A Season of Hope. We can have better days.

fullsizeoutput_3ea1The days are getting longer. Each minute brings us closer to summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.

2018 has taken a toll. A toll on our patience. A toll on un individually and collectively.  We need to remember that we are of one race. The human race. When one of us succeeds- we each succeed. It breaks my heart and my spirt to see people walk by a struggling individual. To see a mighty nation turn it’s back on it’s neighbor.  I still hold out hope for us. We are truly better than what we have recently shown.

Time does not have a rearview mirror or reverse. It can only move in one direction. We have HOPE for better days.

And you ask me what I want this year
And I try to make this kind and clear
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days
Cause I don’t need boxes wrapped in strings
And designer love and empty things
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again

I need someplace simple where we could live
And something only you can give
And thats faith and trust and peace while we’re alive
And the one poor child who saved this world
And there’s 10 million more who probably could
If we all just stopped and said a prayer for them

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again

I wish everyone was loved tonight
And somehow stop this endless fight
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cause everyone is forgiven now
Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again

Some great artists have been taken from us this year.

Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries.

These are songs I remember playing almost nonstop when my daughter was an infant. I still tear up.

Aretha Franklin, The “Queen of Soul” sold more than 75 million records during her life, took the form to new levels, gave a voice to the civil rights movement and inspired generations of singers

Although not a musician- Russ Solomon, the founder of the enormously influential and widely beloved Tower Records chain.

Rest In Peace.

Happy New Year All.

Peace,

Tony

A Season of Hope. Keith Richards

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WESTON – In a startling development for the Rock n Roll community, world famous Rolling Stones guitarist and songwriter Keith Richards was found alive on Wednesday. Crew members said they found his animated body sitting beside an amp, picking at a guitar and murmuring some incomprehensible melody. Shocked but elated, the roadies took Richards back to the dressing rooms and covered his old broken body with designer scarves and skull rings.

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“It’s astounding” said longtime Rolling Stones roadie Steve Kruger, “to find him in this state is…well, it’s unexpected to say the least.” Richards, the grizzly-faced guitarist long thought to be the most likely person on the planet to next kick the bucket, was noodling on a 5-string fender when he was found miraculously still conscious. “At first I thought it was some 200-year old giant turtle that crawled in here, or a wrinkly sack of potatoes with somebody inside,” recalled Kruger. “But no! There he was, strumming away on a few opening chords to ‘Start Me Up.’ What I was seeing looked awful, but unmistakable. When I realized it was Keith, I thought it might be one of those holograms like they created for Michael Jackson and 2Pac at Bonnaroo music fest a few years back. But then I touched him and he screamed ‘what the hell do you want!?’, and I knew.”

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Figuring that they might as well use him, the Stones management has decided to continue taking him on the road. “People still want to see him perform,” said Kruger. “And they’ll pay good money to see their favorite corpse up onstage, especially if he’s moving around and kind of sort of acting like it’s all still fresh and sexy. So now it’s kind of like we’re touring with some old museum piece, or your grandma’s music box, handed down from generation to generation, still spitting out a tune,” said Kruger. “And I’ll tell ya, Keith still makes a good noise.”

A Season of Hope. There is Beauty Out There- if you look.

The world is filled with beautiful and amazing things. You need to slow down to see slowdown and notice. It may be a flower growing in a trash filled vacant lot. It may be the white helmet volunteers in Syria. It may be a young girl with autism in Northern Ireland with the voice of an angel.

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Girl With Autism Sings A Stunning Rendition Of ‘Hallelujah’

It’s not just good because she’s dealing with autism … It’s good because it’s good — really good.

This 10-year-old’s rendition of “Hallelujah” would have given Leonard Cohen himself chills. Turn the volume up and give it a listen.

 

Kaylee Rodgers, a student who has autism and ADHD, sang the solo part for the famous tune during her school choir concert at Killard House School in Donaghadee, Northern Ireland, and the performance went viral.

Rodgers’ voice is stunningly beautiful ― and she exudes confidence while she sings with her classmates. Tracy Rodgers, Kaylee’s mother, told the BBC that Kaylee’s music teacher, Lloyd Scates, played a huge part in nurturing her special talent.

“She always loved singing, but it wasn’t until she started at Killard House School that she really came into her own,” she told BBC. “[Mr. Scates is] like her safety blanket ― he’s amazing.”

Killard House principal Colin Millar told ITV that Kaylee was very shy when she started at the school. She “wouldn’t really read out in class,” he said. So “to stand and perform in front of an audience is amazing … It takes a lot of effort on Kaylee’s part.”

Go and find beauty in the world today.

Peace.

A Season of Hope. Christmas Truce

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This time of year we really need to put aside our differences.

When we say “PEACE ON EARTH” remember that peace doesn’t see race, color, or religion. I truly believe that 99.9% of all people on earth want the same thing.

A roof over our head

A better life for our children

A world of peace and prosperity.

To Love and be Loved.

Lets focus on our similarities not our differences.

100 years ago- PEACE BROKE OUT.

During World War I, on and around Christmas Day 1914, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies.

On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus of the war for the celebration of Christmas. The warring countries refused to create any official cease-fire, but on Christmas the soldiers in the trenches declared their own unofficial truce.

On Christmas Eve, many German soldiers put up Christmas trees, decorated with candles, on the parapets of their trenches. Hundreds of Christmas trees lighted the German trenches and although British soldiers could see the lights, it took them a few minutes to figure out what they were from. Could this be a trick? British soldiers were ordered not to fire but to watch them closely. Instead of trickery, the British soldiers heard many of the Germans celebrating.

Time and again during the course of that day, the Eve of Christmas, there were wafted towards us from the trenches opposite the sounds of singing and merry-making, and occasionally the guttural tones of a German were to be heard shouting out lustily, ‘A happy Christmas to you Englishmen!’ Only too glad to show that the sentiments were reciprocated, back would go the response from a thick-set Clydesider, ‘Same to you, Fritz, but dinna o’er eat yourself wi’ they sausages!’

In other areas, the two sides exchanged Christmas carols.

They finished their carol and we thought that we ought to retaliate in some way, so we sang ‘The first Noël’, and when we finished that they all began clapping; and then they struck up another favourite of theirs, ‘ O Tannenbaum’. And so it went on. First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words ‘ Adeste Fidéles’. And I thought, well, this was really a most extraordinary thing – two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.

British and German troops meet in no man’s land. Boxing Day, 1914. Photographed by 2nd Lt Cyril Drummand, RFA.
British and German troops meet in no man’s land. Boxing Day, 1914. Photographed by 2nd Lt Cyril Drummand, RFA.

At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.

Some soldiers used this short-lived ceasefire for a more somber task: the retrieval of the bodies of fellow combatants who had fallen within the no-man’s land between the lines.

The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons, the soldiers’ essential humanity endured.

During World War I, the soldiers on the Western Front did not expect to celebrate on the battlefield, but even a world war could not destory the Christmas spirit.

Right now I feel many times we find a reason to have a fight and to fight a war. I think it is time we have a reason to wage peace.

Peace to All of you. Pass it on.

 

Even the SADDEST Christmas song can give you hope. Here is one of my personal favorites.

It is a song I tried to sing to my kids when they were little.

 

 

Peace.

A Season of Hope. Cherish our Differences 

Our strength is in out differences.

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. But 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 make Atlantic Gymnastics an exciting place.

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

A Season of Hope. The Next Generation

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Today marks an anniversary of one of the worst days in America. The day a man with a gun walked into a school and killed 20 Children and 6 Adults at Sandyhook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct.

I cried that day and the world cried with us. What happened next was an embarrassment. What happened next was, nothing…. Nothing happened. We as a country failed to pass a common sense gun law. We didn’t do a thing.

We, as a country, seem to love our guns more than our children. For you Gun nuts who think the country would be better if there were more guns. FUCK YOU. Stop reading. Go away. You are hopeless. You are a sheep who is being lead by the NRA and what you read about on your right wing conspiracy blogs. If you are so tough, you should stand up and say, “Enough!” we no longer live in the wild west. So I say again, Fuck you. You don’t have to look these parents in the eye when you see them at a gymnastics meet.

I have raised my children in a world where school lockdowns have become common. Where another school shooting, drive by shooting, shootings in churches, movie theaters, and playgrounds have become common place.

You know who I have hope for? The next generation. Their voting patterns show that they want REAL change. They do not want to raise their children in a world where politicians and right wing media can deny science. Where the president elect can make up facts and deny the truth.

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This is NOT a Clinton/ Trump thing for me (I supported Sanders in the primary). I look and see that the 18-24 years olds largely did not vote for the climate change denying, NRA and KKK supported pussy grabber.

So yeah, I have more HOPE for the next generation.

 

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.”

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A Season of Hope. Holiday Commercials.

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The commercialism of holidays is something we’ve been hearing about for decades.

Greg Lake, who passed away yesterday, penned the song with Peter Sinfield,  “I believe in Father Christmas” in the mid 70’s. Although it is often categorised as a Christmas song, this was not Lake’s intention. He said that he wrote the song in protest at the commercialisation of Christmas.

They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on Earth
But instead it just kept on raining
A veil of tears for the Virgin birth
I remember one Christmas morning
A winters light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that Christmas Tree smell
And their eyes full of tinsel and fire

They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a Silent Night
And they told me a fairy story
‘Till I believed in the Israelite
And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked TO the sky with excited eyes
‘Till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave New Year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear
They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell
The Christmas we get we deserve

I want to believe that everyone (except for advertising executives while at work) want to get away from the commercialization. They want this time of year to be about Peace and Hope. That may be why there are a few commercials every year that are released to actually make you feel good.

 

You are destined to see this in a later post because it is based on an actual event.

Sometimes you just have to make the best of the situation you are in

A reminder to slowdown and spend sometime with your family

 

And (in my opinion) the best commercial for 2017- MOZ the Monster

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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