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.

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 (But in a place where I often travel to). 

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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 put all of this there was my “Gymnastics Family”. Guys I did gymnastics with. Girls I coached, and those I coached with. 

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.

 

 

Today, Tomorrow, whenever, Slow down! Hold a door open for someone. Buy someone a coffee. Heck, buy EVERYONE a coffee!

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

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A Season of Hope

I published this series last year and I want to edit and repost it. I am not proud to say that this time of year I struggle with a little bit of depression. I have a GREAT life and an amazing family so it just makes me angry when I feel this way. Writing is a way for me to work through it. I miss friends and family from my youth. I miss my kids when they were little and excited by Christmas.

In April, on my other blog Vacilando, I posted 30 days of peace. It was at a time when I think we, as a country, needed to focus on peace.

Now, 7 months later, let’s focus on HOPE. From now until the New Year I will (hopefully) be  giving you a reason to be hopeful and to share that hope. Because with out HOPE, what’s the point?

As a 51 year old, I have faith in our next generation. I was texting with my son last night and told him that I have more faith in his generation than my own. They are largely engaged, environmentally conscious and see that they can change the world. They still have HOPE in their eyes and their hope gives me hope.

This holiday season these young consumers want to give—and to give back. Speaking to my children I’ve learned they plan to spend more than they did last year on gifts for family and friends. I found statistics for their generation and learned that a substantial majority plans to donate to a favorite cause or to spend time volunteering. Retailers will get in the spirit, too: nearly 75 percent say they will make charitable contributions to celebrate the season. And the good cheer doesn’t end there. Giving back inspires more giving back. Consumers prefer to buy from retailers who translate their values into action, whether it’s in the form of cash donations, commitments to sustainable practices, or community involvement, and many shoppers say they will actually spend more with these brands. It’s clear that giving back is good for business.

This is exciting news and a happy blurring of the lines between what we care about and how and what we buy and sell. Companies can engage consumers with their brands and products by demonstrating a clear sense of social purpose. Consumers have the opportunity to choose companies or products that support the causes they champion. At a time when consumers are increasingly demanding not only great products but companies with values that match their own, the holiday season is an ideal time to bring humanity to buying and selling.

While shoppers of all ages say they will open their hearts and their wallets this year for causes that matter to them, we can expect to see some generational differences. It’s the most digital time of the year, more millennial parents than consumers overall plan to make donations to their favorite charities. And millennials (young, college-educated, upwardly mobile), will increase the size of their charitable donations this year by a larger amount than shoppers in other age groups. But younger consumers won’t be far behind when it comes to spending to support causes they believe in. Gen Z shoppers (ages 16-20) are both brand loyal and loyal to brands that show social impact through their actions.

Younger millennials and members of Gen Z, perhaps because they have grown up in the era of B (benefit) Corporations, for example, when they buy a pair of shoes a pair goes to a child in need, and they expect business to be a force for good.

Make a difference this year by shopping local, shopping with a conscience, giving back to the community. Can’t think of what to get that weird cousin on your dad’s side? Make a donation in their name. Buy them a membership to a historical theater or museum.

 

Cranberry For All Seasons

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NATIVE FRUIT: CRANBERRY FOR ALL SEASONS

I have 2 passions. History and Cooking. I think in my next career I will be a food historian. Maybe put together a cook book (with a much better cook than myself- DAN KLUGER– any interest?) and have the history of main ingredients.

Is there a food in North America more intrinsically linked with the landscape of the past and nostalgically intertwined with a holiday feast than the cranberry? From Cranberry Lakes in Nova Scotia, Cranberry River of West Virginia, Cranberry Pond in Sunderland, Massachusetts, the Cranberry Isles of Maine, Cranberry Mountain in New York, Cranberry Meadow in New Jersey, and many a Cranberry Bog dotting coastal areas, the plant deserves the appellation of First or Founding Fruit. It is one of the indigenous foods in North America widely cultivated today. The narratives of the places where the berries once grew wild and…

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Things Seen in the Airport

I am a frequent traveler for work. The parent of one of my gymnasts jokes that I fly more than her husband WHO IS A PILOT!

I am a bit of a freak when it comes to arriving early. Whether I am arriving early to the airport or arriving early to a convention center or gym. I do not like to be rushed I would rather have some extra time to get my bearings, plan, etc. When I arrive early at the airport I tend to just read or write. When my brain needs a break I play a few mental games as I people watch.

Where are they going or coming from? : Based upon what they are wearing or carrying. For example- sun burned family, kids hair braided, dragging through the airport- Just came from Caribbean Vacation.

What is their job? : Based on what they are wearing or carrying- What is their job

Rank most OVERDRESSED travelers  in a certain amount of time.

Rank most UNDERDRESSED travelers in a certain amount of time.

I really try to be nice to airport and airline employees. They are just doing their job. What I get annoyed with is other travelers who seemingly have NO IDEA how to travel or act at an airport. I will save that rant for another day.

Here are some photos from airports.

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October 19. International Evaluate Your Life Day

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Evaluate Your Life Day is a bit scary. It sounds just a little bit too serious for my liking. And, what if I evaluate my life, and find out that I don’t like it????????

fullsizeoutput_497fWell, for starters, you can then make positive changes.

Evaluate Your Life Day gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect upon our life, where it’s been, and where its going. C’mon, be honest with yourself. Are things going well? What is bothering you? What do you need, or want, to change? How’s your Job? Why are you stressed? How is your relationship with friends and family?

With a self evaluation, you can then make big changes to improve the quality of your life, as necessary. Or, if things are going well, just tinker with small adjustments.

I have to believe that  Evaluate Your Life Day is the beginning of a happier and healthier you!


Origin of Evaluate Your Life Day:

Evaluate Your Life Day was created by the good folks at Wellcat.com

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There is Power when we stand together

This morning I was working out when “Learning To Fly” by Foo Fighters came on my iPhone. It has always been a personal favorite and I was really getting into it (and reminding my self NOT to sing out loud in Planet Fitness). When I got home I was looking for their video on youtube  to send to a friend as my “song of the day”.

What I came across was this:

The Rockin’ 1000. 1000 musicians play Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters to ask Dave Grohl to come and play in Cesena, Italy.

The Rockin’ 1000 organized in Cesena Italy in 2015 as a stunt to get Foo Fighters to play a concert there.  They were originally organized in a crowdfunding effort by Fabio Zaffagnini. Their initial performance in 2015 was made under the direction of Marco Sabiu.[5]

In November of that 2015 Foo Fighters came in a played a concert there!

 

Lesson- If you stand together- you can do just about anything.

What Was The BEST Part of Your Day?

Those who have been to my house for dinner or those who have come to one of my camps or training camps know this familiar question.  “What was the BEST part of your day?”

It is a conversation starter. A chance at reflection about your day and a chance to share a moment with those around you. One person poses the question to someone who must answer and pass the question on.

You may not know it’s origin.

On September 11, 2001 my wife and I were on our way to the airport in Boston to begin a vacation in Italy. We were nervous leaving our two young children behind even though we had two great people at our house taking care of them.

We were at our gym, Atlantic Gymnastics, when the first plane struck the World Trade Center. Phones started ringing, we did not have a TV or radio in the building so parents were crowded around a car in the parking lot listening to the news. We were sickened, worried and frightened. The news, the lack of news, the speculation was over whelming.

We called the kids school to see if they were releasing the students early. The tearful secretary said, NO. The children didn’t know what was going on and that they were going to keep their schedule as normal as possible. She asked who was calling. I told her my name and she let out a sigh of relief. She knew our travel plans and was worried that we were on one of the highjacked planes.

We closed the gym early that day and headed home. I grew up in NY and had many friends and family who I could not get in touch with. The kids came home from school and immediately could tell something was wrong. Mom and Dad were home instead of on their way to Italy. There was a tension in the house. It was hard not to cry. All I wanted to do was HUG them. All they wanted to do was go outside and play.

When we all sat down for dinner, the four of us plus our two house sitters, our neighbors came over. They were worried that we were on one of the planes. When they saw all the cars in the driveway they thought the worst. Big tearful hugs.

The tension at dinner was intense. My wife looking for a way to break the stress asked, “What was the BEST part of your day?” . My face must have betrayed my surprise. I was thinking- “are you crazy, this is a TERRIBLE day.”  She said “Even on a hard day- there is one thing that happens that is good or great. So- WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF YOUR DAY?”

I cannot remember how I answered. I do remember what she said. Her reply was. “Today is my friend Joanne’s birthday! I am so thankful for her in my life”.

To this day- each night, either at dinner or as we are relaxing at the end of the day someone asks, “What was the BEST part of your day?”.

Today- start that tradition in your house, In your gym, at your school, at your place of work. Ask someone- WHAT WAS THE BEST PART OF YOUR DAY?

And because you read this far- You might as well tell me in the comments section- What was the best part of YOUR day?

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Joann and Stephanie in Firenze

 

This I Believe

Beginning in 1951, radio pioneer Edward R. Murrow asked Americans from all walks of life to write essays about their most fundamental and closely held beliefs . In creating This I Believe, Murrow said the program sought “to point to the common meeting grounds of beliefs, which is the essence of brotherhood and the floor of our civilization.”

In spite of the fear of atomic warfare, increasing consumerism and loss of spiritual values, the essayists on Murrow’s series expressed tremendous hope. They heard a country moving toward more equality among the races and between genders. They heard parents writing essays that are letters to their newborn children expressing the hopes and dreams they have for them. And they heard the stories of faith that guide people in their daily experiences.

The events in Charlottesville, VA show us that as in the 1950s, this is a time when belief is dividing the nation and the world, We are not listening well, not understanding each other — we are simply disagreeing, or worse.  As an adult I feel that there’s a responsibility to change that, to cross borders, to encourage some empathy.

I want to hear what YOU believe. I have written about HOPE, I have written about PEACE. I want to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.

THIS I BELIEVE

I can believe things that are true and things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not.

I believe that people are perfectable, that knowledge is infinite.

I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is going to come back and kick everyone’s ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating. I believe that people may be having MORE sex but that the sex may not necessarily be good and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state.

I believe that all national politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste.

I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like martians in War of the Worlds. I believe that vaccines work and that the earth is round.

I believe that Robert Frost was the  greatest poets of the last century.

We are stardust. I believe that mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid,  that light is a wave and a particle, that there’s a cat in a box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself.

I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck.

I believe that anyone who says sex is overrated just hasn’t done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what’s going on will lie about the little things too.

I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, a baby’s right to live, that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system.

I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.

I believe in love.