Fairwell, My Friend. (A message to Jon Stewart)

It was just announced that Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” will host his last telecast August 6th. The seventeen year “fake news show” veteran has interviewed:

Presidents

President Barak Obama

President Barak Obama

(Serious) News Anchors

Brian Williams

Brian Williams

(Seriously?) News Anchors

Bill O'Reilly

Bill O’Reilly

Comedians

Denis Leary

Denis Leary

Athletes

Olympic Champion,

               Olympic Champion,
              “Sir” Charles Barkely

Jon’s also interviewed congressmen and women, authors, humanitarians, pop icons…people you’d only imagine being interviewed by the likes of  Oprah or Larry King.

Barak Obama’s book, “Audacity of Hope,” speaks about how we must stay hopeful in the face of tremendous challenges. In the same way, Jon Stewart shows us the “Audacity of Knowlege.” His masterful fusion of intelectual knowlege and razor-sharp wit has connected to and inspired a generation who is weary of dishonest authority. Over the past 15 years, Stewart has made us laugh while giving us the tools to help us sit up, use our minds and speak words to power.

Despite his success and influence in the political and cultural process, Jon Stewart has expressed restlessness and a disheartening in reporting what seems to be never-ending negative politics. He wants a change… and I understand….so I wrote him this Thank You note.

——––—————————————-

Dear Jon,

It’s a testement to your skills and passion that you reached and kept the youth audience, who have so much of a distain for politics that we don’t even trust the news people reporting on it. With a masterful entwining of reason, knowledge, idealism and humor you challenged us to expect more from out governent and take responsibility for our role. You spoke truth to power and inspired my generation to do the same. Our country thanks you!”

— Big T —

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Meditation (& Donuts) Is Good For The Soul

meditationMove over Chicken Soup….Meditation is the new (actually it’s been around for centuries) life-enriching perspective that can enrich your soul.

About a year ago I decided to make a concerted effort to “get out there” and meet new friends and explore new and exciting activities. My buddy had learned about mindfulness and thought I could benefit from some classes. Upon searching for meditation groups on Meetup.com, I found one and made the early morning 40-minute drive to experience the techniques for myself. I had imagined some big, ornately decorated church-like building and was pleasantly surpised when GPS guided me to what looked like a quaint home.

Walking in the front door past 2 honest-to-goodness monks in full robes and into the Arizona International Buddhist Meditation Center, I imediately felt at ease. I took a seat amidst the group of silent practitioners and got my guided meditation on! “Ohh-m-m-m…”

new meditation hall

By the end of the hour-long meditation, my mind was without worry, my body felt rested and my soul at ease. A beautiful new experience!

Now for the long freeway drive home……I may need more meditation for this!

Some days, positive vibes seem to come naturally as joyful moments fall into place. The sun shines warm rays, the breeze gently blows….even the impetuous drivers seem to speed down the highway with an air of politeness.  I’m used to winding down my day after one or two activities but today I’m still full of energy and exhuberant to take advantage of the remaining daylight. **Winning!**

It’s only noon! Flash, Bang! How about treating mysef to lunch? My favorite asian restaurant, Osaka, is on the way home and I know the chef, or itamae as they are called in Japan. I stop in for one of my favorite fried rolls, stuffed mushrooms, miso soup and friendly conversation. “To Go” I tell him. (to check out another of my sushi adventures, click here: ! http://wp.me/p3fNPN-u0)

I get in my car to head home and see a Krispy Kreme Dougnuts. Oh Snap! I totally forgot it was located here! I probobly shouldn’t be loading up on sugar but I convince myself that I’ll only eat one or two and the rest are “for my parents.”IMG_1715

“I’ll have six to go, please.” You can probobly guess how many were shared…..that’s right….ONE. What, did you think I’d eat them ALL?? I’m not a glutton….LoL.

IMG_1716

Anyway, I figure a veggie stir-fry is in order to counteract the 5000Gs of sugar coursing through my veins. But for now, it’s time to go run a 15 minute sugar-high marathon…..then collapse.

**Remember: Some foods are good for the body while others are good for the soul.**

~~ Breathe Easy ~~

Normal: The Most Derogatory Word

quote-the-only-normal-people-are-the-one-s-you-don-t-know-very-well-alfred-adler-1465

There I was, nervously standing in the junior high cafeteria lunch line, cash in hand, waiting for my turn to pay. Adam Sandler’s “Lunch Lady Land” played in my head.

Focus, Tom!

I had three minutes between picking up my food-tray, paying for it and finding an open seat. But an empty seat doesn’t make it open, as I soon found out. “Think fast, Tom!” My eyes darted around as I attempted to lock eyes with a friendly face. I had one chance get it right and a miscalculation would mean public rejection, a ruined reputation, embarrassment and hurt feelings.

There! I saw my buddy Chad and slowly meandered to his table but as I laid down my tray, I was assaulted with a sudden onslaught of questions and insults. “Why are you sitting here?” “Who wants you here?” “Name ONE person at this table who is your friend.”

Frantically, I peered around searching for a kind face, someone who would stand up for me. Chad was either too insecure or too weak to speak up. After what seemed like an eternity of silence the bully confirmed, “No one wants you here. You are NOT normal.”

That sentence echoed in the back of my mind the next few years while I continued to struggle to fit in and gain confidence. There were many afternoons when, after putting on a brave face at school, would arrive home and run to my bedroom to cry. There, sitting alone on my bed with tears running down my cheeks, I’d wish for the bullies to see me as a normal kid.

Over the years, despite my determination to stay confident and friendly, constant barrage of put-downs made me feel inferior. I felt incapable of being accepted by my peers.

What is “Normal?”

Everyone has their own idea of what constitutes normal for the simple fact that our unique life experiences give us different challenges and strengths which we use to relate to and judge others.

“Normal” is just a euphemism for being accepted but acceptance and inclusion are not about having things in common, they’re about the personal decision to see the good in people. That decision is less about social circumstance and more a reflection of one’s moral character. To me, the word “normal” is relative and is often used to exclude those who don’t fit into the preconceptions of a group. In that way “normal” can be one of the most derogatory words.

The childhood bullies who rejected my inclusion to group activities did so based on their perception that I was somehow not normal.

But was I?

What makes a person “Normal?”

Some would say that attaining normalcy is simply exhibiting common traits or abilities and conversely, hatred or prejudice can just be overcome by discovering our similarities. Others would have you believe that normal is relative and based on accepted popular beliefs. So what makes a person normal, quantitative criteria or a majority opinion?

We all live with challenges: some physical, some mental and some emotional. The key to contentment and happiness is balancing health, responsibilities and passion in order to make your challenges work FOR you instead of against you……and that means being as open and honest with your difficulties and insecurities as you are about your confidence and strengths.

Only when we are honest with ourselves about our shortcomings can we find the confidence to overcome them. I also find that being honest with my own challenges instills humility, allowing me to better accept and empathize with other people. Accepting people as they are lets me distill any pre-conceived allusions I may have and allows me to view the world in a positive light. When I see life situations as a glass half-full, it gives me the confidence to overcome anything!

In reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath,” I now understand there are advantages to disadvantages and that some difficulty can be desirable. That means people may develop new strengths, perceptions and more creative and efficient approaches to life through the process of overcoming roadblocks. For instance, there are a large number of successful entrepreneurs who are dyslexic: Richard Branson, Charles Schwab, David Neeleman (founder of Jet Blue) and Paul Orfalea (founder of Kinkos). Some may say these guys are not normal and became innovators despite their challenges but I believe they succeed because of them.

I have overcome many challenging experiences such as pneumonia, a collapsed lung and cardiac arrest as well as the day to day challenges which come with living with pulmonary disease. One result is that I get out of breath rather quickly, even while wearing oxygen…. so despite making my best effort to explore the world, I spend most of my time engaging people from home. Some may see being less active as a deficit but I view this challenge as an opportunity to develop new talents and build character.

For instance, spending much of my time indoors or by myself, I have discovered a passion for writing, blogging, making music, cooking, gardening and watching and discussing films. You know the “movie game” where one person names a film, the next names an actor from that film, the next names a different film by that person….and so on?? Yea, I’m AWESOME at that game!

Through developing these processes I’ve gained self-awareness, creativity, patience for others and myself and a deep sense of empathy and understanding for the underdog.

Our relative strengths and challenges form our perspective of what makes a “normal” life. Despite our efforts to be the best versions of ourselves, we can never live up to every other person’s ideal.

Realizing the absurdity in trying to be everything to everyone, one might come to the conclusion that we are all the same; we all have flaws and talents. We are different in our sameness and the same in our differences. Everyone is normal or no one is normal. In trying to understand where true happiness lies, I found the question goes deeper:

Is there a “Normal” at all?

I believe the answer is NO.

The struggles of our youth molds the way we view ourselves and perceive the world. Even now, almost 2 decades since the cafeteria incident, I sometimes feel like I don’t belong at the “cool” kids’ table. But the feelings of insecurity are normal. Being flawed is normal. What is NOT normal is thinking there IS a “normal.”

As Doc Holiday asserted in the film, “Tombstone” (my all-time favorite movie!)

“There is no normal life, Wyatt, it’s just life. Get on with it.”

What is normal to you?? Thoughts…..

It’s rabbit season

  

Holy crap! So I’m sitting at the kitchen table reading a book and out the window I see a rabbit darting across  my backyard. I jump up, open the sliding glass door slowly as to not make too much noise and walk softly as possible to the fence, crunching from all the dried up leaves on the ground. By the time I get to the fence, it had jumped through and out to the back wash behind my house. I spy him, step up to get a better view and freeze like the rabbit does with it’s ears perked up. I stand with my toes balancing on the bottom of the fence, holding myself up for what seemed like 20 minutes – just me and the rabbit ,staring at each other. Damn, I left my phone inside and I don’t want to risk making noise and scaring him away! Suddenly, a second rabbit pops into view: Holy crap, never seen two at the same time! I have to come inside and get my phone to take pictures… So I slowly step down; *CRUNCH* The sound of dried up leaves below my feet scared the first one away. I decide to stay put and I’m rewarded when a THIRD Little bunny hops into view, as if coming to mingle with the second bunny. This is too good to not capture on film – I have to take a chance and fetch my phone inside. “FIGHT THE FEELING…and just enjoy nature Big T.” 

10 minutes of stone silence, patiently admiring the magnificent, wild rabbits: the sprinkles on top of the chocolate sundae that is the bunnies, is the scene of a squirrel suddenly crawling out of its hole: “HELLO!!!” LoL…..I wonder if he was Chip or Dale? 

As Bugs’ relatives all dart off to their homes to make dinner, I take a deep breath, smiling ear to ear….I don’t   need to leave home to experience God’s beauty.

#unexpectedblessings

         — Breathe This Life —