Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jim Valvano Acceptance Speech

On March 4, 1993, Jim Valvano was awarded the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award at the first annual ESPY Awards. Following is his acceptance speech. You can read the full transcript below:

Thank you, Thank you very much. Thank you. That’s the lowest I’ve ever seen Dick Vitale since the owner of the Detroit Pistons called him in and told him he should go into broadcasting.
The I can’t tell you what an honor it is, to even be mentioned in the same breath with Arthur Ashe. This is something I certainly will treasure forever. But, as it was said on the tape, and I also don’t have one of those things going with the cue cards, so I’m going to speak longer than anybody else has spoken tonight. That’s the way it goes. Time is very precious to me. I don’t know how much I have left and I have some things that I would like to say. Hopefully, at the end, I will have said something that will be important to other people too.
But, I can’t help it. Now I’m fighting cancer, everybody knows that. People ask me all the time about how you go through your life and how’s your day, and nothing is changed for me. As Dick said, I’m a very emotional and passionate man. I can’t help it. That’s being the son of Rocco and Angelina Valvano. It comes with the territory. We hug, we kiss, we love. When people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it’s the same thing. To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.
I rode on the plane up today with Mike Krzyzewski, my good friend and wonderful coach. People don’t realize he’s ten times a better person than he is a coach, and we know he’s a great coach. He’s meant a lot to me in these last five or six months with my battle. But when I look at Mike, I think, we competed against each other as players. I coached against him for fifteen years, and I always have to think about what’s important in life to me are these three things. Where you started, where you are and where you’re going to be. Those are the three things that I try to do every day. When I think about getting up and giving a speech, I can’t help it. I have to remember the first speech I ever gave.
I was coaching at Rutgers University, that was my first job, oh that’s wonderful (reaction to applause), and I was the freshman coach. That’s when freshmen played on freshman teams, and I was so fired up about my first job. I see Lou Holtz here. Coach Holtz, who doesn’t like the very first job you had? The very first time you stood in the locker room to give a pep talk. That’s a special place, the locker room, for a coach to give a talk. So my idol as a coach was Vince Lombardi, and I read this book called “Commitment To Excellence” by Vince Lombardi. And in the book, Lombardi talked about the fist time he spoke before his Green Bay Packers team in the locker room, and they were perennial losers. I’m reading this and Lombardi said he was thinking should it be a long talk, or a short talk? But he wanted it to be emotional, so it would be brief. So here’s what I did. Normally you  get in the locker room, I don’t know, twenty-five minutes, a half hour before the team takes the field, you do your little x and o’s, and then you give the great Knute Rockne talk. We all do. Speech number eight-four. You pull them right out, you get ready. You get your squad ready. Well, this is the first one I ever gave and I read this thing. Lombardi, what he said was he didn’t go in, he waited. His team wondering, where is he? Where is this great coach? He’s not there. Ten minutes he’s still not there. Three minutes before they could take the field Lombardi comes in, bangs the door open, and I think you all remember what great presence he had, great presence. He walked in and he walked back and forth, like this, just walked, staring at the players. He said, “All eyes on me.” I’m reading this in this book. I’m getting this picture of Lombardi before his first game and he said “Gentlemen, we will be successful this year, if you can focus on three things, and three things only. Your family, your religion and the Green Bay Packers.” They knocked the walls down and the rest was history. I said, that’s beautiful. I’m going to do that. Your family, your religion and Rutgers basketball. That’s it. I had it. Listen, I’m twenty-one years old. The kids I’m coaching are nineteen, and I’m going to be the greatest coach in the world, the next Lombardi. I’m practicing outside of the locker room and the managers tell me you got to go in. Not yet, not yet, family, religion, Rutgers Basketball. All eyes on me. I got it, I got it. Then finally he said, three minutes, I said fine. True story. I go to knock the doors open just like Lombardi. Boom! They don’t open. I almost broke my arm. Now I was down, the players were looking. Help the coach out, help him out. Now I did like Lombardi, I walked back and forth, and I was going like that with my arm getting the feeling back in it. Finally I said, “Gentlemen, all eyes on me.” These kids wanted to play, they’re nineteen. “Let’s go,” I said. “Gentlemen, we’ll be successful this year if you can focus on three things, and three things only. Your family, your religion and the Green Bay Packers,” I told them. I did that. I remember that. I remember where I came from.
It’s so important to know where you are. I know where I am right now. How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. You have to be willing to work for it.
I talked about my family, my family’s so important. People think I have courage. The courage in my family are my wife Pam, my three daughters, here, Nicole, Jamie, LeeAnn, my mom, who’s right here too. That screen is flashing up there thirty seconds like I care about that screen right now, huh? I got tumors all over my body. I’m worried about some guy in the back going thirty seconds? You got a lot, hey va fa napoli, buddy. You got a lot.
I just got one last thing, I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have. To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get your emotions going. To be enthusiastic every day and as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great could be accomplished without enthusiasm,” to keep your dreams alive in spite of problems whatever you have. The ability to be able to work hard for your dreams to come true, to become a reality.
Now I look at where I am now and I know what I want to do. What I would like to be able to do is spend whatever time I have left and to give, and maybe, some hope to others. Arthur Ashe Foundation is a wonderful thing, and AIDS, the amount of money pouring in for AIDS is not enough, but is significant. But if I told you it’s ten times the amount that goes in for cancer research. I also told you that five hundred thousand people will die this year of cancer. I also tell you that one in every four will be afflicted with this disease, and yet somehow, we seem to have put it in a little bit of the background. I want to bring it back on the front table. We need your help. I need your help. We need money for research. It may not save my life. It may save my children’s lives. It may save someone you love. And ESPN has been so kind to support me in this endeavor and allow me to announce tonight, that with ESPN’s support, which means what? Their money and their dollars and they’re helping me-we are starting the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. And its motto is “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” That’s what I’m going to try to do every minute that I have left. I will thank God for the day and the moment I have. If you see me, smile and give me a hug. That’s important to me too. But try if you can to support, whether it’s AIDS or the cancer foundation, so that someone else might survive, might prosper and might actually be cured of this dreaded disease. I can’t thank ESPN enough for allowing this to happen. I’m going to work as hard as I can for cancer research and hopefully, maybe, we’ll have some cures and some breakthroughs. I’d like to think, I’m going to fight my brains out to be back here again next year for the Arthur Ashe recipient. I want to give it next year!
I know, I gotta go, I gotta go, and I got one last thing and I said it before, and I want to say it again. Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.
I thank you and God bless you all.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The 'Happiness' Startup: Rules to Live By

Happiness is elusive without balance. I learned that the hard way. As an entrepreneur, I've been fortunate to see financial success but that has little connection to genuine happiness. A famous writer once said, "Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you." In other words, let passion dictate the 86,400 seconds you share with the world each day.
It's a euphoric state of mind. What's a euphoric state of mind? You can't control the outcome, only the process.
Sometimes we wonder through our successes and triumphs -- for whom are we doing this for? And, I have one answer: You're doing it for you.
These are some of the rules I try to live by:
1. UNPLUG: The wired world connected us in wonderful and unimaginable ways, but there's a lot of to be said for the real world. You have to learn to let go. Set aside the phone and the laptop and carve out quality time with the people that really matter to you. At the end of the day, they are the only definition of what's real. Time is actually our greatest virtue. Cherish each of these real moments.
2. KEEP ON LEARNING: At 16, I dropped out of high school -- but I never stopped learning. On the contrary, that's when I learned how to learn. Feeding the brain is a strong component to happiness. Never relax or rest on your laurels; always look for ways to give more than what's expected from you. Challenge yourself. Open your mind and keep it open. And remember: There is nothing you can't do. When others see obstacles, look for opportunities. Dream big. Hustle harder.
3. GIVE BACK: There's a quirky bumper sticker that asks people to "practice random acts of kindness." And there's some truth to this life lesson -- as long as it comes from the heart. It reminds you of the blessings you have and what you should be grateful for, including all the basic things we take for granted. It also allows you to contribute to something greater than yourself. And, whatever you believe in -- a higher power, the law of attraction or just karma, this will further fuel your success.
4. STOP THINKING TOO MUCH: It's alright not to know all the answers. The answers will come to you when you least expect them. Trust your gut. We are complicated creatures. That inexplicable feeling you get sometimes--well, it tends to be right fairly often. Try not to overanalyze it. Some mysterious Inner You is trying to help out by pointing you in the right direction. And, remember, time heals almost everything: give it time. I can summarize this lesson in three simple words, Life Goes On.
5. BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE: The only person in charge of your happiness is you. You don't own all the problems in the world. Count your blessings, not your problems. Be grateful, because if you're reading this, you're already way ahead of billions others in this world. It doesn't matter if the glass is half empty or half full; the only thing that matters is that you have a glass and your responsible for what you pour into it. On the other hand, don't compare your life to others and don't judge them -- you have no idea what their journey is all about. So when things go wrong, just take a deep breath and then remind yourself of what your greater purpose is. Purpose isn't defined by what you want to achieve but what you want to live for to achieve happiness. It also eliminates all fears. And, if you live a life with purpose, you'll never be bored.
6. RELATIONSHIPS ARE EVERYTHING IN LIFE: You can always improve your connection to your loved ones. They teach us to become better people -- to become the best possible version of ourselves and remind us what's worth fighting for. They are also our biggest fans during our ups and supporters during our down moments. And, if they are family, God had his reasons for picking them -- so don't disappoint him.
7. MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR PAST so it won't disturb your present. Own your mistakes. At the end of the day, every decision you make, even the bad ones, are your responsibility. Nobody wins when you start looking for someone to blame, so stop looking and keep moving. Forward movement is the key. You will have bad days, and more than your fair share of failures. But, it's really about getting back on your feet, dusting yourself off, and getting on with this business of living. That's the Big Secret of Life. You fall down, you get up.
8. WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF YOU: is none of your business. Live in such a way, that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it. Don't succumb yourself to a world where you are constantly consumed with always wondering what people think. What matters most -- is what you think of yourself and if your projecting a life that you are proud of. Being invisible and successful is the ultimate power. True recognition is beholden only inside your core, the rest in the end is just temporary noise. Darkness does exist at times, but do not dwell there. Light also exists, from within. Keep it ignited, it wins.
9. BE AUTHENTIC. Too many people try to fake who they really are and that will disappoint you. At the end of the day, it's about who the inner you is and what you contribute to society. Have your filter on. Always surround yourself with people who want you to succeed. That seems simple on the surface, but until you get out there, in the real world, you will discover that most people are rooting for you to fail. Stay away from them. Authenticity is hard to find. But, when you do find it, hold on to it. As someone once said, "Fame is vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing, but only character endures."
10. FORGIVE. Most people believe in revenge, but I've realized that's just negative energy that precludes happiness. We all run into people in our lives that test us, use us, hurt us or even disappoint us, but revenge doesn't serve a purpose. God's Karma takes care of that, and if your lucky he'll let you watch it whenever that happens. But, focus on letting go and forgiveness. Go as far as, praying for anyone that might have hurt you. At the end of the day, we are all characters of a complicated universe. Why complicate it further by letting vengeance devour your day. If you forgive, you learn and move on. Never regret a single character in your journey. If they weren't part of your destination, they were just preparation.
Ignore the world. Keep doing you. And, eventually it will have no option but to revere what you do best. Life is just a big empty canvas. You create your own art. And, then you decide how to turn into a masterpiece. Close your eyes and think with your soul. Dream Big. Dream of greatness. Dream of what defines happiness. Then figure the path that will lead you there, while knowing the difference you are going to make.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

50 things I'm going to do today...

I'm making a little list of all the habits I want to build/have built into my life. It's going to evolve into a little book and a PodCast.-Brian Johnson

1. Grow. We’re either growing or dying—either stepping forward into growth or back into safety. My vote: let’s grow. Seize every moment as another opportunity to expand your soul. Grow! Grow! Grow!

2. Dream. In the words of one of my favorite teachers, James Allen:

“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”
So, what are you dreaming of today?

3. Floss. Not kidding. It’s all about the little things, I’m telling ya! A number of years ago I asked a mentor of mine what one thing he would recommend. His advice: Do the little things to the best of your ability—from putting a sock straight in the hamper to washing your dishes immediately to flossing your teeth. His point: there are no little things and when you get in the habit of living at your highest potential with the mundane things, it becomes second nature for the bigger stuff.

So, floss your teeth. It’ll build strong habits and even make your trip to the dentist a lot more pleasant! (Seriously: it’s fun to have a dentist tell you how good your gums look! :)

4. Breathe. Often. You know—that whole oxygen and carbon dioxide moving through your body thing. It’s a good thing. Seriously.

Stressed? Slow down. Take a deep breath in. Exhale. Ahhhh. Shoulders up! Shoulders down. Breathe in. Breathe out. Now isn’t that nice? I think so, too. So does every cell in your body that you just nourished.

Tip: Ever watch a baby breathe? Notice how their belly just goes up and down? Up and down…now that’s a nice, deep breath—that’s how you want to breathe. It’s called breathing into your diaphragm. Babies get it. Somewhere along the line, stress moved our breath up and up until we were taking shallow breaths and barely getting any air. Eek.

Try this: Put your hand on your belly. Try to keep your chest still while you make your hand on your belly move in and out. Why should you care? Because right there at the bottom of your lungs is where all the real friendly little lung guys hang out waiting to collect the most oxygen for you! (That’s the scientific description.) Seriously, breathe deeply. Increase oxygen. Reduce stress.

5. Smile. Isn’t that nice? It’s amazing what a smile can do. I once read about a study where depressed people were split into two groups—one group looked into a mirror and smiled for 30 minutes a day for 30 days. That’s it. Just looked at themselves and smiled. The other group didn’t. At the end of the study, the smilers were significantly more happy than the other group. Cool, eh? Lesson: smile. Now. Tickle tickle. Gimme a little smile, will ya?!? There ya go! That wasn’t so hard now was it? :)

6. Sweat. You get sweaty today? I hope so. Our bodies were made to move. We, uh, weren’t really designed to be sitting in front of a computer or in a car all day long. Get out and move! When you pump blood through your vessels and air through your lungs, it’s like taking your insides to a car wash. (Even comes with an air freshener…oh, wait…that comes after the shower…)

7. Be Nice. Have you ever heard about the effects of kindness on your brain? Wayne Dyer shares this amazing story in his book “Power of Intention”:

“The positive effect of kindness on the immune system and on the increased production of serotonin in the brain has been proven in research studies. Serotonin is a naturally occurring substance in the body that makes us feel more comfortable, peaceful, and even blissful. In fact, the role of most anti-depressants is to stimulate the production of serotonin chemically, helping to ease depression. Research has shown that a simple act of kindness directed toward another improves the functioning of the immune system and stimulates the production of serotonin in both the recipient of the kindness and the person extending the kindness. Even more amazing is that persons observing the act of kindness have similar beneficial results. Imagine this! Kindness extended, received, or observed beneficially impacts the physical health and feelings of everyone involved!"

That simply blows me away every time I even think about that. God rewards good behavior. So, be nice.

8. Be Grateful. Gratitude. Now that is a powerful emotion. I dare you to be depressed/angry/stressed/whatever while you’re thinking of something for which you’re grateful. It’s impossible. Go ahead. Try it. Ger really upset right now (or just wait till it happens next) then take a moment to step out of that anger/stress/depression to think of three things that make you grateful. Could be the fact that you’re alive, that listening or reading to this now or whatever. Just give yourself the gift of gratitude.

9. Drink Plenty of Water. You drinking water today? Bare minimum is 64 ounces per day—that’s 8 cups. Your body needs water for everything from releasing toxins to maintaining skin health. If you're not drinking enough water, your energy level will drop and you'll be more likely to get headaches.

Your brain and your heart are especially sensitive to even the slightest levels of dehydration. If you don't drink enough water, your blood volume will be affected, requiring your heart to pump harder to circulate blood throughout your body. The chemical and electrical signals in your brain need water. You'll feel tired and lethargic if you're thirsty.

Tip: Drink at least 8 cups of water every day for a week. You'll be surprised with the boost in your energy levels. Trust me.

10. Take Responsibility for Your Life. Are you blaming a bad job, a bad childhood, a bad relationship, or a bad whatever for where you are? Hope not. Cause if you are then you’re not helping your chances of being consistently happy.

11. Meditate. Slow down. Breathe. Quiet your mind and your body for a moment or two or three. Whether it’s for 20 minutes in the morning or night (or both) or 20 seconds at a stop light, take a deep breath in, exhale, clear your mind.

I practice a method of meditation called “Japa” that I highly recommend. One of my favorite teachers, Wayne Dyer, introduced me to the sacred sound of “God” echoed throughout the world’s great traditions. Learn more with his Meditations for Manifesting.

12. Be Here. Now. The present moment. You hear a lot about it. Technically, it’s all we have…one moment…after the next…after the next…You can worry about the future or look back all you want, but at some point we need to consider the fact that life is here, to be lived right now. So, be present.

13. Shower. Hah. My guess is that you’re already doing that one. :) How about this? Next time you jump in, start with freezing cold water (that’ll wake you up!). Then go to warm/hot and alternate it a couple times during your shower. Your blood vessels and capillaries will thank you. The cold—hot—cold combo is like a mini-workout for your circulatory system. (While you’re doing that, you might want to remember the whole idea of gratitude as you appreciate the fact that you’re in the fortunate group of people who actually have the means to even regulate a shower like that!)

14. Turn Off Your TV. (Better yet, never turn it on.) Alright, now guess the average emotion of your average TV viewer. You guess "mild depression"?!? Bingo! And, yikes! Makes sense though, eh? Your soul knows that you’re just avoiding life when you plop down to watch some fictional drama unfold or distract yourself in the myriad of numbing selections. Turn off your TV please and…

15. Open a Book. And read it. Read anything good lately? Hope so. Take some time. It’s fun. Your brain will thank you. Looking for some good picks? Check out thinkarete for some of my favorites.

16. LearnOutLoud. LearnOutLoud? Yep. Audio learning is hot these days. Why waste your time sitting in traffic listening to the same old music or unstimulating talk radio when you could be learning?! It’s amazing how much you can learn in a day when you take advantage of audio learning. One of my best friends turned me on to this and he’ll be turning you and the rest of the world on to it as well. (Thanks, Jon!) Check out LearnOutLoud today and see the crazy cool stuff you can learn. You’ll be glad you did.

17. Pay Your Bills with a Smile. Never let a dollar come in or go out of your hands without gratitude. Thank whoever gave you the money and whoever gave you the services or products you’re paying for. Honor the exchange. Think about how many people you’re supporting as you circulate energy in the form of money. Make it a spiritual practice.

18. Get a Journal. And, use it! Highly recommend you take a moment or two each day to chill with a pen and your paper. It’s an incredible way to think through challenges, express your emotions or plan your life.

19. Ask Yourself: What would I do if I wasn’t afraid? Then, do it.

20. Ask Yourself that Question Again. Then do it again. And again. You do that 10 times and I guarantee you you’ll be a different person. Do it every moment and you’ll be telling your story to the world.

In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Always, always, always, always, always, always, always do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

 21. Create a New Habit. Right now. What one thing do you know you should be doing that would most dramatically change your life? Think about that: What one thing do you know you should be doing that would most dramatically change your life? OK. Commit to creating that habit. Now.

22. Become Aware. Awareness. It’s really the definition of enlightenment. When you’re aware you’re “awake”—that is, not asleep! You’re not just going through the conditioned moments of your habitual life. You’re consciously creating it. That’s powerful.

23. Step Forward. Abraham Maslow broke it down for us in simple terms. He told us that in any given moment you have two options: you can step forward into growth or you can step back into safety. Pretty simple, really. Become aware of your behavior.

Become aware of the decisions you are making every moment of your life—the decision to speak authentically (step forward into growth) or to say what you think you should say (back into safety). Pay attention to your decision to either go out for the run you promised yourself or to make up an excuse as to why you just can’t do it today.

Become AWARE. Become conscious of who you are, the decisions you’re making, how you’re expressing yourself and what you’re actually doing. Your destiny is shaped by your moment to moment decisions. Choose wisely. Step Forward.

24. Say Yes! Quick exercise: Take a moment and say “No!” out loud right now. Say it. Seriously. “No!” Say it again. “No!” Again. “No. No. No. No. No.”

Thank you. Alright. So, how do you feel?

Now, say “Yes!” “Yes!” “Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!”

Do you notice a slight difference?!? When you say “no” do you feel yourself almost shutting down, collapsing in? How about when you say “Yes!” Do you almost feel your whole body and spirit uplifting?

Amazing, isn’t it? Lesson: Say “Yes!” more today. Go for it. Live a little.

25. Quit Worrying About What Others Think. That’s a big one. Really big. Really really really big. First of all, let’s be clear about one thing: You’re worried about what someone else thinks of you, right? OK. Now, while you’re doing that, what do you think they are worried about? Hah. Exactly. They’re worried about what you think of them. But you’re so busy worrying about what they think of you that you’re not even spending much time thinking about them. (You follow that? ;)

To be honest, whether or not that’s true all the time is irrelevant (although I do think it’s true most of the time). In any case, if you’re going to live your life dependent on the good opinion of others for your happiness then, uh, I’ll put it to you bluntly: You’re screwed.

There’s NO way you can please everyone all the time. Even someone who wins an election by a landslide still had 30 or 40% of the people who disagreed with her.

Further, and I’d say much much much more importantly, by worrying about what other people think of you and working hard to try to please them, you’re losing the essence of who you are—you’re expressing such a small fraction of who you truly are. That’s not cool.

So, quit worrying about what other people think of you. Pretty please.

26. Listen. How many ears do you have? How many mouths? Right. Try that ratio in your listening to speaking would ya? Thanks.

27. Put the Sock Straight in the Hamper. Remember the whole flossing-do-the-little-things-thing? Good. Same thing here. Do the little things the way you know you should. Sock belongs in the hamper.

28. Push Yourself. In the words of William James, the 19th century US philosopher and psychologist, “You have enormous untapped power you'll probably never tap, because most people never run far enough on their first wind to ever find they have a second."

How bout we tap that power? The way to do it? Push yourself a little harder. Let’s take a quick look at the “Training Effect”—a concept used to build your body—and see how it applies to our lives.

The same principle that applies to building muscles in the gym applies to building excellence in our lives: In order to grow, we must consistently push ourselves just a little bit past our current comfort zone. In exercise physiology parlance, this is called the Training Effect. The principles involved?

Overload: You must “overload” your body with more stress than it can currently handle. (Not too much as this may lead to injury, but enough so you're out of your current comfort zone.)

Overcompensation: Your body is smart. It doesn’t like to get its butt kicked. So, what does it do? It overcompensates and repairs itself so that next time it's stronger–and capable of withstanding the level of stress you put on it previously.

The training effect explains how muscles grow, how your heart is trained to beat more efficiently, and how your lungs are trained to distribute oxygen more efficiently. It’s also the same principle that dictates growth in other aspects of our lives: from our ability to give presentations at work to our ability to have challenging conversations with our significant other at home.

Go out and "train." Push yourself a little further today...

29. Move! Take Action! I often imagine a powerful river with a stream of water that is moving. How beautiful is that? How pure and powerful? Contrast that with a little stagnant pool of water just sitting there—not moving. It’s gross. Scum gathering on top, bugs all cruising around. Yuck.

The difference between the two? One’s moving and the other’s not. Lesson: Move!!! Flow!!!

Don’t get stagnant and invite the scum. Especially when you’re stressed and don’t feel like doing anything but laying in bed and moping. That’s EXACTLY when you need to make sure the pond scum doesn’t start to grow! Move move move.

30. Be Authentic. Authenticity. Did you know that the word "authentic" literally means to be your own author. Be you. Don't pretend to be anything else. Pretty please.

31. Stop! Earlier we covered that one habit you should create today that would most beneficially change your life. Now, the question is: What one thing do you know you should stop doing? You might have more than one (I certainly have a few!). But what ONE thing do you know you just simply need to stop doing? It’s not serving you anymore (not that it ever did…). If you want to live with consistent happiness what MUST you stop doing?

You got it? Good. Write it down. Say it outloud. Whatever you gotta do.

Now STOP doing it. Now. Forever. The next time you feel the urge and you feel your habituated self pulling you so strongly toward that behavior. STOP. STOP. STOP. STOP. It might be helpful to replace that old behavior with a new, more positive one.

Say you tend to yell at people you love when you get stressed. Catch yourself doing it (there’s that Awareness again). Pause, then pick something new to do. Maybe smile, take a deep breath or two. Whatever it takes. But the bottom line is simple: pick that one thing you need to stop doing and stop doing it.

Shew. Good work. (This one’s gonna be tough…but do it!!)

32. Act “As If.” I recently read an amazing passage from Wayne Dyer's book, Real Magic. The way he described acting "as if" is genius. My rendition goes something like this: who do you want to be? What's your ideal? Are you enlightened? Are you in perfect physical shape?
Whatever it is, get that image. Then, on a moment-to-moment basis, ACT "AS IF" you already were that person...what would the enlightened being that you are do in this moment of tension? Perhaps breathe in, breathe out, gain perspective and maintain equanimity. Good. Then act like that enlightened person NOW.
How about that perfectly healthy person that you imagine. Good. What would (s)he do right now? What would they eat? How often would they exercise. Perfect. That's what you do now.
Act as if. Moment to moment to moment. And, sooner than you think you won't be acting anymore. How amazingly cool is that?

33. Regain Your Balance. Here’s an exercise I often use to capture the importance of having a clear intention to regain our balance:

Stand up. Put your arms straight out. Make sure you’re in an area that’s big enough so you can spin around. Alright. Now, spin. Give yourself a good 5-10-15 spins. Whatever it takes to get you a little off-balance. Alright. Now once you get there, I want you to stop spinning. Then, I want you to do two different things:

First, I want you to put your hands together like you’re praying and stare at your finger tips—it brings you back to balance AMAZINGLY quickly. Then, I want you to quick staring at your fingertips and instead I want you to look all around you—up, down, far away, to the right, to the left…just look everywhere. Notice how that makes you feel. If you’re like me, it probably makes you wanna barf.

For me, this is a perfect metaphor for having a clear intention in our life. When things get stressful (i.e., we’re “spun around”), we have a couple of options: we can look all around us to get a sense of perspective (which usually leads to more confusion/nausea); or, we can focus on what we know to be true, what our intention in life is, what the purpose of that experience is, etc.—that clarity brings us back to balance as quickly as staring at our fingertips.

So, the next time you’re spinning—have a clear intention: know that your highest intention is to grow as a more enlightened, loving, balanced, growth-oriented human being (or whatever it is for you) and come back to that to re-gain your balance.

Try it out! Methinks you’ll dig it.

34. Go Straight at Your Problems. There’s a great story in Paul Bunyan’s book, Pilgrim’s Progress. It goes something like this: the main character experiences all kinds of challenges and tough situations on his metaphorical spiritual quest in life. The cool part is that he’s blessed with a shield. This shield miraculously protects him against everything in front of him. NOTHING can harm him as long as he approaches it head on. That magic shield works wonders—provided he goes straight at the challenge. If he runs away, he loses its magical powers.

I think that’s amazing. And, so true. Have you ever noticed that those “huge” problems you’ve had seemed to vanish the moment you took em head on? (I mean really head on not vacillating kinda sorta head on!) The things that really kick our ass are the ones we avoid. Lesson: don’t show em our ass! Take em head on. Trust in the powers of your shield.

What problem have you been running away from? Take it head on.

35. Serve. It’s so easy to spend all of our time asking what we can get out of a situation instead of what we can give. I don’t know about you, but I feel stress when I’m just focused on myself. The moment I get out of my own little set of fears/issues and start thinking about how I can serve and give to those around me, my stress seems to evaporate. Amazing.

Try it out. The next time you’re stressed, step back. See how you’re focused on yourself and you may not get what you wanted. Flip the situation around and see how you can give all of yourself to the situation. Irony here, of course, is that when you truly give yourself to the world, you’ll get more than you ever dreamt of in return.

36. Be the Change. What do you want to see in the world? More peace? More love? More kindness? According to Gandhi, the answer is simple: we must be the change we want to see.

You want world peace? Bless the person who cut you off and honked at you on your way to work. Wish them a safe journey instead of getting caught up in their anger and impatience.

You want more kindness? Smile at the person who might be frustrating you. Open the door for someone, pick up a piece of trash. BE kind.

Simple but not easy. Be the Change.

37. Fill Your Water Pot and Hit the Rock. Every great teacher will advise you to build habits and to consistently train yourself to do your best.

The Buddha says it so beautifully when he reminds us that: "Little by little a person becomes evil, as a water pot is filled by drops of water... Little by little a person becomes good, as a water pot is filled by drops of water."
I think the stonecutter is another perfect metaphor for the process of growing into our full potential. You may have heard the story:

A stonecutter hits a rock with his hammer. The stone splits.

The casual observer sees this and thinks, “Wow. That guy is really strong. I can’t believe he broke that huge rock with a single blow!”

The reality (obviously) is that the stonecutter had been hammering away at that rock for a long time. Many, many blows went into the rock before it finally split.

Most people see someone who has achieved some level of success--whether it’s enlightenment or celebrity status--and think, “Wow, they sure must be lucky.”

Obviously, the stonecutter isn’t strong enough to break a rock in one blow and no one is “lucky” enough to reach any level of excellence without an equally diligent and consistent effort.

So, hit the rock. Again. And again. And again. You will break the rock.

38. Be Consistent. One of my favorite lessons from training my body (and helping others train theirs) is the idea that you want to focus on consistency over intensity. It’s not about getting all fired up one day and going off at the gym for an hour and a half…and then waking up the next day unable to move!

It’s much much much much much better to just show up. Put in your 20 minutes, your 30 minutes, your 40 minutes. Whatever. Just do it consistently.
Aristotle made it pretty clear: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence (aka Areté) then, is not an act, but a habit."
This applies to all aspects of our life. Quite simply, we are what we consistently do.
Sure, it's a lot more fun to jump into the latest fad diet or hit the gym for an intense workout once a week or go to a motivational seminar or yoga retreat, but the question is not how intensely we get into any given workout or week of dieting or weekend of's all about whether we have the self-mastery to do the things we know we should be doing consistently--moment to moment and week in and week out.

39. Be Inconsistent. So, now that we’re clear on how important consistency is, BE INCONSISTENT. :)

Well, at least be willing and able to be inconsistent. It’s so easy for us to get locked into a way of thinking or to maintain an opinion simply because we strongly felt a certain way at one point. But, my God! If you can’t break free and give yourself the power to change your mind, your job, your strategy, your relationships, whatever…you, uh, are kinda screwed.

Love Emerson’s comments on the subject: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. - 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' -- Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."
So, uh, do us all a favor and don’t be a hobgoblin, mmmmk?

40. Embrace Opposites. You know, yin and yang, light and dark, night and day, high tide, low tide, consistency, inconsistency. Stuff like that. Life is full of opposites. Learn to live in a state where you appreciate it and see that you simply can’t have light without dark; you can’t have a day without a night; can’t have a summer without a winter (well, I guess in California you can but you know what I mean!).
The more you appreciate this the less you’re gonna be taken way by your sadness, despair, hopelessness. Transcend it and you’re even more golden…

41. Make Your Room Your Cave. Your bedroom is for two things: sleeping and baby-making. Period. So, get rid of your TV. Remove the clutter. Read somewhere else. (Keep the candles though, that’s a nice touch. :)

42. Support Someone in the Process of Achieving Greatness. Support an artist. An entrepreneur. Anyone and everyone who has enough courage to follow their dreams and try to make them a reality.

Hire a personal trainer. Work with a life coach. Take a yoga class. Go get a massage from a private practitioner. Try acupuncture. Talk to a nutritionist. Support people who have taken the risk to get paid to try to help you improve your life!

Buy a CD from a musician who’s out there living her dream. Go to a show. Care enough to support them!

(And, why not start with a friend of mine? His name’s Rob Costlow. He’s amazing. Since he was a kid, he’s been annoying his piano teachers by adding new endings to Mozart and stuff. (How cool is that?!?) He just released his second incredible album of his solo piano work. It’s amazing stuff. Support him while he works his butt off and takes a huge risk to get paid to do what he loves and share his gifts with the world. Check him out and support him today by going to You’ll be thrilled you did.)

Support an entrepreneur. Whether it’s the local pet store or a guy following his dream to create a company worth creating (like me). I thank God everyday for the amazing group of people who have invested in me. Without their capital, I wouldn’t be typing this and you wouldn’t be reading this. So, support someone today—whether it’s an encouraging email, an introduction to a prospective partner or client or even an investment. Do it. The world needs it!

(Speaking of entrepreneurs worth supporting, check out Jon Bischke, one of my closest friends (and also one of the biggest investors in me and in Zaadz, Inc.) decided to follow his passion to inspire people to reach their potential by encouraging us to seize every opportunity to learn. The guy’s a learning freak. He’s read/listened to nearly everything you can imagine and squeezes unimaginable amounts of time out of his day to feed his brain. He’s on a mission to inspire others to do the same. He’s gotten me hooked and you should be hooked as well. So, check him out, sign up for his newsletter, tell a friend about LearnOutLoud and get to learnin’!)

43. Follow Your Bliss. Those three words capture the message of Joseph Campbell—the amazing mythology guru and mentor to George Lucas who based much of Star Wars on the classic archetypal journeys Campbell discovered.

It’s rather simple. Three words: 1. Follow. 2. Your. 3. Bliss.

Key words: “bliss” and “your.” Not someone else’s idea of your bliss. Not what you think should be your bliss. Not what you think would impress the crowd or appease the family. YOUR bliss. What truly gets you giddy.

Oh yah, “follow” is kinda important as well. Get off your ass and go out there and follow your bliss! (Pretty please. Thank you.)

44. Use a Dictionary. Read a word you don’t know? Stop. Get a dictionary. Open it. (Or use one online…whatever.) Find the word. (Really complicated stuff, so far, eh?) Read the word’s meaning. Make sure you get it. Perhaps even write your new word down. Now, you can either leave the dictionary open or closed. That part’s totally up to you. But, please please please please please expand your mind a bit and use a dictionary! Fancy words appreciate it. So does your intellect.

45. Wear Sunscreen. It’s just a good idea. Plus that commencement address that Baz Lurman adapted into a song was pretty cool. You know—the one that starts with the guy going “Weeeeeaaaaaaaar sunscreen…If I can offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. Whereas the rest of my advice is based on my own meandering experience, sunscreen has been proved by science…”

Love that. (And have always wanted to say that out loud to someone other than myself in my car. :)

46. Quit Comparing Yourself to Others. It’s really a pointless exercise. It automatically creates a strained relationship with whomever you’re comparing yourself—you’ve either gotta be superior or inferior to them, right? Neither is a good basis for a loving relationship.

But, that’s not even the part that bothers me the most. Frankly, I think we’re selling ourselves insanely short when we compare ourselves to others. Even if I'm comparing myself to the greatest people who ever lived that would still be a disservice to my creator. He/She/It created ME—a unique mix of gifts (and wackiness) that is begging for it’s own unique expression.

So, if you need to do any comparison at all—do it with your potential self!

In the words of William Faulkner, “Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
47. Brush Your Teeth. OK. I figure you’ve got that one down already. But how about this: the next time you’re doing it, instead of letting your mind wander for a couple minutes (hasn’t it already done that enough for a day?!?), just stop and look in the mirror. Look in your eyes and simply say “I love me” to yourself.

Kinda freaky? Maybe the first time you do it. But you’ll get over it. Seriously. Do it. “I love me.” Say it again. Mean it. Not a bad way to use your mind for a couple minutes, eh? (I’m telling ya! The little things count!!)

48. Squeeze the Old Keegle. While we’re chillin in the bathroom, we might as well focus on squeezing the keegle. You know, the old “keegle”—that grand muscle of yours that starts and stops the flow of your pee. Squeeze it. Stop your pee. Start it. Stop. Start. Stop. Make a game out of it. See how many times you can do it. Fun stuff. And, you’re getting a great workout that will make your partner happy. Life is good. ;)

49. Stretch. Ahhhhhhhh…Isn’t that nice? Stretch. You know you should. It’s good for you! It doesn’t need to be a full-blown routine (although that’d be great!), just stretch a little every chance you get.

So, stand up. Streeeeeeettttccccchhhhhh. (And breathe and smile while you’re doing it will ya?!)

50. Quit Milking the Cow! She doesn’t like it and neither does your body. Seriously. Dairy simply does NOT belong in your body. Let’s think about this for a moment. Nature makes milk for mommy mammals to give to their offspring. Now, a cow mommy needs the kind of milk that makes its little 50 pound baby a 500 pound grown up in less than year. (Yikes!) That milk has some special needs, wouldn’t you say? It’s just a little bit different than the milk our mommies make for us, eh? So, unless you’re shooting for a crazy growth spurt into a 500 pound cow, why you drinking the stuff?

We won’t even go into all the hormones that are injected into a cow to make her lactate round the clock for months and months…I’ll just say that without a doubt, THE most powerful thing I’ve ever done with my diet is eliminating almost all dairy. My allergies and incessant mucus “miraculously” disappeared. (God I wish we would have known about it when I was a kid so I could have avoided the multiple allergy shots every weak…)

Finally, I really have to ask: Who was the first crazy dood who hopped onto a cow and started sucking? That’s just insane to me. There should be a rule that unless you’re willing to suck straight from a cow’s teet, you don’t get your milk with dinner. (Yah, that was over the line…d’oh.)

btw: Here's a great site on why milk sucks! 

11 Keys To Happiness From Other Cultures

11 Keys To Happiness From Other Cultures

You can hoard all the shot glasses you want on your next trip, but they’re not going to guide you to a higher echelon of personal fulfillment.
Take home a cultural souvenir instead! These 11 habits from other cultures are small changes that could mean big payoffs in your happiness levels. Try one today.

1. Treat yourself
The French are famous for smaller portions, but that doesn’t mean these portions aren’t indulgent. At French breakfast, for example, a single buttery croissant or chocolate brioche replaces our smorgasbord of oatmeal and eggs.
The French have a much lower obesity rate than Americans, partly because they take time to savor small servings of rich, sweet foods. Tomorrow, don’t settle for toast-- grab a few donut holes and let yourself smile on the way to work.

2. Hang out beyond the house
In countries like The Netherlands, friends don’t socialize in the homes of friends. Instead, they meet up to talk in public spaces, like town squares or cafes.


Besides the fact that you won’t have to stress over making your signature crab dip appetizers, hanging out away from home is a happy habit because it makes you available to surprises. When you're chatting in a café, the door is wide open for a new appetizer to jostle your palate or a new friend to join the conversation. Those things are surprises, and surprises are fun.

3. Give a squillo
Nope, it’s not an ancient precursor to the armadillo. An Italian squillo is when, if you’re late to a meeting with someone or you’re just generally thinking about them, you give them a quick phone call and hang up before they answer. It’s like blowing a kiss -- with your iPhone.


We can’t have catch-up talks on the phone during our workday, and carrying a text message conversation gets distracting. Put some European mystery into your keep-in-touch routine by leaving a sweet little missed call to show a friend you’re thinking about her today.

4. Take a gap year (or day)
Deferring college acceptance is much more of a norm in Australia-- a recent survey found that about 15% of Aussie students take a year to travel between high school and university.
Another survey reports that 90% of American students who traveled before starting college said that those adventures influenced their selection of college major. In short, sampling a new way of life changes your priorities and your life path. Don’t have a year to toss to the wind? Spend a weekend volunteering at a soup kitchen for a mini culture shock that will reset your worldview.

5. Eat late
A number of cultures embrace late dinner times. In Argentina, for example, it’s totally normal to eat the evening meal at 11 p.m.
This habit seriously help curb pesky pangs of guilt for night owls like the Argentines. If you fuel up right before hitting the bars or hitting the books, you’ll feel a lot less munchy when your late night comes to an end. And less munchies means less overeating, which means less regret, which means a fresher start in the morning.

6. Inspect with respect
Travelers marvel at one Japanese custom more than others: Apparently, when you hand a Japanese acquaintance a business card, your new friend will “inspect” and fawn over that tiny square of paper as if it’s pure gold. They’re giving you their culture’s sign of respect.

japan business card

In a society where we network at lightening speed, it can be challenging for relationships to feel genuine. Whipping out your magnifying glass isn’t necessary, but try lingering an extra moment to show people you truly appreciate their extensions of friendship, whether that extension was a business card or a verbal compliment. You’ll be impressed how such a small exchange can grow your relationship by leaps and bounds.

7. Live near your family (physically or virtually)
Moving away for college isn’t as much of a “thing” for many cultures, and young European and Asian adults often live with their families long past the age when American kids leave. Many stick around into adulthood, setting up their own households in the same neighborhoods as their parents.
America loves independence, and that’s great. But your family provides support, which gives you confidence, which will more speedily grow you into that independent individual you want to be. There’s something to be said for living nearby to soak up your family’s love and give some in return. But if you must move out (and let’s face it, you do), prioritize Skype sessions-- they’ll pay off more than you know.

8. Take a real vacation
German employees often peace out for an entire month each year-- companies are mandated to give them 34 paid vacation days. While we aren’t necessarily allowed so much time off, muster up the guts to completely leave your work world behind for a week of digital detox.


Hardcore co-workers might criticize your lack of participation in conference calls or projects while you’re gone. But a weeklong spurt of mental blankness will bring you back much more productive, fresher, and happier than if you had stayed semi-connected during a quicker trip.

9. Have an after-dinner sobremesa
There’s not even a word for this in English, but a sobremesa is the cluster of hours (seriously, hours) that Spanish people spend talking ‘round the dinner table after finishing their meal. Nobody’s shoveling food into their mouths, and nobody’s off doing the dishes. It’s just you, the tablecloth and a forced segment of utter downtime.
Try staying seated for just an extra 30 minutes after your next family dinner. You’ll be surprised what old stories come up and old photo albums come out when everyone’s commanded to simply linger instead of commanded to start their homework.

10. Walk
Whether it’s the French or the Swiss, the general consensus is that Europeans walk a lot more than we do and are thus a lot calmer and healthier than we are.


Yes, their cities are typically smaller and easier to maneuver without a car. But the benefits of walking are in the walking, not in getting to your destination. If going to work on foot isn’t feasible for you, reap walking’s benefits by taking a neighborhood stroll with a pal. You’ll get a zing of happy when you discover a new café down that random side street or a new quirk in her personality.

11. Do the siesta
It’s not practiced as much anymore, but many stores in Spain actually close and some people in Spain actually nap during the hours of two and five. The way to beat the three o’clock slump is to escape three o’clock altogether!
You can easily tailor Spain’s siesta to your American work schedule. Take a 15-minute catnap (which is, scientifically, all you need), zen out to a few songs at your desk, or simply close your laptop like a churro man closes his shop. When you snap back from your reverie, the next block of office hours will feel like a whole new day.

Next time you travel, be on the lookout for cultural norms that aren't quite the same as the ones at home. Before brushing these habits off, consider adding them to your collection of cultural souvenirs!

Life's Little Instructions

Sing in the shower.
Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.
Watch a sunrise at least once a year.
Leave the toilet seat in the down position.
Never refuse homemade brownies.
Strive for excellence, not perfection.
Plant a tree on your birthday.
Learn 3 clean jokes.
Return borrowed vehicles with the gas tank full.
Compliment 3 people every day.
Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.
Leave everything a little better than you found it.
Keep it simple.
Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.
Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
Floss your teeth.
Ask for a raise when you think you've earned it.
Overtip breakfast waitresses.
Be forgiving of yourself and others.
Say, "Thank you" a lot.
Say, "Please" a lot.
Avoid negative people.
Buy whatever kids are selling on card tables in their front yards.
Wear polished shoes.
Remember other people's birthdays.
Commit yourself to constant improvement.
Carry jumper cables in your truck.
Have a firm handshake.
Send lots of Valentine cards.
Sign them, "Someone who thinks you're terrific."
Look people in the eye.
Be the first to say hello.
Use the good silver.
Return all things you borrow.
Make new friends, but cherish the old ones.
Keep a few secrets.
Sing in a choir.
Plant flowers every spring.
Have a dog. <Or cat :)>
Always accept an outstretched hand.
Stop blaming others.
Take responsibility for every area of your life.
Wave at kids on school busses.
Be there when people need you.
Feed a stranger's expired parking meter.
Don't expect life to be fair.
Never underestimate the power of love.
Drink champagne for no reason at all.
Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation.
Don't be afraid to say, "I made a mistake."
Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know."
Compliment even small improvements.
Keep your promises no matter what.
Marry for love.
Rekindle old friendships.
Count your blessings.
Call your mother.
by H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Pregnant in Auschwitz: Toronto Holocaust survivor recalls split-second decision that saved her and unborn son

Miriam Rosenthal, a Holocaust survivor who turns 90-years-old on August 26, 2012, poses for a portrait at her home in Toronto, Ontario, Wednesday, August 22, 2012.
Tyler Anderson/National PostMiriam Rosenthal, a Holocaust survivor who turns 90-years-old on August 26, 2012, poses for a portrait at her home in Toronto, Ontario, Wednesday, August 22, 2012. 
Miriam Rosenthal was four-months pregnant, starving, bone-tired, cold, filthy and afraid when an SS officer in big black boots and a crisp uniform appeared before the barracks in Auschwitz with a loudspeaker in hand.
All pregnant women line up, he barked. Line up, line up — your food portions are being doubled.
“Can you imagine?” Miriam asks. “Even women who were not pregnant stepped forward. I was standing with my younger cousin, but I wouldn’t go. She says, ‘Miriam, what are you doing?’ ”
“Something was holding me back. Someone was watching over me. I feel maybe my mother, maybe God. Two hundred women stepped forward and 200 women went to the gas chamber. And I don’t know why I didn’t step forward.
“I have asked rabbis. I have asked some big people and no one can give me an answer. If you believe in God, then God did it. If you believe it was my parents, then it was my parents, which is what I believe.
“They were such good people, generous, kind. And maybe for their sake, maybe that’s why I didn’t step forward. I have asked myself this question so many times as I lay in bed upstairs.”
We are sitting in the dining room of a tidy home in north Toronto. Tears are welling in Miriam Rosenthal’s eyes. Talking about those long ago days “rips at her guts.” She remembers everything. “Every step.” Every horror. Her body might be shot through with arthritis, her legs barely work, her neck aches and she is turning 90 on Sunday, but Miriam remembers.
“I don’t have dementia yet,” she says, smiling.
Not stepping forward at Auschwitz was a beginning, not an end. There were other mysteries of fate that, in the dying months of the Second World War in the deadened landscape of Nazi Germany, brought seven pregnant Jewish women together in Kaufering I, a sub-camp of Dachau, where seven Jewish babies would be born.
HandoutArchival family photos from the personal collection of Miriam Rosenthal, a Holocaust survivor who turns 90-years-old next week, in Toronto, Ontario, Wednesday, August 22, 2012. Miriam Rosenthal (R), with Leslie (C) and Bela Rosenthal.
The Germans murdered over a million Jewish children. Like the sick and the old, they were viewed as useless mouths to feed and often among the first killed. Some were used in medical experiments, but newborns were typically murdered at birth.
Almost seven decades after the war, the seven Jewish babies of Kaufering — three boys, four girls — are still alive, scattered about the globe, the youngest living survivors of the Holocaust.
“Here is my miracle baby now,” Miriam says, pausing mid-sentence, grinning at the appearance of her 67-year-old “baby,” Leslie.
“And here is my miracle mother,” Leslie Rosenthal chimes back.
Miriam Rosenthal was born Miriam Schwarcz in Komarno, Czechoslovakia, on Aug. 26, 1922, the youngest of 13 children. Jacob, her father, was a gentleman farmer.
“I was spoiled,” she says. “I had a beautiful life. I was always asking my mother when is it my turn to get married?”
HandoutArchival family photos from the personal collection of Miriam Rosenthal, a Holocaust survivor who turns 90-years-old next week, in Toronto, Ontario, Wednesday, August 22, 2012
A matchmaker from Miskolc, Hungary, met with Miriam and her mother, Laura. Flipping through the woman’s book of eligible bachelors, Miriam spotted her “Clark Gable,” a movie-star-handsome cattle broker’s son named Bela Rosenthal. They were married in Budapest on April 5, 1944. Miriam pinned a red rose on her lapel to cover the yellow Star of David.
The honeymoon was brief. Within a few short months, Bela was sent to a slave labour camp, Miriam to Auschwitz. She was later transferred to Augsberg Germany, to work in a Messerschmitt factory. All the while, her belly grew.
Two men from the SS appeared at the factory one day, with snarling German shepherds, demanding to know who the pregnant women were. They asked a second time.
“I had to raise my hand,” Miriam says. “I was showing, and if I didn’t put up my hand all those other women would be killed. How could I not put up my hand? The girls wept for me. The SS took me and put me on a passenger train, which was very unusual. There was a woman, a civilian, and she said: “Frau, what is with you? You don’t have hair. The clothes you are wearing. What are you, from a mental hospital?
“She didn’t have a dream, this German woman, of all the horrible things the Germans were doing. I told her I am not from a mental hospital, I am going to Auschwitz — I am going to the gas. She looked at me like I was crazy, opened her purse and gave me some bread. I ate it so fast. I was so hungry.”
HandoutArchival family photos from the personal collection of Miriam Rosenthal, a Holocaust survivor who turns 90-years-old next week, in Toronto, Ontario, Wednesday, August 22, 2012. A post-war photo of Miriam Rosenthal.
The SS guards had been out smoking and returned, telling Miriam she was one “lucky Jew,” that the crematoriums at Auschwitz were “kaput.” Instead, she was taken to Kaufering I, a satellite camp near Dachau, hand delivered to the gates and identified by a number tattooed on her left forearm, still visible today.
“They said, ‘Adieu Frau, good luck to you.’ Can you imagine?” Miriam says. “I went into this camp and I was led to a basement and guess who was there?”
Six other pregnant women: crying, laughing, holding one another, chattering in Hungarian, bundling themselves in the hope that they might actually survive. One by one the babies came, delivered by another inmate, a Hungarian gynecologist whose only instrument was a pail of hot water.
A “Capo,” a Jewish woman charged with overseeing the women, smuggled a stove into the room, keeping the expecting mothers warm during the freezing winter months of 1945. The Germans discovered the stove and beat the Capo bloody, ripping into her flesh with their truncheons.
“I have looked for this woman since,” Miriam says. “After the beating she told us, ‘Don’t you worry girls, the stove will be back tomorrow.’ ”
It was.
Leslie Rosenthal was the last of the Kaufering babies, born Feb. 28, 1945.
“He was beautiful, blond hair, blue eyes,” Miriam says. “An SS came in and was surprised and said he looks Aryan and he asked me if the father was an SS man.
“I told him no, the father was my husband.”
I can’t describe that feeling of when he saw our baby, when he saw Leslie for the first time. We cried and cried and cried.”
American troops wept when they liberated Dachau in late April and discovered the babies — new life in a graveyard of bones. Miriam said goodbye to her “camp sisters” and headed home to Czechoslovakia. Bela had also survived and returned to Komarno, broken sandals on his feet, held there by a string.
HandoutArchival family photos from the personal collection of Miriam Rosenthal, a Holocaust survivor who turns 90-years-old next week, in Toronto, Ontario, Wednesday, August 22, 2012. Father and son: Bela Rosenthal (L) with Leslie (R)
“I could see him coming, running from afar, and I shouted, ‘Bela, Bela.’ I wasn’t sure it was him, and he was running and calling my name,” Miriam says.
“I can’t describe that feeling of when he saw our baby, when he saw Leslie for the first time. We cried and cried and cried.”
Bela said he is “so beautiful.” Miriam said he has “your ears.”
The young family moved to Canada in 1947. Bela found work in a mattress factory, but his real gift was talking. He was a man of words, and faith. The Rosenthals left the big city for Timmins and Sudbury, where Bela served as rabbi before their return to Toronto in 1956. They ran Miriam’s Fine Judaica, a gift shop, on Bathurst Street, for over four decades and raised three children, had grandchildren — and great children. Bela died a few years back. He was 97.
Life in Canada wasn’t always easy, Miriam says. There were up and downs and there was always the past, painful memories haunting the periphery, dark shadows amid the light.
Miriam has a recurring nightmare where the SS come and take Leslie away. But when she looks over at him now, sitting beside her on a warm August afternoon, her face brightens, because she knows how her war story ends.
“He is such a good boy,” Miriam says. “He visits me every single day. He knows what his mother went through.”
National Post

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

100 inspirational quotes.

Inspirational quotes and motivational quotes have the power to get us through a bad week, and can even  give us the courage to pursue our life’s dreams. In my book, 4 Keys to Happiness and Fulfillment at Work, I share surprising research into the true triggers of workplace motivation. So in the spirit of self motivation, here are 100 inspirational quotes.

  1. Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. –Napoleon Hill
  2. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. –Steve Jobs
  3. Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. –Albert Einstein
  4. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.  –Robert Frost
  5. The common question that gets asked in business is, ‘why?’ That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, ‘why not?’ -Jeffrey Bezos
  6. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. –Wayne Gretzky
  7. I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. –Michael Jordan
  8. Every strike brings me closer to the next home run. –Babe Ruth
  9. Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement. –W. Clement Stone
  10. Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. –John Lennon
  11. We become what we think about. –Earl Nightingale
  12. 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
  13. Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. –John Maxwell
  14. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. –Tony Robbins
  15. The mind is everything. What you think you become.  –Buddha
  16. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. –Chinese Proverb
  17. An unexamined life is not worth living. –Socrates
  18. Eighty percent of success is showing up. –Woody Allen
  19. Don’t wait. The time will never be just right. –Napoleon Hill
  20. Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. –Vince Lombardi
  21. I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions. –Stephen Covey
  22. Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. –Pablo Picasso
  23. You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. –Christopher Columbus
  24. 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. –Maya Angelou
  25. Either you run the day, or the day runs you. –Jim Rohn
  26. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. –Henry Ford
  27. The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. –Mark Twain
  28. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  29. The best revenge is massive success. –Frank Sinatra
  30. People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing.  That’s why we recommend it daily. –Zig Ziglar
  31. Inspiration exists, but it must find you working. –Pablo Picasso
  32. If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. –Vincent Van Gogh
  33. There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing. –Aristotle
  34. Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal. –Henry Ford
  35. The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
  36. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined. –Henry David Thoreau
  37. When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me. –Erma Bombeck
  38. Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others.  Unsuccessful people are always asking, “What’s in it for me?” – Brian Tracy
  39. Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart. – Ancient Indian Proverb
  40. Believe you can and you’re halfway there. –Theodore Roosevelt
  41. Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. –George Addair
  42. We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. –Plato
  43. Once you choose hope, anything’s possible. –Christopher Reeve
  44. Start where you are. Use what you have.  Do what you can. –Arthur Ashe
  45. 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
  46. Fall seven times and stand up eight. –Japanese Proverb
  47. When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us. –Helen Keller
  48. Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see. –Confucious
  49. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. –Anne Frank
  50. When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. –Lao Tzu
  51. The difference between a successful person and others is not lack of strength not a lack of knowledge but rather a lack of will. –Vince Lombardi
  52. Happiness is not something readymade.  It comes from your own actions. –Dalai Lama
  53. The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible. –Arthur C. Clarke
  54. First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end. –Aristotle
  55. If the wind will not serve, take to the oars. –Latin Proverb
  56. You can’t fall if you don’t climb.  But there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground. –Unknown
  57. Whoever loves much, performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well. –Vincent Van Gogh
  58. Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears. –Les Brown
  59. Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. –Joshua J. Marine
  60. The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. –Walt Disney
  61. I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do. –Leonardo da Vinci
  62. Limitations live only in our minds.  But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless. –Jamie Paolinetti
  63. Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes.  You are free. –Jim Morrison
  64. What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do. –Bob Dylan
  65. I didn’t fail the test. I just found 100 ways to do it wrong. –Benjamin Franklin
  66. In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure. –Bill Cosby
  67. A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. – Albert Einstein
  68. The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it. –Chinese Proverb
  69. There are no traffic jams along the extra mile. –Roger Staubach
  70. It is never too late to be what you might have been. –George Eliot
  71. You become what you believe. –Oprah Winfrey
  72. I would rather die of passion than of boredom. –Vincent van Gogh
  73. A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty. –Unknown
  74. It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.  –Ann Landers
  75. If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money. –Abigail Van Buren
  76. Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs. –Farrah Gray
  77. Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. –Frank Zappa
  78. Education costs money.  But then so does ignorance. –Sir Claus Moser
  79. Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more. –H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
  80. It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. –Confucius
  81. Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others. –H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
  82. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. –Dalai Lama
  83. You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have. –Maya Angelou
  84. Dream big and dare to fail. –Norman Vaughan
  85. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. –Martin Luther King Jr.
  86. Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. –Teddy Roosevelt
  87. The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. –Alice Walker
  88. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning. –Gloria Steinem
  89. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live. –Mae Jemison
  90. You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try. –Beverly Sills
  91. Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. –Eleanor Roosevelt
  92. Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be. –Grandma Moses
  93. The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me. –Ayn Rand
  94. When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. –Henry Ford
  95. It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. –Abraham Lincoln
  96. Change your thoughts and you change your world. –Norman Vincent Peale
  97. Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. –Benjamin Franklin
  98. Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn
  99. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. –Steve Jobs
  100. If you can dream it, you can achieve it. –Zig Ziglar

Monday, September 23, 2013

10 Things you must tell yourself today

#1 I am fighting hard for the things I want most.
-The longer you have to wait for something, the more you will appreciate it when it finally arrives.
-Most great things don't come easy, but they are worth waiting for and fighting for.

#2 I am taking action now
-Many great things can be done in a day if you don't always make that day tomorrow.

#3 I am focusing on the next positive step
-The future holds nothing but endless potential.
-There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.

#4 I am proud to wear my truth
-How you see yourself means everything.
-To be beautiful means to live confidently in your own skin

#5 I have a lot to smile about
-Happiness is not a result of getting something you don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what you do have.

#6 I am making the best of it
-Everything you go through grows you.
-Amazing things can and do happen when you least expect them

#7 I am letting go of yesterday's stress
-Leave behind the stress, the dream and the worries. lay this day to rest.

#8 There is enough time today to do something I love
-You will find happiness in doing the thing you love to do.

#9 I am priceless in someone's eyes
-Focus on those who love and accept you for who you are, and shower them with the love and kindness they deserve. Cherish the people who saw you when you were invisible to everyone else.

#10. It's not too late
-No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you've come from, you can always change and become a better version of yourself.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

60 wonderful quotes


n this posting you will find my selection of the very best 60 quotes, from nearly a decade of collecting them. They range from the profound to the intriguing to the just plain funny.

One way or the other, you’ll surely find many of them to be thought-provoking and entertaining.

This selection is, of course, based solely on my personal taste (and even that varies largely from day to day according to my mood). You are welcome tobrowse the entire collection and look for your own favorite ones or contribute new quotes from your own personal collection.

Wisdom Quotes

1. You can do anything, but not everything.
—David Allen
2. Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
3. The richest man is not he who has the most, but he who needs the least.
—Unknown Author
4. You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.
—Wayne Gretzky
5. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.
—Ambrose Redmoon
6. You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
7. When hungry, eat your rice; when tired, close your eyes. Fools may laugh at me, but wise men will know what I mean.
8. The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.
—A. A. Milne
9. To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.
—Abraham Maslow
10. We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
11. A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.
—Baltasar Gracian
12. Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.
13. Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
14. Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.
—Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
15. What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.
—John Ruskin
16. The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.
—Marcel Proust
17. Work like you don’t need money, love like you’ve never been hurt, and dance like no one’s watching
—Unknown Author
18. Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time, to figure out whether you like it or not.
—Virgil Garnett Thomson
19. Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
—Will Rogers
20. People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.
—Zig Ziglar

Funny Quotes

21. Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.
—John Wilmot
22. What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left.
—Oscar Levant
23. Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
—Oscar Wilde
24. I’ve gone into hundreds of [fortune-teller's parlors], and have been told thousands of things, but nobody ever told me I was a policewoman getting ready to arrest her.
—New York City detective
25. When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.
—Norm Crosby
26. Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.
—Kurt Vonnegut
27. Just the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
—Carl Sagan
28. My pessimism extends to the point of even suspecting the sincerity of the pessimists.
—Jean Rostand
29. Sometimes I worry about being a success in a mediocre world.
—Lily Tomlin
30. I quit therapy because my analyst was trying to help me behind my back.
—Richard Lewis
31. We’ve heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true.
—Robert Wilensky
32. If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions?
—Scott Adams
33. If the lessons of history teach us anything it is that nobody learns the lessons that history teaches us.
34. When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. Now I’m beginning to believe it.
—Clarence Darrow
35. Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life. Laughing at someone else’s can shorten it.
—Cullen Hightower
36. There are many who dare not kill themselves for fear of what the neighbors will say.
—Cyril Connolly
37. There’s so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?
—Dick Cavett
38. All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it.
—H. L. Mencken
39. I don’t mind what Congress does, as long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses.
—Victor Hugo
40. I took a speed reading course and read ‘War and Peace’ in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.
—Woody Allen

Otherwise Intelligent Quotes

41. The person who reads too much and uses his brain too little will fall into lazy habits of thinking.
—Albert Einstein
42. Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
—André Gide
43. It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
44. I’d rather live with a good question than a bad answer.
—Aryeh Frimer
45. We learn something every day, and lots of times it’s that what we learned the day before was wrong.
—Bill Vaughan
46. I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.
—Blaise Pascal
47. Don’t ever wrestle with a pig. You’ll both get dirty, but the pig will enjoy it.
—Cale Yarborough
48. An inventor is simply a fellow who doesn’t take his education too seriously.
—Charles F. Kettering
49. Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
—Christopher Hampton
50. Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
—Cyril Connolly
51. Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.
—Dame Edna Everage
52. I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.
—Edith Sitwell
53. Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.
—Ellen Goodman
54. The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
—Ellen Parr
55. Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.
—Erica Jong
56. Some people like my advice so much that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it.
—Gordon R. Dickson
57. The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.
—Lily Tomlin
58. Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence.
—Napoleon (Hanlon’s Razor)
59. Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is.
—Oscar Wilde
60. When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him.
—Thomas Szasz