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Category Archives: Inspiration

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 # 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…

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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 # 102 Life Lesson from the KFC Founder!

170px-KFC_logo.svgHi friends,

Today I’d like to share a nugget from the life of Colonel Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken or KFC as it’s more popularly known! 🙂 He later acted as the company’s brand ambassador. His name and image are still symbols of the company.

When we purchase a bucket of KFC and sit down and enjoy a bite, do we even know what it cost that dear man to reach it to your hand?

A story behind something so small as a piece of fried chicken? Yes, friends sometimes truth is stranger than fiction and once we know the story behind the scenes we will then hold with great value that which we so easily take for granted.

Colonel Sanders was born in 1890 & grew up on a farm in Indiana. The hardships of his life caused him to mature long before time. He spent the first half of his life working a series of odd jobs. At 40 years he had to change dozens of occupations. But nothing was working out for him. For a long time Sanders was in despair. Most of his life already passed, he was disappointed in life. And, of course, he wanted to change it. So after serious thought about the location of it, he bought a service station in Kentucky. Along this road there was constant traffic from all over and the flow of customers was endless. With little in terms of means at his disposal, Sanders traveled door to door to houses and restaurants all over his local area. He wanted to partner with someone to help promote his chicken recipe. However, he was met with little enthusiasm. So he started travelling by car to different restaurants and cooked his fried chicken on the spot for restaurant owners. If the owner liked the chicken, they would enter into a handshake agreement to sell the Colonel’s chicken. Legend has it that Colonel Sanders heard 1009 “no”s before he heard his first “yes”.

Sanders’ pursuit was never really about becoming rich, but rather to share his food with the world. That’s why he constantly grumbled and swore about the more profitable but lower quality gravy that the corporate KFC began producing. “With the Colonel, it wasn’t money that mattered, it was artistic talent.”

So you see friends, what really matters in life is what is your real motivation or purpose behind the things you do in life. That’s what makes all the difference!

graphics-3d-smileys-480836Nugget of Life: “There is a plan and a purpose, a value to every life, no matter what its location, age, gender or disability.” – Sharron Angle

Have a great day!

Cheers,

Sparky Laurie

 

Nugget# 97 Life lessons from Baby N!

while-we-try-to-teach-our-children-all-about-life-our-children-teach-us-what-life-is-all-about9Hi friends,

As I was pondering on what to write this week, my one year old said forcefully “Sha”…I had heard baby N  say that word before and was wondering from where he had learnt it. I said “No Shaa baby… don’t say Shaa..”  But he continued to repeat it over and over again. There were many words that I had been repeating and reciting to him and he was learning; but here was this expression …that he had effortlessly picked up….and was repeating.

Later that afternoon as I was clearing up after lunch, I noticed baby quickly crawl into the kitchen and pick up something from the kitchen floor and put it into his mouth… “Sha”… escaped my lips as I ran to take that particle from baby’s mouth and quickly dispose it off. That’s when I realized to my utter amazement the source from where baby N had picked up his new fav phrase! shocked-smiley-emoticon

That set me thinking…

1)How often when we act mindlessly or sometimes due to preoccupation with many things, we may  respond in a way that may not even be aware of.

2)People who look up to us often catch the things we least expect them to and so we have to make a deliberate effort to be intentional (as much as possible) with our words as they do influence others.

To continue the story,  I couldn’t help laughing out aloud as I watched my lil one’s mischievous grin & sparkling  eyes as he was enjoy repeating “Sha” every time I tried to make him stop.

Let me apply this nugget to our life. Whenever we find imbalance in any area of our life, we usually think of change. To facilitate this,(full of good intentions) we make resolutions as we decide to strengthen our will to say “NO” to the addiction (be it food, TV, sports, work, people, shopping, drugs etc) Ironically, though we may succeed initially, it is only a matter of time that we will soon get tired of resistance & throw in the towel.

By doing this, we repeat the mistake that I made when correcting my baby. While correcting him, I had tried to make him stop by focusing fully ONLY on what needed to be changed. Unknowingly I had drawn both of our attention to that which we actually needed to forget. Was it any surprise that he remembered that word perfectly? The right way to correct baby was to teach him another word or to distract him or to entertain him with something more interesting that would make him forget what he was repeating. The same thing applies to us. Sharing  below some practical tips to help us overcome old habits /learn new ones.animated-smileys-thinking-20

Sparky Laurie’s 10 Rs to either learn /unlearn something: 

  1. Reason – Prepare a Declaration of Freedom for ourselves by listing the reasons why we choose to break free from that habit or learn a new way of life.
  2. Remind – Keep a print out of the Declaration (mentioned above) in front of us to empower us as we realize that we have chosen to break the power of the bad habit over us and be its slave no more/ Or work intentionally towards the goals we plan to achieve.
  3. Replenish – When we are tempted (to give in or give up),we could think of an appealing alternative action that we could engage in rather than use that time and energy in combat.
  4. Relate –  Seek a support system, for instance call up a favorite friend/parent/ relative  and converse about anything else except our struggle. No matter how many times it tries to creep into the conversation, switch gears. Give it neither our attention nor our time.
  5. Repeat- Say aloud, “I am made for better things than this. I will live my life to its fullest.”
  6. Review – Make a bucket list of the impossible things we would like to try in our life time. Even updating it when we hit our lowest point would uplift us and bring us back on track.
  7. Relax-Take a break, go out for a walk, breathe slowly. Get some sunshine. Feel the breeze. Smell the flowers. Thank God for life.
  8. Refresh –Do something for brightening up someone else’s day. Give someone a lift, smile at a passerby.
  9. Rejoice- Watch a Madea movie and laugh out loud… its wisdom and humor all in one!
  10. Recreate –Everyone is made in the image of God and He has deposited a part of Him in every one of us. Our gift is that which we could naturally do, that which brings us joy, that which excites & invigorates us. “That which honors God, blesses others and delights your heart, that is your calling, that’s your gift!” Discover and cherish your gift.

Coming back , I distracted baby N to see and enjoy a few other things and finally he stopped what he was initially saying. And just when I thought I had nailed it , ….guess what?  …..Baby N says out aloud…. “Sha…” LOL…. 🙂 ….well, I guess that’s going to take a little more time!

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The same may be the case with many of us as we try to overcome or learn new things. Always remember that No matter how many times we fail, each time we emerge stronger if we determine to learn and persist.

baby-pooh-icon-emoticon-032Nugget of Life : “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”- Socrates

Have a fun filled week,

Cheers,

Sparky laurie

 

 

 

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Nugget# 96 Life lesson from SUE THOMAS: F.B.Eye!

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Sue(Deanne) with Levi (Jesse)…Notice his ID!! 🙂

Hi Friends,

Firstly, let me apologize for not being around for a while. Hope you’ve been doing great. At my end, I’ve been going through some fine learning experiences here in the University of Life. Nobody really prefers to enroll at the School of Life’s Hard Knocks and this post is especially dedicated to all those of us who have graduated from there! 🙂

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The real Sue Thomas F.B.I. with her hearing dog Grace!

I’ve recently been enjoying watching the famous Sue ThomasF.B.Eye,a critically acclaimed groundbreaking TV series inspired by the true story of Sue Thomas,who although profoundly deaf from the age of 18 months, overcame significant obstacles to work surveillance for the F.B.I. Incidentally, Deanne Bray, who plays the role of Sue is herself a severely deaf actress who was also strongly encouraged by her parents to speak and read lips.

As portrayed in the series, Sue Thomas is about to start her first real job – which happens to be with the F.B.I. Though initially underestimated, very soon she is recognized for her intelligence and unique lip reading skills and she lives her hard earned dream when she along with her adorable hearing dog Levi join the bureau’s elite surveillance team.

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The awesome team from (Left-Right)  Dimitri,Tara,Bobby,Lucy,Myles,Levi,Sue & Jack

Joining Sue, Levi and Jack on the team are Bobby Manning, a charismatic agent who likes to bend the rules; Dimitrius Gans, the senior member of the surveillance unit; Lucy Dotson, the team’s right hand support person and Sue’s best friend & roommate ; Myles Leland III, the Boston born, Harvard educated, self-proclaimed ‘Einstein with a gun;’ and Tara Williams, the quirky but brilliant go-to tech expert.

This is a show about courage & perseverance, it not only keeps us on the edge of our seat, but also makes us laugh & cry. Though there are many lessons that one could learn from this delightful series (a real breath of fresh air in the highly contaminated & toxic atmosphere of TV entertainment today), the one that I would like to share is IDENTITY.

When we split up the word Identity, we come up with ‘I’  & ‘dent.’ The pronoun ‘I’ refers to the real us without any apology, compromise or mask ; it refers to the basic core of who we really are,our strengths and weaknesses just as they are.

The other part dent refers to 1) a notch or hollow made by a blow or pressure. 2) An impression or effect made usually against resistance.

Like I said in the beginning, we are all dented by life. To succeed, we need to grab life by the horns anyway with absolutely no excuses and seek to live out our dreams boldly and courageously no matter what the odds or obstacles. In the story, Sue cannot hear and even speaks with a lisp. But she uses what she has which is her unique lip reading skills that she has worked on since her childhood. Her mother has been her guiding force always reminding her that in spite of her disability, she could be everything she wanted to as long as she worked twice as hard. She skates, sings and plays the piano as well. If she was like any other person, I doubt she would have inspired us as much. It is her ‘Dent’ that makes her so beautiful and compassionate. She knows what it is to be unwanted, to be the odd one out. And that is what causes her to select Levi in spite of the abuse that he had been through. She in a way empowers him and he ends up saving her life!

It is when we fully accept the ‘I’ in Identity, which includes the good, bad and the ugly (dents & all)…. both in ourselves as well as in others , That is the divine moment when we have ceased to simply exist and truly live our life to its fullest!animated-flower-image-0091 Click for the  WHO I AM song with favorite sneak peeks from the Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye …Enjoy!

animated-dance-smiley-image-0044Nugget of Life : “When you know yourself, you are empowered. When you accept yourself, you are invincible.”-Tina Lifford

Have an awesome week,

Cheers,

Sparky laurie

 

 

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