On Thanksgiving 2016

After an election process that has been too long, too costly, and too damn goofy, the election has tested our spirits and patience. While some are upset, others gloat. While some cautiously watch, some don’t worry – even though they are leery.

My Thanksgiving wish for 2016 is that everyone enjoy the gathering. Don’t talk politics, but enjoy the company. Don’t talk politics, but enjoy the food and beverages. Don’t talk politics, but enjoy laughter. Don’t talk politics, but enjoy the little things. Don’t talk politics, but be thankful for all the good people in the world. Don’t talk politics, so smile and be kind – after all, you probably have a lot to be thankful for.

Safe travels for those who will spend time on the road. To those who don’t have family gatherings, peace to you. Happy Thanksgiving … and I’m thankful for all the good people I’ve encountered on my little corner of the world.

There’s got to be a song for you below. Which did you pick? …. and you can have more than one.🙂

On a Thought-Provoking PSA

I was going to include this in the next Opinion in the Shorts, but this is great mental fodder.

While watching the Today show this past weekend, I heard about a Public Service Announcement featuring actress Olivia Wilde regarding World Down Syndrome Day (Monday 21 March 2016). The brief report was about the varying reactions people have about this PSA.

Watching this is worth your time as it stimulates thoughts. What are your thoughts about this video? Praise or criticism?

Here’s a link to Down Syndrome International.

On an Inspiring Edit

When I started volunteering at the English Second Language (ESL) class, I didn’t know what to expect: I didn’t know the teacher or any of the students. I didn’t know how the class worked, and I certainly don’t know the language of an English teacher. On the first day, seeing the international group gathered in one place for the same goal made me smile … after all, the majority of the world is good … but the uncertainty remained – including how the students would react to me.

Like any first impression, I formed mine by watching and listening to the students. The fact that their personalities occupied a wide spectrum shouldn’t surprise anyone. I don’t recall Lisa, (a young au pair from France) attending on my first day, but I recall that my initial impressions of her included impersonal, quiet, cold, guarded, and a touch of arrogance.

I knew better than trying to crack her personal barrier, so I did what I do with every student – focus on the task at hand while being personable, respectful, and welcoming. We conversed several times because I had worked with the young lady she sits beside – another French au pair. Watching Lisa have a good time at the Christmas white-elephant gift party provided a glimpse into her warmer side. Eventually we worked together, and all went well.

The teacher promotes publishing opportunities for the students – and some participate. This particular volunteer day happened to be the submission deadline, so the teacher asked me to meet with Lisa with the objective of editing and fine-tuning Lisa’s poem and story.

We went to a workspace outside the classroom, then started with her 19-line poem – which (unlike the story) I had read. She immediately apologized for its darkness, but I reassured her that my role was to improve her poem by bringing clarity to future readers – therefore not making personal judgments. Her English is good, and she’s been in the US more than a year – so her strong writing didn’t surprise me.

As we discussed her poem, Lisa responded to my questions from her heart – after all, the poem was about her. By elaborating her intent, she made my task easy. Not only did I learn more about her, she told me that she was happy when I was the one working with her because of the different people she encounters in class, I was the one she trusted the most … which surprised me because we hadn’t worked that much together, and I attend only once a week.

Her comment may have shocked me, but I was unquestionably grateful. In general, my steady temperament keeps my outward emotions in check. Whereas I’m not be overly emotionally, the sensitivity button within my core can be activated – and that would bring emotions to the surface … and yes .. Lisa triggered that button.

I told her that her comments were a gift from her to me, which (in turn), surprised and confused her … but she didn’t know about the emotional swell that was going on within me – my emotions of her journey coupled with the her kind words to me.

Being me, I returned to the task of providing comments and suggestions for her poem … then we moved on to the story: a one-page narrative about her France-to-Cincinnati journey … but unknown to the other, each of our emotions were now on heightened alert.

I kept asking questions and providing suggestions while Lisa continued being sincere, open and vulnerable. Although we were on the story, I was fusing the thoughts from the poem, the story, and her explanations. She was reaching deep within herself in these writings, and her explanations were from her inner abyss – something I never intended to do.

I asked, “Are you selfish?” … to which she quickly and emphatically responded, “Yes!” … and even saying it with a smile. We laughed, and our work continued. As we talked, the laughs and calmness eventually changed to tears in her eyes … and in time, my eyes welled.

Not only around the thought of the unexpected gift, but I was also reflecting on various aspects of my life – my trials – my tribulations – my baggage that I placed on my shoulders – and the baggage that others placed upon me. Now, I was the one explaining some of the feelings she caused me to bring out – and yes – I told Lisa about the gift she gave me – and she smiled.

We finished the edit. Being that both of us had our moments of watery eyes, we engaged in some small talk in order to regain our composure. We returned to the classroom to discover the students were gone – class was over. We informed the teacher of our accomplishments, and Lisa promised the teacher she would do her final edits and resubmit the work later in the afternoon.

While walking to my car, I reflected about the unexpected gift and my emotions. This time, without tears, but with a smile, and warmth in my core. I had a special moment with a person that I initially thought was impersonal, quiet, cold, guarded, and arrogant. For whatever reason, she let her guard down to me. We respectfully connected, and she reinforced my notion that the majority of the world is good. That’s a good day by my standards, but on this day, I got quite the unexpected special moment on a special day – my birthday.

Merci beaucoup, Lisa! … and peace and happiness to you in all your days ahead.

StudentGift

“Eyes Never Fake a Smile” …I left teaching almost 15 years ago, so it’s been awhile since I’ve been surprised in this manner. After class the following week, Lisa gave me this art that she created as a thank you gift, plus a personalized note and a few French cookies. Although the cookies didn’t make it home, this now serves as a reminder of a very good day.

On the aFa U.N.

I have written the following words on these pages on more than one occasion – The majority of the world is good.

I believe it. Even though the daily news across the world challenges that thought, I still believe it.

Think of all the conflicts across the globe centering on race, gender, religion, and ethnicity … yet, I still believe that the majority of the world is good.

Think of the areas with armed conflicts at the moment: Syria, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Iraq, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Mexico, Ukraine, Central African Republic, Yemen, Myanmar, Burundi, and more … yet, I still believe that the majority of the world is good.

Think of the current challenges between groups as Sunnis and Shiites, Christians and non-Christians, Catholics and Protestants, Whites and Blacks, Males and Females, Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, the rich and the poor, and more … yet, I still believe that the majority of the world is good.

Many, if not all, of the conflicts above center on power, greed, selfishness and getting people to conform to the ideals of others … yet, I still believe that the majority of the world is good.

My belief in humanity because of the interactions that I’ve encountered. I think of my dance friends from Vietnam, Lebanon, China, Guatemala, Romania, Ukraine, and the United States. They ground my hope in humanity and that the majority of the world is good.

I think of my English Second Language (ESL) students that I help from China, Mexico, Guatemala, Syria, Senegal, Italy, Palestine, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, France, Poland, Kuwait, Germany, Japan, Mauritania, Russia, and the United States. They strengthen my hope in humanity and that the majority of the world is good.

I think of the many bloggers who have participated on these pages from Canada, UK, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, South Africa, Argentina, Malaysia, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Italy, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Finland, Norway, France, Lithuania, Ecuador, Pakistan, Ireland, United States, and others. They help fortify my hope in humanity and that the majority of the world is good.

I think of the many nice people I’ve encountered in Italy, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Estonia, Finland, Russia, Portugal, Canada, Croatia, various Caribbean islands, and across the United States. They reinforce my hope in humanity and that the majority of the world is good.

It’s all these people demonstrate the goodness of humanity … and it’s these people who would make a wonderful United Nations.

On to 2016

As we move from 2015 to 2016, a toast …

To kindness, love, and patience … to family, friends, and the good people we don’t know …

To sincerity, honesty, and integrity … to prudence, justice, and restraint …

To generosity, gratitude, and humility… to joy, laughter, and friendliness …. to the positive, the compassionate, the brave, and the humble … and to the majority of the world that is good.

Wishing good health and happiness for all.

Salute! Yamas! Proost! Skål! Sei gesund! A la votre! Şerefe! Gān bēi! Terviseks! Kippis! Salut! Cheers!

On the Spirit of Christmas 2015

Although the daily news goes against these thoughts, but I truly believe the following:

  • The majority of people in the world are good.
  • Smiles are the universal language that crosses all language and cultural barriers.
  • Kindness is the universal action that everyone appreciates.

These points are constantly in my head when volunteering at the English Second Language (ESL) classes – especially with Arabs and Muslims. For me, Matt Harding’s videos support my thoughts. After all, all one has to do is watch the faces in the video. Maybe that’s part of the reason this video frequently waters my eyes.

You may wonder what this has to do with the Christmas season, but (to me) it demonstrates an important essence of the holiday season in today’s world.

Yes, Christmas is a Christian holiday … and yes, I’m a Christian. While some complain about the secular and commercial aspect by proclaiming “put Christ back into Christmas”, my contrarian nature sees another view. For those embracing that mantra, I say go for it – but not at the expense of others because the spirit of Christmas is for everyone.

Besides its religious significance, Christmas is also a celebration of goodness: The goodness that ties the entire human race. The goodness that crosses all geographic and cultural boundaries, including language and religion. The goodness that is for Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, Sikhs, and all other religions. The goodness is for all ages, all genders, all races, and all sexual orientations … simply the goodness for all people everywhere.

Yes, the roots of Santa Claus lie deep within Christianity. From St. Nicholas (Nicholas of Myra), other traditions developed as baby Christkindl (eventually Kris Kringle), Father Christmas, and Sinterklaas. Europeans brought these traditions (and others) to the United States that serve as the foundation for Christmas today.

Several events in mid-to-late 1800s helped morph Santa: mainly Thomas Nast’s version of Santa in Harper’s Weekly, and Clement Clayton Moore’s icon poem, The Night Before Christmas.

Although Frank Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus and various Norman Rockwell paintings helped transform Santa’s image in the early 1900s, it was artist Haddon Sundblom’s portrayals of Santa Claus for Coca-Cola that cemented the image of Santa Claus that we embrace today. From 1931-1964, Sundblom’s Santa served as a brilliant marketing total for the beverage company giant.

All along the journey from Nicholas of Myra to the modern-day Santa, goodness is the common theme. Santa Claus is the spirit of Christmas – the one who portrays goodness and kindness to all. If goodness is for everyone, it seems logical to me that everyone can celebrate Christmas. Santa Claus is the one who sees kindness across cultures, religions, races, and languages. After all, the majority of us want kindness, plus peace and goodwill for all.

In the spirit of Santa’s goodness, thank you for all the joys you regularly give to me. Thank you for helping me maintain my faith in humanity. One hand is sufficient in counting the number of visitors here I’ve physically met, but I am sure of one thing – You are the good of Santa’s spirit.

For my video gifts to you, enjoy two version of Silent Night. The first by Mannheim Steamroller accompanied by beautiful displays from the night sky is one of my long-time favorites. For those preferring a singer, Placido Domingo joins The Piano Guys.

Merry Christmas to those who accept Santa as the spirit of Christmas … Happy Holiday to those preferring that greeting … and to my Christian friends, a blessed Christmas to you.

Peace to all.

2015 aFa Holiday Blog Party

Welcome to my 2015 Holiday Party for my friends, their guests, and whoever stops by this weekend!

In the spirit of the holiday season, this gathering is for everyone: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, and others. I say everyone because I’m a firm believer that the majority of the world is good – and in spite of all the crap we get from the news each and every day, the WordPress community helps prove my point … so peace and goodwill to the global community of goodness!

My wish is for guests get a gift and mingle with others – which also means gifts can be traded!

Come back to mingle with the guest and watch available entertainment.

This is going to be a bit crazy for both readers and your host, so I request your patience! … but make sure you read the Overview and Directions below the next video.

Overview

  • Behind each number is a surprise gift. *
  • Once the number (gift) is taken, it’s no longer available (so state your number in the comment)’
  • While I hope to strike-through taken numbers, I do have to sleep and run errands – so I request readers check the comments for taken numbers. (See the Update note above the numbers for my progress).

Directions

  1. Pick (click) an available number for your surprise gift.
  2. In your comment, type your number (hopefully on its own line so all can see it) and tell everyone about your gift.

Positive cheers to all in the spirit goodness for the season! Have fun!!!!

UPDATE: (Marked out down through Tim)

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   41   42  43  44  45  46  47  48

DogElf

* Gifts selected by visitors are for amusement purposes only, thus never intended for the host to purchase and send to those selecting.