Life Is a Happy Dance!

John Calvin, the great theologian, thought there wasn’t a blade of grass or a color of blue sky or of rich brown earth that wasn’t intended to bring us joy.  Most of us love the blue sky days where everything is filled with incredible harmony and peace.  We cast our bread on the waters and wait expectantly to put out our nets to see what we might catch.  No matter what it is, we are prepared for the joy it will bring.

You may think you could buy into this joy business, but you’re not so sure about that whole “happy dance” thing.  After all, reality would say otherwise for much of the world.  So how do you create more joy?

One approach is to get busy doing something that makes you happy.  Be intentional.  Be creative!  If you love the way fresh cookies smell coming straight from the oven, make some. If you don’t want to eat them all yourself, spread the joy and give some to your neighbors.  If you love the way the wind blows through your hair giving you a fresh scent of flowers and trees and earthiness, then get outside and embrace the day.

After you’ve done something just for yourself, then become the joy for someone else.  Help your neighbor pull the garden weeds or plant some flowers.  Surprise your friend with a simple note or ecard just to say you’re thinking about them.  Taking the opportunity to lift the spirits of another person is always a joy bringer.  Pay an unexpected visit to a shut-in or call your mom or an old friend for no reason at all except to enjoy the time to chat.  Do something good for yourself and it will usually spill over onto someone else.  They’ll see the light in your eyes, the smile on your face and the generous spirit you exude and their day will be better too…all because they spent some happy moments with you.

It’s such a great day!  Is there anything stopping you from spreading just a little more  joy wherever you go?  As you walk down the street where you live, do a little happy dance and be filled with new found joy!



Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.  They must be felt with the heart.”

Helen Keller

Happy Birthday to the woman who overcame overwhelming odds afflicted at infancy and went on to live an abundantly rich life, inspiring the world.  Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabamato Arthur H. Keller, an army captain and editor, and Kate Adams.

Born a healthy child, Helen contracted “acute congestion” (possibly scarlet fever or meningitis) at nineteen months, rendering her deaf and blind.  After many attempts to help her and several referrals later, Helen’s parents enlisted the help of Anne Sullivan, a recent graduate of the Perkins Institute for the Blind who was recommended by the school’s director, Michael Anaganos.

Wasting no time, Anne began working with Helen upon arrival to her family’s home.  She taught Helen “finger spelling”—sign language letters in the palm of her hand, starting with “doll.”  Initial lessons were marked by bouts of defiance toward Anne, interspersed with attempts at understanding her new language.  Helen would experience difficulty in making connections between word and object.   Subsequent temper tantrums would follow and become a regular occurrence until Anne remedied the situation by isolating the two of them in a small cottage on the family’s estate.  Shortly after their cocooned period together, a breakthrough occurred when Helen learned the word “water” from a pump just outside her home.  By the end of the day, Helen had learned over two dozen words.

As Helen grew up, attended different schools, and her story spread, she began to meet many famous figures from all walks of life, including Mark Twain, who dubbed Anne Sullivan, “The Miracle Worker.”  Anne stayed on as Helen’s companion, long after her lessons out of the unseen-unheard world were established, and helped translate Helen’s studies and lectures while they were atRadcliffCollege, where she graduated from cum laude in 1904.

Over time, Helen expanded her methods of communication, including touch-lip reading, typing, speech, and Braille, as well as finger-spelling.  She used her new found communication skills to write her first book, The Story of My life, with the help of Sullivan and future husband, John Macy. 

Sullivan’s health deteriorated over the years.  She lost her eyesight entirely in 1932, whereby Polly Thompson, Keller’s and Sullivan’s secretary, took over as Keller’s companion when Sullivan died in 1936.

Helen and Anne’s journey out of darkness was made into the classic film, The Miracle Worker, directed by Arthur Penn, starring Anne Bancroft as Anne and Patty Duke as Helen in award-winning roles. 

In sum, Helen Keller wrote twelve books, including The Story of My Life, The World I Live In, and Out of the Dark.

She died June 1, 1968 at the age of 87, less than a month shy of her birthday, having transformed her world and inspiring our own.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”  Helen Keller



Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Summer has wrapped her warm arms around us once again, and we are embracing her blue skies, sunny days and lighter nights. The longest day of the year is almost upon us and will occur in the Northern Hemisphere on June 21, at approximately 1:16 pm, when the sun reaches its most northern point in the sky.

For centuries the Summer Solstice has provided a reason for many cultures to celebrate, and the event is still commemorated with a variety of parties and festivals. One of the largest Summer Solstice festivals takes place at Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire. Visitors from around the world gather overnight to mark the Solstice, and at dawn, the central Altar stone aligns with the Slaughter Stone, Heel Stone and the Sun for a magnificent and tranquil sight.

Speaking of tranquil –  If you’ve ever stepped foot in a yoga studio, you know that the sun represents energy and power on multiple levels, and in relatively every class you literally salute the sun through sun salutations (Surya Namaskara) – a sequence of movements and poses which can be practiced on varying levels of awareness. Yoga enthusiasts from around the globe annually gather in Times Square to celebrate the Summer Solstice on their mats for one of the largest yoga classes around – Namaste indeed.

And here’s a fun fact for all those June brides – The Druids celebrated the Summer Solstice as “the wedding of Heaven and Earth,” which led to the present day belief of a lucky wedding in the month of June.

Now, you don’t have to go very far to enjoy the Summer Solstice, in fact, enjoying it at home can be the best part. Whether it’s grilling out in the evening while kids ride their bikes later than normal, or sitting around a bon fire watching the sun set and realizing that it’s finally summer, the Solstice is a great excuse to enjoy the season.

What are your summer plans?




Famous Fathers

“A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.”

—Author Unknown

Fathers are the foundation of our lives, the cornerstones of our character, and the mentors who nurture our dreams, transforming them into reality.

Countless fathers and father-figures have shaped the course of history.  Some have pioneered paths, others have touched our hearts sharing from their own lives, and still others have left a legacy that many of us treasure, long after they’re gone.

Here are some examples of famous fathers, past and present:

  • George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Adams, John Jay—“Founding Fathers” of theUnited States
  •  John Muir—“Father of theUnited StatesNational ParkService”
  •  A.A. Milne—author of the Winnie-the-Pooh book series, who based the character of Christopher Robin on his own son.
  • Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) . He is a lawyer and a single father raising his two children – Scout and Jem. He is the very ideal of courageous, kind, respectable and moral. His shining quality is evident in the advice he gives his daughter “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it”.
  • Fred MacMurray (Steve Douglas, “My Three Sons”), Hugh Beaumont (Ward Cleaver, “Leave It To Beaver”), Bill Cosby (Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, “The Cosby Show”)—famous television dads we welcomed into our homes every week.
  • Mufasa (Lion King). He is not only a good King, but a great father to his son, Simba. He teaches Simba to be fair, patient and respectful to other animals.
  • John Adams and George H. W. Bush—two U.S.Presidents whose sons followed in their fathers’ famous presidential footsteps (John Quincy Adams and George W. Bush, respectively)

As we spend some special time with our fathers this Father’s Day, let us remember and celebrate those whose paternal contributions left an inspiring impression to be cherished forever.

“He carried us in his arms.  We carry him in our hearts.”



Dad’s Resumé

by George Davis

Born a baby like me,
but grew into a man.
Became a planter –
sowing life into the Earth,
carefully pruning and
providing the perfect balance
of love and care to ensure
a fruitful harvest.

With no formal instruction,
Dad became the world’s greatest Project Manager –
turning sugar-stained popsicle sticks
into log cabins for a full family of toothpicks.

An engineer –
he turned bunk beds into double decker buses,
that carried us to anywhere in the Universe.
It even came equipped with a custom horn
(that looked just like the pillows we slept on)
that we used to alert the natives when we arrived.

A trained physician –
Dr. Dad had the remedy
for everything!
He cured boredom,
stomach aches,
and runny noses.
Even when we came down with
frequent cases of the I-don’t-wanna-go-to-school’s,
he’d find a way to get us excited.

Believe it or not,
he was even a Captain.
Not just Captain of the Household,
but also the spaceship that we
built out of cardboard.
To this day, I’m still not sure where
he got a spaceship license from –
but, hey, he’s Dad!

He’s a magician,
motivational speaker,
and monster-in-the-closet slayer.




Job(s) well done.



Happy Birthday Johnny Depp!

He’s tall, dark, handsome and oh-so-talented: happy birthday Johnny Depp! Born on June 9, 1963, this mega-star is most recently known for his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. He once lived on a tight budget while selling pens for a telemarketing firm – good thing he didn’t keep that day job!

Bet this isn’t the only piece of Depp trivia that may surprise you – here’s some more dish on Depp that you may not have known!

  • Johnny Depp’s full name is John Christopher Depp, Jr.
  • Born in Owensboro, Kentucky, Depp is the youngest of four children.
  • At age 16, Depp dropped out of high school and joined the garage band, The Kids.
  • Depp fell into acting when he was introduced to actor Nicolas Cage. How’s that for a mentor?
  • After filming Sleepy Hollow, Depp adopted the horse who played Gunpowder in the movie.
  • Depp isn’t just an actor, he’s also an accomplished musician. His credits include the soundtrack for his film, Chocolat. He’s also played lead slide guitar on the Oasis album Be Here Now.
  • The country of Estonia has a nightclub named after Depp. What’s it called? “Who Wouldn´t Like Johnny Depp?”
  • Depp has been named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive”… twice. The honor came in both 2003 and 2009.
  • Depp is the godfather of Billy Ray Burton, the son of entertainment power-couple Helena Bonham-Carter and Tim Burton.
  •  Depp’s many acting credits include 21 Jumpstreet, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Edward Scissorhands, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Finding Neverland, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and most famously Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movie series.

What’s your favorite Johnny Depp role? Tell us in the comments section below!



Advice for Graduates

Advice, like youth,

is probably just wasted

on the young.

Ladies and gentlemen:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

by Mary Schmich  June 1997

Send that special graduate a congratulations ecard to let them know when they reach for the stars their dreams become realities.