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Declaration of Awesome

August 29, 2014

When I was about 10 years old (1976), I was president of a neighborhood club, and life was good.  I read MAD magazine, a funny magazine for kids, and one of the issues had a set of club officer cards (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer) and some member cards so that you could have official club member cards for each member of your own club.  I convinced the neighborhood kids to join the club and I served as president.  I still have the President card as a memento and come across it from time to time.

We had nice kids in our neighborhood and did some fun things together that summer.   We put together a newspaper of stories we wrote and circulated it around the neighborhood.  We rode bikes (I imagine like a motorcycle riding club does), we climbed trees (I sat on the highest substantial limb of a tree that was over 40 feet tall), we played baseball, we held a magic show (I was the magician), we (pretend) married my brother to a girl in the neighborhood with me presiding at the (pretend) wedding (don’t worry, people, I don’t think it was a valid marriage because they were about 9 years old and still minors, but maybe I should contact MAD magazine and find out what powers those cards actually vested in me), we put together a creepy haunted garage where we had lots of freaky things for people to walk through and experience like touching eyeballs in a bowl (hard boiled eggs) and brains (spaghetti), and engaged in lots of other ambitious kid fun.

(Before I forget, props go out to Michael, Maribeth, Gina, Sharon, and the other club members at large who helped us kids use our imaginations, dream big and have good, clean American fun.)

As subsequent years went by, we all grew up, and some of us let our imagination and ambition for doing things slide. We became, well, boring.  I attended an all-male high school and stuffed much of my creativity and ambition in those years.  I was saving it up for later in life.

But I never forgot the leadership skills I learned playing President in that neighborhood club, and always imagined one day I would be using them to do something awesome.

In college, I started out kind of timid, but I emerged from my shell and grew to use the dormant leadership skills I had by getting College for Playin’ produced, starting a Spirit Committee in Student Government for which I received a Senator of the Year award, later ran for Student Government President (but lost – not a bad thing, some time the best growing experiences come from adversity and loss), and years later ran for Lewis University Alumni Association President – and won!  I’m proud of these experiences and the achievements I (and my colleagues) achieved along the way.

My imagination has helped me dream big, and my knowledge has helped me to work smartly to achieve many visions and to do some good things.  I started this blog 5 years ago and have posted nearly 150 posts so far. I started Ed Novick Comics earlier this year.  I have dabbled in business ventures and community projects with varying degrees of success. And, all the while, I keep on learning as I go.

What drives all this?

I don’t know.

But there is a sense that I need to show up, to do good and kind things, and to make the world a better place.

“I’d love to change the world/ but I don’t know what to do/ so I’ll leave it up to you” – Alvin Lee, Ten Years After

And I’m not alone in it all either.  I think we all feel a sense of ownership and significance in our world.  We all hear about the problems of our world on the news, and us fortunate ones who have the health and abilities to do so, feel a sense of responsibility to make it all a little better in ways that only we can.

One inspiring kid leader in the world today, Robby Novak (no relation; named spelled differently), is known as Kid President.  In the past few years, Kid year old Kid President has grown from an adorable and entertaining young kid with a webcast to an inspiring world leader with his own television show on Hub Network.

Kid President, has made a Declaration of Awesome.  He challenges each of us to stop being boring, and ‘do something awesome’.  He makes simple but inspiring statements like we can make the world awesome if we “just treat everybody like it’s their birthday”.  He said, “It’s everybody’s duty to give the world a reason to dance”.  And he provided further inspiration saying “One of the superpowers we all have is the ability to change the future”.

Here is a video pep talk from Kid President that you will want to watch and get inspired by:

 

 

So I ask you, as Kid President asks in this video, “What will be your Space Jam?”  Or, as I asked in my recent post “Why I Blog“, “What will your verse be?” Put otherwise — What will your contribution to life and the world community be?

Create (or do) something that will make the world AWESOME.  Be kind and encouraging to others. Treat other people like it’s their birthday. Dance.  And give others who you come in contact with a reason to dance too.

And share this life pep talk with others. You may just change the world, one person at a time.

The Declaration of Awesome has been made.  May it start a revolution throughout our world.  And may it inspire good and heroic things in you.

 

For more inspiring Kid President videos, go to: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzvRx_johoA-YabI6FWcU-jL6nKA1Um-t

For Kid President web site go to: http://www.kidpresident.com/

 

 

I Have A Dream

August 28, 2014

This morning my son, Canyon, informed me that today is the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiring “I Have A Dream” speech.  I looked it up on Wikipedia and sure enough, today is the 51st anniversary of that great speech from 1963.

As a tribute, I wanted to share some related links.

I invite you to click on and listen to a wonderful song that mixes King’s “I Have A Dream” speech with The City Harmonic’s song “I Have A Dream (It Feels Like Home)”.  Ever since I heard the song a couple years ago, it gives me chills when I hear it.  Click here to listen

To read King’s great speech in its entirety, click here.

As I wrote in a recent blog post ((Re-)Discovering Lincoln), “I celebrate that 21st century America has come a long way to make the segregated and enslaved world of Lincoln’s day in the mid-1800’s to realize the dream so eloquently stated by Martin Luther King Jr. of an integrated modern world where  men are “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.

Today, let us celebrate that we live in that great nation together, and continue the noble work of fulfilling and securing that dream for generations to come.

 

Vote Now For Your Favorite Schoolhouse Rock Songs

August 25, 2014

I love Schoolhouse Rock, and have since I was a kid. Those songs taught me a lot.

schoolhouse rock

Schoolhouse Rock played cartoon music videos of educational subjects on Grammar, Multiplication, American History and Science between cartoons on Saturday mornings on ABC TV back in the 70’s and 80’s.  The songs were catchy and the videos were entertaining.

The Preamble song helped me to memorize the preamble when I had to know it to pass my 8th grade U.S. Constitution exam.

According to Wikipedia, there were 64 Schoolhouse Rock Songs/Videos made in all.

Do you have your own favorite Schoolhouse Rock Songs?

Vote for your favorites at the following web page: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/K8TWRX3.  You can vote for up to 10.

I will then soon be taking the top ‘sweet sixteen’ songs as voted by you and have a playoff that you will be able to vote for your favorites so we can determine which is the best Schoolhouse Rock song of all time.

Vote now!

Purple Rain

August 21, 2014

Thirty (30) years ago this month, I went away to college.  In my mind, how time has flown. And, it’s been a long time since I looked like this.

Me the morning I left for college

Following my graduation from Marist High School in Chicago, I chose to go to Lewis University – a private, Catholic university about 30 miles from my home.  I lived on campus.  It was the first time I had lived away from home.

I believe I was the first member of my extended family to go to and complete college. (At least I’m pretty certain that I was the first to earn a Masters degree – an MBA from Lewis University.)  College degrees are pretty common by today’s standards, but back then it was a privilege, and not a common thing, at least in my family’s experience. And I took the opportunity, and my studies, very seriously.

That morning thirty years ago, my family drove me to school, helped me move my things into my room, visited a while, and then left.  I had a nice roommate, but otherwise, once my family left me that day, I was on my own for the first time.

My brother Michael, my dad, my mom, me and my cousin Jimmy (my grandmother Gladys took the picture and was there too)

atcollegewithdad

My brother Michael, my dad and me

 

The very first morning of classes, I was standing outside my first class, and looked to my left.   There stood the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.  I was smitten at first sight of her.  We were in that first class together.   I soon got to talking to the girl and loved everything I learned about her.  It felt like it was meant to be.  I asked her out to a movie they were showing on campus.  She accepted.  We held hands through the movie.  I didn’t feel so alone.

On Thursday nights there were dances at the Student Union hall with either live music or DJs playing popular music of the day.  That summer of 1984, Prince’s album Purple Rain had come out and the songs from that album, including the title track, were playing everywhere, including at the dances.  The powerful chords and emotionally sung lyrics were played loudly as young men and women listened and danced, including one slow dance to Purple Rain between me and the most beautiful young woman in the world.

I was in love.

And I followed that girl around for weeks so I could see her every chance I got.

Sadly, the girl I was in love with did not seem to reciprocate the feelings of love I had for her.

Really, what did I know of love at that point in my life.

I dealt with anxiety attacks and depression for the following months.  I held out hopes and imaginary story lines that some day I would get that girl back.  It fueled much of what I did in the following years.  In subsequent months I began weightlifting and put on 30 lbs. of muscle on that slim frame you see in the photos above.  I became active in Student Government.   I played intramural sports, playing on two football champion teams including leading one at quarterback. I wrote and led the production efforts of College for Playin’.  I became a Resident Assistant and later a Residence Hall Director in the dormitories.  I started a Spirit committee in Student Government for which I received an award as Student Government Senator of the Year.  I ran for Student Government President (I lost).  I became a BMOC – a “big man on campus” – and acted as if I owned that school and took great pride and ownership in everything I did there.

Most importantly, I made some of the best friends I will ever have in life there in those college years.

I did NOT win that girl back.  She went on to marry someone else after college.

But, the friends I made back then….Patrick, Vernon, Susie, Eddie,  Coz,  Jerry, Kim, Jim, Keith,  Bill, Dawn, Jean,  Betsy, Mary Ellen, Joanne, Steve,  Sandy, Billy…and so many others too numerous to mention them all…are some of the best people I could hope to have as friends.

The 25 years since graduating from college have been an adventure…at times a painful one.  I was married, had three kids, and was divorced in the most painful part of it all. I worked in the insurance field for many years, rising to Assistant Vice President at one company, before experiencing a post-divorce bout with job loss, underemployment (I was a janitor cleaning out the bottoms of garbage cans at one point) and unemployment.  That’s where life finds me now.

 

Purple Rain can still trigger my memories and emotions of that time during my freshman year 30 years ago whenever I hear it.

I always wondered if there was a meaning to the song Purple Rain.  I looked it up on the internet and read an article that said that according to Prince.org, Prince was asked about what he meant by “purple rain” and his reply was “the meaning is there if you look for it”.  Mysterious as usual, Prince.  I also read that he said “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple.  Purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/God guide you through the purple rain.”

Losing the love I thought that I had found in college felt like the end of the world and was very painful.  But I put my faith in God to guide me through those days of purple rain, made many friends, and became a stronger person because of it.

Losing the love of my spouse later in life also felt like the end of the world, and was far more painful. But I’d been through that before, and knew how to survive it, carry on, and become a stronger person because of my faith and trust in God.  And this time I found many friends, angels really, to help guide me through the purple rain and get me through those storms I faced.

Throughout it all – all the passion, the love, the heartbreak, the pleasures, the pain, the joys, the successes, the failures, the togetherness, the lonesomeness, the storms and the rainbows – I only wanted to love and to be loved, and not feel so alone through it all.   And, I don’t feel so alone in it all anymore.  I do have many good  friends that I love and love me.  And I know that God is with me in the storms, guiding me through them, cascading down His love like a waterfall, and leading me through the purple rain to the Light of hope in tomorrow.

Prince was right.  The meaning IS there if you look for it. And I found it. And His love. Again.

So if you should find me laughing in the purple rain of life, you’ll know why, and how I do it. And maybe join me laughing in it too. God is so in love with us.

 

 

Why I Blog

August 14, 2014

Why do I blog?

There is no simple answer.

But last night I received a greater sense as to why.

The lovable comedic actor Robin Williams recently departed from the world too soon under tragic circumstances.  Many people are tweeting their own personal reflections on the loss.

One friend posted a link to the following video which struck me deeply as the profound words of the dearly departed Robin sounded inspiringly.

(Here is a link to the original video from The Dead Poet’s Society movie.)

 

 

Here is the text of the quote that you hear in the video which comes from Robin Williams’ character John Keating from the movie Dead Poets Society:

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

To quote from (Walt) Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?”

Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?”

 

I was stirred and moved by the words.

I too am a poet at heart, having written several poems of my own (links: When Comes This Spring Called Loved?The Sun With Your Face RisesSo Many Steps Forgotten) over the years.  I poured myself in to poetry at some of the most desperate and passionate times of my life.  Doing so helped to remind me I was alive and what I was alive for.

Since my first blog post, which included some verse, I’ve had an awareness of of why I am, what it all means, and why I blog…to share my unique, personal verse in the powerful passion play of life.

My second blog post, which also included some verse, further expressed why I blog: “To capture the thoughts of a moment in time for the eyes, minds and hearts of countless people and moments in the near and distant future.”

Here is a link to many more inspiring quotes from The Dead Poets Society that you may wish to read for inspiration. I recommend that you watch the movie sometime if you haven’t already.  If you have, watch it again.

I also found many other Robin Williams quotes from his many works and movies, including the following quote from the movie Awakenings that further verbalized a sense of why I blog.

“The human spirit is more powerful than any drug and that is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. These are the things that matter.”

Over the past 5 years I have here written and posted freely over 140 blog stories on numerous soulful subjects of Family (The Best Christmas GiftMy Sweet Tess ValentineFather / Son Races; Hundred Reasons To Love My MomHe Served Us WellNear No-HitterIn Loving Memory of Gladys) and Friendship (My Best FriendThe Soundtrack of Our LivesSuper Man) and Faith (Forces; Happy Trails To YouHe’s Alive!), and the Human Spirit (The Second HalfRocky TimesLet’s Roll), as well as many fun and whimsical subjects to make people smile and laugh including my announcements about my recent Ed Novick Comics endeavor in attempts to connect with the human spirit within me, and with you, my reader.

I hope by my blogging and sharing my creative works I might inspire you to find your own verse, and maybe share yours with others…or maybe if you are struggling in life, just inspire you to hold on for one more day to believe in and see the hopeful light of tomorrow which is full of wonderful possibilities.

Yesterday I also saw another quote posted on Facebook that touched me, and expressed a sense of why I blog and share my thoughts and gifts with you …

“The meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of life is to give it away”.

And that is why I blog, and share it all freely with you.

 

Oh, Captain, My Captain. Thank you, Robin, for sharing your verse with us as you did. We are far richer for having known you.

O Captain! My Captain!

And to you, my friends, “Carpe diem”.

 

Private Parts

August 10, 2014

My latest creative venture is a comic strip I’ve created about Private Parts.  (No, not those private parts.)

Private Parts is an enlisted soldier who, along with his buddy, Private Matters, unwittingly transforms the military and saves the world as only he can.

Here is a trailer.

 

Private Parts is coming soon to Ed Novick Comics.

 

(Re-)Discovering Lincoln

August 4, 2014

My kids and I just returned from an awesome vacation to the east coast.  We spent a couple of days in the Washington DC area before heading to the Williamsburg, VA area for a week.

It was a relaxing trip with lots of fun activities at the pool, mini-golf course and tennis courts, but it was also a very educational trip.  We saw the Washington monument, the Lincoln memorial, the White House, the Vietnam Vets memorial, the World War II memorial, Ford’s Theater where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, a couple of Smithsonian museums (U.S. History and Natural History), Arlington National Cemetery (tomb of the unknown soldier and Kennedy grave sites, the Pentagon, historic Jamestown settlement, Yorktown (where the British surrendered in the Revolutionary war), colonial Williamsburg, and finally, we stopped at Monticello – Thomas Jefferson’s home and grave site – on the way home.  Visiting such places brought history alive for me and my children in ways that text books could not.  I’m glad we were able to go. It was awesome.  It was profound.  I think my kids learned a lot and enjoyed the experiences.

washington1

Left to right: Canyon Novick, George Washington, Leslie Thomas, Ed Novick and Tess Novick; at Yorktown Victory Center

 

jefferson2

Left to right: Leslie Thomas, Ed Novick, Thomas Jefferson, Canyon Novick and Tess Novick; at Monticello

 

Having gone to the Lincoln memorial and Ford’s Theater, President Abraham Lincoln, one of my favorite presidents (along with Thomas Jefferson), was on my mind a lot.

While on Facebook back at home yesterday, a friend of mine had “Liked” a web page that had a colorized photo of Lincoln.  I checked it out and was amazed at it.  I may have seen the original photo before, but it was in black and white, and was very grainy and distant.  The colorized version of the photo was close and intimate and detailed and very real.  It seemed like Lincoln was no longer just a statuesque and immortal figure, but was very human, as was the nearby General McClellan.  I was able to save the photo and zoom in on details of it, and was amazed at the clarity and detail of it.  I could easily imagine what it would have been like to be there.  I felt like I was there the day the photo was taken and could relate to Lincoln like I was there.

Because I’ve been toying with making movie trailers for a few weeks now, I had a thought this morning to feature the photos in a movie trailer and share these amazing photos with the world in a fun and entertaining way on my blog.  I found another colorized photo of Lincoln and used the photos to make the following epic movie trailer and video.

In advance, I hope that no one is offended by the video or any elements of it.  I do push the limits of what we know and are used to a little.  I like to do that.  I like the creative process and exploring what is possible.

 

Most people don’t know what to make of the video.   Is it funny?  Is educational?  Is it making a statement?  Is it entertaining?

It’s a little of all of those things in my own personal brand of humor and creativity.  I feature the colorized photos.  I feature Lincoln.  I draw parallels between Lincoln and myself as we morph together in surprising fashion at the end of the video.  And, frankly, I self-promote a bit.

I hope I don’t offend anyone by the title: Discovering Lincoln (Has Joined The Coloreds).  I didn’t mean it as a racial offense.  I did think it was clever and a bit profound to note that by Lincoln now being in color he has made a leap from the past of “black” and “white” to the present of color and diversity, and I celebrate that 21st century America has come a long way to make the segregated and enslaved world of Lincoln’s day in the mid-1800’s to realize the dream so eloquently stated by Martin Luther King Jr. of an integrated modern world where  men are “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.  We still have work to do in that regard, but can still celebrate how far we have come since the days the original photos of Lincoln were taken.

If you ever get a chance, you should go to the sites I mentioned in the first paragraph above.  It is life enriching to see the architecture and places, and to discover and remember the history, and the men who lived and died so that the United States of America could be a beacon of liberty and advancement to the world and inspire generations still yet to come.  Live visits to the sites, like colored photos and video on our modern day computer screens, help bring history alive, and help us realize that each of us are not only learning history, but WE ARE MAKING HISTORY BY WHAT WE DO TODAY…AND EVERY DAY.

Thomas Jefferson and Ed Novick at Monticello

May God always bless the United States of America.

 



 

 

 

Ed Novick Comics

Because 'Ed Novick Strips' Sounded TOO Funny

Ed Novick's Blog

Genius...sheer GENIUS!

Unintelligent Arguments

My blog is a satire for all with stories, adventures, and opinions based on facts with minimal evidence and maximum wit. In short, a chronicle of my life. I hope you enjoy perusing my random banter, hilarious adventures, short stories with imaginative characters and hidden meanings, my unique wit, interests in pop culture and oddball opinions.

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