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Nugget # 111 Life Influences from the Movie ‘Front of the Class’!

Front_of_the_Class_posterHi friends,

Hope this has been a pleasant week for you. Recently, I watched ‘Front of the Class’ which is a 2008 American drama film on the life of Nationally Recognized Teacher & Motivational Speaker Brad Cohen. This Hallmark Hall of Fame movie is based on Brad’s book Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had.

This nugget is one where instead of drawing life lessons, I’d like to highlight some inspiring people from the life of Brad Cohen, who have been influential in making him the winner he is today! Brad never let his challenges with Tourette’s come in the way of achieving his dreams.

At the onset of the movie, we find the 12 year old Brad who lives (in Missouri) with his divorcee mom Ellen and kid brother Jeff; get into all kinds of trouble with his dad as well as his teachers at school because his TS tics are unfortunately misunderstood to be his antics!  He is labelled the prankster and in one rather disturbing scene in the movie, he is made by his teacher to go to the front of the class and apologize for his disturbing behavior and promise that he would never to do that again. Brad’s mum, in her quest for answers lands up in a library where she comes across Tourette’s syndrome in a medical book. Hopefully, she seeks professional advice from a Doctor who agrees on her diagnosis (on the basis of symptoms) that Brad may be having TS but informs them that TS was incurable. In an effort to find others with TS, Brad’s mother drags him into a support group. Here, he finds a sorry group of people who have accepted TS as their disability & surrendered themselves to a secondary existence, giving up any dreams of achieving success in life. The only lesson Brad learns from them is never to become victims of TS like them. award

BRAD’S MUM- WHO ALWAYS BELIEVED IN HER SON & ENCOURAGED HIM NEVER TO GIVE UP HIS DREAM OF BECOMING A TEACHER ONE DAY, Tourette’s / No Tourette’s! * [A word to Parents, never underestimate the enormous role you play in molding your children’s future.]

At the beginning of middle school, Brad gets into trouble with his TS and is sent to the principal’s office who invites him to the school concert. At the end of the concert, (which is disrupted by Brad’s TS tics), the Principal calls Brad up to the stage and asks him to talk about his Tourette’s. He addresses the crowd & explains to them how TS was a disorder of the brain & that he didn’t like making the tic sounds any more than they liked hearing them, concluding that all he wanted was to be treated like anyone else. As Brad uncertainly makes his way back to his seat after his small speech, the school applauds him. It is then that Brad realizes the power of education. At this life- changing moment, Brad decides to make teaching his career.

awardTHE PRINCIPAL OF BRAD’S MIDDLE SCHOOL – who takes the time to talk to the boy about the real purpose of EDUCATION [which is to wipe out ignorance with knowledge]; more importantly, it is Mr PRINCIPAL who encourages Brad to educate the school about TS. This encouraging & noble act of his is pivotal in opening a door to a brand new world for him. Brad made that life changing decision that day – to become the Teacher he never had– *[ A word to Teachers, never get so bogged down by the never ending pending deadlines, futile inspections and heaps of test paper books for correction, that you lose sight of  the real purpose of education.]

As an adult, living in Georgia with his friend Ron, Brad’s primary focus is to get a job as a school teacher. He is used to being asked about his pet dog when interviewers call him & hear his TS related barks. We discover his amazing winning attitude as he answers those queries with humor. However, after being rejected in 24 interviews (because of his TS),we find a rather dejected Brad lying on his couch. It is at his darkest moment that Brad’s step mom visits him. Though he is definitely not pleased to meet her initially, her parting remark that ‘he had a gift to teach, and it was not in spite of his Tourette’s, but because of it ‘ gives him the strength to dream again. award

BRAD’S STEP MOM- Even though Brad does not appreciate her visit and doesn’t even make the effort to hide it, yet I love the way this amazing woman leaves him only after throwing in a spark of hope into his otherwise dismal day!  Many a time, our well-intended acts of help may be ignored, sometimes despised. Yet, we can learn from Brad’s step mom, how to do our bit;  irrespective of the response we get and then, just as she did, leave the place a little brighter than it was before. I’m sure that Brad would agree that his step mom on that day , played a major role in encouraging him not to give up, that too just before his final interview.

Soon after this, Brad finally gets his break when he gets an interview call from a school who accepts him (TS & all) & is ready to give him a chance. On the very first day, Brad explains to the children about his constant companion Tourette. He brightens their lives by bringing joy & wonder into it. He especially impresses the terminally ill Heather & helps the problem child Thomas. His out of the box teaching techniques are frowned upon at first but later on appreciated. award

THE SCHOOL WHO GAVE HIM A CHANCE- It is the Mountain View Elementary School, Georgia who accepted Brad and saw beyond the Tourette’s – which is the only thing that the other 24 schools who had rejected him had seen. I salute the Board who gave Brad both the courage & the opportunity to prove himself. We later learn that this turns out to be the schools’ best decision as Brad goes on to win the First Year Teacher of the Year Award in the State of Georgia for their School that year.   *[A word to those in authority, to those who have the opportunity to recruit others. Has prejudice ever clouded your perceptions? Do you have the eyes to see beyond the obvious? Do you look down intimidatingly/critically at that nervous/eager interviewee across the table? Wouldn’t it be better to just cut him some slack, maybe even smile as you remember how years before someone else had sat across you from that table &  believed in you enough to give you a chance?]

As regards his social life, Brad’s estranged relationship with his dad is restored & he also starts dating Nancy, who shares similar musical interests. They hit it off from the very start. When asked about whether his TS noises bothered her, she simply says Not when I compare them to the noises other guys make. You know, like, braggers, loud-talkers, egocentric, humor– challenged idiots.  Seriously, no. Your noises don’t bother me at all.” We can’t help but feel happy for Brad who has finally found his match!

awardNANCY- It’s quite refreshing to see someone who sees beyond Brad’s tics & who hears beyond his TS noises. She doesn’t even seem to notice what is obvious to everyone else. On being questioned about this, her reply is simply so profound. *[The world would be such a better place if there were more people like Nancy who see beyond the superficiality & accept/ appreciate people for who they really are.]
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At the end of the movie, like the cherry on the cake, Brad wins the Sallie Mae First Year Teacher of the Year Award for his outstanding teaching & positive role model abilities. His other victories are his Master’s degree; fulfillment of his lifelong ambition (to be dressed up as Homer-the Atlanta Braves mascot) & marrying his sweet heart Nancy in 2006. Now that’s what I call living life king-size!

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Nugget of Life: “Everyone, regardless of ability or disability, has strengths and weaknesses. Know what yours are. Build on your strengths and find a way around your weaknesses.” – Brad Cohen, (Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had)

Have a great week!

Cheers,

Sparky Laurie

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Nugget # 110 Life lessons from the movie Florence Foster Jenkins!

Florence_Foster_Jenkins_(film)Hi friends,

Hope you are doing fine. I just watched the biographical comedy –drama movie Florence Foster Jenkins (starring Meryl Streep & Hugh Grant) and strongly recommend it. The movie is based on the real life story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress and socialite who founded the Verdi Club in order celebrate her passionate love for music. Though a great lover of music and even a talented child pianist who played for the President when she was a youth, Florence had to later give up her career aspirations as a pianist due to an arm injury.

St Clair Bayfield, a British Shakespearean actor is her husband & manager. The couple are very much in love but choose to live separately due to an illness (syphilis) that Florence had contracted from her first husband. According to Mr Bayfield, theirs is more a relation of the spirit. For his other needs, he has a mistress Kathleen Weatherly whom he resides with in an apartment in the city paid for by Florence.

Florence , inspired by an opera singer, has a great desire to sing. She thus resumes her singing classes with her vocal coach, Carlo Edwards (Assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera).  She hires a new pianist Cosme McMoon who is simply shocked when he finds out that though Florence is a terrible singer, both her coach and husband hide that fact from her and pretend that she is a wonderful singer. Bayfield goes one step further and asks McMoon to do the same.

It is indeed interesting as well as enjoyable to watch the lengths to which the loyal and loving Bayfield would go to hide the painful truth from his beloved that she just cannot sing. Towards the end of the movie, in spite of all their efforts to make sure that Florence hears only the good reviews, Florence comes to know of the negative review of her recital on reading the column by Earl Wilson in the Post. On reading it, she clutches her heart and suddenly falls unconscious. Later, on gaining consciousness, she sadly asks her dear husband who is by her bedside soothing her :”Was everyone laughing at me the whole time?” We can’t but admire his truthful and yet thoughtful reply to her question . He answers: “I was never laughing at you” and adds.. “Yours is the truest voice I have ever heard.”

Life Lesson#1 : We need to speak the truth in love-  It is necessary to soften life’s blows to hearts like Florence’s. (who is actually doing no one any harm). It is the truth that she cannot sing and everyone was laughing at her but her husband replies that he never laughed at her and that he heard in her singing the truth in her voice as she sang with all her heart. It is indeed wonderful to love someone so much to tell them the truth and yet be tactful and gentle enough not to break their heart in the process. This is a skill, which I feel if developed, would easily save a lot of marriages and probably other relationships too. 

Life Lesson#2 : Pursue your passion fervently irrespective of another’s approval – Though anyone would easily agree that the woman’s singing is indeed extremely hilarious, yet we are forced to admit that Florence passion for music is rather intoxicating. Yes, she may lack the talent but definitely not the heart for it, Florence is indeed a true lover of music. Her last few words are one that will echo in my heart forever. It is actually what really prompted me to write this Nugget.On learning the truth that she is indeed a terrible singer, she concludes chuckling… People may say I couldn’t sing, but no one can say I didn’t sing.” After a while she dies peacefully.

How many of us are willing to pursue something so passionately that even if we are laughed at, or even thought of as weird, we would rather do it? Are we ready to laugh at those who laugh at us and say like she did, they may never approve of me but at least they will not say I never did it. Though Florence could never sing like a Nightingale and win applause for her voice, yet she became a prominent musical cult figure in New York City during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Cole PorterGian Carlo MenottiLily PonsSir Thomas Beecham, and other celebrities were fans. How did Florence win the hearts of so many in spite of her clear lack of singing talent? It was probably her love and courage to sing that made her win both their hearts and ours!

drawing-the-love-sign-smiley-emoticonNugget of Life: “Do what you love, and you will find the way to get it out to the world.”- Judy Collins 

Enjoy this video which pretty much sums up this nugget: https://youtu.be/3yFiqdCjNMk

 

Have a great week,

Cheers,

Sparky Laurie

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2018 in LIFE LESSONS, Uncategorized

 

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Nugget # 109 Life lesson from breakfast!

fried-eggHi friends,

Hope you are enjoying 2018!

Many of us, (including me) have our list of New Year Resolutions ready and may already be feeling overwhelmed or defeated with one week already having passed by and not being able to do as planned. I’d just like to share something that encouraged me : I was in the kitchen making breakfast and was quickly preparing an egg. After sprinkling salt and black pepper on the yolk of the bulls eye, I was scooping the perfectly ready egg onto a plate when the egg accidentally slipped and fell onto the stove… I was surprised and irritated with myself at the same time. I dumped the perfectly cooked egg-( now a mess) into the dust bin and quickly wiped up the stove. I then got another egg and repeated the process.This time I plated it with a bit more caution. That’s when this nugget just came to me- I was reminded of how our perfectly made plans may slip and fall for no reason or fault of ours at all, and that’s alright. All we need to do, is just get rid of the mess and restart the process…. Go again!

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breakfast-emojiNugget of Life: “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”- Henry Ford

Wishing you an adventurous 2018!

Cheers,

Sparky Laurie

 

 

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Nugget # 108 Life lessons from Santa Paws 2!

Santa_paws_2_santa_pups

Hi friends,

Hope you’re enjoying the Christmas Season. This week’s nugget came to me as I was watching the Disney Holiday Musical Santa Paws 2. Click here for trailer.

Santa Paws 2 is  a wonderful reminder to us about the real spirit of Christmas. The story is about how Mrs. Claus(wife of Santa Claus) travels to the town of Pineville with the playful Santa Pups who start granting wishes to the children. Things go awfully wrong when a boy named Carter angrily wishes there was never any Christmas. As his wish comes true, we see how his gloom (which is aptly represented by some flying black dust) actually touches his friend first and then his father later and how they suddenly lose their Christmas joy. Carter’s sister (a true believer in the magic of Christmas) asks Mrs Claus what had happened to her brother. Mrs. Claus explains to Sarah that he had caught a Christmas Cold. The delightful conversation follows…

xmas cold song1

Sarah: “A Christmas Cold? How do we make it better?”
Mrs. Claus : “It’s like any other cold, you just help them through it.”
Sarah : “By feeding them soup? And cocoa?”
Mrs. Claus: “That’s partly it ….but a Christmas cold is special, it takes a special kind of treatment to make it better.”
Sarah: “Like what?”
Mrs. Claus: “Umm … like instead of Soup, give him a Hug, instead of medicine, give him lots of love.
Instead of a tissue, give him Christmas cheer. Yes, this is a sickness that is centuries old!
It’s the feeling that makes us lose faith & hope… dear, something we call… A Christmas Cold!”
Mrs. Claus: “Christmas is magic with Glorious Music…”
Sarah: “Heartwarming stories beautifully told…”
Mrs. Claus: “But sometimes we feel kind of sad & lonely… That’s when you’ve caught it, A Christmas Cold!”
Together : “Christmas cold, Oh… how we dread them! Christmas Cold, there’s no joy in town. We won’t let it get us down, No, we won’t let Christmas Cold get us down…”
Click here to hear the whole Christmas Cold Song.

Later we see how the Christmas Cold infects the whole town and how everyone becomes grouchy. Sarah asks Mrs. Claus why she hadn’t caught the cold yet and she replies that Sarah was the strongest believer in Christmas there ever was and that was the reason she was immune to the Christmas Cold which had infected all of Pineville. Sarah then cures her town by singing hope through the radio station.

These are the 2 life lessons that come to my mind:images (1)

1)We are more influential than we realize-  Carter’s wish froze the town and Sarah’s song melted it. Sometimes people may unknowingly steal our joy by thoughtless words or actions and the other way round too. We seldom realize how contagious our attitudes are .So it is very important for us to be mindful of how we affect others. Especially at times when we are feeling low, the best thing we could do (instead of dragging our friend down just because we are blue) is to be a good listener. Who knows ?… if we are open & receptive, some of their positivity would actually rub the gloom off of us!

d93f80a57ded088e6f15c2e43d0954ba--ann-voskamp-liturgical-seasons2) The real meaning of Christmas – In the movie, Sarah was immune to the Christmas Cold only because of her unshakable belief in the magic of Christmas. The Christmas Season is not just a time to decorate our houses with trees, shining lights, stars and bells or a time to bake cakes and ginger bread cookies. It’s not just a festival to drink to and make merry. Or a time only for shopping for toys, gifts and other goodies. But Xmas is the time to become real beacons of light shining brightly where we have been placed and thus lighting up the ever increasing darkness around. A time to replace doom and gloom with purpose and laughter. And this will be possible only when we truly believe with all of our heart that Jesus is the real reason for the Season. 

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Nugget of Life : “Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing, but also reflecting.”- Winston Churchill

Click here to hear sweet Sarah sing ‘O Holy Night’. This song, I dedicate to you dear friend this Christmas! May the miracle of Christmas fill your heart & home with joy!

Merry Xmas & Happy New Year!

Lots of love & Christmas cheer,

Sparky Laurie

 

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Nugget # 107 Life lesson from the cartoon Little People!

Little-People 1

Hi friends,

Hope you are doing well. This morning as I was watching an episode of the cartoon ‘Little People’ with my son, this nugget sprung up. I found it simple but profound & am sharing it. Hope you enjoy it ! 🙂

In this episode, Eddie (the boy in the pic) claims that he is not afraid of anything at all. His friends say that everyone is afraid of something & they try to find out what his fear is. Eddie continues to brag that he is not afraid of anything. Suddenly it thunders and begins to rain. Seeing a flash of lightning, Eddie runs into a cave screaming in terror.That’s when they realize what Eddie’s fear is. They help him overcome the fear. His friend Lion asks him “to name his fear and then tame it”. They show him how to tame it by roaring back loudly at the thunder and lightning. Eddie slowly comes out of the cave (his hiding place) & starts roaring loudly at his fear. He repeats this many times & then slowly smiles realizing that he has overcome his fear.cheated

The same thing applies to our life too. All of us have our own personal fears, some more obvious than others. The truth however is that until and unless we identify (name) the fear- we will not be able to manage it -(tame it). So the first step is honesty, firstly with ourselves and then with those we can trust. Once we have named it, we can tame it by taking small steps or actions in that area to overcome our fear.Like Eddie had to come out of his hiding place to do what the brave Lion had asked him to do, we may have to leave our comfort zone and ‘do things afraid’ so that we can conquer our fear. And when we repeatedly expose ourselves to our fear we will realize that it is not as scary as we thought it was. 🙂

fear lion

5gtvNugget of Life : ” Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.”- Mark Twain

Have an adventurous week.

Cheers,

Sparky Laurie

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2017 in LIFE LESSONS, Uncategorized

 

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Nugget # 106 Life lesson from a wise boy!

Hi friends,

Hope you are all doing fine. This week I’d like to share a nugget inspired by a story written by Gradly that  I came across.

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One day, a rich dad took his son on a trip to the village. He wanted to show him how poor someone can be. They spent time on the farm of a poor family. On their return from the trip, the dad asked his son, “How was the trip?” “It was great dad!” the son replied. “What did you learn from our trip?” dad asked. The son answered…

I saw that we have one dog, they have four….

We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden, they have a creek that has no end…

We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have stars at night….

Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon…

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight…

We have servants that serve us but they serve others

We buy foods, they grow theirs…

We have walls to protect us…they have friends to protect them…

We have television, they spend their time with family…

We have the world, they have God.

The boy’s father was speechless while his son talked…and realized how right his son was. Then his son added…Thanks dad for showing me how poor we are.

Moral : It’s not money that makes us rich…its simplicity, love ,compassion, friendship, values, family….and our relationship to God that makes our lives rich.”

The lesson I could learn from the boy in the story is to always be grateful for what we have.

Here are some things that are priceless and yet cannot be purchased with money.

downloadMoney can buy you

A bed, but not sleep,

A computer but not a brain,

A house but not a home,

A clock but not time,

A book but not knowledge,

A position but not respect,

Food but not an appetite,

Finery but not beauty,

Medicine but not health,

Acquaintances but not friends,

Obedience but not faithfulness

Sex but not Love,

Amusements but not Happiness,

Luxuries but not Culture.

So you see Money isn’t everything.

I am reminded of the Bible verse “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world & forfeit his soul?”- Mark 8:36

graphics-3d-smileys-163455Nugget of Life: Contentment makes poor men rich, discontent makes rich men poor”- Benjamin Franklin

Have a wonderful week!

Cheers,

Sparky Laurie

 

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Nugget# 105 Life lesson from a Computer Hang up!

computer-hang-up

Hi friends! First of all wishing you a bright & prosperous 2017! This week I would like to share a nugget that came to mind quite out of the blue! I was using my laptop when suddenly it hanged and wouldn’t respond to my inputs. Though I badly wanted to complete what I was doing, the computer page remained frozen. After trying a few more times to undo what I had done & retrieve the data, I had to give up. Nothing else could be done. The computer had to be rebooted. I had to now wait patiently as the PC shut down and restarted. This was taking more time than usual and I found myself hoping and praying that I would not have lost the data and could just resume from where I had stopped. Fortunately, after waiting for some time, I found the data and could continue my work at a quicker speed. That lit a bulb in my mind and I came up with this week’s nugget! Hope you like it 🙂

Caught up in the rat race of life, we try to do as much as we can in the time available. As a result, we end up becoming “human doings” rather than ‘human beings’. As in the case of the computer, sometimes we too need a break to unwind & reboot. Being aware of this, most of us wait for our annual leave to plan vacations & spend time relaxing but often these vacations actually end up making us more stressed/busy so that we find ourselves longing to get back to our normal routine!

As we all know, January is the best time for New Year Resolutions. Let’s try something different this year. Instead of adding more things to our ‘TO DO’ List, let’s take an inventory of our activities & then remove some things /prioritize the things that are really important. Let’s reboot our Laptop, our TV and even ourselves. It’s high time for a vacation for the Soul!

Just like my computer worked better and quicker after the reboot, I’m certain that when we are able to reboot our body, soul and spirit, our overall efficiency will definitely improve and we will begin to enjoy our life. Happy rebooting!


computer-work-smiley-emoticonNugget of Life: “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including YOU!”- Anne Lamott

Have a refreshing week,

Cheers,

Sparky Laurie

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2017 in LIFE LESSONS, Uncategorized

 

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