Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Being a Listener

Listening with our whole body is essential, for with this kind of listening we hear the thoughts, passions, ambitions, and creativity of others through not merely our minds, but our senses. Listening in this regards takes in and considers the whole.

Being in the Kingdom of God

"The Kingdom of God is a result of a Godly act."

--Rob Ellis

My brother, Rob, spoke these words a few Sundays ago and they have resonated very deeply. Being results-focused and action-oriented, I have not been able to get them out of my head.

A lot is spoken about the Kingdom of God. But it is simply God's way of doing things. The Kingdom of God is action that produces results. We are in the Kingdom of God by our actions.

Christ prayed, "thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." We are the beings through which the Kingdom of God is forever established on the earth.

Considering our homes, work environments, schools, places of worship, neighborhoods, etc., it is our actions that establish the Kingdom of God, God's way of doing things, in our various surroundings.

The Kingdom of God has come and is forever established through our daily actions unassociated with guilt but embraced by love and settled by His word in heaven.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Being an Opportunist

Now, I don't know about the inner workings of the Jackson family, but the fact that Al Sharpton, Joe Jackson and some guy with whom Mr. Jackson began a record company came out today to talk about the new company smacks of opportunism, of taking advantage of the death of Michael Jackson. Their words were not about Michael Jackson, but they seem to be about a comeback for the others.

Well, for the public this moment isn't about the others, including Janet though not to the same extent as the others. It's about Michael Jackson. I think that Al Sharpton is a smart man. But why he allows himself to become embroiled in such mess is beyond me. The press conference was distasteful and embarrassing. In fact, I didn't even get through it. After listening to Al Sharpton and then Mr. Jackson for a few minutes, I could stomach it no more.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

"Anyone who has a continuous smile on his face conceals a toughness that is almost frightening."

--Greta Garbo

This quote has a touch of the sardonic. Toughness is not merely an eternal external display but an internal resolve that depending on the circumstance comes through in a brilliant flash of a smile of knowing or a consternation of demand.

Greta Garbo has long inspired me for her authenticity and determination on screen and off not to be consumed by the consuming fire which was her great talent and the response of others to it.

By the way, she never said, "I want to be alone." She made this clear:

"I never said, 'I want to be alone.' I only said, 'I want to be left alone.' There is all the difference."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Being General Electric II

A few months ago I wrote a post, Being General Electric, where I bemoaned the fact that a once great manufacturing company had become a financial one which became the downfall of its greatness. Yesterday, Jeff Immelt, the CEO of GE, spoke before the Detroit Economic Club. Below are excerpts from his speech with my analysis in between. The outline was taken from an article, American Renewal: Immelt Addresses the Detroit Econ Club.
"Many bought into the idea that America could go from a technology-based, export-oriented powerhouse to a services-led, consumption-based economy — and somehow still expect to prosper. That idea was flat wrong."


"Recently my colleague Peter Loescher, the CEO of Siemens, extolled the importance of Germany as an exporting country. In my career, I have never heard an American CEO say that the United States should be leading in exports. Well, I am saying it today: This country ought to be, and we can be, not just the world’s leading market but a leading exporter as well. GE plans to lead this effort. We have restructured during the downturn, adjusting to the market realities. At the same time, we are increasing our investments. We plan to launch more new products during this downturn than at any time in our history. We will sell these products in every corner of the world. We are creating a better company coming out of this reset. Similarly, America needs a dramatic industrial renewal. We have to move forward on five fronts."

First: Increase investment in research and development. "GE has never forgotten the importance of R&D. Each year, we put six percent of our industrial revenue back into technology — so much that more than half of the products we sell today didn’t even exist a decade ago. As a consequence, we are a huge exporter… GE’s R&D budget has not been cut. And that’s a course of action I’d recommend to every company that wants to get through the economic crisis even stronger than before."


Second: America should get busy addressing the two biggest global challenges — clean energy and affordable health care. "There is no question whether there will be breakthroughs in these areas — just by who and when. The leader in these fields will dominate the global economy in the decades that come."


Third: We must make a serious commitment to manufacturing and exports. "This is a national imperative. "We all know that the American consumer cannot lead our recovery. This economy must be driven by business investment and exports… America has to get back in that game … and it starts with a strong core of innovation."


Fourth: We should welcome the government as a catalyst for leadership and change. "There’s a long history in this country of government spending that prepares the way for new industries that thrive for generations. Think of the NIH or NASA, and all the new innovations that came out of these programs — from computing to communications to healthcare. America has that kind of chance with unprecedented levels of new government investment. ... The key is making sure those hundreds of billions of dollars fall on the fertile ground of innovation, and not bureaucracy."


Fifth: It is possible for a global business leader to also be a good citizen. "We must partner in our communities. Big business should work with smaller companies in our supply chain to help them compete globally. And we should partner with local governments to fix our education system. In the end, business leaders are accountable for the competitiveness of their own country. We must say so publicly. This will not hurt our ability to globalize. Rather, I think it will make other countries admire our business leaders more. We must end the impression that American CEOs are short-term speculators."

With Mr. Immelt's leadership, General Electric may be able to rise again. Let's hope so!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Being a Self-Righteous Prick

For the sake of his beautiful wife, handsome four sons and the people of South Carolina, I sincerely hate to say this but Governor Sanford is a self-righteous prick! In an interview with the Associated Press, his wife, a seemingly gracious woman and former Wall Street vice-president and graduate of Georgetown, said that she forthrightly forbade her husband to go to Argentina after repeatedly asking for permission in the past, if they were to work things out. I don't know of a wife who would agree to such thing or a really righteous husband who would ask the same.

"I had every hope he was not going to see her," said Jenny Sanford. "You would think that a father who didn't have contact with his children, if he wanted those children, he would toe the line a little bit." Not only did Governor Sanford leave his children for five days but he left the State of Carolina too. And this self-righteous prick still thinks that he has the judgment to lead? The first lady of South Carolina cried after the interview with the AP and still seems willing to work through the marriage if he is willing.

But no...this self-righteous prick, instead of resigning his office and concentrating on re-building a relationship with his wife and four sons, Governor Sanford used King David as an example for his unrighteous behavior. He said, "What I find interesting is the story of David, and the way in which he fell mightily — fell in very, very significant ways, but then picked up the pieces and built from there." But how can he re-build with his wife when he continues to have a menage a trois and how can he govern when he used the South Carolina taxpayers' money to finance his affair?

King David's example is what not to do. Although he was a highly gifted leader, psalmist and poet, he was greatly flawed and his family and the family of others paid a great price for his shortcomings. "Gifts and callings are irrevocable" but our actions can be too, causing great harm. King David was a man after God's own heart for his heart of repentance and his love for people. Many believe that Governor Sanford could care less about the poor children in his state and his governance is lacking as South Carolina has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. He seems to govern out of ideology and little pragmatism.

King David was a great leader whose life showed us how not to live. This self-righteous prick is no great leader. But he is most certainly an example of what not to do. This self-righteous prick who insisted upon the resignation of President Clinton after his extra-marital affair is going down.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Being the World

Thank you, Michael Jackson.

Being Joyful II

'Tis so much joy! 'Tis so much joy!
If I should fail, what poverty!
And yet, as poor as I,
Have ventured all upon a throw!
Have gained! Yes! Hesitated so —
This side the Victory!

Life is but Life! And Death, but Death!
Bliss is but Bliss, and Breath but Breath!
And if indeed I fail,
At least, to know the worst, is sweet!
Defeat means nothing but Defeat,
No drearier, can befall!

And if I gain! Oh Gun at Sea!
Oh Bells, that in the Steeples be!
At first, repeat it slow!
For Heaven is a different thing,
Conjectured, and waked sudden in —
And might extinguish me!

--Emily Dickinson

Joy does not come without a struggle. In fact, joy often bursts forth in our struggle.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Being Wise II

Having often wondered about the difference between wisdom and knowledge, I have come to understand that wisdom is how knowledge is applied.

"Get wisdom! Get understanding!...Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting (knowledge seeking), get understanding."

--Proverbs 4:5 and 7

Wisdom is distinguished by understanding and makes knowledge applicable.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Being on a Hike

If Governor Sanford (R) of South Carolina was hiking the Appalachian Trail for the last five days unknown to his wife, security detail, lieutenant governor, and staff, even on Father's Day when his four young sons I'm sure would have loved to have seen him, I was both with my family on that day and scaling Kilimanjaro. It's not that I really care about his whereabouts. I just find it incredibly amazing that anyone would think that we are incredibly stupid.

Being irrepressible

wild flowers
grass in crack
searching sunlight
bursting forth

how about you?

Being an Aunt

For me it's a great joy!

What can be more important than pouring into our youth--really? I have 26 nephews and nieces, 20 others that my sister, Robin, have fostered, a large number of young people at our churches, and others that I meet daily.

Let's be more conscious of our young people. Let's be more patient, more understanding, and more loving. Let's also expect more from them. How else can we better prepare them personally and professionally to be better dads, moms, entrepreneurs, employees, and responsible citizens?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Being a Reality Show Talent Contestant

Just a little while back Susan Boyle was all the rage and people had cried and identified with this affable Scot with a lovely voice. I neither identified with her, nor cried, but wished her the best and thought that she indeed had a lovely voice. There are so many talented people that I have known in my years of performing, really great artists, who should be recognized, but probably will never be. Susan Boyle is not one of these. The most talented among us we rarely come to know. I have met such on the streets of New York City, in night clubs in Europe, and little known spots in Detroit. But I did not, nor do I now, disparage Ms. Boyle. I wished her all the best then as I do right now.

When at the height of the Susan Boyle mania, I wrote a dissenting opinion on another blog, seeking to distinguish between greatness, heartstrings, media hype, self-identification, and the irresponsibility of such shows, more than a few people disagreed with my stance. No problem. "Ms. Boyle," I wrote, "is not and shall never be a great talent." (As I read many of your blogs, I know some of you posted something on Susan Boyle and probably disagree with me now. I assume many do. This is totally OK. I'd like to hear your opinion.)

My strong reaction probably had less to do with Ms. Boyle than all the hype engendered to produce ratings for Mr. Cow...Oops, I meant Cowell. :-) I detested such remarks that called her an "ugly duckling," referred to her never being kissed before, and made a mockery of her age. This was all produced not for her benefit but to play into the stereotypes of beauty, sex, and youth. I wrote that I disliked such shows and thought that they could be harmful. She is not a great talent by any stretch of the imagination and was being used. Many of us fell into the media trap I'm afraid. But this is not to say that supporters of Ms. Boyle did not feel what they felt. My question then and now is, why did you feel so?

Ms. Boyle was Simon Cowell's modus operandi for ratings. If she was young, thin, and beautiful according to the Western acceptable standard of beauty, which never meant much to me, we probably would not have even been talking about her. It paid off big for him and miserably for her. Ms. Boyle has been in and out of several psychiatric hospitals and was having a mental breakdown during the final taping of the show.

Today Simon Cowell offered an apology and said that he was "wrong" in his handling of Susan Boyle and that some of the guidelines of the show would be changed. (Read the article here.) I was happy to hear this, as these shows are making money hand over fist while the lives of many contestants spiral out of control and lie in the balance. While it is very difficult to know the psychological state of anyone, it is pretty safe to say that many contestants have put their entire life into winning, perhaps after many years of trying to make it in the business. It's grueling out there. Trust me. I know this first hand.

So, I'm happy that Simon Cowell made a public apology and I'm hopeful that the guidelines for his shows will sincerely change. As for Ms. Boyle, I wish her much success and Godspeed.

Being Peggy Noonan VI

Peggy Noonan does not always cut it for me in her written or television opinions. I have written of Ms. Noonan on this blog before. Sometimes it appears as if she is in competition with some former self and that she is too fond of days gone by as the speechwriter for President Reagan. But at other times she has been relevant and timely. Today was such a time.

Noonan's article in the Wall Street Journal was potent and precise and did not wreak of partisan politics. Noonan addressed many Republicans who have called for President Obama to become involved in the Iranian national election and protests. I have written of this last week in a post, Being with the Iranian People.

When addressing President Obama's response to the protests in Iran, Noonan wrote:
To refuse to see all this as progress, or potential progress, is perverse to the point of wicked. To insist the American president, in the first days of the rebellion, insert the American government into the drama was shortsighted and mischievous. The ayatollahs were only too eager to demonize the demonstrators as mindless lackeys of the Great Satan Cowboy Uncle Sam, or whatever they call us this week. John McCain and others went quite crazy insisting President Obama declare whose side America was on, as if the world doesn't know whose side America is on. "In the cause of freedom, America cannot be neutral," said Rep. Mike Pence. Who says it's neutral?

This was Aggressive Political Solipsism at work: Always exploit events to show you love freedom more than the other guy, always make someone else's delicate drama your excuse for a thumping curtain speech.

Mr. Obama was restrained, balanced and helpful in the crucial first days, keeping the government out of it but having his State Department ask a primary conduit of information, Twitter, to delay planned maintenance and keep reports from the streets coming. Then he made a mistake, telling the New York Times in terms of our national security there is little difference between Mr. Ahmadinejad and his foe, Mir Hossein Mousavi, which may or may not in the long run be true but was undercutting of the opposition.
These are wise words from Peggy Noonan that are good for the country.

Being a National Newscast in the Age of Technology

While it is truly amazing to see the images flowing out of Iran in spite of the government crackdown on the international press, I also wonder about the sensationalism of it all and national newscasts becoming like the latest reality show where the profit swings largely one way in lieu of five minutes of fame or infamy aided by Twitter and Youtube the other way. I know that the correlation might seem far-fetched as we are talking here about life and death now in Iran and profit and popularity seem nil in comparison. But consider this.

While the motive for those sending videos and pictures into the various newscasts may be to expressly inform the world of what's happening in Iran, watching a woman die on TV and a man been shot to death while loved ones scream for them to pull through seem to have a bit of sensationalism that wasn't altogether necessary. Do we show such in war? But I guess it's about ratings. After all, national newscasts seem in competition with the likes of Youtube. Are we talking "relevance" here and who has it--perhaps more important who owns it

Watching the news yesterday evening I also could not help but to associate various newscasters' responses with "this is our real moment" or "this is MY real moment as I report this story." There was a hint of glee that couldn't be associated with those horrific images. I never got this sense growing up listening to Walter Cronkite or Barbara Walters (though it has been amazing to see her evolution, some might say devolution on the screen and in print) as a kid no matter the travesty being reported.

Sensationalism is how reality shows are peddled and local news too. Now, it appears that national news, with the help of Twitter and Youtube, are also in the business of peddling sensationalism. While watching the news yesterday evening, I also wondered who was profiting most. While it is understood that the international media was blocked, I also wonder if those who were sending photos and videos were being paid for their submittals. I mean, the networks are profiting through rating and ads, no? How about Twitter and Youtube? Whose profiting here? Or, is it a question of benefit and in this case profit does not matter? Is it an even exchange?

In this brave new world of technology and free information, I wonder if networks will get richer, professionals who work for them will get poorer, and those who send photographs and videos in will simply be "working" for free as videos stream in and photographs are plastered across on the of the likes of CNN. This network is fond of saying, "send your iReports to CNN.com." If I were to do so, will I be compensated and how have my streaming video and photos changed you professionally? In this age of technology will national newscasts become mere sensational personal profit seekers?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Being a River

Rivers are bodies of water; they vary in depth, length, energy, tributaries and distributaries as do people; both bodies are the same. Rivers are life.

(This thought was inspired by lyrics written by Ajey Padival. Please pop over to his blog, The odds are good, but the goods are odd, and read them. They're lovely indeed. Ajey is a thoughtful lyricist who writes profoundly about life despite his mere 23 years. I'm a fan of this sensitive insightful talented young man. Continued best, my friend. You're an inspiration.)

Being Inspired by Others

Happy Father's Day to fathers everywhere!

We are especially appreciative of you today.

Being a Father

On this Father's Day I honor my beloved brother, Timothy Wright Ellis (1961-2007), who was the best father a child could have: strong, compassionate, loving and thoughtful.

He is dearly missed.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Being Johannes Rammund de Balliel-Lawrora

After my post, Being "the She-King of Egypt", I received the most supportive letter from a Mr. Johannes Rammund de Balliel-Lawrora, asking for permission to reprint the article on his website, German-American World Historical Society. Of course, I obliged.

Since our initial contact we have exchanged several emails and I am grateful for technology that connected two very diverse people who share common interests and whose passion for life is similar. Mr. Johannes Rammund de Balliel-Lawrora is an 83-year young German-American who speaks fluent German and whose integrity and passion for people the world over have touched my heart.

His personal motto: "When the Truth is Distorted by Pathological Lies; Let Us Who Know; Challenge Their Wisdom!"

Mr. Johannes Rammund de Balliel-Lawrora wrote this week to say that he would love to meet, but as he doesn't drive anymore that might be difficult. I responded that I both drive and fly. It would be my pleasure to make a stop through his city for lunch with him on a layover to any other. I so appreciate Mr. Johannes Rammund de Balliel-Lawrora that I just might take a trip to his city directly with the express purpose of being in his company for a few hours. I'm sure it would be a memorable trip replete with knowledge and learning.

Do stop by Mr. Johannes Rammund de Balliel-Lawrora's website (the link is above) and drop him a note. Also, let's not forget to honor those among us who have paved the way for us. In honoring these we honor ourselves; we honor humanity.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Being Al Green

Here is Al Green just because....

This is a great track.

Being Frances McDormand

When I lived in New York City on the Upper West Side, I was a member of the New York Sports Club which was just down the street. Everyday I worked out and ran into the likes of Al Roker, who often had his cheery little daughter, and Frances McDormand. It was also there where I met and began dating a Swedish actor, Sven, who was one of the beautiful bodies in Die Hard with a Vengeance. He was a part of the meancing security team in the revengeful plot by Jeremy Iron's character, Simon Gruber. The relationship was short and sweet.

Frances McDormand was not a big movie star then I don't think. Or, she wasn't written of often as some others were. But there was something very inviting about this anti femme fatale movie actor that had intelligent eyes and an energy that was noticeable. We chatted every now and then on the bikes and while stretching. At the time she might have mentioned that she was an actor, but I had not seen her in anything at that point and there were a great many actors, stuggling and otherwise, living in New York.

But Frances McDormand is the real deal. She never ceases to amaze me. The characters she play are diverse and wholly consuming. They're sensitive, funny, fierce and completely believable. Think:

Mississippi Burning
Almost Famous

Most recently, I saw the very delightful well produced, directed and acted, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and was reminded of what a splendid superior talent McDormand is. Speaking of the movie, I loved the music too! The scene with "If I Didn't Care" by Jack Lawrence is a winner and Amy Adams and Shirley Henderson both deserve serious nods too. Henderson's performance was especially spellbinding; though brief, it was very noticeable.

There are not many actors in Hollywood today that are as diverse and talented as Frances McDormand. For me, she's up there with the very best. She's a real talent, my kind of talent.

Being with the Iranian People

We stand with the Iranian people by allowing them to make their own decision without our interference. President Obama is getting some heat from the Republicans for not condemning the election results and speaking out against the Iranian establishment. But he is clearly doing the right thing. We have butted in that country's business before and not in beneficial ways. We can stand with the people of Iran without injecting ourselves in their national politics.

Arianna Huffington made a brilliant comment in the "Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer with regards to our interference in Iranian politics. Tony Blankey, former Press Secretary to Newt Gingrich, called for President Obama to take a stand with the opposition and indicated that the President is missing this "moment" in history. Huffington responded that this is the "Iranian people's moment."

No truer words could have been spoken. While many of us stand with the people of Iran, it remains their "moment." Just imagine if after the 2000 election if other governments started publicly telling the American government that we should do a re-vote for the sake of the people? We were also in the streets and it took quite a while for many Americans to get over that contentious election. In fact, many still have not gotten over it.

America and the world will benefit from change in Iran. But it is the Iranian people who will bring about this change, not the President of the United States and its citizens.

Being a President

The other day while watching a documentary film on Helen Thomas, the hard-hitting longtime first female member of the White House Press Corps (and fellow Detroiter!), she made a remark about President Jimmy Carter that has remained with me. She said something to the affect that President Carter had missed his calling. He should have been a pastor and not a president.

Policy and political savvy aside momentarily, are presidents and pastors not both servant leaders? Perhaps the precise point is that policy and political savvy can never be put aside as the president. But perhaps in the case of the Pope and the Catholic Church such could never be put aside as well. Policy and politics seem a part of everything. What do you think?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Being the Federal Reserve II

President Obama proposed a plan that would give the Federal Reserve more regulatory power. My only question is why didn't the Fed use the power it already had to avert a near collapse of the global economy? It seems that Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman, allowed some things to occur for so many years and Timothy Geithner, the current Treasury Secretary, was over the Federal Reserve of New York during the time that Wall Street nearly brought the global economy to its knees. What was Geithner doing then? It seems that he was not able to handle the power he had in New York. Why give Geithner and the Federal Reserve greater power now? And make no mistake about it, we are talking about power here and lots of it! Maybe someone can break all this complicated stuff down to me like I'm a two-year old. Sometimes I wonder if the complications are purposeful.

Being Encouraged III

Encouragement is so very important, for it enables us to forge ahead, change directions, or begin anew.

At the start of the day I got a one line text from my brother.


Just thinking of what a wonderful person you are! Love you.


Thank you so much for that. Encouragement always helps on the road of becoming more of what I will yet be. You encourage me with your words and spirit of humility and love, not to mention your passion and dedication. You're great! I Love you.


Thanks, Judith!


It's true! Reuben too! (His twin brother)


Yes, he is special. Isn't he?



Now, I know for some these lines are not deserving of a post. But I share them because it is often the small things, the kind words of encouragement, that make the difference to others. Robert's words did so for me.

Encouragement is not about perfection, but about love.

Speak or text a single line of encouragement to someone today, perhaps even a pesky associate or nosey neighbor. You may be surprised of how encouragement changes their attitude towards you or builds a relationship anew.

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver."

--Proverbs 25:11

Encourage someone today; our words can make all the difference.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Being a Dreamer

Dreams are the stuff of life: inspiration, direction, innovation.


Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

--Langston Hughes

(This poem has a home on Linda S. Socha's blog, Psyche Connections: Self Reinvention Year 13. Do pop into this wonderful inspiring blog. Linda recently posted a a beautiful poem, "Black and White.")

Being Pleasant

Being pleasant pays. Last year I rented a house to a lovely couple who was downsizing and wanted an area that they could walk to various shops, yet a house big enough to have their children and grandchildren over for the holidays. Our house was perfect for them and they sought a long-term lease.

Throughout the year I had met their children. They were as pleasant as their parents, except for one daughter who wore a scowl whenever we met and always looked as if she was sizing me up. For what reason, I had not the slightest idea. But I didn't let it bother me. C'est la vie.

This morning I received a call from our tenant's son-in-law. His wife is running for city council in a city where I know the mayor, police chief, city council members and other government officials, many of whom are friends. She sought my help. Hmm? I wondered if this was the husband of the same dour daughter.

As it turned out, this was indeed the daughter who is seeking public office. And guess what? I do not have the slightest desire to help her. First, why didn't she call instead of her husband? Second, and more importantly, how would she treat her constituents? Do you think she would be a servant leader?

Being pleasant is just a good thing. But it also pays. You never know who can help you down the road.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Being an Artist II

Artists attempt to bring order to disorder through structured imagination. What beauty and creativity follow, even bruised, tortured and fractured images, for out of the imagination springs life itself in all of its manifolds. Artists are everywhere.

Being Enthusiastic

The irrepressible nature of enthusiasm bursts through in our attitudes and actions. Be enthusiastic even when there is seemingly not much to be enthusiastic about; enthusiasm attracts and invites perhaps the very thing needed to take us to the next level.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Being a Writer

In the July issue of "O Magazine" Pam Houston has a conversation with the great Nobel novelist, Toni Morrison, one of my favorite authors. Here Morrison describes her relationship with writing.

"Writing...holds me in the world in healthy relationship, with language, with people, bits of everything filter down, and I can stay here. Everything I see or do, the weather and water, buildings...everything actual is an advantage when I am writing...When I am not writing...then I see chaos, confusion, disorder."

Does writing help to order our world? If this is so, does my concern with regards to the de-emphasis of sentence structure matter? Or, is it perhaps a different kind of order that will prove advantageous for future generations? I have my doubts.

Perhaps my concern for sentence structure, or the eroding lack of structure in so many areas, is centered in my belief that such assists in developing our ideas and goals. Writing seems to order our world, individually and collectively. Without such what do we have?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

Early this morning at my breakfast nook one of the waitresses wore a white graduation cap. I had seen her a few times before but she had never waited on me. She was new. But what I noticed about her right away was her cheery disposition. She was always smiling and greeting someone, even those whom she was not waiting on.

Being one who usually carries cash for the express purpose of sharing, I noticed that this morning I had not a dollar to my name. Sitting at the table, I wondered if I might leave an extra tip within my bill and have a portion of it be given to the waitress who wore the graduation cap. Was she graduating from high school or college I wondered. Today, it's hard to tell. But it really didn't matter. Either accomplishment was a good thing indeed.

When I got to the counter I asked the cashier if I might leave a gift within my tip for the graduate. I was told that that would not be possible. I would have to leave cash. I thanked the cashier and left, leaving a tip in my bill for my waitress. But as I walked out the door the sun hit my face a particular way and from this gift of light I decided that I would go to an ATM machine and come back and leave the graduate a gift.

When I returned the cheery waitress and two others happened to be standing at the counter. It was still quite early for this very popular place that usually has a winding line every weekend. I congratulated her on her accomplishment and pressed the gift into her hand. She responded as I thought she might, but this time she added a little skip to her already cheery disposition. I was happy that she was so happy.

"Congratulations on your graduation," I said again, as she literally skipped away. "May your path be forever bright."
"Thank you so much, ma'am," she shot back. "Have a blessed day."

As I left the sun had remained in its brilliant position and my face was once again bathed in light. Walking to my car I was reminded of the importance of giving and going the extra mile. This high school graduate had inspired me as I watched her serve others. Now, I wanted to be an inspiration to her.

Inspire someone today. Go the extra mile if need be.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Being a Joke

Sarah Palin is a joke.

Being the Same

If we are 99.9 percent the same according to the human genome, what most distinguishes us? Culture, including class and caste, must play its role and if this is so we can most certainly work on peace and harmony and reduce violence and negative factions. But we have to each actually work to do so first within our own environments: our families, communities, and offices.

Being the same means that we can begin to understand that which distinguishes for good and ill. We can make a difference in our various environments that can have an impact on the whole word. Begin now! The whole world over we are the same and desire basically the same: to love and be loved and to care for those whom we love.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Being Invisible in America

On his blog, The Change Exchange, Dave Wheeler writes about the working poor in America and includes quotes from David Shipley's book, The Working Poor, Invisible in America. I was moved by the quotes.

Often times we do not even think of the working poor who arise every morning like the rest of us, go to work at several minimum wage jobs and return home after midnight unlike most of us, and pay taxes like the majority of us.

The invisibility of the working poor always touches me, for these usually have little ones whose lives are shaped by what they see, some for the better, but more than likely a great many for the worse.

What about the children?

Education and healthcare reform are needed for the children, these precious ones.

Being and Time

At the conclusion of his monumental work, Being in Time, the philosopher, Martin Heidegger, asks this question:

Does time itself reveal itself as the horizon of being?
In my inbox moments ago I received the "Daily Quote" by Tom Peters, the management guru.

Today's quote answers Heidegger's question succinctly:

All we have is our time. The way we distribute it is our "strategic plan," our "vision," our "values."
Time is us. We are time. What are we doing daily?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Being Blessed

On my usual evening bike ride I took a slightly different route as the clouds gathered and there was a fresh scent of rain in the air. Just as I was coming around the bend at the zoo a lady was crossing.

With the most beautiful smile this tall middle age woman with smooth skin the color of Carmel said, "God bless you, my queen." The greeting seemed to come from a deep well of goodness and her face bore the brightest smile. "May God also bless you, mother," I responded.

What a beautiful spirit she possessed and I was so happy to have come that particular way to receive such a blessing. Please accept this same blessing that I now pass on to you: God bless you, my kings and queens.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Being President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama

As an American or anyone for that matter as the President and First Lady inspire so many the whole world over, you just gotta love the reception they get worldwide. It's just nice.

Being Inspired by Others

Here is one of my inspirations, Jessye Norman, singing Camille Saint-Saens's "Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix," My heart opens itself to your voice. (In the post you will learn of two other inspirations: Dr. David Dichiera and Karen DiChiera.)

When I was a freshman in college I, along with a few other students, had lunch with Jessye Norman at the University of Michigan, her alma mater. At the luncheon she mentioned that if I were ever in New York to look her up. The next year my little budding artistic friend and I were treated to an extended weekend to NYC by her mother, Karen DiChiera, an educator and composer, who is a founding member of the Michigan Opera Theater.

Cristina's dad, David DiChiera, is the founding general director of the Michigan Opera Theater. He also simultaneously served as artistic director of Dayton Opera in Ohio and Opera Pacific in California. David is a renowned composer whose recent opera, Cyrano, has received international acclaim. If you are looking for a worthy artistic institution to give a tax-deductible donation, the Michigan Opera Theatre would be a great place. Not only do they present great opera and dance performances, they are dedicated to community programs. Since my adolescence, the DiChieras have mentored me. Do click on the link above to donate. But I digress for that important announcement.

Cristina and I were so excited to go to NYC. I had already visited more than a few times. But NYC is always a great place to visit and I was just as excited. We would stay near Lincoln Center and go to the opera, theater, symphony and museums. We were given extra money to catch cabs around the city. Karen made me promise that we would not ride the subway. Since I was the oldest (Cristina was only 14 and I was 19), I solemnly made the promise. Karen was relieved as she dropped us off at the airport. But it wasn't to be.

This week Cristina emailed me and reminded me of our trip:

So funny, I was telling Neal (her husband) about you last night and I told him about the trip to New York! How my mom gave us money to take cabs so we wouldn't go on the scary subway - and this was the late 80s so the subway was a little scary - and we took the subway and treated ourselves to a nice dinner instead! Meeting Jessye Norman who I thought would be impressed by my dad's name but who was more impressed by you.
From the moment I met Jessye Norman my freshman year she has inspired me. In fact, she was an inspiration well before then. At the luncheon I asked her how many languages she spoke. She replied, "there are few languages that I don't speak with the exception of Hebrew." She is not only a great singer but brilliant linguist and interpreter of lyrics. She is also such the diva; be sure to listen until the end.

Being a Supreme Court Justice

With the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court there has been a lot of talk lately about activist judges, as if any of us ever come to a decision devoid of our own experiences, judges or not. Conservatives have become bent and and of shape about this. They insist that a justice's opinions should have no bearing on their decisions, seeking to separate men and women from the law. The law is the law they posit and there is no room for interpretation. Judges are extricated from their rulings; they become automatons. This being so, I wonder if the religious right conservatives could nominate an atheist to the court. How many votes do you think this one would get among these? Not many, you can believe that.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Being Makers

"We have the power to make the world we seek."

--President Obama, addressing the Muslim world in Cairo, Egypt.

The world is a system of things. We are the makers of this system and it is only us who will change it for the better the whole world over.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I am not yet what I will be.

How about you?

Being John McHugh

Moments ago President Obama announced his nominee of the secretary of the Army, Rep. John McHugh (R). While I had not heard of him beforehand, I was incredibly moved by his humility, patriotism and honor of the President. He seems to be the antithesis of Dick Cheney. I look forward to getting to know him in his new role.

Being Billy Graham

"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen!"

May God bless the family and loved ones of Dr. George Tiller who was gunned down Sunday in church for fulfilling his duties as a physician under the law.