Lori Cook, marketing specialist at Countryside YMCA, shares how her inspiration comes from her sons.

Kindness Learned From Her Sons

Beyond an orientation meeting to introduce me to the Countryside YMCA, I was getting ready for our first official public relations planning meeting. I chose a sleeveless fuchsia colored shirt with white pants because that color combination just makes me smile. When I arrived, and walked through her office door, ... Read More
quote from Richard Branson on taking risks

Taking Risks...Is Worth The Risk

I love this quote. It speaks to me on so many levels beyond work. If we aren't willing to take risks, we may miss out on so much of what gives us purpose and fulfillment in life. We may miss out on relationships. We may miss out on incredible experiences. ... Read More

This Dog Rescue Run Is Her Passion

I met Lori Gerring several years back through her work on the Paw Joggers Rescue Run. Billie Mendoza, founder and owner of Paw Joggers, whom I have known for many years had expanded her capacity to help pets by forming a nonprofit organization to organize an annual race that would ... Read More
Rachael Moore of Cincinnati Art Underground talks about how art is discovery

Rachael Moore Sees Art As Discovery

Rachael Moore will tell you, she is not an artist but she is a huge fan of the arts. She used to be what she calls ‘that typical visitor’ who would pop into museums during her trips to admire art, but really, not giving it much more thought than whether ... Read More
Thomas Courtney talks about inspiration through possivity

The Best Version Of Who We Are

The other day, Thomas Courtney and I met for coffee and he shared a story with me that I thought everyone could benefit from hearing, so I asked him to write about it as a guest post, which is below.  Thomas has created and is in the process of bringing ... Read More

Portraying Souls Through Art

Jing was 16 months old, just weeks ahead of playing make believe, running, jumping, and exploring. Only those developmental milestones she was on target for reaching, had to be delayed. The course of her life was about to make a detour that would alter her journey for a very long ... Read More

Anita's Gift Saved Howard's Life

For many years Local 12’s Troubleshooter Howard Ain was the problem solver for thousands – those he assisted first hand and many more who benefited from his advocacy through watching his television segments. And, as it goes in life, you never know when your role will change from the giver ... Read More
Margo Hess shared these words of wisdom at our Toast of the Town Toastmasters Club in Cincinnati about transitions

Lessons From Transitions

Before Labor Day, my Toast of the Town Toastmasters Club lost one of our dearest members. Several years after her first meeting, after having served as our Club's VP of Education (the most time intensive of our Board positions), inspiring and uplifting us with her humorous and thoughtful speeches, critiques, and ... Read More
Lisa Desatnik gave a speech at her Cincinnati Toastmasters Club about why she does not like the phrase, 'Good Luck', and what she suggests to use instead.

Instead of Good Luck, Say This

NOTE:  This is a speech that I just gave at my Toast of the Town Toastmasters Club in Kenwood. We meet every Tuesday at Noon and would love to have you join us as a guest or member. Please contact me to learn more!!   Darrell Royal once said, “Luck ... Read More
Of this photo, WLWT News Anchor Megan Mitchell says, "beautiful scenes like this remind me how we are all connected to our planet and each other. "

Megan Raises Voices Of Unheard

I met Megan Mitchell for the first time one morning when I had stopped by their newsroom earlier this year to talk about the 2017 ReelAbilities Film Festival. I had asked for suggestions of news staff who may be interested in helping to emcee our screenings, and was pointed in ... Read More

These Adults Explore And Give

You may find them dancing, sightseeing, hiking, tending to vegetables in a garden, or volunteering their time. One day they may be exploring Fort Ancient, the next they may be touring one of the local waterways on a pontoon boat. One day they may be sorting items at Matthew 25: ... Read More
At 3, Eva Brandstetter is a little girl who learns an important lesson in kindness.

At 3, Eva Learns A Lesson In Kindness

There is something so uplifting about seeing the beautiful heart of a little child who already at a very young age knows and appreciates what it means to be kind to others. And behind that child is very likely adult role models from whom those values have been instilled. Eva ... Read More
Amy Tobin dwells in possibility

Amy Tobin Dwells In Possibility

I love this quote by Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” It reminds me a lot of Amy Tobin. When I think about Amy, I smile. She ... Read More
a quote by Lisa Desatnik of appreciation

Today Is A Gift

Some morning reflection. It is so easy to get caught up in our day that we forget to notice and appreciate all the simple pleasures that surround us. Someone is in our thoughts but we don't reach out, or we are afraid of speaking our feelings. But the truth is, ... Read More
Fox 19 Morning News Anchor Charisse Gibson talks about her love for Cincinnati, her volunteer work, and her inspiration.

Charisse Shares Cincinnati Love

It was very hot and humid day in downtown Cincinnati. Traffic was heavy. Pedestrians hurriedly walked along the sidewalks. The sun’s reflection bounced from windows and caused deep shadows among those in its path. Hours later there would be loud music reverberating from the stage at Fountain Square. Families and ... Read More

A Mom's View On Beauty

You may not recognize the name Perry Elliott aka Scott Perry, but, I have no doubt you would recognize his deep, polished, dramatic at times and sometimes whispy voice that has promoted Steve Harvey, NBC's hit America's Got Talent, the Oscars, sports broadcasts, big screen movies, and other television shows. ... Read More
Cheryl Beardslee of Cincinnati says Courttney Cooper, an artist at Visionaries and Voices, taught her about making the most of the gifts you were born with.

An Army Officer's Lesson Passed On

Facebook has so dramatically altered the way we communicate, and sometimes meet.. It has introduced me to people I would never have come in contact with. It is a source of support, of sharing good news and bad, of laughing at each other’s stories, of connecting, really connecting. It was ... Read More
The Freestore Foodbank’s The Giving Fields is a community farm that provides produce for Northern Kentucky food pantries with the help of over 2,400 volunteers.

The Giving Fields Gives Produce

Just along the southern bank of the Ohio River sits the small rural town of Melbourne, Kentucky, spotted with rustic farms and quaint resting spots. The 2010 Census counted 401 people residing in its neighborhoods. It is also the home of the Freestore Foodbank’s The Giving Fields, an expansive 10 ... Read More
Carol Stevie, recently retired director of Cincinnati nonprofit Catholic Inner-City Schools Education (CISE), said the reason she was drawn to CISE is that we are all connected through our humanity.

Carol's Work Inspired By Humanity

I have often said I am so fortunate that my work has introduced me to some pretty incredible people. Carol Stevie is among them. We came to know each other through my work on the Greater Cincinnati Planned Giving Council’s Voices of Giving Awards. A committee member, Carol had been ... Read More

Foster Parents To Adoptee Parents

It was over six years ago when Don and Cindy Reilly’s lives changed forever. Tears swelled in their eyes as the credits rolled to the movie, the Blind Side. And, the next thing they knew, they signed up for CPR and first aid classes and began talking about fostering. Their ... Read More
Last summer, Kathleen Cail and Nestor Melnyk were awarded a grant by People’s Liberty from the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile Foundation to create Access Cincinnati, an online resource providing accessibility information on restaurants and bars to families with strollers, veterans, seniors and other individuals with mobility issues.

Access Cincinnati Launches

Last summer, Kathleen Cail and Nestor Melnyk were awarded a grant by People’s Liberty from the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile Foundation to create Access Cincinnati, an online resource providing accessibility information on restaurants and bars to families with strollers, veterans, seniors and other individuals with mobility issues. After ... Read More
At 90 years old, Dr. Aurora Lira, is still winning medals in dance competitions. She and her partner just won a gold medal at the Millennium Dancesport Championships in Orlando, Florida.

90 Year Old Dancer Inspires

A note from my friend, Magno Relojo… A 90 yr old lady who happens to love dancing and dressing up, inspires us with her enthusiasm for learning and memorizing her dance routines. At this age these can be difficult tasks to do but it is so amazing to see her ... Read More
Danielle and Chris Jones of Cincinnati wrote a book about their journey through tragedy and finding joy.

How Their Loss Is Helping Them Do Good

Danielle Jones was working at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center when we first met.  I remember us walking through the hallways, into the waiting rooms, and even further into the patient rooms where young, innocent girls and boys were resting nervously with their families before or after procedures. One thing ... Read More
Be proud of what makes you uniquely different, beautiful and YOU!

Be Proud Of You

Just a reminder... Be proud of what makes you uniquely different, beautiful, and YOU! ~ Lisa Desatnik Read More
Jennifer Okoniewski, a Cincinnati nurse, reflects on the meaning of her job.

A Nurse's Reflection

"Thoughts from my quiet time before work.... Although I don't deal with physical life-threatening issues, I work with mentally life-threatening issues. Being a Psych nurse... Patients here are suicidal, homicidal, schizophrenic, psychotic, bipolar, and so many other illnesses. Just because someone is not physically ill does not mean they are ... Read More
Jenny and Bill McCloy of Cincinnati are philanthropists who give of their time to Melodic Connections, Ken Anderson Alliance, and the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, among other causes. They hope their example inspires others to give back too.

They Hope To Inspire Others To Give

Today I want to introduce you to a couple I got to know through my work on the ReelAbilities Film Festival. Jenny McCloy co-chaired the 2017 ReelAbilities, and the more I get to know about her and her husband, Bill, the more impressed I become. Jenny and Bill were recently ... Read More

Cincinnati World Affairs Council

When I first heard about the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council, it brought me back to my earliest experience of learning about people whose cultures are different from my own. (You can read about it here.) What an important cause, now more than ever. As an adult, if you are ... Read More
How cultural diversity and international exchange programs make us better people and a better world.

Cultural Diversity Helps Us Grow

In life, we learn so much from our experiences. They shape and teach us, how to see our world and those who share it with us. When we get to know one other, we break down stereotypes, open communication, bridge understanding and come to appreciate the unique gift each person ... Read More
United Pet Fund, which supports Cincinnati dog rescue organizations and shelters that do dog adoptions, is holding a fundraiser.

United Pet Fund Garage Sale

I remember so well that day when United Pet Fund held its grand opening of its then new 8,500 sq ft Blue Ash Resource Center. In a warehouse building that would come to be stocked with pet food and supplies, dozens of people who shared a common interest in the ... Read More
Tish Hevel founded the Brain Donor Project in memory of her father, Gene Armentrout. The Cincinnati nonprofit organization has registered almost 500 brains for donation from 46 states.

Brain Donor Project Is A Father's Legacy

Gene Armentrout and his daughter, Tish Hevel Gene Armentrout was surrounded by family when his heart beat its last pulse March 10, 2015. He was an avid tennis player, an amateur bridge partner, sometimes golfer and passionate runner for 25+ years. He was the guy running in Eden Park or ... Read More

DJ Brings Out The Happy In People

It is funny that Dona Jean Gatwood, director of community inclusion programs at Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD, Inc.) told me one of the perks of her job is that it gives her the opportunity to laugh a lot, as, it is because of people like her that ... Read More
How a vacation to Destin, Florida rejuvenated Lisa Desatnik.

The Greatest Rejuvenator Of All Time

When was the last time you were under great pressure to complete deadlines and assignments? How often do you have nights where you lay in bed awake thinking about what is on your plate? When was the last time you took a vacation and really checked out from emails and ... Read More
Mary Ronan, superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools, and John and Eileen Barrett and Chris Bochenek, were recently honored by the Assistance League of Greater Cincinnati at its annual awards presentation for their commitments to giving back.

Honorees For Giving Back

Mary Ronan, superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools, and John and Eileen Barrett and Chris Bochenek, were recently honored by the Assistance League of Greater Cincinnati at its annual awards presentation for their commitments to giving back. Mary Ronan Mary was recognized with a National Operation School Bell Award. Operation School ... Read More
Operation Give Back is a Sycamore Township nonprofit organization that supports students living in poverty

Operation Give Back

Children living in poverty, or in need of tutoring or mentoring, are not relegated to certain neighborhoods. They are all around us. They could be our neighbors or someone living down the street. They could be a classmate to your child. Let’s face it, on any given day, any one ... Read More
Varen Noell Rogers was chosen as the cover girl for Cincinnati Family Magazine

Meet A Cincinnati Cover Girl!

Super cool for 5 year old Varen Noell Rogers! Months back I remember her mother, Stacy Sill, telling us her daughter was in the running for the cover model of Cincinnati Family Magazine…and now Varen’s beautiful face is gracing thousands of issues around the region. I asked Stacy to share ... Read More
Northern Kentucky University student Jayren Andrews is a leader and role model.

NKU Student Is A Change Agent

A freshman at Northern Kentucky University, Jayren Andrews has already long established himself as a change agent. Wise beyond his years, he is a young man driven to be a voice, a leader, and a role model for his peers, his neighborhood, his network, and even his world. While attending ... Read More
Lori and Bill Beer have established an endowment fund for the University of Cincinnati Lindner College of Business.

The Beers Give $500,000 To Support UC Students

It’s great to see people in our community, leaders and innovators in their fields, to step up and pave the way for future generations to carry on that legacy. Lori and Bill Beer Lori and Bill Beer are doing just that with the establishment of a $500,000 Beer Family Endowed ... Read More
Led by Suzanne Deyoung of La Soupe and Julie Riney Richardson, Indian Hill High school students prepared over 5,000 quarts of soup made from rescued food.

A Soup Project For Indian Hill Students

Can a village feed a city? Absolutely! And the entire student body at Indian Hill High School has been working with Suzy DeYoung and La Soupe, Julie Richardson, and Sugarcreek (a co-packer) to prove it can happen. Led by Suzanne Deyoung of La Soupe and Julie Riney Richardson, Indian Hill ... Read More
Dan Marshall is a Cincinnati musician, speaker, and business consultant.

Dan Marshall Never Has Bad Days

Dan Marshall will tell you, he does not have bad days. He only has character building days. Seven years ago he stood before a packed auditorium for an Ignite Cincinnati Event, and reminded the young professionals that even when things are going bad, “you are going to learn something from ... Read More
Kathy Smith was executive director of Cincinnati nonprofit Kenzie's Closet, and shares how it helps prom dreams come true for local teens

Kenzie's Closet Is A Dream Maker

It is a dream of most girls, to step out in a gorgeous evening gown, a flower corsage on her wrist and a young man on her side as she enters the darkened space. Her peers crowd the floor, watching her enter in awe. Her smile illuminates the room. But, ... Read More
TT Stern-Enzi

Films Are His Textbook For Teaching

You may have seen TT Stern-Enzi’s film reviews on FOX 19 or in CityBeat. He also writes for the Dayton CityPaper. Several months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting him over coffee. He has such a kind soul about him and when he talks about his passions – films, ... Read More
RJ Mitte and Nic Novicki were among the celebrities who attended the 2017 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival

Cincinnati ReelAbilities About Appreciation

It has been about three weeks now since I left the Duke Energy Center, exhausted (and sick) from an incredible experience of being part of one of the hardest working teams you will ever meet, all working toward a goal of building something so powerful and important as to positively affect ... Read More

A Volunteer Helping Make Things Happen

One of the many benefits of working on the ReelAbilities Film Festival for me are the incredible people it has given me the opportunity to get to know. I will be sharing some of their stories in my blog. Caren Theuring is most definitely among them. Caren was a tireless ... Read More
Heather Seukamp is a teacher at St. Clement Elementary School in Cincinnati

Life Lessons Taught In Class

Kind, patient teachers who instinctively know how to bring out the best in children are such treasures. They are role models to young minds and their power has the capability of impacting entire journeys through life. Heather Seurkamp is among them. Her aunt, Terri Hogan, introduced us. Heather is a ... Read More
Susan Brownknight, executive director of Cincinnati nonprofit, LADD, talks about the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival

Cincinnati ReelAbilities Celebrates Difference

These past few weeks (and months) my blog has slowed as I’ve needed to focus much of my energy on promoting the 2017 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival organized by LADD, Inc. (and a project for the Countryside YMCA and mixing in pet training). The Festival is now a week away, ... Read More
Amy Delgado is a Cincinnati mother to a daughter who has Spina Bifida, and writes a blog called Ability Hacker. She shares what she learned from parenting.

A Mother's Lessons

My work on the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival organized by LADD, Inc. has connected me with some pretty incredible people in our region. Amy Delgado is one of them. ReelAbilities is about bringing people together to learn from and about each other and to celebrate our differences that together make ... Read More
Rosemary Oglesby-Henry, founder of Rosemary’s Babies, presented an award of appreciation to Dr. James Williams, president of Mt. St. Joseph University, for the school’s support.

Rosemary's Legacy

In all of my years of work for social service agencies, I have seen so many individuals and families affected by generational circumstances. There have been those who were born into environments surrounded by poverty, abuse or other hardships; and who have followed in the path of the generations before ... Read More
The greatest lesson in this world is how to give and receive love.

Happy Valentine's Day!

  I don't know who gets more out of my visits to the Kennedy Heights Montessori Center, me or the kids. Usually I read to the 3 to 6 year olds, but last week we did something different. They each made a personal, hand made Valentine's Day car that ... Read More
Melissa Milinovich is 2005 Ms. Wheelchair Ohio and volunteers for the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival. In this interview, she shares some of her story.

Melissa Wants You To See Abilities

I have gotten to know Melissa these past few months through my work with the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival. She is a volunteer whose leadership and passion is greatly furthering the cause of our Festival whose goals are for people to change the way they perceive difference, to break down ... Read More
Jennifer Grimmett is volunteer coordinator for My Furry Valentine, a Cincinnati pet adoption event

My Furry Valentine Led By Passionate Animal Lovers

To organize a MEGA animal adoption event that finds homes for some 800+ animals, it takes a MEGA crew of hard working volunteers to make it happen. That event is the My Furry Valentine, our region’s largest adoption event that finds homes for pets from about 35 different rescue groups. ... Read More

Kindness Learned From Her Sons

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Beyond an orientation meeting to introduce me to the Countryside YMCA, I was getting ready for our first official public relations planning meeting. I chose a sleeveless fuchsia colored shirt with white pants because that color combination just makes me smile. When I arrived, and walked through her office door, would you believe, there, standing in front of me was Lori Cook, marketing specialist, wearing – yep, a sleeveless fuchsia colored shirt and white pants!

I don’t think either one of us will forget that moment. We burst out in laughter.  It is color choice that is most people’s closets, even more so when the fuchsia top is sleeveless! It was pretty telling of future relationship. There are a lot of smiles and laughter when we work together.

Lori just brings that out in people. You tend to just feel happier, energized, when she is around.

Last month I was at the Countryside YMCA for its annual Healthy Kids Triathlon. Hundreds of children dove in the swimming pool before hopping on their bikes and then ending on foot, triumphing in front of cheering adults along the way. In the excitement of it all, I discovered as I was getting ready to leave that I had somehow lost my car keys. This, at the country’s largest YMCA which sprawls vast grounds. I was beside myself and Lori calmly told me she would not leave until I found them. I did end up finding the keys after about a half hour and all was good but I was so touched and so appreciative of her kindness and her patience.

Lori Cook, marketing specialist at Countryside YMCA, shares how her inspiration comes from her sons.And recently, when she and I connected personally on Facebook, I got to see another side to her. Her humorous spin on what would otherwise be considered every day family occurrences sends me into a chuckle.

It should come as no surprise then, when I asked her recently where her inspiration comes from, and she pointed to her two sons.

“I think it is really cool the way they think and want to care for others,” she told me, sharing these stories:

“My youngest, Benjamin, who is 14, is like the baby whisperer. He works at a nursery at our church and holds crying babies with such patience. Last Sunday my 3-year-old great niece was having a rough weekend and Benjamin dropped everything in his day to take her to the zoo, putting her in front of his own social and academic life. I want to be able to be like that as an adult. I want to be able to say this whatever is not as important as the people I care about.

My other son, Will, is 16 and is all about giving financially. He is the worker who quietly observes his world, and saves his income until something tugs at his heart. Then he gives his money. He was a lifeguard over the summer, picking up every shift he could. He is very structured with his budget so that he can have money to give back.”

I asked Lori what lessons her boys have taught her. Sher answered, “I have learned from them how to be playful, how to love with your heart first, how to be vulnerable, how to fail and be okay with that, and how hard it is to be peaceful. I see their stress from school and life, and I think it is something that needs to be talked about. Life is hard and needs to be addressed and simplified when can be.”

This Dog Rescue Run Is Her Passion

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I met Lori Gerring several years back through her work on the Paw Joggers Rescue Run. Billie Mendoza, founder and owner of Paw Joggers, whom I have known for many years had expanded her capacity to help pets by forming a nonprofit organization to organize an annual race that would benefit local rescues. And Lori has been Billie’s ‘right hand woman’ since.

The Paw Joggers Rescue Run is this coming Sunday, October 15th, from  8:30am-12:00pm with the race beginning at 10:00am. At Sharon Woods Park (11450 Lebanon Rd; 45241) Competitive Runners, Recreational Runners, Walkers and Runners/Walkers with (well-behaved) dogs invited to participate!

The Race includes a choice of challenging 5k (chip timed event) and a relatively flat 2k course. Proceeds will go to dozens of Cincinnati area dog and cat rescue organizations.

Paw Joggers Rescue Run now includes a Saturday Expo from Noon to 4 pm with a variety of vendors. It will be held at the MARCH FIRST BREWING (7885 Kemper Rd; 45249).

The Paw Joggers Animal Community Fund (Paw Joggers ACF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the local animal welfare community through events, awareness, and monetary donations.  The Paw Joggers ACF and its events are powered solely by Paw Joggers Run volunteers.

Lori shared this story of why this Race is her passion.

“Several years ago, my New Year’s resolution was to “do something outside of my comfort zone” each month.  I haven’t always kept the resolution after that year, but helping with the PJRR was most definitely outside of my comfort zone:  I hate asking for donations and cold-calling and I had no idea what goes into a 5K.  The first year was, to put it mildly, a learning experience.

I am involved with the PJRR because I was there when Billie Mendoza decided to form a nonprofit and organize the 5K, based on the Rusty Ball model of beneficiary participation.  A dedicated race participant; Billie took care of the race details. I was the “Communications Coordinator”, contacting vendors, sponsors, volunteers, and promoting the new 5K/2K, last year I added the EXPO to my duties.

The animal welfare community is important to me.  My first dog, Rocket the Black Lab, was from a backyard breeder.  I didn’t know any better.  Several rescues wouldn’t let us adopt because we hadn’t raised a dog and didn’t have an established relationship with a veterinarian.  We took Rocket to rescue group fundraisers because it was fun to be out with him, where we learned about the work these groups do.  Several years later we adopted another Black Lab, Turbo, from a rescue.  After Rocket passed, we adopted Flash (From Elvis Presley TCB in a Flash), also from a rescue.

My first rescue ‘job’ was with Kyle New Hope Animal Rescue.  Dr. Kyle was such an incredible help with Rocket that it seemed like a good way to thank her.    Other volunteer work has been as a Therapy Dog Team with Turbo (and Rocket) for the Alliance of Therapy Dogs; projects, including grant reviews, for the Grey Muzzle Organization; and minor help with the United Pet Fund.

But the PJRR has a special place in my life.  I’m a huge believer in the importance of walking with your dog (for all sorts of reasons) and the PJRR promotes just that.  It’s also a way to help a variety of rescues.  I’ve met so many people dedicated to helping pets.  I’ve learned that pets help people in return so it’s a worth-while cause.  And selfishly it makes me a better person because I push myself to get things done.”

So Much PETential Cincinnati dog training

Rachael Moore Sees Art As Discovery

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Rachael Moore will tell you, she is not an artist but she is a huge fan of the arts. She used to be what she calls ‘that typical visitor’ who would pop into museums during her trips to admire art, but really, not giving it much more thought than whether or not she liked a piece of work.

Rachael Moore of Cincinnati Art Underground talks about how art is discoveryNow, she told me, “I see art as creations by people who lived and breathed, and were inspired. Art just comes alive and is constantly evolving. I can see the story behind it. It is a journey of experimentation for artists who have studied with their minds or hands or philosophical movement.”

Before her metamorphosis, Rachael was on track for a corporate career. She was three years into law school when she moved with her husband to London for several years, and then moved to Cincinnati in 2011 when her husband took a job with GE Aviation. Rachael got involved with the arts a year later with a volunteer position for the Constella Music Festival.

Her transition had begun. Rachael remembers a conversation with a group of local artists. “They needed a chance to show their work, but also I saw such a passion here for people who want to see what Cincinnati artists are doing.”

That is when her vision began to crystallize.

In 2014 Rachael organized several pop-up shows in Over-the-Rhine; and today, she runs an 800 square foot boutique contemporary gallery called Cincinnati Art Underground. Each month it features the work of diverse artists known locally and nationally, with artist talks and events.  Coming up in October, her gallery will feature David Gerena aka KAOS, a graffiti artist who got his start in New York City in the 1980s, when graffiti was considered an ‘underground culture’.

“I like surprising our visitors. I want Cincinnati Art Underground to be a gallery where there is always something more to discover,” Rachael said.

 

 

The Best Version Of Who We Are

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The other day, Thomas Courtney and I met for coffee and he shared a story with me that I thought everyone could benefit from hearing, so I asked him to write about it as a guest post, which is below.  Thomas has created and is in the process of bringing to the airwaves, It’s a Good Life – a television show that informs, inspires and provides insight on living a better life.  

 

Thomas Courtney talks about inspiration through possivityWhen we wake up in the morning we should say to ourselves, “Today, I am going to make this day, the best day, I have ever had in my life. “

A couple of years ago I was speaking at an education and computer technology conference to a group of  K12 through college software writers and developers about the power of making an impact in our communities and our world at large.  I shared about children who are living in poverty and homelessness; and about how the number one way we can have the greatest impact on life around us is by being the best version of who we are, right now, in this moment.  Not a version of anyone else.

In my conference speech, I told the story of how I would sit and talk with children in their classroom and listen to their stories of what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Many of those students were kids who had some behavioral issues stemming from their challenges of living a life that was much more difficult than what the average person was living.

I get very passionate when I speak of possibility and what we can do to make a difference in whatever way we can, big or small.   I am passionate because I believe in possibility.  And when I spoke to those children who believed they had no hope and no place to turn and no one to turn to and no way out, their eyes lit up like Christmas trees when I told them there is always a way out and a way up.

I said to the children, “In life, moments will come along when you think. ‘I have no chance of getting over this hurdle’.”   I told them, “You will think you believe that you do not have what it takes to be whatever it is that you want to be.  I am here to tell you that simply is not true.  You will be spending the rest of your life constructing your life.  Self-construction never stops.

“There will be times when you think you are stuck.  And you may likely be.  And there will be times when you will be afraid of the unknown.  And it is going to feel like you aren’t capable of taking that next step.   And you will wonder if you are in charge, or is life in charge of you.    Most likely, it will be a little of both.   However, if you build a good value system, stick to it, and follow your heart this will give you a foundation to take leaps you may never think you can take.  And most importantly, be who you are.  Do not try to be anyone else.  And be the very best version of who you are.”

When I finished my story, the audience was motionless. Eyes had blank stares and were frozen in time.  You could hear a pin drop.  Suddenly a hand went up. The woman had this to say, “I can appreciate how passionate you are and the work that you are doing with these children, but I am not in your line of work.  I get up every day and do the same thing over and over again, sitting at my computer typing.  I have very little to do with anyone else, little alone making a great impact.  I think I do my job well, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I am making a difference.”

I briefly paused, thinking about what was said before giving an answer. “Well, let’s go back to what I said to the children about being the best version of you,” I told her, asking how she begins her days.

“I get up after hitting the snooze three times, chuckle, fix my coffee, race to the shower, and may or may not have time for breakfast, and run to my car trying to hurry to make sure I’m not late.  Then I realize I am about out of gas and need to stop and fill up my gas tank on my way into the office.,” she told me as the audience laughed. “And it really depends on how late I was out the night before,” she added.

Then I asked her, “Tell me how you feel about your work?,” and she explained, “I love my job.  I make a good living.  I am doing what I went to school for.  This is what I do.”

I paused again for a moment, and then asked, “Do you believe the picture you just painted for me is the best you can be?  Do you believe you are being the best version of who you are based on what I explained to the children?”

She was quiet.

I went on, “I do not mean to sound like I have the answers for you and your life.  But hear me out for a moment.  What if you believed the work that you do, which is creating and building software for K12 through college level as having a serious and critical impact on not only the lives of the children and young adults you build this software for, but on the world?  What if you believed the decisions that you make every day in your life impacted the decisions and thought processes of every individual that your work project touches every day and even on different time zones?   Would that change how you see yourself and the work that you do every day?”

I could see her mental wheels turning.  I could see she was now thinking about a bigger picture.  Sometimes, what we all need is to get clarity on what is most important.  Sometimes we all need to see that in its simplest form we play a much bigger role in this hamster wheel of life than we would like to think.   Self-construction never stops.

We have 86,400 hours in a day to work until we retire, if we retire and depending on when you graduate from high school.  But just for conversation sake these are the hours we have.   This is time.  We should ask ourselves, “Who do we want to be and are we being our very best?  Is it the best version of who we are?”

Life is fleeting.  Time is invaluable.  And since we are so limited then I’d think we would want to spend it becoming the best of who we are, giving the best of which we are, not only for the world, but most importantly for ourselves.   The world is our stage.  We might as well choose to strive to live happy, develop and perfect our humanity, and celebrate being the best of who we are.  Today, I am going to make this day the best day I have ever had in my life.

  • Thomas Courtney
    Reach Thomas by calling 513.616.0407  or emailing thomas@itsagoodlifeinc.com

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