Friday, May 30, 2014

In the news

Someone in the grocery store last night was complaining about the news.  "It's all about the gays.  Nothing else is ever mentioned anymore.  Gay, gay, gay."
 
Well first of all, openly gay Clay Aiken did do extremely well in North Carolina's 2nd district, oh and HGTV scrubbed a home show by anti-gay anti-Muslim and anti-abortion activists, and then there was the story about a Beverly Hills Hotel which found that flogging women and stoning gays is bad for business, and just in case you hadn't heard, the Saint Louis Rams selected Michael Sam - the first openly-gay prospect in NFL history, plus bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision Song Contest, and a judge in Arkansas struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage.  Yes, there were a lot of gay stories.  It sure was not a bad week for equality!
 
I'm not even going to mention the negative stories, but let me assure you that there were many and the stories included hate crimes and discrimination and even the refusal of a gaming company to give equal access.  Good news though should be celebrated, and anything that furthers equality and fairness is good news.  Too much?  We can never have too much.  I am actually hoping that some of the advances this past week will inspire others to become more involved. 
 
EVERYONE deserves to be considered at the polls and his or her sexual orientation should have nothing to do with how we vote.  Everyone deserves safety and security when visiting a hotel.  Everyone deserves an equal chance of playing professional sports.  Everyone deserves an equal opportunity in a talent contest.  Everyone deserves the right to marry the adult person they are in love with.
 
Some media will cover things more fairly and accurately than others.  If you see bias, don't rely on that media.  Support instead news organizations with a better record for impartiality and fairness.  Hopefully the day will come when breaking a barrier and becoming the first won't be news anymore.  Hopefully there will be a time when equality is the norm.  Hopefully.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

We will never forget how she made us feel

As I wrote here yesterday morning about a little girl who is making a difference, I heard the news on the radio of the passing of this great woman who made a difference throughout her life - Maya Angelou. I immediately looked at her facebook page where her son Guy Johnson had already posted a message.
 
"Dr. Maya Angelou, the statement read, "passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST. Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love."
 
Ever since reading those words I have heard tribute after tribute from friends of mine, from people on the street, and from people in the highest places.  Dr Angelou was so special a person that we ALL know who she was and we ALL loved her.  Talk about making a difference in this world!
 
I was fascinated reading all of the many quotes attributed to her.  Among my favorites is "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."  I also like "Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."

You already know that she was an American author who published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, movies, plays, and television programs and several books of poetry. You already know her as an activist, public speaker, Television personality, and Grammy award winner.  Did you know though that she dropped out of high school here in San Francisco to became the city's first African-American, female street car conductor?
 
We will no doubt hear over and over the many accomplishments of Maya Angelou in the days ahead and we will hear the tributes of those who have known her and those who have loved her.  One thing that really strikes me though, she really was one-of-a-kind.  We will certainly never forget her because her legacy will live on in her many writings and readings, and in our hearts.  We will never forget how she made us feel.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sadness at the time of birth

The sight of a father holding his newborn baby just minutes after birth should be a heartwarming moment that brings great joy.  Indeed, the birth of any child should be a happy occasion, but yesterday when this little one came into the world, it was by caesarean section while his mother lay comatose fighting for her life.
 
You may have already heard the story, and certainly it is encouraging that the baby was born healthy.  It is also encouraging that with the pregnancy over, doctors can more aggressively treat the mother who has a brain tumor.  News of this has been in local papers, on facebook, and even at an online funding source to help raise funds to pay the family's bills.  (Just click HERE if you want to go to that page, either to donate or to learn more).
 
This father seems to be strong and he has family members helping him.  The outpouring is very encouraging too.  People care.  That is refreshing news.  All too often it seems as if they don't.  According to television reports, doctors aren't sure if the mother will recover, but there is hope.
 
Melissa Carleton is that mother I am speaking of, according to The Fresno Bee and her husband is Brian Lande.  The little one is West Nathaniel Lande.  If you can donate, click on that link and do keep this young family in your prayers.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Folks who throw chicken bones under park benches

Riding the train the other day, I saw many folks plopping down a backpack, briefcase, lunchbox, or other item on the seat next to them, thereby taking up two seats.  In some cases it was worse than that.  Some people put their feet up on the facing seats thus taking three spaces.  This was in the morning when many were on board and people were standing for lack of seats.  Another bad thing about putting your feet up on the seats is that you soil the seat (these particular seats have cloth covering) and make them less desirable for others to sit on.

Now before you think I have turned into the transit police, let me explain my point.  This is a simple matter of being considerate of others.  When only a few people are riding on the car, placing your coat or backpack on the neighboring seat is no big deal.  Taking multiple seats on a full train is different.

Last night I had another experience where the common courtesies where missing.  Standing in line at the market, I waited as a person allowed the clerk to ring up their entire purchase, and then they simply walked away to get an additional item!  One customer held an entire checkout line hostage because they needed more time.  When they finally did come back, they had to search of a coupon and held things up even more!  (I have no idea how it turned out.  I moved at that point to another register).

The purpose of this blog is of course to highlight ways we can all make a difference in this world – for the better.  Being considerate of others really makes a difference!  You don’t know how quickly I can put a smile on my face when people look out for each other and do nice things.  The opposite is true when people think only of themselves and are inconsiderate.

I can remember a rather strange quote years ago from a teacher of mine.  She said “People who play radios on buses, are placed in the same category with folks who throw chicken bones under park benches.”  Indeed.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Lest we forget

Soldiers move from grave to grave, pausing to place an American flag at the final resting place of these men and women we honor today.  It is not about the barbeques or the sidewalk sales or the trips to the beach or the baseball games, as nice as any of those things are.  Memorial Day is the day for remembering the men and women who died while serving.
 
President Barack Obama, in his annual proclamation said today "Constant in the American narrative is the story of men and women who loved our country so deeply they were willing to give their all to keep it safe and free. When a revolution needed to be won and our Union needed to be preserved, brave patriots stepped forward. When our harbor was bombed and our country was attacked on a clear September morning, courageous warriors raised their hands and said, 'send me.' On the last Monday of each May, our Nation comes together to honor the selfless heroes who have defended the land we love and in so doing gave their last full measure of devotion."
 
The President goes on to remind us that "Today, we pause to remember our fallen troops, to mourn their loss, and to pray for their loved ones. Though our hearts ache, we find a measure of solace in knowing their legacy lives on in the families our heroes left behind -- the proud parents who instilled in their sons and daughters the values that led them to serve; the remarkable spouses who gave our Nation the person they cherished most in the world; and the beautiful children who will grow up with the knowledge that their mother or father embodied the true meaning of patriotism."
 
Lest we forget, I want to point out once again that today is a special day of remembrance.  Today is NOT the day we honor all who have served in our military.  It is good and right that they be remembered, but there is a special time, Veterans Day in November which celebrates the service of all US military veterans. Today has a different purpose. Today we remember the fallen.

Friday, May 23, 2014

how do you say thank you?

How many ways are there to say thank you?  I'm not talking about the many different languages, although putting together a nice graphic with those two words as they are said in other tongues can be a lot of fun and I'm sure would be pleasing to the person you are thanking.  What else though?  What can you do to convey that you are actually grateful for that something you have received?
 
We give thanks at different times for different things.  Sometimes a polite courtesy is almost taken for granted, but when somebody hold the door open for you or pulls out your chair or refills your water glass, say thank you.  When you receive a present or money, then most certainly thanks should be offered.  How about when you ask for someone to help you with a project?  Let me just say there is never a bad time to offer thanks. 
 
You are an awesome caring person and I'm sure you want folks to know you appreciate those things they do on your behalf.  Let it be known then! Let them see your happy dance!  Notes are always nice too.  I know many have fallen away from the habit of writing personal notes, but the most awesome people I know still write them (David, Zoe, Jack) and it means a lot.  Say thanks though it they way that works best for the particular occasion, but say it!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Harvey Milk Forever

It is so very fitting and proper that the United States Postal Service is today issuing a brand new forever stamp featuring the face of the late Harvey Milk. Not only is today Milk's birthday but here in California, Harvey Milk Day is recognized by the state's government as a day of special significance for public schools. The observance was established by the California legislature and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009. There are numerous ceremonies and events today, by the issuing of this stamp is a pretty big deal.
 
I expect lines at the local Post Offices because while it is a first having an elected gay man on a postage stamp, it's a pretty big deal for us here because he was from San Francisco.  Preorders have already been available online.
 
Harvey Milk certainly is someone who made a difference.  People have spent a lot of time speculating what he might have done, had he not been murdered.  We of course will never know for certain.  We can be sure thought that Milk inspired people and gave the hope.  He continues to do that even in death.  So many know his name and can quote lines from his speeches.  I seriously doubt that Harvey Milk's legacy will ever disappear.
 
Harvey Milk forever!  How appropriate that he be on a forever stamp.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Just plain folks

Growing up, must of the people I came in contact with were just plain folks. I have always found ordinary, down-to-earth, unpretentious people to be so much more attractive than the folks who expect you to be impressed by their name or their bank account or their social standing.  We are all "people" and we were all created equal. 
 
The blog is not to impress you and in fact I seldom mention my name here and I do often point out that this is NOT about me.  It's no big deal that I write a daily blog - for a while it seemed like everyone did.
 
You can be as plain as apple pie.  I happen to like apple pie.  The things you do will impress me more than the money you have in your pocket.  You may not do things so that others will be impressed.  That impresses me even more!  If everyone treated everyone equally and we were all simple and down to earth, how wonderful this world would be!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Stand With Me

Back in August of 2012 and then again in March of 2013 I wrote here about a little girl named Vivienne Harr. Of all the many stories I have told here, hers is one of my favorites because it shows that no matter who you are, no matter how young or how much money you have, you truly CAN make a difference in this world. Vivienne, after seeing a picture of two enslaved boys in Nepal, decided she would free 500 children from slavery, and to raise money, she set up a lemonade stand. At the time she began this huge effort, Vivienne was only eight years old!
 
Now I want to tell you that my posts here were not the first to tell of this amazing youngster, but there certainly were not the last.  With help from social media, newspapers, and television programs, the story has been told and retold and the work she is doing has gotten stronger and stronger.  Oh and there was also a feature-length, independent documentary made all about this project. You can visit www.standwithmemovie.com to find out more about the film.
 
It doesn't end there folks.  This is only the beginning.  Young Vivienne is now a motivational speaker and author and with help from her parents is continuing to make a difference, not just in freeing children from slavery but showing that kids can make a difference - that we ALL have the power to do good things. 
 
Today and tomorrow at United Nations World Headquarters in New York City, there is a summit on social innovation during which Patrick Moreau, co-founder of Stillmotion (the brand new production company that made the Stand With Me movie), will be presenting his vision story of how amazing stories can change the world.  Joining Mr Moreau there at the United Nations will be Vivienne herself!

What can I say?  She really is amazing and such an inspiration.  Let's join her!  Let's get involved too! Donate, buy some lemonade, or just learn more at http://makeastand.com/

 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Start giving early

Is generosity something that is taught or does it just come naturally?  I'm no scientist, but the innocence and unspoiled nature of children tells me that they are  just as likely to do good as anyone.  If we teach them of the many benefits, it certainly can help them along the way.  (Sadly children also see so much bad around and can certainly pick up those habits too).
 
Involve your child in your own giving and tell they why it is you give.  If you normally place cash in a church offering plate for example, you might explain the practice to your children and then let them do it too.
 
There are so many ways to give, but think of some that involve children or that would be fun for children to do and then get your own kids involved with you.  You can go on a trash walk and clean up a local park for example or plant a tree. Do a yard sale, and give the proceeds to a local charity. Put together a birthday bag for a child living in a shelter. Volunteer or donate to a local food bank.  Read to children at your local library.  Be a big brother or a big sister. Share information about your favorite charity.
 
Start giving early?  I think it's a great idea!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Enjoy the view Barbara and you be in touch

Today, just in case you hadn't heard, superbroadcaster Barbara Walters is retiring after a long and impressive career as the first woman to host Today, the first woman to anchor a network news program, the first woman to present regular celebrity interviews, and the creator of shows like "The View."
 
What can you say about Barbara Walters?  (If you run out of ideas, they will be saying plenty about her today on ABC-TV, both on her morning program "The View" and on a two hour evening special).  She has touched so many lives and blazed so many trails.  She is truly an American icon.
 
Yes, she was the first in so many cases, but that would be enough.  She was also the best. She was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1989 and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame eighteen years later. She has won Daytime and Prime Time Emmy Awards, a Women in Film Lucy Award, and a GLAAD Excellence in Media award, and numerous other honors. Why? Because she does her job well.

She has paved the way for woman, but through her reporting she has done so much more.  Because she has fairly and accurately discussed so many subjects that others were afraid to, she has brought about change.  To put it simply, Barbara Walters has made a difference.

Today she retires.  Oh she says she will still contribute from time to time, but we won't see as much of her.  I miss her already but hope she enjoys her new view and hope she'll continue to be in touch.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Goodbye Stephen - Rest in Peace

Sad news.  Stephen Sutton has died.  He wasn't a sports figure or an actor or musician.  He wasn't a politician or the head of a big company.  He was a kid who was dealt a band hand in the game of life and he went on to play on helluva game!
 
"He was determined not to waste a minute, not to waste an hour or a day," British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters. "I can hardly think of anyone I have met with such a zest for life, with such a belief that you can get things done, and who wanted to live every minute. He was absolutely inspiring, he did extraordinary things for charity, and meeting him was a huge privilege."
 
The front page of this morning's Daily Mirror really says it all.  Just a couple of months ago I wrote here about this remarkable guy, Stephen Sutton.  (You can read that post HERE).  He battled cancer for four years, but he did much more than fight a disease.  He raised awareness.  He lived life.  He brought in monies for treatment and research.  He made a difference.

Requiescat in pace.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

brotherly love

Everyone on this planet is different. How boring it would be if we were all the same, huh? I tend to think it is our differences that make us most interesting and I fail to understand prejudice and discriminaton. Why can't we all get along? Why can't we practice brotherly love toward each other?

We can you know. We do have the ability.
I am not the first to scratch my head over this. The great Dr Martin Luther King, Jr once commented “We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”
 
Very much the same as now. Different race? Different religion? No religion? Gender queer? Very old? Physically disabled? How can any of these things really matter when meeting someone? Difference should be embraced . . . and loved!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

colored water

I can remember as a youngster being in the supermarket with my mom and seeing the drinking fountains (remember them?) labeled "white" and "colored." I had no idea this was racial - I thought the water was white or colored! Naturally I wanted to drink the colored one. A woman witnessed this and scolded my mother for letting me drink where "those people" had put their mouths. My mother explained it all later, but it was several years later before I really understood.
 
Or do I understand? Why should someone drink from a certain fountain and not from another, just because of their race? Well the answer of course is that they shouldn't. Separate drinking fountains are illegal now, but sadly, we still have racial prejudice - I even see it right here in 2014 in San Francisco, California. 
 
The whole drinking water thing apparently hit home with many.  Diane Bass, the mother of entertainer Lance Bass, wrote an essay several months ago which I just read the other day and in it she recalls her drinking fountain moment.  With her grandmother screaming at her to stop drinking from the "wrong" fountain, Bass writes "When I looked at the fountain it had the word "Colored" on it and she told me I had to drink out of another one. I was only 6 years old but I knew something was just not right about that."

Many of my friends are Asian and one time I was out with several other guys, all of whom are Asian. A group of white guys came upon us and started yelling at me "Why aren't you with your own kind?" They even chased after us, and since we were outnumbered, their senseless prejudice was not in the forefront of our minds - we simply wanted to get out of there safely.

I see the same kind of bias against lgbt people often. I've been very fortunate and haven't been the victim of individual attacks, but all the laws that ban same sex marriage or that allow prejudice against lgbt people in the workplace or anywhere else, are certainly attacks. They are saying I am not quite as good as someone else.

In all my years and will all that I have seen, the prejudicial treatment of people based on their membership - or perceived membership - in a certain group or category, just doesn't make sense to me, and yet it continues.

Is a world with true equality too much for me to hope for? Can we put aside all prejudice and discrimination? Will bigotry ever be completely erased? What do YOU think?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Introducing Kevin

Crossing this country, town by town, and meeting all those interesting people along the way sounds like something we might all dream of.  It certainly would be quite an adventure.  How about skateboarding from coast to coast?  Let me tell you this morning about Kevin Kreider, an actor and model and now and adventurer.
 
I first heard of his story just a few days ago on facebook (and you can follow his posts too by just clicking HERE), but I'm behind the game.  This all started a while back and Kevin's adventure has already begun.  It's been fun for me in the past few days just reading about how this came about and where he has been.  Skateboarding 30-40 miles every day has to be tiring and so I also marvel at his commitment. 
 
Kevin and His Skateboard is the end result of this trip.  The documentary he is shooting along the way captures his cross-country trip and will give us an amazing story.  I have hundreds of questions (how many people are directly involved?  are others traveling with him?  what if there is an injury or other emergency?) but I guess I'll find out with everyone else.  Kevin takes the time to do regular facebook updates so you can watch this with me and you can follow him HERE too on twitter.
 
I've enjoyed seeing him in places that I have previously visited (like the Road Kill CafĂ© in Arizona) or in famous spots like Mount Rushmore.  It's heartwarming to see locals welcome Kevin (and his friend Rocky who is following him in a car and taking pictures of it all ).  TV stations and newspapers are reporting on Kevin's excellent adventure too and giving an even wider view of it all.  As I learn more, I'm planning to write more.  Even though they have long passed my neck of the woods, I am loving this almost as if I was the one out there skateboarding.  Kevin has already made a difference in the lives of so many that he has touched - watch the adventure continue!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

I could write here every day about my mother.  She really was special and made a huge difference in my life, in my sister's, and in the lives of so many people she touched.  Last year it had been only a few months since Mom had died when Mother's Day rolled around and of course I missed her very much.  It's been over a year now and I still miss her a lot.  When I wrote here last Mother's Day, I invited you to imagine what the world would be like without mothers.  Even when you have had a marvelous mom like I did, it is very hard when she is gone.
 
On Sunday, do something special for your mother if she is living.  Brunch or flowers or a homecooked meal are some of the traditional things folks do.  If you don't have a lot of money, be creative.  Give her a handmade card.  Create some "love coupons" that will entitle her to a free hug or a free chore around the house.  Tell her that she can rest and you will do whatever she normally does around the house.
 
If your mom is not among the living, spend some time thinking about what she gave you.  Share some stories about her with some of your friends or remind family members of how special she was.  This is good for our grandmothers too of course!
 
A song called The Perfect Fan, written by Brian Littrell of the Backstreet Boys and performed by them really warms my heart when I think of Mom.  It says:

It takes a lot to know what is love
It's not the big things, but the little things
That can mean enough
A lot of prayers to get me through
And there is never a day that passes by
I don't think of you
You were always there for me
Pushing me and guiding me
Always to succeed

You showed me
When I was young just how to grow
You showed me
Everything that I should know
You showed me
Just how to walk without your hands
Cuz mom you always were
The perfect fan

God has been so good
Blessing me with a family
Who did all they could
And I've had many years of grace
And it flatters me when I see a smile on your face
I wanna thank you for what you've done
In hopes I can give back to you
And be the perfect son

You showed me how to love
You showed me how to care
And you showed me that you would always be there
I wanna thank you for that time
And I'm proud to say you're mine

Cuz mom you always were,
Mom you always were
Mom you always were,
You know you always were
Cuz mom you always were... the perfect fan

I love you Mom


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Celebrating nurses

In 1953, Dorothy Sutherland of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare proposed Nurses Day to President Eisenhower.  That was the first attempt to nationally recognize nurses.  Eisenhower did nothing.  President Richard Nixon finally did something in 1974 when he declared a week in February as National Nurse Week.  In 1990, the American Nurses Association began the current National Nurses Week celebrated from May 6th to May 12th.  Those dates were chosen because Florence Nightingale's birthday was May12.  Within that week, May 8th (that's today) was chosen to be National Nurses Day.
 
Now you know why I am writing about nurses today.  You actually only know one reason.  I have always had a great respect for those in nursing and really should have written about them long ago.  My mother was a nurse.  She was in the very first class of a school in Oneonta, NY and I can still recall her pride at her capping ceremony and all the hard work and dedication that she showed over the years at the many places she worked.
 
When Mom lay dying in a local hospital last year, I was again reminded of what angels nurses are.  While there were many wonderful professionals, there was one man in particular whom I will never forget.  He introduced himself to Mom the night she was admitted and then asked her what she wanted to be called.  That really touched her.  Someone cared enough to ask instead of just using her first name or calling her Mrs. - this guy asked.  It wasn't the only time he made an  impression.  Just a few days later when her breathing had become difficult and she was in obvious distress, he was working in a different ward, but on my way to get her nurse for that day, I ran into him in the hall.  I was visibly upset and when I told him what was wrong, he turned and came immediately to her room telling me not to worry.  He stayed there with her for the next hour on what I later learned was his own time (he had gotten off just before I ran into him).
 
There are wonderful nurses who make a difference every day.  They take pride in their work and they care about their patients.  Let them know they are appreciated!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Mommy Is Beautiful

At the age of 81, Yoko Ono Lennon is still making a difference.  Her charitable contributions would take me days to tell you about and her activism is also vast and something to be celebrated.  Today though I want to tell you about something she started that celebrates our mothers.

Mothers Day is celebrated at various times in the year, depending on where you live.  Here in the United States it comes up this Sunday and so I thought it would be nice to tell you about My Mommy is Beautiful now. Started in 2004, this is one of Yoko Ono’s ongoing art projects, but it is like no other because it isn't limited to just one place.   My Mommy is Beautiful extends from famous galleries and museums to cyberspace where you can find it on facebook and twitter.
 
There is now a website - http://mymommyisbeautiful.com/ - that includes Yoko's instructions: "MY MOMMY IS BEAUTIFUL is a tribute to all Mothers of the World from each of your children; A celebration of the love that nurtures us all.  Upload your mother’s photo to our Facebook group, Flickr group, Instagram or Twitter.  Add the tag #mmib.  Write her name a note about her, to her and to yourself."  How wonderful!

As many of you know, my mother died last year and with Mother's Day approaching, my heart was heavy as I thought about her and not having her here to celebrate the special day with.  Yoko Ono has an answer of this because My Mommy is Beautiful  is not limited to living mothers.  We can all participate.  This tribute is ongoing so it doesn't have to be done right now either.

Click HERE to go to the facebook page or HERE for the Flickr group or HERE for Instagram.  A beautiful way to remember all of our mothers thanks to the beautiful Yoko Ono Lennon!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The great teacher inspires

William Arthur Ward who wrote more than a hundred articles, poems, books, and meditations, had this to say about teachers: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” Mr. Ward sure got that right! 
 
I'm always talking about people who inspire me and there are certainly teachers on that list.  The men and women in our classroom are too often taken for granted, but they can make a huge difference in the lives of many.  My aunt was a teacher and I've also dated a few teachers and I've seen firsthand the care and concern they have for what they do and for their students.  Yes, there are bad teachers and ones that just go through the motions, but isn't that true with any job?  It's time we showed more appreciation for our schoolteachers and gave them more support.
 
Today is Teacher Appreciation Day, and the whole week is dedicated to celebrating our country’s educators.  Think about the teachers that touched your life.  Are they still somewhere where you can contact them?  Send them a note of thanks!  I wish I could do that with Lou Ella Gridley, my fifth grade teacher.  She was like no other and I'll tell you more sometime.  I was fortunate enough to have a superior teacher the very next year and I certainly will never forget Letha Sines, my sixth grade teacher.
 
If you have school age children, pay close attention to the men and women who spend so much time each day giving them instruction.  Take notice of all the good they do.  Think of your friends and relatives also who might be teachers. 
 
Teachers make a difference.  I'm so grateful for Miss Gridley, Miss Sines, my dear Aunt Dee, Robert, Emilio, and so many teachers for have influenced my life.  Thanks!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Celebrating Del Martin

On this day here in San Francisco back in 1921, Dorothy Louise Taliaferro was born. Who? That name might not ring a bell.  She was better known as Del Martin and nearly everything one might write about her, you would also include her lifelong partner and eventual wife Phyllis Lyon.  Del died back in 2008  just a little over two months after they were finally able to legally wed.  San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom spoke of her many contributions when he ordered the flags lowered to half-staff in her honor.

Del is the author of several articles and books (most of them with Phyllis) and together they (and several other gay women) founded the Daughters of Bilitis, the first national lesbian organization in the United States. Del was the first open lesbian elected to the National Organization for Women. She was also the first openly gay woman to be appointed to the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women (by Mayor George Moscone in 1977). In 1995 Senator Dianne Feinstein named her a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging.

The list of Del Martin's contributions could easily go on and on. She certainly was someone who made a difference. Thinking of her widow Phyllis this morning, I am also thinking of Del on this anniversary of her birth, and I am thankful.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Five

I've always tried to look at the good there is in my life instead of dwelling on the occasional bumps that might come along.  Some folks will let their bad days get them down, but no matter what might have gone wrong in your life, there are certainly things going right as well.  Think about it. 
 
Recently, a friend of mine inspired me to count five things I am grateful for every night before I go to bed.   Now five might seem like a big number to you, but as I reflect each evening I find that it is actually very small.  I easily think of many more than five and have to actually move away to other thoughts.  There are just so many blessings in my life, including friends, family, things done, foods eaten, words heard or read, things seen, places visited, and so much more.
 
Had a bad day lately?  I invite you to think instead about the good - you know there is some good.  In fact, I invite you to think of five things as well.  Some days it may be harder than others.  Did you have a good meal or spend time with a favorite person?  Did you receive a gift or read an inspiring story?  Did you fall in love or meet an admired hero?  Think about it tonight.  Think about five.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Stroke Awareness

Back on May 11, 1989, President George H. W. Bush signed a proclamation designating May as National Stroke Awareness Month at the urging of National Stroke Association, and ever since then, the Association has been using this special time of the year to increase public awareness of stroke in an effort to conquer it. As someone who experienced a transient ischemic attack (TIA) - sometimes called a mini-stroke, I can tell you how terribly important this is.
 
Now let me tell you that while I think this is important, I also think stroke awareness should spread throughout the year.  We should know the signs.  We should know how to respond.  We need to know that our response needs to be quick.  Some effects of a stroke cannot be reversed, and that is why it is so very important that they be prevented.  It is my policy to never give out anything that might resemble medical advice here.  Be aware that there are many sources of information, and I simply want to point you in that direction.
 
TIAs, like I had, cause the same symptoms that are associated with a stroke, and may cause slurred speech, sudden dimming or loss of vision, and mental confusion. A TIA usually resolves within a few minutes or hours. I was feeling somewhat normal again after about three hours and completely fine by the next day.  Brain injury can still occur in a TIA lasting only a few minutes though and a TIA can be a warning for a full stroke in the future.  I was lucky.  There was no lasting damage.  It made me aware though and I asked questions and continue to follow what my doctor says to do.
 
So, what should you do?  Awareness means information so start by reading and learning signs of a stroke.  Ask questions.  Talk to your own doctor.  Urge your family and friends to be stroke aware as well.