Tag Archive for Life Lessons

What Would You Do Differently if You Knew Today Was Your Last on Earth?

Guest blog by Wendi Warren

Maybe because I’m growing older or because I’m hearing about people my age who have died suddenly, the thought of cherishing each day has become something that I have been thinking about lately, a lot.

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Wendi and Bobby

After hearing of the sudden stroke of Aldo Colombini, a magician friend of Bobby’s, and then his death four short days later, it struck me again about how we never really know how much time we have. I talked with Bobby about what we would do differently if we knew when our last day on earth would be. He said, “That’s your next song: ‘If We Knew.’”

I am by no means a lyricist. I have written lyrics before and asked my sister, Randi, to put them to music. One in particular was for my dad a couple of Christmases ago called “Sharp Stick in the Eye” (the video appears at the bottom of this post). But I’m sure I’ll never win a grammy.

However, I do enjoy writing and haven’t done that much of it lately, so I thought I’d give it a shot. What came out was not lyrics to a song, but more of poem. I tried to capture that what we think is so important may not really be the case, if we knew — really knew — that today was the last day that we had. The poem appears below.

If We Knew
If we knew there’d be no tomorrow,
If today was all we had,
Would we allow bitterness and sorrow
To grow and make us feel so bad?

Would we leave things left unsaid
That show people that we care?
Wouldn’t we rather bear our hearts
Letting them know we’re glad they’re near?

Would the important seem more urgent;
And the urgent seem less so;
Would we do the things that matter
And let the things that don’t just go?

Would the dishes and the laundry
Consume our precious time,
Or would spending it with those we love
Become more vital in our mind?

Would criticism and complaining
Matter more to us
Than forgiveness and maintaining
A level of healthy trust?

Wouldn’t it make more sense for us
To spend the time that we’ve been given
Cherishing the ones we love so much
And make our lives worth living?

Yes, if we knew that today was
The last day on this earth,
The present would seem more like a gift
Than gold and all it’s worth.

So even if we have more years
To spend upon this globe,
It makes sense to enjoy life now,
Because we never really know.

Wendi Warren, February 2014

Jim McComas leaving “Thrill on the Hill” for national position with Free Will Baptists

Pastor Jim McComas, who has been part of the Canaan Free Will Baptist Church (aka the Thrill on the Hill) for the past 25 years, will step down as senior minister at the end of February as he transitions into his new role as director of church revitalization for the National Association of Free Will Baptists in Nashville.

JimMcComas

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him for a story that appeared on The Daily Record’s Religion page Feb. 21, 2014 (read the story here). I shot video of our conversation and much of what McComas had to say appears in the story.

Some of the things that did not make it into the story concern his calling to the ministry and his favorite themes on which to preach.

McComas accepted the Lord as his savior when he was six years old during Vacation Bible School at Grace Brethren Church. By the time he was in third grade, he knew God was calling him into the ministry. He said he would preach into a tape recorder because “who wanted to hear a nine-year-old preach.”

When I asked McComas about what themes he liked to preach on, he said he could come up with a list of a hundred sins and start preaching on them. However, “If I can get them to fall in love with Jesus,” that will take care of a lot of stuff, he said.

When Doug Hunter was doing his Wayne County 365 project, McComas was one of his subjects. In Hunter’s piece, which you can read here, McComas talked about how he wanted to be known as more than just a guy in a suit to the students in the Norwayne school district. McComas touches upon that and more in our video conversation.

Check it out:

Aldo Colombini, Magic’s Funny Man, Faces Serious Situation, Can You Do These 3 Things?

My friend, Leland Pennington, introduced me to the magic of Aldo Colombini decades ago, and a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to introduce myself to Aldo and his lovely wife, Rachel.

Rachel and Aldo

The occasion was the “farewell” lecture tour for Aldo and Rachel, and it was organized by the Akron Magical Arts Society, Ring 161 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. I lived about an hour away, and I so desperately wanted to make the trip.

I had written about Rachel’s health issues, in which she was dealing with major heart issues, and I had the opportunity to speak with both of them. Rachel, who faced an uncertain future back in 2010, was very matter-of-fact about her diagnosis, prognosis … and mortality.

So, it came as a complete shock Monday morning when word spread quickly about Aldo’s health. On Sunday, he had suffered a severe stroke. Maria Ibanez emailed the magic community with the news she had received from Simone Marron.

Rachel would later write:

I am writing to let you know that the love of my life, my beloved husband, best friend and partner Aldo has suffered a catastrophic stroke. Sunday afternoon paramedics rushed him to Munro Regional Hospital in Ocala. Today they performed another CAT Scan and I am saddened to say that the news is not good. Aldo is completely paralyzed on his right side. He cannot speak and the doctors say there is nothing else that can be done. Aldo loved life and does not want to be on life support. I am heartbroken by the fact that I must now take him off life-support and move him to Hospice Care. Short of a miracle, the doctors say he has less than two weeks. Please pray for him.

What was so surreal was how life for the Colombinis practically stopped because of Rachel’s health, and now more than three years later, life is on hold for them again, this time due to Aldo’s stroke.

When Rachel was dealing with her heart troubles, money was an issue. If she went out of state for the surgery, her insurance would pay out less. Many reached out to help the couple back then, through a website set up for Rachel, through the generosity of other magicians donating money and through the sale of ebooks in a number of countries. In 2010, then-13–year-old Kyle MacNeill organized a bunch of magicians through The Magic Cafe and put together an ebook, “Wild at Heart.” The magicians donated effects to the book, which sells for $20 on Lybrary.com, and all of the proceeds went to the Colombinis.

So, as Rachel tries to figure out what’s in Aldo’s best interests, I think there are a few things we can do:

  1. Pray. Rachel said it will take a miracle. If you are not the praying kind, then think the most positive thoughts you can muster that Aldo will receive a miracle.
  2. Go shopping. That’s right, go shopping on WildColombini.com and buy whatever ebook, digital download, DVD, packet trick or magic effect by Aldo that you have been putting off. Also, please consider everything Rachel is going through right now, so be patient about when you will receive your purchase. There’s no telling when she will be able to fulfill the order, but your purchase will help them out. Also, you can buy the “Wild at Heart” ebook at Lybrary.com, which will help them, too.
  3. Spread the word about how people can help the Colombinis. They have provided us with much joy, laughter and magic over the years, so let’s see how we can help repay them in some small way. So, please share this post with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, via email or any other way you connect with them.
  4. Oh, there’s a fourth thing: Did I mention pray? Please do so. (Should add, I have not talked with Rachel, she has enough to worry about, but please do what you can to help. Thanks, again.)

Update: Sadly, Rachel has informed us her best friend and the love of her life, Aldo, died on Monday.

Here are a couple of videos shot when Aldo and Rachel lectured in the Akron area. The first is them talking about their “farewell” lecture tour, and in the second one, Aldo reminisces about he late Ken de Courcy.

Oldie But Goodie: @JoshKrajcik Connects with Fan in Deeply Personal Way

Editor’s note: I was reviewing the Top 10 most popular posts on The Z Section, and this one is the No. 1 blog post of all-time here. When I looked at this again, I saw the photo of Josh with Ali and immediately knew I wanted to highlight this one again. Enjoy this blast from the past.

The photo below tells me everything I need to know about Josh Krajcik, a singer-songwriter originally from Wooster, Ohio, who gained national attention with his rendition of Etta James’ “At Last” at an audition for “The X Factor.”

Krajcik

Josh Krajcik speaking with Ali Booth at the Best Buy on the Strip in Canton.

I was in Canton on Wednesday, April 3, 2013, to shoot video for Krajcik’s performance and CD signing at the Best Buy on the Strip in Canton. I was part of The Daily Record team there to cover the event. Living Editor Lydia Gehring was there to interview Krajcik and do a story; Dan Starcher was there taking photographs; and I was shooting video.

Krajcik had just finished his acoustic set and stepped outside for a little break before signing autographs for his fans. On his way back in, he stopped to talk to Ali Booth, who works as a cashier at the Best Buy. The two met earlier in the green room.

What impressed me, and why I wanted to take the photograph, was how Krajcik treated Booth with dignity. He got down on her level so the two would be eye-to-eye when they talked. He could have easily just stood there, towering above Booth, and made some idle chatter before excusing himself. But that is not what he did.

Jane Carmichael is a long-time friend of Krajcik’s mom, Lisa Pim. Earlier in the day, we spoke about Krajcik, the album and how he knows what he wants and is working toward that goal.

Despite the success on The X Factor (he was runner-up) and the record contract, Carmichael confidently proclaimed, “He will never change. Josh will never change.” The context was that fame is not going to change the humble Krajcik.

To see something as captured in the photo above, it makes you think Carmichael is onto something.

Updated info:

The videos below are from The Daily Record’s YouTube Channel, check out the 23 Krajcik videos there. You can check out Gehring’s story, along with photos from Starcher, here. To see another post on The Z Section regarding Krajcik, click here.

Here is a slideshow from the Canton event and videos follow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Enjoy Krajcik performing “Lost at Sea”:

Gehring’s interview with Krajcik, along with him performing his new single, “Back Where We Belong.”

Or, listen to Krajcik’s album on Spotify:

The Good Ol’ Days of Just Walking into Someone’s House

Wayne County Commissioner Jim Carmichael has seen a lot in his life: He spent 30 years with a gas company, rising to management; 10 years as mayor of Shreve, Ohio; 25 years as chairman of the Wayne County (Ohio) Republican Party; eight years as an Ohio state representative; and eight years as a county commissioner.

Wayne County Commissioner Jim Carmichael talking about the good ol' days.

Wayne County Commissioner Jim Carmichael talking about the good ol’ days.

One time, when Carmichael was talking to a group of students about his work in government, one of them said, “You are old, you should write a book.”

Carmichael, along with fellow commissioners Ann Obrecht and Scott Wiggam, recently met with Chief Building Official Ray Zytowiecki about how the Building Department fared in the previous year.

Zytowiecki talked about how the expansion projects at the J.M. Smucker Co. in Orrville have benefited the county (see stories from The Daily Record’s Paul Locher about acquisitions, building projects, new child care facility and more, and new offices in a renovated building).

At that point, Carmichael started reminiscing about his days at the gas company. It was the first day he was reading gas meters on his own, and he was reading them in downtown Orrville, where Smucker’s headquarters are located.

This was in 1961. Back then, the neighborhood was still filled with a lot of streets and houses. When he would go to a house, he would knock and yell, “Gas company!” Most of the time, meter readers would knock and walk into the home.

On the cards the men carried were notes about where the meter was, whether it was through a trap door, on the side of the house and if there were any dogs to worry about it.

It’s always interesting to hear Carmichael talk about the good ol’ days. Maybe when he gets a little older, he might write a book.

 

Get a Glimpse into the Riveting National Anthem at Bruins Game

I woke up Thursday morning and noticed a video from the Boston Bruins hockey game the night before was being shared by a lot of people I follow on Twitter and are friends with on Facebook.

Nicole_hockey.jpg

I finally decided to take a look at this emotional video that choked up a lot of people and drove others to tears. The link I clicked took me to Mashable.com, and you can check out the video here. On the site, Sam Laird wrote:

Before the game, noted belter Rene Rancourt took center ice to sing the national anthem. Then, a few seconds in, an amazing thing happened: the TD Garden crowd heartily took over, singing the lyrics as one and drowning Rancourt out completely.

After watching the video, I did not get the impression the crowd drowned out Rancourt. Rather, I walked away believing Rancourt recognized what was happening and quit singing through the microphone.

A little while later, I talked to my sister who lives in the Boston area. She told me her daughter (my niece, who plays hockey and can be seen in the foreground of the photo above) was at the Bruins game on Wednesday night. I had to talk to her.

I wanted to know if the crowd recognized something special was going on at the time, and my niece said that it was something special. I asked her if it was an emotional time, and she said it was. “I cried, and about half of the people at the game cried,” she told me. “People were screaming ‘Boston Strong’ and ‘We are Boston.’”

What amazed her mother and me was that she had no fear going into Boston a couple of days after the bombing. That tells you something about Bostonians and the resiliency of the American people.

As President George W. Bush said in a joint session of Congress following the 9/11 attacks, “My fellow citizens, for the last nine days, the entire world has seen for itself the state of our Union — and it is strong.” Indeed it is.

Update: I checked out another version of the video from the Bruins game; this time from the Bruins’ website. In the video below, the public address announcer encourages the crowd to loud and sing along with Rene Rancourt. And, you can also see how Rancourt seizes the moment and goes from singing the National Anthem to leading the crowd in signing it.

What do Magic and Christianity Have in Common?

There are some Christians and some churches that want nothing to do with magic, we’re talking the David Copperfield, Criss Angel, David Blaine kind not the black magic kind. I am a Christian who performs magic, so I sometimes find myself caught up in this debate.

Newspaper Magic

Bobby Warren performing a Torn and Restored Newspaper effect at Wooster Jam 2013. Photo by Dick Beery / 3 Oaks Enhancements.

I do not have a problem with it, because I am performing entertainment. When we go to the movies, we are actually watching a series of still photographs shown in rapid succession that gives the appearance of movement. It is magic. Any way, …

This past week provided ample opportunity to perform magic. I had four performances over a three-day span with three of them coming on the same day.

The first show was for an event for the Northeast Ohio Division of the Salvation Army, and it was in Ashland on Thursday. The other three performances were Saturday: Two were in conjunction with the Wooster Jam and the final one as a private show.

Needless to say, I was kept busy … very busy.

Each show provided interesting opportunities.

  • The Salvation Army show allowed me the opportunity to weave a Christian message into the effects I was performing.
  • The Wooster Jam performances were done to music, and they allowed me to create a sense of awe and wonder without saying a word.
  • The private show was for a group of girls ages 8–16, and a few adults, so I had to put together a show that would connect for young kids, teenagers and adults.

Each show, also had its challenges, but the goal was always to provide the best show I am capable of performing for each different situation and each different audience. In other words, I had to set aside my interests and focus on the interests of my clients.

When I perform, I do not always perform my favorite effects, and I don’t always perform my most stunning and amazing effects. Why? Because my audiences dictate my shows. If I were to perform my favorite effects, it would be a combination of rope magic and mindreading.

  • In creating the Salvation Army show, the challenge was to find effects that would provide a variety of different things, yet, I could still share a Christian message with it.
  • The Wooster Jam performances required me to put together effects that would be visually stunning and stand on their own. This required me to perform classics of magic, like the Linking Rings, something I have performed, but do not perform regularly.
  • The challenge of the private show was to find effects that little kids and adults would enjoy. I performed everything from a coloring book trick to a mindreading trick at the end.

So, what do magic and Christianity have in common? Well, it is all about serving others.

Leland Pennington, my magic mentor, taught me a long time ago that when performing shows, the goal is not to design a show that will fool other magicians or create a series of effects in which they would approve. No, you perform effects the audience likes. Your shows are about your audiences, not you.

Leland is an amazing magician who has studied so many areas of magic. So much so, that he is perhaps best known for his silk magic and metal bending, perhaps two aspects of magic people would not normally link together.

What Leland and I do might not suit other magicians, but that is OK, because it suits our audiences. (Do I need to mention we both get repeat bookings?)

Josh Krajcik Connects with Fan in a Deeply Personal Way (Updated)

The photo below tells me everything I need to know about Josh Krajcik, a singer-songwriter originally from Wooster, Ohio, who gained national attention with his rendition of Etta James’ “At Last” at an audition for “The X Factor.”

Krajcik

Josh Krajcik speaking with Ali Booth at the Best Buy on the Strip in Canton.

I was in Canton on Wednesday, April 3, 2013, to shoot video for Krajcik’s performance and CD signing at the Best Buy on the Strip in Canton. I was part of The Daily Record team there to cover the event. Living Editor Lydia Gehring was there to interview Krajcik and do a story; Dan Starcher was there taking photographs; and I was shooting video.

Krajcik had just finished his acoustic set and stepped outside for a little break before signing autographs for his fans. On his way back in, he stopped to talk to Ali Booth, who works as a cashier at the Best Buy. The two met earlier in the green room.

What impressed me, and why I wanted to take the photograph, was how Krajcik treated Booth with dignity. He got down on her level so the two would be eye-to-eye when they talked. He could have easily just stood there, towering above Booth, and made some idle chatter before excusing himself. But that is not what he did.

Jane Carmichael is a long-time friend of Krajcik’s mom, Lisa Pim. Earlier in the day, we spoke about Krajcik, the album and how he knows what he wants and is working toward that goal.

Despite the success on The X Factor (he was runner-up) and the record contract, Carmichael confidently proclaimed, “He will never change. Josh will never change.” The context was that fame is not going to change the humble Krajcik.

To see something as captured in the photo above, it makes you think Carmichael is onto something.

Updated info:

The videos below are from The Daily Record’s YouTube Channel, check out the 23 Krajcik videos there. You can check out Gehring’s story, along with photos from Starcher, here. To see another post on The Z Section regarding Krajcik, click here.

Here is a slideshow from the Canton event and videos follow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Enjoy Krajcik performing “Lost at Sea”:

Gehring’s interview with Krajcik, along with him performing his new single, “Back Where We Belong.”

Or, listen to Krajcik’s album on Spotify:

Spring has Sprung in Ohio, on the Calendar, at Least

This was the scene from behind our house on Monday, the sixth day of Spring 2013 in Wooster, Ohio.

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The scene was beautiful, so breathtaking I had to get a few photographs of it before heading off onto the snow-covered streets to do some work.

Most of us are ready for spring weather to arrive, but what do you do when life hands you snow, the wet kind that is good for packing. Some around the area made snow men, one a snow bunny and another a fort.

I am confident spring will arrive, it is only a matter of time. When it does, me and everybody else will probably start complaining it is too hot. Such is life.

Enjoy the unexpected moments when you can.

If you want to see more photos from the Wooster area, click here.

 

The Z Section’s First Milestone: 100th Blog Post

This blog began in Dec. 19, 2012, and today, it is celebrating the century mark: This is The Z Section’s 100th blog post.

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I would have hit the mark a few days sooner, but a recent trip to Boston for a health journalism conference slowed me down a little bit. (The Association of Health Care Journalists conference was a great opportunity.)

To mark the milestone, I thought of where in the Bible could I find the number 100? Well, the Book of Psalms contains 150 psalms, so I figured I would go to Psalm 100. Come to find out, it is a psalm “for giving grateful praise.” Here it is (from the New International Version):

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2  Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

I am indeed grateful for the opportunity to have this blog and share my thoughts with people like you. Thank you for joining me here each week. I truly appreciate it. Let’s take a walk down memory lane together …

Here are the top posts:

1. The First Amendment, Right On

2. Learning Some Lessons About Persistence From Josh Krajcik

3. A Tribute to the King of Pop, Rock and Agility

4. This Discover Card Commercial Is Funny, But Is it Effective?

5. Memories of Madison, A Loving Dog and Companion

6. Once Upon a Time: The Story Behind the Story

7. Spend a Day in These Kids’ Shoes, If You Can

8. ‘Bungee’ Jumping to 3.0 Soon

9. #002 Interview With Wendi Warren on her New Book [Podcast]

10. Five Things Madison Taught Me, I Thought You Should Know