April 29, 2012

A positive attitude makes you stronger

Facebook makes certain that you know about your friends' birthdays. It sends you emails, adds notes to the top of your page and of course lets you see the multiple wishes shared by well-wishers over and over again throughout the day. It's because of such postings I know that Kelly Clarkson turned 30 last week. That day, several of my friends shared their fondness of Kelly by posting this video in their timelines.

I may be a little late to the party, but this is my wish for Kelly and for every woman: Always, always celebrate your strengths. Begin with a positive attitude. You can be anyone and do anything that you want to do. Trying makes you strong. Trying harder makes you stronger.

I hope you enjoy my pick for  Music Sunday on Experience Optimism. Here is Kelly Clarkson singing "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)." Enjoy. 

April 28, 2012

Professional optimism

Progressive Optimist Club of Barbados clean-up day.
I'm watching them from afar, but my new favorite Optimist Clubs are the Optimist Club of Barbados-Bridgetown and the Progressive Optimist Club of Barbados.

I've long thought it would be fun to live in the Caribbean and perform volunteer work, but it's easy to think that when one lives in Idaho.

It looks like fun and sun and service, but those who live in a resort setting year-round know the difficulties associated with keeping their communities safe and vibrant for the residents are the same, if not amplified, as the cities from where the tourists that visit their island hail.

They still have cyber crime and challenges with education, children's services, social welfare efforts, politics, the environment and the economy. Residents are raising families, succeeding at careers, and celebrating life's many ups and downs all at the same time as being good hosts.

I learned from Adrian Elcock, Optimist International Vice President 2010-2011, that in Barbados "it costs to care" meaning Optimist Club members know that they have to consistently invest in their community to make it a better place to live. Through Optimist Club membership, such caring individuals share their ideas and strengths and even have a little fun. For instance, the Progressive Optimist Club held a beach clean-up today at Martin's Bay and hauled away 161 bags of seaweed. That's work and fun.

But what really drew me in today to proclaim these clubs to be my favorites were the following advertisements:

  • On April 18, the Optimist Club of Barbados-Bridgetownheld a cyber safety forum. 
  • On March 10,  Harrison College JOOI Club joined the Optimist Club of Barbados-Bridgetown for a "Car Boot Sale."
  • Coming up on May 5 is the Annual Charity Fundraising Golf Tournament.
Such professionally produced advertisements signify that young professionals are engaged in their community through the Optimist Club and that is a goal of Optimist Clubs around the world - to connect with those who embrace technology and welcome change; those who will help take our organization's mission forward tomorrow and beyond. 

If perception is reality, the Optimist Club of Barbados-Bridgetown is leading the way in professionalism. I applaud and admire their efforts. 

April 26, 2012

A study on money and happiness

What does $5.00 look like to you? According to Michael Norton, Associate Professor, Business Administration at Harvard University, college students think that $5.00 looks like a cup of coffee and that cup of coffee is likely to be purchased from Starbucks.

Professor Norton spoke recently at TEDxCambridge and his topic looked at spending habits of college students, among others, to determine if money really could buy happiness. The conclusion - most service club members know this already - money does buy happiness when you spend it on someone else.

In this TED talk, "How to buy happiness," Professor Norton discusses research that was conducted on college campuses and compares it to research from other settings around the world. Please watch and learn what makes people happy including college students with an extra five dollar bill.

April 22, 2012

In memory of Marian

One week ago I lost a dear friend. Although we weren't related, she was like an aunt to me. She became part of my family a few years before I was born when she and her new husband moved in next door to my parents. My mom and she became "the bestest" of friends and I am comforted in the fact that today they are enjoying each other's company once again.

As I was considering what song to post in her honor today on Music Sunday at Experience Optimism, I thought about slower songs first. For instance, Leon Russell had recently returned as one of her favorites. But I decided on this song because it always made Marian smile. It was kind of crooked smile with a turn of the head and a set of the jaw that made her face glow. I'll miss that look, but I'll be reminded of it and her every time I hear this song.

Marian, this vintage recording of Jerry Lee Lewis and "Great Balls of Fire" is for you.

April 21, 2012

Optimists recognize improvement

I like simple stories of how Optimist Clubs honor and recognize the youths in our communities and knew I had to share this quick note with you that I received from the Optimist Club of Salem, Oregon. 

The Salem Optimist Club has been working with the schools in their community to honor students for different reasons: community service, perfect attendance, attitude, grades, special honors the students have received at school and now for most improved in grades, attitude and involvement. Great job everyone!

The note from the Salem Optimist Club follows:
The Optmists awards this week were for students who have made great improvements in their grades and attitude toward school over the years and one student was honored for involvement in the community. 
Students honored were Joseph Cromwell - Most Involved in Community Affairs - Chemawa Indian School 
Joseph Lenoir - Most Improved in Academics - Chemawa Indian School 
With Frank Milton two students from North Salem both as Most Improved in Academics - Diana Mendoza and Darrick Utley 
With Wes from Sprague as Most Improved in Academics - Simone Antkowiak

April 19, 2012

How to Achieve Enchantment NOW

In my sister blog, PNW District Optimist Clubs, I wrote about an effort to bring new Optimist Club members into your Optimist Club called a NOW event. NOW stands for New Optimists Welcome. Generally such an event is conducted around a meal and guests are treated to a presentation about Optimist Club projects as they learn what it's like to share the camaraderie of Optimist friends and colleagues.

The new twist on the NOW activity is to be bigger and grander. Clubs are encouraged to come together in their zones - a group of 4 or 5 clubs - to display their projects at one time. Sort of trade show style, it requires planning, coordination and a number of Optimist Club members who are willing to talk about what it means to belong to an Optimist Club. As club spokespersons, it really helps if these representatives are likable. I thought this might be a good time to introduce the likability infographic from Guy Kawasaki, part of the collateral provided during the rollout of the successful Enchantment (affiliate link) book.

Please scroll down and see what it takes to be enchanting. Can you apply these ideas to your Optimist Club?

Enchantment Infographic

April 15, 2012

Never stop

I'm following "The Voice" on NBC and rooting for Jesse Campbell, and this week on Experience Optimism, I want to tell you that the show would be so much better if these two had not met so early in the contest. Please enjoy these amazing performers, Anthony Evans and Jesse Campbell in the battle rounds singing "If I Ain't Got You."

I think what I like so much about "The Voice" is that it lets adults live their dreams with the potential of rewriting their lives. That is an optimistic pursuit and the courage it takes to try is an optimistic attitude. Many cheers to those who who aren't afraid to try once again to reach their full potential.

April 13, 2012

Pictures of optimism

Leah Gibson - Paso Robles Optimist Club
Around the world, Optimist Clubs are finishing up the Annual Optimist International Oratorical Contest. This year's topic is "How my optimism helps me overcome obstacles." Youths under 18-years of age prepare and deliver a speech 4 to 5 minutes in length.

Aubrey Deeble, Brendan Earle, Alexa Barnett
and Sam Exline
 - Eagle , Idaho Optimist Club

Every student must begin at the club level to participate. They progress through zone and regional competitions moving to the district level where the winners receive a scholarship of $2,500.
Students at the Optimist Club
of Anguilla

Students at St. John Antigua
Optimist Club 

The scholarships are funded through the Optimist International Foundation. Each year, the Foundation awards more than $150,000 in scholarships.

I enjoy receiving pictures of contestants and thought I'd share a few here today. Enjoy!

Students at the Optimist Club of Vancouver, Washington

Have a picture to share?  Please send it here.  Thank you. 

Photos courtesy of the Optimist Clubs.

April 9, 2012

Technology and optimism

Technology - we take it for granted, but two years ago Optimist International's Oratorical Contest asked students to consider "High speed internet: is it a right or a privilege?" It was a tough topic and although I don't know accurate numbers, from my experience in Idaho, the participation declined.

Shirley Zurfluh (R) of the W. Tacoma Optimist Club
presents Emily Stevenson with a Braille Notetaker.
However, one segment of students found the topic intriguing. Deaf students and students with hearing impairments knew exactly how to respond to the question. For them, technology, such as smartphones and computers, becomes their voice as it connects them not only to those without hearing deficits, but also to each other. Quite a compelling case can be made why high speed internet is essential to their full integration into school, work and society and it is therefore a right, not a privilege.

Since that time, I have become especially interested in how technology is used by all and this note caught my eye today: "West Tacoma Optimist Club presents braille computer to high school student."  Awesome, I thought, but what is a braille computer?

Well it turns out it isn't exactly a braille computer. This young lady received a braille note-taking device (approximately $6,500) that allows her to take notes in class and then connect to her home PC to continue complete her homework. Have you ever thought about what it would be like for a blind student to take notes?

The PC itself can be equipped with different devices including braille keyboards and braille display for reading. Of course there are also read/write programs that allow the user to hear and speak to the computer and a number of magnifying options for those who have not completely lost their vision.

I love learning new and different things, don't you? Many thanks to the West Tacoma Optimist Club for your donation. According to the full news report in the club's bulletin:

"Emily Stevenson, a blind student at Curtis High School was presented with her new Braille Computer/Calculator last week. Her classmates applauded and their were smiles all around. Emily is an outstanding student who works hard and plans to go to college and get an engineering degree. She was very happy and grateful since her 7 year old computer was on its last legs."
Knowing how fast technology changes, this was a special donation indeed.

Thanks to Dick Disney, W. Tacoma Optimist Club for the photo and story idea.  

April 8, 2012

Another happy song

It is Easter Sunday and nearly 80 degrees in Boise, Idaho. That kind of temperature sends a special signal that spring is here to stay. I hope that you agree that the hope of springtime makes room for happy songs. I never get tired of this one - it makes me smile, just for a while. Please enjoy Colbie Caillat and "Bubbly" here on Music Sunday at Experience Optimism.

Please share - what songs make you smile?

April 7, 2012

Harry Potter to take on Darfur

Organizations, or perhaps individuals inside organizations, lament that our young people are not as willing to give as generations before them and service learning programs have emerged as early as elementary school to teach them to volunteer. I always wonder why children must taught this value. Shouldn't it be an experience they get at home or from the community over time?

Today I learned of an effort to capitalize on the popularity of Harry Potter as a way to encourage children to be socially aware. The Harry Potter Alliance capitalizes on the popularity of the Harry Potter and Hunger Games movies and books and the director thinks that by harnessing the energy of our young people today, they will someday make a difference in Darfur or beyond.

Noble efforts, but personally, I think that kids need time to be kids. Their job description should be go to school and learn, help out at home, have a hobby, and play, not solve the world's problems.

Children should first and foremost get the foundation to make responsible decisions later in life.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments, please.

Video from Philanthropy Video on YouTube. 

April 6, 2012

Sometimes you have to feel the difference

There is a perception in this world that we think and say, "What's in it for me?" Actually, it is more of a reality. Fifty years ago, it was normal to join a group like an Optimist Club in order to give something back to the community. Today, potential and existing members evaluate the time that they will have to give to attend meetings and projects and look for how their involvement will advance their career.

Rarely do individuals examine the social nature of belonging and I find that even after many years of participating, I still have trouble putting it into words succinctly. The experience is different for each individual, but for me, belonging to an Optimist Club means that I have:
  • The opportunity to learn about what is happening in my community from learned experts during presentations at club meetings
  • A social group that shares similar values and goals
  • A network of peers that I work with to conceive and perform projects that make our community a great place to live
  • Knowledge and appreciation of the work performed by others in order to collaborate, not duplicate, efforts
  • An increased awareness of local, national and international challenges
  • The willingness to take the steps to make a difference. 

In writing this post, it comes to my mind that making a difference should not be the key motivator for service for the words imply that there are immediate benefits to our actions when we volunteer our time. It belies the reality that time, planning, fundraising, and other critical steps must be taken by someone in order for everyone to realize the benefits of action; not to mention it ignores that there are consequences of inaction or misguided action. 

That is why nonprofit and charitable organizations persist. It's easy to give money for others to organize so that you may, or may not, show up to perform a volunteer task. If you are truly committed to taking the steps to make a difference in your community, I ask that you reconsider your gift. Instead of money, please give your time and perform ground roots organizing through a service club. Your end result may not be as flashy, but your efforts will be more sincere. You will feel the difference rather than see it. 

Please click here if you would like more information about joining an Optimist Club in your community.

April 1, 2012

"Drive By" just for fun

What's the sign of a good song? For me it's knowing that many individuals are able to sing along, whether they be in the car, in the shower, or sometimes just in their minds as they sit at their desk working away the day. The words and music somehow lift the listener to accomplish more.

The new release from Train fits into that category. It's perky, happy, hopeful, and the video comes complete with some pretty hot cars to make those late boomers and early gen x -ers reminisce about their crazy high school years.

I hope you enjoy "Drive By" by Train for Music Sunday at Experience Optimism. No April Fool's here, and no big message to analyze. It's just for fun.


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