Archive for March, 2009

“Sing out loud, sing out strong…sing of good things, not bad…sing of happy, not sad. Make it simple to last your whole life long. Don’t worry if it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing – sing a song.” – Joe Raposo


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Sing for Joy


            In today’s economy, it’s hard to feel upbeat about much of anything. But while we can’t change the nation’s woes, or even our own, we can change the things we can control to keep our spirits high.

            And what’s one way to do that? Sing a song!

            Whether it’s a religious hymn, a children’s ditty or something on the latest top 10 list, it works. It really does.

            In fact, scientists have found that singing makes you more relaxed and improves your mood. Singing also lowers stress levels and exercises your lungs to increase their capacity. In fact, for people who can’t take vigorous exercise, singing is a great option.

            “You not only feel better,” a music director once said, “you can’t sing and hate at the same time.”

            As I wrote this piece, I remembered the very first movie I ever saw in a theatre: Mary Poppins. To this day, I remember Mary singing this wonderful pick-me-up:


“Let’s go fly a kite

Up to the highest height

Let’s go fly a kite

And send it soaring

Up through the atmosphere

Up where the air is clear

Oh, let’s go fly a kite!”


And, of course, there are many more examples:


Fiddler on the Roof:


To Life! To Life! L’chai-im

L’chai-im, L’chai-im, to life!

If you’ve been lucky,

 then Monday was no worse than Sunday was,

Drink L’chai-im, to life!

To us and our good fortune

Be happy, be healthy, long life!

And if our good fortune never comes

Here’s to whatever comes,

Dring L’chai-im, to Life!




The sun’ll come out Tomorrow

So you gotta hang on ‘Til Tomorrow

Come what may

Tomorrow! Tomorrow!

I love ya Tomorrow!

You’re always

A day




John Mellencamp:


Your life is now, your life is now

In this undiscovered moment

Lift your head above the crowd

We could shake this world

If you would only show us how

Your life is now.


Bob Dylan


May God bless and keep you always,

May your wishes all come true,

May you always do for others

And let others do for you.

May you build a ladder to the stars

And climb on every rung,

May you stay forever young,

Forever young, forever young,

May you stay forever young.




Joyful, joyful, we adore thee
God of glory, lord of love
Hearts unfold like flowers before thee
Opening to the sun above
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness
Drive the dark of doubt away
Giver of immortal gladness
Fill us with the light of day


Frank Sinatra


You make me feel so young
You make me feel like spring has sprung
Every time I see you grin
I’m such a happy individual
The moment that you speak
I want to go and play hide-and-seek
I want to go and bounce the moon
You make me feel so young
You make me feel there are songs to be sung
Bells to be rung, and a wonderful fling to be flung
And even when I’m old and gray
I’m gonna feel the way I do today
cause you make me feel so young.


Three Dog Night


Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the world
Joy to you and me
Joy to the world
All the boys and girls now
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me


And, last but not least…


If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands

       If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it

     If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.







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The Last Lecture

A year or so ago – when I was experiencing memory problems but had not yet been diagnosed – my long-time friend and colleague Mike Blair sent me a small book that packed a big punch: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.


Many of you have either heard about it or read it.


It’s the story of a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, who, like many academics, are asked to make a speech before they retire. The purpose is to take a look at their life and career and talk about what matters most in life.  More to the point, it focuses on what wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance. And, if we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?


This was a particularly challenging speech for Pausch because he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 46, had a loving wife and three small children. And he was going to die.


Needless to say, he struggled with a topic for his lecture. And then it came to him. He decided to focus on “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”


One of his PowerPoint slides listed some of those dreams: Floating in zero gravity; Playing in the NFL; Being Captain Kirk; and Becoming a Disney Imagineer. He clearly had big dreams and an active imagination.


In fact, as a youngster, Randy asked his parents if he could paint images on his bedroom walls, “things that matter to me, things I think will be cool.” And because his father encouraged creativity, the answer was ‘Yes.’


He painted a quadratic formula and a large silver elevator door with up and down buttons. His sister helped by painting chess pieces and Pandora’s box – with the word ‘hope’ at the bottom, just like the Greek myth.


Painting his room fulfilled one of his childhood dreams, but what about his grown-up wishes?


·        It took creativity, determination and politicking, but Pausch joined a university program proposing a project using virtual reality. He called his experience in zero G ‘spectacular’ and, he was pleased to report, he didn’t throw up.


·        He never made it to the NFL but said he sometimes thinks he got more from pursuing a dream and not making it than he did from the dreams he accomplished. The coaches rode him hard, but Pausch decided that was a good thing. When no one cares, it means they’ve given up on you.


·        While Pausch wanted to be Captain Kirk, he got the next best thing – meeting William Shatner (a.k.a. Kirk). Shatner visited the virtual reality lab and asked so many questions that one of Pausch’s colleagues said, “He doesn’t seem to get it.’ Pausch replied: “That’s heroic to me.” He said he wished every grad student he had would ask more questions and delve deeper.


·        After a trip to Disneyland in 1969, Pausch was determined to become a Disney Imagineer. He sent letter after letter but kept getting rejected. But he also kept his mantra in mind: “The brick walls are there for a reason…they are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” Fortunately, Disney Imagineering was working on a virtual reality project. Pausch called to say he was a virtual reality researcher and wanted to use his sabbatical to work on an Imagineering project and publish a paper. So another dream came true.


As Pausch’s health deteriorated, he underwent a scan to identify the extent of the tumors. He told his wife Jai, “Whatever news we get…I’m not going to die when we hear it. I won’t die the next day, or the day after that, or the day after that. So today, right now, this is a wonderful day. And I want you to know how much I’m enjoying it.”


He saw Jai smile.


“I knew then,” he said. “That’s the way the rest of my life would need to be lived.”


Randy Pausch died at 47 on July 25, 2008. His approach to life has inspired thousands of people…including me, and hopefully all of you.



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