Archive for Inspiration

Rising StrongI received a complementary copy of this book for review purposes.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy of Brené Brown’s new book Rising Strong. From the cover: “If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fail. This is a book about what it takes to get back up.” I had heard Brené Brown speak with her power of vulnerability message but I had never read any of her books.  I’m all for positive thinking, and there are a ton of books out there emphasizing that. But this book is different in that it recognizes personal failures are inevitable if you keep putting yourself out there, and how to work through those disappointments to grow as a person.

Brown doesn’t just write and speak about vulnerability, she lives it.  Early in Rising Strong she shares details about a misunderstanding with her husband as they swam across a lake.  Later she writes about her reaction to a negative, condescending comment she received after one of her talks.  “Here is a best selling author, a frequent Oprah guest, a renowned TED talk speaker and she still works through feelings of self doubt, too?” I thought to myself as I read the book.  Rather than preaching to us from on high, Brown is one of us.  In Rising Strong she is very open about her own struggles, and how she worked through those to gain a better understanding of herself.

I like how Brown emphasizes that’s it’s OK to feel down sometimes – it really is.  “When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us,” she writes.  The next time somebody tells me to “just get over it” in regards to a hurt, I’ll remember that passage.  “Our job is not to deny the story,” Brown says, “but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.”

While reading Rising Strong one of my favorite quotes from came to mind: “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”  (William Arthur Ward).  Rising Strong is a book for realists..  Rather than denying hurts Brown encouraged me to work my way through failures, to adjust my own sails.  “The truth is that falling hurts. The dare is to keep being brave and feel your way through it,” she says.

Rising Strong will be available to the public August 25, 2015.  I was late coming to the Brené Brown party but I’m glad I did.  She writes, “Here’s how I see the progression of my work: The Gifts of Imperfection—Be you. Daring Greatly—Be all in. Rising Strong—Fall. Get up. Try again.”  Now I that I’ve read the third act I want to go back and read the first two.  If you have had issues with your own failures (who hasn’t?), Rising Strong is a must read.

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angryThink back to the last time you were upset with somebody.  “How could that person say (or do) that?!” you may ask yourself as the anger builds inside.  Then read the following exercise from Harry Palmer (1):

Five affirmations you can use when you are upset with anyone

1. Just like me, this person is seeking some happiness for his or her life.

2. Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his or her life.

3.  Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness, and despair.

4.  Just like me, this person is seeking to fulfill his or her needs.

5.  Just like me, this person is learning about life.

When I see the person from this perspective, the anger dissolves.  I’m going to save this little exercise and review it the next time somebody gets under my skin.  Because compassion trumps anger every day of the week.

(1) featured in the Sunday message by Ellen Debenport, Unity of Wimberly, 5/10/15.  Harry Palmer founded the Avatar Training

photo credit: furious via photopin (license)

Categories : forgiveness, Inspiration
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Oct
25

God’s Unconditional Love

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sun

I recently took a “Life of Prayer” class at Unity Church of Denver. One of the assignments in the class was to write my own “Daily Word” entry on a topic I am passionate about.  Daily Word is a long time Unity periodical, with daily inspirational readings.

Being new to Unity (we just started attending the church this summer) I wasn’t sure if my entry would match “Unity lingo”, yet I did want to write about a topic I felt strongly about.  Here it is:

LOVE

I Am Love.

God’s love for us is unconditional. In the world we live in this is sometimes difficult to realize, with “conditional” acceptance all around.  Who among us has not been let down by a friend, fired from a job, stung by a divorce, or had to deal with some type of rejection in all of its different forms?

God’s love is different.  When I remember Spirit is always accepting of me, and that Spirit lives inside of me, I am at peace.  In a world of seeming hurt and pain I can always return to my safe house of God’s unconditional love.

Sometimes I forget.  When I choose to focus on a hurt, I temporarily lose my connection with Love.  The way back is forgiveness, of others and of myself.  Then I can return once more to my fountain of joy within. I am Love.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” – Luke 23:43

I shared my reading in the class and I received a good response – our minister (David Howard) even asked if he could include it in the church’s weekly newsletter (I said yes)

The exercise not only reaffirmed my belief in God’s unconditional Love, a belief I have made reference to in several of my past book reviews, but it also encouraged me as a writer to put my words out there.  Sometimes my thoughts will resonate with people.  Sometimes not.  This time they did.

 

 

Categories : Inspiration
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wmtimWhen I visited the Netherlands two weeks ago I thought of my Dad.  He was a World War II veteran who served in Holland at the end of the conflict.  He didn’t talk much about his war experiences, but in his role as a member of the U.S. Army’s signal corp he did save this transmission from Maastricht, Holland by the 310th Signal Operations Battalion on Armistice Day, November 11, 1944.  On this Veterans Day I am thankful for my Dad (who passed away last year) and for all the World War II veterans for the sacrifices they made 70 years ago.  Read this to get a sense of how the Nazi occupation affected this town and how grateful the citizens were for the young American soldiers like my Dad.  May the heroic acts of the World War II vets and veterans everywhere never be forgotten.

LETTER OF AN INHABITANT OF LIBERATED ————-

TO THE EDITORS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES

WE, THE INHABITANTS OF HOLLAND CITIZENS OF THE LIBERATED TOWN OF——,
OF——WISH TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO EXPRESS OUR GRATEFULNESS BY
WRITING TO THE UNITED STATES THROUGH YOUR NEWSPAPER, WE WANT TO THANK
YOU FOR THE ARRIVAL OF YOUR SONS WHO BROUGHT US THE LIBERTY, FOR WHICH
WE LONGED SO FERVENTLY.

WE NEED NOT DESCRIBE TO YOU OUR SUFFERING AND OUR WANT.  THE TYRANT
ROBBED US OF EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN DEAR TO US.  WE TRIED TO DESTROY
OUR CULTURE, OUR UNIONS WE DISSOLVED, OUR RELIGION  WAS SUPPRESSED,
OUR MEN AND BOYS WERE CARRIED OFF, OUR HORSES AND OUR CATTLE WERE
ROBBED, OUR BICYCLES WERE TRANSPORTED TO GERMANY AND EVEN OUR HENS HAD TO LAY EGGS FOR THE HUNS.  ONLY GERMAN MUSIC WAS ALLOWED TO BE
PLAYED.  WITH GREAT DANGER WE HAD TO MEET SECRETLY TO SPEAK TO OUR FRIENDS WHO BROUGHT US THE NEWS.

OUR CHILDREN BECAME UNDERFED, BADLY CLOTHED AND HAD TO WEAR WORN SHOES,  THE WOODEN SHOES BECAME BY FORCE THE FASHION AGAIN.

EACH NEW DAY BROUGHT NEW PAIN AND NEW CARE.  OUR YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE HAD NO YOUTH.  THEY WERE CHASED AND HIDDEN IN CELLARS AND WOODS.  SO
WAS OUR SITUATION—-AND THEN YOUR BOYS CAME; CAN YOUR READERS CONCEIVE AND REALIZE WITH WHAT JOY WE HAVE WELCOMED THEM?

THANKS, AND MANY THANKS FOR THE ARRIVAL OF YOUR DEAR BOYS.  AND HOW
THEY WERE BEYOND ALL EXPECTATIONS;   WHAT A WRONG IDEA WE HAD ABOUT
AMERICA AND ITS PEOPLE.

THE PLEASANT SMILE OF YOUR BOYS HAS STOLEN OUR HEARTS!  THEIR VIGOROUS
AND BRAVE APPEARANCE, THEIR KIND HEARTEDNESS AND ESPECIALLY THEIR
SIMPLICITY HAVE TOLD US THAT THESE SONS OF THE GREAT AMERICAN REPUBLIC
BEAR THE TRUE DEMOCRACY IN THEIR HEARTS AND THAT THE WORLD MAY BE
GLAD THAT THE UNITED STATES HAVE INTERESTED THEMSELVES IN THE BEHALF
OF OUR COUNTRY AND OF EUROPE.

HOW WE SHOUTED FOR JOY AND FEASTED WITH THEM, AND HOW WE SHARED WITH
THE GREATEST PLEASURE, THE LITTLE WE COULD GIVE; STILL, HOW DELICATE OF
YOUR LEADERS OF WAR TO FORBID THE BOYS TO BUY HERE.  OUR ENEMIES ROBBED
AND PLUNDERED AND YOUR SOLDIERS HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED NOT TO TAKE THE
LITTLE THAT CAN BE GOT FOR MONEY.

THANK YOU FOR ALL THIS, THANK YOU FOR THE ARRIVAL OF YOUR BOYS.  GOD
BLESS AMERICA AND ITS SOLDIERS IN THEIR BATTLE.  MAY HE CARRY BACK YOUR
BOYS SAFELY TO THEIR COUNTRY.  GOD BLESS THE MANY AMERICAN MOTHERS
AND WIVES WHO HAVE GIVEN THE DEAREST THEY POSSESS FOR LIBERATION OF
OUR COUNTRY AND OF EUROPE.  WE PEOPLE SHALL NEVER FORGET THE SACRIFICES THAT AMERICA HAS MADE AND WE SHALL PRAY THAT YOUR BATTLE AND VICTORY
MAY BE THE BEGINNING OF A NEW TIME, A TIME OF UNDERSTANDING AND WELL
BEING.

GOD BLESS THE STATES AND THEIR CITIZENS, GOD SAVE THE DEAR BOYS WHO
HAVE BROUGHT US FREEDOM AND WHO HAVE CAPTURED OUR HEARTS BY THEIR
STRENGTH, THEIR KINDNESS AND GOOD NATURE.

THANK YOU ONCE, AGAIN THANK YOU.

IN THE NAME OF ALL THE INHABITANTS OF THE ——

“UNQUOTE”

———————————————————————————————————–

THE DASHES CONTAINED IN THE LETTER ARE WORDS THAT I CANNOT ENCLOSE
BECAUSE OF CENSORSHIP.

Categories : Inspiration
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Today is the one year anniversary of the senseless theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado.  That theater is about a 30 minute drive from my house.  Another scene of gun violence in the past, Columbine High School, is 15 minutes away.

I remember the words of Jessica Redfield, one of the victims of the Aurora violence, after she ironically avoided another shooting in a Toronto shopping mall one month earlier.  She wrote this on her blog about that Toronto incident:

“I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.

I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.”

 

 

Categories : Inspiration
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Monarch butterfly on Pentas flower at the Butterfly World attraction in Coconut Creek, FloridaToday I came across this inspirational passage, from an anonymous source, which put me in a positive mood to start the morning.  I hope it will do the same for you, too.

“I have responsibilities to fulfill today, I am important.  My job is to choose what kind of day I am going to have.

Today I can complain because the weather is rainy,
or I can be thankful that the grass is getting watered for free.

Today I can feel sad that I don’t have any money,
or I can be glad that my finances encourage me to plan my purchases wisely.

Today I can grumble about my health,
or I can rejoice that I am alive.

Today I can lament over all that my parents didn’t give me when I was growing up,
or I can feel grateful that they allowed me to be born.

Today I can cry because roses have thorns,
or I can celebrate that thorns have roses.

Today I can mourn my lack of friends,
or I can excitedly embark upon a quest to discover new relationships.

Today I can whine because I have to go to work,
or I can shout for joy because I have work to do.

Today I can complain because I have to go to school,
or I can eagerly open my mind to be filled with new knowledge.

Today I can murmur dejectedly because I have to do housework,
or I can feel thankful for shelter.

Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped.
Here I am, the sculptor, who gets to do the shaping.

What today will be like is up to me.  I get to choose what kind of day I will have.”

Photo from State Library and Archives of Florida

Anonymous passage from Unity Church of San Antonio podcast, December 9, 2012.

Categories : Inspiration, Quotes
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When I saw the initial response James Twyman’s “Best Spiritual Author Competition” I was not impressed.  It seems author after author came out of the woodwork on the web with promos saying “vote for me!  pick my book!”.  I was in a class at my church where one aspiring writer was upset with the minister teaching the course.  The instructor would not allow the author to solicit for votes for his book during class time.  “Is this competition just a popularity contest?” I wondered.  Will the winner be the more skilled in campaigning rather than spiritual insights?

Much to my surprise a true gem of a book came out the winner of the “spiritual author” competition – “How to Pray Without Talking to God: moment by moment, choice by choice” by Linda Martella-Whitsett.

“Perhaps you, like countless others, are leaving your church, temple, synagogue, or mosque in disillusionment,” Martella-Whitsett writes early in her book.  “Maybe you are filled with knowledge based upon your religion’s teachings about god, all the while longing to experience god. Maybe you are ready for a concept of god that is unconfined by dogma and an experience of god that is intimate as well as expansive.”  These words spoke to me, having been raised with traditional Christian doctrine where my actual experiences of God were rare.  It was not until I looked beyond doctrine where I connected to the unconditional love of Spirit.

How to Pray Without Talking to God emphasizes affirmative prayer to get in touch with the Spirit within – what Martella-Whitsett calls our “Divine Identity”.  Instead of pleading to a God “out there”, true prayer is “to claim and assert our Divine Identity so that we can live more fully from it,” she writes.  This is different than expecting God to change other people or circumstances to our liking.

The type of prayer promoted in Martella-Whitsett’s book will give you peace in any circumstance.  Some realizations I have come to independently were confirmed in reading the book.  Martella-Whitsett has the gift of explaining sometimes difficult to grasp spiritual truths in understandable language.

And for all those disappointed writers who failed to win the “Best Spiritual Author” competition – read this book to be reminded again of who you really are.   As an aspiring writer myself I need to remember, also, that whether my words resonate with people in the end really doesn’t matter.  I don’t need to be a successful author to be somebody in the World.  I already am somebody!  “Realization occurs when truth becomes real to you, no longer theoretical. You get it!” Martella-Whitsett writes.  “Whereas before you believed it, now you know it. It doesn’t matter whether anyone else knows it or whether you have seen its manifestation. You now live into this truth.”

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Feb
16

Toastmasters: Like Father Like Son

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I have mentioned in the past my guest blog post on Susan Cain’s Power Of Introverts site about my positive experience in Toastmasters.  I overcame my fear of public speaking thanks to Toastmasters!  I am not sure if my blog post encouraged anyone to give Toastmasters a try, but I know of one person it influenced – my son.

Josh is an introvert like me.  For his senior class project he was asked to come up with a proposal that would be a stretch for him.  After hearing of the impact Toastmasters had on my life Josh decided to take a similar step.  “I often have trouble speaking in front of even a class of people, and I want to overcome that fear,” Josh wrote.  “I also know that speech and communication skills are necessary for almost any possible career path that I can enter.  In the future, when I need to make a presentation or lead a group of people, I am
certain that the skills I learn from this project will aid me immensely.”

Josh found a nearby Toastmaster club, visited a couple of times, and joined right after his 18th birthday.  Walking into a club of 20+ adults must have been scary at first, but Josh was warmly welcomed.  He got his first taste of speaking in front of the group with a short one minute impromptu speech.  That went well, but the big test was to come – the 5 to 7 minute icebreaker speech!

Josh was nervous the night before the speech.  “Write a blog about it,” I told him.  “Say exactly what you are feeling before the speech in words, and then right after the speech tell people how it went.”  I told him of another introverted high school student, Brittany Wood, who described her Toastmaster experience in her excellent blog The Shyness Project.

Josh’s first speech was a big success!  He came home smiling and telling us how the speech went much better than he thought it would.  He received many evaluations (pictured above) with words of encouragement and constructive criticism on how to improve.  And Josh did take my suggestion to write about the experience – you can read his before and after first speech thoughts on his Mastering Toastmasters blog.

“This project is a learning stretch for me because I am in no way comfortable right now speaking in front of a large group of people.  I have done (school) presentations and similar speeches, but I have always been nervous beforehand and not satisfied with the end result,” Josh wrote in his class project  proposal.  “This project will bring me way out of my comfort zone by putting me in front of a group of people that I don’t even know to give speeches to.  It will be a hard transition, but I know that in the end my leadership and communication skills will be miles better than they are now.”

You are well on your way to becoming a good speaker, Josh!  And it brings a smile to this Dad’s face to see his son have a positive experience with Toastmasters just like I did 30 years ago.

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Jan
04

My 2011 Twitter Awards – Part 2

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Here’s part 2 of my Twitter Awards – the people who influenced me most in 2011 through Twitter.  (read part one here)

Best Twitter Interaction from Well Known Authors – Marcy Shimoff (@Marci_Shimoff) and Deborah King (@Deborah_King) Marcy Shimoff, author of “Love for No Reason” and “Happiness For No Reason” posts inspirational quotes on Twitter that I often find myself “re-tweeting”.  She will follow up with a “thanks for the RT” or “how was your weekend?” to start a dialog with me and her other followers on twitter.  You’d never know she has over 20,000 followers with the personal attention she gives her twitter friends.  Deborah King found me on twitter first!  I reviewed many Hay House books on this blog in 2011; Deborah was the only author who sought me out to thank me for my review of her “Be Your Own Shaman” book.  She interacts often with her followers through twitter and her facebook page, asking probing questions to start discussions. Both Marci and Deborah understand the power of twitter to form relationships with their readers.

It’s OK To Be Quiet Award – Susan Cain (@susancain) One of the best discoveries I made this year was Susan Cain’s twitter feed and her “Power of Introverts” site.  Why?  Because I am an introvert!  In a World that seems to celebrate extroverted behavior I drew comfort from Susan’s messages that being “quiet” is OK.  “I compare [silence] to the zero in math. People think it’s nothing, but it can be very powerful.-Michel Haznavicius” tweeted Susan last month.  I look forward to her book “Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking” to be released later this month – one I am sure to read and review here later this Spring.

Best One Liners – Byron Katie (@ByronKatie), Aine Belton (@AineBelton), Debby Ford (@Debbie_Ford). I often check twitter during my work day.  These three women have a way of posting “tweets” that cause me to pause and say “hmmm”.  Some examples: “There is no story that is you or that leads to you. Every story leads away from you.” – Byron Katie.  “It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being YOU.” – Aine.  “The promise of a flower lives within every seed, and within each of us lies the ability to lead an extraordinary life.” – Debbie Ford.

Three Wise Men Award – Wayne Dyer (@DrWayneWDyer), Deepak Chopra (@DeepakChopra), Dennis Merritt Jones (@DMerrittJones). If you’ve read this far you might get the idea I only follow women on twitter.  There are plenty of spiritual men I admire, too.  Three of my favorites are the well known Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra (I was fortunate to hear both speak in person this year).  Not as well known, but just as inspiring, is Dennis Merritt Jones.

Best List Makers – Marc And Angel (@marcandangel). One feature I like about twitter is that there are always new and interesting people to follow.  Just a few weeks ago I discovered Marc and Angel, who use twitter to post terrific links to their “lists” on their blog.  “30 Challenges For 30 Days of Growth” is one of their best.

There are many other “tweeters” I follow whose messages resonate with me, like @positivekristen, @bridgebldr, @JaqStone, and more.  I am sure I’m leaving someone out.  Thank you all for sharing your wisdom on twitter.

Categories : Inspiration, Twitter
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Dec
30

My 2011 Twitter Awards – Part 1

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One of the first posts I wrote in this blog was “Tweeting for Spiritual Growth” – about how twitter can be used as a tool for personal growth.  Fourteen months later I still get inspiration from twitter.  Here are some people on twitter who influenced me the most in 2011:

Best Soul SistersCheryl Richardson (@coachoncall) and Kerri Richardson (@kerricoach) Cheryl is a NY Times best selling author who really “gets” social media – she is very active on twitter, facebook, and now has a youtube channel.  Her book she co-authored with Louise Hay, You Can Create an Exceptional Life, was one of the best I read and reviewed this past year.  Cheryl’s sister Kerri, a spiritual life coach, is also very active on twitter and has offered some great teleclasses in the past. Kerri’s intro course on wordpress blogging got me started with this calmwithin blog a little over a year ago, and her classes on the writing process have also been valuable to me.

Best Coach for Women Who Inspires Old Guys Too – Tara Sophia Mohr (@tarasophia) Tara Sophia writes a blog and has a coaching practice directed at “brilliant women”.  So what am I, a 55 year old male, following her for???  Though what Tara Sophia writes may be targeted towards the female audience, her teaching is universal that anyone (male or female) can benefit from.  I found her “7 Ways To Discover Your Calling” article on Huffington Post one of the most inspiring pieces I read all year.  I signed up for her free teleconference on blogging (undoubtedly I was the only man on the call). What she said that day motivated me to look for opportunities to write guest blog posts (which I ended up doing later on the Power of Introverts site).  “Talk about your spiritual practice. you never know who you might inspire.” Tara Sophia tweeted once during 2011.  She’s right – her material had a positive affect on this old guy in 2011.

Open Heart Award – Susan Piver (@spiver) Susan is a buddhist author who often opens her heart to share her wisdom to the masses out in cyberspace – for free! I found her conference calls on meditation and the enneagram very helpful, and she is good at answering questions from her followers.  I had submitted a question prior to her meditation class.  On the call she asked, “who submitted this question?  Is this person on the call?”  “um … it was me” I blurted out, not expecting to talk to the audience of 150.  She proceeded to answer my inquiry about different meditation techniques with care, and that gave me guidance to enhance my own mediation practice.

Best Daily Blog – Lori Deschene (@tinybuddha) – Lori got her start on twitter much like I did – sharing quotes that inspired her.  She now has over 240,000 twitter followers!  While I first became aware of Lori through twitter, I get the most benefit from her daily blog posts.  In her blog Lori shares stories of her everyday life, with a lesson learned from each one.  A bevy of guest bloggers contribute similar material.  I like to read Tiny Buddha for a dose of inspiration each day.  Lori, like Susan Piver, is a buddhist.  I’m not, but reading authors like Lori and Susan makes me wonder, “maybe these buddhists are on to something.”

Best Movie – I Am (@IAMthefilm) I notice there’s a philosophy out there among spiritual teachers that goes something like this: “we live in an abundant universe!  Charge as much as you can for your services!  You deserve it!”  One author I admire charges over $10,000 for his workshops!  While I don’t fault people, including those in the spirituality business, for making a living do they really need to charge that much?  A different message comes from the movie I Am – a fun yet informative documentary which encourages people to take what they need, no more, and contribute the gifts they have to give to humanity.  I wrote more about this film in one of my blog posts in April.  How did I find out about “I Am”?  Through twitter!  One person I follow had positive comments about the movie, so I checked to see if it was playing in my area.  It was, so the following week I attended a screening which included a personal appearance by director Tom Shadyac.  “I Am” was one of the best movies my wife and I saw in 2011, and you can see it, too, on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday (OWN Network) on New Year’s Day.

I’m hearing the voice of my first blogging teacher, Kerri Richardson, in my head saying “If a post gets to be over 700 words – divide it into two blog posts.”  So I will stop for now.  Look for more of my twitter awards soon in Part 2.

 

Categories : Inspiration, Twitter
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