Ireland Inspirations

Ireland Inspirations

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Beautiful Ireland

Last year, I spent several days touring beautiful Ireland. What a truly inspiring place. Never before had I experienced such a breathtaking and refreshing journey as I did in Ireland. The people were so wonderful, plus the unbelievable natural beauty in every direction. I spent 12 days touring with my choir starting in Dublin, then across to Galway Bay and down and around through the Ring of Kerry, onward to Waterford, and ending up back in Dublin. What an adventure. My memories of that trip will stay with me for a lifetime. From the ancient castles, to the best fish and chips and pints I'll ever consume, to the jovial and truly kind people I met at every stop, to the handcrafted crystal, and lest I forget the fabulous Irish music. I've even kissed the Blarney Stone! If you ever have the chance to experience Ireland. . . trust me it will change your life forever. BH

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What's in a Name?

They say that the one word that you love to hear or see more than any other in your life is your own name. If you think about it, there is something magical when you hear your name spoken, signed, and written. To me, that seems a bit arrogant, but the more I think about it I can see where there is some validity to this declaration. I actually changed the name of my blog recently as a result of that arrogance. I figure if Walt can have Disney World and Disney Land, and Elvis can have Graceland, and Dolly can have Dollywood, and Michael can have Neverland. . . .well. . . I might as well have a Bradleyland, if only for now on a blog page. The mansions and the theme parks can come later, of course. I can remember as a child always being referred to as Brad, until I had pulled a Dennis the Menace stunt and the words BRADLEY followed by my entire middle and last names boomed out of the mouths of my parents. Wow. .I knew I was in trouble then. A powerful word. Your name. An identifier from the day you are born, unless of course you choose to change it, that can be superbly haunting yet serenely comforting. I recently was speaking to a close friend who said that she was awakened one evening out of a deep sleep by the sound of her name being spoken. Startled and admittedly fearful, she lay in the darkness and stillness of the early morning hours with only the increasing thud of her heartbeat resounding in her ears. After those first few moments of fearful panic that she was not alone in the room, she began to feel those pangs of anxiety subside only to be transformed into a burdening worry that something was definitely wrong with one of her grown children. It wasn't until the next day that she was able to discover that. .yes there indeed was something wrong. A Mother's love for her child. A Father's love for his child. If it wasn't for that barely audible declaration of her name, produced in my opinion by an Angel, she would not have known to investigate the well-being of her own child on that particular day at that particular moment. I've heard it so many times said that a "mother's intuition" is usually right. Well, in this case, that intuition was ignited by one simple word. Her name. I have become cognizant of this phenomenon by the stories of others and with every one of them, it seems that it is the sound of their name that instantly focuses their attention. I don't know why I am choosing to write about this; however, I think it is one of those "things" that is so magical yet so surreal that it is worth entertaining. What's in a name? Well . . .for each of us. . .if only in the case of our own name. . it's everything. BH

Monday, June 29, 2009

Elders and Persons with Disabilities

For the past 13 years, I've dedicated my life to enriching the lives of senior citizens and persons with disabilities. During this time, I've had the opportunity to witness enough humor to supply a nation with smiles every day; enough bitterness and heartache to balance this humor; an enormous amount of live Life-History, and more love than I'll ever be able to describe in the words that adorn this blog. Many years ago, I found myself traveling down a not-so-perfect path in life and was devoid of purpose, of hope for humanity, of respect for myself and others, and ultimately was lost in a storm even though I had a supporting family, a loving God, and an honest upbringing. I ventured out into a world of darkness and could no longer see the light of hopefulness nor could I no longer distinguish what was right and good in this world. A friend of mine one day, reached out to me and invited me to join him in a new project. Working at a retirement community. Well. . . to me, this was so far removed from anything that I thought I was capable of doing, not to mention desired. I mean. . .it just isn't cool when your 24 years old and working with a bunch of "old people". OR ISN'T IT? That answer should be obvious before you finish this article. What I didn't know at the time, was that taking the job WAS the coolest thing I could have ever done. I entered a world that forced me to honor and to obey the foundational rules that were taught to me as a child. I could no longer be that "cavalier" kid. I had responsibilities. I had 200 grandparents, all of the sudden. Oh my God. . . what had I gotten myself into? Well. . . . this is what I found. I found a group of people that were longing to have someone listen to them; to learn from them; to simply join them in their final journey in this life. I found teachers, counselors, ministers, veterans, hard workers, fathers, mothers, friends, and ultimately I found my mentors. I was consumed. I had entered LIFE UNIVERSITY and I was surely going to graduate Magna Cum Laude as a result with Doctorate Degrees in COMPASSION, HONOR, AND RESPECT to name a few. You see, for years I had spent my life saying this: "I'll pay you back. . when". . For the most part. . . this was the right answer and the expected outcome. One day, after being in the industry for a few years, another friend did an enormous favor to me and once again I told him "I'll pay you back." This time, that wasn't the anticipated outcome. This time, I was introduced to another phrase. He simply told me not to worry about paying him back, but to "pay it forward". He even gave me the video a few days later to solidify his concept for me. WOW. What a life changing moment. It was then, that I realized that I was already on the right path to "paying it forward". I did it every day and I could continue doing it. My purpose in life started to become clearer. I could use my talents as a singer, as a pianist, as a cook, as a listener, as a happy person, to positively affect the lives of so many people. I already had an eager audience, all I needed was to redirect my energies away from me and focus on others. God loaded me up in the talent department and gave me the abilities to do the job. . . all I needed was to focus on what was right. That simply was this: Elders and Persons with Disabilities many times become lost in the hustle and bustle of mainstream life. As if they aren't dealing with enough, they soon become consumed with the fact that they have somehow become a burden to society and for their families. A non-entity. And for some. . . this happens without warning and without cause, and for others, it's the natural progression of life. But here's the key. How many of these lives do we have a duty to embrace in our own life journey? In my opinion. . . we are all defining and establishing our purpose and our life legacy all the way up until the point to where we are at the end of this existence. Shouldn't we therefore attempt to honor and to accompany others on their journeys? Who knows. . . maybe through them, we are able to realize our own potential, develop our own legacies, establish our own purpose. Without having my life filled with the opportunity to serve our senior population and those with disabilities, I'm afraid I would have really missed the boat. I'm so fortunate that there were Angels that guided me back to living an honorable life and providing me the opportunity to experience the unselfish joy of giving back; of paying it forward; of making a difference. I challenge anyone reading these words to the following: The next you have the opportunity to engage in a conversation with an elder or a person with a disability. . all you have to do is start the ball rolling with "Hi, How are you today?". Then sit back and listen and be prepared to have blessing upon blessing bestowed upon you beyond your grandest expectations. BH

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Making a Lasting Impression

A forum created specifically to deposit all of my random thoughts is a pretty crazy idea at first. I'm not sure even I know where this will end up; however, I do find it a nice way to just put into words what's rattling around in my head.
As I compose this entry, I can only reflect on the losses of the many entertainment icons that happened this week. Namely Farah and Michael. We lose people every sing day of our lives; however, there are a few that always seem to have a surreal affect upon us due simply by the fact that they have contributed something so grand in their lives that we are able to reflect upon certain aspects of our own journey through them. Whether you remember how you wanted your hair to look like Farah's, or you can remember the first time you attempted the "moon walk"; you have a moment in your own life that is relived as a result of the contribution of another and a reflection of their achievements. With this said, I began to wonder what things in my own life will I have an opportunity to create this same magic? With every loss, one is reminded of the frailty of life. There are no promises. You only have this moment, right now, to make a difference. Life can be taken from you in an instance, without reason, without warning. I challenge myself as a result, to make a difference. Who I will affect? I don't know. What will people remember about me? I don't know. What I do know is that we all have an incredible opportunity to make radical differences in the lives of others if only we open ourselves to others by way of our talents, our generosity, our humility, and most of all our love. One can only hope that one day, hopefully far in the future, there will be someone in this world that will have been positively affected by your presence in this life. So for now I close my first blog in hopes that in time, I will be able to continue to post encouragement and quality reflection.