A ‘Shining Brightly’ Milestone: Celebrating more than 100,000 doses of sunshine, inspiration and keys to resilience

Clicking on this banner will take you to Howard Brown’s “Shining Brightly” website—where you will find links to all 78 episodes.

Are you just discovering this weekly half hour of good news?
Well, here are 6 fan-favorite samples to get you started.

By HOWARD BROWN
Author of Shining Brightly
And host of the Shining Brightly Podcast

This celebration isn’t about me—it’s about the more than 100,000 times people have chosen to listen to these stories of hope and resilience.

Want the whole story? Click on this cover to visit the Shining Brightly book page on Amazon.

ReadTheSpirit magazine Editor David Crumm invited me to write this column because we want to celebrate the lives this podcast has touched—perhaps yours. From what regular listeners tell me, through this podcast, I’m able to meet this growing audience every Wednesday morning with a boost of energy and fresh ideas for making it through our daily challenges together.

This column is all about celebrating you—and inviting others to join us. Let me be clear: If you already have been inspired by one of the 78 episodes I have released so far, then you’re part of a coast-to-coast community of listeners who know how important a ray of sunshine can be in a tough week.

If you’re hearing about my weekly Shining Brightly podcast for the first time—then below are six samples that will welcome you into our nationwide community of listeners.

I’m sure you’ve got more questions for me, including suggestions for my future podcast guests. But, today, I want to get quickly to those fan-favorite examples. (And, of course, if you want podcasting tips—I’ve already shared columns describing the many ways podcasters can build national audiences. For example, I wrote a Front Edge Publishing column headlined, Top 10 Tips for Building a Successful Podcast.)

My purpose today is simple:

I want to thank you for listening and sharing links to my podcasts with others. Together, we’ve blown way past the milestone of 100,000 experiences with our listeners.

And, for folks who are just discovering this podcast, I hope you will enjoy these 6 samples—and become regular listeners.

6 Fan-Favorite Episodes of the Popular Shining Brightly Podcast

Michigan’s JCRC-AJC diplomatic seder: As Passover approaches, affirming that peace is a global value

Click on the image to enlarge it for easier reading. (Photos by John Hardwick, used here courtesy of JCRC-AJC Detroit.)

‘Confronting all forms of hate is everyone’s responsibility.’

By HOWARD BROWN
Author of Shining Brightly

In the midst of a world of strife and daily tragedy, I was thrilled to co-chair our annual Jewish Community Relations Council-American Jewish Committee Detroit (JCRC-AJC) “model seder” that represented a global gathering of religious and diplomatic leaders affirming our shared goal of peace. Each year, Jewish communities around the world host “model seders” before the start of Passover so non-Jews can experience the ancient rituals and themes we celebrate with family and friends.

The seder is a traditional retelling of the biblical account of God leading the Jewish people out of slavery in Egypt. The meal features symbolic foods that remind us of everything from the bitter tears shed in slavery to the taste of unleavened bread, or matzah, during the long journey that followed.

For many years, the Detroit JCRC-AJC has hosted a combined seder for representatives of the global diplomatic community—in particular the Consular Corps of Michigan—and also dozens of our interfaith partners. This year, more than 100 people—including Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus—attended the program. Among the nations represented were: the UK, Germany, Poland, Italy, Austria, Jordan, South Korea, Mexico, Canada, and Japan.

Our honorary chair, who spoke about the need to protect vulnerable minorities, was Yusuke Shindo, Consul General of Japan for Michigan and Ohio.

I served as co-chair of the planning committee along with Carol Ogusky, who has long been active in building interfaith partnership and writing about the importance of this work.

What impressed me this year was that, despite all of the conflicts around the world and the horrific rise in antisemitism, this circle of global leaders gathered with us once again to affirm our unity in praying for peace.

Anyone who has been to a seder knows the question we ask: “Why is this night different than all other nights?”

At the end of our program, we answered that question by reading aloud together a portion of “A Prayer for This ‘Different’ Seder 2024”, written by Rabbi Noam E. Marans, Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations for the American Jewish Committee.

In unison, we read:

We pray for the victims of horrific terrorism and their families whose lives have been shattered.
We pray for the hostages and their loved ones, who continue to live through unending horror.
We pray for the innocents who are victims of war, human beings created in the image of God. We pray for the dead, the injured, the hungry, and the displaced. …
We pray for the purveyors and deliverers of humanitarian aid who endeavor to do what is right and needed.
We pray for the peacemakers. May they bring shalom to all.
We pray for the world to wake up and say: There is no place for antisemitism in our society. Confronting all forms of hate is everyone’s responsibility.
Shirah chadashah:
Let us sing to God a new song, a hymn that longs to extol our deliverance from despair to joy, from mourning to celebration, from darkness to light, from enslavement to redemption, from war to peace.

Also, at every table, we made available my own discussion guide, titled: Interfaith Bridge Building—Why do this work? If you would like a copy of that discussion guide yourself, you can download a PDF of it for free at my website, ShiningBright.com by going to this page, then scrolling down to the navy-blue section that lists discussion guides.

Carol Ogusky and Howard Brown (at right) with Consul Generals from Michigan at the model diplomatic seder 2024. On the far left is Sam Dubin, interim executive director of JCRC-AJC Detroit.

Timely help for all of us: Mindy Corporon talks about spiritual and emotional resilience in the wake of tragedy in Kansas City

Talking about reclaiming “hope” at a 10th anniversary—and in the wake of fresh shootings

By HOWARD BROWN
Author of Shining Brightly

My podcast is heading toward 100,000 downloads—which means I feel a deep responsibility to my listeners around the world, each week, to continue providing inspiration and keys to resilience and hope.

Especially in the wake of fresh wounds from shootings in Kansas City, I am providing this special, slightly longer, podcast No. 68 with a woman who knows a great deal about living with such scars: Mindy Corporon.

In introducing Mindy for this podcast, I say, “We have to deal with the darkness in our lives to shine brightly once again. … Mindy Corporon is the co-founder of Workplace Healing and the Human Recovery Platform. She helps employers transform how they support an employee experiencing a life disruption.” And, she is the author of her own memoir about finding resilience after deep trauma, Healing a Shattered Soul.

Mindy is pursuing this work, today, because her own life was transformed by the savage attack by an antisemitic mass shooter who killed her father and her son outside a Jewish center near Kansas City—even though her family is not Jewish.

As we share Mindy’s wisdom about such tragedies in the podcast, I say, “Mindy, I hope that we are honoring their memory by speaking of them today.” We both felt emotional and humbled, because we were talking about that attack at the 10th anniversary—and yet we found ourselves once again needing to talk about coping with a mass shooting in Kansas City.

“It feels like yesterday and it feels like forever ago,” Mindy said. Those memories now are an indelible part of her life. “This changed the trajectory of where I would go in my life over the past 10 years.”

You can listen to this inspiring and wisdom-filled podcast right here:

 

Our Hearts Are Heavy, but We Must Keep Sharing Our Light with Others

That’s me with the late Samantha Woll (in the middle) and Kari Alterman, then-Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Detroit, at an event in 2014 promoting peace and combatting antisemitism. At that time, Samantha was an AJC board member and I was president of the board.

‘They hate me—but they don’t even know me.’

By HOWARD BROWN
Author of Shining Brightly

Our world is imploding and exploding—all at the same time.

Where I live in the Midwest, we still are reeling from the trauma of two vulnerable neighbors murdered in their homes—and, yes, we are mourning them like true neighbors.

On October 14 near Chicago, 6-year-old Wadea al-Fayoume was brutally killed (and his mother Hanaan Shahin was severely injured) by an Islamophobic landlord—and on October 21 my friend Samantha Woll, a prominent Jewish and interfaith leader in Michigan, was murdered in her Detroit home.

Initially, Samantha’s death was reported around the world as a potential antisemitic hate crime, since religious and racial hate crimes are at an all time high in the United States. Detroit Police investigators now say the crime likely was not a hate crime—but the shockwave has convulsed the entire southeast Michigan interfaith community, nevertheless.

Samantha was “our friend,” so many of our Christian, Muslim, Hindu and other neighbors have been publicly saying in notes of sorrow and tribute, ever since her death.

One of our mutual friends—the Rev. Kenneth Flowers, who is nationally known as one of Detroit’s most influential African-American pastors—told The Detroit Free Press this weekend:

“We were just devastated,” Flowers, whose work has been influenced by Coretta Scott King, said of Woll. “She left a legacy of bringing people together, whether it was Blacks and Jews, Muslims and Jews. … She was just a loving person, a kind person, someone who I could see as a major leader of Black Jewish relations going forward. It’s just a tragedy, but I believe her light will shine again because when we come together, Blacks and Jews and Muslims and Jews, it will cause her light to illuminate.” 

Our unique interfaith community is respected around the world because of our remarkable diversity, originally fueled in the early 20th century by the auto industry. We are known for our long history of building resilient, long-lasting relationships. One reason so many people knew Samantha across this region was that she served as the board president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit.

In the wake of Samantha’s death, public gatherings in her memory have drawn crowds of people from every race and religious background. Those gatherings have included dozens of writers who have contributed to www.ReadTheSpirit.com magazine, and Front Edge Publishing books, over the past 16 years.

So, this week, all of our ReadTheSpirit community of readers and writers are taking a moment from our regular weekly coverage to reflect on the challenge we all face of confronting hate—and renewing our hope and constructive community relationships even in the midst of horror, violence and sorrow.

Before Samantha’s death, I already had decided to devote the 50th episode of my Shining Brightly podcast to this theme. The ongoing wars between Russia and Ukraine and Israel and Gaza— overlaid with alarming FBI reports of the all-time-high level of hate crimes across the U.S.—have been a spiritual, emotional and moral weight on my shoulders.

Perhaps your heart is heavy, too.

You can listen to my reflection, below, in my Podcast Episode 50, as I talk through these challenges and offer some helpful suggestions for re-engaging in our vitally important interfaith work.

Also, today, please look below for several of the resources our community of writers have published, as we have worked together for many years.

Please consider ordering one of those books to lighten your heart, this week (all of them are inspiring and packed with constructive ideas). And please share this column with friends via social media to spread this light just a little farther into our often all-too-dark world.

Here’s Podcast No. 50:

Remember, I recorded this message before Samantha’s death, but ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm nevertheless urged me to share it as part of this special issue today:

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And Now, Please Take a Step With Us—
Shine a Little Light

As I said, above, please consider ordering one of the following books to lighten your heart—all of them include practical advice as well as inspiring stories. And please share this column with friends via social media to spread this light just a little farther into our often all-too-dark world.

Want to meet many of Samantha Woll’s friends? Many of the women with which Samantha worked in Michigan’s interfaith community contributed stories to Friendship and Faithwhich is available from Amazon in paperback or in an inexpensive Kindle edition as well that you can start reading right away. This is a book about making friends, which may be the most important thing you can do to make the world a better place, and transform your own life in the process.

Want to meet some of Samantha Woll’s spiritual heroes? Get a copy of Daniel Buttry’s Blessed Are the Peacemakers, which also is available in paperback and in Kindle. Buttry is an internationally known peacemaker and interfaith trainer who worked for many years in some of the world’s most dangerous hot spots—but Dan’s home base is the same southeast Michigan community where Samantha lived and worked. In Blessed Are the Peacemakers, Dan shares inspirational profiles of men and women whose light continues to shine every day in our world.

Want advice on “unplugging extremism”? Award-winning journalist Bill Tammeus lost a close relative in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and writes about the long legacy of such trauma in families in his memoir, Love, Loss and EnduranceThen, he concludes his book with a practical list of ways each of us can contribute to “unplugging extremism.”

Want help rediscovering your resilience after a traumatic loss? Mindy Corporon now is helping people nationwide cope with trauma and lingering grief. Her memoir is Healing a Shattered SoulMindy also is Founder and Co-CEO of Workplace Healing, which offers a series of programs and online tools to help people coping with these issues in their workplace.

And finally: Want to learn practical ways to keep shining your light—even in the face of catastrophic challenges? Please, order a copy of my own book, Shining Brightlywhich is available in hardcover, paperback and Kindle versions via Amazon.

I speak to audiences nationwide on these themes regularly—both through my weekly podcast and in person at conferences, retreats and other events. Because I want to be as practical and helpful as I can in sharing ways to restore your resilience and hope—I also offer three free “downloads” that you can get on this page of my website. (Just scroll down on that page and look at the dark-blue box marked “DOWNLOADS.”)

Currently, I am offering three, free guides related to today’s column:

  • Mentorship: Why should we become mentors?
  • Survivorship: Keys to resiliency when confronting cancer?
  • Interfaith Bridge Building: Why do this work?

Yes, you can make a difference!

Throughout my life—and nearly every week today—I’ve seen small actions lead to remarkable outcomes. So, if you’ve read this far, become a part of this movement. In fact, I’ll give you a preview of something to look for in coming months.

The truth is that peace and understanding come from getting to know other people—just as I am inviting you to do throughout this column, today. Once we start learning about each other’s stories, those ugly and hateful instincts begin to fade. Each of us can choose not to hate.

That kind of healthy community often is just one new friend away.

Already, I am planning a future podcast that will take this week’s theme—”They hate me—and they don’t even know me”—and will turn it around with the headline:

“They love me—because they got to know me.”

C’mon: The first step to getting involved in our community is to connect with one of our writers through our books. We’re all hoping to hear from you.

I know for a fact: What I call Shining Brightly is a force multiplier for good in our troubled world.

May Samantha’s name and memory be only for a blessing for all who knew and loved her.

‘What’s your passion?’ Howard Brown welcomes internet pioneer Jeff Pulver

By HOWARD BROWN
Author of Shining Brightly

I love recording conversations with creative men and women for my weekly podcast series, because it gives all of us a chance to discover new ways to shine brightly in our communities.

That’s especially true with internet pioneer Jeff Pulver, who often greets people with the question: “What’s your passion?”

He’s a friend after my own heart in wanting to lift up the people around us in our communities—and the new people we meet every day.

As a Silicon Valley entrepreneur myself, I followed Jeff’s work for many years. He’s a tech industry icon, a pioneer in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and an advocate for internet freedom. If you don’t recognize the worldwide importance of VoIP and Jeff’s contributions already, then let me briefly sketch his story:

In the ’90s, you’ll learn from Jeff’s Wikipedia page, he recognized that what he had been thinking of as a hobby—speaking to people around the world over the internet—led him to help launch a whole new industry. Of course, the existing telephone companies were not happy about this! There was a huge legal battle and Jeff helped to rally supporters of this new freedom around the world.

In February 2004, the FCC issued what’s become known as the “Pulver Order” classifying these new applications as information services. This meant that VoIP networks would, under law, be classified as internet applications, rather than telecommunications services. Without that order, we wouldn’t have had Skype and now Zoom and other services like it that so many of us depend on every day.

So, today, when you’re talking to someone online, remember to thank Jeff!

And, please listen to the podcast below because Jeff talks about how that vision of global conversation really supports our shared vision of shining brightly.

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Care to learn more?

This is a perfect moment to become one of Howard’s growing global community of friends by ordering your copy of his book.

Here are other articles we have published, exploring the launch of this book:

Take a look at the book’s Foreword: ‘Shining Brightly’ Foreword by Dr. Robert J. Wicks: ‘Learn anew about the American Dream’

And especially read this story: Two-time cancer survivor Howard Brown writes ‘Shining Brightly’ to encourage others to stay healthy

Free Resource Guides

Download (and free-to-share) resource guides for discussing Shining Brightly:

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Howard Brown takes a different approach to social media to spread a little sunshine with spiritual reflection

By HOWARD BROWN
Author of Shining Brightly

In my life, I am forever grateful for all the people who brought me a little sunshine, a little hope, when I was at my worst. Whether I was battling stage IV cancer or was facing the ups and inevitable downs of launching a new company or building up a nonprofit—I learned that these are team sports.

When I travel and talk to audiences now, the first thing I tell people about finding the resilience to succeed in life is: You can’t do it alone.

I take that to heart in my social media, too, often thinking of simple questions that may remind my online friends of the many ways people are shining brightly around them, every day.

So, today, I’m sharing two recent posts to show you a couple of ways I have done this. Maybe, after looking at these posts, you might decide to shine a little brighter in your own social media.

I’m sending you this creative sunshine in the form of this ReadTheSpirit column—so that, if you’re inspired, you may pass that sunshine on to others.

Sharing Our Happy Places

The first post is from Facebook. Because basketball is the “happy place” that literally has saved my life more than once, I often post about shooting hoops with friends. My hope is not that everybody is going to start playing basketball, but that each person who sees these posts may decide to get active, may head outside for some exercise and may be more thankful for their own family and friends. I’m modeling that in this Facebook post by also giving a “shout out” to one of my long-time friends Martin Davis, who wrote the book about coaches.

(Want to learn more about hoops as a “happy place”? Head over to Amazon and get a copy of Shining Brightly)

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Linked-in illustrates that “leadership” is more than a job title

I also use Linked-in posts to illustrate the many challenges of effective leadership. True leadership involves far more than a job title. Authentic leadership depends on understanding and valuing the entire community we represent—shining light on everyone’s role and encouraging everyone to be their best.

Here’s a creative example of a post that you might never have expected to see on Linked-in, which many people regard as a place to celebrate their latest professional accomplishment. As I just explained, above, true leadership is about more than our individual resumes.

So, this Linked-in post is about—Barbie!

My wife and I had fun seeing the Barbie movie and that led to lots of conversations with friends and family. I’m well aware that social media mavens tell us that you shouldn’t use too many hashtags in your posts. But, in this case, I intentionally grouped a lot of the common Barbie hashtags together—along with a fun photo of me inside the giant Barbie box at the theater where we saw the film. My question asked friends to simply think about which of those hashtags mean the most to them.

That kind of reflection is one of the many daily steps toward effective leadership.

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Care to learn more?

This is a perfect moment to become one of Howard’s growing global community of friends by ordering your copy of his book.

Here are other articles we have published, exploring the launch of this book:

Take a look at the book’s Foreword: ‘Shining Brightly’ Foreword by Dr. Robert J. Wicks: ‘Learn anew about the American Dream’

And especially read this story: Two-time cancer survivor Howard Brown writes ‘Shining Brightly’ to encourage others to stay healthy

Free Resource Guides

Download (and free-to-share) resource guides for discussing Shining Brightly:

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For Father’s Day, Howard Brown reminds us: ‘It’s an honor to be a Dad.’

‘It’s an honor to be a Dad.’

This week in his podcast, Shining Brightly author Howard Brown reminds us of how much we may have learned from our grandparents, our parents—and then he talks about the high hopes we share for our own children. In Howard’s case, that’s the “miracle girl” you see in the photo above. He explains why Emily truly is a miracle. In honor of Father’s Day, then, please enjoy this heart-warming reflection on lessons and values that, at our best, we can hope to pass along through our families.

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And what happened to that little ‘Miracle Girl’?

EMILY BROWN GREW UP to become a journalist, including an internship writing for our ReadTheSpirit online magazine as she was learning her craft. Now, she reports for KPAX Channel 8 in western Montana where Emily is carrying on her family values—described by her father in his podcast (above) as including tikkun olam, trying to help heal our broken world. In June 2023, Emily is reporting for KPAX on the legacy of Mika Westwolf, a Native American woman who was hit and killed by a driver who fled the scene. Because of Emily’s reporting and a growing awareness of Mika’s case across that region of Montana, part of Mika’s legacy now is public activism to increase awareness of the plight of missing and murdered Native Americans and their families. Through this link, you will visit the KPAX website. Emily’s 3-minute report plays on that page (after a brief ad) and the text of her story also appears on that page.

Then, Emily covered a Native American-led walk in Mika’s memory, intended to raise awareness of her death and the ongoing problem of unresolved missing and murdered Native Americans.

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Care to learn more?

This is a perfect moment to become one of Howard’s growing global community of friends by ordering your copy of his book.

Here are other articles we have published, exploring the launch of this book:

Take a look at the book’s Foreword: ‘Shining Brightly’ Foreword by Dr. Robert J. Wicks: ‘Learn anew about the American Dream’

And especially read this story: Two-time cancer survivor Howard Brown writes ‘Shining Brightly’ to encourage others to stay healthy

Free Resource Guides

Download (and free-to-share) resource guides for discussing Shining Brightly:

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