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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I’m a really proud Uncle. I have two great nephews who finished high school this year, one already graduated and another to graduate tomorrow. Hunter and Ethan this post is for you. As you know, I’m old. 🙂 I can remember when you Dad’s graduated from high school for goodness sake!  And yes, I can even recall graduating from high school myself. Well, I remember it a little. Hunter I so wish I could have seen you walk down the aisle and collect your diploma.  You’ve made your parents and your Uncle Paul very proud!  I can’t wait to see what you do next!  Ethan, I can’t make your graduation either but know in your heart that I’m very proud of you too!  I’m so looking forward to following your life’s journey! As I look back at my graduation day all the way back in 1983 I recall receiving a card from someone, I wish I remembered who, that I still  have in my possession.  It meant a lot to me so I figured I’d share it’s message with you.  It was a poem written by Rudyard Kipling called “If”.  Take the time to read it.

If by Rudyard Kipling

Hunter and Ethan Fedder…cousins…and Aunt Carolyn and My great nephews…we are very proud of you!  Congratulations!  Stand tall!  And have a great time with the next chapter of your lives!

Uncle Paul & Aunt Carolyn 🙂



I’m not going to say a word about politics.  I’m not going to say a word about new gun laws or regulation. Although looking back at what I just typed I did mention those words. But that’s just it, they’re only words. And words only have power if we let them.

I’ve written before about my Mom’s motto, “Sticks and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you.” But she also used to say, “Actions speak louder than words.” Of course my smart aleck Dad would jokingly say, “Do as I say not as I do.” But there is truth in that saying as well.  Well I think there is.

You and I’ve both watched people who say one thing and do another. Although I’ve been that guy too! I wouldn’t say I knowingly was acting in a way contrary to what I preached but I know there have been times when my actions didn’t match what I was saying. Growing up in a fundamentalist Christian household that was always a big no-no. Mom would say things like, “You can’t very well act one way in church on Sunday then turn around and act another way the other six days of the week.” I tried to do that Mom, I really did.  Actually, I still do, which is the point of this seemingly pointless blog entry.

Today, a friend asked for advice on how to handle stress.  She was seeking a way to deal with a common problem so many people face. Years ago stress brought me to my knees. I would get so anxiety ridden I’d have dizzy spells, hyperventilate, get sick, lose weight, lose my appetite and generally lose the ability to function. I was prescribed different types of anti-anxiety medication but it didn’t seem to do any good. Then one night I was sitting watching PBS and there was a guy on there talking about me. Okay, he may not have been talking about me but his words were most definitely speaking to me. I went out the next day and purchased the book “The Power of Intention” by Dr. Wayne Dyer. I read it once, studied it the second time through and finally started applying some of it to my life. It was pretty amazing. I won’t go into detail about the contents but one lesson I do my best to apply each and every day is, “If we change our thoughts we change our lives.” It seemed simple enough but boy it’s a difficult task to achieve.

Perhaps it has to do with our amazing minds. We have the ability to recall so many emotions from our past. Unfortunately for many of us, we also recall many times in lives we would rather forget. I was however, challenged to think back to those unfortunate events, my subsequent reactions and my eventual response. And when I thought about them, I realized that many of the negative emotions I associated with those things didn’t solve anything.  My frustration, regret, anger, sadness, envy or worry only made those events and my memory of them more painful. So why think of them that way?

I decided to make it my lifelong goal to change the way I look at things, the change way I remember things and to change the way I respond to things. For nearly 12 years now I’ve adopted this new way of life, and even though I still drop the ball once in a while, I can honestly say my life is so much simpler. I’m not going to pretend that my initial responses to things aren’t sometimes negative because they do.  However, I’m now able to have those feelings and then turn my thoughts to something positive. I challenge you to the same.

Let’s say you’re on Facebook and someone posts something that offends you. Your first instinct is to write something back like, “How dare you say something like that?”  Or perhaps, “I can’t believe you feel that way?”  What happens when you respond in that matter usually creates a long thread of back and forth negative comments that really go nowhere and only serves to get two or more parties really upset.  *Heavy sigh* Just today I read numerous Facebook posts that evoked a lot of negative thoughts in my head. Some part of me wanted to shout at them for saying such awful things, but I quickly realized it wouldn’t solve anything; not really. So, I read the post, felt some negative emotions, I hid the post from my timeline and moved on. I felt relieved knowing I didn’t allow myself to get pulled into that negative stream of consciousness. And that’s what it is. And it doesn’t only happen on social media. It happens every day in real life as well.

Which takes me back to words and my friend who is stressed out; heck even the word stressed out makes me stressed.  J Actually it no longer has that effect on me. I guess I just don’t look at it that way any longer, or more accurately I don’t think of it that way anymore.  I am in no way trying to belittle someone’s right to get worked up about something. We all do it from time to time. We are after all, human beings. By all means, feel those feelings we are so blessed to possess. But we just shouldn’t dwell on them. It’s damaging to our minds, our bodies and our souls. Plus, life is too damn short to spend “stressed out”. So instead, when we’re feeling stressed we can ask ourselves what exactly is it that is stressing us out in the first place? Is it something that is beyond our control? Is it a possible negative scenario our mind has created to keep us in that stressed out zone? I found over the past 12 years that in most cases all amount of stress in the world, all the worry, all the freaking out over something that I was certain was the end all of my existence was indeed…not. Getting worked up never solved anything it only made it worse.

So words…yes those sometimes hateful, thoughtless, useless, demeaning, argumentative words…yea they aren’t cool.  But people say them all the time don’t they? And those too only have power over our emotions if we let them. When I read those things or hear them come out of people’s lips I shake my head and think, “Now why would they say such a thing?” Then I think, “I hope they find they peace they need some day.” And you know what? I feel better!

When I started writing this I had every intention on concentrating on “actions speak louder than words”. Guess I just wrote some of these words so I better start putting them into action huh?


I Love You


Have you ever followed a thread on someone’s Facebook comment and thought of many things to say in reply? Have you had a reply, decided not to post it, and moved on feeling helpless? Since this political season has started that has happened to me too many times to mention. Since the tragedy in Orlando and the posts that have followed, it’s happened again.  Honestly, I can count at least 30 times I didn’t post a response to something.  Why?

Can anyone change a person’s mind? Can a meme, a blog entry, a video or a speech alter a human beings innermost beliefs? I’m not so sure. In my case, I wouldn’t post something on social media unless it was something I feel strongly about. You all know I’m a lover not a fighter and I strive to seek silver linings in every gray cloud. I’ve stopped myself several times from posting things I believe in because in many cases I feel it will fall on deaf ears. I would love my Facebook friends to digest what I say and, at the least, consider an alternate view from the one they currently hold. But for the most part I’m very well aware I’m preaching to the choir. However, in the light of everything I’ve read, listened to and watched the past few days I’m going to try one more time.

Perhaps if we strip all the heated arguments down to the barest emotions we can all find something to agree on. So I ask all of you, “Do you love?”  It can be a spouse, partner, friend or family member but can you say you love them? I think most of us can say yes we do, have and can love someone unconditionally. And for the most part, that feels pretty good. So I think it’s safe to conclude we all have the capacity to love. Now, the second question is, “Do you hate?” It can be a spouse, partner, friend or family member but can you say you hate them? I think most of us have a much more difficult time committing to truly “hating” someone. We may hate someone’s views or actions but really hating someone isn’t as easy. And if you do hate someone it usually doesn’t feel very good. From personal experience and many trips to a psychiatrist I learned just how detrimental hating someone can be to my overall health. Can we all agree that hating isn’t a good thing? If you answered no to that question then I suggest you not continue reading but if you answered yes than I invite you to continue on.

If we are all aware loving is good and hating is bad than why we do spend so many hours spewing hateful rhetoric in person and on social networks? I can guarantee hateful words are only revered by those who also hate and agree with what you are referring to. You are preaching to the choir. Similarly, loving words are dismissed by those who hate and lauded by those who, like you, love. So why do we spend so much time trying to change each other’s mind?

For me it is simply knowing that loving is a great way to live. I can remember the moment, like the turning on of a light bulb, when everything started making sense. It seems simple now but I realized that I can choose whether to love or hate, be happy or sad, trust or worry. I can choose whether I engage in a conversation or just listen. It is such a freeing way to live. The truth is, I read what some of my friends write regarding politics and most recently terrorism and despite the fact that it’s not how I feel I can, in some way, understand their views. They all have deeply entrenched beliefs on which to base all comments, solutions and actions. We all do. We can all spend hours debating one side or the other and there is enough empirical data to support almost every argument. The issue with these social networking debates is that for the most part the parties involved don’t want to hear the other side. They aren’t ready to hear anything that would make them question their life long, deeply held beliefs. And yes, I admit I do it too. So today I read many things that I don’t agree with but instead of dismissing them, I really made an effort to understand them objectively. I only required the following criteria: If what was said came from a negative, non-loving place I would move on. But if what was said came from a truly positive, loving, place than I paid attention. Here’s what I discovered.

I found myself agreeing with some of my Facebook friends I don’t normally agree with because their views come from an honest, loving intention. And their solutions don’t involve hateful, conspiratorial steps designed to divide rather than include. I also found myself disagreeing with some of my friends I normally agree with because their views were coming from a place of anger, fear and revenge. These solutions were divisive and were more designed to argue then solve.  Please understand, my entire reasoning was making a concerted effort to understand why all of us feel the way we do. I came to the conclusion that whenever things are said or suggested with negative emotions involved, solutions seldom follow.

I get emotional too.  And I’ve said and done many things I probably shouldn’t have. We’re human and it’s completely understandable. However, I can’t help but feel there is a real danger with arguing on social media. I say arguing instead of debating because one never involves a solution and the other may. I know if I spout my views about religious liberties, politics, hate crimes, terrorism, gun regulations and other hot topics, there will be those who jump in to tell me all the reasons my views are wrong.  I even know that some of those people will genuinely try to change my mind because they feel I’m lost in a sea of liberal thinking.  Others will triumphantly praise my comments with kudos and add negative comments about the other views.  But what’s the point? I honestly don’t know.

I performed in a serious of children’s plays years ago that were aimed at teaching children. The mantra that was emphasized in the shows (thanks Amanda) was Stop, Feel, Think & Act.  Let’s say a person insults us.  We should first Stop.  Before we say or do anything, just stop.  Then if we let what the person said sink in, let’s identify what we’re really feeling at that moment. At that point we can take what we’re feeling and decide if what we’re feeling is a direct result of what the person said, is it just something we feel all the time.  Finally, we can make a conscious choice whether to Act or not. After all the internal deliberation do we respond, or do we choose to take control of our own thoughts and emotions and walk away.  It seems simply right?  Oh but it isn’t.

I honestly do my best to apply that simple strategy to everything in my life.  I don’t always succeed but when I do I’m so much happier. What I find is, if I don’t immediately respond, I usually am able to deal with any negative comments much easier than if I allow myself to be offended, and therefore respond without thinking. That’s dangerous for all of us.

Here’s my truth. Everyone has an opinion.  Everyone has a reason they have those opinions.  Right or wrong we have to recognize every human being’s right to feel the way they do about things. But, when opinions stem from negative emotions of any kind, I recognize them, and let them go without giving them credence. In my soul I truly feel THAT is the issue facing not only Americans, but the human race. We’ve all lost the ability to just be. We’ve lost the ability to love others as we love ourselves. Please, please, please when a negative thought appears, replace it with a positive one.  When a negative word appears, replace it with a positive one or just don’t say anything at all. When a negative emotion appears, replace it with a positive one and smile, knowing you’re alive when so many more aren’t. When hate appears, replace it with love.

When some lost soul is spewing hate the only response is, I love you.



I’m so sorry. My heart goes out to everyone who lost a sister, brother, son, daughter, cousin, aunt, uncle, friend in the senseless Orlando massacre. I send positive healing energy to all of those who were injured as well. I sit here today unable to enjoy my day trying to make some sort of sense of this horrible act of pure hatred. What could possibly make someone to commit such a heinous act of cowardice?

I can’t even fathom some of the rhetoric my own Facebook friends are spreading. 103 people were shot at 2am this morning. 50 of those people were violently murdered. The worst mass murder in modern American history just occurred. Should we really be debating whether this was radical Islamic terrorism or a hate crime?  What the hell is the difference? 50 innocent people were shot down in cold blood and 53 three others are permanently scarred. Isn’t that the point?

This, my blog, where I do my best to spread positive messages in a negative world is now a place where I feel the need to express my frustration, hurt and immense sorrow. Unfortunately I’m not at all surprised another mass shooting happened. Isn’t that awful? In my heart I knew it would happen again someday. What does that even say about me?  What does that say about our society, the world and our desensitization toward violent crimes? If we know it’s going to happen why don’t we do everything we can do to stop it from happening?

I know, I know here comes tree hugger Paul with his “love everyone” message. Well so what, deal with it. Or stop reading if you’d like. But here is the honest truth.  Just because someone is different than us doesn’t make them any less a human being created by God. Whether they believe differently, live differently, eat differently, love differently or even worship differently doesn’t make them a threat to you or me. We must stop fearing all that isn’t the way we are. Fear is a cancer that eats away at our moral fiber and causes us to act in ways that aren’t natural. Fear, when fueled, turns to hate and hate can and does turn to violence.

So yes, LOVE is the ONLY answer! The hate indoctrination that exists in the world must be confronted with love, understanding, acceptance and empathy. To my LGBT friends and family, I’m so sorry this has happened to your community. My wish is to perhaps model our world using the late Muhammed Ali’s life pursuit.  That perhaps some day there won’t be Gay, Straight, Transgender, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist or Agnostic.  There will only be beautiful, different HUMAN BEINGS who were ALL created in our Creators image.

I love you all.


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Many fortunate souls have the ability to recall very intimate details about loved ones who’ve passed on. These blessed individuals effortlessly navigate the map in their mind revisiting the many stops their life’s journey has taken them. You know them. They are the family members who often ask questions like, “Don’t you remember that time you got stung by bees and you jumped in to the creek?” I usually respond by saying, “No I don’t remember that but is sounds painful!” My oldest sister has one of those minds. She remembers so many details whereas I remember very few.

Today would have been my Dad’s 83rd birthday. Clarence Eugene Glodfelter, born June 9th, 1933 has been gone for just over 13 yrs now. That’s him in the photo above, just right of center sporting the sunglasses. And that’s me in front of him looking out over I do believe is the Big Rideau Lake in Ontario, Canada. No, I don’t remember that day but I do remember traveling to Smith Falls, Ontario to visit the Hershey Chocolate Factory. I think this is the same day we went there. My Dad loved going to Canada. As long as I can remember we spent at least one week each year vacationing there. I loved it too. As I sit here reflecting on memories of my Dad I think what I love most of all about those family vacations is what it meant to him. His excitement for this yearly excursion was contagious. He became like a child when he talked of getting in the boat, cruising to our favorite fishing spots and reeling in the biggest lunkers any of us had ever seen. When all was said and done, it didn’t really matter if we caught that many fish. It was what it meant to all of us just to be there together.

Dad’s childlike manner when we were on vacation didn’t always make Mom  happy, but we kids loved it! Thanks Dad for teaching me it’s okay to act like a kid sometimes. Happy Birthday Pop.




Political History & Decorum

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I’d be in the living room watching Saturday morning cartoons when I’d hear my Mom and Dad in the kitchen talking about politics. My Mom, very private about her selection process, would infuriate my Dad because she wouldn’t tell him who she planned on voting for. Sometimes those discussions would escalate when my Uncle Jim and sometimes my Uncle Donny would visit and inevitably the “what’s best for the country” discussion would ensue. It was in my mid-teens when I learned my mother was a registered Republican and my father was a registered Democrat. And I admit, I had no idea what either of those things meant. Even with 12 years of education, I felt incredibly unprepared to eventually walk into a polling place and perform what I was taught as an integral part of my duty as a citizen of the United States of America. This was serious business! I didn’t watch much of the news unless my parents were watching and this was long before the advent of the internet so my sources were pretty much limited to what my family said and what I read in the newspapers. But then again, I didn’t read many of those either. That is of course until I graduated high school and started college.

Even though I was born in 1965 I was a child of the 70’s. I grew up hearing the adults in my life talking about the Kent State massacre, the killing of nine hostages and one police officer at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the resignation of President Richard Nixon, the Vietnam war and the fall of Saigon, Jimmy Carter, the death of Elvis, the first test tube baby, Peace in the Middle East between Egypt and Israel, the first non-Italian Pope in over 400 years Pope John Paul II, the Jonestown Massacre, Three Mile Island, Ted Bundy and the Iran Hostage Crisis.  According to all the elders in my life, these were scary times. In 1979 I walked into the halls of Central Columbia High School as a freshman. From there, in 1983, I went to college and my impressionable 80’s education began. Between 1980 and 1984 I read, saw and heard about the eruption of Mount St. Helens, the assassination of John Lennon, the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the identification of the AIDS virus, the assassination of Indira Ghandi and the Soviet Union boycotting the 1984 Olympics. The difference in these informative years that I was no longer relying on biased information from the adults in my life I was getting it on my own. Plus, it was not longer the older folks who would make the decisions that would affect me, it would be me. I remember being genuinely scared I’d make the wrong choice when I voted. There were positive stories that happened between the years 1965 and 1984 too, but even then, fear ruled when it came to the news media. And I had 18 years of it imbedded in my psyche. What do I do when I vote?

Since my 18th birthday wasn’t until November 29th, 1983 I didn’t have my first chance to vote until 1984.  November 6, 1984 I nervously walked into the polling area by myself and was asked, “Are you a registered Republican or a Democrat?” I remember thinking that was an awfully personal question to ask someone. But I quietly replied, “republican”, and was directed toward a polling station. Republican, what did that even mean? I honestly don’t know why I registered Republican when I was young. I believe it had something to do with the fact that that was what my Mom was. Not that I didn’t love my Dad and respect his choice to be a registered Democrat, but I think early on the mantra, “We must keep the Federal Government out of lives” rang true to me. It was the message that was fed to me by my aunts, uncles and many of the adults who helped shape my belief system. So, when I walked into the polling station on that cold November day I pulled the lever for Ronald Reagan. Truth be told, I could have voted for Walter Mondale too because I knew that was who Dad was voting for but in the end, my conditioning won the battle of my decision.

For the next four years I watched intently at what Ronald Reagan did for our country. I mean here was a guy who was a successful Hollywood actor, Governor and now President who lived through an assassination attempt in 1981! But despite the fact that his awe-inspiring efforts helped dismantle traditional communism, stop the cold war and tear down the Berlin Wall, terrible events continued to occur across the nation and the world. In the late 80’s there was Chernobyl, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the University of Montreal Massacre, the Iran-Contra Scandal, the largest stock market crash in history occurred on “Black Monday, Pan Am flight 103 explodes over Lockerie, Scotland brought down by suspected Lybian terrorists and thousands of protestors were killed on Tienanmen Square in Beijing. Did the decisions President Reagan make help prevent any of those things from happening? Or for that matter, did the decisions of presidents George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush or Barak Obama prevent any of the tragic events that occurred in the 90’s, 00’s or 10’s?

Perhaps that’s a stretch. My intent isn’t to begin a debate over presidential decisions that may or may not have had an effect on global or national tragedies and victories, but rather to revisit our past as a way of understanding the decisions we make in the present. I’m not sure exactly when I discovered I had a mind of my own, but when it happened it was enlightening. I suddenly realized that not everything people said about a candidate was true. I realized that issues that were important to me might not necessarily be important to others. And I also came to the realization that regardless of who is President, bad things happen.

I think back often of those political conversations that occurred when I was young, except now when I do I’m able to pull from them an important lesson. When we stop to take the emotion out of the equation many things become clearer. I haven’t thrown away my childhood imprinting but rather used it to mold my own psyche and decision making process. Emotionally my Mom wasn’t able to see things that my Dad thought were vital in the role of government. In the same way my Dad, being too emotional to be rational, never really listened to issues that were important to my Mom. When in truth, if they would have truly listened to each other, they would see they both wanted similar things but had different ways of achieving them. That’s a lesson I learned then and do my best to pass along now.

I’m not even sure why I wrote this entry today. I think it has so much to do with the nastiness I see and hear every day. Heck, I’ve heard it all my life it just that now with the advent of the internet, Facebook and cable news outlets, I’m confronted with it so much more. Sometimes when I read what people write I think, “Wow! That was just an awful thing to say!” Or I say outloud, “Why would they say something like that?” You know the comments I’m referring to. The lashing out that occurs when someone disagrees with a stance another makes on a particular candidate. I reminds me of sitting in a bar watching a football game and seeing two people get into a fist fight over an errant call, a botched play or even over a particular player one of the people detest.  But the presidential primaries aren’t a sporting event. They are not a reality based television show where unabashedly argue on who should get voted out and who should stay in. They are instead about aligning ourselves with the individual who best represents the issues that are important to us. They are about choosing a qualified individual who will represent the Executive Branch of the Federal Government of the United States of America.

My Mom had some good points to make when it came to economics and the role the Federal Government has to play. My Dad had some good points about the social side of things. I’ve taken what they believed, and with my own established belief system, created my own set of credentials and qualifications for the office of President. For me, I take the emotion out of the equation and try my best to be pragmatic when it comes to my choice. I’m now a registered Democrat but I’ve never voted a straight party ticket. I didn’t have the opportunity to caucus for the Republicans in my home state of Kentucky but if I could have I would have been involved. I will however be voting in the Democratic primaries in May and yes I have chosen who I am voting for. And whoever the eventual nominees are, I will make my choice based not on emotions, but rather qualifications that match my set of mandatory credentials.

Unfortunately tragic events happen every year in our nation and world. It is difficult not to get emotional about things. And yes it’s so hard to not get wrapped up in the negative banter that gets thrown at us every day by our friends, family and the media. But rather than getting offended that someone doesn’t believe like we do, or attacking others because they say things that offend us, let’s not get offended at all. It’s not important that everyone agrees with us. I advocate an open forum of positive qualifications for every candidate. And if someone differs from me, that’s okay. Every, and yes I mean every candidate has positive attributes. Since November I’ve listened to all of them and slowly narrowed down my choices. I don’t have to tear down the others to make my choices seem better. Instead, like my mother, what’s important to me is pretty personal. Please, please, please let us all make a concerted effort to raise our level of decorum and not be so defensive when someone chooses a different path. People have had dissenting opinions for centuries. And that in part, is what makes America the greatest country in the world.

Willy Wonka for President

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“If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to do it. Want to change the world, there’s nothing to it.” Those lyrics from the song Pure Imagination written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newly were running through my head this morning. I’m sure it’s a direct result of what is occurring in our nation politically and my assertion that we can choose to see good in the world rather than bad.

There is a definite divide among the human beings on our planet. Put 100 humans in a room and you’ll get 100 different opinions. But where do those opinions come from? In many cases it’s where we were reared, how we were reared, our imprinting and our psychological make-up. But is it more than that?

Despite everything that’s been said by the Americans who are following the different candidates I always look for one thing; positivity. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking everything is bad, and to lash out at people who don’t feel the way we do. But that is certainly not the formula for curing anything. What would happen if each of us actually listened to each other and we came at issues from a positive angle rather than negative?

This year I’ve chosen to listen. And surprisingly, each candidate has expressed things that I agree with. Yes, even Donald Trump has said things that rang true to me. I don’t think he’s a good choice for our presidency, but I do agree that corruption must be addressed. Honestly, when I watch him speak I have a lot of empathy for him. His insecurity is such that he needs to be liked, loved even. At his rallies when surrounded by those who worship him, his ego shines through and shouts of joy are heard when he spews his authoritarian rhetoric. But when he’s in a room with a diverse set of people, his ego is on the defensive because he isn’t being fed by followers. It’s sad to see.

No, I’m not about to say I saw this coming. But it doesn’t surprise me at all that in 2016 we have a presidential race that has be debased to the level of a reality television show. The candidates went there, the news outlets went there and the voters went there. Why did this happen now? Perhaps it’s because Americans and perhaps human beings in general don’t know what to believe in any longer.

This is what I believe in.

 I believe in equality.

Human beings of every color, sex, creed, size and sexual orientation deserve to be treated equally.

 I believe in hope.

Fear breeds despair, hate, greed, distrust, anger, worry, paranoia, envy and instigates rash decisions.

 I believe in positivity.

It isn’t weak to imagine a planet where love dominates. It isn’t weak to see human beings who are different than us as beautiful creations. It isn’t weak to know silver linings exist in the darkest clouds.

 I believe in love.

Hatred, fueled by fear, is the most detrimental human emotion. It is a cancer that erodes the very fabric of the human soul. Love of one’s self, others and the world is the only treatment to this disease of the troubled soul.

 I believe in a better world, with better people.

I will never start a revolution but I can change me. I will never attempt to attain public office but I will continue to attempt to attain internal peace. I will never make every American happy but I will be happy. I will never make everyone love me but I will make a concerted effort to love everyone I meet. My mind wants me to be hurt, offended and angered by what I see and hear the candidates do and say. But instead I’m focusing on my attention on the media outlets that repeat the sensationalized sound bites over and over. I’m also concentrating on the segment of humans who are pummeled with that rhetoric over and over. It is there the soul searching needs to begin. We human beings are all divine creations who will one day reach that point where we promote love instead of hate and a better world will emerge.

I believe in never agreeing with everyone all the time.

Diversity is the soul of civilization. I would never expect anyone to be like me. It’s true I don’t understand why some human beings feel the way they do about certain issues, but that’s the beautiful thing about the human condition. We are all born the same way, but our childhoods, our imprinting, our environments, our history are all different. That creates different views on issues we all feel passionate about. What’s important to me may not be important to you and vice versa. But what we all need do is embrace those differences and highlight the things we have in common. But we must do it with love.

 I believe in God.

This belief, this trust, this way of life is the nourishment that feeds my life’s journey. It’s not a religious commitment with laws and rules. It’s not a political tool used to sway people to live the way I do, it’s the engine that runs my soul.

I share my core beliefs because I refuse to allow the nasty, hurtful, hateful, fear-mongering political rhetoric to seep into my soul. The truth is I love each and everyone one of the human beings currently running for presidential nominations. I have tremendous empathy for each and every one of them. Each of them wants so badly to say the right thing, do the right thing and be the right thing. Because of that the democrat and republican candidates will attack each other, peddle hatred, fuel the fire of distrust and activate the id, ego and super ego of the American public. Despite all of that we will persevere if we look inward.

See good everywhere, in all things and in all people. That’s the way to change the world,”there nothing to it.”.

2015 -What a year!

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It’s customary to take a look back on December 31st on the year that was. In this case it was 2015. Heck I remember graduating high school in 1983 thinking, “what will it be like when we aren’t in the 19’s any longer?” Here we are 15 years into the 21st century and I couldn’t have imagined a better century. First and foremost, I’m so incredibly thankful to have spent the past 18+ years with Carolyn; my partner, my soul-mate, my love and my best friend. Her victories are my victories.  My victories are her victories. In 2015 and every year, we are an unbeatable team!

My 2015 started in with a drive from Fort Meyers, FL at the end of 2014. Carolyn had been down to see me in “The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical” and we drove back after the show closed. We drove to Georgia where Carolyn dropped me off for my first show of the year, “Ring of Fire” at the Legacy Theatre. What a great way to kick off 2015!

Screenshot 2015-11-27 11.24.04

Our ensemble was nominated for a Suzi Bass Award in Atlanta for Outstanding Musical Ensemble and we even added performances. It was great! But when a performance was added our final Sunday evening it made my trip home a little hairy.  It just happened to be the night a massive snowfall was headed through Kentucky!


You see that area between Hazard and Pikeville?  Well, that was where I was headed from Atlanta. My 7 hour drive became 9 as I drove overnight, and arrived as the snow was coming down around 4:30 in the morning. It was an unexpected 17″ of snowfall, Carolyn and I snowed in unable to get out of town from Monday through Wednesday, and eventually me flying back out a few days later back to Florida! Unfortunately, Carolyn had to stay in the cold.

I flew to Fort Meyers, FL and started rehearsals for “The Odd Couple” with a fantastic cast of friends both old and new! What a treat it was playing Murray in the classic Neil Simon comedy. Our audiences loved it!


In early May I headed back home to Eastern Kentucky for a short break with Carolyn and the pups! My time home included a wonderful Memorial Day weekend trip to Asheville, NC!

In June I was back in Georgia gearing up for a production of “Footloose” the musical. What a tremendous show!

And my family even had the opportunity to see it!

When “Footloose” closed in August I headed back home to Eastern Kentucky. And that’s when another exciting development happened!  Carolyn was hired as the new Director for The Plaza Theatre in Glasgow Kentucky.  So, we moved back to South Central Kentucky.

It was a whirlwind move with me flying out a few days after to Rock Island Illinois. I spent the Fall of 2015 in the Quad Cities (Rock Island and Moline Illinois & Davenport and Bettendorf Iowa) along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River! What a pleasure doing a regional premiere of “Route 66”!

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I closed “Route 66” on a Saturday in October and the following day I was in Georgia in rehearsals for “Appalachian Christmas Homecoming” at the Legacy Theatre! We opened in November to wonderful audiences but the most special was the weekend of November 29th.  Yep, my 50th birthday! To my complete surprise Carolyn coordinated a special 50th birthday celebration after my Sunday matinee on my birthday! The entire theatre staff, the audience and my cast knew all about it! During curtain call the artistic producer came out on stage, made a speech, the entire audience (donned in birthday hats and noisemakers) sang happy birthday to me as a cake and cupcakes were pushed out in the theatre.  It was fantastic!

I arrived home the night of December 20th and on December 22nd Carolyn and I started our drive north to visit family for Christmas!  What a great time!

I’ve been thoroughly blessed in 2015 and so look forward to 2016! I hope you enjoyed reading about my year.

*Lifts glass* Here’s to a Happy and Prosperous 2016 to you and yours!

I hope this has a point…

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“She’s a liberal! That’s why she says those things!”, the man exclaimed on the cable news network. “They all have their head in the sand because they don’t want to hear the truth”, was the follow-up. As I watched and heard this banter my mind went to the word chosen to describe this person. She was labeled a liberal. We’ve been trained how to respond to that word through years of conditioning. If ours is a conservative background our defense mechanism kicks in and we already discount any logical points raised in the discussion by this person. If we’ve been indoctrinated with a liberal education we tend to take what this liberal person says without question. Growing up in a household with a republican mother and a democratic father I’ve been exposed to both. Are there always two sides to everything? Or could there be many ways to see things? The news commentator said this liberal didn’t want to hear the truth. Politicians, Legal professionals, Educators and Religious speakers love that word. But whose truth are we talking about? I decided to get some literal definitions of these words and see if I can make some sense out of this.

Let’s look at the word liberal in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.

  1. Of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts
  2. Marked by generosity; given or provided in a generous, open-handed way
  3. Lacking moral restraint obsolete
  4. Not literal or strict.
  5. Broad-minded; especially: not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms.
  6. Of, favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism; Capitalized: of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism.

Here’s Merriam-Webster’s definition of truth.

  1. Sincerity in action or character,
  2. The state of being the case, the body of real things, events and facts, a transcendent fundamental of spiritual reality, a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true, the body of true statements and propositions,
  3. The property of being in accord with fact or reality, fidelity to an original or to a standard,
  4. In accordance with fact.

As I suspected these two words have many different meanings. And depending who’s saying them, where they are said, and how they are uttered can make all the difference. Human beings have the gift of speech. Words can be beautiful and be uplifting and loving avenues that lead to positive outcomes. But they can also be hurtful, disconcerting, evil and deceiving. We tend to use words to label others. We put people into a category using words that are aligned with our belief system. A belief system that automatically puts us at odds with anything that questions those beliefs. I’m labeled a compassionate, loving man by some, and others an unrealistic dreamer who doesn’t live in the real world. When people ask me questions about what I think or feel it takes me a long time to answer. I don’t like labeling myself because as soon as I say a word, people automatically have a opinion based on their truth. I do it too. And I don’t like the fact that my brain categorizes in that way. So I’ve challenged myself to stop labeling people. I’m going to choose my words carefully. If I know a person I’m speaking too has a different belief system from me, I will simply say, “you may not want to hear what I think on that matter.” If they press me, I will say, “I will tell you, but realize I am not attacking you in any way. It’s okay that we don’t see eye to eye on all things.” What I will not do is label myself by a politcal party or religious affiliation.

When asked if I am proud to be an American I quote my mother when she used to say, “pride commeth before the fall.” It’s a genuine human emotion to feel a sense of accomplishment or to feel good about people who achieve great things. But if that feeling separates us from other human beings than I say it isn’t good. Yes, I was born and reside in America so therefore I am an American. But being an American doesn’t make me any better than any other human being with a different nationality.

Even now I’m sure if one of you is reading this you already have an opinion about my beliefs and have, in your own way, labeled me. I understand because our minds always try to make sense out of things that are either different than us or question our belief system. But I truly feel the problems in the world today are human problems. Too long we’ve used words to categorize people, who in many ways are just like us. But because they don’t talk like us, look like us, behave like us, believe like us and act like us we discount them. And that’s just not a nice thing to do.

As a baby we are open to all. In in a few short years we are taught what is good and what is bad. As we get older we are taught who to listen to and who not to listen too. And most times, but not always, we carry those rules into adulthood. And because of that, we must be careful what words we use and what labels we apply to people. Because like us, other people have a belief system too.

Alright, back to our liberal who doesn’t know the truth in the beginning of this short essay. She was indoctrinated with a belief system and it is her choice to feels. The same goes for the news anchor who feels a different way. The truth that is spoken is also relative. And it is obvious that both of their truths are different. So when this impasse is reached we must seek out facts. Things the are indisputable. Are their such things?

Perhaps it’s a good idea for all human beings to install a fact checker on ourselves. When I did it to myself I quickly found out that many of my beliefs were just that; beliefs. They weren’t based on indisputable fact but rather years of conditioning. That doesn’t mean they are false because they are very true to me but what is fact?

I am human. I am male. I am flawed. I love. These facts can be proven by scientific fact or by my actions. As far as my beliefs go…well, I’ll gladly share those beliefs with you if asked.

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