Homeless piano player’s new life

Donald Gould looked skeletal in the video that went viral. Two months later he was playing the American national anthem at an NFL game. At the time, he was 80 days sober. That may not sound like much, but to someone in caught in the tentacles of addiction, it is a lifetime.

The Sarasota, Florida, man fell off the rails and ended up on the streets. He was laid off when the economy hit the skids and never climbed back on the middle-class road.

Thanks to the YouTube video, the homeless veteran reconnected with his son. Gould is in rehab as I write. He has a chance to reclaim the life that went off the rails.

It is easy to dismiss social media as fluff, but stories like this make us understand the potential behind it.


You’ve got to have hope

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Ball and mitt from morgueFile

When the musical comedy Damn Yankees opened on Broadway in 1955, one of the catchy songs by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross quickly became a hit. A losing baseball team is standing around the coach. He urges them to believe in themselves by telling them “You’ve Gotta Have Heart”.

The coach tells them,

You’ve gotta have hope.
Musn’t sit around and hope.
Nothin’s half as bad as it may appear
Wait’ll next year and hope

No need to wait until next year. Start right now.



See a movie through a blind child’s imagination

"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 012" by William Wallace Denslow - Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Technology is giving differently abled people more access to the world around them. It is also giving those of us with just ordinary challenges a window into other ways of being in the world.

Here is an example of a new technology that adds an auditory guide to movies so blind viewers can enjoy them too. Before you watch the videos below (one without, one with the talking guide), read the short article in Fast Company and check out the video at the bottom of this post. It tells the fascinating story of how Xfinity and Comcast involved Emily. She is 7 years old, blind and articulate.

Now watch it with XFINITY’s talking guide


Love beyond labels

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The video below, part of the Ad Council’s Love Has No Labels campaign, will have you wiping away the tears and feeling good about the many faces of love. The year-long campaign is tackling bias, the many ways we judge people without being aware of the harm we are doing.

On the site you’ll find stories about Cody, who has Down syndrome, Edward, who at 56 is experiencing ageism in the work place, Alexis, who continually endures being considered an Oreo (black on the outside, white on the inside), and others whose stories give insight into the impact of biases.

Take the quiz to check your own biases, read the tips for fighting bias and prejudice, and be part of this effort to unravel the biases that keep us from fully loving and accepting each other.



Mindfulness for children

Child meditating, photo from NCVO London, via Flickr Creative Commons

When Julie Bayer Salzman and Josh Salzman overheard their 5-year-old son talking about things like the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex and how they were affected by emotions, they wanted to know more. The Citizens of the World Charter School in Mar Vista, California was teaching the children mindfulness. It was making a difference.

You can hear the children talking about it in this unscripted video. If every child learned these techniques, the world would be a very different place.

You can learn more about education for mindfulness at Mindful Schools.


Hope inspires the good to reveal itself

Photo by DMedina, via morgueFule

Photo by DMedina, via morgueFule

“A great truth, attributed to Emily Dickinson, is that ‘hope inspires the good to reveal itself. This is almost all I ever need to remember. Gravity and sadness yank us down, and hope gives us a nudge to help one another get back up or to sit with the fallen on the ground, in the abyss, in solidarity.”

~ Anne Lamott, Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair


A most compassionate child


Photo by Rainer Voegli, via Flickr Creative Commons

This three-year-old child does not want to eat the deep-fried octopus on his plate. Each question he asks moves him and his mother deeper into his ethical dilemma: He does not want animals killed so he can eat them. The octopus is an animal. So are chickens and cows and pigs. He insists humans must take care of them, not kill them.

Millions have watched and been touched by the compassion and high-level reasoning of the toddler.


Designer spends each day’s 86,400 seconds well

Elvis de Leon; photo clip from John X. Carey's video, below

His mother was murdered when Elvis De Leon was 16 years old. He could have turned to gang violence. Instead, he turned to design and became a successful graphic designer.

John X. Carey produced a short film, set in the gritty streets of Harlem, in which Elvis de Leon compares living purposefully to starting each day with $84,600 in your bank account. At the end of the day it is gone so spend it well. Make something positive with your life.

So, OK, the 84,600 is slight reversal of two digits (60 x 60 x 24 = 86,400), but the message is a good one. Make each day’s seconds count.