A Season of Hope. Cherish our Differences 

Our strength is in out differences.

Last night the US House of Representatives voted to Impeach President Trump. 9PLEASE KEEP READING- THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL RANT) Listening to the Republicans and Democrats state their case it was as if they were each operating on their on set of facts. I grew up in a time BEFORE “alternative facts”. The news was respected, even if you didn’t agree with it. In high school and college I had liberal friends, conservative friends, apathetic friends, cynical friends. We joked, we debated, we laughed and cried. What we never did was put each other down.

Have you ever heard the story behind this highest selling Christmas carol? Robert May was an advertising executive that first wrote the poem “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” in 1939 as an ad gimmick for a local department store. 10 years later, May’s brother wrote the music. The song was turned down by Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, but Gene Autry recorded it. Today “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is the highest-selling Christmas carol, at more than 25 million units.

Do you know why the carol is so loved? You might say that it’s the courage and fortitude of Rudolph, the apparent hero of the story. I think the real charm of the carol is found at the heart of what the carol is really about—grace! Despite that Rudolph was clearly an outsider and an apparent reject due to the glowing flaw of his shiny red nose, Santa chose him. When the fog rolled in and the moment became critical, Santa called on Rudolph, the reject reindeer with the big, weird, red nose to lead the pack. What everyone else saw as weakness, Santa saw as the vital component of strength to accomplish his purposes.

We each have things that make us unique. Instead of trying to hide those things and viewing them as a weakness, lets view them as a strength. Not just in ourselves but in others.

I was the weird kids growing up. I was the gymnast in a town full of football players. Look at me now! If I had listened to those who wanted me to blend in and conform I would not have be contributing to the lives of thousands of children.

As an employer, I am looking for people who are individuals but share our same passion. It is those differences that add spice to life and makeAtlantic Gymnastics an exciting place.

Cherish the differences in those around you. Appreciate each indivual.

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A Season of Hope. 19 Things That Made the World a Better Place

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There’s been good news this year. No, really. Mixed in amid the political chaos, climate crisis, and other human-made horrors, there have been shining moments in health, space and even politics that suggest progress hasn’t entirely halted. Here are our run-down of the most uplifting and inspiring news from 2019.

Scientists released the first photo of a black hole

A black hole is invisible, swallowing up light and emitting no detectable radiation. Yet, scientists working on the Event Horizon Telescope have shown us the unseeable — and it looks rather like a glowing bagel. The image is of the black hole at the centre of galaxy M87 and shows glowing plasma surrounding the black hole itself, with the darkness at the centre revealing the shape and size of the event horizon, as well as key information about how rapidly it’s rotating. With one black hole in the picture books, EHT is now looking at others — including Sagittarius A* at the centre of our own Milky Way. Read more at WIRED.

The first all-women spacewalk repairs the ISS

The first all-female spacewalk finally happened, but the pair had to wait for a new suit before they could step outside the International Space Station’s airlock. The historic spacewalk by Christina Koch and Jessica Meir was set back by several months for a second medium-sized spacesuit to be sent up to the space station, highlighting the assumptions that hold back women in the workplace, even when it’s not on Earth. Koch and Meir spent five and a half hours outside the ISS to fix a power control unit. Read more at The Guardian.

Jodrell Bank awarded Unesco World Heritage status

After a decade-long bid, the Jodrell Bank Observatory was added to Unesco’s list of World Heritage sites. Home to the Lovell telescope – once the world’s largest, but now ranked third – the University of Manchester site has been used to watch the skies since 1945, and is where the science of radio astronomy was born. It joins the Palace of Westminster, Stonehenge, and the Lake District for British sites on the Unesco list. Read more at the BBC.

Eliud Kipchoge runs a 1:59 marathon

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Running a marathon in less than two hours wasn’t supposed to be possible, but science and sporting talent combined in Eliud Kipchoge to break one of distance running’s biggest hurdles. The epic run was achieved through perfect food prep, which included drinking special energy drinks throughout the race, picking the perfect day for weather, custom-made shoes, and using pacers to block the wind. But even with that help, it was no small feat: to hit that time, Kipchoge ran the equivalent of a 100 metre sprint in 17 seconds, but 422 times in a row. Read more at WIRED.

Simone Biles becomes most decorated gymnast ever

The 22-year-old American didn’t only win five gold medals at this year’s world championships, but did it with the largest points margin of her career while performing her own stunt, the Biles II — which involves a double backflip and three full twists — and in doing so, became the most successful gymnast ever. The achievement came a year after Biles confirmed that she too had been sexually assaulted by USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar, leading the athlete to speak out against the organisational cover-up but also to celebrate her own accomplishments, encouraging confidence for female athletes everywhere — even those that can’t do quite so many backflips. Read more at The Guardian.

Quantum supremacy is here

Google leaked a paper, and the world changed — suddenly, quantum supremacy was here. That milestone, when a quantum computer can solve a problem that a standard computer couldn’t in our lifetimes, has been on the horizon for years, with Google predicting it would reach it by 2017, and rivals hoping to do the same. But this year, for the first time, researchers at Google used a quantum processor called “Sycamore” to solve a random sampling problem. Sycamore took three minutes and 20 seconds to spit out an answer; the best of our current supercomputers would take 10,000 years. Quantum supremacy is only the first milestone, but it’s now been reached. Read more at WIRED.

Tesla builds a battery to go one million miles

One of the challenges of electric cars is declining capacity in batteries, which could require them to be replaced at high financial and environmental cost. But that could be solved with battery tech developed by Tesla’s head of battery research. Jeff Danh, who is also an academic at the University of Dalhousie, published a paper detailing a battery design based around a series of pouches that could last a million miles without losing capacity, even with constant recharging. With Danh’s design, capacity fell only four per cent after being recharged 3,400 times. Read more at WIRED.

DeepMind plays fair at StarCraft — and still beats us

Google-owned DeepMind’s AI royally thrashed professional StarCraft players — but it wasn’t playing fair. But in a second round, DeepMind’s AI had human-level restrictions to better mimic real gameplay, such as having to look through the in-game camera to see the map just like anyone else. It not only beat its human opponents, but played at an elite level — highlighting the success of the neural network at learning new skills in a real-world environment. Read more at WIRED.

Britain went two weeks without coal

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The road to fully renewable energy sources hit a milestone when the UK went two weeks without using coal to generate power — no small feat given coal provided 40 per cent of British electricity just six years ago. (The figures don’t include Northern Ireland, which shares a grid with Ireland.) While some of the power for those two weeks came from natural gas — not a carbon-free source — as well as nuclear, there have been gains in true renewables, with new records for solar and wind power. Read more at WIRED.

Norway says no to oil project

This year, millions of children skipped school to protest inaction over climate change, while Greta Thunberg shamed political leaders at the UN for their slowness to take up the fight. But Norway apparently heard, with its parliament refusing to sign off on a drilling project in the Lofoten archipelago. It’s one step towards keeping oil in the ground — in this case, three billion barrels of it. Read more at Bloomberg.

First electric aircraft takes flight for 15 minutes

A short, 15-minute flight from Vancouver could be the future of air travel. Harbour Air, which flies turbo-prop planes between the Canadian city and local island communities, worked with Australian engineering firm magniX to retrofit a 62-year-old six-seater seaplane with an electric motor and battery with 160km range. After the successful trial, Harbour Air hopes to electrify its entire fleet, but regulatory tests mean that will have to wait two years. Read more at The Guardian.

Britain’s carnivores are bouncing back

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A study of Britain’s carnivorous mammals revealed their numbers have improved despite lost habitat, the threat of busy roads, and government-approved culls. The Exeter University study showed that animals such as badgers, stoats, and weasels have improved since the 1960s, with otters, polecats and pine martens recovering from near extinction largely without human help. The only such animal still at risk is the Scottish wildcat. Read more at The Guardian.

Humpback whales recover from near extinction

A study in Royal Society Open Science reveals that the number of Western South Atlantic humpback whales has almost entirely recovered from mass hunting. By the mid 1950s, just 440 were believed to be left, but after a moratorium on hunting, they now number 24,900, close to the original population before the slaughter began three hundred years ago. Read more at Smithsonian Magazine.

UK porn block ditched

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Conservative politicians have spent the last five years pushing through plans to require age verification for porn websites in order to keep children from viewing adult material. After years of delays and plenty of criticism of the security and sanity of the various proposals, culture secretary Nicky Morgan admitted the plans had been shelved, hopefully for good. Read more at WIRED.

Abortion legalised in Northern Ireland

Four decades after the rest of the UK started to legalise abortions, Northern Ireland has finally followed suit, allowing women in the country the right to access the medical procedure. As abortion services are not yet provided, the UK government will pay for women to travel to England for the procedure — something women and girls have done for decades; last year, more than a thousand are recorded to have made the journey. As of next year, local services will mean such a trip is no longer required. Read more at New Scientist.

Humans placed in suspended animation

When trauma victims arrive in A&E, doctors have minutes to save their lives. Scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine are buying medics more time by placing patients in suspended animation. Called emergency preservation and resuscitation, the procedure is used on patients with acute trauma whose heart has stopped beating and have lost at least half their blood, leaving them with a five per cent survival rate. To give surgeons time to operate, this procedure cools the patient by replacing their blood with cold saline, stopping brain activity. After two hours, the patient is rewarmed and their heart – hopefully – restarted. The work is still in trial phase, with results expected in 2020. Read more at New Scientist.

Antiretrovirals prevent HIV transmission

A Lancet study of 1,000 couples over eight years revealed that the use of antiretroviral drugs prevents transmission of HIV. Not only does that mean those with HIV need not worry about infecting their partners, but suggests that if everyone with HIV had access to treatment, there need not be any more infections.

That good news comes as researchers have revealed a second man has been cleared of the HIV virus using a bone marrow transplant. The treatment was given for the unnamed patient’s cancer, and the procedure is largely unused for HIV infections because bone-marrow transplants can be risky and other treatments are preferred. However, researchers hope it could lead to new treatment techniques and say it proves that HIV is curable. Read more at The Guardian.

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Google is still capable of listening to criticism, in at least one case. Project Dragonfly was the codename for controversial plans to launch a censored search engine for China, ten years after it departed over disagreement with the government over the issue. Dragonfly would have blocked results for sensitive searches, such as “Tiananmen Square”, as well as sources such as the BBC and Wikipedia. But, after the plans leaked, Google quietly killed the project.

Given all the dodgy decisions made by Google this year – suspending its AI ethics board after appointing a right-wing think tank leader, hoovering up health data via Project Nightingale, plus an investigation into whether it fired staff in retaliation for activism against company policies on hate speech – it’s good to see a bit of light, and know that the behemoth can still be influenced on moral grounds. Read more at the BBC.

Greggs’ vegan sausage roll sparks meat-free fast food frenzy

Greggs makes sausage rolls, so it made one for vegans. It pissed off Piers Morgan, caused queues and sellouts, and helped bump profits for the baked goods chain by 58 per cent. Now, Tesco and M&S both offer vegan sausage rolls, KFC is set to start selling a vegan chicken burger and McDonalds is considering vegan options, making it easier to eat fast food without the impact on the environment or animals. It’s a good time to be vegan, even if just for a meal. Read more at The Independent.

A Season of Hope. Compassion

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For the last nine years, Eric Schmitt-Matzen has dressed up as Santa to spread joy around Knoxville, Tennessee.

A few weeks ago, he also brought peace to a five-year-old terminally ill boy, who ended up dying in his arms.

The 60-year-old Schmitt-Matzen was working at his day job as a mechanical engineer in Jacksboro when a nurse called him from a nearby hospital.

The name of the hospital is not being named out of the privacy of the parents.

“She said there was a very sick 5-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus,” Schmitt-Matzen told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “I told her, ‘OK, just let me change into my outfit.’” She said, ‘There isn’t time for that. Your Santa suspenders are good enough. Come right now.’”

When Schmitt-Matzen got to the hospital, he was taken to the Intensive Care Unit where he met the boy’s family and was given a toy to give to him.

Schmitt-Matzen also gave the boy a pep talk.

“I sat down on his bed and asked, ‘Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!

“He looked up and said, ‘I am?’

“I said, ‘Sure!’”

Schmitt-Matzen said the boy then asked him point blank: “They say I’m gonna die. How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?”

The kindly Kris Kringle figure told the boy to just tell everyone “you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.”

Schmitt-Matzen then hugged the boy as the child died in his arms.

The story has since gone viral and is touching people based on social media comments.

The experience was emotionally draining for Schmitt-Matzen, who admits he thought about hanging up his Santa suit for good.

He has since changed his mind after doing what he thought was one final show, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

“When I saw all those children laughing, it brought me back into the fold. It made me realize the role I have to play,” he said. “For them and for me.”

 

Season of Hope. The Psychology of HOPE

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Talent, skill, ability—whatever you want to call it—will not get you there. Sure, it helps. But a wealth of psychological research over the past few decades show loud and clear that it’s the psychological vehicles that really get you there. You can have the best engine in the world, but if you can’t be bothered to drive it, you won’t get anywhere.

Many have proposed lots of different vehicles over the years. Grit, Conscientiousness, self-efficacy, optimism, passion, inspiration, etc. They are all important. One vehicle, however, is particularly undervalued and underappreciated in psychology and society.

That’s hope.

Hope often gets a bad rap. For some, it conjures up images of a blissfully naïve chump pushing up against a wall with a big smile. or Don Quixote tilting against windmills. That’s a shame. Cutting-edge science shows that hope, at least as defined by psychologists, matters a lot.

Hope is not a brand new concept in psychology. In 1991, the eminent positive psychologist Charles R. Snyder and his colleagues came up with Hope Theory. According to their theory, hope consists of agency and pathways.  The person who has hope has the will and determination that goals will be achieved, and a set of different strategies at their disposal to reach their goals. Put simply: hope involves the will to get there, and different ways to get there.

Why is hope important? Well, life is difficult. There are many obstacles. Having goals is not enough. One has to believe that they can accomplish their goals, amidst all the inevitable twists and turns of life. Hope allows people to approach problems with a mindset and strategy-set suitable to success, thereby increasing the chances they will actually accomplish their goals.
Those lacking hope, tend to adopt mastery goals. People with mastery goals choose easy tasks that don’t offer a challenge or opportunity for growth. When they fail, they quit. People with mastery goals act helpless, and feel a lack of control over their environment. They don’t believe in their capacity to obtain the kind of future they want. They have no hope.

It seems that performance can be enhanced in the short term by reminding people that they have the motivation and the means to pursue a goal. This “situational hope” could potentially be useful in the future as a means of short-term intervention to enhance performance. By reminding people before tests or situations in which performance and achievement are required that they have the will and the ways to do well, possible potential can be better utilized.

Athletes had higher levels of hope than non-athletes. I have seen that among my gymnasts, the state of having hope predicted outcomes beyond training, self-esteem, confidence, and mood.

I like to think that current ability is the best predictor of future success. Important psychological studies show that ability is important, but it’s the vehicles that actually get people where they want to go. Oftentimes, the vehicles even help you build up that ability you never thought you had. And hope—with its will and ways—is one of the most important vehicles of them all.

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Season of Hope. Holiday Movies!

I missed writing yesterday. Just a crazy busy day. We had our first significant snowfall and I had to plow my gyms.

There are so many wonderful holiday movies. Most are at least well done. There is not one particular movie that I MUST see every year. But there are many that I enjoy.

Here are my favorites.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Scrooged

Trading Places

Christmas Carol (1938)

Meet Me in St Louis.

The Santa Clause

 

Miracle on 34th St. (1947)

Gremlins

Joyeux Noel

Christmas Vacation

Christmas Story

Holiday Inn

Home Alone

Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer

and no Christmas is complete without seeing Hans Gruber fall of the Nakahashi Towers. Die Hard

Have a favorite? Let me know!

Twitter @tretrosi

 

Season of Hope. Remember that if you are reading this- you’ve got it pretty good.

We can call get so engrossed with our own lives and problems that we forget that others may need a helping hand. Not just this year, not just this time of year but every day, every year.

For the most part our biggest issues are overeating during the holiday season. Finding time to workout, making time to cook and buy presents.

We can help others. We can extend a helping hand. Take a minute to help someone. We will always be one world and we must be a world full of hope. That is what I want my legacy to be.

In 1984 I was in my first year of college.  Bob Geldof and Midge Ure formed the supergroup Band Aid  to raise money for anti-famine efforts in Ethiopia by releasing the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”  On 25 November 1984, the song was recorded at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, and was released in the UK four days later.[4][5] The single surpassed the hopes of the producers to become the Christmas number one on that release.

Looking back it seemed like an obvious hit but at the time, it was a risk and a chance taken to help others.

The group reunited with current stars in 2014 to bring help to the Ebola Crisis in West Africa.

 

You don’t need to be a superstar to help those around you. You can get involved with groups within your community.

Habitat for Humanity, No Kid Hungry ,  The Salvation Army and one I just learned about in my town, The Community Toolbox 

GIVING, like politics starts local. You do not need to think big to have a big impact.  One of my employees travels with bags of sandwiches that she gives out to people asking for money at the side of the road. She has passed this lesson on to her daughters.

I fully believe that no man stands so tall as when he stoops down to help another.

 

Season of Hope. New Friends

WHAT A PERFECT TIME OF YEAR TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS!

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One of the most important and yet least understood areas of psychology concerns the role of friends in our lives. It is often awkward when you are at your spouse, partner or GF/BF holiday party. They know everyone, they are in on all the jokes. Find another awkward looking person at the party at strike up a conversation. You already have something in common, you would rather be somewhere else.

As I was finishing up school in NY I was invited to a Christmas party at a friends house. He gave me his address and I headed over there. I pulled onto the street saw cars were lined up down the street. I parked my car and followed a couple up the street into to the house. I walked in was welcomed, my jacket taken, a drink put in my hand and directed to the food. I made small talk and joined in some humorous talk. Looking around the party I realized I didn’t know anyone. I searched for friends and a wave of dread came over me when I realized, I AM AT THE WRONG HOUSE!

The host came in and asked if I needed anything,

Me, “No thank you, what a great party!”

Host, “You are at the wrong place aren’t you?”

Me, “ummm, yeah- but this party seems pretty great!”

Host, “I’ll get your jacket and you can sneak out the back door. I think the party you are looking for is 2 houses down.”

Me, “Thank you so much!”

I snuck out the back door (drink in hand) and went to the party that I was invited to. It was an equally fun party.

The next week I was getting a coffee and the guy in front of me looked familiar. Yep- The host of the party I crashed. We laughed, had a coffee together and had dinner and drinks a few times before I left for New Hampshire. I am NOT a tremendously outgoing individual.  At work it’s easy for me to be social because we have a shared experience. At parties, it’s much more difficult for me. I do not particularly enjoy “small talk”. I can never understand how my wife can go up and just start a conversation with someone.  (ANYONE HAVE ANY HELP FOR ME HERE?!)

I have been pretty lucky to have made some great friends recently. I look forward to dinner and drinks with them. We always laugh and each night, no matter how casual, is memorable.

I am thankful for these friendships and look forward to sharing this holiday season with them.

When it comes to happiness, your friends are the key.

I’ve tried to distill Friendfluence into what I believe are its most important lessons.

Here are 15 reasons to appreciate your friends:

Friendfluence is the powerful and often unappreciated role that friends—past and present—play in determining our sense of self and the direction of our lives. Whether you realize it or not, your friends have shaped who you are today. You are even the product of the friends who are no longer your friends.

Friends can give you vital life skills.  There are many perks of friendship include sharpening your mind, making you generally happier, knowing yourself better, becoming inspired to reach your goals, advancing your career, helping you meet romantic partners, and living a longer and healthier life.

Childhood friendships start your learning process. Early friendships play a vital role because they occur while key developmental changes are taking place. They help teach us some of those important life skills but also shape our life “narrative.”

Teen friendships shape your later romantic bonds. Though parents spend much of their time worrying about who their teenage kids are with, these relationships are a training ground for the later long-term bonds that will evolve through adulthood.

Friends can help you define your priorities. People tend to pick friends who are similar to them. This fact falls under the general proximity rule of close relationships, in that like tends to attract like. Because we fall prey so easily into this similarity trap, it is important to try to stretch yourself to learn from some of those opposites.

Having friends can help you get more friends. People tend to like others who have a reputation for being nice and helpful, and they like people who like them. If you want to be the type of person who attracts new friends, these qualities will help get you on your way toward building your social group. Once you have more friends, you’ll be able to enjoy some of those perks of friendship.

Close friends support you through thick and thin. To take the most advantage of friendfluence, put effort into your closest friendships. Although being friendly can get you more friends, you don’t need hundreds to help you through life. You may have to prune your friendship tree as you get older to be sure that you give enough attention to the ones who will really matter for your well-being.

You’re less lonely when you have friends.  Loneliness is painful, especially when you are living with loneliness for a prolonged period of time. This is yet another reason to put time, energy, and attention into finding and cultivating a close circle of friends.

Your online friends can steer your thoughts and behaviors. Although online friends are qualitatively different than your in-person friends, they shape you nevertheless. They can also be your source of life support.  Of course, your online friends can also make you miserable too, especially if you get caught in the “friendship paradox” (the fact that most people on Facebook have fewer friends than the average number). If you can avoid having Facebook envy dominate your life, you’ll have more rewarding connections with your extended friendship community.

Friends matter to you, regardless of gender. Although much is made of the difference between male friends, female friends, and male-female friend pairs, all share the qualities of having the potential to influence your life. If you restrict yourself to one certain type of friendship, you may be missing out on bonds that transcend gender boundaries.

Couple friendships can help your own relationship. People experiencing similar life events can often provide the most valuable support to each other. Unfortunately, some couples withdraw from their friendships when their relationship turns serious. You can benefit both from maintaining your separate friendships, but also from sharing with the couples who are experiencing transitions such as becoming parents, raising teenagers, and helping older family members.

Friends can also help you alleviate your work-related stress. Even though you may be stretched to the limit time-wise, the investment you make in these friendships will be worth the psychological benefits.

Friends can give you a reality check. Who but your closest friends will tell you that your new purchase is ridiculous? What person you meet on the street will let you know that your latest romantic interest is going to bring you heartbreak? Because friends know us so well, they are able to see things that we can’t, and aren’t afraid to share their dose of reality with you.

Banding together with friends can help you effect social change. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to fight for a cause, raise money for charity, or even just make a few small improvements in your community on your own. Friends are the first step to building successful social movements. Facebook provides one way to enlist the support of thousands of people. At a less grandiose level, people are more likely to engage in helping and altruistic behavior at the urging of their close friends.

Being a friend helps your friends. Friendfluence works in two directions. Not only do you benefit from its many perks, but by being a good friend you are helping those closest to you.  If you are aware of how you’re affecting your friends, you’ll work harder to stay close to them which, in turn, will benefit you as well. Being a good friend also includes asking them for help when you need it.

Giving someone the gift of being influential can be one of the greatest joys you pass on to your friends.

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Go make a new friend today. At least try.

Season of Hope. Reconnecting

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Whether it’s a yearly holiday letter, greeting card, or email, the holidays remind us of our long-time relationships. Some people are very fortunate to remain geographically and emotionally close to their “oldest” (or longest) friends. Like many my ADULT life (I am still in denial about being an adult) has me pretty far away from the people I grew up with. In our very mobile society the odds are that you no longer live in easy traveling distance from the people you were closest to in childhood, adolescence, or even college.

An old friend never can be found, and nature has provided that he cannot easily be lost.

Samuel Johnson

There is something great about reconnecting with old friends. It helps to remind you of where you were. Even though you can’t go back in time and relive those days, it is nice to ground yourself once in a while. Good for the soul.

Wishing you can go back will be pretty hollow, but looking at that notch in time is a good way to evaluate your place in time- in the “now”. There will always be certain memories you wish to forget. Awkward times, painful experiences and there are also things you wish you could put in a highlight reel, those things you were proud of – the accomplishments of goals and desires you have had over the years.

Then there are those very special memories with those genuine friends and family that if you could “bottle” the feelings of comfort and joy, you would open that bottle frequently and drink that in.

I look forward to seeing  cards and letters from old friends or even their Facebook posts this time of year.  It helps me drink in those memories of the time we have spent together. Last night I was out at the Breckenridge Distillery for drinks and dinner with my family and saw a photo on the wall that I had to send to my friend Jeff. Yes, we played D&D.

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Many people who knew YOU also want to know how you are doing. Send them an e-mail! A lot of people feel it’s awkward and a little nerve racking to try to get back in touch with a friend they haven’t spoken to in a while. What often happens is someone will want to drop an old buddy a line, but then they’ll think, “It will be so weird sending them an email out of nowhere. How will they react to it? Will they wonder why I’m writing them now?”

This time of year there is nothing abnormal or weird about reaching out to an old friend. You just have to put your self out there and go!

My personal story, I grew up in upstate New York. Spent most of my life in Rome, NY then High School in Cortland. Although I was only in Cortland 4 years. They were important years. Difficult as it was trying to “fit in” with others who had been together since preschool. I did manage to make some connections and feel very lucky that I am still in touch with some of them.

My first 2 years of college had me at a 2 year school in Utica. There I made a few connections and I wish I had stayed in touch with some of these people. As odd as it is the person I am closest to from that time is also the person who lives furthest away in Iceland.

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Finishing up my college career at UNH I find myself still living in the area and therefore occasionally running into people I went to school and grad school with.

Through out all of this there was my “Gymnastics Family”. Guys I did gymnastics with. Girls I coached, and those I coached with. Recently we lost a member of my gymnastics family. Dave- we miss you every day.  

I could make a list of the people who I have lost contact with that I wish I could see or hear from more often. But it would be better to say-

I miss you all. If I have lost touch, please send me an e-mail!

A Season of Hope. Chaos Theory

A season of hope.

As the days get shorter and we are facing  long dark and cold nights. The solstice is just weeks away and the days will become longer. This time of year even the smallest gesture can change the world.

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The name, coined by Edward Lorenz for the effect which had been known long before, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier.

The idea, that small causes may have large effects in general and in weather specifically, was used from Henri Poincaré to Norbert Wiener.

 

In The Vocation of Man (1800), Fichte says that “you could not remove a single grain of sand from its place without thereby … changing something throughout all parts of the immeasurable whole”.

 

Yes, one small act you do today can change the world tomorrow. In the 2000 movie Pay It Forward A young boy attempts to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that chance.  It makes me upset that because of Kevin Spacey being basically a terrible human being that this movie will not be shown again. Who knows, maybe the powers that be will reshoot it with a different cast. The assignment: think of something to change the world and put it into action. Trevor conjures the notion of paying a favor not back, but forward–repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people.

 

 

The other day I was speaking to a UPS driver at a coffee shop. It was a VERY snowing day in New Hampshire. I just asked how he was doing.  He said going was slow but not too bad. He then related a story of how at one of his stops he trudged upon the sidewalk to see a basket of snacks for him and other people making deliveries.  That small gesture changed his day.  

YOU CAN CHANGE SOMEONES DAY! Today, Tomorrow, whenever, Slow down! Hold a door open for someone. Buy someone a coffee. Heck, buy EVERYONE a coffee!F9389564-C2D2-4BB7-ABAA-6D6917305430

There are so many opportunities to make the world better. Do it.

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Who Will Repair What Is Broken?

By Michael Starr Hopkins

I am a Democrat, but I have always felt that strong opposition parties were good for the country. For this, I have sometimes been harshly criticized by other Democrats. Such criticism could be confusing. Aren’t Americans supposed to promote bipartisanship? Indeed, when I first came of age politically, I fundamentally disagreed with Republican leaders like former Gov. Chris Christie and former Rep. Paul Ryan on policy, but I respected them as public servants. I believed that they were the type of leaders who would turn the GOP in particular away from nativism and lead Republicans into some semblance of 21st century politics.

I was wrong. Instead, the GOP has done the opposite. Republicans have taken partisanship to a level that would make Newt Gingrich blush. They have embarrassed themselves, and they have embarrassed me for even suggesting that they could provide a better path forward — and for what, some tax cuts and conservative judges? As angry as I am at Donald Trump for his lack of decency and empathy, I am equally as disappointed in the Republicans who aided his rise to power.

Still, while most Democrats would understandably prefer an America free from the Republican Party, I somehow find myself hoping for the rebirth of a more tolerant and inclusive conservative party that can help to one day restore America’s faith in government.

Repairing what is broken is a task too heavy for one party to bear, and an obligation too onerous for any single group. Rebuilding our institutions and strengthening the bond between people of differing viewpoints requires a commitment from each and every one of us. It requires honest brokers, willing to find common ground and ignore the naysayers whose sole goal is to be the loudest in the room. It requires a confidence of purpose that cannot waver in the midst of an election season that could signal the end of one’s political career. Most importantly though, repairing our broken country requires Republicans in particular to stand up and take their party back from those who are attempting to bastardize their message

Succumbing to the worst tendencies of one’s party isn’t new or unprecedented; we’ve been here before. Moral crises have repeatedly tested the will of our great nation. This country has battled through the dark days of slavery, segregation, McCarthyism and Watergate, and still we stand. Not because of magic pixie dust but thanks to brave patriots, willing to take unpopular yet principled stands because our social contract demands it.

And America has always managed to find its way back from the brink because of our ability to come together, in search of a shared purpose, when we as a country need it the most. We are edging toward a brink now, not of violence necessarily but certainly of near-intractable partisanship. Just look at the differing ways the impeachment inquiry is being covered. I may be foolish, but I still believe in our shared purpose. I still believe that, in spite of those who have turned their back on our motto, e pluribus unum, principled conservatives will find their way back home.

So who will stand up now and help take the Republican Party in a new direction? Election season cannot go into perpetuity, at some point we must govern. Someone must lead.

I am not naive, nor do I believe that the majority of our political leaders have the intelligence or moral compass to act with the courage of Abraham Lincoln. Expecting an overnight solution to a longterm problem is a recipe for failure. And I realize that the same people who mocked me for believing that Republicans and Democrats could work together before, will likely mock me once again for believing that all hope is not lost.

I realize that the same people who mocked me for believing that Republicans and Democrats could work together before, will likely mock me once again for believing that all hope is not lost.

But what other choice do we have? Our democracy requires compromise and courage to meet the challenges that we face. We cannot afford to continue down the broken roads that have led us to gridlock. We need each other.

Like it or not, Democrats need a strong Republican Party to act a a counterweight in our deliberative process. The Framers fully intended for progress to be incremental, not overnight or all at once. A democracy absent diversity is not a democracy. This symbiotic relationship may not be pretty and certainly may not always be successful, but it is necessary to the framework that makes us a shining star on a hill.

I have often been called too optimistic and criticized for my faith in my fellow American. Yet I wear those labels with pride, because at the end of the day we have to believe. We have to believe that we are part of something worth fighting for and saving.

Most importantly though, we have to believe in the goodness of each other and our ability to correct course even when it seems impossible. That has been our saving grace throughout history, our ability to turn this social experiment around and live up to our motto “out of many, one.”