Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why I Like Stand Up

Laughter certainly is good for us, and it feels like it. Comedy is often hard to recommend because one person's idea of funny may be totally different from someone else's.

I think that stand up is the highest form of the art because when a person is doing that, they are engaging the audience and entertaining using nothing more than their wits, their voice, and their body language to put on the whole show. They have to be sharp and dancing on that razor's edge or else the audience will know it right away.

The best are always coming up with new material and the ones who show up and simply repeat what they have already released on video will disappoint the audience.

I have also noticed how some who are great at stand up can become stale and boring in sitcom type shows.

And on the other hand, some comedians tear up those sitcoms and crack us up so hard that the audience wants more and we really get to see them cut loose on the road in a stand up role.

I appreciate these performers who can crack us up on laughter using only their wits. I think that is what keeps them sharp. I think that one of the reasons that sitcoms can get boring is that they have these scripts that crawl from the set up to the punch line and sponsors who may want to make sure that none of the jokes are too edgy. Sometimes they depend on the music, the sidekicks, straight men and props to carry the moment which can bury the real comic genius under a blanket of fluff.

Listening to a bit of stand up can lift the spirit and mood of a day pretty quick for me, and then I can always share the good times by retelling the jokes to someone else. What a great way to spice up a day or a conversation.

Ernie Banks & Picasso

When Ernie Banks passed away recently, I had this sudden recall from my youth because when I was growing up, I was an avid Chicago Cubs baseball fan and Ernie was for years, one of the most outstanding players on the team.

Later on, back in the 1970s, I worked for one season as a security guard for the Cubs. And that was a fascinating experience from a whole different angle.

Memory works in strange ways some times, because the incident my memory landed on was this.

Back in the 1960s, Chicago like other cities, was adding art to public places, so of course, going for a big name since they are a big city, they hired Picasso to create an original work of art.

I was at the unveiling, and I remember people in the crowd looking at the Picasso saying "what an ugly piece of shit! What a hunk of junk! We should have put up a statue of Ernie Banks and it would have cost a whole lot less."

There are a lot of us who still agree with that assessment.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Inspiration in the Atmosphere

I am working out every day, getting fitter and healthier all the time. I am motivated and will not allow myself to get lazy. And I notice that by doing so, I develop a rhythm to my days.

There is something I notice, and perhaps you have noticed this too. When I am working out and there are lots of other people working out, the whole place has an elevated energy level, so that even though I am doing different exercises than they are, I feel more energy from the whole atmosphere and it pushes my performance up a notch. That's a good feeling.

It is inspiring to know that I am succeeding in my goal and at the same time notice that other people are working to improve themselves too. We all have goals and we are working toward them, going about it differently in the shared space and there is a common sense of determination to do what it is we came here to do in the company of like minded spirits.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Keeping the Faith in Ourselves

One of the trickiest parts of achieving our goals and dreams is not to give up when we hit a speed bump or someone throws us a curve ball. If we keep the faith in ourselves and the goals we set, then we focus on our vision and keep moving into it.

The most important principle to remember is that all things come from either fear or love. When we choose from love it is always our best choice. Choosing from fear is always a lesser choice.

During my time developing my business, I have frequently been tested in this way. For example, when an opportunity came my way that I felt was not quite right for me, I passed on it, and within a day, other opportunities came my way. This has happened several times over the years. I keep reaffirming my vision and that energy of “like attracts like” brings more good developments my way.

Aligning with your vision is a very important thing. There are practical actions we can take to make our dreams come true, such as putting up a good website so that people know what we are about and what we have to offer. Handing out business cards to people we meet and attending events that appeal to like minded people are certainly positive steps toward bringing our dreams into reality.

Whenever we find ourselves presented with a choice that does not really suit us but we fear that if we do not take this option that we may not get any other good offers, then we are letting fear make our choice. Times in the past when I gave in to those fears and did something that didn’t really align with my vision, I usually regretted it. Time wasted acting out of fear is time not spent in a more positive way, in alignment with our dreams.

Notice how when we choose from love, even if the progress we make is small, we feel good because we know that we are making progress. When we choose from fear and people see us doing something else they begin to wonder if we changed out minds and we wouldn’t really rather be doing something else. So the signals we send out can start to put out a “like attracts like” message in a way that leads us away from our goal rather than towards it.

Obviously, some visions take a longer time to manifest, and we may be heading toward that goal by taking small steps at first. So whether you are at the stage of taking small steps rather than big ones still keep reaffirming your vision. Eventually small developments lead to bigger developments.

Another important thing to remember about this process is that sometimes we may discover that the way we make progress toward our goal may vary from the original plan. The important thing is that if our goal or vision for ourself is something that we really want then we will find a way to get there. The thing is that we may be provided a different route than the one we originally planned. As long as we see it leading toward our goal, rather than away from it, this change will serve the purpose.

Sometimes it is hard for us to keep the faith in ourselves because we may have a belief that we are not smart enough, strong enough or good enough to achieve higher levels. Perhaps others have said things like this to us in the past. That does not make it true. If we accept these judgements that others have put on us, then we are allowing these obstacles to block our path. We have the power to remove these self imposed limitations. We have the power to change our beliefs about our selves.

Notice what happens when you give yourself permission to succeed. Notice how all of a sudden this person who was told that they are not a good dancer is suddenly dancing and enjoying it. Notice how this person who was told that they were not a good singer way back when they were younger, all of a sudden is standing there singing and other people are enjoying hearing it. Notice how the person who thought that they didn’t have what it takes to be a salesperson now sees no obstacle being a great sales person now that they are selling something that they really believe in. Notice how a person who didn’t think that they were strong enough or creative enough to start their own business is now running their own business and making a living with it.

When you keep the faith in your own vision, you are giving yourself the gift of a happier life. And doesn’t it feel better to choose from love rather than fear when aligning your thoughts and actions with your vision? Remove those self imposed obstacles. Keep the faith in your self.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Interwoven Fabric of Reality

We all have those moments when we look back at our life and try and second guess the choices we made. We wonder how our life would have turned out if we had taken this job instead of that one, or if we had chosen to form a relationship with this person instead of that one.

Yes, there certainly are things we have done that were triumphant, brilliant and beautiful and there are other things we have done that were mistakes, errors in judgment, and screw ups.

Thinking like that is nothing more than indulging in fantasies because we are who we are now because of the sum of all the choices we have made in our lives. We can start over fresh right now by making new choices, we can refocus and rededicate ourselves to setting out on a new path now.

In my own personal journey, my path took turns that I had not planned on. For example, years ago I worked for a corporation that transferred me to different cities to work. These were raises and promotions for doing excellent work. However, personally it meant moving to places where I had no friends, no relatives, nothing but the job they sent me there to do.

So during the weekends I looked around for interesting things to do and meet new people. In one city, my best option was to join Sierra Club, go to their meetings and go hiking with them. That opened up a fresh perspective in my life, not just getting out and getting some great exercise, but also seeing other perspectives on the world that were totally separate from anything I did in my work. I began to notice more aspects of nature than I ever had before. I got a close look and listen at stuff that usually would not have captured my attention, and found that extended experiences like that were very calming.

In another city, I went to my first psychic fair and had my first readings. I had no expectations because it was an entirely new experience for me to be in a room with a whole array of different kinds of readers and healers. I not only got my horoscope chart done for the first time, but I also started getting massages regularly. Who knew? I didn't grow up in a world where people did these things. I had been experimenting with doing tarot readings myself before then, but I regarded it as a hobby or experiment. I didn't know that there were all these kinds of people doing this stuff professionally all year round. And I was amazed at what I discovered.

So I began to assimilate these new experiences into my life on a regular basis and little by little, the old me evolved into a new me. The old me that used to like to go to bars for drinking and dancing was eventually replaced by someone who liked to take long walks, do more readings with tarot cards get astrology readings and massages.

Then later on I was working in advertising and just to add a little variety to my life, volunteered to write articles for a metaphysical magazine, a music magazine, an arts magazine and a book review magazine. I craved other assignments besides writing ad copy and brochures. Then one day my mentor at the metaphysical magazine died and they asked me to become the editor and take his place, and I got paid to do it. So my life changed again. Who knew that fun would turn into a work opportunity?

So then my whole schedule became busy with meeting and interviewing all kinds of people, trying different things, going to workshops and talks, experiencing rituals and experiments in living that I had not known about before and being totally immersed in a world where all this was normal every day. I was always learning how to do new things myself because of this. And then I was responsible for giving other people assignments that changed their lives and mentored them as they changed. I helped create events as well as publications. Who knew?

As I look back, I could have taken different career turns, moved to other parts of the country, formed relationships with different people. But I did not. I made my choices, and that is why I am here now.

When I was younger, I never had any inkling that I would ever make a living reading for other people or doing healing work for other people. On another level, these arts that we choose to practice may stir something undefinable up inside us, something that hints at deeper meanings, profound lessons, and realizations that emerge out of the fog and darkness.

The level of communications from spirit, we are in a zone that electrifies our senses. There is a quickening and excitement of suddenly getting a flash that lets us see in a different way.

Reading cards, healing with reiki, doing house blessings, mentoring writers, reading without any tools, helping to mentor people as they shift into more positive thinking and exploring possibilities, our visions expand as our horizons expand. There is an aphrodisiac quality to it all, to be in love with life to be able to go beyond the immediate to the other currents that swirl around us and energies that flow through us. There is a beauty to the way art opens the soul and touches our core.

Sometimes there is humor as the meanings unravel themselves, and sometimes there is sadness at the changes. Whatever the specific answers to specific questions, there is always a mystery to the process as we unwrap these gifts from spirit.

And who knew years ago that the path we were on would lead us here now? When it looked like our path was defined and there was a track to follow up ahead, we thought we knew. Then when we shifted our path, whether by design or by accident, everything changed. Even our mistakes became opportunities.

This is what synchronicity means. There are no accidents in life. We are just not always able to see the pattern until someone else helps us see, then the whole world looks different and we change the pattern of our life.

I am happy to be where I am now. Are you happy with where you are now?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Keeping Thanksgiving

This year, some retailers have announced that they will be opening at 6 am for Christmas sales on Thanksgiving Day. I think that this is a horrible idea.

We should simply enjoy the day with our family and friends.

Everyone who wants to do Christmas shopping still has plenty of time to do it, beginning with the three day weekend after Thanksgiving.

If we discard the concept of Thanksgiving to make it just one more shopping day, we would be scrapping a really beautiful concept. And what about all those people who will be scheduled to work instead of relaxing with their families and friends?

Holidays serve a valuable purpose in our lives. Let us simply enjoy this one day just for the simple pleasure that it provides us. We will all benefit from taking the time out for a day just to express our gratitude for all that is good in our lives.

I will not work or shop on Thanksgiving. I will be spending the day with family and friends. This is a tradition I will always keep.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Masking and Unmasking, Part 2

Here we are at Halloween, a beautifully dark fall evening. It began as a Celtic holiday, Samhain, for remembering our dead and wishing them well on their journey into the next world, and the name Halloween became the most popular name for the day when the church began celebrating All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day the day after. So the name is a contraction for the Eve of the All Hallowed. The Celtic word Samhain means summer's end, and the day after marked the new year on the old calendars and the first day of winter. So you can see how they got the idea for saying farewell to those who died by facing into the coldest, darkest part of the year.

Interestingly, it is also celebrated by Mexicans as The Day of the Dead. Two different cultures, half a world apart, yet at the heart of the holiday is exactly the same sentiment. The Longmont Museum features a special exhibit every year at this time, when people create altars in honor of those who died this year. There are also related exhibits that explain the aspects of the holiday. For example, they always decorate with marigolds and burn copal, a strong, pleasant incense that is a tree resin, like frankincense or myrrh. In both traditions, a place is set at the table with the person's favorite food and things they enjoyed while alive are displayed, such as if they liked playing cards or guitar, reading novels, or other things that they liked. In both cultures telling stories about that person and offering them one last meal and visit before wishing them well on their journey into the next world. The marigolds and copal are to help guide the spirits on their journeys, road markers for the place in between here and there.

There is another holiday specifically for remembering those killed in war, but this one is a time to say farewell to anyone we know who died this year. We speak our appreciation for those who we remember and acknowledge that part of the cycle of life, the ending of this physical reality as we know it.Halloween is a time when kids go trick or treating, wearing masks and costumes. It is a time when adults go to parties dressed as characters they wish they were or want to be.

It is fun watching all the little kids in their costumes continuing the tradition, even though they do not know yet the roots of the traditions they follow, that of the soul cakes and the dumb supper. They celebrate the harvest of candy, and it is a great holiday for kids as a fun time to dress up and get treats from their neighbors. In earlier times, the soul cakes were the precursors to the trick or treat tradition. It actually has a very similar root to the tradition of Christmas caroling. In a Celtic town, people would go from house to house and say prayers for those who had passed. In appreciation then, the host or hostess would offer these sweet cakes to thank them for coming by and praying. The Mexican tradition also includes sweet breads and cookies in the shapes of skulls which are treats when people gather to honor their dead.

Falling leaves signal the shift in seasons with more certainty every day, as less leaves are on the branches and more on the ground. We celebrate all that we have harvested this year as well, and we have some food on our shelves for the winter and we work and look toward the future, pulling a card for the year.

Spirits always dance on this fall holiday, and we dance with them.
When we dress in a mask and costume, we can mingle with people we know and yet be a mystery. When people see us out of context in real life, they are sometimes stumped, like the person you see at the office of a company you do business with, but then you see them having a beer at a concert, and they only look vaguely familiar.
Now add another layer to the mystery. You are deliberately dressed in a mask and costume, and no one knows who you are. You can say or do anything, because they do not know it is you. For this interlude, you are invisible in your costume.
Add another layer to the mystery and you are at a party where everyone is in masks and costumes. They don't know who you really are and so you play with their persona. You play along with the man or woman dressed as the famous movie star, author, artist, musician, politician, athlete or monster. You come up with witty remarks that flow with their theme. And they do the same with yours.
For a moment, you can be anyone you want to be. For an evening, you can be as brave as Braveheart or as sexy as Marilyn Monroe. You can be as witty as Robin Williams or as manic as Martha Stewart. For one evening, you could dress up as the Phantom or the boys from Stomp! You could be as spicy as Emeril or as nerdy as Bill Gates. You could be as outragiously sexily costumed as Lady Gaga or as sultry as Sophia Loren. Be as clever as Shakespeare or as wickedly hot as a vampire. You could be as cranky as Frank Lloyd Wright or Picasso. You could be demented as an ex president still running for election or a market researcher surveying party goers about the new invention, the Orgasmatron. Or maybe you are trying to get everyone to drink one of those crazy new drinks you brewed. For one evening, you can try on that personality and strut your stuff, doing whatever you want to do, and saying whatever you want to say.
Be crazy. Get it all off your chest. It is a day out of time. There were other holidays throughout history where masks and costumes were used, but today, our greatest costume holiday is Halloween. Certainly, people throw costume parties at other times of the year, but this is the one everyone is in on.
Costumes and masks can reveal our alter ego, or our other personas. For one evening a person can pretend to be famous, rich, beautiful and handsome, crazy, musical, funny, charming, lecherous, evil, dastardly, daredevil, talented, romantic, poetic or foolish.
In real life, a person may be simply known as the salesperson, cook, bank teller, the waitress, the mechanic, the nurse, the call center agent, the accountant, the bartender, the grocer, the dry cleaner, the real estate agent, the copy center clerk, delivery man, the barista, the librarian, the vet's assistant or the maid. But for one night everyone can be a star. For one night, everyone can be who they want to be. For one night, everyone's dreams can come true. For one day out of time, it is permissible to make our dreams come alive, and act out our desires in the safety of anonymity.
For one night, everyone has an opportunity to see how it feels to walk around in someone else's skin. And for that same night, we can see how it feels to be on both the giving and receiving sides of that other person's skin. It can be an eye opening experience to see and be seen in a whole new light.

On this fabulous festive occasion, you can see how it feels to reinvent yourself.