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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 # 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# 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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Nugget # 103 Life is an Acappella!

acapellaHi friends,

Hope you are doing fine. This week I’d like to share a nugget that many of us could relate to. Firstly let’s define what an acapella really is: Acapella according to Internet slang refers to “vocal music without instruments.” The first time I heard this kind of music I was flabbergasted. Since then I have been a big fan of all kinds of acapella music.

Click here to hear the first acapella song I heard. It’s made from an old Hindi film song. The song was brilliantly remade using sounds made by voice, mouth and body only. Can you imagine, there are no musical instruments used in making it! Amazing right? 🙂

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This week I’d like to share how much we too are like Acapella singers in our life as we do the many roles handed over to us- a daughter/son, a sister/bro, a spouse, a parent either by choice or chance, a homemaker / a career person, a friend, a writer, teacher, story teller, a cook, a cleaner, a singer, a believer… the list goes on endlessly…. And we can keep adding or subtracting from it. Just like how in acapella, we mainly sing vocals but simultaneously we also imitate the other instruments or sounds to give it the effect of hearing the original track , in life too we may be called to play several other roles in addition to our main role. Just like the acapella singers focus one by one on each sound and then synchronize it with the other sounds similarly we need to give our 100% dedication to each role assigned to us and do it with a spirit of excellence. Later on, we will be able to manage our time and prioritize the things according to their urgency. Sometimes we will have to postpone or even drop some activities from our list in order to live a balanced & stress-free life. Many times we may have to even sacrifice certain privileges just in order to see a smile on another’s face. At these times it may be tempting to ignore ourselves or others, the optimal method is to be able to know when and where to draw the line. Prayer & planning as well as delegation & brain storming with friends & family helps us to do this. Once we have drawn a blueprint, it is essential as far as possible to stick to it. However we need to be flexible enough to incorporate changes as we move along.

downloadThe final result will be the acapella where our different roles are played out successfully & now we can hear the lovely song played in our own unique version. Surely, there will be mixed responses and reactions to the music of our life but as long as we have tried our best and even enjoy or like what we have done, we can lean back and nod our heads to the trendy beat of the song we have always loved!

Click here to hear Pentatonix singing Mary, Did You Know?

guitar-smiley-emoticonNugget of Life: “Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest. Heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from Heaven to the soul!”

Have an awesome week!

 

Cheers,

Sparky laurie

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2016 in LIfe, Uncategorized

 

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Nugget # 89 Life lesson from a Snake Story!

Kid riding snakeHi friends,

This week I’d like to share a nugget from a story of a snake I came across through email.

Once upon a time there was a snake who was vicious, snarling, and dangerous. He terrified the villagers, bit the children and scared everyone. But the truth was that the snake sometimes felt lonely and craved companionship.

One day, a wise man wandered into the village. He clearly saw the chaos the snake’s actions had brought. He said to the snake, “ Listen up, snake. You’re not only making the people here unhappy, but you yourself are clearly miserable, so practice some kindness and gentleness to improve the lot of everyone here, including you.” And so the wise man went on his way.

Years later, the wise one happened to pass through that same village again. To his surprise, he saw an inert, passive plaything being kicked about by the children. He realized that this was, in fact, none other than the formally aggressive serpent he’d had words with years before. The snake managed to free himself from his tormentors and slide up to the man.

“Your advice was disastrous!” he hissed faintly. “Practicing gentleness has brought me complete misery! Now I’m used as a toy, laughed at, and taken for granted. I was better off before!”

The old man replied, “You took my advice too literally and without reflection. I said that you shouldn’t bite… but I didn’t say you should never hiss!”

In our life too, in order to be happy and fulfilled, we may have to maintain a balance between being too aggressive and being a door mat. And the right word for that is to be Assertive! It helps to remember that ‘there is strength in our diferences and there is comfort where we overlap!’

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Nugget of Life: “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”- Dita Von Teese.  So, go ahead and  just be you! 🙂

Have a wonderful week!

Cheers,

Sparky Laurie

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2013 in NUGGETS OF LIFE, Uncategorized

 

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Nugget # 85 Life lesson from a Green Mango!

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????Hi friends,

This week I’d like to share an inspirational message that struck me while I was in the kitchen today. As I scrutinized my Veggie compartment I came across 2 green mangoes. Thinking them to be raw, I picked them up and a drumstick thinking of making a mango and drumstick curry. After all the green mangoes looked not very promising and were not tender too.But surprise surprise, as I peeled one mango I saw a deep orange colour and that made me taste it. Would you believe it was one of the sweetest and most delicious mangoes I have ever tasted! Forget the curry,they are definitely gonna be dessert!;)

That set me thinking…. Isn’t this very much applicable to our lives as well? Very often life gives us chances or an opportunity which on the outward appearance doesn’t really look anything like what we would like to have and so we grudgingly go ahead and try to see what we can do just out of compulsion. But the truth is that when we actually begin to look at it closely and with patient and positive eyes, we will be able to find seeds of that which we have all along wanted or maybe even something better than that.

Those mangoes reminded me that we must be super slow to label /compartmentalize and quit being prejudiced or judgemental. And instead to be more welcoming and optimistic of every little thing or every single person that crosses our life. By keeping an open mind, who knows what we may actually learn?

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Nugget of Life : Don’t judge a book by its cover and Don’t judge a mango by its color!  🙂  he…. he…

Have a super sweet week!

 

Cheers,

Sparky Laurie

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in NUGGETS OF LIFE, Uncategorized

 

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Nugget # 83 Life lesson from an Irreplacable Loss

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Hi friends,

This week I just want to share with you a truth that has been staring at me in the face for some time now . And that is the importance of living in the moment. The sudden demise of my brother- in -law ‘V’ due to a cardiac arrest shook us all so badly and even 2 months later the pain is still raw. But like they say, life’s greatest teacher is pain.

‘V’ was a wonderful person who enjoyed his life and everyone who knew him had many good things to say about him. One thing I could surely say about him was that he definitely lived in the moment.

That set me thinking. What about us ? Many times we postpone things for a later moment and leave it for some other day .How many kind words do we leave unspoken? Many times we forget to express appreciation for something someone does, maybe we are so caught up in our troubles and the speed of life that we allow small opportunities to just slip by. Sometimes we are not even aware of how much influence a simple “thank you” or “good job done” may brighten up the day of another, be it the clerk at the supermarket or the doorman or even the waitress who takes down our order.

There is no better day to start than today. As they say, life comes full circle and the goodness you sow into another person’s life will surely come back ,in a manner and at a time we may never know. Life is not something that comes with an expiry date so that we know when we are going to die and so let us let go of all our grudges and celebrate each and every moment.  More importantly let’s make it a priority to tell the people in our life that we love them as tomorrow may never come either for us or for them!

3D_emoticon_S301Nugget of Life: ‘The secret of life is letting go. The secret of love is letting it show.’

Enjoy this lovely song : http://youtu.be/sSNl3MORvMo

 

Have a great week!

Sparkylaurie

 
 

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