Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.
~ Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald, the "first lady of song," was born on this day in 1917.
I couldn't take my eyes (or ears) off this video clip of her performance of Summertime (Berlin, 1968). The tiny beads of sweat trickling down her face in the tight camera shots and her three octave voice - it's sublime and a little surreal, and there's not a note out of place.
Nothing inspires and stirs us like the majesty of the wilderness.
The spectacular and vast: canyons, forests, prairies, oceans, mountaintops.
The simple and profound: waves lapping at the shore, a gathering of deer on a hillside, the petals of a single flower.
When we stumble on a breathtaking hillside or gaze into a clear starlit night sky, when we look up from our work long enough to see a hummingbird outside our window, anytime nature captures us in that frozen moment of stunned reverie, we strengthen our connection to the universe and to each other.
Whatever the scenery in your tiny corner of the universe, take a moment to go outside. Close your eyes and breathe deep. Tilt your head back - taste a snowflake, feel the raindrops on your forehead, let the sun warm your cheeks.
It doesn't matter what you find outside your door. We'll all sleep beneath the same big moon tonight.
Happy Earth Day.
Here are some of my favorite places in nature. I took these photos in the last two years at locations all within a 2-3 hour drive from my home in northern California.
"If I can show that I'm out and I'm fine and everything's okay, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way."
- From Brittney Griner, the number one overall pick in Monday's WNBA draft.
The 6-foot-8 Griner, who led the Baylor Lady Bears to a 40-0 season and the NCAA women's basketball title in 2012, acknowledged her lesbian sexuality this week in a Sports Illustrated interview.
According to Griner, public recognition of her sexual orientation "wasn't too difficult," as she has lived openly and never attempted to hide who she was. It also helps that the trail for professional lesbian athletes has already been blazed by women like Sheryl Swoopes, the three-time gold medalist and first woman ever signed by the WNBA, and by tennis legends Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova.
Coming out on such a big stage takes guts nonetheless and Griner should be commended for having the mettle to be open about her sexuality. Gay kids across the spectrum need all the support we can muster, and out gay and lesbian role models in professional sports are still pathetically few and far between, particularly among male athletes.
John Amaechi and Glenn Burke
Gay men have played in the big four professional sports in the U.S., but few have ever publicly acknowledged their sexuality and none have done so before retiring from their respective leagues. John Amaechi, who played in the NBA off-and-on for several years between 1995 and 2003, came out in 2007 and was the first NBA player (albeit a retired one) to do so. Similarly, MLB outfielder Glenn Burke, who had a brief career with the LA Dodgers and the Oakland As, came out in 1982 after retiring from baseball at the tender age of 27.
Can you imagine the hullaballoo that would surround a current top NBA draft pick who came out? Better yet, what if RGIII had announced he was gay just after signing with the NFL's Washington Redskins? I'm not expecting such a revelation anytime soon in mens' professional baseball, football, or basketball, but the world is ready.
Now, we just have to hope there's a young gay male athlete somewhere out there with as big a heart and as much courage as Brittney Griner.
Posted by: Jeff McKown Thursday's Children is a weekly blog hop where writers come together to talk about what inspires them. I'm participating today and you can too. A link to other Thursday's Children writers is at the end of the post. Thanks to Rhiann Wynn Nolet for orchestrating this affair.
My "Thursday's Children" article this week is literally about children. Not so much all children, just one. A very inspiring and brave little girl named Lisa.
In June of 2008, my friend Linda's three year-old daughter Lisa was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma cancer.
For the last five years, Lisa's illness and treatments have had her in and out of the hospital countless times. She has been poked, prodded, chemo-ed, and radiated.
All the while, she has fought like a champion.
A couple of days ago, Lisa was taken to the ER with a high temperature, nausea, and increased pain in her legs and head, and she was again admitted to the hospital. Today, her battle rages on, and Lisa's parents and siblings find themselves once more in the helpless and agonizing position of waiting and wondering and wishing.
I have witnessed all of this from a great distance, through only the lens of the internet. But even from here, over the thousands of miles from California to Michigan, the strength of Lisa, Linda, and their family inspires me.
Linda has chronicled much of the journey of her little "warrior" on a blog, and I IMPLORE you to read the post she wrote this week entitled "Live Life." Linda's words are honest, heart-wrenching, and powerful. With Linda's permission, I am sharing her words, hoping that you might be inspired to remember to take nothing for granted.
After you've read Linda's post, I ask one thing in return: a compassionate thought or positive vibe, or perhaps if you're so inclined (and this means a lot coming from an atheist), a prayer.
Learn more about Lisa at the LoveYouLisa Facebook page. Click here to view other Thursday's Children blog posts, or check out Rhiann's website for more info.
There is freedom within, there is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
There's a battle ahead, many battles are lost
But you'll never see the end of the road
While you're travelling with me.