Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fifty

Walking down an unfamiliar street in Buffalo, New York many years ago, it suddenly began to rain. It wasn't a light shower but rather a cold and pounding downpour. I wasn't wearing an overcoat and had no umbrella, so I was soaked almost immediately. My usual sunny mood had turned to quite the opposite, but all that was about to change.

Hurrying up the sidewalk with water pouring off of me, I looked down and there in front of me was a fifty dollar bill! Oh my! Now the rain didn't seem so bad. If it hadn't been raining, surely that money would have blown away. I put it in my pocket and continued on my way.

Later when I mentioned my good luck to a friend, he said "But it isn't yours. Did you even try to find the rightful owner?"

This wasn't a wallet or an identifiable piece of property. It was US currency that someone had likely dropped without knowing, but since I didn't witness it, how could I possibly find the person it belonged to?

I'm telling you this story today to solicit your thoughts. Was I wrong to keep it? Was that a dishonest act? What would YOU have done?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Gazing or doing

We can sit quietly, gazing up at the stars, or we can get involved and do something. WE can bring about change, but we have to want it. In the past month we have seen way too many examples of hate, and we have seen so many die. Is that the way it's supposed to be? Do we go through our life worrying about being shot or who we are going to shoot? (Take notice of how guns are involved in almost all of these horrible situations, and yet there are still those who say everyone has a right to own a gun - don't limit our freedom).
 
Racism is alive in the USA, but we have the power to end it.  We can end the anti-gay hate too.  In fact, we can see all hate done away with.  I've seen some wonderful signs of people working together in the past few days, but as the various killing fade from memory, I am afraid that we will see that working together, come to an end.  Folks this needs to be fixed now.  Not one more life should be lost.  Don't just trot out your concern when there is a terrible tragedy.  Gay people deserve equal treatment.  Black lives matter.  Guns kill.  These thing must be on our minds, and we must fix our brokenness.  Again, we have the power.  Every single one of us can make a difference. 
 
Are you afraid?  I can understand that.  When you see people being shot, that can be a very scary thing.  (I have a lot to say about fear, but will save that for tomorrow).  Watching and doing nothing, does not make a problem go away though.  Reach outside your comfort zone and you'll discover superpowers that you never knew you had.  Let's all stop gazing, and start doing!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Rule to live by

Some people say they have a code of ethics or a rule to live by. The whole "giving back" idea that I write about here every day, I think is a form of this code. Many refer to it as the Golden Rule.
 
It really is quite basic: we should treat others as we would like others to treat us. Not hard to understand, right? It is generally stated as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
 
There is a "two-way" relationship between us and the others in our world and that relationship involves both sides equally. None of us likes to have too many regulations, but we all should have some kind of positive rule to live by. This is just basic human values.
 
I can remember when people used to quote this rule. I can remember when it was common for people to actually live by it. We can go back to that again. It is possible.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hospital window

Occasionally I've shared stories here that are not my own. Today I have one of those. This has been floating around on the internet, and I have no idea who wrote it, but please read on for a moving tale.


"Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for endless hours.


"They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, and where they had been on vacation.


"Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.


"The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.


"One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band, he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.


"Days and weeks passed.


"One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.


"As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.


"Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall!


"The man called the nurse and asked her what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.


She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'"


Great story, huh? As I said, the author of this is unknown. You may have even read it before, but I think it is worth seeing again. I was very moved when I first read this story, and I hope it touches you as well.  Do share this with others too. That's what encouragement is all about.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

roses are red - sometimes

Roses are red, says the poem. Indeed they are. They might also be pink or white or yellow or a number of other colors, including a mixed color. I think the most stunning rose color is lavender, and it smells nice too!

I'm thinking of roses this morning because I happened to pass so gorgeous ones on my early walk. I just wanted to stop and soak in the beauty. It's no wonder people love to send and to receive these wonderful flowers. Oh my!

Oh and this is in keeping with the theme of this blog. If you plant beautiful flowers, you are certainly helping to make this a more beautiful world. Such a simple thing, huh? Of course there are many flower possibilities. Do you have a favorite? If I were to send you a bouquet, what flowers would you want included?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What do you think?

My thoughts and the ideas I put forth each day in this space, are not the only concepts out there. Yes, I make suggestions on how we might all help make this a better world, but are my ideas any good? Are there better ways? Your sentiments are worth hearing too, even if we might not agree with them.


I have said this before, and will likely say it many more times, but even though this blog is NOT about me, it is written by me, and therefore is heavy laden with my opinion. What about yours though? You much have thoughts on the subjects I post here. Do you agree with me or disagree? Let's hear YOUR opinion too!


Right under the last line I write each day it says "blogged by Michael Fullam at time." Right next to that you will see a place where you can comment. I'd really love to hear your opinion. I'm sure many people would like to look at the thoughts of others as well.


So, after all these years, you pretty much know what I think about a LOT of things. You have read countless suggestions from me and I've told you about good deeds and folks I consider inspirations to me. Now, take a moment or two and tell me what YOU think!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Live in the now

One of the biggest mistakes some folks make is to live a live filled with regrets.  I'm talking about those who strive so hard to get to another place, that they miss all the joys of being where they are.
 
There is nothing wrong with having goals.  In fact it is quite healthy to plan new adventures and to want change.  It can become unhealthy though if it is an obsession. Stop waiting for Friday to come as if you can only be happy on you days off from work.  Stop waiting for your vacations with the mindset that you are miserable the rest of the time.  Look with joy to relaxation of course, but never feel like the rest of the time is bad or the bus will simply pass you by.  I know of people who dread Mondays. As for me, I'm excited for each new week I'm alive and I greet Monday (and pretty much every day) with a smile.
 
Do you know anyone who is desperately waiting for someone to fall in love with them?  This is the same thing.  Yes, it would be lovely if you had a life partner and who would not want to be loved, but don't focus on that above all else and stop living your live in the here and now.  It certainly won't make you a very attractive candidate for romance.  Even worse, it won't be good for you.
 
When we live in the now and find enjoyment in our daily lives, we are much happier people.  The world can always use more happiness!

Friday, February 17, 2017

This July

This summer will be the thirtieth time there has been an AIDS Walk San Francisco. Since that first one, similar events have sprung up all across the US and Canada. The goal is the same of course, the see and end to HIV/AIDS and the San Francisco event is dear to me because I lost so many friends there to AIDS. I've walked 24 years and just signed up for my 25th! I know this blog is not about me, and I usually don't get personal, but this fight is important and it IS personal. I hope it will become personal for you too.


There is still stigma to fight. There is still educating that needs to be done. We still need to give assistance to many who live with HIV. Of course the big thing is that we need to find a cure! I urge you to participate, either by donating to support my walk or my registering to walk yourself, or by sharing this information with others. (Or you can do all of those things too)! Click HERE to become one of my sponsors. Any amount helps! You are also welcome to walk with me at the San Francisco event in July.


AIDS was first clinically observed in 1981 in the United States. (Remember when you lost so many friends back in the early 80s)? Things have gotten better since then, but we cannot stop until AIDS is a thing of the past - until nobody is living with HIV and we only find AIDS in our history books. I'll be doing a number of things, particularly this July. I do hope to see many of you with me!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

White House ban

With everyone talking about the President and his advisors and cabinet, I was asked why I had not written a single thing on the subject. Had I imposed some sort of White House ban here? Absolutely not. There purpose of this blog has always been a positive and uplifting one. I write here about folks who are doing good things for others and who are changing the world for the better. I write about hometown heroes and offer suggestions about how all of us can give back to society. There theme of this blog would therefore seem to be at odds with the current state of the White House.

We have had Presidents whom I have praised. We have had events at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that has made me very proud. I am not seeing that spirit there these days, and I prefer to write about positive things instead of moaning about the negative. I know there are some who disagree with this, but perhaps this would be a good time for folks to actually start working together.

Nothing would give me more pleasure than to share stories about a kind and loving US President who is representing all Americans and advocating for social justice and inclusion of every single person from coast to coast. I most certainly will write in this space about such happenings when and if they occur. There is no White House ban, but there is a ban on negativity and if that is all the White House can produce these days, then you won't be hearing much about them here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

One person can make a difference

Several years ago, when I wrote my very first entry here, I spoke of changing the world; of giving back to society; of making a difference.  The theme of this blog has remained the same throughout and I trace it all back to my childhood when John F Kennedy was the US President.  Kennedy challenged us to dream.  He challenged us to make a difference.

It has been more than fifty years since his words were spoken, but they carry the same encouragement now, as then. On January 20, 1961 at his inauguration at the US Capital, Kennedy said the line most often quoted: "Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country." The President was challenging every single American to contribute in some way to the public good - to make a difference. We still can answer that call!

I don't remember if it was Jacqueline Kennedy or John Kennedy who said this (it has been attributed to both, although Caroline Kennedy credits her father with the words in her forward to the anniversary edition of Profiles In Courage). "One person can make a difference and everyone should try." Indeed. Everyone.
 
I don't know of my success, but every day I want to do something that benefits someone else.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Joy Joy Joy

There used to be a song that was often sung around the campfire at church camps and other places with a line that went "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy Down in my heart Down in my heart to stay."  I don't know how I got that in my head.  I must have joy in my heart!
 
What brings you joy?  I've asked that question here before, but think about it for a moment once again.  There are tons of answers to the question.  There really isn't a wrong answer.  What brings you joy might not bring me joy.  Does some of your own joy come in the giving too?  So how can a feeling of great pleasure and happiness be felt by those around you?  What can you do to share the joy?  Do you every purposely try to fill others with joy and happiness?
 
For me joy is pretty awesome but like with this blog, it's NOT about me and it's not just about my joy alone.  I really am most joyful when I am surrounded by other joyful people.  Seems pretty obvious what we need to do then.  We need to spread the joy, especially on this Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Empty Blog

If you come here every day expecting to find some little gem, today will likely disappoint you.  The blog entry was not going to even happen, but then I realized that some of you might just think I was being lazy and didn't even touch my keyboard.  So here I am.  It's an empty blog post though.  There is no message.
 
I decided to do this because I'm not really certain I am even reaching anyone.  Are you reading these words?  Are you out there?  Year after year I write here about making a difference in the world, but seldom is there any comment.  The counter says that people click on this site.  The counter can only say that people came here though.  It cannot say if they actually read the message.  It cannot say if they agreed or disagreed with what I wrote.
 
And so I write nothing at all today.  Actually I suppose I am writing something.  Can you make a difference in the content of this blog?  We talk here all the time about changing the world.  Perhaps we should start out smaller.  Perhaps.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Inspiration from Arthur Ashe

My sister loves playing and watching tennis and so naturally she was a big fan of Arthur Ashe.  Somehow his name came up talking to her the other day and I began thinking about how he was not only a tennis great, but a great inspiration in so many ways.  I hope he will always be remembered. 

It's been twenty four years since he died from AIDS-related pneumonia, but his accomplishments on the tennis court, his memorable statements, his civil rights activism, and his heart disease and AIDS advocacy stand as a huge monument to a great man who made a great difference. His three-volume book titled A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete, is a very interesting read and his memoir Days of Grace takes a wonderful look at just who Arthur Ashe was.

So much of his life is inspiring, but if I had to take just one thing, I would look to some very wise words he once said. "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can."

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Still more of my favorite quotes

There are famous quotations that have become a part of our daily lives.  Sometimes we even get confused as to the source - is it from The Bible?  from Shakespeare? I'll bet there is a favorite of yours that I haven't mentioned in the ones I listed these past two days.  Do feel free to share it with us! 

Yesterday I quoted John Lennon and indeed many great sayings come from songwriters.  Think of a favorite lyric and the meaning behind it.  Think about how powerful some song words have been to you.

Encouraging statements are the ones that stick with me the most.  Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once made a very encouraging statement that is like an anthem to me:  “The purpose of life is to live it."  Indeed.

Perhaps the most encouraging of all statements for me is one from Blessed Paul the Apostle in his letter to the Romans.  Saint Paul said "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  To that I'll simply say, "Amen."

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Some more of my favorite quotes

Once I started this yesterday, a bunch of additional quotations came to mind.  There are really a lot of profound things being said.  Here are some more -

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." –Maya Angelou

"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life." –John Lennon

"The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be." –Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take." –Wayne Gretzky

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover." –Mark Twain
 
More things to think about.  Perhaps some of you will act on these.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Some of my favorite quotes

Sometimes people say things that are so profound, they are quoted over and over again.  These are some of my favorite inspiring thoughts from some folks you may have heard of -

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." –Benjamin Franklin

"You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try." –Beverly Sills

"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it." –Henry Ford

"Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value." –Albert Einstein

"It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years." –Abraham Lincoln

"If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough." –Oprah Winfrey
 
A few things to think about today.

Friday, February 3, 2017

speaking with your wallet

As an expression of protest or disfavor with products, services, policies, or organizations, boycotts can accomplish a lot.  Usually the things I write about here are positive ones - suggestions about doing various things that will make a difference.  Sometimes though, simply NOT doing something can make a difference.  Not eating in a certain restaurant or not shopping in certain stores or not buying certain products can speak volumes.
 
A personal boycott might not do much, especially if nobody realizes you are boycotting.  There is always more strength in numbers and it is more helpful when you let it be known that you are protesting a particular policy or program or whatever your reason for the boycott might be.
 
For a long time I refused to go to a certain restaurant where I had been treated very badly.  On principle I of course should not go back there unless there is some kind of apology and amendment of policy, but by personal boycott wasn't making them change - they didn't even know I was boycotting.  When I finally realized this, it became clear that I also needed to communicate the problem that had occurred and to involve others.
 
If I disagree with the actions a company takes, whether they are small or huge, it makes no sense for me to give them my money.  It makes no sense for anyone to give them their money!  This is when we should be speaking with our wallets.  If an organization is anti-gay or anti-women or if it is racist or if it bullies or any number of other things that I disagree with, I boycott.  I urge you to be informed and to let your wallets do the talking too!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Flowerful days

Who can look at a colorful bunch of flowers and not be happy?  There is something very cheery about the image whether it is in a cut floral arrangement or a garden in back of our house or a pretty planting by the side of the street we are walking on.  Flowers are happy images.
 
I'll bet you cannot tell me every place where there is a flower between your home and your workplace.  Can you think where the closest garden is to where you are right now?  How about a florist - do you know where there is one?  Even our parks are places where there are beautiful flowers and plants for us to enjoy.
 
If you are at a reception or at a church service or at a funeral or a wedding, do you notice the flowers that might be around you?  People place them there for a reason.  Flowers brighten up our lives!  Take notice of them and be happy.