National Hamburger Day!

Pick a burger, any burger… fresh or frozen. Today is the day to dig in! Choose your favorite, be it a basic burger or the cheesiest possible. Perhaps you like some of the nation’s regional flavor twists or a simple BBQ-style. Others must decide to lean toward spicy or mild, beef or a meat combination, or a preferred veggie burger. For me, I often opt for a stuffed or even double-stuffed variety. That said, here’s my own rendition from 2009. Still worthy today.

Super Simple Mushroom-Stuffed Burgers

1 T olive oil

1-1½ c sliced button or baby portabella mushrooms (cut, if large)

½ c finely chopped sweet onion

1 lb ground beef

2 T steak sauce (any variety)

1 T freshly ground black pepper

½ c shredded Swiss cheese (or other fave)

Sauté mushrooms & onions in olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes; set aside to cool to room temperature. Combine beef, steak sauce, and pepper; shape into 8 (4”) patties. On 4 patties, divide mushroom mixture and cheese, not quite to edges. Top with remaining patties, pinching edges to seal well; flatten slightly, keeping edges sealed. Grill on medium hot grill for 2-3 minutes per side for medium-rare, 3-4 minutes per side for medium. Serve on toasted buns with your choice of toppings such as bacon, lettuce and tomato slices, and whatever condiments you enjoy.  I find them particularly tasty simply topped with a spicy mustard and crispy fried onions. Of course, a generous slice of extra cheese and some sliced pickles never hurt! Makes 4 burgers.

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Be Astounding!

“If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”

— Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931)

American inventor & businessman

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National Paper Airplane Day

Fly! Fly! Fly! Every May 26th comes this simple day of fanciful fun for children and adults. If you like folding your own paper airplanes, you may know the whimsical term “aerogami,” a nod to origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. So have fun folding and flying. If your competitive spirit flutters, you may enjoy also knowing that today’s competitions tend toward 2 basic paper airplane flight categories… distance and time in the air.  Have fun in flight!

(Image by Febrian Spaputra)

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Know Thyself

“Master the perception principle.  Learn to know yourself.  Know the real person deep within you.”

— Norman Vincent Peale (1898 – 1993)

American Protestant clergyman and author

from his best-selling book, “The Power of Positive Thinking”

(Photo by Katrina Wright)

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Fanaticism

 

“A fanatic is someone who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”

— Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

British statesman, soldier & author; former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

From an article in the “New York Times,” July 5, 1954

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But I Protest!

 

“One man’s civil disobedience may be another man’s riot. One man’s riot may be another man’s civil disobedience. Our definition tends to vary based on which side of a protest we stand.”

— Cathy Burnham Martin

American author, voiceover artist & dedicated foodie

(Photo by Joe Yates)

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National Strawberry Month

Very little rivals the nutritious scrumptiousness of a freshly picked strawberry! Raw or cooked, they are simply yummy! By request, I just made a strawberry-rhubarb pie for hubby… a favorite of his. (He actually wanted it for Christmas, but I was unable to get rhubarb till now.) Another favorite of ours was a dessert offering at a former restaurant in Manchester, NH. Locals will likely remember Spatt’s on the Massabesic Traffic Circle. We’d go there for their fabulous prime rib and king crab legs, but if we had room, the “Strawberry Blossoms” were a must for dessert! (No, not the flowers.) Naturally, (back in 2008) I had to create my own recipe in tribute. Enjoy!

Super Simple Stuffed Strawberry Blossoms a la Spatt’s

3 oz cream cheese (plain or strawberry), softened to room temperature

2 T confectioner’s sugar (or Splenda-type substitute)

1 T sour cream

12 large, fresh strawberries, hulled; berry tips cut partway thru for “petals”

½ c semi-sweet chocolate chips (or some chocolate syrup)

12 large, fresh blueberries

Fresh mint leaves, torn into 12 mini leaf bits

Beat cream cheese, sugar & sour cream together till light.  Spoon into a plastic food storage bag, pressing into one corner; snip off the tip of the filled corner with scissors, forming a pastry bag. Push that tip down into the center of each strawberry & squeeze out some cheese filling, so it shows between the “petals.”

Melt the chocolate with 1 T water in the microwave; stir.  With a spoon, drizzle chocolate over the blossoms.  Top each with a blueberry and add a bit of mint by each berry.  Chill till serving time.  Makes 1 dozen blossoms.

Notes: A fun twist is adding 1-2 T of a favorite liquor, such as Peachtree or Amaretto to the cheese mixture. You can also make these even easier by replacing cheese mixture with whipped cream straight out of the can.

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Vision and Value

“Having a vision for your life allows you to live out of hope, rather than out of your fears.”

— Stedman Graham (1951 –  )

American educator, author, and businessman

(Image by Gerd Altmann)

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National Date Your Mate Month

Okay! It’s Friday… Date Night! For us that has often meant a trip to Home Depot, where we find ourselves so often, the staff calls us by our first names. We can do better for a Date Night…. For example, even when we must go to Home Depot, we can plan a little out-do-dinner stop afterward… or even just grab an ice cream cone.

Why not plan an actual date? Remember movies and popcorn? Even when we are not going “out,” we can go out for a date with our mate without leaving home. Movies and popcorn! Or a multi-course dinner. Or simply sitting out on the deck with a glass of wine for happy hour. You don’t need to hop on a cruise ship or plan an expensive night out. Sometimes all we need to do is deliberately be less busy. Or do a little something just for your mate. Make them feel special.

For me, it’s all about using our minds. (Those are our biggest sex organs.) Remember how fun it was to be dating? We’d look forward to the event with such wonderful anticipation! We’d plan where we’d go and what we’d do with great glee! It truly matters little what we do or what we wear or how our hair looks. To me, it matters most that we focus on each other. Time together. Joy shared. Letting each other know that we actually LIKE each other.

Especially after being with someone for many years, it becomes easy to take each other for granted. We can all very easily get caught up in being busy, busy, busy. We might lack patience with our mate. We might no longer truly listen when they share. We may not always use a particularly fond, nor respectful tone when speaking to them. We may demand, rather than politely asking for their assistance. Flames flicker… they sometimes burn high and sometimes burn low. If you sense the fire has gone out, re-ignite it!

So, I like thinking of National Date Your Mate Month as a time to reflect on everything that made our mate someone we liked dating. No one expects that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling, and that’s okay. There’s something very wonderful about total comfortability with our lover and best friend. Try to remember what was most special about each other in that “wowza,” falling in love stage. There is no need for expense. Just focus on romance. And smile. You are both worth it.

(Image by Bingo Naranjo)

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Journey Onward

“Before you can be creative, you must be courageous. Creativity is the destination, but courage is the journey.”

— Joey Reiman (1953 – )

American businessman; Chairman, Brand New World Studios, NYC

 

(Photo by Camilo Goes)

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Bull!

 

“Adding more bull to bull yields bigger bull.”

― Cathy Burnham Martin

in “The Bimbo Has Brains: And Other Freaky Facts,” 2017

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Yay for Differing Opinions

“Whenever a fellow tells me he is bipartisan, I know he’s going to vote against me.”

— Harry S. Truman (1884 – 1972)

33rd President of the United States

 

I simply think that one thing that is worse than not having an opinion on an important issue is not encouraging and supporting differing opinions. This is how we learn. We need not always agree, but embracing the right to hold differing thoughts is foundational to freedom in a nation.

(Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis)

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National Mimosa Day

This is a day to celebrate brunch’s favorite adult beverage… a simple drink made from equal parts of champagne and orange juice. While variations abound, it was named “Mimosa” as the color closely resembles the flowers of the plant bearing the same name. I liked a Mimosa… UNTIL I tasted Italy’s counterpart.

In theory, sparkling white wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region of France. Italy’s delightful counterpart is called Prosecco.

If a true Bellini has not floated blissfully across your tastebuds, it may be a great day to give it a go. The Bellini has become vogue in U.S. restaurants and bars over the past couple of decades. You can find dozens of recipes online, too. However, not all bartenders, nor recipes, are created equal. As with the Mimosa, gazillions of variations appear everywhere. While virtually all include Prosecco, many basic recipes include peach juice (or a vast array of other juices), lemon juice, sugar, and even simple syrup. I have been served a crystal-clear cocktail as a Bellini, but only in the U.S. That simple bar version uses Champagne and Peachtree liquor. Don’t do that and think that you have tasted a Bellini. In truth, if Champagne is used, rather than Prosecco, the cocktail is called a Bellini Royal. Let me step back a bit.

The Bellini was created in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani at the famous 1930s haunt known as Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. He named the drink for Venice’s Renaissance artist, Giovanni Bellini. The cocktail’s recipe is a simple combination of 2-parts Prosecco Spumante and 1-part white peach puree. (“Back in the day” one full-time employee’s sole task was pureeing the white peaches!) Plus, they add one SECRET ingredient: a touch of raspberry puree (sans seeds). This imparts a luscious rosy glow to the cocktail AND balances out what can be varying degrees of sweetness in the peaches. (In a pinch, my Super Simple substitute for raspberry puree is a tablespoon of raspberry sorbet.) The Bellini at Harry’s Bar became a favorite cocktail of many celebrities, including American novelist Ernest Hemingway.

While historically elegant, there is nothing fancy about Harry’s Bar in Venice. And the straight, almost water-glass style of the glass in which they serve a Bellini parallels the bar’s no-nonsense style. (But the prices of everything there are outrageously high… and that was true well before Covid!) Cipriani also created Carpaccio in 1950 to suit the dietary needs of an Italian countess who was not eating cooked meat. Cipriani cut a beef fillet into paper-thin slices and drizzled his special sauce (mayo, Worcestershire, lemon, milk, salt & pepper) abstractly over the slices. He named the creation Carpaccio in honor of the Venetian painter, Vittore Carpaccio. Let me share one other historic tidbit with you….  Just before World War II began, Giuseppe Cipriani became upset by the fascist regime’s Racial Laws, requiring restaurants to post a sign prohibiting Jewish people from entering. In protest, he boldly posted the sign outside the kitchen door, rather than at the front. Reacting with wrath to the insult, Harry’s Bar was seized for the exclusive use of the military. Rather than being forced to serve them, Cipriani and his staff walked away… and carried on Harry’s Bar (unofficially) in a farmhouse. (Sounds rather like an Italian Speakeasy!)

Love the history; love the true Bellini. On my first trip to Italy, I knew I was not going to miss out on getting to Harry’s Bar. We did and enjoyed a Bellini, of course! Now we make and serve them regularly… in stemware and even flowing from a fountain! Thank you, Venice & Harry’s Bar!

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Confidence

“Confidence doesn’t come out of nowhere.  It’s a result of something… hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication.”

— Roger Staubach (1942 –  )

American football player

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Welcome a New Day

 

“Begin each day with a fresh breath of air and a renewed attitude of positive possibilities.”

— Cathy Burnham Martin – American author, voiceover artist & dedicated foodie

 

(Photo by Joel Henry)

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Ability

“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.”

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882)

American poet

(Image by Gerd Altmann)

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Think!

 

“We are all role models. Our only choice is to be a good or bad one.”

— Cathy Burnham Martin – American author, voiceover artist & dedicated foodie

 

That is a theme that I’ve used for dozens of presentations to young people for a great many years on the business and public speaking circuits. So often we humans get thinking that only movie stars, politicians, and professional athletes should be held to a higher standard. (Oh, yeah… some celebs forget to think about that little detail.) I simply believe that we all must hold ourselves to a higher standard, for the sake of our souls and the world around us, and because someone impressionable and vulnerable is watching, even if we don’t think we are worthy of such influence.

(Photo by Jose M.)

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Success!

 

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

— Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

British statesman, soldier & writer; former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

(photo by Brett Jordan)

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National Shrimp Day

Okayyyyyyy! Go for the oxymoron and enjoy some crispy, cold jumbo shrimp cocktail with a zesty horseradish dipping sauce. Or simply grill some beauties in garlic butter and sprinkle with some favorite herbs. For extreme decadence, bake some colossal shrimp with lobster-crab stuffing.

To get you started here’s the recipe for my Super Simple Shrimp Quesadillas.

2 (8”) flour tortillas

12 x-lg shrimp (16/30 count per pound), shelled & deveined; tails removed

½ c cream cheese, softened to room temp

½ c cheddar, Jack, or muenster cheese (or combo)

1 thinly sliced green onion

¼ c chopped yellow or red onion, microwaved on high for 2 min (3 if a red onion)

4 T chopped plum tomatoes

1 T sriracha (or garlic chili or Thai hot sauce)

1 T fresh lime juice

2 T butter

Combine cheeses, onions, tomatoes, hot sauce & lime juice. Divide between the tortillas, spreading on just half of one side of each. Top cheese mixture with a single layer of shrimp. Fold plain half of the tortilla over the filled half, forming a half-moon shape. Melt butter in skillet over med heat; place the 2 tortillas in the butter and let cook 3 min per side till brown and crisp. Turning just once with large spatula. Cut in wedges and serve with your choice of salsa, guacamole, and/or sour cream. These are delicious as appetizers or as a lunch, served with a chilled salad of corn, black beans, diced tomatoes, and diced avocado.

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Potential

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being.”

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832)

German playwright, poet, and statesman

(Photo by Tumisu)

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Happy Mother’s Day!

This is the day of days to celebrate Super Mom’s everywhere. We likely all know or have known mothers, step-moms, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, mothers-in-law, and mothers-to-be. Every day, but today especially, is an opportunity to respect, honor, and say, “Thank you” and recognize the maternal bond’s contributions to the family.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannic, Mother’s Day was started by Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, “whose mother had organized women’s groups to promote friendship and health. On May 12, 1907, she held a memorial service at her late mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia. Within 5 years, virtually every state was observing the day. In 1914, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday.”

(Photo by S. Hermann and F. Richter)

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Fly, Baby, Fly

“Fences are made for those who cannot fly.”

— Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

American writer, publisher & philosopher

Editor & founder of Roycroft Press

Note: He and his wife died aboard the RMS Lusitania when it was sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915.

(Image by Stefan Keller)

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International Civility Awareness Month

The designation is meant to raise awareness of the decline of civility around the world. Hmmm…. Who among us was thinking, as a society, we’re not dealing with declining civility?

(Photo by John Hain)

 

A website called CivilityExperts.com suggests a 31-day civility challenge. It features one suggestion for each day, such as:

Say hello to 5 people today.

Make eye contact.

Be courteous.

Make and take personal calls in private.

Turn off your phone during meetings.

Don’t litter.

Don’t interrupt others.

Avoid profanity.

Clean up after yourself.

Hold the door open for others.

Leave a fair tip when dining out.

Close your mouth when chewing and use a napkin.

Keep your work area clean.

Be patient with others.

Include others in conversations.

Smile often at others.

Remember to say “please” and “thank-you.”

Monitor the volume of your ipod, music, or video games around others.

Treat others with kindness.

Try to remember people’s names.

Share the sidewalk. Share the road.

Replace empty toilet paper rolls, paper towels, and trash liners.

Be proud of your appearance and dress nicely.

Be social.

Introduce yourself to others in social situations.

Introduce those around you.

Offer constructive feedback in the form of a compliment sandwich.

Make sure to always use a positive tone.

Repeat.

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Education versus Indoctrination

“What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.”

— George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Irish playwright, critic, and political activist

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A Legend in her own Mind–LOL

“I’m bound to be a famous writer… decades after I’m gone.”

— Cathy Burnham Martin, American author, voiceover artist & dedicated foodie

Laughingly responding to a question from host Liz Gabert on BCTV’s “Life with Liz and Beyond”, September 14, 2021

You can catch the whole program on my mini YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMXf4C_R6qUwmpBE4CpT_Hg

(Photo by Mark Köng)

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Life Is a Miracle!

“Anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles is not a realist.”

— David Ben-Gurion (1886 – 1973)

Former Prime Minister of Israel

(Photo by David Zawila)

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Have Confidence

 

“The history of the world is full of men who rose to leadership by sheer force of self-confidence, bravery, and tenacity.”

— Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

Indian lawyer, spiritual & political leader, and nonviolent resistance advocate

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National Pet Week

“Humans need a lot of reinforcement… loving, gentle encouragement.”

— Bandit Martin (beloved dog and author)

 

Because this is National Pet Week, I thought you might like hearing some wise words from a pet. Our little Bandit (initially Mom & Dad’s) wrote a book back in 2016. “A Dangerous Book for Dogs… Train Your Humans with the Bandit Method.” He warned his readers to keep the book and audiobook OUT of human hands, but I managed to snag a copy.

Some of his adventures and advice tips are insightful; others are hysterical. But his words, written to other dogs (and their feline friends), are always kind, loving, and honest. Here’s an excerpt from one of his chapters.

“Loving unconditionally comes naturally to canines. We know and practice some love basics… We forgive and forget. We never hold grudges. We share love freely. We express love daily. We are always empathetic. We tune into feelings, not words. We deliver loyalty, unabashed.

“These are natural skills for us, but we must always endeavor to share our example with humans. Remember, they usually mean well, but they tend to be slow learners. If they only understood the value of unconditional love to their health! Such positive energy improves quality and length of life, plus it reduces stress. Now THAT is something always at the top of a human’s To-Do list.”

(Ahhhh… from the mouths of pets! Remember to thank your pet today.)

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National Oatmeal Cookie Day & National Raisin Day

What better way to celebrate both these days than with a warm, chewy oatmeal raisin cookie! So, here is my 1980 spin on my mother’s classic 1950s Oatmeal Icebox Cookies. Primarily, I used less sugar and more nuts and fruit. I still prefer cooking them for just 8-10 minutes to get an irresistibly chewy, rather than crispy, cookie. In recent years, I have replaced sugar with granulated monk fruit. (More on that after the recipe.)

Oatmeal Raisin Icebox Cookies

1 c butter, softened to room temp

¾ c packed brown sugar

¾ c sugar

2 lg eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1½ c flour

1 tsp baking soda

3 c quick oats

½ – ¾ c chopped walnuts

3 c raisins (half dark and half golden; or even include dried cranberries)

Mix all ingredients. Form into long rolls.  Chill overnight. Slice 1/4″ thick and bake on ungreased cookie sheets 8‑10 minutes at 350. Makes 5-6 dozen.

NOTE: Rolls keep (wrapped airtight) in the refrigerator for several days…. unless you are among those who cannot resist cookie dough. (And yes, you can always go a little wild and add some dark chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut flakes, or any other decadent delights to please your palette.)

Monk fruit is really luo han guo fruit, thought to be originally used by Buddhist monks in the 13th century. The small, green, gourd-like fruits are processed differently by our bodies than sucrose and fructose and have no net carbs nor calories. It’s easy to find non-GMO versions, too.

Yes, monk fruit is commonly touted as a 1 for 1 substitute for sugar. However, it can taste FAR sweeter than sugar. Half as much usually is more than enough, especially when additional sweetness is already included from raisins. In this recipe, I use just 1/3 c golden monk fruit and 1/3 c regular granulated monk fruit. This may vary depending on the brand you purchase. Some, such as Lakanto, add erythritol to make monk fruit a 1-to-1 sugar replacement. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol with about 6% of the calories in an equal amount of sugar. But, like monk fruit, it does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels. Make choices that make sense to you.

Meanwhile, I’m going for that Oatmeal Raisin cookie. Big decision: Do I dip it in ice cream or spritz it with whipped cream?

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Creativity

 

“Confidence in nonsense is a requirement for the creative process.”

— Epictetus (c50-135AD)

Greek philosopher

(Photo by Matthieu Comoy)

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National Superheroes Day

I am blessed with one of the all-time best Mothers in or out of this world. She is my superhero.

In a humble tribute to her, I wrote and released a special book on June 25, 2020, the day she turned 90 years young. “Good Living Skills: Lessons learned from my mother” is a light and lively collection of 40 of my favorite good living skills with which I credit my mother. She filled our lives with love and blessings we could tap into anytime.

I am beyond fortunate to note how active and enthusiastic she is today. Mom remains the living lesson on how to utilize skills that make us better at leading and enjoying positive, productive lives at any age. Glenna Burnham, my dear mother, makes Wonder Woman seem like a mere beginner.

Thank you, Mom, now and forever.

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Babe Ruth Day

 

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”

– Babe Ruth (1895-1948)

American Major League Baseball player (1914-1935)

April 27th is celebrated in ballparks throughout the United States and Japan as “Babe Ruth Day” in honor of the “King of Swing,” who helped people fall in love with baseball. In his Hall of Fame induction speech on June 12, 1939, Ruth quipped, “As my old friend Cy Young says, ‘I hope it goes another hundred years and the next hundred years will be the greatest.’ You know to me this is just like an anniversary, because 25 years ago yesterday, I pitched my first baseball game in Boston, for the Boston Red Sox.”

Play ball!

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Point of View

“A stumbling block to the pessimist is a stepping-stone to the optimist.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)

American social activist & First Lady (1933-1945); Ambassador to United Nations

 

Featured in:

“Healthy Thinking Habits: 7 Attitude Skills Simplified” 2015

“A Healthier You! Fabulous ideas to help you live a healthier life” 2005

(photo by Ulrike Leone)

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Teamwork!

 

“Ability is the art of getting credit for all the home runs somebody else hits.”

— Casey Stengel (1890 – 1975) American Major League Baseball player & manager; Baseball Hall of Fame, 1966

May we always feel and express humility and great gratitude for the team players always among us.

(Photo by Alexas Fotos)

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Big and Little Thinkers

 

“‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”

— Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

English-born American political activist, philosopher & revolutionary

 

(Photo by Clay Banks)

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National Talk Like Shakespeare Day

 

“Have more than thou showest,

Speak less than thou knowest,

Lend less than thou owest.”

— “King Lear” – Act 1, Scene 4

By William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

English poet, playwright, and actor

So, hey you! Er, uh.. I mean, Hark thee!

Dost thou knoweth how ye might

Speaketh in Shakespearean times?

Nay, this mistress was absent all right,

Yet she tryeth to maketh some rhymes!

‘Tis true. William Shakespeare, the Bard himself, ’twas born on April 23, 1564 and, perhaps only as England’s most famous poet and playwright might doeth, he passed on April 23, 1616. The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre initiated this annual celebration, so goeth ahead… giveth it a go! Ye might at least laugheth.

(Photo by Taha)

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Stand Against Aggression!

 

“If man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr., (1929 – 1968)

American Baptist minister & civil rights activist

Delivered in an address at the 1963 Great March on Detroit

 

(Photo by Gayatri Malhotra)

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Ribbit!

 

“We are born princes, and the civilizing process makes us frogs.”

— Dr. Eric Berne (1910-1970)

Canadian psychiatrist known for developing the theory of Transactional Analysis

This just happens to be National Bullfrogs Are Beautiful Day.

(Photo by Jill Wellington)

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Never Give Up

“Whenever we feel like giving up, we must commit ourselves to finding a better attitude, developing new skills, and working harder.”

— Cathy Burnham Martin

American author, voiceover artist & dedicated foodie

(Photo by Aziz Acharki)

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Hope Lives!

“Hope is the dream of the soul awake.”

– French proverb

 

(Photo by Marc Olivier Jodoin)

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