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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Stand Still and Watch the Leaves Turn

Monday, October 1st, 2012

“Around and around the house the leaves fall thick, but never fast, for they come circling down with a dead lightness that is somber and slow.” ~Charles Dickens

The first day of autumn recently passed, and with it went the fast-passed and brilliant lights of summer. A soft blanket has fallen into place that engulfs our world with a sense of calm and tranquility. Faded are the raucous bbqs and hot nights on the town. Now a subtle chill penetrates the air, and settling in with a pumpkin spiced latte and a good read is more appealing…

And once again the world shifts, and with it shifts our consciousness and our priorities. In a sense, the changing of the season is a change in our minds and in our souls, for we are able to view the world in a new light, and with that brings a new openness that reveals new portals of enlightenment. You see, we are essentially forced to think differently because our whole environment is thrown into a flux; Mother Nature takes on a new visage that can we can see and feel and react to.

The fading of the sun; the brilliant foliage of colors; the covered walkways; the hats, scarves and gloves; all alter our perception of our own lives. There is a somber quality in the wind that turns us inwards, makes us bundle-up, and re-think our purposes and desires…

It’s at this moment, the beginning of fall, that I become reflective and critical of my decisions. I guess with the world transforming, I too must make alterations, and the inherent quietness that surrounds me creates the perfect bubble to contemplate. Besides, the excitement and energizing attributes of summer have faded, and with those distractions gone I can get down to the nuts-and-bolts of things.

I can take the time to reevaluate my direction… steady myself for what is to come, or alter my course in search of another ending. After all, don’t we all need a mental reminder of why we’re doing what we’re doing? Sure there are aspects in life that we don’t question; but what about those mundane things and obligations — the stuff in life we ready don’t want to do but know we have to?

Well, autumn is the time I thoughtfully analyze what I’m doing, and in turn am reminded of the reasons why I do what I do. Tasks I like and dislike all work together to balance the life I’ve built, and a truly blessed life it is…

There is so much to be thankful for, and in this hectic, impersonal, and busy world we live in, we desperately need those moments of remembrance. We need to rise above the superficiality and remember what we’re truly made of.

I, for example, may live a lavish lifestyle, own beautiful things, and travel the world; but that’s not what defines me. My family and friends shape who I am and bring out the best I have to offer, and for that I am truly thankful.

So as I lay a clean blanket on the bed for the first time in months, and open the window a little more to feel the cool breeze, I take a moment of reverence for the new season and all that it brings. Like the solemn, dying leaf, floating from its branch towards the ground in big, looping spirals; I circle through my vault of memories and decisions, touching lightly on all that I hold dear.

The Shocking Truth

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Trauma is an all-encompassing vice that holds both the mind and body in an iron-like grip of confusion, pain, and anxiety. The visceral shock of a traumatic event penetrates every nerve, sending our entire being into a tornado of ungraspable thoughts and feelings. There’s simply too much going on for any hope of instant stabilization, and every moment carries the weight of unprocessed emotions; a whirlwind that can once again send us spiraling into the depths of what we don’t know, don’t want to know, or just can’t understand. It’s the question of why bad things happen that looms on the horizon, eating away at our nerves and clouding our thoughts…

And in such times we’re desperate for help and support, but are too jumbled to express what we need. Our internal and physical chaos projects an unnerving cloud on the environment, unsettling those closest to us…

So how do the ones we love cut through the dense air of pain and confusion and pass our threshold of anxiety to provide the comfort we need and desire? Our path to salvation is already littered with emotional pitfalls and scar tissue that cuts deep into our beings, rendering us incapable of direction. All we know is what we feel; and what we feel is raw, untamed, and primal. In a sense, trauma tears away the veil of etiquette and what’s left is the unedited, unfiltered chasm of our emotions. And it’s an awfully big chasm for anyone to jump in order to reach our strained hearts… But the depths of peoples’ feelings run deeper than we can imagine, and there are always ways to reach out and lift those struggling in their own terror.

Trust in Those Who Truly Know You

Inspiration, love, and happiness are universal attributes that can come from even the most unexpected of places. A simple comment made by a coworker; a nice message left by an obscure friend on your Facebook page; a phone call from a distant relative; all have the power to lift the soul and usher in a stream of light in otherwise dark days.

But what if you’re neither a coworker nor an absent friend? What if your relationship with the suffering individual is one of intimacy, and immense closeness? What do you do then? Your friend, lover, sister, son, desperately needs your comfort, but the path of inspiration, love, and happiness is crowded with the chaos of the traumatic event.

Over the years I’ve learned the best road to take is one of empathy and understanding. You can’t fight someone else’s battles, but you can be a figure of support.

So listen…

Listen to what your traumatized friend needs. If she needs a shoulder to cry on, be the person to wipe her tears. If she needs to dissect and analyze the situation in its entirety, be her lab partner writing down the results. Just be there every step of the way; from the moments full of tears to the moment of acceptance.

I can remember watching my dear friend cry and shake over the loss of her unborn child… the family wanted a little girl, a sister for their first son. But nature decided it wasn’t the right time, and the child was lost through no fault of the mother. However, the pain of such a loss was near unbearable for the young woman, and all I could do was give comfort when she believed it was her fault; show my frustration when she was angry; and empathize when she accepted the terror. And now she’s the proud mother of 2 strapping, young boys and a warmhearted, beautiful baby girl.

The idea is, don’t fight against their emotions. Everything they’re feeling must be faced and processed for any hope of salvation…

Help them face and endure it.

Precious Moments

Friday, July 27th, 2012

It sucks to admit it, but depression is a constant in life that we all deal with from time to time. Even the happiest of people can fall into a foul mood that upsets their day, week or even month, and crawling out from such a dark, suffocating place is truly a trial and tribulation. Why? Because it takes so much energy to lift your spirits and sort through the jumble of negative emotions that tag along on the depression band-wagon. You’re already tired and your spirits are low, almost as if a giant chain is weighing you down, and you feel yourself sinking into an abyss of hell. Your body and mind are completely drained, and the better idea is to melt into a puddle like the Wicked Witch of the West or crawl under a heavy rock and disappear, rather than pulling yourself up to the light of serenity and life.

Let’s face it, the rope leading to sanctuary and peace is a mighty long one with lengths of thorns that ripe your flesh and portions lubricated in slick oil so you slip down and regress. Progress is slow, and at times nearly undetectable. You feel like you take a step forward only to take two steps back. And as the internal struggle ensues you watch as your outside life comes crashing down as well.

When you’re lost in the dark, wandering the gritty streets of sorrow, loneliness, and grief, it’s difficult to continue in the normalcy of what was your life… And you watch as your friendships suffer and your work ethic declines, and observe the look of worry and sadness on the visages of family. You’re the fly on the wall witnessing the dissolve of your beautiful life…

If only you could fly, buzz around your sorrowful face, and snap yourself from the grips of depression…

But, alas, none of us have that fly in the literal sense. However, there are things—events, patterns, safeguards, or ideals—that coach us back to our comfort zone. In our moments of depression they can guide us and loosen the tight grip of despair. In a sense, such things are our happiness that can brighten any dark day. And when you’re careening out of control, they’re the precious moments you can grab for support and reassurance.

Some things in life are just too darn good to tarnish. Nothing can ruin the sheer joy and uplifting power they bring to the table. And by holding on tight, eventually all the good will outweigh the bad…

The moment you fall in love for the first time, the joy of watching your two best friends marry, the promotion to the best job in the world, the glory in holding your son or daughter for the first time…etc. The list is endless, varied and eternal. It’s different for everyone and often different each time someone dives into the recesses of his mind to find a brilliant memory. But their power and influence remain the same, for they can pull us from our dark place to one of peace.
And not only memories help. Comfortable habits like walking down the beach, laying in the dark and organizing your chaotic thoughts in the silence of night, or putting on a strong face simply to get by; all encourage hope and a step up the ladder from hell.

So when you feel utterly alone and drained of everything good in this world, remember the precious moments in life, do the habits that make you smile, use every coping mechanism you know, and eventually the sadness will pass and with it a dawn of a new and happier day.

Bright Uplifting Days

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

We all know that too much sun is a bad thing. Overexposure to harmful radiation can cause skin cancer and lead to faster aging. After all, overexposure to anything is never a good idea. Even a favorite song can become the bane of one’s existence if listened to often enough. The key is everything in moderation… right? But in all honesty, how can anyone stay out of the sun and all that it provides?

The sun is the giver of all life. Without the sun, plants couldn’t grow, animals couldn’t eat and we’d all starve. No wonder ancient civilizations looked upon the bright sphere with wonder, adoration and fear… the sun giveth and the sun taketh away. Even modern medicine is mindful to its opposing wonders.

Science has confirmed that high doses of radiation can cause severe bodily injuries, but research has also proven the miraculous immunity booster of vitamin D3, the only vitamin that the body can synthesize from sunlight. And we all know how invigorating and revitalizing a day in the sun can be for both body and mind.

Sunny, summer days help awaken our inner, carefree child and remind us to pause for a refreshing and bright cause…

Rejoice in Sunlight

A most brilliant author once wrote, “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” Well, F. Scott Fitzgerald certainly knew what he was taking about.

Summer has a unique way of ushering in a period of joyfulness and innocence. When we awaken to mornings of sunlight seeping in through the blinds, and open our windows to the chirping of birds and a light summer’s breeze, we can’t help but be in a good mood. Even if the night before was pure crap and stress, a bright morning helps wash away the muck and grim of our anxiety. Like the rising sun, our spirits are lifted and we just feel better…

It’s like we’re transported to a time of pure happiness and joy; a time when innocence reigned supreme and the dark edges of responsibility hovered in the space beyond our reckoning… childhood.

True, growing-up isn’t easy to do and there are certainly many lows experienced during our early years, but the naivety of childhood allows for moments untouched by the rigors of life. Besides, summer was always a period of good old fun.

We were free from all our burdens; free from school, homework, demanding teachers and unforgiving principals. Instead of days filled with schedules and dread, we had days filled with spontaneous adventures and excitement. It was a heaven that unfortunately becomes lost to arduous jobs and financial liabilities…

Let the Sun Rejuvenate You

But just because we’re grown up, doesn’t mean we can’t have fun in the sun.

Summer is the start of solstice parades and festivals, the start of numerous street fairs, and the beginning of sunset filled happy hours…everything an adult can be excited about.

So, let the brightness of the sun and summer seep into your bones and invade your being. Feel your spirit rise in the reminiscent innocence of childhood, and take opportunities to let loose and shed the heavy chains of life.

Summer is finally here, and the sun is calling… Go out and enjoy it!

Wipe the Slate Clean

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Rainy days are not something most southern Californians embrace… Everything is wet and slick, so we tend to slip and fall and our normal activities are hindered by the blurring atmosphere and the crowded streets. Being stuck behind an endless line of red brake lights become entire afternoon affairs, and by the time we reach our destinations we are too on edge and irritated to accomplish anything. We curse Mother Nature and shake our fists at the sky, demanding for the sun to appear to break apart the heavy clouds and the dismal, grey world.  But our protests go ignored and the pitter-patter of raindrops continue their soothing rhythm on rooftops, and eventually we accept the cocooned world, wrapped in the embrace of heavy clouds, swirling wind and spiraling droplets.

In truth, the rain provides a comforting respite from the mundane passage of time. Everything is refreshed and we can look at the sparkling world with wonder and appreciation, for it is how nature intended.  The muck, dirt and grime of the streets are washed away, and the suffocating layer of smog is blown away for a brief moment, but in time we know the pollution will build up, turning the clean streets and clear skies into an unwelcoming shade of brown…

But I guess that’s the cycle of life…

Every once in a while we are granted moments of reprieve, like the cleansing of the rain, where we can reflect on our lives with a clear conscious and face all the demons we try so desperately to hide.

Let’s face it, we all do things we’re not proud of, and learn what not to do from our biggest mistakes. It’s not a new concept; learning the wrongs of life through experience is the only way we understand regret and the only way we become aware of our own flaws. But it’s the moments of pure embarrassment and irresponsibility that we wish to forget and sweep under the rug, hoping to hide them forever. But these moments of shame lie like splinters in our brains… Hidden but never truly forgotten.

Moments of pure disgrace are so jarring that we feel them in our souls. We’re not simply ashamed of our actions, we’re ashamed of ourselves, and reliving such agonizing moments is scary and uncomfortable because it tears us down to our most weakened state. When you can’t come to terms with what you’ve done, you can never stand tall and be confident with your persona.

The only way to evolve is to bite the bullet and open up your personal Pandora’s Box. Face your demons, learn from your insecurities, and release the heavy burden of shame and regret.

I’ve discovered that days when the sky is wet and grey to be the most empowering for personal reflection. A sense of solitude is evoked from the dreary weather, allowing me to reflect on my flaws without the anxiety of being seen. I am able to face what I’m most ashamed of and overcome the emotional terror attached to each demon…

Rather than allowing regrets cut deeper into my soul, I bring each one to the surface and brush them away, letting the currents of life sweep them into oblivion, and all that’s left is the lesson learned.

So, as a bon-a-fide southern Californian, I have learned to treasure the pounding rain against the glass, the howling wind outside my door and the dark frothy skies. For you see, Mother Nature has provided the atmosphere for serious inner reflection, and I will never pass-up a life lesson or the opportunity for personal growth.

 

 

No Need of Kindergarten – Part 2 of 3

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it” is a famous quote by Edmund Burke, who was an 18th-century British statesman and philosopher.  This eloquent saying speaks volumes about life and how the simplest of lessons can be forgotten—oftentimes with disastrous consequences.

Ask any handful of adults to come up with any number of clichés that they can think of, and I’d be willing to bet that more than a few would come up with some version of this one.

When I look out across the world and take in all of its beauty, sometimes it’s hard to look past all of the wretchedness that comes with it.  There’s just so much pain and sadness out there that it makes my eyes well up whenever I think about it for too long, yet I do everything I can to focus on the good so that I can be as powerful an inspiration as possible to those that I love.  But the deeper I get into midlife the harder I find it is to accept the fact that the human race, as a whole, has as of yet been unable to learn from the mistakes of its past.

My father was a remarkable man and he did everything he could to teach me about how the world really works.  My mother is a sweet and caring woman and she raised me with all the love and support that a child could ever hope for. As I got older and stepped out into life on my own, my brilliant uncle Moe was there to assist me with his shrewd business acumen and glorious wisdom.

These wonderful and influential people passed on to me their gifts like batons of dazzling knowledge, which I then held with all the might I could muster as I sprinted toward becoming the confident man that I am today.

The world would be a far better place if those that have come before us would only do a better job of instilling within their children all of the lessons that they’ve learned throughout the course of their lives… Doing so would allow each successive generation to build upon all of this knowledge along with all of those experiences to make better futures for not only themselves, but everyone else as well.

This type of forward-thinking is exactly what my friend employed from the very moment her daughter came into this world.  She was being read to from virtually day one and always had a limitless array of coloring books and crayons to create with.  This blessed little girl had so many positives going for her that what happened last week was almost inevitable.

Every time I tell people that story, about how, at four years old, she put me in my place while reminiscing, they look at her in awe.  Recently she started kindergarten and my friend was a nervous wreck.  Her baby wasn’t a baby anymore, but all of us knew that she was going to be just fine—especially her father.

And wouldn’t you know it, on the last day of her first week of kindergarten, my friend got a call from her daughter’s teacher.  She wanted to know if it would be OK for her to skip kindergarten altogether and start first grade the following Monday… And actually, based on her test results, she could have started the second grade, but my friend was only going to allow her to skip one grade.

Well, for the time being anyway…

A Breathtaking Vision

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

The 4th of July has always meant a great many things to me throughout the course of my life.  In my younger days it signified summer and all that was most rich about it: sunshine, barbecues, pretty girls and the promise of a future bound by nothing… As I got older and started to see my business grow, which never would’ve happened without the lessons instilled in me by my incredibly wise Uncle Moe, I acquired a deeper appreciation for what Independence Day actually meant.  But no prior year’s celebration could hold a candle to the one that just passed.  Last week I stood before one of the most breathtaking visions that I have ever had the pleasure to see.

I knew this year’s fourth was going to be inspiringly memorable.  Back when I was living in Hollywood, barely scraping by and subsisting on McDonald’s Happy Meals, I befriended a charming girl at the Bullock’s department store where I worked.  She had a warm yet radiant personality and an infectious smile; she was just the kind of person who made your day brighter if you saw her.  We never dated, which I’ve always regretted, but as the months passed we grew rather close.  We kept in touch over the years as best we could, but life inevitably took us in different directions.  She got quite a kick out of the fact that I made a recognizable name for myself, so every so often I’d get an e-mail or a call.  I enjoyed these immensely and I could feel my face light up as I wrote her back or heard her voice, but earlier this year when she told me that she had been diagnosed with cancer it crushed me completely.

I’ll always be able to hear the fear in her voice from that call and if I think about it too long my eyes still well up.  Though we’d only been a part of each other’s life for a short amount of time, we’d both made an indelible impression on one another.  She wanted me to know.  She wanted me to visit if it was possible.  When I finally came to see her she was in the throes of her chemotherapy treatment.  Her hair was gone and she was clearly in agony.  I gave her all the comforting words I could muster, but I couldn’t understand why such a vibrant soul would want anyone to see her this way.  As her husband walked me to my car he explained that she wanted to see those who had meant something to her one last time, just in case she didn’t pull through.

This made sense to me as I thought about it while I drove up to her house that afternoon.  Several weeks prior I had received an impassioned letter from her, thanking me for making time to see her and inviting me to their celebration.  Her cancer had responded well to the treatment and she was now in good spirits.  I arrived to find their home full of family and friends.  The grownups were telling stories, kids were swimming in the pool, and there she was, right there in the center of it all.  I couldn’t believe how much better she looked; she had that same bounce in her step I noticed the very first day I met her and her hair was already growing back.  We spoke at length and she told me that for the time being she had fought off the cancer, but the chemo had damaged her heart, which she would have to work vigorously to strengthen.  Immediately I noticed the plate of fruit and vegetables she was snacking from.

As the day wore on I saw my friend regale her guests with entertaining stories, sharing tender moments with relatives and she even took a dip in the pool with the kids.  She lit the whole party up brighter than the burning California sun, which was exactly how I’d always remembered her.  But it was at night with the fireworks exploding in the sky that my confidence in her resolve to live was truly affirmed.  During the grand finale, which thundered harder than any fireworks display in recent memory, my eyes were drawn only to the fiery glow from my dear friend’s sparkling face.  Surrounded by that those she loved, she gazed up at that bursting sky with all the wonderment of a child.  She even caught me looking at her, then in that fine subtle style of hers, she fired a reassuring wink at me.

One of the most breathtaking visions I’ve ever seen was what that was.