Sunday, May 31, 2009

At Death's Door

Donald needed a heart; his was failing. Donald waited an agonizing year before a donor match was found. Unfortunately, someone had to die in order for Donald to go on living. Donald not only survived the transplant operation, he went on to a full recovery and started running 26.2 miles.

Listen to the transformational experience of heart transplant recipient Donald Arthur, as he shares his story of going from death's door to completing his
quest to complete fifty marathons.

Dare to Dream Really Big

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Real Men Come From Guyana

Dale Layne came to New York City from his home in Guyana, South America to find a treatment for his congenital glaucoma. He found a treatment but not a cure and at age nineteen lost most of his sight. Today, Dale is twenty-seven and his eyesight has not improved. He’s blind and is among the approximate 21.2 million people who reported experiencing vision loss in the 2006 National Health Interview Survey. (Link)

Here in New York, the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (link) estimates that there are 120,000 blind New Yorkers and nearly 1 million New Yorkers with vision loss. Of those 120,000 blind New Yorkers, I currently know three intimately. When we meet, we're tethered as we run through the park. Today, *Dale and I tethered to together during the Run With Heidi Program where we're training along with four others to run the August 16, 2009 New York City Half-Marathon.

Dale and I met through the Achilles Track Club where he has been running about four to six miles twice per week. Dale said that the idea of running for thirteen miles is exciting and a little scary but since he lost his eyesight he is determined to face new challenges. He hopes that by running thirteen miles he can be an inspiration to others.

Today, Heidi Jones posted to her blog that Dale, "has a quiet, but impressionable demeanor that captivated all of us." After hearing more of Dales' plight I agree and add that a real man came from Guyana to help inspire us all.

*My May 12, 2009 blog post stated that Richard Bernstein would be my blind running partner. Richard has since left the team.

Dare To Dream Really Big

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Perserverance Pays Off for Italian Designer

May 20, 2009 New York, NY

Italian hat designer, Terry Graziano is chosen for this week's Time Out New York's Express lane

Perseverance truly pays off. "Keep putting things in the funnel and something will eventually come out," is what I tell my clients. Not only is Terry Graziano a coaching client, she's my wife. I'm very proud of her.

In an industry where most designers struggle to make a living, press helps. It's not a guarantee of sales but it's exposure. Terry's been toiling away for many years creating incredible hats and the people who have seen or purchased them are always blown away by their unique style, function and craftwomanship. Now, maybe some more people will get to see what they've been missing.

As any sole-proprietor will tell you, it's a seven day a week job: the marketing, the design, the networking, the paperwork. What's it take to "make it"? One thing is consistent perseverance. Check out Terry's line of multi-functional, handcrafted hats.

Dare To Dream Really Big

Monday, May 18, 2009

Disabled Parking Now Available at the North Pole

Think you're cold and have trouble parking?

A disabled parking sign was raised at the North Pole on the 100th Anniversary of the first successful polar expedition. David Shannon became the first person in world history with quadriplegia and in a wheelchair to reach the Pole. Davis along with expedition co-leader, Chris Watkins, developed "Team Independence 09" to promote breaking barriers to accessibility and greater community inclusion.


I can't imagine what their journey was like but I am really in awe of their accomplishment. It's like they say, it's all in the mind.
This was not like taking the dog out for a walk on a blustery winter's morning. Mr. Shannon's spinal cord injury compromised his ability to maintain body heat. During the final push to get to the pole, body heat retention became a problem and was compounded by a significant infection, which caused increased susceptibility to the life threatening cold temperatures. Och!

Dare To Dream Really Big

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Our Little Nancy Pelosi


I love the Family Circus cartoon strip where every time mother Thel asks her son Billy,
"Who did this" referring to a broken vase or a spilled glass of milk. And Billy always answers, "I don't know."

But we, the reader, know that Billy broke that vase and spilled the milk.
Yesterday, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi pulled a Billy when she said, "I wasn't briefed, I was informed that someone else had been briefed about it" when questioned about her awareness of the CIA and the Bush Administration's use of water-boarding detainees on their the war on terror. Poor little Nancy. Like most politicians she has selective memory recall especially when it suits her cause best.

Speaker Pelosi and the majority of Democrats and Republicans approved the use of torture in the war against terror. What were they thinking at the time, 'do it but just don't tell me about it'? What's so telling about the Associated Press article is Pelosi's excuse for looking the other way about using torture because she was focusing on getting congressional control away from the Republicans so her party could change course.

"It was clear we had to change the leadership in Congress and in the White House. That was my job — the Congress part," she said. What about the part where we as a nation practice what we preach? Things like honesty, integrity, and our refusal to torture?

What's so Billy-like is Pelosi's, 'I don't know who did it but it wasn't my fault but if you keep asking me I'll find someone else I can blame it on' attitude. And just like Billy, Speaker Pelosi takes on the cartoon persona of her namesake whenever she's in a jam. Ernie Bushmiller's "Nancy" is a precocious eight-year old who is constantly daydreaming and is easily confused. In the April 26, 2009 strip our adorable Nancy sits daydreaming in a pink sleeping gown when Aunt Fritzi calls to her repeatedly from another room. "Nancy stop ignoring me!" And cute, little Nancy musters the strength to pop open her sleepy eyes to say, "Sorry Aunt Fritzi. During the school year my brain takes weekends off."

This is not the time to take a brain vacation Speaker Pelosi. This is the time to be honest, to practice the change that you and the Democratic party promised that you would bring after gaining "control." So grow up little Nancy and admit your faults and mistakes. Even your lazy pal Slugo Smith would do that.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Only in New York

Cresting the long, uphill east side of the 59th Street Bridge a few days ago, I came across a man rolling along very slowly atop his electric wheelchair. In his lap were hundreds of small American and Puerto Rican flags piled high; the kind you wave at a parade or plant beside a gravestone. I asked him if he was okay and as he tapped his low battery gauge he said in Spanish, “No tengo electricidad.” I asked him if he would like me to push him while I run to the Manhattan side of the bridge.

“Por cierto!” He smiled while nodding his head with gratitude.

I soon regretted my offer. Those electric chairs weigh a ton and my legs soon tired. Along with choking car, truck and bus fumes, the heat and humidity made the task more difficult. With another 14 miles to run, I spent most of my energy pushing this guy over the bridge.

When we arrived at the end of the bridge I said, “¡Viva Puerto Rico! Referring to one of his flags draping his chair’s steering bars.

“One dollar, por favor.”

“Como?”

“One dollar, por uno bandera.”

He had to be kidding and I asked him so.

“No es broma.”

He wasn’t joking and I grunted, “No thanks. Buene día.”

“Okay, okay. Dos para una.”

You got to hand to this guy. He's a died-in-the-wool salesman and he never forgot what he set out to do: try and sell his banderas. As I ran up towards Second Avenue I shook my head and said, “Only in New York.””

Today's Run


Today's half-marathon training run was glorious! Sunny and cool with the temps in 60's. I was especially inspired after talking earlier with fellow Achilles Guide, Jack M. and listened intently about his first guiding experience.

Jack was one of four guides for a blind runner competing in the NYC marathon a few years ago. With responsibilities that included getting more for his runner, Jack was 'double running'. Meaning that after he had to stop for the water he would than have to run to catch up to the rest of his team. Jack ran like this for 13 miles until his group took off and left him (not intentionally) and Jack ran the rest of the marathon alone and finished exhausted.

I'm looking forward to 'double running' with the Run With Heidi Team under the guidance of two professional coaches. And the best thing is, I won't have to do it alone.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

She's "Alive" and So Am I

Navigating a bicycle through and over New York City's streets, highways and bridges on a good day is cause for stress. Add on pelting rain, bracing winds, crater sized potholes and the responsibility of a blind cycling partner brings on a bit more anxiety.

Last Sunday along with 38,000 riders we pedaled a tandem bike 42 plus miles through all of NYC five boroughs during the 2009 Five Borough Bike Tour. Imagine riding along the BQE with bay and ocean winds in your face. Or speeding down the center lane of a car-free Varrazano Bridge hooting and hollering with joy and frozen feet. Get the picture? Or should I say, "Feeling"?

As a volunteer with the Achilles Track Club, Sunday's ride was my first on a tandem bike. Partnering with the funny, intelligent, curious, energetic Eliza, we set off to explore and conquer New York City's highways and byways. Eliza had just one request. “I’m relatively new to New York so, would you please "describe where we ride."

Think you have good communication skills? Give them a test while seated in front of a blind athlete on a bicycle through New York and see how you fare. I teach communication skills and I was amazed over how many details I became aware of as I acted as guide. How, for example do you describe the steel, lace lattice work of the Madison Avenue Bridge to someone who's never 'seen' steel lace lattice and may never have the opportunity? "To your left is Roosevelt Island where the remains of the Small Pox Hospital stands like an old man with crumbling bones. And directly in front of us at twelve o'clock, I can just make out the spires of the Williamsburg Bridge peaking through the fog.”

Biking with a visually impaired athlete on a tandem is an exercise in mutual trust and I was especially nervous about the responsibility. But my anxiety began to subside as we rode through the darkened and echoed underpass below New York Hospital where thousands of riders screamed and hooted and Eliza exclaimed, “Wow, this is so incredible!” Incredible indeed.

Without going into a travelogue, the best part of the ride for me came when we sped down the Varazzano Bridge at 35 mph, rain pelted our faces and Eliza screamed, “I feel soooooo Alive!” I too, felt more alive than I have in a very long time.

The event ended at the Staten Island Ferry Station where wet and tired riders sailed back to Manhattan. With other Achilles’ athletes and volunteers splayed across the ferry’s seats, Eliza and I decided that we would pedal from Battery Park back to Central Park instead of taking the subway. “I want the full experience,” she said. “Why not,” I responded. “We are so Alive.”

Friday, May 1, 2009

Laughter Reduces Stress For Traffic Cops

Bangkok's busy streets cause major headaches for everyone especially the traffic cops who try and keep everything moving smoothly. Stress runs high standing on the feet all day long not to mention countless expletives hurled at you while gasping for a  air in a sea of carbon monoxide. 

Enter laughter therapy. Now Bangkok's traffic cops have a tool to manage their stress: laughter. Check out the MSN video of these jolly coppers in action and if you want to learn how you can use laughter at home or in your organization to achieve a better quality of life, check out Laughter Yoga and Stress-Less

Laughter is an instant vacation. ~ Milton Berle