Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘People Making a Difference’ Category

So many men of my generation gave their lives on the fields and in the hills of Viet Nam for a war that, at the time, made absolutely no sense to me.   Even now, the horror of nightly news still resonates with me.

To all our servicemen and women, thank you for standing in harm’s way to protect our nation and our freedoms.  I am very aware that freedom is never free.

For those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, words will never adequately convey the deep sense of gratefulness that comes over me whenever I try to say “thank you”.

There are no words – other than I thank you, I honor you, I cherish the fact that I live freely in the greatest nation on this earth because there were individuals who gave of themselves freely, without hesitation, throughout our country’s existence to ensure that our freedoms remain intact.  You are not forgotten.

Read Full Post »

To all mothers everywhere – Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy-Mother-s-Day-Mother-and-Child-in-Veil-PostersBefore I was a Mom,
I never tripped over toys
or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn’t worry whether or not
my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom,
I had never been puked on.
Pooped on.
Chewed on.
Peed on.
I had complete control of my mind
and my thoughts.
I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom,
I never held down a screaming child
so doctors could do tests.
Or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night
watching a baby sleep.

CB106347
Before I was a Mom,

I never held a sleeping baby just because
I didn’t want to put her down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces
when I couldn’t stop the hurt.

I never knew that something so small
could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much.
I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom,
I didn’t know the feeling of
having my heart outside my body..
I didn’t know how special it could feel
to feed a hungry baby.
I didn’t know that bond
between a mother and her child.
I didn’t know that something so small
could make me feel so important and happy.

Mother and ChildBefore I was a Mom,
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night
every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.
I had never known the warmth,
the joy,
the love,
the heartache,
the wonderment
or the satisfaction of being a Mom.
I didn’t know I was capable of feeling so much,
before I was a Mom .

mother-child-silhouette-cli

May you always be overwhelmed by the Grace of God rather than by the cares of life.

Thank you to one of my Kindermusik moms, Myra Stewart, for sending this on to me.    Happy Mother’s Day, Myra!

Read Full Post »

I realize that  it’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything.  Life just got extremely busy, and something had to go on hiatus else I totally lose it.  After reading a blogpost from the Mayo Clinic,  though, I knew I had to take time to share this.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, is world-renown for its medical expertise and care.  I found it interesting to note that they have a grand piano in the atrium of the Gonda building that is used frequently by individuals who want to share the gift of music.

Watch this video of a delightful, older couple and the joy and laughter they bring to the patients and families passing through the atrium this particular day.

Then read these words by a loving daughter who gives you a much deeper insight into the powerful gift that music provides there at the Mayo Clinic, and view this video of Jodi Hume with her mother, Sharon, as they talk about that day at the clinic and the joy that they found in the sunny atrium, watching and listening to Fran and Marlo Cowan, married 62 years, as they gave an impromptu performance.

Jodi wrote:

And then we heard the piano and the laughter. From the balcony we could see an older couple sitting side by side at the piano playing together and entertaining a host of people. Some were in wheelchairs, others were sitting with canes beside them or standing. Everyone was smiling with all burdens forgotten for the moment. The joy was absolutely indescribable. When we asked them to play one more for us, Fran and Marlow Cowan, who have been married for more than 62 years, treated us to an exceptional performance that is now a “youtube” sensation.

And watch this video of Jodi and her mom,  Sharon, as they sit in a porch swing and talk about that day at the Mayo.

To read Jodi’s post in its entirety, please visit the Mayo Blog here.

Read Full Post »

I know that I’m most likely in the minority here, but I’ve never really been a fan of American Idol.  (Yes, yes, I know – please don’t flame me.)  However, I do enjoy the British version, “Britain’s Got Talent,” for the main reason that they seek out everyday, ordinary people who otherwise would never have a chance to share their special talent.  These folks, for the most part, are there to audition because they love doing whatever their gift is.  They’re not hyped or groomed or merchandised as in AI.

I especially enjoy seeing someone come onstage and totally blowing the judges away, with their cynical smiles and condescension as if they are the know-all’s and be-all’s of judging of talent.

This year’s season is already looking to be an exciting one to follow.  Click on the picture below to follow the link to the Youtube video (embedding disabled) to watch an amazing seven-minute audition of one 47-year-old woman named Susan Boyle who states quite candidly that she’s never been married or even kissed.   She’s *cheeky* (translate that to “sassy” here in the States) and not afraid to stand her ground on stage.

susan-boyle

Watch as all three judges (Simon, Amanda, & Piers) and the entire audience are brought to their feet by this delightful, talented woman who is courageous enough to stand there and sing her heart out in the face of cynicism, ridicule and mockery from the judges and audience alike.   Brava, Susan!

Read Full Post »

I am usually known as an encourager, although from time to time I have been known to really wallow in pessimism and have one absolutely *terrific* pity-party with anyone and everyone invited.    But with the overwhelming, frequent soundbites each day of the “free-falling economy,” the “downward spiral on Wall Street” with “no end in sight, ” it’s sometimes difficult to keep a positive outlook.

I’ve thought a lot recently about something Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address in 1933:   “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”    Fear is palpable in our country right now, especially in the media who feeds it to us daily on a frequent basis.

Yesterday, thankfully, I read something so encouraging about one CEO’s decision to not give in to the mindset espoused by the media that I wanted to share it here in hopes that this choice might spread rapidly across our nation like a virus.   It already did there at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

All it takes is one person making a conscious decision to look for an alternative to layoffs,  being willing to give up something in order to help out others in jeopardy of their livelihood,  asking other workers to come alongside and share with the load of keeping everyone employed.

paul-levy-beth-israel

Read about President and CEO Paul Levy’s alternative to layoffs here and how his staff responded to his request for sacrifice.

Their response, in my opinion, is akin to the actions shown by my grandparents’ generation in the Great  Depression when extended families and neighbors reached out to help each other when there was a need.

It reminds me of my parents’ generation – the so-called Greatest Generation – when they came together as “one nation” in World War II to fight to preserve the sanctity and safety of their families here at home.

It’s about time that my generation – the Boomers – gets off their collective blessed assurance and show that we are capable of  carrying that same torch to keep our nation whole and healthy as our parents and grandparents before us.   Our children and grandchildren deserve no less.

Read Full Post »

I don’t honestly remember how I first found TED.com.  I guess it was a link sent by a friend or one of those days I was surfing the web, traveling from link to link, reading whatever caught my interest.  In any event,  I was so fascinated by the expansive offerings on TED that I subscribed to their newsletter.

This week’s e-newsletter shared one of the three winning TED wishes ($100K prize) this year  – that of Dr. Jose Abreu of Venezuela,  a 70-year-old retired economist, trained musician, and social reformer who founded “the system” (El Sistema) in 1975 and has built it with religious zeal, based on his belief that what poor Venezuelan kids needed was classical music.

Abreu’s wish?  To take El Sistema to other nations, including the United States.

El Sistema is all about children,  many from neighborhoods which are so poor, desperate and crime-ridden, that hope is often extinguished in children at an early age, living in areas where residents don’t walk alone day or night.  And it’s focus is about saving them – hundreds of thousands of children – through music.

According to Dr. Abreu, music is a social system that fights poverty and overcomes it by the spiritual richness that music provides, becoming a vehicle of social change.

Each day, children from some of the poorest of the poor slums in Venezuela line up for free lessons at their local branch of El Sistema.  Beginning as early as two years of age, they start learning the basics, like rhythm, and the language of music.  (Sounds like Kindermusik!)

By the time they’re four, they’re being taught how to play an instrument. By the time they’re six or seven-year-old veterans, they’re playing in orchestras.

Through hard work and the assistance of fifteen thousand trained musicians as well as gifted kids who teach other kids, the system uses classical music to instill in the kids self-esteem and confidence.

In the thirty-four years since El Sistema was first founded, over eight hundred thousand children have passed through the organization.  While the majority of them do not continue on to be professional musicians, all of them are changed.

Dr. Abreu is quoted as saying,

“Music produces an irreversible transformation in a child. This doesn’t mean he’ll end up as a professional musician. He may become a doctor, or study law, or teach literature. What music gives him remains indelibly part of who he is forever.”

When asked if he thinks the system could work in the United States, one Sistema branch manager said:

“Yeah. But I mean, kids are kids. It doesn’t matter where they come from. And if you can help a poor kid in here, you can help a poor kid everywhere. It doesn’t matter the culture, it doesn’t matter the race. I mean, it’s music. Everybody love music.”

Make sure your computer is hooked up to a good set of speakers, turn up the sound, sit back, and prepare to be completely blown away by the power and beauty of  the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra (Sinfónica Juvenil Teresa Carreño), the national high-school-age youth orchestra of El Sistema, directed by Gustavo Dudamel,  newly named musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and product of El Sistema himself.   The two selections are Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, 2nd movement, and Mexican composer Arturo Márquez’ Danzón No. 2.

To learn more about Dr. Abreu, El Sistema, and making Dr. Abreu’s wish come true, please visit TED.com here.

To view the El Sistema segment by Bob Simon on 60 Minutes, please follow this link.

Read Full Post »

I am not a big sports fan;  I admit it.

The males in my family can easily and often do quote me when I get riled up, after reading about professional ball players’ astronomical salaries –

“I can not believe that that man gets paid *that* much money each year for hitting a ball with a stick!  (or, alternatively “carrying that ball down the field”)  Ten years from now, what difference will it make in a child’s life that he hit a ball with a stick?!”

(You get the idea.)

I don’t enjoy the hype and trash talk that fills the airwaves and television station breaks during the different seasons.    I know, I know – I just don’t get it.   I’m quite aware of that.

I do enjoy, however, watching high school and college rivalries.   They are so much more real than “professional” sports  – these individuals are playing because they *love* to play – not necessarily because they’re being paid to do so.  (And, yes, before you jump in – I am quite aware of college players receiving scholarships and other perks.)

But one thing that does catch my attention in sports is when you hear about an athlete who is so much more than just another jock out to make his or her mark in the world by earning mega-bucks through sports.   In this case, it’s plural – athletes.

It was a Saturday night in February, and the Barbs were playing a non-conference game on the road against Milwaukee Madison. It was the third meeting between the two schools, who were developing a friendly rivalry that spanned two states.

The teams planned to get together after the game and share some pizzas and soda. But the game itself almost never took place.

Hours earlier, the mother of Milwaukee Madison senior captain Johntel Franklin died at a local hospital. Carlitha Franklin had been in remission after a five-year fight with cervical cancer, but she began to hemorrhage that morning while Johntel was taking his college ACT exam.

Her son and several of his teammates were at the hospital late that afternoon when the decision was made to turn off the life-support system. Carlitha Franklin was just 39.

“She was young and they were real close,” said Milwaukee coach Aaron Womack Jr., who was at the hospital. “He was very distraught and it happened so suddenly he didn’t have time to grieve.”

Womack was going to cancel the game, but Franklin told him he wanted the team to play. And play they did, even though the game started late and Milwaukee Madison dressed only eight players.

What transpired next is the kind of thing you only see in a Hollywood movie.

johntel-franklin

Early in the second quarter, team co-captain Franklin appeared at the game, wanting to play.    The only problem was that Franklin had not been listed on the pre-game roster.  In order to play, it meant a technical foul against the Madison Knights, awarding the DeKalb Barbs two free throws.

While Womack, Franklin’s coach, was willing to give the two points to the Barbs,  Dave Rohlman, the Barbs’ coach,  was not willing to take them, arguing with the referees for five to seven minutes, saying, “We’re not taking it; we’re not taking it.”

Upon being told by the refs that there was no choice in taking the free throws, Rohlman asked for a volunteer from his team to shoot the ball.

His senior captain raised his hand, ready to go to the line as he had many times before.

Only this time it was different.

“You realize you’re going to miss them, don’t you?” Rohlman said.

Darius McNeal nodded his head. He understood what had to be done………..

He went alone to the free throw line, dribbled the ball a couple of times, and looked at the rim.

His first attempt went about two feet, bouncing a couple of times as it rolled toward the end line. The second barely left his hand.

It didn’t take long for the Milwaukee players to figure out what was going on.

They stood and turned toward the DeKalb bench and started applauding the gesture of sportsmanship. Soon, so did everybody in the stands.

“I did it for the guy who lost his mom,” McNeal told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It was the right thing to do.”

Franklin would go on to score 10 points in the game, and the Milwaukee Madison Knights went on to win the game 62-47.   Afterwards, both teams went out and had pizza together.

When you look at Madison’s team record, you realize that they don’t have the best record (6-11), but they genuinely care about each other.   Womack is quoted as saying,  “We maybe don’t have the best basketball players in the world but they go to class and take care of business. We have a losing record but there’s life lessons going on, good ones.”

And taken directly from the Associated Press article:

None so good, though, as the moment a team and a player decided there were more important things than winning and having good stats.

Yes, DeKalb would go home with a loss. But it was a trip they’ll never forget.

“This is something our kids will hold for a lifetime,” Rohlman said. “They may not remember our record 20 years from now, but they’ll remember what happened in that gym that night.”

Now that’s my kind of sports!  😀

Read the article in its entirety here.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »