Saturday, March 26, 2011

Waste Knot Want Knots

I can't let good trash go to waste. It pains and pleases me to see so much of what people toss out. (I'll save my thoughts on all 'have-to-have-it' consumerism for another post.) You've heard the idiom before, "One man's trash is another man's treasure" and I for one am always on the look out for trash treasures.

There isn't a better city than New York for trash picking. On my weekly hunts, I've lassoed the following great finds: a four poster bed, two cane backed chairs, an antique rotating and folding desk-dining table combo, three 46" color televisions, two french-door kitchen cabinets, three brass and marble lamps; and a full length, hardwood church pew found in front of Yeshiva University. This is not the complete list, just some of my favorites that after a little renovation became permanent fixtures in the apartment.

Chicago has yet to yield anything close to the dumpster finds New York coughed up. Maybe it's because I'm looking in the wrong neighborhoods or Chicagoans are more frugal than New Yorkers. I don't know but I am happy to report, that at least five-hundred pounds of wood was saved from being thrown into a Chicago land fill this week.

Recently, the building we live in replaced the wood wall coverings in the lobby and threw the three hundred or so planks behind the dumpster in the garage. "Can I have this?" I excitedly asked the Super. "You want that shit you can have it." I carted that "shit" away so fast it made his head spin. Now, what was I going to do with it? 

A blank page or canvas can be a daunting thing to look at and so too can five-hundred pounds of laminated wood planks. I was determined to do something with this "shit". I took out the X-Acto blades and started cutting and carving and presto! Carved and  painted panels from shit. (See accompanying images.) All it took was one small step and the Process took over.

I'm still not sure what I'll do with the remainder of the four-hundred and ninety-five pounds of planks but rest assure that their knots will not be tossed in the trash.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Laughing With the Head Hunters

What's so funny about Executive placement? Well, did you hear the joke about the head hunter who walked into a bar with a parrot who said....?

Last week I had the extreme pleasure of being interviewed by the wonderfully affable, competent and contagious laugher, Kathleen Kurke who, along with her many talents host a radio podcast Truth From The Trenches which, focuses on topics of everything in the Recruiting industry. Kathleen was interested in how she and her colleagues in the field of employment placement might incorporate Laughter Yoga into their practices.

One of the 'tips' that I shared with Kathleen about the use of Laughter Yoga in conducting interviews, was to ask applicants to state a skill or competency and then laugh. Repeat. Laugh. This works especially well when the interviewer senses that the applicant is nervous or not presenting their 'true' self. I also suggested that the use of laughter for both the interviewer and the applicant or job seeker in preparation for the meeting will reduce stress and induce what I like to call tickling bubbles throughout the body. There's nothing wrong and everything right preparing for an important meeting with a few minutes of laughter.

I hope that you get as much out of listening to the interview as I received by participating in it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Group Power!

The power of the group never ceases to amaze me. The happy, joyous faces pictured here caught my attention after my long run today. Children, of course, are great emotional-vanes; that is, that they are very honest in the way they feel. What you see is what you get. If they're unhappy they'll let you know it, if they're gleeful, they show that too. Then they grow up and the adult masks slip on and cover what's really going deep inside. Still, we humans like any other animals prefer to group. Some in small groups such as lovers or in marriage and others in larger groups like religious or political communities. There's power in groups; there's energy too, generated when shared passion, desire, creativity and electricity all come together. This is why I joined a running group.

It's bleak in Chicago during the winter months and having the motivation to lace-up and get out the door has been a big challenge for me. Especially, when the wind speeds are in access of twenty-five miles per hour. I have several races coming up and I am under trained and under motivated. The Internet combined with a confluence of shared needs and passion, we found each other: The South Loop Running Club ands it's energetic, kind and passionate founder, Allen Patin. The power of group demonstrated itself from the start, when on a very cold and windy Saturday morning a handful of runners got together to attain one simple goal: run. The group was eclectic, varying shapes, sizes, and levels of experience. Some ran slow, some fast, and others combined walking and running. But there were tow constants: the desire to run and the welfare of the group.

Knowing that there is a group of like-minded people that are friendly, committed and generous, that I can tap into on a weekly basis has provided huge benefits. A long time ago I identified with the character Alvy Singer in Woody Allen's Annie Hall said,"I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member." But I was wrong, I think I'm a good group member and the quality, energy and personality of any group is determined by the individuals who make up the group. So, if you're looking for motivation to learn something, to attain a goal or just to get out from under your blanket, consider checking out a group with similar interests. It's very powerful.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Laughing at AIDS

When I think of the friends that I lost to AIDS along with countless others around the world, laughter is not the first things that comes to mind. And yet, that's what Nigerian director Bolanle Ninalowo is attempting to do in his movie, "Rebirth".

As reported by the Temple News Online, (Temple University, Philadelphia) Ninalowo’s script tells the tale of a "young Nigerian man whose hedonistic lifestyle comes to a sudden halt when he discovers he may have contracted HIV. While it may seem strange for a film with such a serious topic to elicit laughter, that was the goal. By entertaining the audience, “Rebirth” lets viewers approach the sensitive issue more comfortably."

“I thought it was very funny,” said Adedun Aderemi, an Arcadia University student who attended the premiere. “It had a lot of information and talked about living with HIV, which a lot of people are really scared about.”

Not only is laughter one of the best medicines, it's also a great vehicle for teaching and sharing important, life saving knowledge. Who knew?