November 29, 2012

Orangeville Optimist Club to light up Kay Cee Gardens

Following its annual tradition, the Optimist Club of Orangeville, Ontario is decorating for "Christmas in the Park" at Kay Cee Gardens and the Broadway Median Downtown. Since they work on a nonprofit budget, this year, they went to Facebook to find a little help.

They are asking for donations of strings of lights in order to ensure this year's displays are extra special.

Simple request, eh? If you can help, please leave the Orangeville Optimist Club a message on their Facebook page ( or call 1-866-998-1499.

Christmas in the Park opens on December 7. Opening ceremonies will commence at 7:30 p.m.

Kay Cee Gardens in located Between Bythia Street and John Street, Orangeville, ON

November 28, 2012

Laughter is good medicine

We can never get enough reminders for how to find happiness. I recently came across an article aimed at physicians about how to create a positive practice environment. Written by Christine S. Moyer for the American Medical Association, the article suggested that doctors should use humor.

"We need to lighten up and show that we're more than doctors. We're human," commented James Ferguson, MD. He keeps a joke book on hand for when he doesn't automatically think of something funny to say. Now that's human.

The benefit of a funny physician is twofold. The positive attitude helps the doctor avoid burnout and it also puts the patient at ease so that they are willing to share their medical history and questions. We've often heard that laughter is the best medicine. Maybe this is why.

At the recent American Academy of Family Physicians Scientific Assembly, speakers shared 10 ideas to help doctors find happiness. I decided to share eight of them here because they are time tested suggestions. PRN. (Take as needed.)

  1. Pause before reacting to something that bothers you and think about how you could respond to the situation.
  2. Develop meaningful connections with your colleagues and staff.
  3. Plan personal and family time and place it on your patient care schedule [work calendar] to help you maintain work-life balance.
  4. Learn to say "non" once in a while to requests for your time.
  5. Focus on what is working in your life rather than fixating on what is not working. 
  6. Laugh with your staff and patients. [coworkers and customers]
  7. Spend time doing things that you're passionate about outside medicine [insert your work] such as creative writing, photography or playing an instrument. 
  8. Volunteer with an organization that cares for the less fortunate.

Let me give special attention to #8. Through my years of involvement in Optimist Clubs, I've seen very few physician members. Perhaps I should write to the AMA and suggest another way for doctors to be happy: be an Optimist.

November 27, 2012

My #GivingTuesday post

Please join me in giving a hat tip today to the folks who are participating in #GivingTuesday. As an active Optimist Club member, I take the opportunity to give time and make donations to different causes every day. Making the time to write on this blog and the PNW District Optimist Clubs blog is one such commitment. I take neither lightly.

Other ways that I give are supporting the projects that Optimist Clubs choose to do. Sometimes that is with money, but most often it is merely with attendance. Being present means so much to children, parents, grandparents, spouses and friends. We become so busy with our lives, or our smartphone, we forget just being there really makes a difference.

As holiday consumerism takes its place in American culture with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is only fitting that we take time to show American philanthropy as well. Take some time today find a cause that truly speaks to you and make a donation and then go one step further and pledge some of your time in the very near future. You'll be rewarded with good feelings for doing so.

Find out about #GivingTuesday here.

Find out about Optimist Clubs here.

November 25, 2012

We are never...

Eighty-three million views and counting. That record deserves being shown as the Music Sunday video of the week at Experience Optimism, don't you think? Not to mention that "We are never getting back together," by Taylor Swift just begs for you to sing along.

Show a little attitude (whatever!) and enjoy. It feels good. And don't fret over that failed relationship because someone will come along that rocks your world and if they don't, just know that it's okay to be single because with friends, you are never alone. 

November 24, 2012

From Christmas trees to self respect

Oh my goodness. Or in text language, OMG. That's what I thought this morning as a read the sad story about the Optimist Club of Southwest Topeka, Kansas. This is their 52nd year to set up a Christmas tree lot; it will also be their last.

According to the article, a declining membership has stretched the abilities of the club and they no longer have the manpower to staff the lot in order to sell 400 Christmas trees. Richard Bush, a spokesperson for the Optimist Club says that he will miss talking with customers. Ralph Kieffer, a customer for sixteen years, says he will miss buying his tree from a nonprofit that then shares their money with special causes in the community like the Boys & Girls Club and TARC, a mental health program.

Yes, service clubs are finding it harder to stay relevant in a busy, cyber-connected world, but it was one comment on this article that prompted me to write this rebuttal. According to jacovdog, "Civic groups are a relic of the past. It's government's job to take care of everyone. That's why we pay taxes."

Can I get a collective OMG, please?

It is not government's job to take care of everyone, nor is it a service club's responsibility to do so. You have a personal responsibility to take care of yourself and to help your family, neighbors, and then others who are less fortunate than you.

If you joined a service club, you might get this continued education in good citizenship that you apparently failed to learn in school. And guess what? You might even earn a little self respect in the process. Service clubs build character. Optimist Club members believe by giving of one's self in service, we will will advance the well-being of humankind, community life and the world. 

In other words, we believe that service clubs work to improve the quality of life for all. In my mind, I believe that allows the government to defend us from our enemies, foreign and domestic, and otherwise keep out of our business. 

Now it's time for the collective amen.

Please consider joining the Optimist Club or another service club in your community and make a difference, as the Southwest Topeka Optimist Club has done for fifty-two years, one Christmas tree at a time. 

Photo courtesy of

November 22, 2012

Giving thanks year-round

In the United States, we begin the holiday season with the celebration of Thanksgiving. I learned today that the first Thanksgiving was held in September.

It was President Abraham Lincoln who moved the holiday officially to November. Did he know of the commercial frenzy that he facilitated by placing the celebration so close to Christmas? I doubt it. We were not as materialistic in the 1800s, but i wonder if perhaps we were more grateful.

Giving thanks is a respectful act. It should not be something that we do once a year when family and friends are gathered to witness. We should give thanks daily for the blessings we are fortunate to behold, witness and give.

Thank you.

November 19, 2012

Youth Appreciation Awards in Greeley, CO

In Greeley, Colorado, the Optimist Club recognized four outstanding young people for their participation in extracurricular activities, specifically the Boys and Girls Club.

Nominated by their mentors and honored by the Optimists were Tatiana Guevara, Thomas Edmunds, Angel Arreola-Castenada and Maria Arreola-Castenada.

Shown with the students are Ron Wittow with the Optimist Club and Gus Mircos and Samantha Ruiz for the Boys and Girls Club.

The partnership between the clubs bring attention to the work that both organizations do with youth. The Optimist International Youth Appreciation Awards are given by Optimist Clubs around the world to recognize something special in kids.

November 18, 2012

Be a champion!

Some songs empower you to try more, do more, and to be more. This is one of them: "Hall of Fame" by the Script with Will.I.Am.

 I think it is a perfect song for Optimist Clubs to play at their meetings and projects. The message is one that we share with children as we encourage them to live up to their full potential. "Be a champion," is another way of saying be your best. And that's all we expect from anyone

 Be your best, do your best and you will succeed.

November 16, 2012

Optimist Club of Monaco South, Denver, recognized for philanthropy

According to the website, National Philanthropy Day in Colorado is:
"...the special day set aside to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy -- and those people active in the philanthropic community -- have made to our lives, our communities and our world. Celebrations are held annually in many states across the nation."
 On November 9, ten businesses, individuals and organizations were honored for their service to their communities. Among them were the Optimist Club of Monaco South in Denver Colorado. Randy Marcove, President, shared this video on YouTube. It describes what Optimist Clubs do to bring out the best in youth.

Congratulations to the Optimist Club of Monaco South on your recognition. Thank you for your service.

November 14, 2012

Royal Oak Optimist Club celebrates Youth Appreciation Awards

The Optimist Club of Royal Oak, Michigan celebrated twelve outstanding students at their annual Youth Appreciation Awards Breakfast. Chosen from Royal Oak High School, Berkley High School and Shrine Catholic High School, the students spoke of their goals and ambitions as they conversed with Optimist Club members.

The students received praise from the Optimist Club, certificates of achievement and gift cards to Barnes & Noble.

Youth Appreciation Optimist MI

  The Youth Appreciation program is conducted by Optimist Clubs around the world as a way to recognize students for a variety of reasons including scholarship, citizenship, courtesy, and athletics. The main purpose is to say thanks for being a good kid.

Thanks Royal Oak Optimist Club for sharing your picture with us.

November 12, 2012

Knoxville Optimist Club appreciates youth

Recognizing exceptional students is a favorite project of many Optimist Clubs. In fact, there is a whole international program created for the that purpose: Youth Appreciation Week.

Although it can be and is done at different times throughout the year,  Youth Appreciation Week has traditionally taken place in November. The Optimist Club of Knoxville, Tennessee has been around a long time and they still celebrate the November tradition. Watch a video here of one of their recipients, Andrea Goldman. She's a remarkable young lady that champions recycling, among many other things. It's less than two minutes. Find out more.

November 11, 2012

Does blogging make you crazy?

The Music Sunday feature at Experience Optimism is two years old this week and until very recently, I updated it every week with a song that spoke to me for various reasons. I'm trying to get back on my game with a number of things this week, including this.

My choice this week was chosen just because it is smooth and rather soothing given the frustrations that I discussed in my post yesterday. Gnarls Barkley performs "Crazy" with a style that compels you to listen.

In case you didn't know, Gnarls Barkley is a duo made up of the impeccable Cee Lo Green and Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton. Aha; no wonder that voice seems so familiar. Enjoy.

November 10, 2012

Finding strength in purpose

I've been thinking about this post for several days and haven't had the heart to write it until now. It's about transparency and how blogging can make a difference in our lives.

It's pretty simple to be a promoter and to push the information that holds an organization in the best light. Some optimists would say that is the the only way to act - to tell only the positive side of the story. As much as I agree with finding the positive, I also understand there must be balance. We don't live in an enchanted world and we have to deal with reality every once and while.

As readers of my blog know, I write frequently about the great activities performed by Optimist Clubs in communities around the world. It's not always an easy job because the stories can be hard to find. Our clubs aren't always successful in getting their projects noticed and when my alert system goes dry and direct mail is slow, the Experience Optimism blog suffers. But the blog can also suffer when my approach is overly-criticized as well. Notice the word "overly;" I can take criticism, but I lose motivation when others think their agenda should come first. Today, I offer a solution: if you have your own agenda, well then, start your own blog.

Now the back story. I am the principal blogger for the PNW District - Optimist International. I have been sharing Optimist Club stories there since 2007, but the blog also serves as the website for the district so it must also incorporate news about the administration. That means that I have to discuss the business of the district. The district held its first business meeting for the 2012-2013 administration on October 20, 2012. At that meeting, we learned that the 2011-2012 administration spent $13,000 of its cash reserves and it did so without anyone in attendance speaking up to say, "Where did it go?"

I served as the leader of that district a mere three years ago. I turned over a nice sum of $29,000 to the next administration and earned the highest honors that Optimist International can give to a district and its governor. The next administration followed suit. We lived within our budgets and given that record, I think it would have been reasonable to request that the district dues be decreased. Decreasing dues would keep more money at home, with the local clubs.

However, last year, the district spent more money and achieved less. In fact, in addition to losing money, the district ended the year with over 300 fewer members than it had when it began.  I wouldn't be so anxious to point this out if the past administration wasn't bent on pushing their ways forward into this year's budget. The current governor, in an effort to be positive, is thinking like a cheerleader when he needs to put on his business hat instead.

Now the reason for my post. The last two governors, one successful and one not, have contacted me independently to say that my exposing this information on the district blog was inappropriate. When I asked them to please point to anything that was untrue so that I could make a correction, they couldn't. Oddly, neither cared to post a rebuttal in the comment section either. They just wanted to control what I wrote about the district to tell only the positive.

That's not the way I do it, boys. Spin sucks. Reality may hurt, but it's the only way to make corrections so that we can move forward.

The number of negative posts on that blog, by the way, is zero. There is something positive in every one. Even the one exposing something tough to talk about - loss - does so with optimism. Why? Because that's the way I try to live and the reason that I share these stories in the first place. I plan to continue to write in the same manner, for the same purpose, in the future. Thanks for reading.

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