Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pay it Forward Isn't Just the Name of a Movie

Most people have seen the inspirational movie Pay it Forward (Haley Joley Osment, Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey) about a boy determined to make a difference in the world as a result of a project posed by his history teacher. Well, this article in the Detroit Free Press proves paying it forward truly is a literal phrase.

Don Nichols, a professor at Oakland Community College who is preparing to retire in December after 42 years, is determined to find a way to pass along 210 unused sick days that he's accumulated throughout the years. He asked members of the OCC Board of Trustees to allow him to transfer those sick days to a fellow employee or employees battling cancer. His second option is to donate the dollar equivalent of those sick days to the OCC foundation that raises money for student scholarships. The board has yet to make a decision.

I love it when our local papers include heart-warming stories like this one to combat all the negativity Michigan is facing. Don Nichols is a noble, honorable man, and it would be truly disappointing if the OCC Board of Trustees denied the wish of a man who dedicated so much time and energy to their university.

What makes Don even more of an admirable person is that he has post-polio syndrome, so I'm sure those sick days could have come in handy. But according to Don, "I don't ever want to quit. I'm a workaholic."

If only everyone cared as much about others as they do about themselves.....

A Few Secrets of Happiness.....

Everyone wants to know the secret to happiness -- right? Well I don't think there's one magic secret that will ultimately produce happiness in a person's life, but there are definitely steps you can take to ensure you live a long life of happiness.

Vital magazine, southeast Michigan's only family-oriented health and fitness magazine (distributed monthly in the Free Press and Detroit News) gives a breakdown of what happiness really is and steps you can take to make sure you're surrounded by happiness. The article states that traits such as habitual positive thinking, good physical health and commitment to personal relationships are common factors among those who consider themselves happy.

According to Claudette Taylor from Oakwood Heritage Hospital, if you're feeling blue, the key is to raise the level of endorphins (especially serotonin) in your bloodstream. Serotonin boosters include laughter, Vitamin B and regular movement.

Whoever said it takes a lot of work for someone to be happy?? :)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

When Words Fail, Think Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAD to native Detroiters) is home to a very creative and thought-provoking exhibit now through Jan. 20, 2008 titled "Words Fail Me."
According to Matthew Higgs, a New York-based artist, curator and writer, the exhibition explores visual art's ongoing, and often times uneasy, relationship with language: A century-long entanglement between word and image. The phrase "words fail me" alludes to language's limits and limitations, a scenario in which language might be considered insufficient or possibly even inadequate, where words become less certain, more blurred, and consequently, open to interpretation.
As evident from the photos above, the exhibit encompasses a variety of different works from artists depicting the many ways words can form art. From drawings by Anne-lise Coste that resemble illegible scrawlings on diary pages (first photo) to Carl Pope's menagerie of colorful posters (third photo) that expresses a variety of bold and often conflicting viewpoints, "Words Fail Me" will make you crawl out of your mind's shelter and allow you to form your own opinions as to why the artists chose such phrases to resemble art. As a bonus, a series of lectures and presentations will also accompany the exhibit. The next one is Oct. 10 and features Carl Pope.
As a person who lingers on the words of others and appreciates music mainly because of the lyrics that accompany the sounds, I would highly recommend this exhibit to anyone who can look beyond the surface and discover the true beauty of this type of art.
I'm discovering more and more reasons every day to appreciate metro Detroit (although it can be difficult most days to stay positive amidst all the negativity). Props to my girl Lauren for finding a great article in the Chicago Tribune titled "The lights come back on in downtown Detroit." It's good to see people from other cities (especially a writer from a city as vibrant and addicting as Chicago) giving a lil shoutout to our D-town. Slowly but surely, I think we're movin on up....

Friday, October 5, 2007

Giving Back is More Than Just a Dollar Figure

"Success shouldn't be measured by how much you have but by how much you give back."

This quote really struck me because I made a promise to myself a long time ago that when I become wealthy one day (and by wealthy I don't mean a millionaire, rather a successful PR professional who doesn't have to worry about how I'm going to pay the bills), I will contribute to organizations that strive to better the community and world. I came across this article in Crain's Detroit Business about Art Van Elslander (you know, Art Van furniture stores) donating $6.5 million to fund the Van Elslander Pavilion at St. John Hospital and Medical Center. I hands down agree with Mr. Art Van's quote in the article:

“I feel that when you are fortunate enough to be as fortunate as we have (been), it's your responsibility to give back to the community.”

Giving back can be defined in a variety of ways -- not just a million dollar figure. Today the Franco gals took a much deserved trip out of the office to Fuddrucker's for lunch. We were fortunate enough to be helped by a very upbeat and bubbly woman who took our orders, and even gave us cookies when we forgot to show our receipts to prove we were entitled to the cookies. We all complimented the woman's efforts to her manager on the way out, and it really made me happy to know that she was being recognized for her efforts. I know firsthand how challenging it can be in the restaurant industry, and whenever I received compliments from customers I always felt that much better about my job.
Giving back truly can be delivered in small packages -- it's taking the opportunity to give back in any way that you can that really counts :)