On an Unexpected Connection

Saturday is Dance Day and Down Syndrome Day – thus the perfect opportunity for a post about special people. After all, I imagine many may not see a link between ballroom dance and Down Syndrome.

I volunteer at a weekly dance event that is not only fun, but one with ample opportunities for smiles because it is for adults with Down Syndrome. Some of the attendees are functional enough to have a job, but others aren’t. Some a more coordinated and able to move better freely, but others physically struggle. Toss in a wide range of speaking abilities, it’s quite a gathering of about 30 attendees and numerous volunteers.

My smiles come from an action or something said. From a person running up to me for a dance to receiving a smile given by someone who has difficulty speaking. Simply put, the 45-minute session is a weekly delight in my life.

However, these events are not about the volunteers, but about the attendees. First of all, it’s a social event. They arrive with smiles and race to greet their friends they haven’t seen in a week. That is followed by the power of music and dance as it speaks to them just as it does to the rest of us.

Each week is the same. The 45-minute session starts and ends with the same song – the group’s theme song – a version of Over the Rainbow to which everyone dance a group routine. After a line dance or two, the instructor reviews the dance, and then a song plays for dancing. Another song for the same dance is the sign to change partners. The pattern stays the same through Rumba, Salsa, Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha Cha, Tango, and Merengue – with the latter quickly morphing into a predictable conga line. After another line dance or two, the session ends with the same theme song that started it all.

I want to toast several of the attendees for the joys they give me.

  • To T, one of the better dancers, and one with an infectious smile and positive attitude
  • To K, whose quiet nature always answers question and giggles
  • To S, who is always smiling and laughing as she thinks I’m a bit crazy
  • To C, who best communicates to me through her eyes and smiles that make me melt on the spot
  • To J, who runs to me with a smile for a salsa or cha cha
  • To R, who insists on being a lady
  • To Teddy, one that I’ve written about here before, whose positive attitude about life is a role model for anyone
  • To the parents and caregivers for being supportive
  • To Mary, our leader (the blonde in the opening video), and the one who has made this happen

I close with a collection of clips for the competition held last October for these wonderful people. (Because you want to know, I’m in Foxtrot, Swing & Tango sections with contestants 35 & 54 – but I think that’s me in the center of the still)

Other Related Past Posts

On Selma: A Perspective

Selma: The movie

Setting: Selma, Alabama, early 1965 during the Civil Rights era

Me: At the time, a 12-year old living in rural Ohio, and oblivious to the actual meaning of the movement, but aware of events at a 12-year-old level

The movie trailer

From the opening scene, Selma is a historical, powerful, suspenseful drama that took me through many emotions – shock, sad, joy, shame, pride, surprise, awe, and probably others. Although I knew elements of the story and how it ends, the film was absorbing and suspenseful. Although it appeared to creep through time, the film moved at a reasonable pace and kept me engaged.

The film centers on important names that I already know: Martin Luther King, Andrew Young, Coretta Scott King, John Lewis, Ralph Abernathy, Malcolm X, Lyndon Johnson, and George Wallace … and some important ones that I didn’t know. I don’t know what percentage of the film is factual, but I’m confident that enough of it is for historical relevancy.

I appreciated David Oyelowo’s portrayal of Dr. King, and wow … the voice and the demeanor! As Dr. King’s wife, Carmen Ejogo’s displayed someone stoic, solid, and supportive.

Tributes to the event with video and images

Selma is a cultural barometer that provokes thought. Because then and now are points in time, it shows how far American society has come since those dark days yet, it should help one realize how far we still have to go. Shamefully, events like Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, and others still exist, but there is no way I can be convinced that the overall situation isn’t better today than 1965 and earlier … and Selma helps cement my belief.

With Martin Luther King Day being this coming Monday, this weekend would be an excellent time to see Selma.

Below is a short video that starts in the early 60s yet ends in 2009. It’s one of my favorite videos here because it speaks volumes to me about perspective, about growth, and about the hope that humanity can provide.

On Names

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.” (William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)

Names are an identity … and like it or not, we’re stuck with a name

Names come in many forms … There are personal names, first names, middle names, last names, birth names, forenames, given name, family name, nickname, place name, maiden name, married name, nickname, byname, code name, pen name, stage name, scientific name, surname

Synonyms include pseudonym, cognomen, anthroponym, autonym, nomen patronym, eponym, sobriquet, appellation, epithet, moniker, hypocorism, agnomen, alias, cover, moniker, toponym, designation, eponym, denomination, handle

Names can signify a heritage … such as my family tree includes Andrea, Basilio, Elisa, Gemma, Gino, Ida, Livio, Guido, Rita, Rosanna, Rosetta, Olvidio, Teresa, Torido, Verdiana, Vidia, and others .. but outside of family, I know very few people with any of these names

Names can be a connection to someone – a family member, a friend, a significant figure from the parent’s past, or someone popular at the time

Names have meaning, such as Frank means honest

Names are linked to a time, so we don’t meet many named Hazel, Bertha, Gertrude, Fred, George, Walter, or even Frank

Names carry power and reputation … in both a positive and negative sense

Names carry responsibility

 

What’s in your name? Who are you named after? What does your name mean?

Thanks for the music inspiring this post

On to 2015

A New Year’s greetings to all!!!

Although I’ve been posting and replying to comments, sorry that I haven’t been visiting much. Break has been good, but I will return to your wonderful blogs very soon. This post is similar to the Opinions in the Shorts assortment, but without the opinions.

2014 was a year of several milestones (150oth post, 200,000th visit, and 5000th follower) – the later is relatively meaningless because most of them don’t visit after following. On the downside, my consecutive streak of years Freshly Pressed ended at two, stats are way down (that’s OK because I enjoy this and my commenters), and I fell short of 50,000th comment (which should be early in 2015).

Many thanks to all my visitors, especially those who comment. Cheers to my top 5 commenters (according to WP): Lame, Elyse, Val, Carrie, & Marina!!! A special shout-out to Catherine because I don’t think WP counts her.

For those who enjoy looking at the annual reports, here’s mine.

Closing the year requires a touch from The Onion.

Celebrations to start your year

  • (Thurs) Bad Hangover Day, Mummers Parade Day, Euro Day, Commitment Day, Bowling Day, Copyright Law Day, Beanie Babies Day, First Foot Day, Global Family Day, Bloody Mary Day, New Year’s Dishonor List Day, Polar Bear Plunge Day, Z Day
  • (Fri) Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Day, Happy Mew Year for Cats Day, Swiss Cheese Day, Cream Puff Day, Science Fiction Day, Pet Travel Safety Day,  Buffet day, Motivation & Inspiration Day, 55 mph Speed Limit Day, Boo Boo Bear Day, Run up the Flagpole to See if Anyone Salutes Day
  • (Sat) Drinking Straw Day, Fruitcake Toss Day, J.R.R. Tolkien Day, Remember You Die Day, Chocolate Covered Cherry Day, Women Rock Day, Festival of Sleep Day, Write to Congress Day, Humiliation Day, Brooklyn Bridge Day
  • (Sun) Pop Music Chart Day, Tom Thumb Day, Trivia Day, Spaghetti Day, Appendectomy Day, Blender Day, Roller Skates Day, Free Flower Basket Day, Dimpled Chad Day

The next post will feature January, then followed by one or two Explore posts before returning to the normal routine. I’m thinking about doing more Explore topics in the future, so I will gladly consider your recommendations. Any ideas?

To keep 2015 on a positive track, I’ll announce the theme for the next act of Life: The Musical on the upcoming Monday Morning Entertainment.

When I heard these songs from the past the other day, I immediately thought they are fitting for the occasion. After all, let’s go into the new year with a some bounce in our steps.

Happy New Year everyone … and cheers to a positive life in 2015!!!!

On Good and Goodness – 2014

Good – an adjective, noun, or adverb – and this is the season of goodness.

Good is a word that transcends the globe in many languages and customs. Through a smile, music, a dance, and many other ways, good touches all and has a way to communicate across language barriers. Do you remember Matt?

Good – a desire or approval … as in living in peace with each other

Good – as in pleasing and welcoming

Good – kind, kindhearted, good-hearted, thoughtful, generous, charitable, magnanimous, gracious

Good – as in showing kindness and respect

Good – something produced for use by others

Good – as in appropriate, fitting, and adherence

Good – meaning valid, valued, treasured

Good – a quality emphasizing the best, finest, and nicest – or considerable, sizable, substantial, appreciable, and significant

Good – displaying or possessing a virtuous moral value – thus virtuous, righteous, upright, upstanding, moral, ethical, high-minded, and principled

Good – respectful, well-behaved, obedient, dutiful, polite, courteous, moral, righteous, and with integrity, virtue, and goodness

Good – referring to the positive qualities of a group of people

We need to reach that happy stage of our development when differences and diversity are not seen as sources of division and distrust, but of strength and inspiration. (Josefa Iloilo)

The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness. (Dalai Lama)

Goodness is the only investment that never fails. (Henry David Thoreau)

Dream that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion. (Desmond Tutu)

I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given. I believed in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others. (Muhammad Ali)

Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and act on it. (Pablo Casals)

I keep up enough with news to know that the world is not lacking bad news. Whether wars, human strife, harm, or killings, many of events are based on culture, religion, politics, race,and quest of power for imposing one set of values while stifling others. Nonetheless, my belief in humanity remains steady.

Interfaith graphic by Justice St. Rain (Bahá’í Community) of Interfaith Resources

Interfaith graphic by Justice St. Rain (Bahá’í Community) of Interfaith Resources

Even with all the bad news, I remain convinced that the majority of the world is good. After all, these are people who go about their daily life, and communicate across languages with smiles, dance, music, kindness, and acceptance … and yes, the bloggers at WordPress that I encounter also serve as ambassadors of humanity’s goodness – thus supporting my belief.

Yes, it’s the Christmas season, which is an important occasion for we Christians .. and festive time emphasizing good. However, goodness is a quality continually exhibited many Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, secular humanists, atheists, agnostics, and many other religions throughout the world … so to me, Santa Claus is a figure of good that transcends all cultures – thus not bound to Christianity.

In the spirit of Santa’s goodness, thank you for all the joys you regularly deliver to me. Yes, you are good. Happy Holidays to everyone … and to my Christian friends, a blessed Christmas to you!

But, one question … Which of the musical and visual gifts in this post did you enjoy?

On the 2014 Gift Basket Party

Welcome to my 2014 Holiday/Christmas Party for my friends, their guests, and whoever stops by!

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 that is in spite of all the crap we get from the news each and every day … so peace and goodwill to the global community of goodness!

My wish is for guests to get a gift and mingle with others – which also means gifts can be traded! Then again, it may be the perfect gift for someone you know.

Plus, there’s more …. Santa will arrive around 3:00 PM Sunday (Eastern US) to allow everyone to state their wishes. He’ll be in the Comments, so reply to him there.

The Comments area will also serve as the Entertainment Stage, so stay tuned.

This is going to be a bit crazy for both readers and hosts, so I request your patience!

Overview

  • Behind each number is a surprise gift.
  • Only one gift per person.
  • Once the number (gift) is taken, it’s no longer available (next note is important)
  • While I hope to strike-through taken numbers, I must sleep and run errands – so I request readers check the comments before taking a number. (See the Update note above the numbers for my strike-through 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).
  3. Tell everyone about your gift.
  4. If necessary, bargain a trade with someone else.

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

HolidayGiftBag

UPDATED through David Funk

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DogElf

On Cheers of Thanks

I’ve mention the Lauren Hill story here before, but it’s also became a national story than can touch the heart of anyone across the world. In short, Lauren is a college freshman on her college basketball team at Mt. St. Joseph University a small college on Cincinnati’s west side.

During her senior year in high school, doctors diagnosed her with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare inoperable brain cancer. Initially given up to two years to live, her prognosis change to only a few months to live, yet she wanted to achieve her goal to play in a college basketball game … and she did … and my eyes shed tears every time I see this.

Although DIPG attacked her brain, it aroused her heart and spirit, so she took it to our hearts. Through her battle and in spite of her weakness, she continues to hold her head high and focusing on others. She is truly an example for everyone in life, let alone someone who taken on the role of living, playing, and speaking for all those with pediatric brain cancer.

Lauren Hill is someone for whom we are thankful. In the spirit of Thanksgiving (this Thursday in the US) and in the spirit of Lauren, I want to extend other thanks around this situation that haven’t received as much publicity … after all, honoring others is in her spirit.

Cheers to the Hiram College Athletic Department (the opponents) for agreeing to and supporting a petition to the NCAA for changing the date, giving up a home game,and being willing to travel across the state.

Cheers to the NCAA for allowing the game to take place approximately two weeks before the official start of the season.

Cheers to Mr. Joseph University for honoring their commitment to Lauren.

Cheers to Xavier University for donating the use of their arena for the game.

Cheers to the Hiram players for doing the right thing during the game. Something that the videos here don’t show is how much of they reacted.

Cheers to the citizens of Cincinnati who purchased over 10,000 tickets, thus sold out the arena in 30-40 minutes.

Cheers to Mt. Joseph University for donating the proceeds from the game and merchandise sales to Lauren’s fund-raising efforts against DIPG.

Cheers to the people who lined the streets as the team bus travelled from Mt. St. Joseph’s campus to Xavier’s.

Cheers to Pat Summitt, the legendary women’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee. Although fighting her own health battle (diagnosed in early 2011 with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease), she attended the game to award Lauren the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award from the United States Basketball Writers Association.

Cheers to Lauren’s teammates because Lauren impact on them will be forever.

Cheers to the national media for promoting this story.

Cheers to the Hiram players and coaching staff who embraced the moment with class and dignity … and I’m sure they will remember the day more than the game’s final result.

Cheers to Fox Sports Ohio for televising a game of a team that normally played before 100-200 people … and additional cheers to the broadcast affiliates from across the country who decided to broadcast the game.

Cheers to Devon Still, the Cincinnati Bengal who reached out to Lauren amidst his own strife … a 4-year-old daughter with pediatric cancer …. and for that special bond, Lauren signed her game-day jersey for presentation to young Leah Still.

Cheers to this touching segment by Tom Rinaldi on ESPN.

See, there are many shining lights in the world for which to be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving to all.