Whitney Houston: Thank you for all you gave us

Which are your favorite Whitney Houston's songs? The playlist below contains some of my favorite ones. Some such as "One Moment in Time," "Step by Step," "The Greatest Love Of All," and " I Didn't Know My Own Strength" encourage and inspire me to keep on keeping on. Others such as "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" just make you want to get up and dance! So many beautiful, powerful, inspiring songs. Rest in peace, Whitney. The gift of you, your voice, your uplifting songs and lyrics will remain with us for years to come. Thank you.


Fitness: Freak or Flake?: In defense of my First Lady (Subtitled: The only f...

Fitness is a word that our First Lady, Michelle Obama, embodies. In this blog entry, Fitness: Freak or Flake?: In defense of my First Lady (Subtitled: The only fat hypocrit here is YOU, Rush Limbaugh),Christine Gary debunks Rush's attacks on Mrs. Obama. One by one she addresses the various statements he's made regarding our First Lady's fitness. Ms. Gary does this with facts, listing one after another, and showing us how not only is Michelle Obama a beautiful and fit woman, she's also a good role model for women to follow.

I loved many of Ms. Gary's retorts to Rush's statements, with this one being one of my favs:
Rush's statement: "Our First Lady does not project the image....of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you."
Gary's reply: Personally, I'd rather project the image of a woman the most powerful man in America (our President) might date for the rest of his life."

Check out the blog entry and come back and share your thoughts with me. :-)


Driving Traffic to your Website or Blog

I've been reading up on how to drive more traffic to your website and/or blog. One obvious first step is to submit your site or blog's URL to Google. Makes sense, right? I mean if Google's search engine hasn't indexed you yet, then let's give Google a heads-up that we exist! If that's the way you'd like to go then Google itself tells you how to do it through their post Share your place on the net with us. But as I kept searching, I stumbled upon an article that talked of an even better way of getting your site or blog indexed by Google.

The article in question comes from TheKeywordAcademy.com and is titled, Do NOT Submit Your Website To Google!The title sure got my attention because it is counter-intuitive, isn't it? But after reading it, the article did make sense. With a simple 1,2,3-step approach, the folks at TheKeywordAcademy.com share with us what they call "the proper way to submit a website to Google." I've followed their lead and have already submitted one articles to eZineArticles.com. Within days of doing that my Google Alerts mentioned both links. :-)

There's so much information online on how to drive traffic to your site. What have you tried? Has it worked? How do you know? Do you want to give the article submission a try? Kenji Sakamoto has an article on how to do just that.

How about if you write one such article, maybe following the steps that Sakamoto suggests we follow when writing an effective article in order to market it online? Go ahead and submit it to either eZineArticles.com, GoArticle.com, ArticleAlley.com or another site you know about? Think it's worth a try? If you do so, send me the URL to your posted article so we can all go visit you there and from there link back to the URL you listed for yourself in your byline.


The Week's Best Late-Night Jokes

Late night show hosts deserve every penny they get. They make us laugh at the most horrendous goings ons... and sometimes, laugh is all you can do. On his 6/25/10 blog at About.com, Daniel Kurtzman has compiled a great list of this past week's best late-night jokes. Some of my favorites are:
McChrystal's clearly been hitting that sweet Afghani heroin. Because you would have to be higher than Keith Richards to criticize your commander-in-chief at a time of war in front of a reporter from Rolling Stone. —Stephen Colbert
"Because of the success of 'Toy Story 3,' Pixar is now rushing ahead with its plans to do a sequel to one of its most popular movies, presented by BP. It's BP presents 'Try Finding Nemo Now.'" —Jay Leno 
"The state legislature in California is considering a bill that would allow electronic advertisements on license plates. Is that wise? I really don't need anything else to distract me while I'm texting." —Craig Ferguson 
Political humor or political satire is very much what wikipedia describes it as,
a significant part of satire that specializes in gaining entertainment from politics; it has also been used with subversive intent where political speech and dissent are forbidden by a regime, as a method of advancing political arguments where such arguments are expressly forbidden. --/Wikipedia's definition of political satire.
Growing up in Cuba I remember the way we shared political jokes with each other. We shared them in hushed tones when in public and we laughed and laughed afterward in the privacy of our home.

What's your take on political humor?  I'd love to hear about it.


Resurrection Sunday Dance, Budapest, Hungary

I realize not all is well within the Christian faith. It's composed of humans, after all, and humans are not perfect. In our zeal to be perfect, we oftentimes stray into the absurd. But for the moment, while watching this video, I celebrate what is right within my faith.

I cried with joy as I watched it. The music, lyrics, and people personify for me the hope Christianity offers the world. It also shows what I love most about my Christian faith, its hope-filled foundation. It poignantly reminds me that impossible things can happen when we do not lose hope. Only a few years back it would not have been possible for such a Christ-centered celebration to take place in Budapest's public square.

I see myself in the face of the woman and the two men that you see 1.28 minutes into the video. The words of the song that come up right then are those I would have been thinking had I been in their place, "Joy in this life time, utterly free..."

I believe that for the Hungarians in this video, as much as for me, the lyrics from the song are twice as meaningful. I know what it's like to live under an oppressive and totalitarian regime. As a child, I lived under communism in Cuba. Were I part of the group dancing and singing in this video I would know the meaning of the words I was singing applied to me both now on earth as well as later in heaven.

...The flag of a nation ready to fly, taking them higher
...The heart of a land that rises to fight, full of desire
...when nothing is as you want it to be, Look up to heaven
...Freedom was paid for on Calvary, the chain is broken
...Making a way right to destiny, borders are open
...Joy in this life time, utterly free

As I watch young and old celebrating together their physical and spiritual freedom, I rejoice with them. Their exhilaration comes across and touches my soul. I resonate with them and sing alongside. And long after the video ends, my heart keeps on singing, to the glory of God and the power of the human spirit which refuses to bow under oppression and, sooner or later, triumphs over it.

UPDATE: I received the following email from Tompage, Founder of uptofaith.com:
Dear Friends, Following the overwhelming success of our Resurrection Sunday Dance here in Budapest, we are happy to announce that our new Christian website, uptofaith.com, is now up and running. In addition to great music you will also find information about the launching of Up to Faith Dance 2011, our newest project with global ambitions. So, if you enjoyed the Resurrection Sunday Dance or had thoughts that you would have liked to have been involved as well, now's your chance! Check out http://www.uptofaith.com  and get ready for the adventure. And if you like it, please forward this email to your friends!

See you on UptoFaith.com!
Tompage, Founder of uptofaith.com

The uptofaith.com website is really cool! Under their "Media" link they've got both a gallery of photos AND videos! I loved watching the videos and, especially, the "Training Video," which just about made me feel I could do this. I liked how they filmed it showing various locations, which imply this glorious dance can be setup and carried out anytime, anywhere.

I just finished registering. Hopefully something will be setup for my city, or close enough that I can drive to it. Write back and let me know what you think of the uptofaith.com website and their mission. If you register, and end up participating, I'd love to hear back from you! :-)


Claudia Putnam's blog post: In honor of Jake

I just finished reading and re-reading my friend Claudia Putnam's blog post, In Honor of Jake. She writes about the loss of a child, her little boy, who died just three days after being born. Claudia's writing is touching and beautiful and meaningful and insightful all rolled up into one. It's sad but not morbid. Putnam walked a fine line in touching my heart and left it actually hope-filled and determined to love and live more fully today than I did yesterday. Her line on how you wish you could be like other parents who take their kids for granted really affected me. I know I often fall in that category, assuming both David and Christine will always be with me. I'm always thankful for words that encourage me to embrace the gift that each day brings and Claudia's writing did that for me today.


Easter, Spring, and all things new

So here's a question for you: What family traditions do you have related to Easter? To the advent of Spring? Whether or not you celebrate religious traditions during this time of year, tell us what is special about the coming of Easter/Spring-time for you.

For me? Well, my memories have to do with white shoes, flowery dresses AND hats! That's what we did in Cuba growing up. Mama would make sure all 6 girls had their Easter dresses and she'd have one made for herself as well that would be in the same fabric as ours though designed for a grown up. White patent leather shoes for all 7 of us, Mama and us 6 girls. Yes, the shoes had to be patent leather, shiny ones... Little purses for each of us that matched the shoes... Soft flowery dresses and white hats. Then in New Jersey it was traumatic because often for Easter there would be snow and yet we would go to Easter Sunday church service wearing, yep, you guessed it! We'd go wearing our Easter dresses, white shoes, and purses and hats. LOL.

One thing that was and still is very different about how I celebrate Easter here in the USA vs Cuba is that in Cuba Good Friday was almost the highlight of Holy Week. There was a procession down the streets that we'd go watch and then we'd go to church from noon until 3pm, while the events of that day in Jesus' life were recounted. I never thought of it as morbid, this emphasis on remembering His death, but actually healing, in that I actually "felt" his pain and ended up feeling very grateful for what He'd done for me.

Then on Sunday it was all about the Hallelujah chorus and everyone in church who wanted to could go up and belt it out alongside the choir. I never did learn all the words to the hymn but it was just glorious belting out the words I did know, especially repeating Hallelujah over and over again. I found this YouTube video of the Soul Children of Chicago singing the Hallelujah Chorus and it brought wonderful memories back. I remember acting just like the children in the video, singing my heart out and enjoying it tremendously... even if all I repeated over and over was Hallelujah and "forever, and ever."

The Easter bunny never made it to our home in Cuba. I don't at all remember hearing about him until after we got to the USA. And, after hearing about him, we snubbed him for years because we didn't understand what role a rabbit played during Easter time. For us Easter was all about Christ.Eventually we did let the rabbit into our home and just this week I put out in my own home the decorative ceramic rabbits, the same ones my mother ended up using to decorate our home as we grew up in the USA.

So... How about you? What has been special for you over the years about this time of the year? What is special now?


Got marathons and Antarctica and Christine Gary on my mind

On March 7, 2010, my daughter ran the Antarctica Marathon!!! She's running a marathon in each of the 7 continents while fundraising for the educational nonprofit I presently manage, ChildrenComeFirst.com. Those who donate to this cause will receive a tax deductible receipt from CCF and will be part of Christine's 7-continent runs as she'll put donors' names on the shirt she'll wear while running them.

I've always encouraged young people to reach for the stars. It's wonderful to see my own daughter doing just that. As she mentions in her website, she's an average young woman attempting extraordinary goals. If you'd like to sponsor her, all donations received are tax-deductible and will go towards the educational work of CCF. A portion of each donation will be sent to Oceanites by CCF.

I'd LOVE for you to pass the word around!!! If you want to use the image of Christine's running shirt as your facebook profile picture for a few days, or digg this blog post, or email it to your friends, you can find this image and download it from: http://www.childrencomefirst.com/runwithchristine.jpg


•♥•♥•♥•♥(¯''·.¸(♥)¸.·''¯) HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY (¯''·.¸(♥)¸.·''¯) ♥•♥•♥•♥•♥• •♥•♥•♥•♥(¯''·.¸(♥)¸.·''¯) HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY (¯''·.¸(♥)¸.·''¯) ♥•♥•♥•♥•♥•


You can have what Navy Seals and Olympic athletes have: Mission focus

Mission focus is something both Navy Seals and Olympic athletes have. It's also something each of us can use to achieve our goals. Chris Jansing, of MSNBC, showed a video clip today titled, "Navy Seals: The Science of Mental Toughness," as part of the NBC special series, "Silent Warrios: An exclusive view at the lives and the training of Navy Seals."

The documentary stood out to me because it focused on the psychological aspects of the making of a Navy Seal. It became even more interesting to me when it compared what Navy Seals and Olympic athletes have in comon, i.e., Mission focus.

In the video Jansing tells us that, "For Seals, mental toughness is the number one indicator of sucess." That's what achieving our goals is all about. Isn't maintaining our focus on the job at hand the way to become a good student, parent, educator, athlete, writer, doctor, engineer, teacher, and even a Navy Seal or an Olympic athlete? Whatever goal we set for ourselves will require mental toughness on our part so we keep going when the going gets tough.

US Navy Seals flag animated clipart
The key ingredient used by Navy Seals to gain this mental toughness is one that is within the reach of all of us. They choose to go through constant training challenges. Time on task. Moment after moment. Day after day. As with the Navy Seals, it's the constant training of our minds, bodies, and souls, that will allow each one of us to reach higher and go further in our own lives.

Research is backing up the idea that mental toughness is key in achieving goals. "The Navy has been doing cutting edge research on mental toughness," Jansingcontinues, "developing a written test that helps weed out candidates who aren't likely to make it thru training."

Cmdr. Eric Potterat, Naval Special Warfare Psychologist adds, "For the first time, to my knowledge, we're able to predict, from the neck up some of the science of mental toughness...Panic, fear, doubt, the minute we teach our candidates to be able to control that, their confidence goes up because they don't have the same fear response that you or I might have"

That's the key, isn't it? How many books have you read that told you the same thing? Whether it be, Hug the Monster, As a Man Thinketh, Unstopable, Dare to Win, An Enemy Called Average, or Unstoppable Women, to name just a few, the advice is the same: Do not let the molehills in your life become mountains. Bring the obstacles you're facing down to size and you'll see that you are, indeed, able to deal with them. You can work through whatever is keeping you from achieving your stated goals.

I enjoyed seeing how the research and experience that the Navy has garnered in this field is being shared with Olympic athletes. Jansingasks, "how does a Seal on a mission, how does an Olympian in a gold medal moment, make years of training come together when it counts most?" We each have our "goal medal moments" where it's up to us to stay the course or throw in the towel. It makes sense that our individual mental toughness can be a key determining factor of our success at such times.

I agree with what a US Olympic psychologist says in the video. He thinks that, "there are things that are similar in terms of how we have to be primed and ready for an elite performance opportunity." Long before the opportunity comes for us to perform at our best, we need to be ready for it.

The video shows us members of the Olympic Water Polo team going through mock drills under the Navy Seals' supervision at the Seals' base in Coronado, CA. Terry Schroeder, USA Water Polo, shares why they came, "So often the difference between winning and loosing is just a fraction. And so we were looking for whatever little piece we could grab."

Wrapping up the segment, Jansingsays that, "On the playing field and the battlefield, using mental toughness to come out on the winning side, both Seal instructors and Olympic coaches told me that what they all have in common is mission focus."

Mission Focus. Now there's a thought worth grabbing hold of, isn't it? What is it you want to become? What do you want to accomplish? How are you focusing on your goal, your mission? Take a hint from the Navy Seals and Olympic athletes and work hard at maintaining your mission focus.