Category Archives: HUMANITY

HUMANITY

#MusicStrong: A Tribute to Keith Boyer

#MusicStrong podcast [42 minutes]

I met Keith Boyer many years ago.

I was a shy pre-teen girl, not quite ready to flirt or even know what that meant. I was naive enough to ride a new but already beloved skateboard to school, which was promptly stolen. We barely know ourselves at 10- or 11-years old, how could we possibly know who would be a lifelong friend, worthy of our hearts? Keith was a shy and goofy pre-teen boy and we shared a playground, a few classes, some good times, and many, many friends. I cherish his signature in my yearbook…

It wasn’t until years later, over forty years later, that I grew to love Keith and his gentle and easy nature. He made you feel like you were his best friend and that he would do anything for you. That was his way.

In his adult life, Keith was a law enforcement officer and a really good man – I can say that he is easily one of the best people I have ever known in my life.

In his youth and throughout his adult life, Keith was a percussionist. He was a drummer who loved to drum. The moment I saw the Be a Mr. Jensen video, I thought of Keith.

He was the best for the world. 

On February 20, 2017 – Keith posted a Happy Birthday comment on Facebook to my daughter and then he went to work as a Police Officer and I went to work as a Marketing Executive. When I checked back in on FB after a meeting, I saw many sad messages from several friends – Keith had been shot and killed in the line of duty. A devastating loss to the community of Whittier, CA. A devastating loss to the 1981 Class of La Serna High School. A devastating loss to Keith’s family and all of his friends.

**Concert: La Mirada February 17th, 2018, 7:30pm
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
14900 La Mirada Blvd, La Mirada, California 90638
TICKETS

Nearly a year later, I still fight back the tears and struggle whenever I speak of him. Recently,  I was able to speak with Jeff McNeal from Mrs. Jones’ Revenge, the band Keith played with, and Jan Edwards, a La Serna High School Classmate and dear friend of Keith’s, about a concert on February 17th to benefit s scholarship fund created in Keith’s Memory.

In this day and age of strained law enforcement relations, it has been joyful to see a community recognize the goodness in this man and get behind his family and his memory.

  • To purchase or donate concert tickets, visit here.
  • To learn more about Mrs. Jones’ Revenge, visit here.
  • To read about the impact of Keith’s death, visit here <<< but, there is so much more than shared here.You are missed, Keith! Thank you for sure service and thank you for inspiring so many to give and continue to give. It was you who truly inspired me to launch MusicLaguna and subsequently this podcast. Live, local music is the best and I want to show appreciation for all the incredible musicians whose hearts beat in small, local venues. Rock on!

* This is the inaugural podcast for #MusicStrong – watch for more episodes featuring live, local bands and the people whose lives they touch. 

HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, SIMPLE LIVING, WELLNESS

25 key things for you to do this year

1. Eat less.
2. Be more active.
3. Read more.
4. Listen intentionally.
5. Stretch more.
6. Slow down and breathe.
7. Criticize less.
8. Encourage more.
9. Buy less.
10. Donate more.
11. Stop multitasking.
12. Save more money.
13. Stop lying.
14. Communicate clearly what you believe in.
15. Trust more.
16. Write/journal more (even to yourself).
17. Make something.
18. Pay more attention to the world around you.
19. Stop judging.
20. Eliminate regret.
21. Take pride in everything.
22. Value what you have.
23. Prepare better.
24. Enjoy right now.
25. Smile more.

###

HUMANITY

A Merry Christmas that Almost Wasn’t

The Southwest

Growing up in a southwest town has its advantages and disadvantages. For one, we never got snow, on the other hand, we never got snow. Let me explain, TV shows and songs would always tell us about dreaming of a white Christmas, etc. – we never heard songs about a white Chanukah, but that is another rant I guess. It always seemed that living in the southern part of the state of Arizona, we were not ever going to be afforded a Christmas with snow so that we, upon due process, would never have a real Christmas feel. This little tale is taken not from my recruiting life, but from an actual personal account of giving back on a holiday that is, well, about giving and the reason I always say Merry Christmas…

Young Love

I was in high school, a sophomore,, and I was in love. You know the kind of love that you feel when you are sixteen, no experience in the ways of the world, yet you know – an everything type of innocence, ah puberty. Her name was Tracy, and she was my first actual love, I suppose.  Like I said, I was a teenager and not to diminish the feelings we had for one another, but that is what growing up is all about. She was kind and soft spoken and we adored each other. We smiled when thinking of each other and looking back, I am smiling as I write this. Tracy was raised by her mother, a single parent situation, which we had in common – in a way. Although my mother was married to my stepfather, he was not really in the picture. In an odd way, he caused more anguish in my life by being a foil to my wit but that is another story too, I suppose.

Being a working mother and providing the sole income of the house, it was tough on them. They lived in a two-bedroom apartment and it was close enough to the high school that Tracy walked each to school.  They could barely afford the car they had, so the option of another one was way out of reach. They got by, as they say, and the time we spent together took her mind off of things, situations, and it was Christmas. Although this was always a weird time in my life, and still is really, I was born a Catholic, but my stepfather was Jewish – and so, I was raised in that faith. I have a shawl and yamaka still in my closet from my Bar Mitzvah. My family liked Thanksgiving, less tension, so when Christmas rolled around if I was not in Yuma, I was left to my own devices. This year, I had no interest in leaving my girlfriend for an awkward trip to Yuma to celebrate a holiday that made half of my family uncomfortable.

It was cold that winter in AZ, which was somewhat unusual. People were hanging outdoor Christmas lights, putting up ornaments, the usual stuff you see at that time of year; except Tracey was not doing any of that. The week before the actual holiday, there was nothing up in the apartment. I knew she had ornaments and other baubles she could and should be hanging, as I had helped pull the boxes down weeks before and she was so happy to see them. She was awkward with me, standoffish, and at times would be angry for no reason that I could think of. I was a doting boyfriend, still am when given the chance. I finally confronted her as to why her behavior was so strange.

“My Mother lost her job, she was laid off, so we don’t have money to spend on a tree or presents”, she said.

I felt my heart skip a beat of pain for her as I had never heard, especially before Christmas, of something like this happening.  I remember under her protest hugging her tightly. She finally gave way from the stoic face she was wearing and sobbed in my arms. It was that very moment I formulated a plan in my head and decided she was going to have the best Christmas ever!

The Best Christmas Ever

When I left her apartment that night to head home, I instead went to my friend’s house where I knew some others were hanging out. I wanted to discuss the matter and tell them my plan, you see – they were going to be part of it. Those guys loved Tracy and they also loved that she made me happy and were up for anything for her and her mom, so they eagerly agreed and we put the plan in motion. Matt, one of my friends, went shopping the next day with his girlfriend – we took a pool that night from all the guys and girlfriends in our group, and since it was going to be a Saturday they went to the mall to get some token gifts, nothing too expensive and have them wrapped. John, being single at the time, came with me to get a tree because you cannot have Christmas without a tree and trees needs presents.

My friend Luke was working at a local Christmas tree lot, so we drove the truck over to see him and see if I could get a deal on nice Douglas Fir. When I found him I told him what we were doing and he just stared at me, no emotion at all and went over to a Douglas Fir that was a good eight feet tall, called over another chap and the two of them carried it to my truck. When I asked Luke how much I owed him, he simply said, “Owe me for what?” He winked and said, “Merry Christmas,” then just walked away to help another customer.

Sometimes, the spirit moves you to do the right thing and be a better human.

I had made plans with Tracy for that night so I knew she would be home, and so would her mother as well; she was not working, so where else would she be? The time came and we caravanned from Matt’s house with the tree in the back of my pickup and presents in Matt’s, the whole crew came, as we were going to decorate the house with them and sing, it was a team effort through and through. When we got to the complex, I saw the car in the spot and I knew this was going to be epic because they were home. Everyone sort of hid so they could not be seen and I went to the door with the tree, Matt and John helping hold it up from behind and I knocked on the door. Tracy’s mom answered the door and seeing the tree behind me starred with a quizzical look on her face at me, then the tree, then at me again. Before she could say anything, I smiled and instead of the eloquent speech I had in my head to pontificate the greatness of what we had accomplished in such a short time I simply said, “Merry Christmas, Ma’am,” then I just looked down. Then it happened – she, not really ever having been a fan of mine, did something she had never done before, she hugged me and kissed my cheek.

She said, “You are a beautiful young man and I am glad my daughter found you.”

The others sort of sheepishly came out into view just as Tracy came to the door to see what all the fuss was about, she cried, I cried, hell – we all did. We went inside the small apartment, John and I set up the tree while the rest of the crew decorated the apartment and then we placed the presents under the tree. The air was regaled by the voices of children just like the Peanuts cartoons that come on every year. A bunch of 16-year old kids, all from different walks of life, religions, and creeds, made a family down on their luck have a great Christmas that year.

I lost track of Tracy and her mom when they moved back to Tennessee and the young love we had was torn from us yet that is why I will always, no matter what, say “Merry Christmas!” at this time of year and always will.  I am not a practicing Christian but I understand what it means to those who are and what day means to them and, well, me.

#peace #truestory

HUMANITY, LIFESTYLE

Slices of Grief

It isn’t easy

I’ve spent much of my life trying to put grief and heartache behind me, sometimes outright ignoring it. This isn’t the best way to heal or the best example to those I care most about, like my children or a significant other. I am a strong woman – I’ve had to be. However, I am learning that there is great strength to be found in vulnerability. That may not make sense to you, but it is starting to make sense to me.

I have lost people close to me to the great and ultimate avenger: death. Many of my friends in the last two months have lost their fathers. These friends’ losses happened during an emotional time for me, as I braced for the annual reminder of my own father’s death, which occurred on the 25th anniversary of my brother Tommy’s death. November 10th presents a double-whammy for me. Each year, I think it will be easier, but each year presents its own difficulties, which allow me to miss my father more than I expect.

How I Faced It

My father died in 2001, exactly one month after my husband, the father of my four children, moved out. My husband’s leaving occurred one-month after 9/11, an event that devastated our country – and though my little family was on the West Coast, it changed our lives as we, the six of us, watched the 2nd plane hit live on television – and everything after that, on that day, blurred. My father’s death two months later was the culmination, as well as the beginning of what I perceived as the worst time in my life.

I was alone. That Christmas, both my father and my husband were gone, and I was alone. Yes, of course I had my children – and they saved me – oh, so many times, but the two most important men in my life were gone.

I don’t know how I faced it. I don’t think I did face it. I think I covered it with new-found joys, with the holidays, with Disneyland (annual passes!), with the love for my children and from my children, and with the busy-ness my life entailed. I was working 3 jobs, taking five classes at the local college, and now raising four children alone. So, no — I didn’t face the grief I felt, the grief that was brewing. I just lived.

The Long and the Short

No time in my life seemed to pass more slowly or more quickly. I am not sure how that is possible, but it is. I jumped out of bed every morning, most days trying not to think where my next dollar would come from and certainly trying not to dwell on what I could have done differently for my dad or for my marriage. My grief was real, but it was shoved to the back burner – tears only came in the shower or in the dark of early morning and they were quickly forgotten at the first flip of a pancake.

I learned to box grief up and only bring it out when no one was looking. There are those who assumed I was a heartless bitch and there are those who worried I might crack. I just had to keep getting out of bed in the morning and somehow put gas in my car.

My Comfort

When my brother passed away 41 years ago, I was just 13 years old. He was 20 and had been severely handicapped since birth. I had no idea how to grieve or what that even meant. I was raised in a very religious home and there was plenty of talk about my brother finally being free – finally out of his deformed body, finally in the presence of God, but none of that helped me comprehend the impact his death would have on me or my life, or my mother, or my family. It seemed like a bandage to cover the pain of his death, not a way to face his death or understand how it would change me, my siblings, or my parents forever.

A Tom Sawyer Trick: Whitewashing

It is a human tendency to whitewash pain, when really we should face it, head on – determined to let it clean us from the inside out: breaking our hearts, cleaning our minds, softening our memories, and planting a new place for that love. My pain found its way on to lined paper, in the form of a poem. And thus, it began – my lifelong quest to heal myself through words.

Many have asked, “Why do you write…, why do you write about your pain, your sins, your weaknesses?” and others have answered by saying, “Thank you for writing how I feel, I thought I was alone.”

We are not alone

Grief is a common denominator for many of us. We know that pain. We know the heartbreak. We know that feeling of catching breaths through sobs that collapse. We know the tender mercies bestowed by love and compassion from others.

Today, I remember my father’s hands on my cheeks lifting my face to his as he tried to comfort my 14-year old broken heart. Today, I remember his finger slowly dragging along the alto line of a hymn. Today, I remember his love of ice cream. Today, I remember his love for anyone he ever met. Today, I remember his love. Through slices of grief, I remember.

HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE

50 Cents and Responsibility: Lessons from an 8-Year Old

“But this will not do, God will certainly punish you for stealing and for being unfaithful.”
– Jupiter Hammon

I was a precocious child growing up and somewhat mischievous, as well. A number of older people forget their youth. I feel bad for them, I really do. That or they manipulate their past in their mind over and over again, in order to paint themselves in a better light; sort of finger painting of the mind. I stopped doing this a few years ago when I stopped punishing myself and allowed those memories to come to the forefront. I started my own, shall we say, therapy to explore more about why I am who I am, a riddle wrapped with perplexity and tied with an enigma bow.

It’s Nice to Want Things

I wanted things but being eight years old, there’s little choice getting baubles at toy stores because you just don’t have the money, I mean, look, you were eight. Oh, and as my buddy Pete Radloff likes to say, “It’s nice to want things.” What in the hell did you need money for, really? I suppose it is an odd rite of passage to begin earning money and become part of the general economy at some point, but a kid should have kid memories, the good, the bad, memories, good times.

I want to make a very important point here before I continue with this. I was raised with respect and was taught morals, however – at this tender age, there is only so much a person should expect from a boy to know, life you see. So, many times it is the mistakes we make, the falls that teach us; this was one of those times.

fifty centsWhenever I was in Yuma visiting my grandparents, we would eat out. Back in the day, restaurants, even the classier ones in town, had, shall we say, items for a gentleman? Cologne, condoms, and oddly, stupid toys that you could drop into a glass of water and they would form a bird, I shit you not, no pun intended.  The cost was only fifty cents and I wanted to see what the bird would look like. The small issue I had? I was eight and not making a paycheck, damn child labor laws.

My Uncle Mike was making a pay check though, and when he went out he had a change jar where he would deposit his loose change. Mostly pennies and nickels, but there were dimes and quarters, too. It sat on the dresser drawer’s cabinet that housed his work shirts and underwear, socks and such. It was just an old preserves jar that had a small crack in it and my Grams didn’t want to use for preserves. Hence, the change jar was born. As earlier stated, I was eight years old, keep up folks, and well I, being froggy, just put my hand in that mason jar and took out fifty cents. I just figured my Uncle wouldn’t miss it since it was only two coins in a sea of them, sitting in that old mason jar.

The Next Time

I got my toys the next time we went to the restaurant. The two coins were in separate pockets as to not let them jingle against each other, the sound alerting anyone of the booty in my pocket. I learned a lot from the detective magazines my Uncle Mike would leave around the house. I went to the bathroom and procured my reward for stealing from him without a care, then came back to the table with an enormous sense of satisfaction.

Um, yeah best-laid plans of mice and men; and eight-year olds, I suppose.

It may have been fortuitous, within a week I was afforded an allowance of one dollar a week to do chores. Raised the way I was, I heard a story from my Grandparents about stealing and that it was a bad thing, it hurt people when you took what was rightfully theirs. I, in my eight-year old mind, thought I had hurt my Uncle. So, instead of going to the market for a Slurpee and baseball cards, I got change; four quarters. I guess this is when I discovered I was going to be a writer, I wrote him a letter, put two-quarters in the envelope with the letter and left it on his bed. Easy, right? Nope, not even close.

My Uncle took the letter to my Mother and to my Grandparents, the reaction was at first one of anger that I would steal, but my Grandparents intervened the tongue lashing and the switch and instead, embraced the fact that I wanted to make amends. I had learned my lesson without them having to teach me. I learned from their example, their knowledge. That is how we learn, you know. My mother was so proud, she took the two toys and letter and framed it, my mother – the hidden artist.

To wrap this up, we all make mistakes, we are not perfect. However, when the imperfection comes we need to learn from it, take it with us. Funny thing is, I have a goblet I got from a bar years ago and although loose change is now non-existent with credit cards and digital chips, it’s still out there and when I have some change, I throw it in that cup.

Thanks, Uncle Mike, it was a great lesson, and I miss you. Rest in peace.

fifty cents

**This is a photo of the actual letter I wrote to my Uncle, funny thing? I needed an editor even then.

#truestory

HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL GROWTH

One Day at a Time: Winning the Battle of Life

Winning is Important

Why?

We want recognition. We want to feel accomplished. We want to be successful.

I hated playing Monopoly when I was younger. My brother was insanely competitive – he still is – and he won almost every game. I was torn and it made me mad,  and not because he won but rather, because I lost. Some of us are better at losing than others. I’m not one of those individuals.

Somehow, I think it is deeper than just not wanting to lose. Like most people, I want to be relevant and, well – winners are relevant. Winners win. Winners get to the finish line first. They walk away with trophies and awards. Their home-baked cookies are the best. They hear applause and approval often. They are happy, aren’t they? Are winners happier than those of us who merely strive but fail?

Who Doesn’t Want to Be Relevant?

It may seem simple. Isn’t that what we all want? Aren’t we all just looking for a smile or a cheer, a pat on the back, a “good job” or “atta boy”, a raise in pay? Is that relevance? Or is that acceptance?

Where does your State of Mind leave you?

I didn’t purchase my first scratch-off lottery ticket until I was 26 years old. I had gone to the mall with a friend on my lunch hour. I was a young mother of two at the time – money was always tight, but I had an extra buck in my pocket and thought, “what the heck?” That very first scratcher was $100 winner. I was shocked, surprised, but most of all – happy. I could afford diapers and maybe a Cinnabon with my little girls that week, our favorite treat!

A year or two earlier, I found myself in a pickle while practicing with my league softball team on an early Saturday morning. I could throw like mad – but my arm was a little wild. I was honing my ability in lengthy practices and found myself in a very good place: playing shortstop with a #1 team with a .822 personal batting average. Until the pickle.

Some guys were waiting to use the field and decided to challenge us “girls” to a quick pick-up game. We, of course, accepted the challenge. I hit a double to deep right and found myself rounding 2nd. Mistakenly, I thought there had been an overthrow, but really – the throw had been to 3rd base, and square in front of me stood a waiting, gnarling 3rd baseman, holding said ball. I screamed and turned, only to find the ball now at 2nd base. Turning again, my cleat caught and my body went one way, while my foot and lower leg stayed planted. A loud pop could be heard. That pop was the ACL in my right leg snapping in half.

I continued to play for several more years, but I lost my position, my batting average dropped, and eventually left the sport, devastated, after six knee surgeries.

Win or Lose

I could have continued to buy lottery tickets, hoping for another winner. I could have curled up in ball and never struck out again. But I didn’t do either. My battle continued, on different fields.

“Defeat is a state of mind. No one is ever really defeated until defeat has been accepted as reality.” – Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee never stopped kicking, never stopped fighting.

Life can Kick You in the Ass

And it often does.

But what are you going to do? Let it? Or dodge those kicks and punches? Just turn the other cheek?

If only it were that easy. Many mornings, I wish it were easy. But I have learned, you just keep going, you just keep moving forward, Victory does not come to those who stand still or those without impetus or drive.

Life’s Battles

Ive had my share, they don’t seem to ease up, so I can’t really afford to. My parents hung a framed copy of my father’s favorite poem in their bathroom – it was titled You Can. I read that damn thing every time I ventured into their private space. Over and over again, committing it to memory over the years. On many a morning, the last verse has gotten me out of bed.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster wo/man.
But sooner or later the wo/man who wins,
Is the man who thinks he can.

You Can

Some weeks, it’s just one day at a time. Some days, it’s just one step at a time. And some steps, it’s just one moment at a time. When all you can do is find the next moment, that is enough.

And sometimes, that’s all it takes.

HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH

Don’t Fear the Script, Rewrite It! – The Passionate Chase

Chasing Away the Script

We spend a great deal of our lives building confidence. Some days, weeks, or months, it doesn’t seem to matter how much experience I have or how many clever skills I have – I can easily get caught up in fear of failure or overwhelming expectations I set for myself. Many of us have a negative script that gets played over and over in our heads – that counts on us failing.

The two greatest fears I’ve had in my life have been falling and failing. Sadly, I am not one of those individuals lucky enough to have flying dreams – I have falling nightmares, though they have receded a bit. I did jump out of a perfectly good airplane a year ago and loved it. So, the falling wasn’t the problem, perhaps  it was more about the landing.

But failure has haunted my days.

What I Learned from Writing

I have spent the last 12 years writing about every part of my life, from earliest memories to latest catastrophes, very few subjects or experiences are off limits. From poetry, to microblogs, to lengthy blog series, to podcasts.

Writing is like giving birth for me. Hitting the wrong key or failing to save a document can lead to disaster or meltdown, and it has happened on numerous occasions.
The first several times, parts of me died with each loss.

But, I Tricked Myself

These were profound moments of loss for me, over time, I learned to tell myself that “It must not have been good enough – I can write that better.” The first time, it took a great deal of self-convincing, but I learned to find the truth in my words because I always produced better words or a more meaningful story.

A State of Mind

Napolean Hill, famed author, stated, “Failure is nature’s plan to prepare you for great responsibilities.” I have seen evidence of this in my own life. And often, all I need to do to get over any particular bump in my road of personal progress is to review my last failure.

  • Where did I land? Was it a crash landing?
  • When I got up, dusted myself off – what was it I learned?
  • When the dust around me cleared, what new experiences had I gained?
  • How did I grow, or can I grow more, as a result?

I do hate failing –

I hate miscalculating, missing a mark, or misjudging any circumstance. But I also know that a serious lesson was meant for me, so I best get to learning it. Even if all I learned was to get up –

If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you like to win, but think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

You Are Not Beaten

And neither am I – it’s just another chance, another opportunity to succeed.


**If you are interested in learning more about “the script,” follow Richard Wilkins on Facebook, he shares some interesting thoughts about this negative script and how we can overcome it. Warning: he uses colorful language, he just keeps it real. 

CONTRIBUTORS, HUMANITY, PERSONAL GROWTH

What It Takes to Go “All Out” in Running and Life

The next time you see someone staggering across a marathon finish line, barely able to walk, or carried by fellow runners because their legs have buckled, don’t feel sorry for them.

Envy them.*

These are people who know what it feels like to give it their all.

So many of us say “I did my best” or “I gave it 100%” but did we truly? Could we have done better, worked harder?

When I first started running in races, I just wanted to survive. I usually went hard enough that I was sore for days but right after the finish, I always felt like I could have run faster .

As I trained more and got in better shape both cardiovascularly and in strength, I did keep getting faster. I still thought I was running as hard as I could, but soon after finishing, I’d lament “I could have run faster.”

If you’re a perfectionist, this is probably the story of your life. “I could have done better, worked harder, put in more time…”

You probably could have. I don’t think hardly any of us have ever reached that extreme, whether athletically or professionally, where we could honestly say “I absolutely went to the limit. That was the best I could possibly do. Any more and I would have collapsed/passed out/won an award.”

It’s a goal of mine to reach that limit at some point, both professional and athletically.

I’m not talking about damaging yourself. Or ruining your health or relationships by being a workaholic.

I’m talking about going so hard, going all out, that there’s no doubt in your mind that you could have done better or gone harder.

Instead of giving a good presentation, you present like a boss.

Instead of covering the basics, you work out every detail.

Instead of running fast, you go so hard that you cross the finish line with your last possible step.

I’m getting closer, but I want that life experience of knowing I gave it my absolute all.

Here’s what it’s going to take:

Practice

In running fast or long, half the battle is getting used to feeling bad. I realize this doesn’t make much of a positive impression on people who are considering running as a sport …

It takes repetition to make the discomfort if not more comfortable, at least tolerable. You learn to keep going, adjust to that feeling, and recover.

This very much applies to business and life. Physical discomfort is sometimes easier to push through than mental discomfort.

We’ve been training ourselves to divide our focus or jump to the next interesting thing. Giving it your all in a writing project, business plan, or marketing campaign often takes long, sustained bouts of thinking and creating which can literally feel painful!

It takes practice to push through that initial desire to stop and do something more interesting or less mentally taxing.

Perception

The first time I ran a sub 80-second 400 meter, I didn’t have a watch on and my Coach didn’t call out splits. I just ran. Like a wild woman!

Maybe I’d never run that fast before because I “knew” I couldn’t run that fast. I would glance at my watch and think I was running as fast as I could.

You KNOW that if you think you can’t do something, you’re usually right. Your perception of yourself is going to influence your outcome.

Don’t measure yourself by your self perception. Sometimes you’ve got run without feedback, without knowing where you are, or measuring against previous performance.

Physiology

Laziness is a survival trait. Understanding that is half the battle.

Your mom was right. Hard work (almost) never killed anyone (it’s the unrelieved stress).

We evolved to do just enough to the get the result we needed. If you were “homo habilis” and you were threatened by a bear, you ran or fought just enough to get to safety.

You didn’t run until you dropped from exhaustion if you didn’t need to. You’d be killed by the next threat that came along because you wouldn’t have the energy to escape that new threat.

Today, most people on this planet are fortunate enough that their daily routine doesn’t include life or death flight or fight situations. If you’ve planned your day or weekend right, you could go to exhaustion Monday through Friday or on a Saturday morning and be safe in assuming you could lounge on the couch the rest of the weekend.

That physiological injunction against going to exhaustion is still very much hard-wired into our brains.

You may run until your brain says you’re “tired” or even “exhausted” but you really aren’t. Your body literally tricks your brain into thinking you’re more tired than you are so you’ll quit or slow down long before you’re completely spent.

Knowing about this mechanism helps you understand the lies your body and brain are telling you.

Jens Voigt, professional cyclist, is famous for his saying “Shut up legs.” He should add “Shut up brain.”

Passion

Whether it’s athletic or professional, stretching yourself that hard is probably going to hurt. You’ll suffer on the path to get there.

You’ve gotta want it badly. If it’s not your passion, your desire, your obsession … you’re just not going to want to go past that “danger signals” point.

This means that going all out is probably going to be limited to just a few things in your life. Maybe only one thing.

Personally, running is one of those things for me. I’ve had a few experiences where I crossed a finish line and could barely lift my legs to get off the track…. And I loved it!

Not the burning pain of lactic acid. Or the searing lungs.

But the feeling that I absolutely put it all out there. Did my best. Laid it on the line. Gave it my all.

I want to feel that feeling again and again and again.

—–
*They’re fine. They’re usually just glycogen depleted and just need rest and carbs. Gonna hurt the next few days though!

Cover photo courtesy of Juan Esparza Loera.

###

HUMANITY

Change for Good: Playing and Praying for Texas

I first started blogging on Myspace. It was my initial experience with writing online and I fell in love with it — I found a voice that had been buried since college creative writing classes and I discovered new things about myself every time I hit publish. As social media grew and how I connected with the world changed as a result of social and mobile technologies, I changed. I became bold and an avid storyteller. I shifted my “creative writing” platform from Myspace to Facebook to RecruitingBlogs to Blogging4Jobs to Intrepid.Media – it has been a 15-year process of progress and I can’t say I have enjoyed ever minute of it, but I have evolved and changed. Which is what progress is, correct? Here’s to progress…

Writing for Change

As I consider all I have written about and all that has occurred in my life since 9/11 – change and growth has been a direct result. I was not in NYC on that day of death, destruction, hatred, and fear, but I can easily trace significant personal change back to that morning, while I sat with my four young children and we watched, as did the world, what looked like the end of the world as we knew it. It was the jolt I needed to wake up in my own life. Less than a month later, I ended my destructive marriage and it was time for me to do what America and New York City would have to do – slowly, embrace life again, rebuild, love, and triumph – rise like a phoenix from ashes of terror.

This Week’s Wrath

While Harvey and nature have been the terrorists this week in Texas, I am seeing similar stories as those revealed on 9/11 – stories of heroism and love, trust and glory rise higher than the waters. Destruction, death, and fear have pushed out hatred — hatred will not win this battle.

There have been those who have lost everything. We have seen stories of tragedy and survival – there are many more to come as Houston, Beaumont, and the many areas affected by the hurricane come to the next place, the place where the waters recede and life and livelihoods begin the clean-up and plan for the next phase of recovery.

We are, we will…

We are humanity. We will survive. We will rebuild and renew. And we will do this together. Many have come together to help – to rescue, to donate needed items, to raise fund, to assist. It is easy to feel helpless – those that feel that way should only be those still standing in water. Give where you can. 

But I am so far away

I live in Laguna Beach, nearly 1400 miles from the devastation. Last night, I sat on a cement bench and watched 6 individual musicians busk on a street corner to raise money for those affected. #PlayingForTexas Dozens of people passed by, dropping money in their bucket. You are not helpless to give back. Find a way — even if it is just through prayer or sending positivity and messages of love and compassion.

Every Little Bit Helps.

HUMANITY, PERSONAL GROWTH

He says, “It’s the Chance of a Lifetime” – The Passionate Chase

All My Experiences Have Brought Me Here

I’ve been involved with performing arts in one way or another since I was 3 years old. FYI: that’s 50 years ago, and I don’t mind saying it. I was raised in a home where regular church attendance was required and the church I grew up in allowed for 6-10 opportunities a year to perform or speak in front of a large congregation. By the time I had my first official stage play audition at the tender age of seven – there were no jitters, there was no nervousness. Being on stage felt completely natural to me and I even loved the long rehearsal hours that included staging and memorization, as well as the costume fittings, make-up techniques, and waiting in the wings.

My Favorite Place?

I think one of my favorite places in the world is “waiting in the wings” – it is also a place where nightmares loom if you’ve ever done any kind of performing. In my dreams or recurring nightmares, I have gotten caught in giant dusty curtains, forgotten my lines, missed entrance cues, and fallen off the stage while waiting in those precious wings.

My first lead was at the age of nine, when much to the chagrin of every boy who auditioned, I was cast as Rumplestiltskin in a summer drama class. With my buck teeth, short pixie haircut, sassy ‘tude, coupled with no fear, I would never be cast as the beautiful princess who could spin straw into gold. And I was glad. I felt powerful and I found a place where I was accepted for who I was and the crazy, rambunctious style of my tomboy self.

The Desire of a Child

Up until I was 12 years old, my presumed adult destination and desired occupation was “movie star” – however, being no great beauty, I soon learned that I needed to find alternate paths to success. I read, I studied, I learned to love science, I ignored math as much as I could, but still continued my antics on stage. I knew Hollywood would never come knocking on my door, but my “passion” was always close by.

For many years, I trod the boards. I loved the romantic notion that perhaps the same dust on the stage where I stood had also been at the feet of Shakespeare, Chekhov, Stella Adler, or Uta Hagen. I often walk the dark empty stage pre-performance and before any other actors arrive. It’s an old school attempt at an ancient network connection. This is not unusual – those who embrace the romance of theater have all done this. I am not alone.

Few experiences have caused me more pride or shame. One role saw me delivering a 10-minute monologue in the beginning of the first act, only to never grace the stage again – until the final curtain call. I love the roar of a crowd who had forgotten all about me. Truly satisfying.

The shame?

Not so much fun. I once assistant directed a production of the dark and delightful musical Sweeney Todd. In a small independent theater, you wear many hats – I also coordinated costumes, washing the blood out of many pieces after each of the 25+ performances. I was also the prop mistress, setting props and providing bread dough at each show. On top of all of that, I ran sound during every single production in the dingy hidden tech booth behind the last row of seats at the very back of the theater. I had a business trip a few days before opening night and while I was gone, new CDs replaced those I had practiced with and used in every previous rehearsal. Songs were combined so the numbering of each was off from the notations in my script. 9 minutes in, the music I played no longer matched what was being sung on stage. Knowing my cast was adept at anything, I cut the supportive music until I came to a place where I knew I could sync back up with the cast. For 12 minutes of the show, no accompanying music played to back the actors actions or vocals. I was devastated and sorrowful, but the cast? They were furious. Many of them threw their costumes at me and spewed foul language, stating they would never work with me again. I received dirty looks and I think a few actually spit on me every night for the next six weeks, not until the run of that particular theater production was complete. It was truly horrifying and what theater nightmares are made of.

But apparently, I am a glutton for punishment, because MANY productions followed – however, none brought me more pain than the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Live and Learn.

Where Experience Takes You

I’ve had an opportunity to use the skills learned on stage and in the wings in my professional presentations and speeches, the various podcasts I have produced, my 3-year stint on Top Recruiter as well as writing the content and moderating the docu-film, The Art of Recruiting, and a couple short films.

My friend, Walter DuRant and I played husband and wife sixteen years ago in a community theater production of Cheaper By The Dozen he contacted me last spring to play a role in a short film from a screenplay he had written called, “Just Another Meal“- a husband and wife meet to discuss their divorce in what turns out be anything but just another meal. We filmed in June, 2017 and the final edit was released this week. I loved every minute of filming in 95+ degree heat and interestingly enough. I can’t wait to do it again.

The Passionate Chase

Never stop following the passions of your youth or those you find along the way — they were and are planted in you for a reason. Don’t neglect them or forget to dust them off every once in a while. They are the slow fires that burn, they (re)ignite ideas and supercharge career momentum.

Imagine if every opportunity that came your way was viewed as a “chance of a lifetime.”
Just imagine.

*This first blog is the kick-off for my next series, “The Passionate Chase.”

Here’s the released version, which is being submitted to festivals.
Wish us luck!