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Reader’s Digest was a staple in my home growing up.  I remember it mainly for two reasons.  The first was the regular section entitled “It Pays To Enrich Your Word Power”.  I loved getting each new edition and trying my best to answer each word correctly.  What’s surprising is how many of those words are now a part of my full-time vocabulary.  It was in Reader’s Digest I learned words like ambivalent, boisterous, callous, and lackadaisical.  But it was also Reader’s Digest where I read some of my first comedy.  “Laughter Is The Best Medicine” was another popular, regular feature and I remember it fondly.  And although I can recall any of the funny banter I read so many years ago I am convinced the title of the column is as true as the day is long.  

I’m currently playing the part of Sargent Porterhouse in the Ray Cooney farce “Run For Your Wife”.  In the script, there is a line about, you guessed it, Reader’s Digest.  That set my mind back recalling some of the wonderful things I remember about the magazine.  “Laughter” was one important memory.  I’ve performed in comedies before but this particular play just seems to bring so much joy to those who experience it!  But it’s not only the audience that’s affected, it’s me too!  It’s such a symbiotic relationship between me and the audience.  I love performing in this show because of the pure joy it can give the patrons.  It is my sincere hope they can feel the joy I have inside me just performing.  They in turn express their joy but applauding and laughing!  And for me, that is why I do what I do.  When I feel their energy expressed by laughter, it makes me even more joyful!  And the cycle continues…  

I’m pretty sure any audience member who has seen our show will say the their laughter made them feel great!  I can tell you personally that hearing their laughter fills my soul with such delight!  Make someone laugh today.  Laugh with someone today.  It feels so good.  Perhaps Reader’s Digest has it right after all…”Laughter is the best medicine”.  I sure am feeling jocular at the moment.  Yep, another Word Power word.  It’s a good one though, don’t you think?


Comments Off on SoulCenter

Did you ever find yourself staring at something beautiful in Nature and when you finally realize what you’ve been doing a significant amount of time has passed?  I think we all have at some point.  Perhaps you spent a vacation lazing on the white sands of a tropical beach and lost yourself in the pictures the white clouds created overhead.  Maybe you are a kitchen sink leaner and you spent some time looking at the robin sitting in your backyard while you sipped your morning coffee.  It just might be a song or two on your ipod that whisked you away from your mundane thoughts and transported you to a place of peace and tranquility.  These are the moments.  This is when we are free.

I’m reminded of a famous saying that goes something like, “cloudy water only becomes clear when we allow the sediment to settle.”  We all have this nagging mind that is always telling us to do this or do that.  It’s always reminding us of our plight, our desperate situation, and our apparent need for more security, more money and more stuff.  But the more we flail about our life seeking whatever our mind decides we need, the murkier our pool of consciousness gets.  Sometimes, no most of the time, we need to stop and let the muddy water clear before we can access the soul.

I’m fortunate, really fortunate, to earn a living staring at mountains, birds and lying on the beach enjoying the cloud safari.  Not literally of course, but I’m an actor.  And that is my inspiration.  For me, it’s being on stage that transports me to a place of peace and tranquility.  When I’m there, no other thoughts can penetrate.  Nothing else matters.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a crazy bird watcher too!  I can spend hours watching our aviary friends!  And I take the time to do just that whenever I can.  But I try desperately not to do is think too often.  Therein lies the rub for me and so many others.

Our minds don’t like having nothing to do.  When we’re happy too long and we’re living in the present moment, it always likes to remind us it’s there.  Messages of things we “should” be doing, “could” be doing, or should “not” be doing are tweeted to our consciousness quicker than we realize.  And if that doesn’t work, the mind throws us past experiences, usually negative, to deter us from trying anything new.  (“Remember the last time you did that Paul? Are you sure you want to risk that?”)  I’m sure you know the type.  The mind loves to distract us from living in the present moment.  Because after all, if it hasn’t happened already, the mind knows nothing about it!  That’s where we can come out on top!

My soul is my hero.  It’s my compass.  And the more I quietly tell my mind to stop bringing up the past as a way to deter me from living in the present moment the more my mind listens.  My soul never lied to me.  It never told me not to do something because of X, Y, or Z. It’s there, always creating, always willing to guide me in each moment.  And I connect to it by never disconnecting to it in the first place.  Emerson called it our Soul Center.  When we pay attention to those moments when we lose ourselves in anything good, it’s speaking to us.  When we act upon those moments and quiet our naysaying minds good things happen.  And the more we do that, the less our mind brings up the negative past.  Instead a wonderful thing happens, your mind starts working with your soul.  Recalling wonderful past experiences that give us joy and relevance to what is happening in the present moment.  That union I feel is true enlightenment.

Lose yourself in something beautiful today!  Say yes to something you know would give you immense joy!  And quietly tell your mind, your always loving soul is in control.

The Good Life

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I’ve heard it said many times.  “He lives the good life.”  But what is it?  What is the good life?

I was taught to learn my lessons,  go to school, get a good job, raise a family and start enjoying the good life.  For many years my idea of a good life was one without bills, with plenty of money and a house in the hills.  True, those things are good things but do they really make a good life?

As I sit here in Mesa, Arizona I know I’m living the good life.  I have plenty of bills.  I do not have have plenty of money.  I do not own my home.  But it’s all how you look at it right?  I start with what is good.

– I’m happy.  That’s good.

– I’m married to the most wonderful woman in the world, Carolyn.  That’s good.

– I’m using the talents bestowed upon me and sharing them with others.  That’s good.

– I’m visiting places I only dreamed of seeing.  That’s good.

I’m a grandparent, I  have a tremendously loving family, two loving dogs and wonderful friends.  Those are all good!

My bills, well, they will get paid.  Money, I always seem to have enough when it’s needed.  And my home, still my home regardless of whether I hold the deed or not.

I’ll be 47 years old this year.  I’m not sure why that means anything, but I add that little fact only to show I’ve had some  years to think on this “good life”.  “Life is what you make it” is another great saying.  And that one I think is also true.  Although I change it a bit.  “Life is what you think it”.  I make every effort to live in the moment.  I strive to look at the positive things and not the negative.  I trust in my Creator that all that is needed will be provided.

My “good life” starts with “good thoughts”.  Look around and instead of seeing “lack”, see “abundance”.  I’m so fortunate to be alive.  I’m going to do my best to enjoy each and every moment.  Now, that’s a “good life”.

The need to be right

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It happened again last evening.  I was sitting in the passenger seat, my wife was driving and my mother-in-law was in the back seat.  It was a chilly, rainy night and driving home was less than ideal.  We had a long, six and a half hour haul ahead of us and because I had driven to our destination my wife volunteered to drive home.  We’ve done it that way for years, but not with my mother-in-law in the backseat.

I’ll leave the life long dissertation on my mother-in-law for another blog because it will take too long to accurately describe her.  Let’s just say she loves me.  But she doesn’t approve of a husband who lets his wife drive a long distance when he’s perfectly capable of doing it himself.  With that in mind, this is the series of events.

We live six and a half hours from my step-daughter, her husband and my grandson.  I’m an actor who travels a lot and I hadn’t seen him since May. And since I’m heading out on the road for 3-months beginning the day after Christmas, I really wanted to drive up to see him.  So, yesterday we left just after 6am and hit the road.  My mother-in-law who’s living with us, took the passenger seat and my wife the back seat.  Like I mentioned, I drove there.  We stayed for a few hours, had a wonderful time and left just before dinner time to head back.  I know, I know, that’s a lot of driving for a 3 hour visit.  But it was so worth it!  When the topic of driving back came up, my wife said, “I’ll drive.”  I thanked her and said, well, if you get drowsy or uncomfortable, just let me know and I’ll take over.  I’ll be  honest, I was thankful for the assist.

After about four and a half hours on the road, in the pouring rain and fog, my mother-in-law says to me, “What’s that in the corner of the windshield?”  I replied, “What do you mean?”  She reiterated, “Up in the corner.  It looks like ice.”  I assured her it was not and we kept driving.  A few minutes later she said again, “That looks like ice on the windshield.  Are you sure that isn’t ice?”  I explained to her that it was not ice, rather dirt.  And it was too warm for ice to build up on the windshield.”  She huffed, “Of course, you would know.  You know everything.  You’re always right about everything!”

What the heck?  I sat there dumbfounded.  Where did that come from?  I breathed.  I smiled to myself.  I kindly said, “No, I’m most certainly not right about everything.  Sorry.”  Then I reflected.  Do I come off that way to her?  Is my attempt at assuring her being misconstrued in some way?  Is my happy, positive, confident demeanor interpreted as cocky, narcissistic and over-confident?  The truth is, I do not know.  If you’re reading this you might think I’m over reacting to the situation.  But this instance is one of many to have occurred in the past 15 years or so.   And yes, I’m quite aware that people will believe what they want to believe.  But this most certainly made me think about how I am perceived.  And I’m convinced that is not a bad thing.

The truth is, I do make a lot comments about things I know something about.  And for some reason I tend to take the opposite position a considerable portion of the time.  Is it because I like to debate or do I like to be right?  I think it’s a little of both actually, but I’m going to make a concerted effort in 2012 to change the way I react.  I do have control over my thoughts, my emotions, my reactions and my responses.  And it’s not important that I “be” right all the time.  When someone brings up an comment that I don’t necessarily agree with I’m going to say, “That’s an interesting perspective.  I never looked at it that way.”  If and only if they ask my opinion I’ll give it as that;  an opinion.

So what about what happened last night?  Looking at at now I see it perfectly clear.  This physically fragile, 71-year old woman is sitting in the backseat while her daughter is struggling to drive in terrible conditions.  Meanwhile, her husband should be saving her from this horrific experience and he’s sitting idly by and not doing anything about it.  She was probably nervous about the road conditions, and was terrified that we might be experience icy roadways.  I could have reacted by saying something like, “Wow, it does look like ice!  Honey, would you like to pull over and let me see if that’s ice?”  That would have validated my mother-in-laws concern, show my concern and once checking would have alleviated her fears.

Now, I know there are no should have’s in life.  And I do not dwell on things like that.  But I am incredibly grateful my mother-in-law said that to me last evening.  One of my resolutions in 2012 is to certainly quiet my ego, let go of the need to be right.  And by listening to other opinions, gain perspective on my own soul.






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I always try to live my life being appreciative for all I  have rather than depreciate all I don’t.  In this regard, I tend to pray differently then others.  Here’s an appreciative prayer that has yielded much in my every day life.

“Dear God, thank you so much for giving me this body to house the spirit that lives within.  I am in awe of your love, your selflessness, your constant giving.  As I enter another day, I know you will be with me.  You are me.  You created me so I share a piece of your everlasting power.  The same power that created the universe now flows through me.  Your almighty wisdom will give me all I need to say the right things and make the right decisions today.  I’m listening God.  Flow through me now.  As my human emotions try to take over, I know you will be here to remind me about the present.  I realize that I am a perfect creation.  I am perfect because you are perfect. (Then, with my eyes closed I take a moment to smell, feel and hear all that’s going on at the moment and pray it out loud)  I trust you will continue to provide me with everything I already I have enough of, thanks to you.  I’m here God…right now…and I’m listening.  Thank you again God.  I know you are with me.  And I trust you’re all creating, ever loving power is a part of me now, and forever.  Amen.”


Comments Off on Inspiration

Last summer I was writing a play. A musical of sorts but not in the truest sense. The “libretto” if you will came fairly easy. But the music was a different animal all together. I’m still writing that play. And I know in my heart some day it will be finished. But for now, I’m reminded of some verse I wrote about a year ago.

Inspiration flows in and out like the tide.
A wet beach remains where a wave used to reside.
The moon rules the cycle, when the white caps return.
Patience is required it’s a lesson to learn.

Contentment moves out and in like the breeze.
Leaves once in motion now sit there and freeze.
The wind rules the cycle, when the next gales appear.
Acceptance is key, we should not fear.

Happiness is constant, like the orange sunrise.
It’s there when we look, we must realize
When we lie on the beach, near the water’s edge.
The wind guides the waves back over our heads.

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