her cup aside, and return his embrace.[xii]  We have to let go of some things to be able to do other things that are more important.


Family time

One research study found the average person aged 12 to 24 in the United States spends 9 hours and 17 minutes a day with electronic media: Internet, television, video games, radio, and cellphone. More than half of the waking hours of youth and young adults are spent with electronic media.[xiii] To a great degree, people are satisfied with seeing heroes in the media instead of being heroes themselves, by watching sports instead of exercising. Someone once said, “I’d rather make news than watch news!”



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What are the children being taught?


A University of Michigan (USA) study indicates that children are becoming increasingly disconnected from their parents and from their faith communities. Parents are busy, and children and teens are also too busy for family time. Are these trends happening in your country? There are children who feel that they do not belong and are not appreciated by their parents or are left out in the streets to fend for themselves. One child who was in desperate need of information from his parents searched an empty house and asked, “Isn’t there any parent in this house?”



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A University of Michigan study indicates that children are becoming increasingly DISCONNECTED from their parents and their faith community.


One thousand five-hundred schoolchildren were asked what they thought makes a happy family. The most frequently given answer was, “Doing things together.”[xiv]  Strong families plan their schedules for more family time. Eating together as often as possible fosters a better diet for children, increases academic success, and lowers the crime rate. When families eat together, communication improves. There is time to answer questions and to hear of daily activities and needs. Hands-on, caring parents are avoiding the cultural traps, going against the flow, and making time with family a priority.



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  • Eating together as often as possible fosters a better diet for children, increases academic success, and lowers the crime rate.


What are other ideas for doing things together as a family? Plan memorable moments and activities that don’t drain you or your budget. A few minutes here and there during the day with a child can make a difference—three minutes listening, eight minutes throwing the ball, five minutes cleaning up together as a family after a meal, ten minutes for family devotions, twelve minutes walking around the block after a meal, and a few minutes to plan family fun time.


One family vacationed by canoeing a white-water river. To be sure, they got dumped in the rapids, but that made for good family memories! Some families enjoy going to a new restaurant to eat. Many families have evening story time by the fireside, reading inspiring biographies of great men and women.



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“Doing things together” includes working with your children.


Why not teach children to cook and share stories of family history and traditions? Take the children to the garden and share the mystery of planting, weeding, and harvesting. When fixing a bicycle or an old car, or sewing, let them help and ask questions. They receive the gift of your time and learn skills for life.


Putting God and family first is part of prioritizing our lives. Time spent with family is a choice. It’s good to prioritize time for family, including reading God’s Word and communicating with God as a family in praise and sharing personal needs.

Part of balancing life is maintaining relationships with others and helping those in need.



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We all need each other

“No man is an island. . .”

                                      --John Donne, English poet



While many are self-centered and don’t hear the cry of others who need a helping hand, Mother Teresa heard the cry of another. One day she stopped to help a dying woman on a Calcutta sidewalk and ended up changing the world. Mother Teresa had it right: “The greatest disease is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved and uncared for.”[xv]



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Mother Teresa said:  “The greatest disease is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. . .”



Social support is the strongest factor determining quality of life and longevity.[xvi] Being connected is the greatest benefit and brings with it joy to the receiver and to the giver. Whether we are rich or poor, we can help others who are more needy than ourselves.


8. The biggest balancing act is blending body, mind/spirit, and relationship dimensions into daily living.

Anna Muoio, a juggling instructor, says many people complain, “I’ve got too many balls in the air!” She explains, “Life in our time-strapped, chaotic world has become a juggling act, both at work and at home. We’re all jugglers now, and we’ll all have to learn how to do it better.”[xvii] We must choose which balls we will not juggle.



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Paul enjoys sharing his juggling skill with his friends. To their amazement he keeps five balls moving at a time. That may not be your talent, but perhaps you face another type of juggling act—attempting to have a balanced life. It took Paul months to perfect his juggling skills. Paul also has taken time to juggle his personal priority time, with God’s help and the coaching of others. He is discovering secrets to a more satisfying life with fewer stresses. This juggler had to give up something to balance work, family, and self-care, but now he feels free to live a more satisfying and healthier life. The biggest balancing act of all is combining these wellness factors into real daily living.


Sometimes we are prone to think that we will be healthier if we take one step toward a better lifestyle—maybe just eating right, or just exercising half an hour a day. But is one component enough? What would happen if we integrated all the factors? What would happen if we combined a healthy diet, moderate exercise, drinking our six to eight glasses of water, getting daily fresh air and sunshine, being positive and cultivating a life of hope, showing love, feeling appreciation, being joyful, and having healthy relations with the family or friends? It would be a Wow experience! What a difference there could be! When you put work, family, health, personal fulfillment, and spiritual growth together in concert, the factors interact and you have multiplication instead of addition of benefits. There will be incredible, beneficial synergy and a longer, happier life with fewer medical problems, doctor visits, and pills.





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Synergy is an interesting word that means “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” For example, a violin or oboe solo can be sweet and melodious, but when a skilled conductor leads the strings, the brass, the woodwinds, and the percussion instruments in music of majestic harmony, it shakes the rafters and fills our souls! The Bible says, “You will chase your enemies. . . . Five of you shall chase a hundred [ratio of 1:20], and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight [ratio of 1:100].”[xviii] Notice the synergy principle at work: one dimension of life harmoniously interacts with other dimensions, and the result is living healthier, happier, and holier.


The journey begins with one step. Start now. Choose the easiest thing you can do and begin.


Eliminate the energy drain—design a new life



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Life without balance is no life at all.


Barbara searched for and found the essentials.



Barbara worked with the same company for a decade. Although she had been promoted to upper management, she found phone calls, emails, and faxes dominated her life. Since she could only rest with sleep aids at night, she pumped herself full of caffeine during the day. Barbara took five kinds of headache remedies and swallowed dozens of antacid pills to try to control her indigestion. Finally her body said, No more!


When Barbara went on a mini-vacation, her body wouldn’t move. She was utterly exhausted. After forty-eight hours of almost nonstop sleep, Barbara awakened scared. She managed to see a doctor, who, after examining her, pronounced her the healthiest sick person he had ever seen. He said, “Hyper-stress is your problem,” and wrote out a prescription: “Get a different job.”


Relinquishing the security of her upper-management position took courage, but Barbara chose to listen to her body. She had faith that God would never fail her. She turned in her resignation. Barbara rediscovered her true self, reconnected with friends, and got her life under control. An eight-week sabbatical taught her that life without balance is no life at all. She interviewed for a low-stress job. Though her new income was lower, Barbara was happy. Money was not important, but a balanced life was. She took charge of her life and returned to the essentials.[xix]


The challenge of incredible, life-growing opportunities

Each of us can experience balanced, effective 24/7 living on a higher level. It’s our choice. The balanced-living decision may call for planning, stick-to-it-iveness, and giving up the unimportant, but not giving up on our big dreams. It is going forward even when we don’t want to. It means focusing on the good, being content with what we have but still striving for the best. Remember, challenges and crises that occasionally throw us off balance are incredible life-growing opportunities that, believe it or not, can be blessings. Look ahead to victories with hope and optimism.



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Lord, thank You that I am alive and that I can cultivate infinite potential. Help me to strive toward Your best and be all You want me to be. Amen.






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  1. What did this chapter say to you? ____________________________
  2. What are positive essentials of life? __________________________
  3. What makes our lives so crazy, busy, and out of control? What can we do to change this pattern of living?







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Group Discussion

Personal Reflections

  1.    What are the essentials in my life and what are not? _____________________________________________
  2. What specific areas do I want to incorporate into my life as priorities? __________________________




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r      I will enhance my plan of living to include: ______________________________________________________________________________________.

r   I will schedule time for self-care, healthy living, and enjoying the family.

r   I will find a partner who is dedicated to working toward a balanced life and will help me be accountable to my lifestyle goals.




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r   I know that God has a dream for me, and I want Him to make it perfectly clear so that I can be a blessing to others.

r   I want to connect more closely to family members and have a greater love relationship with each one.






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How can we use the 86,400 seconds of each day to bring balance into our family life and enhance relationships?


[i].    Adapted from Stan Zundel, I Climb to Live (City? Stan Zundel, 1979), 12.

[ii].    “Niagara Falls Stunts and Daredevils: History,” Niagara Parks, an agency of the government of Ontario,; “Jean Francois Gravelet: AKA the Great Blondin,” Niagara Falls promotional Web site,; The Blondin Memorial Trust,

[iii].   Samantha Levine, “Up Too Late: Hectic Lives Rob Kids of Sleep and Health,” U.S. News & World Report (September 1, 2002), 51.

[iv].   Carol A. Everson, “Sleep Deprivation and the Immune System,” in Mark R. Pressman and William C. Orr, eds., Understanding Sleep: The Evaluation and Treatment of Sleep Disorders (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1997), 401–424.

[v].    Mark 6:31.

[vi].   Salim Yusuf et al, “Effect of potentially modifiable risk factors associated with myocardial infarction in 52 countries (the INTERHEART study): case-control study,” The Lancet 365, no. 9438 (September 2004): 937–952. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(04)17018-9.

[vii].  C. Everett Koop, The Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health, Publication no. 8850210 (Washington, DC: US Department of Health & Human Services, 1988).

[viii].  M. C. Morris, D. A. Evans, C. C. Tangney, J. L. Bienias, and R. S. Wilson, “Associations of Vegetable and Fruit Consumption with Age-Related Cognitive Change,” Neurology 67, no. 8 (2006): 1370–1376. doi 10.1212/01.wnl.0000240224.38978.d8.

[ix].   B. Rockhill, W. C. Willett, D. J. Hunter, J. E. Manson, S. E. Hankinson, G. A. Colditz, “A Prospective Study of Recreational Physical Activity and Breast Cancer Risk,” Archives of Internal Medicine 159, no. 19 (1999): 2290–2296.

[x]. A. M. Lane and D. J. Lovejoy, “The Effects of Exercise on Mood Changes: The Moderating Effect of Depressed Mood,” Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 41, no. 4 (2002): 539–545.

[xi]. Hedrick Smith, “Juggling Work and Family,” radio transcript,

[xii]. Adapted from Victoria Osteen, Love Your Life (New York: Free Press, 2008), 55.

[xiii]. “Internet Dominates Young Adult Media Time,” Marketing Charts, October 4, 2010,

[xiv] . M.L. Jacobsen, How to Keep Your Family Together and Still Have Fun (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1969).

[xv]. Mother Teresa, A Simple Path (New York: Ballantine, 1995).

[xvi]. Lisa F. Berkman and S. Leonard Syme, “Social Networks, Host Resistance, and Mortality: A Nine-Year Follow-up Study of Alameda County Residents,” American Journal of Epidemiology 109, no. 2 (1979): 186–204.

[xvii]. Anna Muoio, “Life Is a Juggling Act,” Fast Company (Oct. 31, 1997): 1.

[xviii]. Leviticus 26:7, 8.

[xix]. Adapted and modified from Kelly L. Stone, “Message in a Body,” in Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Dan Millman, and Diane von Welanetz Wentworth, compilers, Chicken Soup to Inspire the Body & Soul (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 2003), 288–290.


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