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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

One of My Favorite Christmas Eves

I have been blessed with many happy Christmas Eves over the years, most of which  transpired in my hometown of Rochester, New York, while I was growing up, either on Erie Street or in Greenleaf Meadows.

But one recent Christmas Eve, at least of the last decade, occurred in 2005.

In the late spring of 2005, I had moved back to Rochester after helping to produce Bravo's hit five-part series, The 100 Greatest TV Characters, and after consulting a little bit with Nora Ephron on her Bewitched feature film, among other freelance and contracted assignments.

It was a solid few years in L.A. but, as it had before (and sometimes still does), Rochester was calling me home, mostly, of course, to care for my Mom.  Even though my sister lived close by, and there were many good friends who were keeping a close-watch on Mom, I still felt the pull to return.  I knew that she did not have that many more years left (she died in 2008); and it was the experience of those like Christmas Eve of 2005 that confirmed that I done the right thing by succumbing to those tugs of my heart.

Then, like today, I had found myself in a new home at Christmas-time.  While I've only been in my beautiful new apartment here in Burbank for a mere month or so, by Christmas 2005, I had been living in my new apartment in Rochester (specifically, Irondequoit, a suburb) since that prior January.

So, I wanted to do something special that Christmas.  Usually, my Mom (and Dad, when he was alive) would go to my sister's for Christmas Eve.  But I wanted to make my own Christmas dinner in 2005 where I lived.  It was a beautiful apartment complex in Irondequoit.  The area was winding down, and had certainly seen better days...but again...I felt a "calling."

There seemed to be an awful lot of lonely people that I knew that year, and I thought, "I should invite them all over for Christmas Eve dinner."

So, I did.

There was the fiftysomething woman in a wheelchair who lived up the hall from me.  She had married a multi-millionaire, who divorced her.  She ended up with approximately $750,000 as a settlement which, compared to what her husband was worth, was really not a large sum of money.  But then again, it wasn't anything to sneeze at.  Sad thing is, by the time this woman had moved up the hall from me, she had pilfered away that 750 grand on some poorly-made choices.  Around the same time, she slipped on the ice in the front of her former home, and ultimately was left incapacitated in several physical, emotional, psychological and financial ways.

There was the sixtysomething woman who lived two buildings down;  she had just lost her grown daughter to cancer in June of that year, and it would have been the first Christmas without her precious child.

There was the eigthysomething man friend of my Mom; his brother-in-law had raked him for every penny he had; and he was now living in a senior facility up the block.

There was the elderly-couple that lived across the hall from me; he had the early on-set of Alzheimer's and she was too frail to drive across town to spend Christmas Eve with their daughter and her family.

There was the twentysomething former acting student of mine and his mother.  His father and her husband had verbally, physically and financially abused them both in recent years; and they usually just spent Christmas Eve alone.

There was a dear friend of mine who had moved to the area from Manhattan.  She had just started working at Kodak, and had not yet acclimated herself to Rochester, and had no plans for Christmas Eve.

Too many sad stories that needed, if not a happy ending, at least maybe just one happy night, with the potential for a new beginning.

So, I invited each of them over for Christmas Eve to join me and my Mom, after I called my sister and told her my plan.

I didn't make any super kind of special Christmas dinner.  I bought some frozen raviolis at Wegman's Supermarket (the Rochester-turned-national franchise for which Alex Baldwin briefly served).  As a sauce, I chose the Prego brand, and mixed some of my own secret ingredients into that.  I bought some green peas, some French bread; added some garlic and butter to the bread; tossed a salad; and got some wine, soda and water.  For desert, a few of Wegman's awesome cakes:  Lemon, Chocolate, Apple Cinnamon

Again, nothing elaborate, but in the end, very satisfying.

Everyone loved it.

But more than the meal they loved just the company.

It was a Christmas-card-picture-perfect vision of soft-fallen snow on the outside.

We sang Christmas carols on the inside, and I passed out some gifts.

But there were no diamond watches, no cashmere sweaters, no cards with cash.

That afternoon I had gone to the Dollar Store and bought everyone one elegant Christmas ornament; and when I handed them out, you would have thought each of them received a divorce settlement for $750 grand.

Their hearts warmed, as all of our eyes lit-up and teared.

Christmas Eve had meant something each of us.

The sadness had melted away and was replaced with a few moments of joy that lingered onto Christmas Day and longer.

For a few of them, the woman in the wheelchair, the woman who lost her daughter, and the elderly man friend of my Mom' was their last Christmas.

But was also one of their best and favorite.

I know it was one of mine.

Friday, December 6, 2013

You, Us..."Hey!" - BONDS!

There are the James Bonds....the fictional super-spy that all of us at some point fantasize about being.

There are the bonds that dentists place on our teeth.

There are the blue-collar bonds that various trades utilize with regard to plumbers, construction workers, etc.

There are the U.S. Savings Bonds with which we were all raised.

Then there are the bonds between a different kind of "us," as in you, me, and we - the people...of the United States...the world...the universe..

The bonds between countries...nations....states...providences...cities and...towns...communities...cultures...employers...employees
friends...families...mothers...fathers...sisters...brothers...husbands...wives... and more.

In recent years, I've been hosting reunions for my friends and colleagues from NBC, harkening back to our special days as NBC Pages.

Paging was a bonding experience if there ever was one.  We were young...just out of college...each of us trying to find our way...and we ended up finding each other.

Those days are gone...and we all know it...but we gather together again...every once and a friendship and honor our original bonds...if maybe making new ones along the way.

We hold on to the past, and yet at the same time, let it go...and create new memories in the present, ever looking toward the future.

When I was caring for my Mom and Dad in their elder years, we shared a new bonding beyond the parent-child ties.  As their primary caregiver, they became my closest friends...if not best friends...and in many ways my adopted children.

Either way, those bonds will always remain unbroken.

And like all noble bonds...they will remain unbroken...forever.

Because they are unbreakable.

Not even by someone like James Bond.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Rainbow Woman

I traveled from Burbank to San Diego for Thanksgiving this year to spend time with family members, some of whom I haven't seen in over two decades.  And it was a lovely time.  I'm very blessed with a multitude of family members spread across the country.

But I didn't want to drive, so I took the train...Amtrak...which I've never done before.

I've taken the local Metro line in and around Los Angeles, but I never journeyed a lengthy distance on a train.

And I always wanted to - so I did and, of course, the trip proved enlightening.

In more ways than one.

The trip up on Wednesday was nice.  I sat with a family of three.  A mother and father and their young soccer-loving daughter who, in a recent game, had injured her left thumb, which needed stitches.  So she was wearing a cast.  We all talked about a lot of topics, and the four-hour time frame passed quickly.

But it was on the Friday trip back to Burbank that entranced me.

It was raining that day, and I wasn't too crazy about that.  I didn't want the water to dampen the joyful spirit that increased during my family visit.  So, I prayed for a nice ride home.

I had contacted a friend earlier in the week to see if she could pick me up at the train station in Burbank and she agreed.  But I soon realized on the train ride home that I wouldn't need to trouble her.

My train from San Diego to Burbank was set to leave at Noon, but I arrived early at the station, around 11:00 AM.

That was okay.  I connected with a nice woman in line and she clued me in on train departures, and a little history of the area in the process.

Noon arrived, and we boarded the train.  The woman, an older sort, invited me to join her on the first level of the train, marked for seniors and the disabled.  "You could pass," she said.  "You have gray hair."

I laughed a little at that...very little...but told her I felt uncomfortable with sitting in an area which was meant for the disabled.  So, I trekked up to the train's second level.  "You should sit on the left side," the older woman told me.  "That way, you can see the ocean on the way back to Burbank."

I nodded, but when I arrived on the second level, I opted instead for the right side of the train.  I know what the ocean looks like, and I wanted to see the more interesting options on the right side, mostly the different stations along the way....Santa Ana...Anaheim....Fullerton, etc.  They all reminded me of Mayberry from "The Andy Griffith Show," so that all suit me just fine.

I had also prayed that Heaven would seat me next to someone that would make the time pass, like it had on the trip up to San Diego.

Ultimately, the train on both levels was not as full as had it had been the Wednesday before.  That was okay, I figured.  "I'll just sleep all the way."

Never happened.

Within a half-hour, I had found a new friend.  The rain had stopped, and a rainbow had appeared...where else...but to the left of the train.

A woman, who appeared to be from India, was seated in front of me.  No one was beside me.  She turned to me and commented about the rainbow.  "Beautiful, isn't it?" she said.

I nodded a little and thought to myself, "But - really - where do rainbows come from?  I mean...REALLY come from?"

As if the woman heard my silent thoughts she turned once more to me and said, "Do you know where rainbows come from?"

Shocked at her seemingly reading my mind, I said a simple "No."

She then said something about Noah's Ark from the Bible and I just smiled.

A few minutes later, she showed me a book about a little boy who saw rainbows in Heaven.

I couldn't believe it.

A few minutes later she asked me if I wanted anything from the train's cafĂ©.  I told her, "No, thank you."  But she insisted that she bring me something.  "My treat!" she said. 

"Ok," I replied.  "I'll just take a bottled water."

She returned with my water and a sandwich for herself.  No one was seated next to her, and since she was so kind and generous, I did not want her to eat her sandwich alone, so I invited her to sit next to me to better enjoy her meal.

As we talked, she shared with me many charming stories of her life in India.  One story, about a rainy day from her childhood, stood-out.

She was walking home from school, carrying many books.  She loved to read and she loved books very much.  And it started to rain very hard.  So, she prayed, "Dear Lord - please keep my books dry.  Please don't rain on my books."

And as she walked, she said, her path was free from rain.  It rained around her, behind her, in front of her and to the sides.  But it did not rain on her.  When she arrived home, her mother was prepared with blanket to dry her off.  But there was no need.  "My Lord kept me dry," she said.

Charmed, we continued to talk, and within the next hour or so, she learned that I was a writer.  She also decided to pray over my right arm, as I pulled a muscle a few weeks back during the move to my new apartment.

By the time we arrived in Burbank, she had convinced me not to call my friend for a ride home.  "MY friend will take you home," she said.

And her friend did so.  Her friend also happened to be a dentist - and I am looking for a new dentist in the area, as my previous dentist has his office in my former residence of Cerritos.

So, my new friend, and her friend the Burbank dentist, dropped me right to my door.  I was quite grateful for all their kindness, and promised them each a copy of my new book.

The next day, I took a walk to the local pharmacy to get some aspirin for my shoulder, which by then, had been feeling better.  But I still felt an occasional, if slight, pain.

As I walked from my apartment door to the CVS, I stopped a few I usually do during any notice this or that.  And by the time I arrived at the pharmacy...a white car drove right in front me.

I wondered, "Could it be?"

It was the same white car belonging to the Burbank dentist, and in a second, my friend, the India woman, who I affectionately now refer to as "The Rainbow Woman," stepped from the vehicle and into the pharmacy.

"Hey!" I smiled to them both.  "But do you believe this?"

We all smiled, and chatted a little bit.  I left telling my potential new dentist that I will see her soon.

My Rainbow Woman said she would call me.

How could it be, indeed, that I would see these two wonderful new friends at the pharmacy I walked into only the day after they dropped me off train station?

What timing brought us together - and why?

For the learning of where rainbows come from?  For the healing of my arm?  For the companionship home on the train?  For me to have found a much-needed new dentist?  For the reminder that Heaven always rides and walks with us wherever we go?

Most likely, all of the "Above."

For it was then I remembered another story The Rainbow Woman had told me while we were still on the train from San Diego.  But it wasn't a story from when she was just a child.  It was her recounting of a conversation she had with Heaven before she boarded the train.

"Lord," she said she had prayed, "please seat me next do someone I could bear witness to."

I then shared with her that I had prayed the same prayer.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

"I'm from Paris"

"I'm from Paris."

That's what I tell people, now...because it sounds cool, but mostly because it's pretty funny.

Bottom line:

Take your work seriously.

Take your life seriously.

But never take yourself seriously.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My 4:30 AM "Calling" at the Biltmore Hotel

It all started at 4:30 AM, about thirty years ago, at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

My contracted 18 months as a Page for NBC had ended, and I began working weekends and periodic weekdays at the Biltmore as a Gold Room Butler for the then-exclusive 9th Floor Executive Suites.   It was the type of work I performed as a Bellman for the Marriott Hotel back in Rochester, New York, years before I moved to L.A. and went to work for NBC.

While at the Biltmore, I was also cast as one of the waiters at Duke's Restaurant on ABC's General Hospital, and served as an extra or "atmosphere player" on other daytime soaps like CBS's The Bold and the Beautiful.

Working as a "real" butler on the weekends at the Biltmore while working as a fake waiter at Duke's on General Hospital was awesome, confusing and comical, all at the same time.  Things really became complicated when I started a third job, this one, working as the front desk reception for Brentwood Publishing Company in Santa Monica.

"Good morning, and thank you for calling Brentwood Publishing.  How may I help you?"

That's how I answered the phone at the Brentwood company (which published various business periodicals).

"Good morning, Gold Room Butler service.  I have the extra towels your requested."

That's what I sometimes said whenever I responded to any number of those hotel guests who stayed on the 9th Floor at the Biltmore.  Or, "Good morning, Gold Room Butler service.  I have your iron," etc.

But one very strange week, I knocked on one of the 9th Floor guest doors at the Biltmore, and said, "Good morning, and thank you for calling Brentwood Publishing.  How can I help you?"

And then - I'd the answer the phones at Brentwood Publishing with, "Good morning.  Gold Room Butler service.  I have your towels."

THAT'S how crazy things were getting.  So, clearly - one job had to go...and I actually opted to leave both Brentwood Publishing and the Biltmore, and remained as one of the fake waiters at Duke's on General Hospital.

But it was the training that I had received at both the Biltmore and Brentwood Publishing (which was actually located in Santa Monica, where I lived at the time) that made an impression on me in more ways than one.

It was at Brentwood Publishing that I first considered life as a writer, and it was getting up at 4:30 AM to be there by 6:30 AM that indeed prepared me for the writer's life.

Because the downtown L.A. Biltmore was a good 25 miles from my apartment in Santa Monica, I had to rise and shine at 4:30 AM to arrive to work for my 6:30 AM butler call.  (On General Hospital, the fake Duke's didn't open until 3:00 PM!)

As a result, to this day, I rise and shine at 4:30 AM every morning, and write my best work.

Bewitched creator Sol Saks once told me that he could never write more than two hours a day; and he suggested that I'd do the same, as not to exhaust the creative flow.

Sometimes I write for three, maybe three-and-half-hours.  But that's it.  My peak time in the morning is short; but my mind is clear and the words flow (as they are this moment while writing this post).

Who would have thought my "time" working at the Biltmore would have prepped me for my writing career?  But it did.  In fact, pretty much everything I do in life preps me for my writing career...which is one of the many wonderful things about being a writer. 

Of course, there's a great many challenging things about being a writer; but the good outweighs the bad (as it always should - in any aspect or facet of life!).

That said (or written!), there was another interesting thing that transpired when I worked at the Biltmore. 

In order for me to reach the hotel by my 6:30 AM starting time, I had to arrive in downtown LA by at least 5:45, because I had a two-mile hike from the parking lot (which offered the cheapest rates) to the Biltmore.

During that two-mile trek you would have thought I was in a science fiction movie, or at least in an episode of The Twilight Zone or The Six Million Dollar Man, the one titled, "Where Have All the People Gone?"

On a Saturday and Sunday morning, at 5:45 AM in L.A., there wasn't a soul in the street.  I was walking all alone, feeling like some alien race had annihilated Earth's entire population.  

Of course that was all a foreshadow (e.g. writer's phrase) of things to come (i.e. classic sci-fi film title reference).

Clearly, writing at 4:30 AM is in my blood, as it was injected there - some thirty years ago (and maybe even a little before).

Thank you, Brentwood Publishing and the Biltmore Hotel for your "callings" - and mine.

Monday, November 18, 2013

This Is How You Do It: Your Path To True Success

If you're a success, but you're not sharing that success in some way, then you're doing it wrong.

If you're healthy, and not fully appreciating every moment of you're life, you're doing it wrong.

If you're particularly good-looking, and making fun of those who may not be so blessed, you're doing it wrong.

If you're rich, and haven't bought a lunch or dinner for a friend or family member, or even went so far as to pay their rent or mortgage during a challenging period in their lives, then you're doing it wrong.

If you've been given the gift to gab, but all you do is talk and think about yourself and your own needs 24-hours-a-day, then you're doing it wrong.

If you do a favor for someone only to receive something in return, then you're doing it wrong.

So, this is how you do it:

You wake up every morning, and thank the Good Lord for your beautiful life, even when you don't think it's so beautiful.  Because even when you don't think it's so beautiful, it is.  You're just probably too caught up inside yourself not to see it.

Then, as you prepare for your day, you ask yourself these questions:  "How can I bring joy into the life of someone else today?"  "Who needs my help?"   "Which of my friends or family members needs groceries?  A loan?  Or just a flat-out dollar amount that they never, ever need to pay me back for?"  "How can I contribute to someone's life today that will change their lives forever in the most positive way?"

Those are the kinds of questions you ask yourself upon beginning your day.

Because when you begin your day like that, and seek first to take care of others, Heaven will always take care of you.

That is Love's great promise.

And Love always keeps its promise.

Also, too, it's good to remember this bit of wisdom from Emerson, who said:

"No man is an island; no man goes his way alone; whatever we send into the lives of others; comes right back into our own."

So, send out only good things, my peeps...because all that good will come back to you...tenfold.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

You Are the Star of Your Own Life Because You Write the Script

I grew up in Rochester, New York, and all I ever wanted to do was go to California and become a "star."

Although not raised in financial security, I was surrounded by a beautiful, loving-kind family, immediate and hugely extended.

My Mother and Father, God bless them in Heaven, each had ten brothers and sisters.  As a result, our house was considered "the" house, and every night was a party; not just for the family, but for everyone in the neighborhood - even after they moved out of the neighborhood.

Years after, in the mid-80s, I myself moved out of the neighborhood and onto Los Angeles.  And although "stardom," in the traditional sense, had alluded me, I found a measure of success.

However, I decided to return to Rochester to care for my parents in their elderly years.

But everyone else was gone.

No more aunts, no more uncles; no cousins, no more family gatherings; no more nightly parties.

I continued to make the best of it, attained additional layers of success, but still not the stardom I so desperately desired. 

However, I had a few revelations:

I would have given anything to have my massive family back...certainly, my Mom and Dad who, when they died, left me nothing of what this world calls secure.

Of course, I did not care for them to gain anything. I cared for them because I loved them (and still do!).  And feeling their love in return was enough for me...especially as I grew to appreciate the family that by that time had been long gone.

Today, I am once more back in L.A., and my dreams are in tact; my heart has softened when it most likely should have hardened.  My ambitions are more tempered; and I wait to create a family of my own...even at 53 (my Dad was 50 when I was born!).  The new knowledge and insight that I've gained through loss...and love...conquers daily the big purchases and the big parties.

In the process, too, I have finally reached my stardom...but not in the way that anyone who doesn't really know me might think:

I've realized that I've always been a star...maybe not of a TV show...or of the big-screen...but I've always been the star of my own life....just as each of us have always been the stars of our own lives.

So, Shakespeare was at least partially correct: life IS a stage - but we are more than just players.

We are the stars!

And yet with this sincere kind of stardom, none of the material things in life compare to the quality of loving-kind human relations.

The great friendships we attain, retain and/or reconnect with over the years, if only for a periodic coffee or lunch with good conversation, come to mean so much more than any career accomplishments.

All of it combines to deliver wisdom and understanding that we are here in this world...not so much to reach our goals...but to reach out to each other in the process of seeking our reach out to each other with nothing less than gracious greatness and, most of all, humility.

If in the process we should write our scripts, or actually become TV or movie stars, well of course that's a wonderful thing - as long as we at the very least keep it all in perspective.

Certainly, it is good to write the scripts of life.  But in order to truly perfect those scripts, and/or to reach any true access to stardom, we must first take the quality time to actually live the scripts of life.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Your Creative Ideas Are Whispers From Heaven

You came into this world for a reason.

You set up a plan to accomplish certain objectives; and you then chose and were as a result granted certain talents.

When you "think" of an idea; you are "remembering" what you came here to do.

Essentially, your creative ideas are whispers from Heaven.

If that idea if filled with greatness and grace, and somehow makes a contribution to your life, your business, your career; your family; your community; the are obligated (by the demands you placed on yourself) to fulfill that idea.

In effect, you are directed to make your dreams come true.

If you ignore those ethereal whispers, and do not fulfill your "destiny," as it's been called, than you not only deny yourself, but those who would benefit from it - and you break your agreement with Heaven.

For example, I awakened this morning with the idea to write this post.

I was compelled to write it.

For you.  For me.  And for Heaven.

If I do nothing else today, I accomplished this one special task...that was whispered to me from Heaven.

So, today - I'm shining my Light....BRIGHT!

For all the world to see.

So, now you shine YOUR Light - even BRIGHTER!

Go live the A-Life that you came here to!

Become everything you set out to become - and don't allow the slight of insecurities; petty jealousies from others; bullying - or any of that nonsense stop you.

That never stopped me - and I've heard it all.

Trust me.

So you just go do what you have to do - and do it with Love.

From there, it will be impossible for you not to succeed.

That's Heaven's promise.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Peace, Please

In my estimation, there are no chemical weapons used in Syria; just like there were no weapons of mass destruction used in Iraq.  It's all a bunch of malarkey created to justify America's unjust intervention in places we do not belong simply to further what is perceived as an economic boost.  

Translation:  war=profit at the senseless cost of innocent lives.  For some reason, America always has to create some one figure or some one nation to hate.  And we're doing it again.  Sadly.

Ultimately, our political leaders do not care about the world.  They are only using the world's issues to again, justify a war which they envision will create cash.  There is no sincere interest to help.  Instead, it is selfish-geared.

And if Syria is indeed utilizing some form of chemical weapons, it is none of our business.  It isn't our problem...just like it wasn't our problem in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan.  We are not the police of the world.  

Today, we have those who are ill and dying in OUR country who need support.    We cannot help others unless we take care of ourselves (just like during any potential crisis on an airplane; we must place the oxygen mask over ourselves first, then our fellow passenger).

Into this mix, millions of Americans and world citizens are wising up to the endless line of baloney about the "necessities of war" that have littered for centuries thousands of history books, newspaper and magazine articles; online reports, press conferences, etc .  We're not buying it anymore.  We're tired of the senseless loss of life; the misery; the emotional and psychological destitution of war.  The price is too high, and we're no longer willing or stupid enough to sit idly by and pay it.   

That all said, the bottom line is this:

True leadership is ignited, displayed and conducted with dignity, intelligence of the mind and the heart, in a calm, level-headed, objective, peaceful manner.

So, please pray for peace and discernment instead of going and starting a war that will ultimately destroy this planet.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Suffering as a Path to Enligtenment is the Big Trick of this World

During my daily walk this morning I picked up a copy of L.A. Weekly, one of the county's many popular "alternative" newspapers.

The cover referenced an article, titled, "Pain is Beauty," which is a profile of vocalist Chelsea Wolfe, who's lead a challenged life, that has ultimately influenced her music.  "Life is always bringing sh_t our way," she relays in the article.  "When we deal with it, we come out wiser and stronger and have a more beautiful outlook.  Pain becomes beauty."

I suppose that's one way to look at it and, certainly, we have to look at things at however they work for us.  But seeing that article made me think about how much "pain" we are willing to put ourselves through in this world, in general, sometimes for something as superficial and surficial as selective plastic surgery (as opposed to more pertinent surgery to restore one's appearance resulting from birth defects or accidents, etc.); other times for something more compelling as spiritual development.

For centuries we have been led to believe by the ways and teachings of Buddha and Jesus, that suffering is the ultimate way to life.

I disagree with this belief and propose another way:

Love is the best way to life true fulfillment and enlightenment.

But that is a difficult concept for many to grasp in this world, especially those who seem so h.e.-double-hockey-sticks bent on feeling the need to embrace suffering to find or experience any kind of true Love, be it spiritual, romantic, sexual, familial; or finding it through the brother and sister hood of humanity.

The truth of the matter is this:

The real Love of Heaven knows no suffering, and we have been tricked into believing that we must suffer to discover and experience Love on Earth.

Indeed, over time, many millions have been born into this world with birth defects, disease, and so forth.  And many more millions have been blessed with beauty, pure health and wealth.

Such are the results of karma, which is party to the decisions we all make with and in Heaven, or at least a lower form of Heaven, before we come into this world.

But if it is true that Jesus suffered and died for our “sins” and, as a New Age Catholic Christian, I believe that to be real, then, that suffering is over and we have already been “saved.”  In fact, we have been “saved” ever since, and even through the time we previously spent in Heaven before we were born into this world.

That all said, if you have been blessed with purity of body, mind, spirit, health and riches, you are not one of the “lucky” ones, but rather, one of the “lovely” ones – for there is no such thing as “luck” and there is only Love and the absence of Love; and into the conversation of the Absence of Love unrests suffering.

However, do not allow any one individual, group of individuals or religious or spiritual organization lead you to believe that suffering is the path to enlightenment.

It may be “a” path – but it would serve you more productively to take the “higher path” – through Love; to understand that Love conquers all suffering; and that through Love, suffering does not even exist.

So, call and take Love upon yourself, and toss away the false belief that suffering is a path to enlightenment.

Confirm suffering instead as the big trick of this broken world; and instead fully embrace Love; and never be tricked again.

In your troubled times, and certainly these times are troubling for us all, in one way or the other, try not to give more power to your pain; try not even to acknowledge your pain or your struggles, as numerous as they may be.  Certainly, one core law of the Universe states, whatever we concentrate on, expands.  If you focus on the bad, things get worse; but if you focus on the good, things get better.

So focus on the good; don’t allow this broken world to which we have all fallen from Heaven trick you into thinking that suffering is your only choice for enlightenment.

To that I say, "baloney" and "phooey"; ‘tis all a jest of the lower god of this world; and has nothing to do with the True God of Love in Heaven; nothing; nothing at all to do with Heaven.

However, this does not mean that we are not to have compassion and understanding for suffering or for those who are suffering.  But what I am saying is this:

In your darkest hour, pray one prayer and one prayer only:

“Dear Light of Heaven, shine your Love upon me.  Amen.”

From there, your suffering will subside and, one by one, over time, we will, singularly and collectively, bring Heaven on Earth, minus any false belief in and credence given to pain of any kind, shape, size, form or lowly sort.

For you are not a lowly sort – you are a Child of the Light of Heaven.

Start acting like it, and don’t allow the false god of this world to make you believe otherwise.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Leave Your Competitive Spirit Behind

You are "up against" no one.

What you do has absolutely no "relationship" to what others do.

At least as how we have come to define "relationship" in the past.

Your journey is your journey. Their journey is their journey.

The prosperity of the Universe is vast, and there is an overflowing amount of Success and Love and Joy for everyone.

The "pie" is huge, and there are countless pieces of it for each of us.

And yet there is no division between any of us.

Live your life and work your work with this formula:


We may have lived competitive lives in the past - and competition may have been part of the game of life. And that once worked. But now there is a new consciousness on the rise in the world.

Today, you are on a NEW journey. A journey of sharing...a journey of making the world a better place for everyone. You are now helping to make individuals and the Earth's combined soul stronger and healthier in every way.

You are now a major CONTRIBUTOR to the world. Not a competitor.

Those who you view as your competitors - are actually your co-contributitors. And you must be happy for them. You must even be happy for those who may be MORE successful than you. Your joyful feelings for others will increase YOUR good feelings for YOURSELF...and YOUR prosperity will increase.

Anyone is able to offer sympathy for those less fortunate. But true kindness is expressed when you can be happy for the person ABOVE you - when you are at the top. And you are indeed at the top of YOUR game. Because you only have YOUR game. Everyone else has THEIR game.

Let them win theirs and you win yours.

There is no competition.

In the realm of TRUE Joy, Success and Love - competition does not exist.

Embrace who you are...embrace what you do...share your heart and your for and - about - others...with a JOYFUL spirit - and send Light and Blessings to everyone along the way, each step of the way.

What's more - do not merely help people to succeed - but BE THE REASON they succeed.

In turn, your own success will be multiplied, tenfold - and you will "win" every time.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Reject the Rejections!

I don't know about you, but my brain only functions on positive thought.

Or at least, it only functions WELL on positive thought; positive thought and words motivate me.

Negative thinking...just writing that disfunctional to me; it deflates me;  there isn't enough room in my brain for negative thought.

Yes, it's a fact that we live in a broken world.

And that in and of itself may sound like negative thinking; but it's ultimately it's a truth of this world.

So what do we do?

Well, all I can tell is you what I do...and/or at least strive to do:

Ultimately, I live by a joyful rule...a hard and fast rule...but a joyful rule:

Whatever we concenrate on, expands.

Focus on the good, things get better.

Focus on the bad, things get worse.

Upon first consideration, it seems a difficult task to think positive, and be positive, mostly because we're not yet in Heaven and we are yet unable to grasp the Heavenly things of perfection.

But thinking only good thoughts all the time, even in the midst of fact...especially in the face of just like laughing at a bully:

Laughter renders bullies powerless.

As such, positive thoughts do the same with negative thinking and circumstances.

So concenrate only on the good.

Think only good.

Speak only good.

Project only good..and discard the negative...laugh in the face of a bully...reject them and reject all negative thought...reject the rejections!

We'll never be able to fix this broken world.

But we can certainly mend at least a few of its cracks with positive, joyful "glue-full," glee-full thinking.

And then - watch, as if by magic, how the heart-"breaks" become less and less...while the heart-"warmths" increase and increase again!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Love Will Not Forget You

One of my most favorite things is attending Mass.

I'm a Catholic, born and raised.

I left the Faith for a little while, but ultimately returned.

I still very much disagree with the Church on a few things.  But that's okay, because I disagree on a lot of things with a lot of organizations (and with a lot of people for that matter).

That said, one of my other most favorite things is praying.

I love to pray, for it contributes to a great deal of joy for me.

But to me, praying does not mean begging for something from God (who is Love).

Instead, praying means talking with Love (who is God).

So, when I attend church, I pray...and not just for myself...but especially for others.

My pray-joy doubles when I pray for others...especially without them knowing about it (although I guess a few of them know about it now).

And I always feel that Love (who is God) will not forget my prayers if I pray for others.

And that doesn't mean that I pray for others so Love will remember my own prayers.

I simply pray for others because it contributes to my happiness.

And in the process of praying for others...and feeling becomes easier for Love to see me.

Because Love doesn't see us when we are unjoyful.

Love only recognizes Love.

Love remembers us when we our Loving.

It's that simple.

When we Love, Love does not forget us.

Because Love becomes us - and we become Love.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Kindness Trumps Talent

            Years ago, I directed a musical for the Rochester Association of Performing Artists (a.k.a. RAPA), and spent weeks auditioning many actors, singers and dancers of all ages.

            A diverse amount of extremely talented performers gave it their all during the auditions, but of course I could only narrow it down to a chosen few who would win the various lead and supporting roles.

            But it soon became clear who would round out the cast.

            I was impressed with the excessive talent of some, but more impressed with the extreme kindness of others. Some of those with the most talent, unfortunately, did not have the best personalities - nor the kindest of demeanors. And some of those with less talent - and in some cases, no talent at all, appeared to be less egotistical and potentially the easiest with whom to work.

            So, I was faced with a dilemma:

1.      Hire the most talented who were also the most egotistical and difficult personalities?


2.      Cast the least talented who were the gentlest of souls?

            Ultimately, it ended up being a good mix. I cast those who were talented AND kind, and I also cast some who were not talented, but yet kind. Either way, I did not cast any of egotistical and somewhat mean-spirited - but extremely talented performers. They would have to at some point try again later for another production of mine, or somewhere else in town.

            Years after that, when I started teaching acting at Rochester, New York's Historic German House, I came across a similar experience. There were many fine actors who enrolled for my classes, and in doing so, they had to audition. I was a tough teacher, and expected a great deal from each of them. However, many who attended those classes went on to great things, in and out of the entertainment field.

            In any case, there was this one particular student who stood out - but not for the reasons that one might expect.

            He was an awkward sort.  He was very tall and very thin, and not very coordinated or particularly talented. But this actor had heart - and passion - and determination. And he was one of the kindest souls I had ever met. I knew that when he auditioned for my class, and I experienced that throughout the entire semester.

            And once the course began, and each time he stepped in front of the class to work on a scene, either by himself or with another student, his talent did not shine, but his kind heart and determination to do his best lit up the room. What's more, I was so proud of my other students whenever he did one of his scenes.

            Not one of them snickered or laughed at his performance. They supported him 100% - which not only was one of the rules in my class, but it was something that each of them CHOSE to do on their own.

            I could never bring myself to tell this particular student that he might not have "what it takes" to make a success of acting, because acting was just too important to him. He loved it so much. He loved to perform. "I don't want to do anything else," he would tell me again and again.

            So I kept him in my class - not because I wanted his money - but because I enjoyed his good heart. He was an inspiration to my students - and he was an inspiration to me.  And I never charged him a dime. His passion and determination for acting - and his kind heart and gentle spirit - trumped his lack of theatrical talent.

            And he taught me more about life - than I could have ever taught him about acting.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Zack Carpenter: A Loving "A+" Life!

I didn’t know my young cousin Zack Carpenter all that well.  I met him only a few times.  But I remember him, because he’s memorable.  And while his presence is ingrained in my psyche, a friend just reminded me that the name "Zachary," means "God has remembered."

So, it all fits. 

Zack was a quiet type; always smiling.  He never had a cross-word to say about anyone.  He never bullied anyone.  He was someone with a purpose greater than the average individual, because he wasn’t an average individual.  He didn’t have time to fret about the small stuff or the little things that so many of us worry about.  He didn’t have time to trifle in the pettiness of name-calling, or the judgment in any way of his fellow human beings.  He was too “good” for those things; his was a higher calling; his was a different path…a path that would lead to enlightenment and productivity – for so many.  In all, he struck me as the kind of human being that let people be and became a part of their lives if only to contribute to their lives; the kind of human being…who was a kind human being.
When I heard that he was tragically killed I immediately thought of his Mom, his brother Billy, his Uncle Jim, and so many others in our family who knew and loved him so very much.

Mary, of course, is devastated at the loss of her son, as is his father William.  This isn’t how it’s supposed to be; your children aren’t supposed to leave this world before you.  And Jim, who shared a special bond with Zack, is equally heartbroken over losing his nephew.  When I spoke with Robin, Mary’s sister-in-law, she said, “We lost our Zack.”

He was “our Zack,” indeed, even to those who did not know him well or at all. 

People like Zack touch countless lives, sometimes, without even knowing it.  But Zach knew it.  As I look back now, I can tell.  When someone has that kind of angelic face, and is that quiet, not boastful, and not littered with overt pride, you know they’re doing God’s work.  They don’t have time to talk about how the world needs to change; they’re too busy changing it.
They say the good die young.  Well, that’s clearly been confirmed by Zack’s early exit.  He was only 30-years-old.  Some of us live way past that; long, empty lives without affecting others in positive ways; by never attaining even the C+ grade in worthy existence.  But those like Zack start living their A+ lives from the second they’re born.

That said, the amount of Love that Zack leaves behind - and there’s a ton of it (as further evidenced by the Sports Illustrated article below) - is made up of the graceful pieces of his heart that he placed in everyone who was blessed by his presence. 

Assuredly, this is the additional confirmation that he now lives forever – in Heaven – with all of the other angels.

Friday, May 31, 2013

How To Feel and BE "Stronger, Faster, Better" - and Healthier!

As the author of The Bionic Book (BearManor Media, 2007), I profiled Steve Austin - The Six Million Dollar Man, and Jaime Sommers - The Bionic Woman, as portrayed by the iconic Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner in the classic TV shows of 1970s (both of which are now airing on the new COZI-TV network).

The opening credits for The Six Million Dollar Man included narration provided by Richard Oscar Goldman Anderson, who spoke the memorable line, “We can make him stronger, faster, better,” in addressing the cybnertic reconstruction and transformation of Steve Austin into a power-house half-man/half-machine.
Modern science has been inspired by these wonderful shows, thus proving that the potential for classic television positive influence is real.  The advances in real cybernetic and artificial limb reconstruction have been phenomenal, if not yet achieving the super-strength of Steve and Jaime.

In the meantime, however, we can do our own part at the very least to maintain our bodies, to make them stronger, faster, better, by ingesting the healthiest foods and drinks.
The truth of the matter is this:  our bodies reconstruct themselves every year. 

According to recent research, our DNA renews itself every two months; our skin reshapes itself in just one month; our liver reconstructs itself every six weeks; our stomach lining reforms itself every five days; our brain rebuilds itself in one year; our blood reforms itself in one month; and our body recreates an entirely new skeleton in three months.
So just imagine the opportunity we are granted by ingesting all the right fuel for our bodies?  In no time at all, we can become the healthiest super-humans we can possibly be – if we eat the right foods, drink the right drinks, and stick to a consistent exercise regimen.

And we can start the process with these few easy steps, and the proper understanding of digestion, elimination, cellular reconstruction and again, exercise.  To begin your day and pave the way for proper digestion within each 24-hour period, here’s one positive path to follow every morning:

1]         Awaken and immediately give thanks for every good and healthy part of your body and life, from your past and present (whatever you focus on, expands; concentrate on the good, things get better; concentrate on the negative, things get worse).
2]         Talk to your body, and speak only words of health and kindness over it.  Many books have been written about the positive influence that positive words have over bodies (including The Power of Prayer On Plants by Franklin Loehr -; and The Hidden Messages in Water by Dr. Masaru Emoto;

3]         Before enjoying any solid food or drink of any kind, first have a nice warm cup of water, which will help to clear your digestive tract before breakfast.
4]         Then have a small glass of organic carrot juice, which automatically rebuilds and prepares your blood on a cellular level.

5]         Then commence your regular exercise program (preferably aerobic exercises followed by strength-training).
6]         From there, just merely go on with your day, eating and drinking all the right foods, and not including…and I repeat…NOT…including any red meats (and preferably no meat at all); no dairy, no soda, no alcohol; no drugs; and certainly no cigarettes.

7]         But you can say YES to:  purified or distilled water (if the latter, then add just a pinch of sea salt; but not regular table salt); any amount of fresh fruits or vegetables; and lots of nuts, seeds and other legumes (lentils are the best), any way you want to slice them (raw, steamed, or in soups; but no dried or fried); and ease up on the bread and pasta.
Trust me, as an Italian-American, I know that last suggestion is a tough choice!

But if you find the stamina to follow this program, I promise that you, your immune system (which fights ALL disease and disorder), and your entire body will become, if not actually bionic, most certainly, super-powered.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Key-Chain Effect: Never Turn Down An Invitation

I've needed a new key-chain for quite some time.

It's not something you really think about purchasing when you're out and about...especially in the hectic pace of living in Los Angeles.

Nonetheless a key-chain is a near necessity that serves a purpose.

Key-chains keep things together...they help you organize the various aspects of your life:

Your house key...your car keys...your mailbox key...your safety-deposit box key, etc.

In all, you need a key-chain to "connect the dots," so to speak.

And ever since I moved to Burbank a few months ago, I wanted to get one and "re-connect" those dots.

But again - I just haven't had the chance.

Except until the other day...when a generous friend invited me to lunch at one of the major studios where he has his office.

Before I left to meet him, I grabbed my keys, merely held together with a tiny, fragile silver ringlet, and thought to myself - as I had many times in the last few weeks, "Man - I gotta' get a key-chain."

I then went to meet my friend at the studio and, after treating me to a delicious meal in the executive dining room, he further invited me to the studio gift shop.

"Come on," he said, "I'll buy you a sovenir."

So, we walked into the gift shop, and the first thing my friend said was, "How 'bout a key chain?"

After being stunned for a second, I replied, "Perfect!"

Moral of the story:  I learned a long time ago to never turn down a kind invitation...whether to a party...a vacation...a lunch...or just to meet a friend.

For every invitation is a sign as to which next proverbial step you are to take - a link - in the key-chain of life.

Friday, April 12, 2013

North Korea: What Exactly Is The Problem?

According to various recent news reports, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed as "unacceptable by any standard" weeks of dire warnings of impending nuclear war by North Korea and said Washington would never accept the reclusive state becoming a nuclear power.

But the core issue at hand is not whether or not North Korea will be "accepted" as a nuclear-powered nation, but rather...what exactly is it that they want?  What is the issue?  What is it that is forcing its leader to be so aggressive and divisive?

What is the problem, and how can THAT issue be resolved – with diplomacy, the highest good for all those concerned – and without bloodshed or global annihilation?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Key To Your Success

"Do for others when there is nothing in it for you, personally or professionally,
and you will always have work and friends."
- Herbie J Pilato

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Making Choices Is Your Greatest Power

"While your character is formed by your circumstances,
your desires can shape those circumstances.
The one thing over which you have absolute control is your own thoughts.
It is this that puts you in a position to control your own destiny.

Nature is constantly at work around you.
Character and destiny are her handiwork.
She gives you love and hate, jealousy and reverence.
You have the power to choose which impulse you follow.

At any time you can decide to alter the course of your life.
No one can ever take that away from you.
You can do what you want to do and be who you want to be.
Your greatest power is the power to choose."
- Anonymous

Monday, February 18, 2013

How Just Seven Dollars Changed My Mother's Life

As long as I can remember, my Mom always prayed for everyone, especially children.

In fact, whenever she'd see a child, she would take out her rosary beads and say a prayer, right there, at that moment, wherever she was, asking the accompanying parent if it was okay for her to bless their child.

"Of course," they'd say.

Then, every Monday-Friday, she attended the Senior Center in Irondequoit, New York; and that cost her about $6.00 a day - a price that included lunch and service for the van (that picked her up and took her home).

Thirty bucks a week for a senior's regular activities?

Not bad.

At this simple-treasured Center, she also played cards, went on picnics, and played bingo

She especially loved the bingo.

A whole lot.

I never realized how much really.

Until, one day, when I started giving her "extra" quarters with which to play the game. Not a lot of quarters. Just seven dollars.

Not ten.

Not nine.

But seven.

Every other day, I’d walk into her apartment, and interrupt her daily viewing of Seinfeld or The Golden Girls, walk over to her, kiss her, and ask her to open up her hand.

At that moment, I’d pour out the seven dollars in quarters, twenty-eigh in all.

As I did this, her reaction was one of astonishment.

She’d look at me as if she won the lottery or the mega-jackpot in Vegas.

"Oh, Herbie J," she'd say with so much joy, "...what a great son you are! I have to pay you back! I have to pay you back!!"

"Ma," I’d reply, "You just go have fun at the Center."

And she did, all the more...with that mere extra seven dollars.

Not a million.

Not a thousand.

Not even ten.

But seven.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Blessing Babies

As some of you may know, my Mom died of dementia in May 2008.

One of her many endearments was that she used to bless everyone with her rosary, including me, especially after each visit to her home.  And she would do this before and after she was diagnosed with dementia.

I would walk outside to my car, I'd turn - and there'd she be, standing at her front window, with her rosary in hand, blessing me with the sign of the cross.

That said, the newspaper from my hometown of Rochester, New York publishes an annual baby announcement supplement with photos of all the infants born to the area in the previous year.

I remember walking into my Mom's apartment on the day the supplement was published, a few months before she went to Heaven. 

She was sitting on her sofa, with the supplement on her lap. Her left hand was holding steady the supplement; her right hand was holding her rosary, the crucifix from which she was using to tap the photo of each infant.

When I asked her what she was doing, she replied, "Blessing babies."

We should all have such dementia...or at least be graced enough to be "blessed" - at any age - by one who does.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Truth About Whole Grains

"Whoever suggested avoiding grains for weight loss? I suggest avoiding grains to stop LIFE loss! Modern grains and the rubbish made with them along with the insidious inclusion of gluten in virtually all processed "foods" is rapidly killing us. Ever since the eat less fat eat more whole grains lie was foisted on us the world's health has declined. Be aware that gluten free substitutes are often no better and full of weird things to try to emulate what they are replacing. Just do without it and let your palate reeducate itself to propper food. Food that our great great grandmothers would recognize."
- Alan R. Low.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Crew-Necks Don't Do It For Me

I'm a pretty free-spirited guy.

I don't like any confinements.

And that includes the way I wear my hair and the clothes I wear.

I'm a medium, but I like to buy and live large.

And I ain't that crazy about crewcuts for my head or crewnecks for my neck.  But I totally gel in my hair and v-neck sweaters, casual shirts or just plain tee-shirts.

V-necks, to me, represent my carefree spirit...and they help loosen, if figuratively, the ties that bind.  And I definitely don't mean the ties that go along with button-down dress-linnen shirts.

I'm referring to the metaphorical ties that bind...

Anything that is binding, whether it's a crewneck tee-shirt or a suffocating relationship - none of it is healthy.

For the mind, the body or the soul.

So, let go of those ties that bind, even the kind that do in fact come with those button-down dress-linnen shirts.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Love IS All Around"

Remember the theme song for The Mary Tyler Moore Show?
Well, “Love IS all around,” when you least expect it, or think it isn’t, even in the midst of the most challenging of situations - in what may sometimes be viewed as a broken world.

But fear not – because Love can fix things - a lot of things.
Years ago, when I was in high-school, like many of us, I dealt with the daily struggles of being a teen; the various peer-pressures, making the grades, etc.

I was a popular kid, but bullied by the less popular.  I was cute and talented; I could sing and dance and act, while my most of my classmates played sports.  I was always athletic but, for whatever reasons, lacked confidence in that field.  I had the ability to play soccer; I was an excellent swimmer, I enjoyed tennis, and at one point, I could have easily trained as a boxer (my high-school was one of the few that presented boxing as a competitive sport).  But I never pursued any of it.
So, from the get-go, my adolescence was a tough road.

Fortunately, on the home front, there was also a lot of Love to help buffer it all.  I’d leave school and  be greeted at home by my beautiful Mom and Dad, or my Aunt Mary who lived with us; my Aunt Elva and Uncle, who lived next door – or at the homes of the many members of my extended family.  In each case, Love was waiting for me at all times, in a circumference of a 2-mile radius of my house.
Today, it’s a different path.  The elder members of my family are gone, and my cousins are spread around the country.  So, Love is not that easily observable, except for from a few close friends. 

I had dedicated my prime years to caring for my parents, and establishing my career.  It took me a little longer than most to attain financial security, mostly due to my creative pursuits.  I've met and dated many wonderful women over the years, and it's just never been the right time. But I’m now ready to take my life to the next level; to find romantic love, and start a family…even at this stage in the game (I‘m 52; my Dad was 50 when I was born). 
I knew that in caring for my parents, Love, in any of its forms, from Heaven or on Earth, would not abandon me.  And it hasn’t.
A very good friend recently helped me to understand it all:

When I was young, as when we are all young, we are given a model of Love.  It takes the form of our parents or close relatives, or any of those who are closest to us in our formative years.
And when we become the adults…we become the models of Love that others look up to and emulate.  We are not only embraced by Love, but we become fullly aware that we have always been Love itself.

“Love IS" not only "all around,” but it's inside us - and it always has been – and it always will be.
Each time we feel it, share it and give it away.