C – A Celebration of Life Featuring Bone Cancer Survivor – Josh Sundquist

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Bone Cancer Survivor – Josh Sundquist

Josh Sundquist has never let anything stand in his way, especially the battle with cancer that left him with only one leg. At 10 he started on his career path of motivational speaking. At 16 he learned to ski, and six years later represented the U.S. as a ski racer in the Paralympic Games in Turino, Italy. He is a best selling author, and founded the ” LessThanFour.org ” website, which has become the world’s largest social networking website for amputees.

See Josh’s story in the new documentary C – A Celebration of Life.

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MPF Eye on Shorts – #Einstein100 – General Relativity from Eoin Duffy

#Einstein100 – General Relativity

This is a simple and fun explanation of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which is actually celebrating it’s 100th year. Where does the time go, ( a little Einstein humor there ) ?

It touches on space and time warps, dark matter and energy, and the beginning and expansion of the universe. Heady stuff for a 3 minute piece. It’s special also because it works for all ages, and would be especially good for a family discussion. Enjoy.


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MPF Observations – Communication in the Modern Age – Strangers or Not ?

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Strangers or Not ?

Don & I decided to get a quick bite to eat after a concert a while back, and ended up at a Honolulu landmark called Liliha Bakery ( the original one ).  It’s actually a bakery and old fashioned diner that’s been around since 1950, equipped only with a counter, and about 15 or 16 bar stools. It’s generally hopping in the late night hours so getting a stool can turn into a pretty good wait, but it’s worth it, if just for the experience. The servers and short order cooks work in perfect unison, and you have a front row seat, as the only thing between you and them, is the 2′ counter in front of you.  As we were watching our meals cooking on the grill, a waitress set a plate down next to Don that definitely caught his attention. Within a matter of seconds, he was in a conversation with the recipient of that meal, and they continued to chat throughout our time there. For my part, I was conversing with the lovely lady sitting next to me about her menu recommendations for the next time we visited. It was a wonderful experience, chatting with folks we didn’t know, and probably wouldn’t see again, but with no expectations or preconceived notions, we were just relating to each other as people.

A few weeks later, we were at a local pizza place picking up a ” to go ” order, on what happened to be the last game of this year’s world series. While we were waiting, we wandered into the bar area that had the game playing on a large screen TV, and were immediately caught up in the excitement of the crowd. You’d have thought we were all the best of friends.

Those two incidents got me thinking about how we relate to strangers. What makes it OK for us to let down our walls, and share a conversation, or an experience with someone we’d normally pass on a street without a glance ? In our day to day lives, we surround ourselves with an invisible ” people ” shield that allows us to feel comfortable around strangers as long as they don’t penetrate that shield. Interestingly, the size of our comfort area changes with the situation. When there are very few people around, our area can be quite large, but when we’re in a crowd, we draw it in to accommodate the closer environment.  Case in point.

We were visiting New York City and decided it would be great fun to go to a Yankees game. Being on a tight budget, we opted to take the subway to the game, and fortunately boarded it well away from the stadium. That was apparently the transportation of choice for most of the fans, so our car was completely full well before we reached our destination. By full, I mean sardine can full. As nearly every square inch of my body was pressed against another person, the thought crossed my mind that if someone wanted to get fresh, there wouldn’t be anything I could do about it. Then I realized that if someone actually had that intention, they wouldn’t have any more luck getting it done as I would stopping it. When we hit the last station before the promised land and the ability of taking a full breath, the doors opened to the hopeful people that were waiting to board. You could here the collective sigh when they quickly realized they wouldn’t be getting on that train, and then something happened I would have never thought possible. A teenage boy had decided that he was going to get on no matter what. He backed up about 20 feet and took off toward the train like he’d been shot out of a cannon. When he was a few feet away from the opening, he went airborne. Somehow, someway, the ripple effect of his impact made just enough room for him to fit, but how those doors ever closed, I’ll never know.  When we finally shimmied off the train and had decompressed from our flattened state, I realized that I had never been that intimate with someone, and not at least known their name.

So how is it that we can freely chat with someone at a diner, yet not say a word to the person that’s pressed against our backside ? How many times have you taken a long flight, and shared few, if any, words with the person that’s crammed into the seat beside you ? How can we cross paths with someone on a sidewalk without acknowledging they exist, but can cheer side by side with an entire group of total strangers ?

First, let’s take out the social butterflies that will talk to anybody, anytime, anywhere, AKA John Candy in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. ( sorry, as it’s Thanksgiving I had to throw that in ), and the ultra shy. For the rest of us, the line between being open to making new connections, or moving on without contact, seems very blurry. Part of it is the unstable nature of today’s world; we are warned continually about keeping our guard up against those that would take unfair advantage of us. We also carry a basic fear of rejection that makes us cautious about exposing ourselves to possible hurt, similar to the asking someone for a date trauma. I think though, the desire to connect is part of our psyche, but to allow that to happen, we need the catalyst provided by a shared experience. When we pass someone on a street, or ride next to them on a public bus, train, or plane, we have no knowledge whatsoever about who they are, or what they’re about, so there’s no easy place to start. If however, we’re on a tour bus, or a junket to Vegas, we have a common thread, so it’s much easier to begin that first conversation. It’s also interesting that the ease of connecting is directly related to the level of emotion generated by the shared experience. Meaning that if that tour bus picks you up and drops you off without anything unusual happening, your chances of really bonding with someone new, are limited. However, if that same tour bus breaks down in the middle of the nowhere, you’re probably going to get to know your fellow travelers pretty well, and if someone on that bus goes into labor while in the middle of nowhere, you’ll probably end up with a lifetime friend or two.

Anyway, something to think about on your next long flight, that is when you’re not on your phone or tablet, but hey, that’s a whole different post.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and if you haven’t already seen it, check out Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, it’s a fun Turkey-day flick.

Heather M Spencer

Mission Positive Films

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A Love Letter To My Mother on Thanksgiving

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A Love Letter To My Mother On Thanksgiving

A Love Letter To My Mother

When I was growing up, my mother struck the perfect balance between disciplinarian and cheerleader. I knew I couldn’t get away with anything, but I also knew she would support whatever dream I wanted to chase. To her, nothing was impossible as long as you put the effort in, and she proved that to me more than once. On my high school graduation, she gave me an incredibly unexpected and beautiful gift, she released her parental control. She started viewing me as an adult rather than a child, and allowed me to make my own choices without her judgement. Before long, we became great friends, and when her marriage ended, we became roommates. I know that probably sounds very strange, but at that time she was in her late thirties, trim, athletic, and with more energy than folks half her age, including me. She ran circles around me, including biking, swimming, and partying, and we double dated on a number of occasions.

Throughout her life, she retained an almost childlike innocence despite facing challenges that would have hardened most of us. She believed in the goodness of people, and though that bit her more than once, she remained true to her faith. Holidays, adventures, and a child’s laughter, caused the same light of excitement to shine in her eyes at 60, as it had at 6. Her greatest attribute though was her generosity. If someone complimented her on something she had, she would offer it as a gift. If she were down to her last bit of food and someone complained of hunger, she would give it to them without a second thought. I’ve never met anyone else that had such an abundance for giving, with no thought of gain or position, just trying to help when she saw a need.

In her early seventies, she was diagnosed with both Lung Cancer and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. After having a portion of her left lung removed, she battled the lymphoma holistically, and had 5 relatively good years. A bad fall and a three week hospital stay changed that, and the cancer took hold in the fall of 2009. Something else had changed as well, the light that I had seen in her eyes for all those years, was dimming, but I refused to accept it. I felt that I could will her to fight, and to live. I begged, pleaded, lectured, cried, and stormed. I tried every trick I had learned in all my time with her, to get that flame burning again, and I kept trying until the day before she passed.

What I didn’t realize until it was too late, is that I wasted my last days with her. I should have recognized and accepted what was coming, and cherished every moment , instead of trying to hang on to something that would never materialize. I was so consumed with buying time, that I lost what little I had. Worse than that though, is in pushing so hard for her to live, I didn’t make it easier for her to die.

It’s been almost 6 years now since she left, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. Sometimes I laugh and sometimes I cry, but always I miss her beautiful soul. Oh, if we could only turn back the clock and change some of our choices, but we can’t, we have to move forward and hopefully, use our experiences to better handle what lies ahead. So this is my Love Letter to my Mother on Thanksgiving.


Dearest Mom,

Thank you for all you have done, and all you’ve been. Thank you for your love, understanding, and support. You taught me what’s truly important, not by word, but by example. Your strength, humor, tolerance, and love of life will remain always in my mind and in my heart. My love and respect for you continues to grow each day, and I will try always to live up to the potential you saw in me.

Until we meet again,

Your daughter and your friend,


For those that have chosen to read this, should you find yourself facing a similar situation, I hope this story will be of help.


A Love Letter to My Mother

Heather M Spencer

Mission Positive Films

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MPF Observation Series – Where oh Where is The Fountain of Youth ?

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The Fountain of Youth

Man has been looking for the Fountain of Youth since the first mirror was hung on a cave wall. Through most of history, it was believed to be a magic spring that gave instant youth to anyone who drank from the water. ( Wow, wouldn’t you love to have stock in that one. ) Century after century passed, but the hunt went on, and even as sophisticated as we consider ourselves to be today, we are still searching. Though we know there isn’t an actual “spring” in Florida, we are still looking for the water in creams, serums, injections, pills, and procedures.

Now the simplest solution, and cheapest by the way, would have been to get rid of all the mirrors. If you couldn’t see your reflection, you would always be young, for inside we are all Peter Pan. Unfortunately, the selfie has eliminated the possibility of that working, so we’ll move on to something else.

The Fountain of Youth industry is huge, I mean mega huge, and if you are counseling your children on what career field to choose, that’s the one. We are a nation of baby boomers that have no intention of giving up that youthful glow, and we’ll spend a small fortune trying to make sure we don’t. The problem though, is that unless you’re Sophia Loren or Sean Connery, all those creams, pills and procedures aren’t quite doing the job. So the cosmetic and drug companies keep churning out the products, and using 20 year olds in their advertising campaigns to show you how well their wrinkle cream works.

I’m convinced though that the Fountain of Youth really does exist, but not in a place you’d think to look. I happened upon the proof of it a few years ago when I had the extreme pleasure of spending an afternoon with a 105 year old double cancer survivor. Her name was Saramae Landers, and she was a retired educator. She loved to travel, which included celebrating her 104th birthday in Thailand because she wanted to ride an elephant. She went to the senior center every morning to socialize, and dance, and sing. She was involved in politics, took a community college course every semester, and had a margarita at least once a week. She was sharp as a tack, would laugh at every opportunity, and was as young in spirit as she had been decades earlier.  I knew that afternoon, that she had found the fountain, but it wasn’t water that gave her youth, it was passion. A passion to learn, to experience, to live.

Since then I have seen a few others that are forever young, and they also have that passion for life and learning. If you just give them a glance, you’ll see wrinkles, and the other signs of an aging body, but if you look into their eyes, you see the fire of life, and it burns bright. They know that the essence of who we are is not in our bodies, but in our souls, and there, youth never ends.

For me, I haven’t found the Fountain of Youth yet, but at least now I know where to look, and as long as I keep my mirrors to a minimum, I think I have a good chance.

Heather M Spencer

Mission Positive Films


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Blue Lava from a Volcano in Ethiopia

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A Volcano in Ethiopia that has blue lava due to a high sulfur content. Photo by Olivier Grunewald.

Kudos to the French photographer Olivier Grunewald, who is responsible for this amazing image. This is called a Cerulean eruption, and it comes from a volcano that contains large amounts of pure sulfur. To see more photos of these eruptions, and information on how these shots are taken, there is a great article on ZME Science by Mihai Andrei.

The link is http://www.zmescience.com/science/geology/volcano-blue-lava-300532014/

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If Children Lose Contact With Nature They Won’t Fight For It | George Monbiot

This is a very important look at the interaction between today’s children and the natural world, and how each impacts the health and well being of the other. Please take a moment to give it a look.


Daniel Pudles 2011

‘The great indoors has become a far more dangerous place than the diminished world beyond.’ Illustration by Daniel Pudles Guardian

“’One woe doth tread upon another’s heel, So fast they follow”. That radical green pressure group PriceWaterhouseCoopers warns that even if the present rate of global decarbonisation were to double, we would still be on course for 6C of warming by the end of the century. Confining the rise to 2C requires a sixfold reduction in carbon intensity: far beyond the scope of current policies.
A new report shows that the UK has lost 20% of its breeding birds since 1966: once common species such as willow tits, lesser spotted woodpeckers and turtle doves have all but collapsed; even house sparrows have fallen by two thirds. Ash dieback is just one of many terrifying plant diseases, mostly spread by trade. They now threaten our oaks, pines and chestnuts.
So where are the marches, the occupations, the urgent demands for change? While the surveys show that the great majority would like to see the living planet protected, few are prepared to take action. This, I think, reflects a second environmental crisis: the removal of children from the natural world. The young people we might have expected to lead the defense of nature have less and less to do with it.
We don’t have to disparage the indoor world, which has its own rich ecosystem, to lament children’s disconnection from the outdoor world. But the experiences the two spheres offer are entirely different. There is no substitute for what takes place outdoors; not least because the greatest joys of nature are unscripted. The thought that most of our children will never swim among phosphorescent plankton at night, will never be startled by a salmon leaping, a dolphin breaching, the stoop of a peregrine, or the rustle of a grass snake is almost as sad as the thought that their children might not have the opportunity.
The remarkable collapse of children’s engagement with nature – which is even faster than the collapse of the natural world – is recorded in Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods, and in a report published recently by the National Trust. Since the 1970s the area in which children may roam without supervision has decreased by almost 90%. In one generation the proportion of children regularly playing in wild places in the UK has fallen from more than half to fewer than one in 10. In the US, in just six years (1997-2003) children with particular outdoor hobbies fell by half. Eleven- to 15-year-olds in Britain now spend, on average, half their waking day in front of a screen.
There are several reasons for this collapse: parents’ irrational fear of strangers and rational fear of traffic, the destruction of the fortifying commons where previous generations played, the quality of indoor entertainment, the structuring of children’s time, the criminalisation of natural play. The great indoors, as a result, has become a far more dangerous place than the diminished world beyond.
AdvertisementThe rise of obesity, rickets and asthma and the decline in cardio-respiratory fitness are well documented. Louv also links the indoor life to an increase in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other mental ill health. Research conducted at the University of Illinois suggests that playing among trees and grass is associated with a marked reduction in indications of ADHD, while playing indoors or on tarmac appears to increase them. The disorder, Louv suggests, “may be a set of symptoms aggravated by lack of exposure to nature”. Perhaps it’s the environment, not the child, that has gone wrong.
In her famous essay the Ecology of Imagination in Childhood, Edith Cobb proposed that contact with nature stimulates creativity. Reviewing the biographies of 300 “geniuses”, she exposed a common theme: intense experiences of the natural world in the middle age of childhood (between five and 12). Animals and plants, she contended, are among “the figures of speech in the rhetoric of play … which the genius in particular of later life seems to recall”.
Studies in several nations show that children’s games are more creative in green places than in concrete playgrounds. Natural spaces encourage fantasy and roleplay, reasoning and observation. The social standing of children there depends less on physical dominance, more on inventiveness and language skills. Perhaps forcing children to study so much, rather than running wild in the woods and fields, is counter-productive.
And here we meet the other great loss. Most of those I know who fight for nature are people who spent their childhoods immersed in it. Without a feel for the texture and function of the natural world, without an intensity of engagement almost impossible in the absence of early experience, people will not devote their lives to its protection. The fact that at least half the published articles on ash dieback have been illustrated with photos of beeches, sycamores or oaks seems to me to be highly suggestive.
Forest Schools, Outward Bound, Woodcraft Folk, the John Muir Award, the Campaign for Adventure, Natural Connections, family nature clubs and many others are trying to bring children and the natural world back together. But all of them are fighting forces which, if they cannot be turned, will strip the living planet of the wonder and delight, of the ecstasy – in the true sense of that word – that for millennia have drawn children into the wilds.
• Read a fully referenced version of this article at www.monbiot.com” http://gu.com/p/3cvey/sbl

Contact the Author  GeorgeMonbiot

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