Mark Twain

Mark Twain


Literature and Life


Few writers have failed on so many things and yet made all those failures successful as Mark Twain did.  He apprenticed as a typesetter and printer and then turned to mining.  He penned a story he heard in a California bar with the unlikely name of “The Celebrated Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County”.  It became a worldwide sensation, published in both English and French.  Mark Twain became known for his wit and his satire in prose and in public speaking gained him the friendship and support of American presidents, European royalty, fellow artists and writers, as well as industrialists.  He would earn a fortune and then just as easily lose it.


Mark Twain is perhaps best known for his “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” so no one should be surprised that among his favorite books he listed “Le Morte d’ Arthur” by Sir Thomas Mallory.  Twain took the tales of King Arthur and spun them into the story of an American lad with a little of his second favorite book, “The Arabian Knights” thrown in for good measure.  Another successful and noted American author, William Faulkner< called Mark Twain “the father of American literature” while many others consider him the greatest humorist the United States has ever had.


Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835 and his life was not an easy one.  Three of his siblings died before reaching the age of twelve and when Twain was eleven years old, his father also died.  He himself dropped out of school at age twelve to work, later educating himself at the public libraries he would frequent.  His one goal in life was to become a steamboatman.  “Pilot was the grandest position of all. The pilot, even in those days of trivial wages, had a princely salary – from a hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty dollars a month, and no board to pay.”  Twain considered the pilot’s job the most important of all as  the pilot had to “get up a warm personal acquaintanceship with every old snag and one-limbed cottonwood and every obscure wood pile that ornaments the banks of this river for twelve hundred miles; and more than that, must… actually know where these things are in the dark.”


Mark Twain did become a steamboat pilot although it took him two years to earn his pilot license.  His pen name came from the leadsman’s cry for a measured river depth of two fathoms (12 feet), which was safe water for a steamboat.  Twain worked as a pilot on the Mississippi River until the second year of the War Between the States and then joined his brother in the Nevada Territory.  In 1867, a local newspaper funded his trip to the Mediterranean aboard the Quaker City, including a tour of Europe and the Middle East.  It was on this trip that he met a young man and, upon seeing a picture of his sister, fell in love at first sight.  He later married the man’s sister.  The lived in New York state, Connecticut, and then Europe.  Mark Twain died in New York City after the death of two of his daughters and his beloved wife. 


Twain was born two weeks after Halley’s Comet’s closest approach in 1835.  In 1909 he remarked upon this:  “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together’.”  Twain was a great friend of Nikolas Tesla and the only surviving film of Twain was taken by another scientist, Thomas Edison.  Twain also financed a girls’ science club in NYC. 


In recent years the works of Mark Twain have been subject to censorship for his brilliant use of the colloquialisms of the period.  I understand how several derogatory terms would be painful but I personally feel that serve to further educate us and exemplify the inequities that existed.  Such knowledge could, if utilized, prevent future discrimination and continued politics that encourage such. 


Upon hearing of Twain’s death, President William Howard Taft said: “Mark Twain gave pleasure – real intellectual enjoyment – to millions, and his works will continue to give such pleasure to millions yet to come … His humor was American, but he was nearly as much appreciated by Englishmen and people of other countries as by his own countrymen. He has made an enduring part of American literature.”  He wrote of the common man, used humor to unite the different social classes, and through it all, was as much a knight of the round table of the world as any that ever graced the world in literature and in life.





Try and Trying

Try and Trying

Jan 10 -11


The older gentleman pointed to the young mother and then, kneeling, asked her toddler:  “Is that your mommy?”  The child nodded yes and the man continued.  “I knew her when she was your age.  Is she a good mommy?”  The child solemnly looked at the man and then at her mother before answering.  “She’s trying.”  Everyone in the vicinity smiled and gave a loving look at the child’s answer.  Then the young girl continued:  “Her’s very trying.”


In an effort to be all we can be, as we make the valiant attempt to try to be our best, we sometimes find ourselves being trying to others.  So how do we accomplish our goals without being irritating, annoying,  or, worse – failing?  As we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. next Monday, perhaps we should listen to some of his words.


“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”  In this twenty-first century social media craze where it seems the winner is the one with the best tweet, we need to take a moment and realize that having a snappy comeback works for about ten seconds only.  It really will not accomplish anything lasting and it certainly will not build bridges that will allow us to cross into a productive future.  We need to create relationships built upon respect and purpose, not simply spend all our time building up our own egos.


“We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools.”  Respect again becomes the verb we need to use as our modus operandi.  Whatever material things a person has, their appearance or socioeconomic level really matters very little.  When we surround ourselves only with those who are just like us, then we box ourselves in and limit our ability to grow.  Our roots need room to grow and new experiences in order to help us develop fully, both as individuals and as nations and the world.


“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”  A life lived selfishly is a life half-lived.  Being of service to others does not limit your own being, it expands it.  We’ve discussed the benefits of volunteering over the past four years but perhaps we need to refresh our memories.  Those who spend time helping others are healthier physically and emotionally.  You may think you haven’t the time but really you need to find that time.  Your life really might just depend upon it.


A decade ago businesses were encouraged to allow workers to donate time to local schools to serve as mentors for young readers.  Those participating in the programs would spend two hours a week at a local school having children read to them, helping as needed to sound out words.  While reading scores were improved, so was the health of those volunteers.  The volunteers reported less stress and an overall happier sense of self.  They began to care about their own personal health and without even realizing it, adopted better lifestyle practices which resulted in a lower healthcare cost for the businesses involved in the program.  The loss of two hours of productivity from being away from their job site was more than compensated for by the higher productivity of the happier and healthier employees.


Anyone can do it.  No, that is not a quote from Dr. King but it is the summation of what he preached and the dream he lived and hoped to achieve for all.   AS Dr King reminded us:  “Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace; a soul generated by love.”

One More Thing …

One more thing …

Pentecost 168


“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”   Robert Fulghum made that statement in his book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. 


Philosophy was born once mankind decided to ask the important question “What is the world made of?”   That first question led to possibilities, answers, if you will, but those led to another important question: “How do we know that?”  If metaphysics was the first branch of the tree of knowledge that is philosophy, then epistemology became the second although the name itself was not used until 1854, introduced by Scottish philosopher James Ferrier in his work “Institutes of Metaphysic: The Theory of Knowing and Being.”


Epistemology is the study of knowledge, of “justified belief”.  One school of philosophers believed that man’s senses were the greatest teachers as well as experience.  This was known as empiricism.  Others, however, believed that knowledge was the result of the process of thinking, reasoning out facts.  This manner of gaining wisdom was known as rationalism.  Epistemology primarily, though, dealt with the relationship between knowledge and concepts like truth and belief.


Aristotle developed what became the basis for determining the truth or logic of an answer.  His syllogism or logical argument used two premises to arrive at a logical conclusion.  One famous example is “All men are mortal.  Socrates is a man.  Therefore, Socrates is a mortal.”  This was the basis for philosophical logic until the nineteenth century.  There are some fallacies in this way of determining the validity of knowledge.  For instance, “I am a mammal.  My cat is a mammal.  Therefore, I am a cat.”  Trust me; my cats are firmly convinced I am not smart enough to be a feline!


Fulghum’s book title was based upon a poem he wrote.  In his poem, Fulghum mentions the rules he was taught at the age of five and how they relate to his life as an adult.  Those rules were basic guidelines which related to treatment of others:  share everything; play fair; don’t hit people.  Others concerned basic living and living on the planet with others:  put things back where you found them; clean up your own mess; don’t take things that aren’t yours; say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.  Still others concerned basic health and a recent study proved one of the rules correct.  “Wash your hands before you eat” is touted as being the best offense in cold and flu season and “take a nap every afternoon” has been shown to be healthy as well.  Fulghum included the importance of living a balanced life, advocating both play and work as daily habits, and the sage advice of looking before crossing a street, being mindful of coming traffic.


Kindergarten, the first formal schooling for most of us, teaches us to, in Fulghum’s words, ‘learn some and think some.”  In his poem he states that wisdom is not found at the top of the educational ladder in a formal classroom but, in Fulghum’s words “there in the sandpile at Sunday school”.  I want you to not focus on the reference to organized religion but interpret/define his “Sunday school” as any spiritual or religious basis.  After all, that which we truly believe becomes truth for us, often because of but usually in spite of either empirical or rational knowledge.


Fulghum’s poem concludes with this verse:  “Hold hands and stick together” and it is a great philosophy for living.  We cannot survive as a planet if we do not work together for the good of all, nature and mankind.  Being a “tree hugger” doesn’t just mean caring about the environment.  It means embracing all life, hugging those things that make life possible.  Regardless of your creation belief or lack thereof, we still all need the same things.  We need to hold hands and stick together while we think big and remember that, in the big scheme of things, we are all very small and…very important. 


We learn when we look beyond ourselves, when we look at the big picture so to speak.  However, it does not become truth for us until we absorb that knowledge into ourselves.  After we look up and think big, we need to think small, think about what we believe, and then live it.  And when we live it… the ordinary becomes extraordinary!


Laughter and Kindness

Laughter and Kindness

Pentecost `30


Call it a response to a vitreous debate but I think we need to spend a bit more time talking about kindness.  Someone asked me a characteristic of being kind and the first thing I thought of was … laughter.  “Laughter is timeless.  Imagination has no age.  Dreams are forever.”  These words were written by J. M. Barrie in his 1904 play “Peter Pan” and included in the novelization of the play published in 1911, “Peter and Wendy.”


It is said that someone who is kind to animals must be kind and I have always taken in account how a person treats dogs.  I guess you could say my standard of kindness for a person, their breeding if you will, is exhibited by their response and reaction to dogs.  In other words, one of my standards or ways to determine someone’s kindness quotient is their treatment of canines. 


 Generally when a breed is recognized, there are certain standards.  Different breeds of dogs must conform to these standards when competing in dog shows.  An English bulldog, for example, cannot compete if the coloring is piebald.  Piebald, not to be confused with merle, is a spotting pattern of an animal found not only in the hair but often on the skin as well.  The word “piebald” is a combination of the word “pie”, derived from the magpie bird which has a distinguishing black and white plumage, and the word “bald”, referring to a white patch or seemingly hairless spot.


Many different animals have the piebald coloring.  In horses it is found in the pinto breed although the coloration is usually brown and white.  The national bird of the United States of America gets its name from its white cap of hair – the American bald eagle.  Many birds have this coloring as do dogs, such as the English bulldog.  While a piebald English bulldog may not be allowed to compete, there are adorable animals. 


I will admit I have three rescue animals and all are black and white: two piebald cats known as tuxedo cats and one giant dog whose coloring could be called barely merle or piebald.  I like the coloring of the black and white.  It reminds me of the keys on a piano.  However, I also like the symbolism of how the dark and light come together.  After all, none of us is perfect.  We have a bit of dark and light in ourselves.  We go through our life trying to fix the dark and tinker or improve the light in our souls.



A tinker was a person who traveled around fixing things.  J. M. Barrie gave his fairy friend of the main character Peter Pan the name Tinkerbell since she tended to “fix” things for Peter and the fairy folk.  In the original musical stage presentation, the voice of Tinkerbell was performed by a percussionist and resembled a tinkling bell although it was actually played on an instrument known as the celesta.  Originally, though, “Peter Pan” was not a musical and Tinkerbell was a darting light that seemed to dance around the stage.  Her voice was a collar of bells that belonged to Barrie himself.  The program, however, listed a Jane Wren as playing the part of Tinkerbell.  Eventually the Inspector of Taxes filed a legal demand that Jane Wren pay taxes for her salary for the play and the truth finally came out.


The tinker folk of the British Isles have been portrayed as thieves but generally there were respected for the handyman abilities and cheerful natures.  They moved about seeking work and seemed very content with their lives.  The opening quote of this post is said by Tinkerbell who did indeed gain a voice in later productions.  Though Barrie wrote in the death of Tinkerbell a year after Wendy and her brothers leave Neverland, the fairy remains forever a prominent role for children.  Barrie explained her tempestuous nature as being caused by a personality too small for her body.  Sometimes we feel much the same with life.


“Laughter is timeless.  Imagination has no age.  Dreams are forever”.  Dreams are forever and one of mine is that we all practice kindness each and every day.  Dreams are the portals through which we imagine and create goodness, greatness, and kindness but action is what makes those dreams become reality.  Victor Borge, a great entertainer and humanitarian once said, “Laughter is the closest distance between two people.”  Share laughter and you will share kindness. 

Believing in Good

Believing in Good

Pentecost 121


“The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out,” the blue-eyed man told the reporter.


Two women were sitting at a coffee shop sharing some quiet time as they watched the hustle and bustle of humanity swirl around them.  “One of my biggest regrets,” the first said, “is that I simply lived, worked for a paycheck that just paid for the essentials in life.  I always wanted to do more, to start a foundation or charity to help others.”  Her friend put down her cup and explained how she made her living count.  “I helped children with cancer have a safe and enjoyable summer camp experience.  I helped fund a college scholarship program.  I gave to a center that helped people with substance abuse issues and I supported a program that united corporations with community partners to expand corporate giving and create stronger communities.”


The first woman looked at her friend in amazement.  “Goodness gracious!  We both worked the same job and I know you had to have been paid a similar salary to my own.  How did you ever manage that?”  Her friend took another sip of coffee and smiled.  “I made my living count,” she replied.  “I bought salad dressing and dog food.”  She bought products from companies that give back to their communities which made her, as their customer, someone who gave back. 


We all should be farmers in our living… putting something back as we use the world’s resources to support our own life.  As the woman in the above anecdote explained to her friend, she did so by simply living, but she made her living count.  We all need to purchase things and many of us purchase our food instead of growing it or making it.  It really does not take more effort to know the track record of the companies from whom we purchase those things.


The actor Paul Newman, whose quote opened this blog post, led what was to many a very charmed life.  He found success in his acting and was able to enjoy expensive hobbies like race cars.  However, Paul Newman was not only a man with famous blue eyes.  He was a man with a conscious.  “I wanted to acknowledge luck; the chance and benevolence of it in my life, and the brutality of it in the lives of others, who might not be allowed the good fortune of a lifetime to correct it.”  Paul Newman had a little-known hobby of cooking.  He parlayed that hobby into a food company called Newman’s Own.  They began with Newman’s own recipes for spaghetti sauce and branched out into other items like salad dressing.  There is a line of pet foods as well.  The proceeds from this line of culinary items go directly into various charities Paul Newman established.


One of those charities is the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, the name taken from the famous film Newman starred in about the outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang camps offer a summer respite for children suffering from cancer.  Proceeds also have help fund a substance abuse treatment facility named after Newman’s son who died from a drug overdose.  Personally Paul Newman and his actress wife Joanne Woodward donated over a quarter of a million dollars to help refugees from Kosovo when theirs was the country under warfare.


Sometimes helping another is as simple as selecting which brand to purchase at the grocery store.  My laundry detergent goes into nature ravaged areas and offers free clothes washing to victims.  My dish detergent goes to areas with oil slicks and cleans affected waterfowl.  My snack food company donates proceeds to local food banks and national child hunger prevention programs.  Every time I go to the store, I can be a humanitarian.


We all purchase items.  Few of us make or grow everything we consume or use.  Start buying smart by making those purchases count.  It really can be done, even on a tight budget.  Education is a big thing for ma and Paul Newman used some of the proceeds from his personal and company holdings to fund a ten million dollar scholarship endowment at his alma mater.  In 2008 he contributed over twenty million dollars to charities and was named the Most Generous Celebrity of 2008.  Paul Newman’s philanthropy did not die upon his death in 2008.  His daughters have picked up the gauntlet and are doing their parents proud.  Nell Newman has her own foundation, which began as an organic subsidiary of her father’s food empire, which is funding cooperative food networks and hunger and poverty initiatives all over the globe.


I like knowing I helped with a wee little bit of that charitable giving.  When faced with the chance to purchase one of the Newman’s Own brands, I gladly do so, knowing that I am like a farmer, putting something into the world as I take something out.  I like knowing I am helping to cultivate a better future as I live the present.  What will you eat today?  Could it possible help someone else have something to eat?  If you purchase a product from Newman’s Own brand, it will.  It is just that simple to be a humanitarian.  Life is much more than just living.  Life is about doing positive things that give back to society.  Sometimes that is as easy as a trip to the grocery store.  Sometimes going shopping can create something extraordinary for someone else.


Making a Difference

Making a Difference

Pentecost 111


If you are someone who has been following the current presidential election in the USA, you might think all the position does centers around creating discord.  The role of the President of the United States is not a role of power.  It is a figurehead role, one with very little actual power but a great deal of visibility.  The speeches the President makes are soon forgotten but those who have used the office to make a difference for positive change and growth are the ones who are remembered.


“We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a Thousand Points of Light…We all have something to give.”  These words were embedded in the inaugural speech of President George H. W. Bush in 1989.  Two years earlier Ken Giddon had joined with others to start New York Cares.  The volunteer management organization was created to address social issues that were plaguing the city.  These volunteers nor operate over thirteen hundred nonprofits, city agencies, and public schools based upon one common belief – Everyone has a role to play in making their world a better place.


One year after he gave his speech referencing a thousand points of light, President George H. W. Bush honored more than one thousand volunteers for being “points of light” in their communities.  The Points of Light Foundation was created as an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization to encourage and empower the spirit of service. The nonprofit extended President Bush’s vision, understanding that “what government alone can do is limited, but the potential of the American people knows no limits.”


During the first year of his presidency President Bill Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act which created AmeriCorps, a national service program engaging Americans in voluntary action to help correct some of the country’s most critical issues.  A year later the Corporation for National and Community Service began operation as a federal agency through which millions of American donated time and talents in such outreach services as Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America.


In 1997 the Presidents’ Summits for America’s Future brought together Presidents Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford as well as first lady Nancy Reagan.  The country’s social issues were addressed and all of those on the panel mentioned above discussed their roles in meeting the needs of the country and world and how voluntary action could be part of the solution to many problems and issues.


In 2001 the United Nations proclaimed the Year of the Volunteer and over one thousand agencies worldwide came together to work together, regardless of race, color, or creed.  In 2004 City Cares, which had expanded to some US Cities, changed its name to HandsOn Network and went global.  In 2009 the Edward M. Kennedy Service America Act reinvigorated America’s call on volunteerism.  Twenty years after he had first uttered the words, President George H. W. Bush and President Barrack Obama met to renew the plan of action for the nation’s volunteer workforce in addressing critical needs.


Hurricane disaster relief, foreign country disaster relief, community block organizations, crisis centers, afterschool programs, and food banks are just a few of the many programs helping propel America forward through the actions of its volunteers.  These wonderful acts that were successful were not conducted by geniuses or highly skilled individuals.  They were the works of ordinary people volunteering their time and efforts because they cared.


In 2013 the Points of Light Foundation and HandsOn Network merged, renewing their commitment for humanitarian efforts, the manifestation of faith and the spirit of caring for one’s fellow man.  To date the merged foundation performs over two hundred and fifty thousand service projects each year in over thirty different countries.  Thirty millions hours of volunteer service are clocked each calendar year with an annual dollar value of volunteer hours reaching six hundred and thirty five million dollars annually.


This was not done by someone sitting on the couch watching television, doing nothing.  Some sat on the couch watching television as they made blankets or hats or scarves for those in need.  Others left their couches and helped prepare food for the hungry and destitute.  Still more helped clean up weather-ravaged areas while others sorted through donations of clothing and helped established distribution channels for such aid.


They all acted.  They all did something.  We can all do something.  We cannot all do everything but we can do something.  I am but one person; however, I am one person and that one person can do something.  It is an awesome undertaking to change the world for the better but we can do it if we just…act.  Function, work, proceed, be, appear, represent, accomplish….We don’t just do it for others.  When we act on behalf of positive action, we help ourselves as well.  We all can make a difference and when we do, we make an ordinary day something extraordinary.


It isn’t about rewards.  It is about living.  Live that which you believe and help another.  Long before President Bush gave his speech about one thousand points of light, another man named William Shakespeare wrote:  “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”  It really isn’t about shining, though.  It is about action.  No deed is ever wasted.  Charles de Lint noted: “Every time you do a good deed, you shine the light a little farther into the dark.  When you’re gone, the light is going to keep shining on, pushing the shadows back.”  Act and the world will glow with the light of your good deeds.  We all have something to give.  We all can and should make a difference.

Power of the Voice

Power of the Voice

Pentecost 110


Last night a new winner of America’s Got Talent was announced.  The television franchise can be seen in around the world.  First developed by Simon Cowell for Great Britain and shown as a pilot, the program being aired in a complete format was delayed and the first full show of the franchise was “America’s Got Talent” in 2006.  There are now fifty-eight versions airing in fifty-eight countries.  While vocal talent is not the only talent allowed, more vocalists have won the competition than any other talent category and last night was no exception.


“The thinking man must oppose all cruel customs, no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo. When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another, even the lowliest creature; but to do so is to renounce our manhood and shoulder a guilt which nothing justifies.”  By far the most expedient way to do this is with our voices.


During this series of making the ordinary extraordinary, we are talking about effecting positive change.   You are someone who can make a difference and no, it will not always be easy or popular.  At the beginning of this year I wrote about how I left a meeting because a song that was going to be sung contained a derogatory term, a word of discrimination that I felt I could support.  My leaving attracted no attention but it made a statement.  I did not want to leave.  It was a great meeting with really great people but…I could not contribute to the discrimination of a group of people either.   I took a stand.


That’s the most important thing a human being does.  They take a stand for their cause.  They give a voice to their cause.  We often overlook the power of speech.  Ask someone who has difficulty with speaking and you will suddenly realize how important it is.  For the six million to ten million in the United States alone with speech impediments, life is not easy.  They are sixty-one percent more likely to be bullied and eighty-two percent more likely to be unemployed, despite their talents, intellect, and skills.


This coming October will be the fifth anniversary of the death of a charming seventeen-year-old young man.  Attractive with a great personality, it seemed like his future was bright with potential.  For James, reality was much different that the outward appearances.  He was bullied and lived in fear of being asked questions by his teachers, questions that would require an oral response aloud in class.  His online persona was delightful but his in-person persona was shy and reticent.  Teased and bullied whenever he spoke, James preferred to let his computer do his talking.  You see, James was a stutterer.  The world saw only that one simple characteristic and heard only the hesitated speech, not the beautiful thoughts.  On a fall day in Virginia, James ended the abuse and took his own life.  Peer pressure would not allow James to be himself and in the end, it caused him to take his own life.


The winner of America’s Got Talent 2016 sang for her audition a song about being different.  It was a song she wrote herself and broke a few so-called rules of music theory but it was a heart-felt song and struck a chord with many in the viewing audience.  The brief song told of wondering who we are and the pressure to be just like everyone else.  It ended with the glory of being unique and an individual.


We should not insist that only those who talk have perfect speech any more than we should only listen to songs that follow some arbitrary group of rules for musical composition.  If we did, then we would be listening to the Gregorian chants of the early 12300’s and the Beatles who never have been given a recording contract or concert venue.  There would never have been the Big Band era of music followed by rock and roll.  Michael Jackson and Prince would have never become household names.


None of us are perfect but we can use our talents and our imperfections.  We all have an obligation to our planet and neighbors to be the best representation of ourselves we can be.  For some, that might mean adopting healthier habits; for others, stop being afraid of people who seem different.  Last night, for a twelve-year-old girl named Grace Vanderwall who played the ukulele it meant standing in front of an audience and singing.


We all have our skills and our “not so good at that” areas.  Then use your voice to make the world a better place.  Last night it was wonderful to be Grace Vanderwall but in truth, every day is a great day to be her.  She is authentic and true to herself.  We all need to use the power of our own voice and be ourselves.  We will all know the amazing grace we offer the world and be winners when we use the power of our voices.