Variety: The Source of Creativity

I truly believe that a variety of activities and interests keep one’s mind active and productive. If that is so, my recent and current activities should keep my brain from ossifying. To wit: (I have always wanted to say that!)

Last week I attended a great conference   in New Orleans, sponsored by Public Health Law Research. The conference was well-organized by a very helpful staff of professionals from Temple University. I am amazed at how much a good, stimulating conference with can recharge one’s intellectual batteries. As Hedley Lamarr said in Blazing Saddles, “My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.” I’m sure the students in my Public Health Law and Policy class at the University of Kansas School of Medicine will benefit.

Speaking of waterfalls of creative alternatives, Last night was a Laughing Matters workshop. We are preparing for our annual Valentine’s Day show. If you can get to Topeka on January 10 or 11 you really should make an attempt to be there.

Just finished helping the Northeast Kansas Muliticounty Health Department develop a visioning story. And speaking of stories, Laugh2Learn is about ready to roll out a new product to help employees develop and present stories about their products.

I’m quite sure I have enough things to do that I can put off cleaning my office a bit longer.


The Spice of Life

If variety is the spice of life, my life is pretty doggone spicy this week. Monday began with a team building gig at North East Kansas Multicounty Health Department. Monday evening found me playing my professor role, as I delivered the last lecture of the semester to my Master of Public Health class at the University of Kansas Medical School. The middle of the week slowed down a bit, but Friday I conducted a 90 minute team building program at the Johnson County Health Department’s annual holiday party. Today I will play Santa for a friend’s child’s birthday party, then play a professional hit man in a short film for a student in the

KU Film Student

University of Kansas Film department,

then Sunday it will be St. Nicholas for Sunday School at Grace Episcopal Cathedral, Topeka.

A friend posted on Face Book that the Santa gig was a case of type casting. I haven’t told anyone about the hit man gig for fear I’d get the same response.

This will be my second film for students in the KU film program. It’s a lot of work, but very rewarding. I love being around intelligent, creative young people, and KU’s film program seems to have plenty of those.

Speaking of intelligent, creative people, today is also granddaughter Zosia’s birthday. I think there is a good chance Grandfather Santa will visit her party as well.

So there you have it. Spice: Laugh2Learn trainer, professor, Santa, hitman, St. Nicholas and most important; grandfather.

Ahhh spice indeed.


Today is my birthday. It is also two days after Thanksgiving, and fifteen years and eleven days since I suffered a heart attack. If all that doesn’t call for a moment of reflection, I don’t know what will.

So, I’m thankful to be alive! Trite, huh? But I want you to think beyond triteness. Think about really being alive. For me I began this refelction eleven days ago; November 15th, the 15th anniversary of the heart attack. I began thinking of all the things I would have missed had I not survived. I would never have known my three lovely granddaughters. I would never have started the Senior Class Improv Company. I would never have worked at the University of Kansas Public Management Center or the University of Kansas Medical Center, and never have met all the wonderful students I had there.

 Of course not all of the memories are happy. There have been illnesses, and heartbreak, and loss  too. But, even the pain is evidence of life — of self awareness, and it is a precious gift.

I met my Masters of Public Health Class at the University of Kansas Medical Center on November 15th and took a moment to share my thoughts about the value of life with them. The next day I received this email from a student:  “I wanted to thank you for bringing a personal touch to the last class session by sharing your wisdom regarding the value of life after experiencing a near fatal heart attack.  To me, that information is more valuable than the didactic class content.” Wow! Affirming huh?

All this started me thinking about Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. Upon returning from the dead to experience just on more day Emily says: “I can’t! I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another.” Later she asks” “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? — every, every minute?” Upon returning to the dead Emily says: “That’s all human beings are! Just blind people.”

So here is my birthday wish for everyone who runs across this blog: Slow down. Look at people. Try your best to realize life while you live it — every every minute.

Success and Responsibility

Just a couple of things on my mind this morning. Let’s take them in chronological order:

First the community building excercise for the incoming MPH students at The University of Kansas Medical Center was an unqualified success! At the end of the session, I heard one student remark, “I have been on campus for three months, and this is the first time I feel like I belong here.” Of course, in addition to accomplishing our goal of creating a sense of community, we all had fun. Yours truly most of all.

Sunday was my son Glenn’s birthday celebration, and as is our custom, the entire family went out to eat at the restaurant of his choosing. Our server was a very pleasant young woman, but when the food arrived, one order was missing. When I called it to her attention, she said, “My fault, I failed to put it in. I will get it in right away.” Wow! “My fault, I failed to put it in!” Not, “The kitchen messed up your order,” or “Someone else must have picked it up.” “My fault.” I was very impressed.

At laugh2learn, we include accepting and celebrating failure as an essential part of being successful. Acknowledging a mistake and taking responsibility for it, goes hand in hand with accepting failure. I was very impressed with our server, and although the service was less than perfect she earned a healthy tip.