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Learning Optimism

Dad says, “That sure looks like a big hill.”
Kids say, “It will be really fun!”
Dad says, “It is pretty cold out here for a water ride.”
Kids say, “We’ll dry off in the sun!”
Dad says, “I’m not sure we have time to do this before lunch.”
Kids say, “The line is really short!”
Dad says, “I don’t think you’re going to like it.”
Kids say, “We’re going to love it!”
Kids say, “Can we go on again?”
Dad says, “Yes!!”

Taking the Long Way Home...

…is almost always a source of contemplation, wonder, interest, surprise, and awe. I did today, and I’m glad for it.

Galaxy Explorer

Here’s a quick Thanksgiving post. When I was 7 or 8 years old, the one toy I wanted more than any other was the LEGO Galaxy Explorer. I could go on and on about it, but suffice it to say I hounded my parents for months and months and I simply tortured my poor sister with my pleading and begging. This was all way back, when Christmas was still a mystery, and gifts were few and far between, and winter meant staying home with the people I thought I’d always be with, my family.

Santa in the form of a loving Mom and Dad sought fit to place the Explorer under the tree that year, and I played with it for years. I still remember laying all the pieces on our blue shag carpet Christmas morning, putting it together for the first time with my Dad and Uncle Rich. I put it together and dismantled it and augmented it and blew it up and reconstructed it dozens, or probably hundreds, of times after that. I couldn’t count how many times the Galaxy Explorer crew and I saved the Universe.

As I grew older I lost or gave away or broke most of my toys, and I got involved in things that seemed cooler and more mature. But I knew enough to save the Galaxy Explorer — and my mother, bless her heart, never got rid of it. When my parents died I was touched and excited and oddly heartbroken to find the box lovingly stored away. 

This morning I pulled out the box and put it together with my two oldest sons. I’m not sure that this makes any sense to anyone except me — but the whole thing encapsulates everything I’m thankful for this year.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  

Falling for Instagram

I spent the better part of two hours last night playing around with Instagram, the photo sharing app for iPhone. I’m well past late to this party — the app is only a year old but there are already over 10 million users (and counting fast). Still, there have to be others like me who have become more and more overwhelmed with social networking and so haven’t had time to discover this wonderful little program.

Facebook is now a way of life; it is quickly becoming a work tool as well as a personal communication standard. Sadly, I’m guessing I’m not alone when I say that I Facebook (verb) with people I talk to everyday!

Twitter is also pretty much obligatory. I’ve found Twitter more and more useful for sharing articles, deciding what to read, and keeping in touch at conferences and meetings.

Add in Yahoo Messenger and Yammer at work, and Ping at home, as well as Google Reader and Google+ (still trying to figure that one out) and — oh yeah! — email, and I have so much social networking that I don’t have time to be social. What do I need Instagram for?

I’m not sure what exactly moved me to download it today, but as soon as I did, I was hooked. I was hooked on the filters — it will make even an all-thumbs photographer like me seem half-decent. But I was more hooked on the feed. Instagram allows you to share pictures with friends and subscribe to their pictures in return. What you get is an ongoing narrative like Facebook or Twitter, but aside from a few captions it is entirely visual. And the fact that Instagram only runs on an iPhone adds a nice creative constraint. You don’t spend a lot of time fretting and editing — you just shoot something and share it.

There’s a huge emotional element that only this kind of image-based dialogue can convey. Why not use it to showcase the people who work to create a better world at your organization (with their permission, of course)? You could create a year-long exhibit of your World-Changers. Or better yet, share pictures and stories of the people you serve. Or, you could share a series of pictures about what the world will look like when you achieve your mission. Or showcase what it would look like without you here to provide your services.

In a time when we have an abundance of tools at our disposal, Instagram captured my imagination more than most. Worth putting to good use for your good cause.