The Desperate Moment You Must Choose Your Direction…

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100s of Dog tags of men who lost their lives in the Pacific

There comes a time in every life where you must decide what is right.  Is it right to disregard others opinions?  Is it right to not hear another’s view?  Will you fight for what is right?  Or will you let others tell you what is right?  Will you embrace everything that is in your heart?  Or will you turn a blind eye in protest and use only words instead of action?  Each day you chose whether to move forward or to ignore what is right in front of you.  When you visit the National Cemetery in Washington DC or the Pacific National Cemetery in Honolulu look at the death dates.  Walking up and down aisle after aisle you see hundreds of men who lost their lives before it even began.  Freedom has a cost, and I believe that much of society has forgotten what that cost is today.

Currently, the United States of America is divided.  Relationships of families, friends, and colleagues are in disarray and instead of taking action we protest.  Protesting is a great tool to garner attention from the media, especially when it comes to the large masses.  One of the things I never understood about protesting is what happens after the march and the gathering has conclude?  Well, in the 21st century we then take to social media to spread our opinions.  We yell and argue with the people that we claim to care about instead of having discussions, and we shut off our ears to everyone else that doesn’t agree with our own views.  The saying goes “Evil triumphs only when good men do nothing,” but the real saying should be, Evil triumphs only when good people don’t take action.

Reading can be a great power in an administration that you don’t agree with their actions, their history, or their plans for the future of America.  Education Security nominee, Betsy DeVos is not someone I want in charge of our youth or education and it is more than just Trump nominating her.  She is a billionaire that inherited everything from Daddy, has no concept of the working man’s dollar and has had a privileged life, never struggling to pay off a student loan or worried that she is living in the right county for her children to get the best public education.  Of course, the majority of the government is filled with people just like her.   Living in their warped little bubble.  The biggest issue I have is she wants to privatize all public education and in turn will make education just like health care in this country.  Costs being astronomical, companies not making the best educational decisions or the needs of students when their bottom line is more important, and finally, for-profit charters that weed out the low performing and at-risk children to highlight only the gifted (Alan Singer, Huffington Post).

Society fears what Trump is going to do, but as Marie Curer said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.  Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”  Personally, Vice-President Mike Pence‘s views are even worse than Trump’s.  Pence once said publicly “I long for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history.”  He is the epitome of an uncompassionate man who lacks the understanding, grace or knowledge to make an informed decision about women, LGBTs, or children.  His ideas on education, women’s rights or human decency is that of someone from the 1940s in a totalitarian government.  His views are the only right ones in his mind and everyone else is wrong.  Mr. Pence, for someone who has two daughters I question everything you stand for, and unlike you, I look deep into why a person does what they do, and I know your argument is going to be based on religion.  Well here is a little religious lesson for you, John 7.24 – “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”  Can you say you have experience anything a woman has gone through in her life?   Can you understand why thousands of women were protesting over the last week?  What if it was your daughter who needed an abortion because having the baby could kill her?  What if it was your daughter who was raped and was impregnated with a baby of the man that disregarded her as an object instead of a person?  The worst regret in life we can have is not the wrong things we did, but the “right” things we did for the wrong people.  Mr. Pence, you need to start looking in the mirror and question why you believe what you believe.

First thing I would like to state is no I did not vote for Trump and no I did not vote for Hilary.  Now, before you tell me that I wasted my vote and that it was protest vote not worth anything let me tell you that everyone’s vote in a democracy is worth something.  I took action in what I believed in and it was neither in favor of the democratic or republican candidates that were put in front of me (side note: Bernie Sanders all the way).  That is what makes us a democracy.  That is what makes us a free nation.  The freedom of choice.  People have died for us to have that choice.  Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway.  You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”  Action is what matters.  Don’t just protest or post on social media what you feel is wrong.  Get involved by taking action.  Volunteer at an abusive woman’s shelter, donate to an arts program, raise funds by doing a 5K for endangered animals, or become a big brother/ sister to an underprivileged child.  Make a difference in more than just words.  Start to really listen to each other.  John Lennon said it best,

“You say you’ve got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan”

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A Voice With An Old Soul

In light of recent events, it can be difficult to have faith in our government, other people in society, and our health care system.  This past week the United States has experienced the largest mass-shooting casualties in this country at a night club in Orlando, Florida where 49 are dead and 53 are in the hospital for gun-shot wounds.  When did society get like this?  It feels like reading about a mass shooting has become a daily routine; fearing for family and friends on a daily basis.  We need to take back this country.  There needs to be stronger security at the doors of night clubs, concerts, public events where the only thing that you are allowed to bring is anything that is in a clear plastic bag.  Sporting events have metal detectors and regulations on bags so why isn’t it enforced in other areas of entertainment?  History is always doomed to repeat itself unless we learn from it.  We live in a different world now, one where mental illness is ignored, extremists are a huge threat, and where getting a gun seems to be like getting candy at a convenient store.

Now, I understand that the right to bear arms is apart of the constitution and that people hunt, but did you know that 36 people die daily from gunshot wounds and that guns are rarely used in a self defense situation?  We need to reconnect with humanity.  We need to show that love, support, and peace overcomes violence, hatred, and power.  This is not just a one time incident that is going to go away.  We see powerful figures like Donald Trump spout hatred on a daily basis in his presidential campaign yet still a large percentage of American society supports him and we expect to protect ourselves through war, brute force, and more violence?  Violence only causes more violence and to stop it we need to take a look at the deeper issue that is causing all of it.

You know that saying, “That person has an old soul.”  I heard that a lot throughout my youth and I think I am now starting to understand it’s true meaning.  People who have old souls connect with difficult situations on an emotional level that indescribable.  We understand situations well beyond our years.  We hurt for people we don’t know.  Every time I read about a mass-shooting, a killing of a young adult’s life destroyed by a senseless act of violence (Christina Grimme), or a shooting of yet another parent who’s children now have to grow up without their father/ mother (UCLA Shooting) breaks my heart and I cry every time I hear about them.  In a world where the threat is no longer overseas and is beckoning at our front doors, we need to find the hope to believe that most people are truly good.  We need to learn to find closure when none can be found, when an action can’t be explained.

Close your eyes and turn on the voices of Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse, Frank Sinatra, Angelina Jordan, or Grace VanderWaal.  These voices can take you to another world full of empathy, heart, and compassion that people have difficulty expressing.  Why is it so hard to tell someone you love them or cry in front of a person that cares about you.  Society has this thought that crying or showing emotion is a sign of weakness, but I think it is a sign of strength; it shows vulnerability and humility.  Something that we can all use a lesson in.  In the words of Jimi Hendrix, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

I’m Breaking Free and Introducing Me…

This past weekend was a flashback to my childhood as Disney Channel had a whole weekend full of Disney Channel Original Movies in celebration of the 100th movie premiere. It is always the nostalgia that makes us wish for simpler times where memories flood back like a waterfall and you wished every day you could break into song for no reason without someone giving you side-eye.

The storylines don’t change much – finding yourself, learning that people are more important than things, and understanding that having integrity can lead to success. These popular television movies have catchy tunes that tie each story together, whether it is a full-blown musical or a theme song, it bring the soul alive and revives a little child in all of us.

Watching all these movies made realize that two songs really stand-out from the crowd for me which are “Breaking Free” from High School Musical and “Introducing Me” from Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam; both were written by the same person – Jamie Houston. Lyrically, these songs have a vulnerability to them. The ability to show someone your true self. In a world full of judgements and status quo, people constantly trying to put you in a box that formulates to their own images of who they think you are can make you feel like the walls are always closing in, but “Breaking Free” is a duet that creates a bubble that negative opinions can’t penetrate.

“You know the world can see us
In a way that’s different than who we are
Creating space between us
‘Til we’re separate hearts
But your faith it gives me strength
Strength to believe
We’re breakin’ free”

As an adult, have you ever notice that the first thing we ask people when meeting them is what do you do for work? In college, you ask someone where they are from? In high school, you ask someone what activities they are into, but in elementary school it simple. You ask someone if they want to play. When we meet people, we try anyway to connect with someone, but when you are young there are no walls up. You are an open book, honest and truthfully. Your heart is on your sleeve and telling someone your most intimate secrete isn’t terrifying.

“If you wanna know, here it goes.
Gonna tell you there’s a part of me that shows,
If we’re close, gonna let you see everything,
But remember that you asked for it.
I’ll try to do my best to impress,
But it’s easier to let you take a guess, at the rest,
But you wanna hear what lives in my brain, my heart,
Well, you asked for it
For your perusing,
At times confusing,
Possibly amusing…
Introducing me!”

Find something to hold on to. Beauty, art, and music are important, it gives people hope. So, in hopes that the rest of you let that wall down a little and really tell us who you are; here is a little about me:

Reading is my favorite past time
And I get truly excited when lyrics rhyme
Listening to violins brings me peace of mind
And when you smile I know it is all going to be just fine
So remember that I’m right here
No judgement from me should you fear
And in time that wall will come down
In hopes that laughter and imagination will always be around

For music click here!

The Four Letter F-Word

Everyday can be a struggle when you feel that fear has a hold of you.  Fear to move on.  Fear to love.  Fear of the unknown.  When your a child, that fear doesn’t exist.  You trust without a thought.  You love with no regret.  You believe that you can do anything.  So, when does that fear become an emotion that grasps on so tight that it becomes difficult to move, to breath, or to hold on to reality?  Human nature makes us believe that everything is black or white, good or bad, but sometimes there is a grey area that gets forgotten about when people’s actions can be carried by the emotion of fear.  Fear can lead to regret, heartbreak, and resentment.  Why do we allow this emotion to control our actions?  Why can’t our mind go back to our childhood and block out that four letter word?

Society connects with stories about the underdog.  The person that was never meant to make it because of one thing or another.  Is anyone truly an underdog, or do we create these immortal men and women hoping to hold on to something that is better than our own lives?  The people that are important in our lives make us believe that the impossible is possible, but no matter how many people believe in you means nothing if you don’t believe in yourself.  When fear takes hold, you can feel stuck.  Almost like no matter which why you go, what action you make, you are going to fall through that crack in the floor and not be able to recover.

Over the years as I have watched the people around me change.  You notice their personalities change the most as they get older.  You let people go that maybe you should have held on to while others became more important in your life that started out as acquaintances.  You watch your parents, the people that literally could scare you with one look become these 50-something year old people of a totally relaxed mind-set.  The anger that you once saw when you would do something bad is no longer there.  Instead it has been replaced with a calm mind-set that it is now your life and your choices to make.  I have to say that I have been struggling with fear a lot lately.  Not fear of failure or fear of making mistakes, but fear of never being truly happy.  I’m not an emotionally driven person.  I do things based on thought and a lot of planning.  I don’t like to fly by the seat of pants in any situation and I have always thought fifty steps ahead of everyone else in the room if something doesn’t go according to plan.  I usually can tell someone how something is going to play out in any situation and 95% of time I am correct.  This is not me gloating, but more to show you that the people that may look like they are tied together in every way, feel the same fear that you do; they may just be less publicly emotional about it.  In Eminem’s song “Guts Over Fear” he raps:

“Do I really belong in this game? I pondered
I just wanna’ play my part, should I make waves or not?
So back and forth in my brain, the tug-o-war wages on
I don’t wanna’ seem ungrateful or disrespect the artform I was raised upon
But sometimes you gotta’ take a loss
And have people rub it in your face before you get made pissed off
Keep pluggin’, it’s your only outlet
And your only outfit so you know they’re gonna’ talk about it
Better find a way to counter it quick and make it, ah
Feel like I’ve already said this a kabillion eighty times
How many times can I say the same thing different ways that rhyme?
What I really wanna’ say is if there’s anyone else that can relate to my story
Bet ‘cha feel the same way I felt when I was in the same place you are
When I was afraid”

The best songs that we connect with are about emotions that we feel everyday and fear is just one of many, but I feel that it can be the strongest one of all to either make us fight or fall in this world.  Everything you want, desire, and need is on the other side of that fear; so let it go.  Sometimes the best you can do is take it one day at a time and get up each morning to Eminem’s “Not Afraid” because no matter how alone you feel, your not.

“And I just can’t keep living this way
So starting today, I’m breaking out of this cage
I’m standing up, I’ma face my demons
I’m manning up, I’ma hold my ground
I’ve had enough, now I’m so fed up
Time to put my life back together right now!”

The 1940s – The Music of My Grandparents

As we were driving down route 10 headed to the first weekend of Coachella in April 2016 I was giving my father directions from the backseat; trying to explain where he was going to be headed as he got off the exit.  Needless to say, when I don’t know how to pronounce a word I still sound it out like an eight year old and sometimes it is totally wrong.  Every street in the Palm Springs area are named after old time 1940s singers.  The area is considered Hollywood’s desert playground.  A place where people of Los Angeles can escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a weekend.  There was a street called “Dinah Shore” and of course I butchered “Dinah” where then my father proceeded to be in shock and make fun of me because I had no idea who this woman was in the industry of music.  So, I dug a little deeper into this 1940s icon and discovered the world of crooners, big bands, and barbershop quartets.

It was the decade that music was starting to really come back to life after the depression.  After the stock market crashed in 1929 music died a little.  Dance halls were empty and musicians couldn’t find work, but by the mid 1930s the economy was starting to recover and the 1940s crooner superstars (Bing Crosby, Cab Callaway, Eddie Cantor) started to hit the scene hard.  There was also the return rise of big bands such as Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and Artie Shaw as jazz and blues artists were becoming national sensations – Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.  Then you have Dinah Shore who hit on another level.  After failing auditions for the bands of Benny Goodman and Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey she struck out on a solo career leading to a string of 80 charted hits between 1940 to 1957.  She was one of the first singers of her era to achieve such success.  She was Taylor Swift before there was Taylor Swift.

1940s music was filled with brass, big sound, and a voice that could sooth any rotten day.  The voices of this generation seem gentle, soft, and hypnotizing.  Getting lost in an era of musicals, where men acted liked gentlemen, and woman had more drive and ambition than taking the best selfie for Instagram.  This is not a knock on the Millennial generation, but I sometimes wonder where the magic went in this world.  When did image and beauty begin to matter more than substance or talent.  There is no mistaking the talent of these artists and musicians.  There was no machine back then that could hide voice or instrument mistakes or imperfections; recordings were honest and had truth behind the words that were sung.  Even instrumental big band music such as Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller –  their music has power to bring you back in time as an underlying woodwinds carry the brass horns to tell a story of two young lovers being torn apart by war.

Maybe that is why this music is so special.  It was created during a time of bombings, air raids, and being exposed to horrific deaths at a young age.  Your best friend could be next to you one day and gone the next.  The music has a stroke of blues even in the up beat songs (i.e. Sing Sing Sing).  Benny Goodman’s song “Sing Sing Sing” is iconic.  Even if you don’t know 1940s music this song has been used in movies throughout the decades since its creation.  It goes up and down in moods from jumping and jiving to slow and bass level waves in notes that get a little too personal.  That bass drum remains its constant heart beat throughout the whole eight minutes as saxophones and trumpets slither in and out of quick and smooth music bar lines taking the listener through a party scene of people feeling different emotions and the rollercoaster that we call life.

Click Here for some my favorite 1940s music!  Better yet watch Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire as Benny Goodman’s “Sing Sing Sing” plays in the background.