Thursday, July 31, 2008

Living By Sullivan's Rules

Tom Sullivan is an amazing man. I had heard of him before, but last night I saw him interviewed on the Craig Ferguson Show. He came out with his guide dog and shared on his latest book, "Together: A Novel of Shared Vision"(Amazon's Look Inside). Craig asked him his thoughts on being blind and he replied, (this is of course my own paraphrase of the reply as well as I can remember it)
"I honestly feel that being blind has made me a better person. My sensory perception is more sensitive than a lot of people and I can hear, feel, taste and smell things through my day that most of the world misses, For example: I am a runner. I run with my dog here on the beach every morning. There are 5 different types of waves I hear on our beach, 11 different textures of sand I feel under my feet, over 15 different types a birds that fly over and at one point a beach cafe that makes bacon and eggs that I can smell as I run by drifting down the beach. I can smell the combination of orange blossom, sea air, lavender, jasmine as I run. All this blends together in a symphony of sensation. How could anyone be mad about being able to enjoy all that?"
Below is a video from Barnes and Noble Media of Tom sharing on this and his new book.

I went to Tom's website and read his profile page on Sullivan He was given a higher dose of oxygen in the incubator as a baby to remedy complications. The oxygen saved his life, but he lost is eye sight. As a boy, he wanted to play baseball and his dad helped him to develop "Sullivan's Rules" which the neighborhood played by and which allowed Tom to participate. The rules became the standard way everyone played.

One of the rules shared in Tom's profile was: "Any negative can be turned into a positive."
Tom has been an avid athlete - skiing, golfing, wrestling and even being awarded a place in the wrestling hall of fame. He has composed and produced music for records and film, played piano in Las Vegas and performed the Star Spangled Banner for the bicentennial Super Bowl opening in 1976.
His first book, "If You Could See What I Hear" became a movie with Marc Singer in 1982. He has followed that book with several children's books and a book of stories about parents that care for special needs children called "Special Parent, Special Child."(Amazon). He has a book, "Seeing Lessons: 14 Life Secrets I've Learned Along the Way" which is available at Barnes and Noble.
His latest book, "Together: A Novel of Shared Vision" with Betty White as contributor, is now out (Amazon).
Tom is a special correspondent on ABC's Good Morning America, which allows him to inspire by sharing "you can do it" style stories as he interviews people or does activities showing anyone can do anything if they are determined to overcome the negative in their life. Tom had realized early in life that in order to succeed by regular standards of the world that don't include lowering standards of excellence to accommodate disabilities, he would have to do it better than anyone else. Tom has proven that his philosophy of life has worked for him. (This was something that was shared also by my guest, Ofer Chermesh who has Dyslexia (interview link here) , who designed the spell checker, Ghotit, a while back.
Watching Tom last night was inspiring and I thought of all the students I work with that would gain a lot of encouragement and support by hearing his story. I am going to be working on an interactive book/comprehension quiz activity on Tom that my students can use on the computer to hear his biography and get some of the principles working in their own lives.
I believe that positive attitude and the ability to be grateful everyday can be a catalyst to change circumstances and turn a life around. Wouldn't it be great if we all could remember to live by Sullivan's Rules everyday?

All the best to you!

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