Taste Berry Tales: Stories to Lift the Heart and Feed the Soul

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9781558745483: Taste Berry Tales: Stories to Lift the Heart and Feed the Soul

There is a fruit called the Richardella-dulcisica, better known as the taste-berry. When eaten, it causes the taste buds to experience all food eaten afterwards -- even distasteful food -- as sweet and delicious. There are people who, through their love and compassion, make the lives of those with whom they come in contact better. Like the taste-berry, these people can turn a sour day into a joyful adventure.

In a time when many of us have stopped believing in the goodness of humanity, we need to remind ourselves that though there is dissonance in the world, there is even more peace, kindness and love. In Taste-Berry Tales, Bettie B. Youngs inspires readers with 25 poignant short stories of real-life people who make a difference in the lives of others. These individuals, by their example, show us how to use the events of daily life to improve the world we live in and the lives of others with whom we share it.

When we help others by sharing the sweetness of life's joys and easing the bitterness of its losses, we become, in the best sense of the words, "our brothers' keepers." Youngs plays this role for readers, showing them a world that is full of hope. Everyone who reads this book will discover that their dreams are not only possible, but also more glorious than they ever realized.

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About the Author:

Bettie B. Youngs is a professional speaker and one of the nation's most respected and admired voices in the field of human potential and personal effectiveness. She is a former Teacher of the Year and university professor. Youngs is the celebrated author of 15 books, translated into 29 languages. These include the award-winning Values from the Heartland and Gifts of the Heart: Stories That Celebrate Life's Defining Moments.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The Gift of Subira

She lay in a classic feline pose, legs stretched out, head proudly held high, turned to one side, a classic pose that delights high-fashion photographers—and the many who came to have their picture taken with her. No stranger to celebrity, her perfect features graced cards, stationery, newsletters; her strong and supple body played centerfold to many a lovely frame on bed stands, dresser tops and mahogany desks. Gorgeous, regal and, though young, she was principal ambassador to the kingdom of Shambala and known throughout the world as a wondrous symbol of beauty and raw energy, and circumstantial luck.

""Subira is her name,"" the lovely woman, clad in jeans, boots and buckskin coat, said, beaming. Thoughtfully, she looked at the small group of young people who were there on a field trip from a local rehab center. With gentle affection in her voice, the woman said, ""She's a three-year-old cheetah, not even at the height of her game. Magnificent, isn't she!""

As though it were a well-rehearsed script, Subira turned her head to the audience and gazed into the crowd. Her eyes, with their horseshoe black lines angling back from their corners and running to her mouth, looked as though they were freshly painted on for the day's exhibition. So dazzling was her rich coat of closely set black spots on a tawny-colored backdrop of thick fur that all felt compelled to comment, ""Oooooh, look at her. She's so beautiful!"" With a look that was both content and alert, as though she knew they found her captivating, Subira cocked her royal head and, with a serene gaze, assessed her many admirers.

All continued to stare in awe—except for a teenage boy in the back row, who groaned in what seemed boredom and discontent. When several members of the group turned in his direction, in a macho-posture-to-impress he rolled up the sleeves of his white shirt, further exposing his well-developed muscles. To no one in particular he barked, ""What are you looking at?""

The woman paid no attention. ""The cheetah is the fastest land animal on earth,"" she told the small crowd. ""Aren't you, honey?"" she asked in a playful velvety tone, looking over her shoulder at the exquisite animal that lay atop the large, long, low branch of a massive oak tree.

Once again facing the group of young people who had come to observe the beauty of this spectacular animal and the other wild cats in this unique sanctuary, the woman continued characterizing the animal. ""Cheetahs are able to achieve speeds of seventy miles per hour for short durations. They hunt in short spurts that are like the sprints of a track star. And from a standstill, the cheetah can accelerate to forty-five miles per hour in just two seconds, with bounds that measure twenty-five feet. Just imagine! In the wild, the cheetah races after its prey, unlike most cats, which usually pounce on their victims. She uses her heavy tail for balance when executing sharp turns."" Though she'd recited the facts of the cheetah many times to visiting crowds, her obvious enthusiasm and excitement shone in her face.

""Do they eat humans?"" a teen in the crowd inquired.

""To the best of my knowledge, no human has ever been killed by a cheetah,"" the woman thoughtfully replied. She continued, ""As you can see, Subira's head and body are about five feet long, with a two-and-a-half-foot tail. She stands about thirty-nine inches at the shoulder thanks to her long, slender legs. Her weight will max out around 140 pounds."" Suddenly, almost as if on cue, Subira got to her feet and leapt from her perch. Once on the ground, she began gracefully walking around inside the large enclosure that contained her. The group fell silent at the awesome sight of this beautiful beast in motion.

A knowing smile swept across the woman's face as she anticipated what was to come, and what happened every time people first encounter Subira. It was just a matter of when.

I was sitting in the front row of chairs assembled for the group. ""They haven't noticed . . . yet,"" the woman, a friend of mine, mouthed to me. Her winsome blue eyes gave the impression of a child who had a wonderful secret and could barely contain it. She continued, ""It's not easy in the wild to run down animals that are also speedy. That's because cheetahs can only run at high speeds for short distances. A strong antelope, for instance, can often weave or zig-zag enough to escape a cheetah's pursuit. So sometimes a hungry cheetah has to wait several days to find a meal.""

Impressed by the beauty and grace of the animal, and revealing that she understood the cheetah is an animal facing extinction, the young dark-haired girl in the front row asked, ""I'm sorry, I don't know your name, but I have a question. Is that why they're endangered?""

""Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot to introduce myself,"" the woman responded. ""My name is Tippi. Tippi Hedren. You can call me Tippi. And to answer your question, the two main reasons cheetahs are endangered are poachers and loss of habitat. Poachers illegally hunt and kill cheetahs for their fur, which they sell on the black market. The loss of habitat has occurred over time as man continually encroaches on their environment.""

The group momentarily fell silent. With an engaging half-cocked smile, Tippi looked first to the cheetah and then to the crowd and then back to the cheetah, then walked over and sat close to the fence that contained the animal. It was easy to see that Subira was smitten with his mistress. The exquisite animal hummed wondrously and purred persuasively. The love affair was mutual. ""Ohhhhh,"" Tippi cooed, ""what glorious sounds from your magnificent throat.""


Tippi Hedren is no stranger to early morning sounds of the wild. Every dawn, as faint traces of pink begin to color the sky over her home nestled in the awesome grandeur of California's Soledad Canyon, the big cats roar, their deep-bellied choruses rumbling in sequence, some overlapping.

She calls her home Shambala—Sanskrit for ""a meeting place of peace and harmony for all beings, animal and human."" Shambala is tucked into the Santa Clara Valley, forty miles north of Los Angeles. With the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Range nearby, Shambala spreads along the narrow Santa Clara River for about a quarter mile. It resembles parts of the African riverine woodland, though the trees are mainly tall cottonwoods instead of the savanna's thorny acacias. Replicating the raw beauty of the kopjes of the Serengeti and Manyara, gigantic brown rock outcroppings lay randomly dispersed throughout the sprawling land. It is, quite simply, breathtaking. Here, in an environment so like their native home, the lions roar in unison until that final strange bark from the dominant lead cat that says the conversation is over.


Abruptly, as though disgusted by all this affection, the boy in the back row mocked, ""Big deal. A big, skinny cat with a bunch of spots that runs fast. So what! Next! Bring out the stupid tigers or whatever so we can get this over with!"" Embarrassed by the rude outburst, the other members of the group turned and looked at the boy in disapproval. Tippi also observed the adolescent but made no response to his comment.

But the cheetah did. Looking in the teenager's direction, the cheetah instantly began chirping.

Using this behavior as a cue for her next statement, Tippi informed the group, ""Cheetahs have certain sounds that are unique to each animal alone—a voice print similar to that of individual humans. A happy sound is a distinct chirp, like the one you are hearing now. Her hungry sound is a throaty vibration, and her way of saying 'watch out' is her warning noise that sounds like a high two-pitched hum. But as you can hear by all this chirping, she's pretty happy. In fact, I think she likes you,"" she said, looking directly at the boy.

""Yeah, yeah, sure! She just loves me,"" the boy mimicked sarcastically. Again, Ms. Hedren continued without responding to his ill-mannered remark. She knew from experience that something had happened to make this boy so angry and full of spite.

Tippi's presentation to the group hadn't been planned. It's the job of her staff to share Shambala's history and educate those who come to visit. She and I had simply been passing by when the group assembled. With the staff member waiting, Tippi now turned it over to a young assistant. Turning to me, Tippi motioned that we continue on our way. As we did, we turned to observe the group. It was from that vantage point we saw the belligerent boy with the smart, quick mouth—an image that revealed something his words hadn't. Clad in a T-shirt, a fit torso emerged, one that sat tensely in a wheelchair. One empty pant leg, folded under, hung next to the remaining leg and tennis shoe.

Seventeen-year-old Cory had dreams of playing major league baseball one day. That was his one and only goal. He lived and breathed baseball and dreamed of the day when he would have a following, fans who knew he was ""the man."" No one doubted Cory's ability, certainly not Bob Shepard, the lead university scout for baseball talent in the state. He had recruited Cory, confirming a promising future. That was before the accident that had claimed his right leg. Nothing could replace the joy that the accident dashed.

Cory lost more than his leg in the tragic car accident: He also lost his hope. And his spirit. It left him not only physically disabled, but emotionally crippled. Unable to dream a goal that was anything other than being a major baseball talent, he was bitter, jaded and feeling just plain useless. Hopeless. He sat in a wheelchair with a chip on his shoulder, angry at the world and, today, on another ""boring field trip"" from the rehab program.

Unwilling and unable, Cory had become one of the rehab center's few ""un"" patients: unable to reconstruct a plan for his life, one that compensated for the loss of one leg and didn't allow excuses to impe...

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