Pay Attention, Class. . .
The biggest fear of being
K I N D
is someone will
. . .funny,
T H A T
continues to be my
daily prayer. . .
BE KIND WHENEVER POSSIBLE. IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE
Who Cares - What Matters
Pay Attention, Class. . .
The biggest fear of being
K I N D
is someone will
. . .funny,
T H A T
continues to be my
daily prayer. . .
BE KIND WHENEVER POSSIBLE. IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE
I know. . .
I know what you’re thinking
N O W
and every 25th of every month
when I proclaim
(usually with a Christmas scene)
MERRY PRACTICE CHRISTMAS
(usually with how many more days until Christmas)
which usually elicits this resounding response:
But wait. . .
CHRISTMAS IN JULY
wasn’t my idea
so much as me picking up the
and making sure it flies
U N F U R L I N G L Y
before you. . .
Werther, an 1892 French opera with libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet, and Georges Hartmann, had an English translation published in 1894 by Elizabeth Beall Ginty. In the story, a group of children rehearses a Christmas song in July, to which a character responds: “When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season.” It is a translation of the French: “vous chantez Noël en juillet… c’est s’y prendre à l’avance.” This opera is based on Goethe‘s The Sorrows of Young Werther. Christmas features in the book, but July does not.
In 1935, the National Recreation Association’s journal Recreation described what a Christmas in July was like at a girl’s camp, writing that “all mystery and wonder surround this annual event.”
The term, if not the exact concept, was given national attention with the release of the Hollywood movie comedy Christmas in Julyin 1940, written and directed by Preston Sturges. In the story, a man is fooled into believing he has won $25,000 in an advertising slogan contest. He buys presents for family, friends, and neighbors, and proposes marriage to his girlfriend.
In 1942, the Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. celebrated Christmas in July with carols and the sermon “Christmas Presents in July”. They repeated it in 1943, with a Christmas tree covered with donations. The pastor explained that the special service was patterned after a program held each summer at his former church in Philadelphia, when the congregation would present Christmas gifts early to give ample time for their distribution to missions worldwide. It became an annual event, and in 1945, the service began to be broadcast over local radio.
The U.S. Post Office and U.S. Army and Navy officials, in conjunction with the American advertising and greeting card industries, threw a Christmas in July luncheon in New York in 1944 to promote an early Christmas mailing campaign for service men overseas during World War II. The luncheon was repeated in 1945.
American advertisers began using Christmas in July themes in print for summertime sales as early as 1950. In the United States, it is more often used as a marketing tool than an actual holiday. Television stations may choose to re-run Christmas specials, and many stores have Christmas in July sales. Some individuals choose to celebrate Christmas in July themselves, typically as an intentionally transparent excuse to have a party. This is in part because most bargainers tend to sell Christmas goods around July to make room for next year’s inventory. (from Wikipedia)
I KNOW. . .
TOO MUCH INFORMATION, Right. . . ?
It kind of puts the
B L A N K
B L I N K
But so too often
is not always
WE LIVE IN A SNOW GLOBE’D WORLD
often turned upside down
U N S E T T L E D
and just when we think we
GET THE MESSAGE
s i l e n t l y
“all is calm, all is bright. . .let heaven and nature sing,
JOY TO THE WORLD
So I don’t know what really
L I G H T S
your tree. . .
but whatever it is
make sure it stays lit in this dark world
and even better. . .
S H A R E D
T I C K T O C K, T I C K T O C K
We really don’t need a clock
to tell us that even now
W A S
Second by Second
It shouts out us. . .
M O C K S U S
and then Billy Collins,
Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003
T H E P R E S E N T
Much has been said about being in the present.
It’s the place to be, according to the gurus,
like the latest club on the downtown scene,
but no one, it seems, is able to give you directions.
It doesn’t seem desirable or even possible
to wake up every morning and begin
leaping from one second into the next
until you fall exhausted back into bed.
Plush, there’d be no past
with so many scenes to savor and regret,
and no future, the place you will die
but not before flying around with a jet-pack.
The trouble with the present is
that it’s always in a state of vanishing.
Take the second it takes to end
this sentence with a period–already gone.
What about the moment that exists
between banging your thumb
with a hammer and realizing
you are in a whole lot of pain?
What about the one that occurs
after you hear the punch line
but before you get the joke?
Is the where the wise men want us to live
in that intervening tick, the time slot
that occurs after you have spent hours
searching downtown for that new club
and just before you die up and head back home?
(THE RAIN IN PORTUGAL, Random House, 2016)
. . .but it’s true, isn’t it. . .
almost impossible to
the new buzz word:
M I N D F U L
to even define it
while you’re literally catching a cold from the flipping pages
of the fast moving calendar
. . .makes you wonder not only about
T I M E
but actually what time is it:
N E W
N O W
THE AGE OF COVID-19
THIS P R E S E N T
. . .maybe that it’s simply
I don’t have to love forever
I don’t have to be kind forever
I don’t have to be compassionate forever
I don’t have to be caring forever
I don’t have to be forgiving forever
I don’t have to be accepting forever. . .
J U S T
l o v i n g
k i n d
c o m p a s s i o n a t e
c a r i n g
f o r g i v i n g
a c c e p t i n g
N O W
or as Mr Poet Laureate, Billy might suggest:
Is it enough. . .
for once not as a whole. . .
just grain by grain
which beats any
s e c o n d
on any clock or watch. . .
anyone can love for
for just one good
p r e s e n t
M O M E N T
r e a c h
for the hands
c l a s p i n g
This past Fourth of July weekend, I read an article from the New York Times that tell us, Acts of kindness may not be that random after all. Science says being kind pays off. . .
And my first thought was,
“SERIOUSLY, DO WE NEED THIS RESEARCHED OUT TO FIND OUT IF IT’S TRUE; THAT IT’S REAL. . . ?”
Research shows that acts of kindness make us feel better and healthier. Kindness is also key to how we evolved and survived as a species, scientists say. We are hard-wired to be kind.
Kindness “is as bred in our bones as our anger or our lust or our grief or as our desire for revenge,” said University of California San Diego psychologist Michael McCullough, author of the forthcoming book “Kindness of Strangers.” It’s also, he said, “the main feature we take for granted.”
Scientific research is booming into human kindness and what scientists have found so far speaks well of us; especially during this pandemic time.
“Kindness is much older than religion. It does seem to be universal,” said University of Oxford anthropologist Oliver Curry, research director at Kindlab. “The basic reason why people are kind is that we are social animals.”
We prize kindness over any other value. When psychologists lumped values into ten categories and asked people what was more important, benevolence or kindness, comes out on top, beating hedonism, having an exciting life, creativity, ambition, tradition, security, obedience, seeking social justice and seeking power, said University of London psychologist Anat Bardi, who studies value systems.
“We’re kind because under the right circumstances we all benefit from kindness,” Oxford’s Curry said.
When it comes to a species’ survival “kindness pays, friendliness pays,” said Duke University evolutionary anthropologist Brian Hare, author of the new book “Survival of the Friendliest.”
Kindness and cooperation work for many species, whether it’s bacteria, flowers or our fellow primate bonobos. The more friends you have, the more individuals you help, the more successful you are, Hare said.
For example, Hare, who studies bonobos and other primates, compares aggressive chimpanzees, which attack outsiders, to bonobos where the animals don’t kill but help out strangers. Male bonobos are far more successful at mating than their male chimp counterparts, Hare said.
McCullough sees bonobos as more the exceptions. Most animals aren’t kind or helpful to strangers, just close relatives so in that way it is one of the traits that separate us from other species, he said. And that, he said, is because of the human ability to reason.
Humans realize that there’s not much difference between our close relatives and strangers and that someday strangers can help us if we are kind to them, McCullough said.
Reasoning “is the secret ingredient, which is why we donate blood when there are disasters” and why most industrialized nations spend at least 20% of their money on social programs, such as housing and education, McCullough said.
Duke’s Hare also points to mama bears to understand the evolution and biology of kindness and its aggressive nasty flip side. He said studies point to certain areas of the brain, the medial prefrontal cortex, temporal parietal junction and other spots as either activated or dampened by emotional activity. The same places give us the ability to nurture and love, but also dehumanize and exclude, he said.
When mother bears are feeding and nurturing their cubs, these areas in the brain are activated and it allows them to be generous and loving, Hare said. But if someone comes near the mother bear at that time, it sets of the brain’s threat mechanisms in the same places. The same bear becomes its most aggressive and dangerous.
Hare said he sees this in humans. Some of the same people who are generous to family and close friends, when they feel threatened by outsiders become angrier. He points to the current polarization of the world.
“More isolated groups are more likely to be feel threatened by others and they are more likely to morally exclude, dehumanize,” Hare said. “And that opens the door to cruelty.”
But overall our bodies aren’t just programmed to be nice, they reward us for being kind, scientists said.
“Doing kindness makes you happier and being happier makes you do kind acts,” said labor economist Richard Layard, who studies happiness at the London School of Economics and wrote the new book “Can We Be Happier?”
University of California Riverside psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky has put that concept to the test in numerous experiments over 20 years and repeatedly found that people feel better when they are kind to others, even more than when they are kind to themselves.
“Acts of kindness are very powerful,” Lyubomirsky said.
In one experiment, she asked subjects to do an extra three acts of kindness for other people a week and asked a different group to do three acts of self-kindness. They could be small, like opening a door for someone, or big. But the people who were kind to others became happier and felt more connected to the world.
The same occurred with money, using it to help others versus helping yourself. Lyubomirsky said she thinks it is because people spend too much time thinking and worrying about themselves and when they think of others while doing acts of kindness, it redirects them away from their own problems.
Oxford’s Curry analyzed peer-reviewed research like Lyubomirsky’s and found at least 27 studies showing the same thing: Being kind makes people feel better emotionally.
But it’s not just emotional. It’s physical.
Lyubomirsky said a study of people with multiple sclerosis and found they felt better physically when helping others. She also found that in people doing more acts of kindness that the genes that trigger inflammation were turned down more than in people who don’t.
And she said in upcoming studies, she’s found more antiviral genes in people who performed acts of kindness.
What is it about this song that it touches the heart of so many of us? How did this song become such a classic moment in Muppet history?
It all started in 1978 when Jim Henson was searching for a composer to write the music to The Muppet Movie. Since being a good friend of Jim’s since his appearance on The Muppet Show, the young Paul Williams got the job. “Rainbow Connection” was written to be the song to the Muppets as “When You Wish Upon A Star” had been to Walt Disney. In many ways, “Rainbow Connection” is also very similar to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from Jim Henson’s favorite film, The Wizard of Oz (1939), which was “an opening establishment driving urge for something more.”
Rainbow Connection was the first Oscar nomination for the Muppets, at the 52nd Academy Awards. Sadly, the song lost to “It Goes Like It Goes” from Norma Rae. While the Muppets would gain various other nominations throughout the years, it would be another 32 years until the Muppets would win an Oscar for best song (“Man Or Muppet” in 2012).
The song has had over 30 covers by noted singers including Sarah McLachan, Judy Collins, the Carpenters, Weezer, Willie Nelson, Jim Brickman, Jason Mraz, and many others. It was also performed by the Muppets themselves in The Muppets at Walt Disney World, The Muppets, The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years, and many more.
For many, the song is truly about finding yourself and following your dreams. This is the beginning for most Muppet fans, and where it all started. It’s where Kermit decides to leave the swamp and make millions of people happy, and the rest is history. Another reason might just be that Muppet fans know that they now have an entire screening of The Muppet Movie ahead of them.
This song gives the same message as Disney’s Pinocchio gave, which is really in essence, to believe in yourself, and follow your dreams. It sounds a little cheesy when I explain it like that, but that’s how I feel about it personally.
At the end of the film, when Kermit builds his family of all his friends who believe in him and share his dream (after the set gets blown to pieces), a rainbow shines through the hole in the ceiling, showing that Kermit had finally found his “Rainbow Connection” and is exactly where he wanted to be.
S T I L L
. . .the real question especially during our COVID-19
hazy, crazy Fog
isn’t so much
WHEN WILL THE SUN SHINE
so much as:
What message do you think
The Rainbow Connection
is giving off
FOR YOU. . .
and maybe even more:
IS IT SHAREABLE
It was Father’s Day yesterday and I asked the question to myself then
and when I visited my dad later in the afternoon
and now late tonight. . .
I’ve never had much of an argument in my life let alone an actual fight.
there was that time in fourth grade where Clyde Albert
and I got into a fight. . .
I’m not sure about what,
. . .Or the time playing varsity basketball I took a rebound off of a guy who took a swing at me that I was fortunately lucky to have
ducked. . .
. . .Or the time we were playing pick-up intramural ball and my high school coached on purpose cold-cocked me from behind after I stole the ball from him. . .
But actual fisticuffs brawl. . .
u h h h h h, n o,
not from this pacifist-non-confrontational-man.
Not ever, thankfully for any of my five children or six grandchildren,
H O W E V E R
I can’t remember many times in their lives
when I haven’t done that for each of them. . .
D A I L Y
I love this clip from CINDERELLA MAN, where boxer-daddy Jim Braddock played by Russell Crowe, had once been able to provide for his family in a very lavish way. . .and then injured and during the Great Depression, he finds himself unemployed and unable to meet even their most basic needs. Unbelievably, while Jim and his wife, Mae aren’t able to protect their kids from the devastating effects of poverty, they still create stability and a sense of normalcy in their lives through the strength of their love and sacrifice.
I love this clip from CINDERELLA MAN because when it came to providing for his wife and children, there was no fight too big or unchallenged by him.
Parents. . .
dads do that, don’t they?
I remember my parents sacrificing for me and my two brothers and sister;
I remember my dad working and then coming home late because he kept working after he worked;
I remember working myself and never really counting it as any cost when it came to providing. . .
I still don’t;
I’m one of those guys
that actually gives my kids gift cards,
or in the past,
because of the honor they gave me of not only being their dad,
but the awesome honor of supporting them;
Olivia, Gina, Angie, Zoe, and Connor
took a man and made him a
f a t h e r ,
but allow him still to be their
d a d,
in their own individual ways.
I never had to step into a ring or the arena to
f i g h t f o r m i l k
for my children and grandchildren. . .
but I have hopefully done much more
for so much less
. . .that my actions may show what no word of love could ever convey to them will continue to be my personal crusade
F A T H E R’ S D A Y
Yes. . .
Y E S
It was celebrated just yesterday,
The best part?
I never plan on living a day without celebrating
T H A T
I love this clip from Cinderella Man. . .
Now. . .
for that glass of milk
My parents would have celebrated
their 68th Wedding anniversary
yesterday, June 7, 2020
I believe they still did
“till death do us part”
never really separates. . .
June 8, 2020
Erin and I are celebrating our
34th Wedding Anniversary.
On June 8, 1986
the odds makers gave us a 35% chance of surviving our second marriage
which blended two families together
and it even went down a few percentage points when we had
o u r
two children within the first four years of our marriage.
T O D A Y:
the odds makers are ruling in our favor.
T H E Y
77% of couples married since 1990 reached their 10-year anniversaries according to recent census figures. It’s a supposed slight increase from 74% in the 80’s when divorces were at an all-time high.
N O W
Fifty-Five percent of all married couples have been married for at least 15 years, according to the Census report, while 35 percent have celebrated their 25th anniversaries and a special
S I X P E R C E N T
have made it to 50 years.
The Social Scientists are giving us all kinds of reasons why couples have not only leveled off the divorce train but actually turned it around:
More Equal Rights and Pay
Being Friends First
Bradford Wilcox, the Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia tells us,
“Marriage is actually becoming more stable in America and divorce is becoming less common.”
He goes on to say,
“There is sort of more of a soul mate model of marriage today. . .50 years ago, this was one of the things you did when you became a young adult. You found a boyfriend or girlfriend and if you were pretty happy you’d go ahead and get married. . .Today the bar for marriage is much higher because people want a soul mate, not just a spouse. And a soul mate should be someone who is capable of providing you with emotional fulfillment, an intense relationship.”
What do I know after 34 years?
that I can give the World, but Erin can bring me home.
that we can show each other what we can never see by ourselves
that she’s a beautiful blue ocean and I’m an extensive sandy shore
that her Better
conquers my Worse
that her Richness
obliterates my Poverty
cures my Illnesses
I know her Love
is my never ending Christmas Day
I most ultimately know
the most handsome
but no one can ever convince me
that I’m not the
l u c k i e s t
The one thing after all of these years
Why she said
Y E S
but I’m in heaven now and forevermore
did. . .
Great relationships aren’t the ones that last a lifetime,
they’re ones that last a second past eternity.
I don’t know what the percentages of
T H A T
a r e. . .
but when you have it. . .
you no longer care;
It’s a Math you can’t figure out
but adds up
a n y w a y
(and we just can’t stop smiling)
. . .not a whole lot of joy right now in the world,
huh. . . ?
W H O
would have ever thought we’d forget about
in less than a week
with all of the riots
U N R E S T
It feels like the World
is getting tossed about
like a big beach ball
that everyone wants to
BUT NOT GRAB A HOLD OF
C A T C H
. . .has it ever felt like
b e f o r e
searching for a
that just doesn’t seem to
I was in seventh grade, just a 13-year-old boy the night at Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated. I distinctly remember it as if time stood still as my parents watched a news cast, that interrupted our regular programming; it wasn’t so much what my parents said as what their faces were shouting: HORROR. SHOCK. SADNESS. . .
I had seen that look on their faces when I came home from school as a nine-year-old boy the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
I remember telling them that night as Walter Cronkite tried telling us the facts, setting the scene, maybe this was a good thing so now people wouldn’t riot anymore or protest and remember even more distinctly how they explained to me how this was a terrible thing and that there may be even more unrest and violence and protesting.
It was only a few days later when my dad was at a meeting and my mother and my two brothers and sister were at home and we heard a commotion out on the street and we went out on the porch there were hundreds of African-American people walking down our street from The Projects’ a few blocks away. Just walking. Not shouting. Not rioting. Not looting or burning anything. . .
Just walking. . .
They were going downtown for a peaceful protest in memory of Dr King.
I was terrified,
I had never seen a sea of people moving methodically down
a city street and its sidewalks;
I never wanted the protection of my father more than at that moment.
I have had other moments of being terrified and there’s a certain way your heart beats like at no other time than during
THAT FEELING. . .
My heart has beaten that way over this past week making me feel like a scared-trying-to-figure-it-all-out-13 yr old boy. . .
This Christmas tree is in my office overlooking my desk;
It was a gift a couple of years ago from my office buddies,
two great Social Workers,
Jen and Rachel
who have done of some of their best work on me;
they appropriately celebrated my Birthday by proclaiming it,
. . .the 25th of every month
I usually post some Christmas scene as a reminder that it’s
MERRY PRACTICE CHRISTMAS
and everyone on FaceBook gets really annoyed
and tells me
“DON’T RUSH IT”
“IT’S WAY TOO EARLY”
as if it was a curse for them to carry
or a chaotic Season to be avoided,
BUT HERE’S THE TRUE REASON:
Because I want the World to be now
what it is
T H E N
and I just don’t want it to be contagious
I want it to be
e v e r l a s t i n g
I want the message of Christmas
to be a message of
N O W
To be a
no one was looking for
a n y w a y. . .
So on the 25th of every month
I play Christmas Carols
but I’ve been playing them a lot since
was brutally killed
in front of all
us. . .
O HOLY NIGHT. . .
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!
and then the
which now forever haunt me:
FALL ON YOUR KNEES
(Fall on your knees,)
(Fall on your knees,)
(I can’t get the image out of my head of a police officer’s bent knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd)
Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine.
so, so many
knowing that ultimately
LOVE CAN’T BE LEGISLATED
but it can be
making us all
of its power. . .
We need a little Christmas
in all of its shapes and sizes
with an ample amount of flavor
to keep it fresh. . .
talk about a different heart beat
is about 4 years old. . .
Someone gifted it to me and I have never fully read it through;
I’ve thumbed through it,
the following before putting it on
for further reading
and I picked it up over these past few days and read it’s own
Would you like to change the world but feel like there’s nothing you can do? What if you discovered you could change everything with just five breaths and one kind thought? Want to help heal America? Our planet? The Global Kindness Revolution is the way forward. You don’t even have to get out of bed to join. You only need to take five breaths and think a kind thought, each day, at noon. Kindness at Noon, Everyday, Everywhere is a call to action to all, regardless of beliefs, background or religion, who are craving a kinder, gentler world.
This is a guide to exploring those aspects of ourselves we’re unaware of, such as suppressed anger and racism, that keep us in the dark and prevent us from embracing our neighbor, or what we perceive as the “other.” Scientists call the primitive part of our brains the “lizard” brain from the times when we hunted dinosaurs. Now, in this tumultuous era where viciousness and apathy fills the airwaves, The Global Kindness Revolution aims to elevate our collective mindset, to nurture the “Kind Mind” where empathy and compassion are on automatic.
The book provides exercises and guidance for incorporating a kindness lifestyle. It includes practices to enhance our connection with Mother Earth, and perspectives on what it means to be kind to oneself. It drills down into social issues that impact us individually and as a whole, and how we can navigate our social interactions with more compassion. It suggests ways to improve our personal relationships and our community, and how to maintain a healthy existence with the domination of technology.
The magic of this revolution is its global appeal calling on millions around the world to pause for Kindness at Noon. More are joining the cause to diminish the violence, racism and meanness humanity has continuously been plagued with. What began as a simple experiment in a Pennsylvania prison has expanded into a global initiative making a mark in countries like Nepal, Afghanistan and Egypt, directly addressing the refugee crisis, violence against women, and other injustices in dire need of change.
Kindness at Noon, Everyday, Everywhere. Join us!
r i g h t. . . ?
A N D
nothing against this fine book
and the exercises it implores us to use,
B U T
now’s not the time for words
filled with them. . .
far past needing books about
h e a l i n g
right on time about
B E I N G
A Volume of
. . .funny, huh,
THESE TOO, ARE WORDS. . .
and we need to not only be carriers of
INFESTERS OF THIS LOVE
antidote or vaccine
. . .A time
to stop drawing lines in the sand
to be sided against
BUT CREATORS OF CIRCLES
e x c l u d e
This is to be
A Caring Catalyst
BUT A LIVE
Circle making inclusive
one compassionately kind act at at time
For Now. . .
It’s not a time to do things by
and if words be necessary at all. . .
May it be
that we are all more
and way less
Happy Memorial Day.
How can you assure it?
One simple word:
R E-M E M B E R I N G
–literally, by putting together the Pieces of your Life that have meaning and significance to you the Ones who make those Memories worth
RE-Membering–Putting back together. . .
The World will debate and argue, but the greatest forces in and out of this World
are our Memories
and the Love that makes those memories
and always worth
observing and celebrating. . .
It’s easy to J U S T Limit these Memories to our Veterans
or for those who have recently died,
but any day we truly
that we actually put together those snipets of
Once Upon a Times
and ‘Remember When’s’
that put all those glorious colors to the
Tapestry of our Lives,
becomes a true Memorial Day.
Like any Holiday,
it really is celebrated most,
not so much on it’s Noted,
but when fully Recognized,
again and again and again with,
yes, that one single, beautiful thing called
M e m o r y
So, on this Memorial Day,
R E – M E M B E R :
It’s not enough for us to just merely
but for us to just simply Re-Member one thought,
T r u l y:
Give thanks not so much for those who have died;
but for those who still fully live within us all. . .
F i v e W o r d s:
H a p p y M e m o r i a l D a y. . .
T H A N K Y O U