Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009; A year to Reflect

Dear Reader

One of my favorite movies is "Its a Wonderful Life" with Jimmy Stewart. I assume my readers are familiar with the film, the tale of a man who thinks the world would be better off without him, not realizing how much good he has done for others. As we enter 2010, I like to reflect on 2009; did I make a positive mark on someones life, did I make the world, even on a limited level a better place? Is the world better off without me?

I like to think in some small way, I made a worthwhile mark on the world. I like to think my presence made a difference in someones life. I also like to think there were angels in my life that helped me, that were there when I needed them. I believe in karma, one does good for others, good will come to them, do bad and bad things will happen.

This was a challenging year, just like George Bailey, when his world was falling apart, he doubted himself, he tried to commit suicide, but an angel saved him. An angel proved to George Bailey that he did make a difference in his world, and his presence aided others, in a sense we are all capable of being angels.

So as 2009 transcends into 2010, lets reflect on the good that we have done, and the desire we have to be better individuals. Lets not put ourselves down for our flaws, our sins, our pains, but lets focus on the positive. Two-thousand and ten is going to be a great year, lets place an emphasis on the positive.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A challenging Year

Dear Reader

The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect the past and the future. The time to envision ones position in the world and how that can perpetuate one to the next level. One should not gravitate to ones failures in the course of the year, but the positive accolades, even if such accolades were personal in nature. Small positive steps are an honor; small steps lead to larger steps in the future.

One cannot argue 2009 was a challenging year; challenges are what give people the opportunity to explore new horizons. For instance on a personal level, I witness a downturn in my business, I increased my advertising budget the previous year (for 2009) when I had extra resources, the benefit was in 2009 I was able to get into new markets and obtain new Clients to offset my declining revenues in my Los Angeles market. More importantly I established a networking base with vendors in my same field and developed relationships with such people that ultimately turned into friendships. Like most businesses, I took financial hit on my bank account, but I also learned to live without certain luxuries that I took as necessities.

I also established a criterion for what was most important to me, and my sanity. I developed a personal business plan, detailing my goals and aspirations. Forth most was my relationship with God, I believe in faith, faith is the catalyst that propels me to wake up and look forward to life. Without my relationship with God, I would just be another wondering soul, walking aimlessly, with no plan and no direction. God is my rock, my foundation. Next I wanted to look at my other talents like writing, photography and filmmaking. I was able in a small way to explore such talents; I started writing several blogs, an article for a magazine, had some of my photographs published on some web sites and pre-production on a documentary film.

In times like these it is so easy to give up, and walk away. Don’t give up, look for new opportunities, new relationships and let God into your heart and you don’t need a phone to talk to God.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A trip to Remember

Dear Readers

I had a chance to go to Tijuana, Mexico last weekend (October 1oth and 11th) for the Amor Project. The Amor Ministries helps to build homes for the poor in Mexico, started about sixteen years ago, Amor has built over 16,000 homes. Religious and non religious groups on various weekends throughout the year, help build homes in Mexico, using only hand tools and raw human power. The groups are made up from high school students all the way to senior citizens. Our group came from the "First Presbyterian Church of Newhall", consisted of three very hard working women and twelve men ranging in age from thirty-one to late seventies.
We arrived at the Amor Camp about forty-five minutes south-east of Tijuana around eight at night. Our escort TJ meet us at a Carl's Jr. and we caravan into Mexico and ultimately to our secured camp. Accommodations were basic, portable restrooms, an area to take a shower, a large lot that could hold a thousand campers, plenty of wood for a camp fire and a guard who kept the camp safe at night and during the

The next morning TJ arrived and escorted us through the tattered, mostly dirt roads to the home that are team would work on Saturday and Sunday. Observing the lack of signage, ruts in the road, a family making their way through the narrow enclaves on their way to town, relying on American buses made in the fifties. The deploring conditions were more reminiscent of a camp in a war scorn area as oppose to a neighborhood made of civilians in their home country. This is what made the presence of Amor so important, this project allowed families to have a safe roof over their heads and instill a sense of normalcy and pride.

Building a home is a lot of hard work, Victor the owner of the house was and is a very skilled builder, his guidance was invaluable. Amor provided a basic blue print as to how the home is to be configured. The objective this weekend was to build a foundation, framing and a roof on the back section of this home. This would provide a dining room and an additional bedroom to Victors home. Victor has a beautiful Wife and two very beautiful kids, a two year old daughter with an enduring smile and a nine year old son who was always helping us. They had a cute kitten who adopted us and decided to live in one of our tool bags.

Our first line of business was to carry sand and rock up to the work site, four meters up a steep driveway. It was a task unto itself that meant a lot of sweating and I admit Florence a beautiful senior citizen far outpaced me in terms of endurance. By the end of the day, we completed the foundation and the framing.

That night we ate in front of a camp fire, the air was windy and cold, but I surmise there was a sense of pride amongst our team. We were sweaty and dirty, our solar shower was the only instrument that could clean us, I am a bit modest and maybe a bit to sheltered to endure an outside shower. I opted to take a sponge bath behind a building. My idea of camping is in a large Class A motor home, but this trip was not about self adulation, it was about helping a family have a better existence.

The next day, after a couple of problems, we installed the framing and roof, this was a tough task, it required a lot of "man" power to drag the framing from the street to the work site. At the end of the day our group was disappointed that we were not able to stucco the walls and cover the roof. Next weekend a new team would complete out task and Victor will have a completed home.

Going to a foreign country like Mexico is an eye opening experience, in the United States as bad as we American think we have, the US has a strong government and laws to protect its citizens. As poor as the people we saw in Mexico, there is a strong sense of family, a glue that mends like concrete to the essence of these families. There is something that "we" Americans can learn from the poorest of the poor, in Tijuana, the importance of family and no matter the economics realities of the day, the family unit is transfigured as the catalyst to happiness.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Family Matters

Dear Reader

Families are one of those aspects in life that we as humans or any other species do not choose. In a sense maybe if God gave us the ability to decide what people we would want to be our parents, our siblings and other family members, the Homo sapiens species as we know it, might be extinct. Who would choose an imperfect soul, predestined with ungodly diseases, void of manners, a bad sense of humor, a body as old as the hills. Surely not "I", wait I have these faults according to my daughter Taunji and she still loves me.

Faults is what makes us human, "we" are not perfect, because "we" are not God. We can strive for perfection, but perfection is unattainable even to the purest of pure. That is not to indicate that "we" should not strive to be the best we can be from a moral standpoint. And "we" as humans will make mistakes, this is when "we" forgive. In the case of family forgiveness is a more difficult matter, for some families. In the case of my family, forgiveness seems unattainable.

It all started in the 1950's when my mother fell in love with my dad. It sounds simple, in the fifties there was nothing simple about a bi-ricial marriage, no matter what part of the country one lived. My mother is Russian and Jewish and my father is African American or in those days a "negro". Ironically I was raised Catholic, but that is whole other blog. I have two older Sisters and we all got along well, until my Moms mother made a surprise visit, thus the expression was born, "guess whose coming to dinner", took on a new meaning to our household. I never saw my Grandmother again, I never got to know my Grandfather or meet my cousins from my Mothers side of the family. In my mind I forgave, my Grandparents, but I do not sense my Mom forgave them, thus starts the complexity of forgiveness.

Fast forward today, my family is feuding over the fact that forgiveness for some is so difficult to reason or fathom. For the most part, "my family" got along very well together. It was not until the family expanded, did problems, simple problems that turned into a snowball rolling down a steep mountain, life went astray.

Forgiveness is one of the most effortless expressions that we as humans can exert to one another. Jesus expressed in the bible we should forgive seventy seven times seven, I ask my Readers to take heed to that message, because in these difficult times, we need to forgive each other, then move on and embrace each other with love.

I pray everyday to God, that my family can be whole again. Today, tomorrow, call a love one and tell them you love them, tell them "you" are sorry about any misunderstandings, because you never know when the Lord is going to come a knocking, love is so contagious, love someone today.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Don't Give Up

Dear Reader

One could say today the economy is a challenge for most people; credit is almost impossible to obtain, lines of credit are disappearing. Life as we know it, is dramatically different than it was a year ago; maybe in a strange way, this is good. I relied on my credit cards to pay for the unexpected and the things I could not afford, I admit, I overspent when I had money, I wanted it all. Now, I am afraid to answer my phone, my phone used to be my friend, now my phone is my enemy, the sound of its ringing haunts me, like a leopard stalking its prey.

I did what the economist told "us" to do, borrow and spend, it is good for the economy, the economy is now in the tank. I spend my resources more wisely, if I can not afford something, I do not buy it, my large purchases are carefully planned, less is better. I am not out of the woods, I might have to make some serious decisions about my finances in the near future, I realize I am not alone. It is a struggle to pay my bills, the entertainment industry, my industry, like other industries are struggling in one of the worst recessions in fifty years. Instead of being pessimistic, I am optimistic about the future, I see opportunities, instead of obstacles. Instead of roadblocks I see detours to destinations unknown.

It is easy to give up, to walk away, but it takes tenacity and guts to travel forward on the boulevard of broken dreams, littered with the souls who lost hope. Those who walk with faith are able to float above the pessimism, the pain, they try to find the answers that confuse those who have no faith.

Opportunity is a strange commodity, you cannot touch it, you cannot feel it, it shows itself at unexpected moments in our life, one must have faith to take advantage of opportunity, because opportunity is not guaranteed to happen everyday.

Do not give up, even in these uncertain times, there is a road with a fork in it, which way should you transverse, right or left, you decide, just keep moving and don't lose the faith.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"Failure is not an Option"

Dear Reader

Yesterday, July 17th we celebrated our ten years of marriage. As my beautiful wife Lecia sleeps so very soundly next to me, I realize how much of a presence she is to me, my rock. In these turbulent times, marriages are put to the test, some because of their weak fibers snap at the slightest tug and fail. Other marriages are made of strong steel cable and can resist the heaviest of uncertainty that can prey upon a marriage in these uncertain times.

I work in the entertainment industry, I work with some of the most beautiful women in the modeling industry and the acting world, to be honest it is not easy to resist the "candy", but I do everyday, because I have a wonderful Wife waiting for me every night. There is always temptation that wants to sway us and make us wonder what is on the other side of the grass, we are as the say "human". What then is the defining words of being "human", doing what we please or doing what is morally right?

If one creates a strong foundation, a hurricane can resist whatever winds besiege its very structure. When times are good, in a slight breeze any marriage can stay sound, however once a couple is met with adversity, a bad economy, loss of income, sickness, the very fiber of that structure can destroy itself from within.

On a personal side, this has been a very challenging year for "us", my business is down, like so many other businesses in this down economy, credit is tight and one has to make the decisions what are the most important bills to be paid every month. In my office I have a slogan sitting on my desk that reads "Failure is not an Option", many times I pondered those words, not only for my business, but for my marriage. "Failure is not an option", what do those words really mean? At the time when I wrote that phrase back in 2006; I was studying for my commercial driver license and about to purchase a new motor home for my business. This was a motivating slogan to give me an incentive to keep on studying, to keep looking for the right RV. Today that phrase is a cornerstone that perpetuates me to not give up when it is so easy to just walk away from everything. Quitters give up, that is their nature, but individuals with a strong moral core do not give up when hit with adversity, adversity makes them stronger.

I am networking more than any other time in my life and I am always seeking new markets for my services. This is what it takes to survive in this economy, and in my mind, if the business ultimately fails, something that I realize I have no control of; God will steer me in a new and better direction, but I will do so, with my co-pilot sitting next to me, my Wife.

Friday, July 10, 2009

My first Love; My Daughter

Dear Reader

I remember the first time I saw my daughter, she had this angelic look on her face, she looked at me and laughed and I laughed back. Taunji or TJ as her friends would latter call her; made me the happiest man on earth. I feel in love with TJ at first sight, she gave me purpose in life, a reason to celebrate the innocence of the simplest aspects that she discovered as she ventured into the world.

I don’t think I was ready to be a father, I had just graduated from college and then several months latter I would meet TJ’s Mom who would latter become my first wife. Taunji was a pleasant surprise, I did not expect her, and the impact that she made on us was unparallel, like watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly. TJ has this impeccable smile, infectious to the point that she made me feel euphoric. I taught her things that were boring to most adults, like looking for metamorphic rocks at Vasquez Rocks. TJ could hardly pronounce metamorphic at age 20 months, but I wanted her to appreciate geology, and have a basic understanding of how geology shaped the earth. Latter Taunji would tell me, that when she took geology in college she was able to score an easy A. I wanted TJ to appreciate the arts so I took her to museums, both the adult types and the children museums.

When my relationship ended with my first wife, I still wanted to be a major influence in TJ’s life; I wanted to be there for her, I wanted to support her financially and morally, I wanted to see TJ everyday. Unfortunately, her Mom decided to move to Alabama and for a long time all I had were faded pictures of the past. When Taunji moved back to California we got together every Sunday, we would go to church, have lunch and then go to the beach, a museum, the movies or anywhere my little girl wanted to go to; during the week she would call me for help with her homework. To this day, the sound of her voice makes me elated, transcending the perpetual motion of love.

What is love, love is knowing that someone loves you unconditional, for whom you are and whom you can be, moving beyond the cognizance of reason. Brobdingnagian by an intellectual action that cannot be defined by a simple word or phrase; this is what explains how my daughter has touched my life. She is love and love is Taunji.

Thank you God for this wonderful gift.

For the Fathers out there, do not evade your obligations to your children, the price you pay transcends beyond your legal responsibility, as such, your character bad or good will influence your kids, love them and praise them, but do not walk away from them they will always need you and you will need them.

It's Ok to be Strong

Dear Reader

I could hear the sounds of crickets in the dessert air, a cool breeze was blowing and the sun was melting behind the mountains. I felt a since of solitude, a paradox from the city living that has enveloped me, distracting me from my inner peace. My thoughts were deluded like water added to an expensive bottle of French wine. I had to find myself in this oasis or be vanished in the valley of lost souls. The perfect escape into this hideous contemptuous fire; burden only by the knowledge to seek the truth.

Like most souls, living in today’s world, my days are engulfed in bad news, bill collectors and a shrinking wallet. A tunnel that has no light; light without a reason; a lake without water; water without a lake, an oxymoron to the pretentious. And so I sit on this bench in this town called Shoshone, just east of one of one the hottest places in the United States, Death Valley. I am bemused to hear such silence, in my world silence is something only the rich can afford, escaping to their Islands in the Pacific or the Caribbean. The wretched poor like me must seek the solitude in places like the Mojave dessert to escape their demons and find ones soul.

My eyes close for what seems to be an eternity, when I awaken I am at my Aunts and Uncles home in Los Angeles. Something is amiss; the dead have risen, alive in my hallucination or is this real, am I the one who is dead? My uncle speaks to me, dressed in his pajamas, void of the oxygen bottle that keeps him alive. I am perturbed, but I so want this moment to last forever. My uncle was the one who encouraged me, who forced me to be a man, to forsake my Mothers skirt, when I was a boy of 29. His words resonate like bullets penetrating a soldier’s heart. He looks at me and says, “it’s OK, be strong, be the man who resides within your soul, don’t let your demons destroy you”. A coyote in the distance brings me back to reality.

As I ponder his words, my thoughts take a detour to the night sky; the darkness has immersed me in a sea of galaxies, stars of every size surround me, the only unnatural light comes from the south/east, Las Vegas. Though I am sixty-five miles from Vegas, the light glows like a beacon, seducing visitors into its web, like a moth to a flame.

My uncle was a hard workingman, well liked, with a heart of gold. I admired him, yet at the same time, I miss understood him. I took his sternness in a perplexing perspective, his unending criticism of me, was to assist me in my growth into a man, not some contemptuous soul lacking in the ways of the world, a marshmallow easily swayed. It was not until the last years of his life, did I finally understand him. It was difficult saying goodbye to him when God led him to the angels, but for a brief moment he was there like a beacon in the night. I miss him a lot. Maybe dreams are a way for the dead to communicate with the living.

This is why, we as the Homosapien species, need to take our souls to task, to question and explore the very depth of our being. A testament to our moral fiber and mentor the next generation, to help them to grow and succeed in a manner that best exemplifies the best of human kind. Short cuts are only for those who are easily mislead like a herd of cattle to an escarpment.

Sleep is upon me; I must relegate my thoughts to my dreams and so I say good night to my readers.