Friday, November 25, 2011

Honest Thoughts About The Moganko CF Project

As my self imposed deadline closes in I can feel the stress compound. I carry this load by my own will, but that doesn't make it any easier to bare. I've still got a lot of stuff to do: take care of myself, finish 4 videos -including shots for 2 music videos and editing all 4, finish 1 multi-page photo montage, and stay peaceful.

Confession: I'm NOT a project manager. Pretend as I might, I am a terrible organizer. I lose my keys and wallet several times daily, I over-schedule myself, and directions might as well be written in gibberish at this point because English has now become a foreign language. Still, there have been signs of intelligence from time to time. For instance:

I've never considered myself a perfectionist, but I've been told more than a few times on this project that I'm determined to find that perfection if it kills me. In other words, I'm anal. I guess I just want certain aspects to be perfect. The lighting could be lackluster, the editing sub par, but the puppeteering, the music, the words, the message to the world: THOSE MUST BE IMPECCABLE. If this is going to work for children, then those things must be simple and clear. A tilt of the head one way or the other and Moganko says something different. The lips must be synced in the video so that the kids who follow along are able to focus on what's truly important...their health. If this is going to motivate those who have no clue what CF is to help me, then they have to see, feel, and hear the passion that this project is supposed to have.

I've never taken on anything of this magnitude before and—if I can lay all my cards out on the table—I'm really scared that all the hard work that these volunteers and I have done will be laughed at, that I will lose friendships (if I haven't already) because they think I'm obsessed with this puppet and this project. Even more so, what if no one helps me? What if I do all this work and people say "Meh...it's 'aaaiight', but nothing great." I think I may break down and cry before I even finish. When I started this whole process, I had no idea it would take over a year to accomplish. I also had no clue that within that year I would become sicker than I ever have been, watch my father fight cancer until his final breath, become an honorary member of a college a cappella group at 32 years old, and fully embrace what little skill I have as a puppeteer to reach for a dream. What a strange and unforgettable journey it's been.

But guess what? I'm not stopping now! If it takes me forever, I will finish this @#$%$ project. I have to prove to myself (yet again) that I am not a failure. Call it a self-esteem issue, but sometimes I lack confidence. Unlike many people I know, I share that so called weakness because I believe there are many who feel the same way about themselves and it helps to hear that...or read it in a blog.

Bottom line is that I'm scared, but I'm still trying. I've got the kids and myself to think about. That's all that matters. I wish I could convince myself of that. Please help me by wishing me luck. I'm gonna need it if this is gonna work.

Peaceful Things,

Josh

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Joshland Rap & Your Part in The Moganko CF Project



Moganko has mad beatboxing skills. :-)

I created this song because I like rap music and while I'm certainly nothing special when it comes to rhymin' skills, I thought it would be fun to give it a try. My initial thought process went like this:

"What's the most ridiculous thing I can do musically to entertain the kids?"

Seconds passed...

"I could attempt to rap. Yep....that oughta do it. " :-)

Singing, or rapping in this case, is a great and fun way to do airway clearance therapy. I encourage you to use this as a tool with your kids. I put the lyrics on the screen so the kids could try to keep up with me. This will force breath control and probably create some BIG TIME coughing fits. I know it did for me and I KNEW where to breathe. ;-)

As far as the musical and visual creative aspects of the Joshland Rap video goes:

It took me a few days to write the lyrics and a few weeks to find the right beat, but when it came to the melody and hook I was stumped. I had an idea of what I wanted, but it didn't sound right when I tried to sing it. I needed some help...so I called my buddy Rose from "Breathe" and she happily volunteered to lend her beautiful and soul-filled voice to this silly little rap song. She legitimizes what I wanted to accomplish with this song because:

1. She is ultra talented. I know you've all heard "Breathe" and love it. I do too, but, man oh man, if that's the only music you've heard from Rose, then you are missing out. She has so much talent and charisma it's amazing. When I think of all the people on the radio right now, I can only name a handful that sound as phenomenal on stage as they do in the recording studio. Rose has those quality in spades.

2. She knows she is more than CF. Sometimes (and rightfully so!) people get so wrapped up in a part of their life—CF or otherwise—that they lose their personal identity. Not Rose. We talked about how important it is to find that balance between promoting CF Awareness, yet treating it as just one of the many important aspects that make up our identity:

"Artists are artists intrinsically. We are singing and dancing, painting and writing. (We are ) creating (because) it feeds our soul. I want to be recognized for my music and my life with CF on two separate - but equally important - levels." ~ Rose Logue

Amen, Rose. You are wonderful and I'm so glad we've become so close. :-)

Check her out here singing one of her new tunes and like her Facebook Page so you can find out about her new LIVE album from the soon to be launched rosierecords.com:



Rose Logue on Facebook

Then there is the video:

• Each t-shirt I wear in the video represents a CFF Great Strides Walk Team or a CF-related organization that is dedicated to improving the quality of life for the CF Community. See if you can pick them out. The yellow one is my CF Foundation t-shirt from when I was a kid. Sadly, it still fits me. Kind of. Thanks to everyone who sent me a shirt. :-)

• My little buddies from the W2J Posse who were so excited to be in the video. :-) They just wanted to hang out with the puppet and help me make CF kids happy. It was a lot of fun "on the set" that day. I think we spent two hours shooting footage and only got about 30 seconds worth that was useable, but lets be honest: When you're working with joyful and rambunctious little kids, then 30 seconds of footage is pretty good. :-) I love them all so much. Thanks for helping me, kids. You made this video amazing.

• And my longtime friend, Elysia, a professional puppeteer who has been spending A LOT of time shooting videos with me as well as helping me create the premise for the Basses Wild A Cappella music videos. She has a been a life saver and has brought another element of passion to this project.

Elysia told me that in her experience with live puppet shows, the results are often instantaneous and then never seen again. The fact that these videos and this music can be replayed over and over for people to learn about CF and will always be available to bring happiness to CF children who are struggling makes her so happy and proud.

I don't think these last few videos would be as successful without her helping hand...err...arm...whatever. Thank you, Elysia. I'm forever grateful.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

As we near the launch of the Moganko CF Project this is where I ask you for your help. Start sharing these videos. Start writing about them on your blogs and on your social networking sites. I can do all of this creative work and gather up all of these amazing volunteers, but it won't mean a damn thing if people—especially little ones in the CF Community—don't see them. Share the videos as often as you can. When the site launches, share that too. Grass roots campaigns only work if they are set in motion by their supporters...I.E. - YOU!

You can even start sharing the project website: mogankoforcf.org as a way to pump up the troops. The full content and message of the project and the website will be posted as soon as it's all done!

Peaceful and Rhymin' Things!

Josh AKA MC W2J

P.S. - If you liked this, wait until you hear the a cappella songs. :-)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Josh, Where Have You Been?

I've been here, I've been there, I've been everywhere...

I won't apologize for taking a break from blogging, but this post should explain why I did for so long, what I've been up to, and why you'll have to wait until December for consistent blogs again.

• I can't believe I'm about to say this, but thank goodness for that long stint of IV antibiotics over the summer, otherwise I don't know if I would have came out from the sadness and chaotic nature of my father's death in very good shape...physically, at least. Mentally I still struggle, but that is a very healthy part of grieving and I'm taking the steps (forward and backward) toward emotional peace. It's a long journey and one that I may never fully finish.

• I recorded a podcast with Jerry Cahill this past summer that should air sometime this month. Jerry is a well known and highly respected member of the CF Community and it was great to meet him in person. The two things I took away from my time with Jerry were:

1. He's a regular guy. He takes his responsibility as a role model in the CF Community seriously, but he doesn't let it change who he is. Humility and respectfulness go a long way with me and Jerry has ample amounts of both qualities. My favorite thing he said to me was "Josh, you're a goofball...and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible." That's certainly one way to describe me and if that's how people will remember me when I'm gone, I'm okay with it. :-)

2. Our conversation was interesting because this topic hadn't been addressed before in any of his previous podcasts. You'll learn things about me that you may not know and hear my honest thoughts on a very difficult topic. It's been so long that I don't really remember everything I said, but I know that I shared my thoughts the way I always do...with honesty, love, and the utmost respect for everyone's personal journey with CF. I'll post the podcast on here when it airs.

• I've been going in for weekly infusions of liquid vitamins to see if they will raise my very low vitamin levels. It's too early to tell if things are working, but I'm confident that they will help my already ultra sensitive immune system battle cold and flu season. As with everything else in the CF world, it's a matter of trial and error until you find the right fit. Cross your fingers for me.





• A few weeks ago, I had the honor of being the keynote speaker at the "Breathe and Believe Benefit Dinner" for the Christopher Ricardo CF Foundation in Miami, FL. I introduced CFvoice.com's "Breathe Song Event" and shared my thoughts on the optimistic reality of my life and the future of the CF Community. The DeVito and Ricardo Families gave me warm and gracious welcome. I felt like a part of their family and that I've made really great lifelong friends.

The benefit dinner was a great success and (if I do say so myself) I rocked my speech like nobody's business. I even got on stage afterward and sang "Keep Your Hands To Yourself" with The Urge—a popular "new classic rock band" in the Miami area. I hope to find a video of both the speech and the song eventually (since I forgot my camera at home...doh!). Until then, here's the original version of the song by the Georgia Satellites:




It was also great to meet Gayle Greenberg, CF Mom and Senior Director of Major Gifts for the CF Foundation. We had a very similar message to send that night: We are improving the quality of life and are this close to a cure of this disease, but we still need your help to do it! Thanks for the lovely chat, Gayle.

I received so many complements on my speech and my message which made me feel so proud because I did what I was brought in to do: I shared my story and raised awareness for myself and 70,000+ others just like me across the world. I'll continue to be a part of improving the quality of life and finding a cure for this disease and I'll support any and all causes that benefit the CF Community. Plus, I'd love be able to make a little income for my family too. If you'd like to book me to speak at your events, CF-related or otherwise, please email me at welcometojoshland@gmail.com

Oh, and if you are in the Southern Florida area, I highly suggest you connect with the Christopher Ricardo CF Foundation. They're great people who are passionate about the CF Community and embrace this challenge with realistic optimism. Check them out here:

Christopher Ricardo CF Foundation

LAST, BUT NOT LEAST...

• The Moganko CF Project...I've been working my tail off trying to finish this before December. Honestly, I never thought this "little project" would turn into what it's turned into, but it has. Three original songs—two of which were recorded with Basses Wild Men's A Cappella at Fuzzy Slippers Music Studio— that were created for the CF Community and the world to enjoy. These songs capture the positive energy I wanted to have for this campaign. Plus, it's a simple way to promote CF Awareness that could be huge! Of course, that all depends on you, my friends and readers. When it launches you'll know exactly what you have to do to help me.

By the way, Basses Wild and I will be premiering and performing the songs live at the U of MN CF Center Education Day on November 19th. It's so exciting and nerve racking all at once, but I've always thought if you aren't a little nervous about something, then you must not have a passion for it. Thank goodness for nerves. Months have become weeks. Soon the weeks will become days, hours, minutes and seconds. All I can do is cross my fingers and hope that the future will be as bright as I imagine it will. I've worked hard so on this project that I know it will be great, but a little luck never hurt anyone. :-)

December I'll be back to writing my blog. Not only because I've missed it, but because—as much as I love Moganko—I'm more than just a novice puppeteer. I'm a guy with lots of stories that I want to share...CF and otherwise. Until then, Happy Turkey Day!

Peaceful Things,

Josh

What'd You Think?

One of my favorite things about my blog are the comments I receive on my posts. I am so thankful that you take the time to write them. I may not respond personally to everyone, but make no mistake...I read every single one.

If you'd like to leave a comment, but don't have an account that's listed in the drop down menu, choose the "Name/Url Anonymous" options. Then write your comment, fill in the word verification and click "Post Comment". I will receive an email and post your comment once I've approved it. :-)

Peaceful Things ~ Josh
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