Snippet of Emerson

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In 1844 Ralph Waldo Emerson published his 2nd collection of Essays.  If you’re familiar with Emerson’s poetry but haven’t read his Essay’s, I highly recommend it. Years ago my wife and I were searching through some old books at a flea market and I uncovered a 1890’s edition of Emerson’s 1st and 2nd collection of essays.  I’ve read them all but the essay on Character I’ve read several times. Since these were written during the 19th Century, the words “man” and “men” are used and women are left out. However, his words apply to individuals of both sexes of course. So, please keep that in mind. The following passages are my litmus test. This is what I strive for every moment of my life.  Shouldn’t we all?


“The reason why we feel one man’s presence, and do not feel another’s, is as simple as gravity. Truth is the summit of being: justice is the application of it to affairs. All individual natures stand in a scale, according to the purity of this element in them. The will of the pure runs down from them into other natures, as water runs down from a higher into a lower vessel. This natural force is no more to be withstood, than any other natural force. We can drive a stone upward for a moment into the air, but it is yet true that all stones will forever fall; and whatever instances can be quoted of unpunished theft, or of a lie which somebody credited, justice must prevail, and it is the privilege of truth to make itself believed. Character is this moral order seen through the medium of an individual nature…A healthy soul stands united with the Just and the True, as the magnet arranges itself with the pole, so that he stands to all beholders like a transparent object betwixt them and the sun, and whoso journeys towards the sun, journeys towards that person. He is thus the medium of the highest influence to all who are not on the same level. Thus, men of character are the conscience of the society to which they belong.

The natural measure of this power is the resistance of circumstances. Impure men consider life as it is reflected in opinions, events, and persons. They cannot see the action, until it is done. Yet its moral element pre-existed in the actor, and its quality as right or wrong, it was easy to predict. Everything in nature is bipolar, or has a positive and negative pole. There is a male and a female, a spirit and a fact, a north and a south. Spirit is the positive, the event is the negative. Will is the north, action the south pole. Character may be ranked as having its natural place in the north. It shares the magnetic currents of the system. The feeble souls are drawn to the south or negative pole. They look at the profit or hurt of the action. They never behold a principle until it is lodged in a person. They do not wish to be lovely, but to be loved. The class of character like to hear of their faults: the other class do not like to hear of faults; they worship events; secure to them a fact, a connexion, a certain chain of circumstances, and they will ask no more…”


If you’ve read this excerpt do yourself a favor and read it again. For a long time I’ve attempted to put into to words what I look for when I’m considering which public servant to cast my vote for in elections.  I seek individuals with character. And this short section spells it out beautifully. I will continue to use this as a checklist for who to vote for and as a check on my own person. Thanks for reading. 🙂

Be the change…

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Boy, it’s incredibly difficult sometimes isn’t it? It’s a beautiful day, you’re sipping your first cup of coffee ready to take on the world and like a pop-up thunderstorm, something you read, hear or see pops your positive balloon, deflating your rosy outlook in a flash. If you’re like me, this whatever it is, evades your psyche, crowds out good things and gets you thinking about anything BUT good things. I get offended, I become incredulous, exasperated and lost in a sea of Qi killing thoughts and am left feeling helpless.  And I admit, it’s usually about politics.

No matter what side you land on, many of you experience the same thing. We hold on to our beliefs whatever they may be and we defend them relentlessly. Any high school or college debaters know this drill. We do our best to present our side, tear down the other and hopefully convince people our argument is correct.  But, here’s what I’m seeing now; no one is really listening.  And if I’m going to be the change I want to see in the world that’s where I must begin.

I’ve decided to narrow it down to the things that are most important to me.  First and foremost I value Love. I’m speaking about loving everyone regardless if they’re like me or not. It’s so difficult to do sometimes but I’m really going to make an effort. Honesty is also incredibly important to me.  I’m not just speaking about being honest with others but also with myself. Spiritually I find Compassion to be one of the most rewarding traits in myself and others. Taking someone else’s issues, concerns and problems and showing them you care about them is incredibly powerful. Sometimes, “I understand”, goes a long way. Character, the mental and moral qualities of an individual, is my litmus test for myself and others.  It’s judgmental I admit, but to me Strength of Character matters. Many times in my life I’ve said or done things that don’t sync with the character I strive for. But, I’m making a concerted effort to exhibit a more loving, honest and loving character. And finally, Knowledge is of enormous value to me. Whether through experience or educating ourselves, being knowledgeable on a subject should be the first step before responding to any topic.  I often catch myself responding emotionally to something I read, hear or see and realize later, I have no knowledge of that subject. I realize that many of my knee-jerk reactions are not based in fact, but rather deep held beliefs I’ve developed in my 50+ years on this planet. It’s not that those beliefs are right or wrong, it’s simply that by expressing my beliefs I alienate those who don’t believe like I do.

I have been so blessed in my life. I’ve been given the opportunity to travel, meet wonderful people from all walks of life from different parts of the world and it most certainly has given me a different perspective. It has taught me to question my deep held beliefs, and be more accepting of others. And I’m going to make a concerted effort to get back to that mindset.

The truth is, I don’t even like politics. But, I find myself drawn to it now because a lot of what is happening goes against my deep held beliefs. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, questioning what is going on right now, but I must realize that what I feel and think isn’t what others feel and think. I don’t understand why certain individuals act and feel the way they do but I really do try to put myself in their shoes.  I’m not writing this to make a point, or to try to change anyone’s views, but to write this down to hold myself accountable.  I’m going to love more, be honest with myself and others, show compassion, strengthen my character, and educate myself so I can respond accordingly when things happen that make my brain go haywire. And I will be accepting of others who don’t share my deep held beliefs.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s the most spiritual thing anyone of us can do.


Help me understand

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You have no idea how many times I started to write a blog post about our president. It starts with a paragraph or two, sometimes three, and it gets deleted. I delete it because my intent isn’t to argue with those of you who so adamantly support him.  So, I’m going to make it very simple. The example our president is setting is troubling.

Although I don’t have any historical data to back up my claim, I can say I never saw anything like this in my life time. We have a man in the oval office, who, doesn’t seem to have a clue about what it means to behave as the President of the United States. This has nothing to do with how intelligent he is or isn’t, whether or not he is a good businessman or his past success in branding or television. This is about what I feel it means to be president.

When I was younger something happened that changed the way I look at things. Without mentioning names or details, a pastor at my church was excommunicated and asked to leave. It had to do with a “sin” his wife committed and not him. I questioned why “he” was asked to relinquish his post when he wasn’t the one who committed the “crime”. The head elder of the church said, “If a pastor cannot control his own family then he can’t be expected to lead a congregation.” I found that very odd. It wasn’t his fault, right?

Now, years later, although I still don’t agree with that particular decision, I understand it. There are professions, positions in our society that require a person to be above the fray. I can think of a few examples where it would be appropriate. A parent, teacher, a preacher and yes, a politician must strive to be better than the rest of us. These are positions where setting an example is paramount. Am I right?

If a parent is seen making disparaging comments about someone they are frowned upon. If a teacher makes sexist comments they are reprimanded and sometimes fired. If a preacher is seen as not having control of his own family, he can be excommunicated. Why then, isn’t this president held to the same standard? I’m really trying to understand why people still support him?

My question has nothing to do with our president’s business acumen, his interest in making American great again or his straight talk. It has everything to do with the example he has been presenting to us and the world. If his type of behavior wouldn’t be acceptable in our own communities and homes, why is it okay for our president? If you choose to respond, please don’t disparage me. I’m not seeking hyperbole or “stump” statements about what’s wrong with our country. I’m really trying to understand why some of you are able to rationalize his behavior as acceptable.

My Dad

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My beautiful picture

My Dad, Clarence Eugene Glodfelter in his “happy place”. 🙂

This is my Dad. This is my Dad on a lake, in Canada. For those of you who never experienced vacationing with my Dad in Canada I’m not sure I can ever accurately describe what being there meant to him. All I can tell you is, I’ve never seen my dad as happy, as when he was fishing up there.

This joy; this exuberance; these fleeting moments in time; are how I choose to remember him. He’s been gone for over 14 years now, but when I think of him, this is what I remember.

My Dad wasn’t a complicated fella. He worked, he played and he loved. I don’t think of him in terms of what he taught me, but rather how he treated others. And he was a very kind man.

If I chose to, I could shine a spotlight on the aspects of my Dad’s life that weren’t necessarily his best moments. But, that would just be silly. He was just a man. He made errors in his life like all of us. But again, he was kind.

Over the years, I’ve spoken to many people who knew him. And the one commonality among all of them is, they loved my Dad. Friends and family alike say things like, “You’re Dad was so nice”, “You’re Dad helped me more than you know”, and “Gene, was one of the kindest men I ever knew. He had a huge heart.”  ‘Gene” is how my Dad referred to himself.  He never liked his first name ‘Clarence” so he took the second half of his middle name and made it his own. To me he was Dad, but to others he was Gene, Uncle Gene or Pop.

It is my sincere goal, to leave even half of the impression of the people my Dad’s life left. My wish is to always be kind as he was. I aspire to always see the best in people as he did. And I will make it my goal never to judge others by their actions because he always tried not to do that.

On this Father’s Day, Dad, thanks for always being you. Life wasn’t easy for you, but you nearly always found a way to stay positive and be kind. And in my book, that is your legacy.


2016 – Looking Back

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Yea, I realize Facebook is doing a look back for us, but I really wanted to create my own! I realize there are still 22 more days left in 2016 but it has been such a great year I really wanted to do my “look back” now!  🙂 First off, let me just say how much I love my wife of 19 1/2 years Carolyn.  It has been my mission to travel less and spend more time with my best friend in the whole world.  And 2016 was the beginning of that new chapter.  It started with a really fun New Years Eve celebration at Ralphie’s Fun Center in Glasgow, KY where we bowled, laughed and sang in January 2016!


But it wasn’t long until I was back on the road for a short time directing and acting in “Moonlight and Magnolias” at Jenny Wiley Theatre in Pikeville, KY. Even though the audiences weren’t what any of us hoped for I had the distinct privilege of directing and sharing the stage with some incredible actors.


Paul and Don I’m so honored you decided to join me in what will be one of my favorite stage experiences! We had a lot of fun didn’t we? I also got to share the stage with one of the most wonderful young women in all of Eastern Kentucky, Shannon Kirkpatrick Daniels.  She was fantastic!


Plus, she had to clean up this mess every night! It was a crazy experience that included missing a performance or two because of Old Man Winter.


In early February I headed back home to Glasgow, and moved in to our new home on “the farm”! What a joy it was finding this place, owned by two wonderful people Kerry and Karen! It has become our peaceful haven for sure!


After getting acclimated to our new place and spending some quality time with the love of my life, I did head back out on the road to my ‘home away from home’ Tyrone, GA to start a new journey in the country.  “Into the Woods” to be exact. I started in late March and continued there until early May.  What an incredible experience it was to finally do a s Sondheim piece! And boy was it a great show!


While there doing “Into the Woods” I also had the honor of playing the wicked witch “Lotte” in the Legacy Theatre children’s production of “Hansel & Gretel”


I came back home for a few weeks and thoroughly enjoyed my little break, complete with a little fire and some guitar behind our new house!


In June I was back down in Tyrone, GA at the Legacy Theatre to do the beautiful musical, “Mary Poppins”.  My goodness what a thrill it was each night playing George Banks. And the cast was outstanding!


One of the most wonderful things that happened while I was doing “Mary Poppins” was reuniting with my best friend from high school Warren!  It was like we just talked yesterday!


The show ended in early August and I was able to come home for a nice long respite! I can’t remember the last time I spent over two months at home.  I know that might be weird for some of you but it’s the nature of being a traveling actor and director. But boy was it great being home with my sweetheart for awhile!  Plus, in addition to my “kids” Neo and Jack there was now a new addition to the family, George!


What a great cat!  🙂 And he seems to get a long with great with his brothers! He sure is lovey!  And as if being home with a new addition wasn’t enough, my oldest sister Carla flew in from Pennsylvania and spent two wonderful weeks with Carolyn and me!  Boy we did have fun!  Whether we were in Nashville…


visiting historical landmarks…


Or just sitting on the back porch enjoying the South Central Kentucky landscape…


It was so wonderful having her visit us!  And honestly, I can’t wait for she and my other sister Fanny to come visit in 2017!

Another highlight of my 2 1/2 months home with Carolyn was the addition to a few goats on the farm!  They were great! Unless of course you walk outside in the morning and they’re no longer penned up!  No worries when you have Carolyn around.  Watching my favorite goat whisperer lead these fellas to safety was hysterical!


That was October, shortly before I flew down to Fort Myers, Florida to do my final show of 2016 here at the Off-Broadway Palm Theatre. It will be my last “traveling show” for awhile because I have some serious plans to set down some roots for awhile!  🙂 But before that happens I will finish up the year playing “The Guy”, my current character in “Another Night Before Christmas”.  My goodness what a heartwarming, rewarding show this has been! This two-person show also has me working with the ultra-talented Melissa who really shouldn’t be missed.  It sure is a wonderful way to close out 2016.


Well, this bearded guy has a lot to be thankful for in 2016!  But I’m most thankful for the time I spend with the love of my life, Carolyn.  Let’s have a great 2017 shall we?!!  Happy Holidays everyone!



My Endorsement

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I will be voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton on November 8th.  There, I said it. Many of you already “knew” who my choice would be but until now I never publicly announced my intention to vote for her. Actually I never publically announced any of my voting choices since my first election in 1984. But this year is different.

Let me give you a little history here. In 1984 I voted for Ronald Reagan and in 1988 and 1992 it was George H.W. Bush. As a registered Republican I towed the party line for over 12 years in local, state and federal elections. Then at some point in the early 90’s I began to have an opinion of my own, I educated myself and I realized that I didn’t agree with all Republican ideals. So in 1996 I voted for incumbent William Clinton for President.  It was the first time I voted for a Democrat for president.  In 2000, I voted for George W. Bush and I honestly was happy he was in office during 9/11. In 2004 I helped keep him in office for 4 more years but was unhappy with many of his actions as POTUS. However, the one thing I really loved about “W” was his sincerity.  Whether I agreed with him or not, I always felt he believed in what he was trying to do for the American people. That’s important to me.  It’s the reason I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. I didn’t agree, and still don’t, with every one of his positions. But again, I feel he believes in what he’s attempting to do for America.  This is why Hillary Clinton is getting my vote.

I will not and have not made my decision because I do not like the other candidates. I will not get into the “lesser of two evils” media spun debate. I realize if I sat here and shared all the negatives about each candidate this year it would be an incredibly long list. But that’s not important to me. I’m not swayed by fear mongering on either side. I’m not interested in what if’s, but’s or if only’s. For me, there is one candidate who I believe, believes in her platform. I spent the past three weeks researching the work history of Hillary Rodham Clinton and I’m convinced she has the American people at heart when she creates programs to help us. And here’s an interesting thought, I don’t have to agree with everything she says to support her.

Call me stupid if you like, but resist that urge to spout hatred on this post. Resist the nagging voice that is telling you to lash out and spread the RNC talking points. If Hillary Clinton is not for you, so be it. If Hillary Clinton is your choice, I highly recommend telling folks you are voting for her and why. I’m a moderate voter who is making this choice because of qualifications and a belief that Mrs. Clinton believes in what she says and wants to do. And I do feel as Americans, we are definitely stronger together. Those of you who want to start a revolution listen up.  What better way to start something new and fresh than to elect the first female President of the United States?

Walk A Mile In My Shoes

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What you are about to read is how I feel. It is not meant to offend anyone. But I felt compelled to share what’s in my heart. 🙂

Many years ago, I worked for a conservative news/talk radio station in the Wilkes Barre/Scranton area. I wasn’t a talk show host, but I sold advertising. On this station we had guys like Rush Limbaugh who, at the time, was an incredibly highly rated program. Businesses were flocking to pay the highest rates to run ads on his show. I listened to Rush faithfully when I was on the road and honestly, so much of what he said rang true. Yes, I realized he was an entertainer first and foremost, but I was generally agreeing with most of his views. There was also a talk show hosted by Tom Leykis. His was a left leaning show that was basically the antithesis of Rush Limbaugh. I listened to his show quite a bit as well. And what I found out but listening to both of those individuals was interesting. Both gentlemen, although spinning rhetoric to get ratings, had some incredibly valid points. And both truly believed in what they were saying.

I will never begin to pretend that I know what the answer is. But now more than ever there exists an us versus them mentally in American politics. I guess it always existed but now because of twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites we see it more than ever. It’s ugly isn’t it? I see pictures of people with their veins popping out of their neck. I see hateful signs held by people whose only goal is to incite “the other side”. What the heck has happened to us? I put up a post yesterday that was purely non-partisan because I found a website that I thought was pretty cool and one of my friends decided to make it partisan. No, I wasn’t offended in any way because human beings have the ability to feel and believe what they want. But my heart sank a little because I wasn’t trying to start an argument. If you are a Trump supporter, God bless you. You know your heart and have your reasons for wanting him to be our next president.  And if he happens to get into office, America will not crumble. If you are a Clinton supporter, God bless you. You too have your reasons for wanting to see her run the Executive branch of our government. And if she does, America will not crumble. However, if we cannot get along and appreciate each other’s differences of opinion America will suffer. There will always be debate in this country. There will always be valid reasons to support many different approaches to solve our countries problems. But I can’t help but feel our problem is that we don’t listen to each other anymore. My views are based on my experiences and yours are based on your experiences; plain and simple.

I’ve failed miserably many times to see the world through others eyes, but I’m truly going to make a concerted effort to be more empathetic to those who see things differently than me.

Finally, all of this reminded me of a great song from the early 70’s. Take a moment and listen to the lyrics.  They’re pretty cool.  Lots of love to you all!

Walk A Mile In My Shoes – Joe South

Who do you side with?

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Boy it’s difficult to scroll through my Facebook newsfeed any more. And yes, I have indeed blocked quite a few friends and family from showing up in my newsfeed temporarily. I honestly am finding it increasingly harder to stomach some of what I’m reading. When it comes to the Democratic and Republican nominees I now know that Donald Trump is the next Adolf Hitler and Hillary Clinton is a rich, privileged, lying politician who only cares about herself. I also know that Bernie Sanders, although no longer a candidate, is either an unrealistic communist or the potential savior of our country. Then there is Jill Stein, Gary Johnson and Darrell Castle that very little written about because no one believes they have a chance to win the election. But I have to choose someone right?

My intelligent step-daughter posted a link to a website recently called isidewith.com. And although I took the online questionnaire last year at the beginning of the primaries, I decided to take an hour or two and fill it out again.  There are questions on domestic policy, the economy, social issues, foreign policy, immigration, the environment, healthcare, science, education, crime and the election process itself. The first thing that struck me was how many things I didn’t know! The questions really made me think and on many occasions, to research these issues further.  Because the truth is, I wasn’t sure how I felt about some the things mentioned. For most questions you can answer yes or no, but I found myself never able to choose that option. Because rarely are things ever that simple. So there is an option to write your own answers to the questions. I did that quite a few times.  But my goodness, they really opened my eyes to who these candidates are and what they stand for.

It took me about an hour to answer all the questions because like I said, many of them cause some serious reflection and investigation. But when it was all said and done, I finished and it told me which candidates I was most in line with. Not surprisingly, Mr. Trump and I are not even close on most issues. The Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle and I aren’t on the same page either. But my stance on things was very similar to Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian in the group, and I agree on about 53 percent of the issues raised.  Why is any of this important?

In the past month or so, I really had to look; I mean REALLY look; to find any information on what these candidates want to do for the people of the United States. All that everyone ever talks about are the scandals, the conspiracies and the cover ups.  Character assassination is the flavor of this election cycle and people have taken their respective sides on the character battlefield.  I’m so weary of it.  I really am.

So, I went on to this website and I now know which candidates most closely represent issues that are important to me. Of course the website doesn’t cover ALL the issues, but there is a great deal of information on there. And of all the current presidential candidates it seems that I’m closely aligned with Jill Stein and Hillary Clinton. Now, I already know that Mrs. Stein and Mrs. Clinton’s views are similar to my own, but I truly don’t know that much about either of them. I hear nothing but negatives about Hillary Clinton, but next to nothing about Jill Stein.  So, I’m going to spend the next three months finding all the positives about both of these incredibly intelligent candidates. And in November, one of them will get my vote.  Please, please, please, don’t respond to this entry with any negative rhetoric regarding Mrs. Stein or Mrs. Clinton. Instead, go with isidewith.com and fill out the questionnaire. Take your time, really think about the questions, do research if you need to, get informed, answer the questions, and in the end, see which candidate you are most aligned with. I found it incredibly enlightening and helpful! I hope you will too!

Hiring POTUS


Did you happen to notice it is an election year? Okay, that was a bit snarky but if I weren’t following the cable news, political websites and social networking I wouldn’t know anything.  Then again, I am following cable news, political websites and social networking and I still don’t know anything.  Perhaps in my 50 years on this planet I had my head in the sand, but I really can’t remember an election year where so little positive was being reported. No wonder so many Americans are thinking about not voting at all. It’s not that I agree with that sentiment, but I can definitely relate. I am genuinely tired after watching cable news and reading political “reporting” on the internet. I can sit here and shout, “Shame on you cable news!” Or I can get on me soapbox and exclaim, “Let’s hear about the positive attributes of the candidates and not the negatives!” As I discovered, if you want to find positive things about any of the candidates, you have to really do your research.

What I discovered is there are indeed positives about all the candidates. Truly, there are! However, I’m going to ask you to discover them for yourselves. I know who I’m voting for and I have my reasons. But my reasons for not voting the other candidates, truly doesn’t have anything to with any meme, broadcast news story or any other rhetorical smear I read daily. My choice, in my opinion, is simply the most qualified to head the Executive Branch of our Federal Government.

Have you ever had to hire someone? Sitting in a managerial position and having the power to give someone a job or not isn’t always a pleasant one. I recall too well the many resumes I looked through before deciding who to call in for an interview.  Then, after the first set of interviews, there was whittling down to a select group who I felt best fit the position. There was sometimes a second interview where, usually, my choice was made.  What were the criteria I used? I quickly found out that there were usually many people who were qualified on paper. Their experience and education were usually very similar.  In the case of radio where I was doing the hiring, there was also the quality of their work. That too didn’t always weed out people because there were some very talented candidates. I usually came down to sitting across from them and talking. I didn’t believe in standard interviews, I usually like to just chat. And that’s where, after all the other criteria was met, I would make my subjective decision as to who to hire. So in the case of hiring someone to be President, I kind of think of it the same way.

From the start of this election process I looked at the many candidates and who I felt were qualified. Party or gender was irrelevant. I quickly was able to narrow it down to about six individuals on both sides of the aisle. And that was simply a matter of a good resume that best fit the POTUS job requirements. Then I imagined interviewing these people and finding out a little more about them. How effective might they be? Is what they are proposing, good for the country? Watching all the debates, and I only missed one or two, I was able to see some true candidates appear. Unfortunately, the candidate I felt was most qualified at this point in our history, didn’t get the nomination. But that’s all part of the system we have here in America. So now we have candidates who weren’t my first choice. But we do have qualified people who I feel could head the Executive Branch effectively. And I’ve made my choice.

I’m purposely not saying who I’m voting for because I don’t want to turn this into a back and forth battle of he said/she said. I’m writing this because perhaps it’s time for all of us to reevaluate why we’ve decided to vote the way we have. And if you haven’t made the decision yet, imagine you’re running a company and you had to choose one of the people out there as your successor. And don’t necessarily look at the negatives, look at ALL the positive attributes and qualifications and go from there. As I discovered from hiring folks, there were always things about people that could sway me from hiring them. But, there were just as many positive things about them to help me make the decision TO hire them.  What do you think?  Is it possible to stop posting horribly negative things about the candidates we don’t like and start informing people about the positive qualifications our candidates have to take over as President of the United States?


Children will listen

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My Mom used to have this medical dictionary.  And when I was younger she would reference it to try and identify what was wrong with me when I was sick. But instead of making me feel better by helping identify my malady, she would locate something in her dictionary that my illness could be, and it was usually the worst possible scenario.  By the time I was in my early teens I was, without a doubt, a hypochondriac. The thought of getting a deadly disease triggered so many anxiety attacks that those in themselves created many mental and physical issues I’ve had to deal with in adulthood. As I sit here reflecting on those fragile moments I uncovered a stark realization. We all have those “it could be” thoughts but I took it one step further. Those little thoughts became troublesome “it could be” ideas.  I realize now I always thought the worst and I never imagined the best. Could it really be my upbringing?  Or was it something more?

I am most assuredly a product of negative conditioning. As sure as I sit here I recall Mom prophesying, “Don’t do that you don’t know what might happen?” Or “You know what happened to him when he did that?” Or even “Oooh, he had that same symptom and died six months later!” Those types of things were said to me by other friends and family members as well. When I consider those poison words now I question, “Why in the heck would you ever tell someone those things?!” Not only did they help create hypochondria but it also trained me not to trust my own judgment.  Even my Dad would say things like, “You only feel that way because you’re young.” I was even encouraged not to feel a certain way because it was wrong. Even then I wanted to yell, “But I’m feeling it! How can that be wrong?” In the end my resolve usually crumbled because I eventually became convinced that the people telling me these things were adults. They were older, wiser and smarter so they were probably right and I was wrong. At least that’s what I thought then.

Earlier this year I have the privilege of performing in Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods”. One song in particular speaks to this idea of what is said to young people when they are becoming adults.

Guide them along the way
Children will glisten
Children will look to you
for which way to turn
to learn what to be
Careful before you say
“Listen to me”
Children will listen

Careful the spell you cast
Not just on children
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you

Careful the tale you tell
that is the spell
Children will listen

The tale that was told me wasn’t all negative of course. My parents spoke of compassion, charity, morality and love. And I know they did their best as all parents do. But unbeknownst to them they also taught me other things; things that grew into nasty phobias, feelings and emotions.

Let me pause for a moment to say something important. I loved my parents very much and there was never a doubt they loved me. And although their words and actions were meant to make me a better person much of what was said and done had the opposite effect. It’s taken me years to rid myself of extreme hypochondria, anxiety and frequent bouts of depression. And that was after decades of self reflection, education and even therapy. As the song in Into the Woods says, “Children will listen.” So we must be very careful what we say to them. And I will add we need to be careful of our actions.

This entry was inspired by wonderfully insightful conversation with some of my younger cast mates concerning the state of humankind; specifically here in America. I have strong opinions on that subject but I was very interested in what our younger generation thought and felt about things. I started with the question, “Why there is so much anger, hostility, hatred, fear mongering and sadness in people today? What is the root cause?” One cast mate said ignorance was at fault. And yes, it is true that people seem to fear what they don’t know. Another of my young cast mates said she felt isolation was the key. Yes, so many young people don’t get to experience this great, big beautiful world with its incredible diversity because of economic, geographic and sociological factors. We continued our fruitful conversation and crossed generational gaps to agree that the lack of education was also an incredibly important reason much of humankind is so easily offended, fearful and often times hostile. And we all agreed that education isn’t just what is learned in public schools.

My public education on the whole was a good one. But my life education was sorely lacking. Yes there was plenty of love but because my most of my life mentors lived stifled lives that was what I was expecting my life to be. When I say stifled it’s because I saw so few people loving what they did for a living. My parents were excellent examples of people who were some of the hardest working individuals you ever saw. But my Dad was only truly happy when he was fishing, or watching football or eating ice cream. My Mom, although a loving, moral stalwart who would have given her life for her children, never seemed truly happy. Lesson learned for me. Add to that my Dad’s lackadaisical behavior and my Mom’s hypochondria and I’m learning a lot. I finish high school and enter college incredibly unprepared for what lies ahead. I had no idea how to be a happy adult. All I knew was to study hard, not party because it was sinful, graduate after four years, get a job that paid a lot of money, get a house I couldn’t afford, get married, have kids, be miserable at my job, retire at 65 if I lived that long, and hopefully have fun for the last 15 or so years of my life because I deserved it. That’s what I believed. That’s all I knew. But when I got to college all didn’t go as planned. And that’s what this is all about.

Before someone comments negatively about what I just wrote please understand this issue is MUCH bigger than what I just outlined. I’m completely aware of that. My cast mates understand that too! But I was reared in isolation like so many other people in the world. When I got to college I was unprepared for what I was exposed to. I started learning things that made me question deeply entrenched stereotypes that I’m ashamed to admit I carried. I met people with carefree attitudes who weren’t hypochondriacs like me. I became friends with people of all sexual orientations, religions and races. And I traveled to other states and countries and immersed myself in different cultures. But even then, the imprinting I underwent when I was younger always made me question all that was different. And as I said before, it has taken years for me to reach the point I am today. My childhood imprinting still rears its ugly head once in awhile but at least now I am able to recognize it when it does.

I can honestly say when I started this entry I never intended for it to be this wordy. Looking back, I rambled quite a bit too. But despite my ramblings I hope you can make some sense out of what I’m trying to say. As children we are exposed to so much input. And unfortunately much of what we see and hear is not good. As we watch our parents, our siblings, our friends and those people we admire we inadvertently take on those behaviors and beliefs. Add to that socioeconomic and geographical factors and we begin to create, in part, the society of human beings we are today. I thank my Creator each day I had the experiences I’ve had in my life. Even the negative things I adopted as a youngster and the relative release from those things helped make me the person I am today. But if we are ever going to truly change humankind, we need to be more educated. So much of the animosity, anger and violence humanity is facing right now stems from fear; fear from things some human beings know nothing about. There must be some way to teach children about diversity, acceptance and unconditional love. And we adults can learn a thing or two as well.

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