Put As Much As You Can Into Your Heads – Nobody Can Take That Away From You

“Every day in life is beautiful. Every day. It’s beautiful.”

Alice Herz-Sommer’s stellar heath at the age of 109 is not the only thing that makes her special. She is the oldest living pianist and Holocaust survivor, and arguably one of the most optimistic people you may ever meet. This touching preview for the upcoming documentary following her life,  “The Lady In Number 6,” shows how music not only saved her life in the camp, but also continues to carry her through each day after the ordeal.

The camp in which she was placed is a terrifying example of the ultimate living-theatre experiment. In 1944, the German leaders created a propaganda film and presented Theresienstadt as a model Jewish settlement to the visiting Red Cross; it was all an elaborate hoax.

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The Germans “beautified” the ghetto, planting gardens and painting houses. Individuals received roles to play and the Nazis staged social and cultural events for the visiting dignitaries. Hints that all was not well included a bruise under the eye of the “mayor” of the “town.”  In the Nazi propaganda film, Theresienstadt was cynically described as a “spa town” where elderly German Jews could “retire” in safety. Once the visit was over, the Germans resumed deportations from Theresienstadt, which did not end until October 1944.

And yet still, shining examples like Alice appear, wielding hope as an impenetrable shield:

“I have lived through many wars and have lost everything many times — including my husband, my mother and my beloved son. Yet, life is beautiful, and I have so much to learn and enjoy. I have no space nor time for pessimism and hate.”

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Want It More Than You Fear It

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Because there will always be one to fifty excuses to find.

Because your mind will rummage around and dig these up, presenting them to you with urgency.

Because you may forget, if only for a moment, that this new pile of worries are a gift from an anxious visitor who didn’t know exactly what to get you – so opted for this, and hoped you’d enjoy something to think about versus nothing.

Because you never liked stagnation anyway.

Because there will be days when your fear will masquerade as sensibility, never removing the mask to reveal its tiny, unsubstantial frame.

Because the voice of your deepest desires speaks in dulcet tones, quiet murmurs that could be drowned out by the cries of a doubtful side of you.

Because you will remember that acknowledging this concern always silences it, like a mother finally attending to a child.

Because you deserve to come alive, to set yourself ablaze with wonder, and never stop seeking.

Because there’s solid ground on the other side, no matter how many obstacles stand in the way.

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Bite-sized Wisdom: Seneca

Do you go to a theatrical experience for the length of the piece or the quality? A simple question that may sneak up and inform the way you live:

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“As it is with a play, so it is with life—what matters is not how long the acting lasts, but how good it is.”

- Seneca

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You may also enjoy:

Good Things Develop in Time

Good Things Develop in Time

No Theatre No Problem

No Theatre No Problem

There's a Fine Line Between Existing and Living

There’s a Fine Line Between Existing and Living

Rediscovering the Child

learnfastMaybe it’s been more than a little while since you allowed yourself to try something new, dig in with abandon, and fearlessly approach what you have no idea how to do.

Remember that we have all been beginners. There is no shame is starting and no time to late to start becoming the person you wish you be.

Approach it with childlike enthusiasm. No one tells an 8-month old that they’ll never learn how to walk. Because smack-talking a baby is bad form. Why allow the rules to change as you grow older?

Bolster new efforts of others, and you may find the courage to support your own.

Get kickin’ little one. There’s still more room to grow.

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Égalité. Finally.

marriage“I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
– Obama

A beautiful day for California and the United States. Proud to see that love and respect continues to win out over hatred.

5 Simple Ways to Start Leading the Good Life

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1. Celebrate the ordinary and less than extraordinary. Because you can’t win the Nobel Peace Prize every day of the year. Cheer on the small moments in between the large ones, and you’ll start to notice how those peaks will advance towards you in rapid succession.

2. Get outside when it’s still light out. Summer’s official start date is tomorrow. How are you going to revel in it?

3. Make time for yourself. A whole good amount of it. Come to know yourself better than the tabloids know Justin Bieber’s whereabouts. Treat yourself to that manicure, bask leisurely for an hour doing absolutely nothing, and recharge. No point in running on empty.

4. Sing and dance like no one is watching/like the entire world is watching. These two should be one in the same. It’s often assumed that the scrutiny of many is a negative thing. If you truly approach whatever the task at hand is with gusto, people will notice, take note and maybe get a little bit inspired. Don’t apologize for loving the things that you do.

5. Unplug. From your cell phone, Facebook, from the endless internet to-do list. Go have an adventure. It’ll be there when you come back.

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Easiest Way To Fail Is To Never Try

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Time to allow yourself to have it all.

“If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.”

More of this illustrated story available via Brain Pickings

The Challenge of Halfway

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The world does not need people more people who are halfway – halfway happy, halfway inspired, halfway thankful. Society is not in dire need of almost-smiles, of “oh we should sometime”s, and “maybe someday soon”s. We are in all too desperate need of people who come alive when sharing their joy, who can let light find a way through them, and who can weave hope from the fragile threads of pain.
If the world asked you a single favor, to quench your thirst for happiness by allowing yourself to bring happiness to others, would you comply?
Or would you again reply “maybe,” “someday,” “soon?”

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You Have to Move On/ Il Faut Avancer

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Theatre du Chatelet, renowned Paris institution headed by Jean-Luc Choplin, recently presented Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine’s award-winning and heartbreaking SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. Lucky for those of us that weren’t able to hop on a plane to Paris during its run, the production was filmed and broadcast by Mezzo TV. And now, this new version is available to download for free, albeit for a very limited time.

The original Broadway production of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, directed by James Lapine, starring Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters, was similarly filmed and quickly became a staple in the collector’s canon. For those of you who haven’t seen any of the original cast, or for those that could always use a refresher, enjoy the two duetting on “Move On.”


In this number, Dot appears to her great grandson (that of her lover George Seurat), also named George, who is struggling with his art

Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you’ll be-
Look at all the things you’ve done for me

The Only Risk of Knowledge is That You’ll Learn Something

Ooo dangerous.
Gujurat, India

Stuck mulling over the same ol’ field of thinking? Getting restless is a good sign.
It means your brain is craving for something more.

Challenge it.

Get that Ivy League education you always wanted. For free. Online. (Welcome to the future y’all)

Devour books old and new like they were going out of style. Kindle, you ain’t got nothing on nostalgia.

Remind yourself of Jefferson’s Democracy in less than 15 minutes with amazingly accessible YouTube crash courses.

The world is only getting larger and more easy to tap into every day.

What seeds of ideas have you planted lately?

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Article Worth Reading: “Find What You Love and Let it Kill You”

James Rhodes gave up the piano for 10 years, trading it in for the promise of the City and searching for some sort of security. Then decided his dream of becoming a concert pianist trumped all.

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From the Guardian’s recent article:

“What if rather than a book club you joined a writer’s club? Where every week you had to (really had to) bring three pages of your novel, novella, screenplay and read them aloud?
 
What if, rather than paying £70 a month for a gym membership that delights in making you feel fat, guilty and a world away from the man your wife married you bought a few blank canvases and some paints and spent time each day painting your version of “I love you” until you realised that any woman worth keeping would jump you then and there just for that, despite your lack of a six-pack?”

Read on

Image before editing: Alan Cleaver

Does It Matter Who Wins the Race?

“Yes, there are times when the gold medal only goes to the winner. But not in the race of life, where the winners are those who are superior not to others but to their former selves.”
- Robert Cooper

2013 St. Patrick's Day 8K

How have you bested your former self lately? How have you strived to learn more and crave less?

Have you checked in with yourself when you heard yourself complaining? Have you pouted at the thought of working harder? Had a First World Problem whinesesh (not the good kind with a cheese plate in tow)? At every moment you have the option to remain static, give up, or move forward. And your path will only be your own.

Empower yourself by winning at your own game everyday. You are your own best competitor.

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How to Become a Better Writer, Friend, and Person

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- Get up early, go sit down and write
– Journal without editing yourself
– Find seeds of great ideas in the piles of subconscious ones you’ve just laid out for yourself
– Repeat until it no longer feels like a chore, but a part of your day you anticipate with excitement
– Continue ad infinitum

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- Make time for people that matter to you
– Send a note to let them know you’re thinking about them what big or little life events pop up (“Good luck on that interview!”, “Hope you fly safe!”, “That recipe you gave me is le bomb.”, etc.)
– Show support when good things happen to them, and even more support when the bad sneaks in
– Refuse to let distance be an obstacle. There are a million ways to stay connected nowadays. If Facebook isn’t cutting it for you, agree to start writing each other postcards. No one gets real mail anymore – just think of what a treat it would be to get something worthwhile in the mailbox.
– Continue ad infinitum

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- Stop comparing, stop complaining, stop selling yourself short
-Continue ad infinitum

Image Sources (before editing): Human Writes Performance, Geneva, Jesse757, GuiseppePortale