The magic space in the middle

I’ve been thinking a lot about before and after lately. About being in a space where I’m right in between the first part of my life and the second part. This has been caused by several events:

  • My father’s 70th birthday (and my mother’s coming up)
  • My brother’s visit (I haven’t seen him in many years)
  • The passing of both of my husband’s parents

I also started a new job – finished the first part of my career and launched the second.  All of this has me pausing to consider where I’m at in my life. Analyzing my early years, anticipating what is to come. So when I saw an interview on CBS Sunday Morning about a photographer who captures places in transition from day to night, I was fascinated.

Stephen Wilkes specializes in photographing that space in between one part of the day to another, when metamorphosis happens. These photos are captivating (visit his website to see this series of photos). My favorite is his shot of Coney Island.

The Good News for today is that before and after is neither good nor bad; they are just different states with their own merits. And the space in the middle is magic. I plan to make the most of it.

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Kansas City is the best

It’s official…Kansas City is one of the best places to live. Well, at least we’re in what will be the most livable region in 2032.

Gallup recently conducted a study that included economic, workplace, community, and personal choice factors, to identify what will be the best regions for people to live. Cities in the West North Central region, which includes Missouri and Kansas as well as neighboring Iowa and Nebraska, are “poised for the brightest future”.

While Gallup says we may be on track for the ‘brightest future’, I think we’re bright already.  There are so many wonderful things about Kansas City, from the fountains on the Plaza, to all things Kauffman (Center for Performing Arts, Foundation, Stadium, I could go on).

Right now we’re the center of national attention, thanks to:

Time’s (Techland) coverage of Google Fiber led with “Never before have so many people all of a sudden thought, ‘I wonder if Kansas City is a nice place to live’.” (article by Keith Wagstaff) If you’re not convinced  it is, others are.  As listed by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, KC has received the following awards:

The Good News for today is that we’re in a pretty good place, literally. And it’s only going to get better.

Why do you think Kansas City is the best place to live? It’s not a competition…it’s a celebration. Please share your comments.

Resources:

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Do you Google Fiber?

You will be able to soon. Last week, Google promoted that there will be a major announcement on July 26 about the ultra-high-speed network.

If you’ve missed the buzz, Kansas City was chosen out of 1,000 communities as the optimal place to launch their new fiber-optic service. I recently heard Rachel Hack, Kansas City’s Community Manager for Google, talk about what this means for the area. It’s exciting thinking about the possibilities and how this will improve our lives.

In addition to individuals in their homes, Google Fiber’s hi-speed connectivity will benefit:

What is Google Fiber?
Google Fiber is a fiber-optic network, which uses lasers to transmit pulses of light across bundled strands of glass as thin as a hair. The strands of glass are called fiber-optic cables. Compared with the metal wires of dial-up and broadband connections, they allow us to send and receive information at far greater speeds less expensively. Fiber-optic networks are 100 times faster than the average broadband connection in America and 20,000 times faster than the average dial-up connection. (source: www.GoogleConnectskc.com)

I’m on their email list so looking forward to updates and progress reports. Stay tuned for my next installment about why Kansas City is such a great place to live (Gallup makes it official).

To learn more about Google Fiber:

Resources and links:

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Nitty Gritty Dirt Man to be the 25th member of Royals Hall of Fame

I saw a heartwarming story on the news this week about a well-deserved honor that I want to share. George Toma will be inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame as the 25th member on Aug. 31.

Never heard of George, a.k.a. the “Nitty Gritty Dirt Man”? That’s because he was the groundskeeper. But no ordinary groundskeeper…he worked for the Royals for a large part of his life. In 1957 he accepted the job of head groundskeeper for the Kansas City Athletics, over an offer to work for the Denver Bears, and never left. Team names changed, but George’s job didn’t. George also worked for the Chiefs, providing grounds keeping for them and the Royals until his retirement in 1997. Now that’s loyalty!

What’s also amazing is his humble and grateful attitude. “You can’t talk, you get tears in your eyes. It’s unexpected,” Toma said. “I never thought I’d be in the NFL Hall of Fame or the Groundkeepers Hall of Fame or the Royals Hall of Fame because I’m just a nitty, gritty dirt man, the lowest in the organization.”

For me, the best part of this story is not what he did, but how he did it. Sure he was ‘just a groundskeeper’, but it’s a very important job and he took it seriously, with safety always in mind. “You have to give the players a good playing field. My theory is the cheapest insurance for an athlete is a good, safe playing field from preschool to the Major Leagues, to the professional baseball.”

He also believed in what he did as a benefit to the viewers, “You have to give the people in the stands and the people on TV a field of beauty.” (Quotes taken from story by Dick Kaegel and Vinnie Duber /MLB.com, link below.)

The Good News for today is that hard work, loyalty and dedication pay off.  The other Good News is that every job, no matter how humble, can be great…it all depends on how you look at it. Congrats to George and thanks to all those who work hard to make our stadiums and Kansas City beautiful.

Thanks to sources:
Dick Kaegel and Vinnie Duber /MLB.com
Jill Seib/ Kansas City Royals

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True stories to renew your faith in humanity

I encountered two separate references on the same day to this inspiring photo collection of heartwarming stories, which convinced me to make it the content for today’s entry. If you need a smile or inspiration to be a better person, visit the link to these 21 stories about human kindness around the world that include:

  • Amazing animal rescues (dogs, kittens, and … sheep)
  • Businesses offering free meals and dry cleaning for the homeless and unemployed
  • Gestures of peace and conflict resolution (on issues of faith, sexual orientation, and politics)
  • Competing athletes helping each other
  • Odd but sweet friendships
  • Paying it forward (and backward)
  • …and much more.

21 Stories That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity (by BuzzFeed)

The Good News for today is that there are many people in this world who make sacrifices to help others. And we have opportunities to do the same every day.

Special thanks to BuzzFeed via Pinterest, and Fox 4 News (Morning Show) for introducing me to these stories.

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A Tribute to Ray Bradbury

Last week we lost an American icon and treasure. While this is a sad event, I am dedicating this post to celebrating science fiction writer Ray Bradbury’s life and the gifts he gave us.

On my 12th birthday I received a book of Bradbury’s 100 best short stories, and spent the next month consuming it as if it was candy. I went on to read every book and collection, from Long After Midnight to The Illustrated Man. And of course, Fahrenheit 451. Each story was an inspiration, blooming with color, and brimming with adventure. The Veldt left me cringing, and The Blue Bottle transported me to the dry, red soil of Mars.

Many of his stories came to life on television. I’ll never forget watching The Martian Chronicles with my Dad, and Something Wicked This Way Comes with my friends.

What I loved most was his ability to envision a futuristic world that had realistic people in it. He took the mundane and transplanted it into a what-if world. He made magic out of the ordinary, and put people in situations that made them extraordinary. What would you do if you were the only person left on a barren planet? What choices would you make if you had the ability to make magic but at a price?

I also loved Bradbury because of his character. He was a humble man, who appreciated his gift and his life.

“In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back.” he wrote in a book of essays published in 2005. “Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I’ve worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior.”

While the world will miss him, he led a long and fruitful life of 91 years. The Good News for today is that we can read Ray Bradbury’s stories again and again with pleasure. I know I will. And perhaps we’ll make our way to Mars some day…at least we can dream of it.

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Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Did you know that Kansas City is a hotspot for entrepreneurs?

I recently had the privilege (and pleasure) of being a volunteer judge for the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Venture Creation Challenge (VCC).  This annual competition is for business students to learn and exercise real-life business skills by proposing start-up ideas to panels of judges (think Shark Tank) . These are real proposals…not just homework assignments (though the projects are part of the curriculum).

The exciting part is that there were some REALLY good ideas. These ranged from innovative health products (an Easy Strep test in lollipop form for children), to epicurean ketchup.

Out of 150 entries, 65 student venture groups were chosen to take part in the challenge. I was pleased to see students of all ages and backgrounds, representing numerous UMKC programs.  These included traditional business students, MBA candidates (including from the Executive MBA program), and some from the Entrepreneurship Scholars Program (e-Scholars).

For each group, a representative provided a 60-second elevator speech. Then judges were invited to visit booths where business plans, marketing materials and prototypes were put on display. Judges awarded ‘dollars’ as points to determine finalists. Those finalists were given 40 minutes to make a full pitch to panels of judges. From there, 15 venture groups were given various awards.

I was one of nearly 100 judges from all over Kansas City, including business owners, alumni, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs. I’m proud to be an alum of the Executive MBA program and to see what a great event the school puts on. I actually took part in the VCC as an EMBA student in 2009 and learned some important lessons. Since then, it is obvious the VCC has blossomed.

“Each year this event grows in size and participation, and the ventures launched by our students reach higher levels of success,” notes Michael Song, Institute executive director.

I’m also proud to be a Kansas Citian. Kansas City is an incubator for entrepreneurism.  We are home to native entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman. His legacy through the Kauffman Foundation perpetuates the spirit of entrepreneurism not only in Kansas City but throughout the world.

The Foundation offers programs and support for entrepreneurs everywhere, and their approach is the epitome of innovation. I love their Sketchbook series in ‘Fast Draw’ fashion that illustrates their programs.

The Good News for today is that we all have the seeds of great ideas in us. And there are many resources to help those with the entrepreneurial spirit succeed. This is so important for our economy and future.

What great ideas do you have? What would you do if you received venture backing? Go ahead, dream big!

For further reading:

Note: Special thanks to Regnier Family Foundations/Bank of Blue Valley for sponsoring this event.

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