Category Archives: Community

Good People in the World

Yesterday I was in the Chicago Airport standing in line at one of the food court vendors in terminal C. A man and his wife were walking behind me when all of a sudden another gentleman ran up to them and said to the man, “You dropped this back there.” The gentlemen proceeded to hand the other man a $10 bill that had presumably fallen out of his pocket when he got up from eating.

The man was at first startled that someone had run up behind him. But, then he was even more startled to have another person hand him a $10 bill. The look on the man’s face was one of confusion, surprise and thankfulness. His face showed that he probably either didn’t have a belief that someone would give back “found” money like that or he didn’t believe it would happen to him.

Either way, he thanked the gentleman who found it and walked away with a look of puzzlement.

I believe that this is just one example among millions of good deeds that happen every single day. We don’t hear much about them because most of the news seems to be focused on the bad stuff going on.

This incident is not an exception. It’s the norm. We just need to open our eyes a little bit to see more of them.

Have a great day!

Michael

Differing Opinions

Differing views, opinions, and beliefs add texture and color to the world’s tapestry‚Ķ Controversial times, while difficult to weather, can change the world. – Michelle Sedas

I don’t think anyone would disagree that we live in controversial times; times of tremendous differences that can bring about significant change. Sometimes it can be challenging when the prevailing way of thinking is one of right and wrong. Having a strict edge between right and wrong can cloud a complex issue or hide a potential compromise that would actually benefit all.

In all controversy, including personal, keeping your mind open, being able to truly listen and staying objective can go a long way towards defusing a situation. What most people don’t think about is how controversy and widely differing views can actually be the seeds for positive world change.

It requires everyone to be unattached to their own strong opinions. It requires extending respect. It requires openness to compromise. It requires not taking things personally. It requires the appropriate use of anger; i.e. expressing strong emotion without harming others. It requires hope and faith.

If we can focus on these qualities, we can free our minds to concentrate on a solution instead of the problem. Next time you are involved in a controversy, a meeting of people with vastly differing opinions or beliefs, take a step back and think about cultivating the qualities like I mentioned previously. It just may be the one thing that initiates positive change.

Have a great day!

Michael

Newport Jazz Festival 2009

Taken with an iPhone

Taken with an iPhone

Every summer, typically around this time in August, the Newport Jazz Festival becomes a mecca for jazz lovers and people that enjoy outdoor festivals.

George Wein started the Newport Jazz Festival many years ago and except for last year, produced the festival every year. Almost at the last minute, CareFusion became the corporate sponsor which helped successfully launch this year’s show.

Erica and I had the opportunity to volunteer to help at the festival, both Friday night and Saturday during the day. The work wasn’t that hard and we were able to see many performances for free.

This year’s Jazz Festival started on Friday night at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The Tennis Hall of Fame is a beautiful facility right on the famous Bellevue Avenue in Newport where many of the large mansions are located. The Howard Alden/Anat Cohen Quartet kicked the evening off. Chaka Khan and The George Duke Trio were the final performances on a lovely evening with an almost full moon peaking through some high clouds, perfect temperature and an enthusiastic crowd.

We took a water taxi on Saturday morning to Ft. Adams State Park where the main festival was held for the weekend. This is a great ride because you can see, up front and personal, all the large boats, yachts and ships that dock in Newport Harbor during the summer.

The day was lovely; blue skies, mid 70’s temperature, low humidity. The grounds around the old fort quickly filled up with festival goers anxiously awaiting the first performances. We worked near the main stage so we were able to see five main performers; Cedar Walton Trio with Lew Tabackin & Curtis Fuller, Esperanza Spalding, The Joshua Redman Double Trio, Branford Marsalis Quartet and Mos Def & the Watermelon Syndicate.

Two other smaller stages hosted a number of other acts; Vijay Iyer Trio, Christian McBride Trio, Vandermark 5, Jane Monheit, Hiromi’s SonicBloom, North Carolina Central Jazz Combo with Joey Calderazzo, Claudia Acuna, Branford Marsalis – Joey Calderazzo Duo, North Caroline Central Big Band and the Miquel Zenon Quartet.

Overall it was a fantastic day; great music, good food, some cool vendors selling their wares, interesting people, wonderful weather and a relaxing time.

Michael

How We Can Help Each Other

As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has–or ever will have–something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression. – Fred Rogers

We are all have a unique opportunity to help each other. Each one of us carries something that no one else has and that is our individuality. It’s what makes the world go around. It’s what makes us so interesting.

By using encouragement, constructive criticism, kind words, a smile or two, gentle pushes, help and many other things we can make a difference in someone’s life. It’s that simple. We can make a difference with family, friends and strangers. It doesn’t matter.

Make the decision to be the one who steps up to the challenge and help someone be who they can and want to be. It’s up to each of us.

Michael

Lighten Up

In a world that seems increasingly snarky and judgmental, be kind. Be kind to your friends, be kind to your family, be kind to yourselves. And remember, just as you are, everyone really is just doing the best they can. – Katie Couric

We are really doing the best we can. We judge so quickly and so harshly now. It’s important to give people a break. What happened to mature discussion about controversial topics?

Next time you are quick to judge, step back and think about things a little bit. Would you be happy if you were judged that quick? Would you like to have your side of the story listened to?

Here is my “practice this” list:

  • Practice being nice.
  • Practice being a good listener.
  • Practice getting angry without being hurtful.
  • Practice smiling on a regular basis.
  • Practice seeing the humorous side of a situation.
  • Practice taking the high road.
  • Practice less judgment.
  • Practice “chilling” out.
  • Practice what you preach.
  • Practice compassion and empathy.

Lighten up more in your life.

Michael

Eradicate Fear

What the world has to eradicate is fear and ignorance. – Jan Masaryk

Fear and ignorance are at the heart of many personal problems as well as society’s problems. I’ve found that traveling to different and unusual places has greatly helped to reduce fear and diminish ignorance.

Meeting new people of new cultures or even a neighboring region or state can go a long way in increasing our awareness of different perspectives, thoughts and beliefs. It’s important to keep an open mind; i.e. no judging allowed. Judgment tends to keep one in ignorance. This exercise is not to change your beliefs but to increase your understanding.

I’ve been very fortunate to have traveled to several countries both in Europe and the Far East. I’m always surprised but never bored by the people I meet. I find their beliefs fascinating and really enjoy getting into the nitty gritty of their thought processes.

I think I’m a better person for traveling as much as I do. As my knowledge and experience increases with different cultures, my fear becomes less. But, frankly, you don’t have to go to another country. Another part of your own country would work also. For example, the U.S. has many distinct regions with a variety of differing beliefs. You might not have to go that far. A guiding factor is to go somewhere that is a little bit out of your comfort zone. That will bring many more positive changes.

We all have a responsibility in decreasing fear and eliminating ignorance. You could help by simply traveling to a new place.

Have a great day!

Michael

We Are All Alike

The thing that’s between us is fascination, and the fascination resides in our being alike. Whether you’re a man or a woman, the fascination resides in finding out that we’re alike. – Marguerite Duras

We really are all much more alike than different. Yes, we have and practice different beliefs. We come from different cultures and backgrounds. When we strip all that away, we are all very much the same.

We all want to be happy. We all want to prosper. We all want to have great relationships. We all want to live an abundant life. We all want to feel fulfilled. We all laugh. We all want to be loved and to love.

Let’s celebrate our similarities and stop focusing on our differences. Each of us can take on this responsibility resulting in positive change for ourselves and the resulting change in the world would be substantial.

Michael

Rhode Island Air Show

Today Erica and I went with some friends on their boat out in Narraganset Bay. We wanted to watch the Rhode Island Air Show from the water because a lot of the planes would be flying right over us and around the bay.

The weather was perfect; partly cloudy, not too hot and only moderate waves. Wow! What a show. I have never seen planes do the things we saw yesterday. Maybe it’s because I don’t keep up with the latest stunts, but regardless of that, these pilots were extraordinary and crazy at the same time. We saw planes stand on their tails seemingly weightless while others did somersaults one after another all thousands of feet above the ground. From small single engine stunt planes to high performance fighter jets, the aerial entertainment lasted for several hours

The Canadian Snow Birds put on an unbelievable show with 9 planes in perfect formation. They criss-crossed back and forth across the sky in perfect symmetry. One stunt involved four planes, each pair heading towards the other at breakneck speeds. Moments before a mid air collision they make a slight adjustment and pass within feet of each other avoiding collision.

The show ended with the Blue Angels captivating the crowds of people with one perfect movement after another. They seemed so close that their wings appeared to be touching.

Overall, a fantastic time on the water; relaxing, fun and exciting. The only issue I had was trying to take photos of a plane traveling hundreds of miles of hour while in a boat bouncing on 2 – 3 foot waves. :-) I’ll post a link of a few goods ones a little later.

Michael

Newport International Film Festival 2009

Newport International Film Festival

Every year for the last 12 years, Newport, Rhode Island hosts an international film festival packed with dozens of films over an 8 day period. It includes shorts, documentaries, comedies, dramas and etc. Most of the directors and producers are up and coming. It’s great to see the fresh look of many of the films.

A few of the films make it to the big time and get nationally released. Very cool!

Erica and I watched a comedy last night at the festival called Humpday. Very funny and very different. You can go to the website and read about it.

One of my favorite things to do is to see and experience the creativity of others. It’s endlessly fascinating because you never know what someone will come up with; a new twist on an old idea or a completely new thing.

If you are ever in Newport, RI at this time of year don’t miss this wonderful opportunity.

Michael

Kind Words

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. – Mother Teresa

What if each of us gave one kind word to three people everyday?

I think it would change the world.

I’m starting today.

Michael