02/24/2014 01:38 pm ET Updated Apr 26, 2014

Two Farewells That Inform and Inspire

The universe has a way of communicating with us through seemingly unrelated events. Or are they?

We learned in the news today that within a week of each other, two remarkable women passed away.

Alice Herz-Sommer, the world's oldest-known Holocaust survivor, passed at the remarkable age of 110. Maria Von Trapp, whose family's life inspired the iconic musical "The Sound of Music," was 99.

The only dynamic that connects these two women is that one made a perilous escape with her family from the Nazis and the other survived the horrors of the Czech concentration camp Terezin.

I confess to not knowing much about these remarkable women until reading about their deaths. Yet, as I perused the accounts of their lives, I couldn't help but notice one character trait that seemed to burn brightly in both of these individuals: OPTIMISM!

Each of their stories should cause one to pause and think about life, man's inhumanity to man, handling daily challenges and the benefits of positive attitude.

However, the news coming as it were on the same day reinforces, compounds and brings into sharper focus two important but different observations.

The first is that we must never forget the horrors of the Holocaust. When we live in a day and age that has spawned those who would deny historical fact, we must fight back by always remembering. The saying, "Never Again" couldn't be more apropos to recall as a woman who was the eldest living survivor of the Holocaust died.

So much of the past is buried in the pages of books or articles and is not "alive" to the younger generations, who are many years removed from the events. As always, it's the imperative of older generations to inform and educate those they care about.

The lives of both Alice Herz-Sommer and Maria Von Trapp certainly provide ample opportunity to do this. Families might sit down and watch The Sound of Music and then discuss not only the Von Trapp family, but Ms. Herz-Sommer's life story.

The other point of interest that I find so compelling is the positive attitude to which I made reference earlier. Both these fine women were living examples.

Surely, Alice Herz-Sommer's personal history was the more devastating, but both survived perilous situations.

It's interesting to note that each was a musician. I believe so strongly in the power of music to soothe, heal and empower.

As I looked at their pictures, I couldn't help but notice the saintly-looking expressions they bore. Their upbeat outlooks seem to leap off the page and make you feel good just looking at them.

Only this morning, I was feeling extremely frustrated and aggravated over a minor matter.

However, reading articles about two people who clearly held such a positive attitude towards life embarrassed me into kicking over the traces of my petty annoyances and putting them in perspective.

I've written before about the manner in which we get caught up in the daily "battles" of what we call surviving. Yet most of our struggles pale in comparison to those of these amazing women.

I want to stress that I'm not making light of the travails many suffer. They are real and personally impactful.

I'm referring to the bulk of the daily minutiae that often drains away our life force. We often become so embroiled we are unaware of the damage we do... to ourselves!

We have the ability and internal power to change our lives. However the key is to gain awareness. Once we do we can make conscious, mindful choices of how we want to live.

As we pay tribute to Maria Von Trapp and Alice Herz-Sommers, let us never forget and also be inspired by their gumption and outlook.

Now might be a good time for a little introspection.