Lessons Face Up: Three from Funerals.

I was racing toward her house. In shock. I was numb to the potholes and other obstacles on Brooklyn roads.

 Sweating, pushing deep, in dense summer heat. 1977. My new Schwinn Sting Ray was sizzling tires on hot August NY streets. The banana seat, a metallic plastic with a double black vertical racing stripe, was as scorching as a furnace on full blast. But I didn’t care. I didn’t feel it.  For most of the two mile ride, I was standing up pedaling anyway.

Sting ray

It was grandma Nellie. On dad’s side of the family. His mother. What was to be a routine gall bladder operation, turned out to be the last time we saw her alive. After a blood transfusion. Since she always had some type of ailment, we sort of took grandma’s illnesses for granted. Gee grandma has another ache, gee what else is new? Another operation? She’ll be out in no time cooking again, for sure. No?

This time was different. Very different. Something went way wrong. And I never had a loved one, one so close to me die, so I pushed those pedals at a maddening pace for reasons I don’t quite understand. I had no idea what I was supposed to do once I arrived at grandma’s house. She died in the hospital but we were “instructed to meet” at the house per grandpa’s instructions. All I knew is I needed to get there. I was instructed. I obeyed.

It’s all blur after that. Until the funeral  – or the “wake,” where family allows viewing of the body which is all fancied up for the next energy adventure. The experience remains vivid in my mind. I can still smell the cloying odor of flowers. So many. My first open casket too, Nellie was in a misty-blue gown with silver shoes. Her gray hair was coiffed tight, slight smile, her third chin, not as “third” as it once was.

I touched her. Cold.

I withdrew my hand quick. Then suddenly felt ashamed.

Too many zombie flicks even then.

I placed my hand back on her joined fingers, a silver rosary string between them.

She looked more peaceful than she had in years. I was amazed. After all those tortuous years with my grandfather I’m sure she was glad to be rid of him. He was colder alive than she was dead. They slept apart. Did everything apart. I bet she was relieved to be rid of him, finally. And I could see it on her face.

But what about him now? Some family episodes you never forget..

Random Thoughts:

1). Wish always for one more day. Consistently, as I come across a person in my inner circle, I’m never afraid to express how grateful I am for their existence. There are those who have disappeared suddenly, like a friend from September, grandma who I didn’t visit in the hospital because she was always sick so what’s the big deal, a music icon, close friends, cousins, both parents, (Jesus, so many) that I wish I had one more day to see, touch, talk to them.

Regrettably, I can’t go back. But in my head, I do. I’ll hear a song, watch a movie, a date on the calendar will pass, I’ll come across a photo I thought I deleted, and there you are again – Wishing for one more day. It’s part of what I call “the human drag.” The tormented thoughts that tire you, push hard on a nerve, never go away, throb in a distance but close enough to injure. Right around a mental corner. There the fuck it is – the big turd in the middle of your mental soup.

Regret is part of our psyche. And for some, it’s strong. When investing, we regret we sold a stock too soon, too late, we didn’t invest enough money in Apple or we sold it and it went higher by a billion percent. So now, I’m a bit more vocal with those I care about. To lessen the regret. If I miss someone I tell them, if I care I say it. If I don’t, well,  I say that too. If I sell an investment too soon but I made a profit, I let it go. If I sell it too late, well I learn an expensive lesson. But I never stop wishing.for.one.more.day. A client: “I sold that stock in 1983, like an asshole.” My gosh, we’re reliving a Phillip Morris stock trade from 1983? Seriously? 

Dad was out with some model chick, 25 years his junior, the night grandma died. What dumb luck. Or fate.  He was supposed to visit his mother but decided the hot model was more important. He called Nellie in the hospital for like five seconds. Said he would see her tomorrow. There was no tomorrow. A week before he died in 1993, dad told me how much he regretted that decision. Two decades later he still carried that mind weight around like an anchor. I asked: “What was that model’s name again?” He laughed. He said “I don’t know.” Yikes. Then he gave me a gaunt, smart-ass look. Message received.

2). What will people think of you after you’re gone? My grandmother did some incredible things for poor families, especially kids. She loved kids. She was the janitor of my public school (P.S. 215) when I was attending; I was embarrassed because she cleaned toilets. Then, at her funeral, I discovered how so many of the kids loved her, how she gave candy, played Santa Claus at Christmas for them at the local library. I totally missed it. I didn’t want to see it. I loved her but she was a janitor. I did tell her how much I loved her, so at least I don’t live with complete regret so many years after her death. But I wish I knew what others thought of her while she was alive. Write down what you want people to remember about you. The good things. Then execute the plan so it works out that way. Oh and no strippers at my funeral, please? Thanks.

3). People feel their mortality at funerals. Do you? Attend enough funerals and you begin to see how blood and bones wear out. You become overly sensitive to it. We’re all equal at the end. All those funerals have given me the motivation to stay as healthy as possible. And now that I have a physical problem preventing a right kidney from functioning properly, I’m striving more than ever to stay in shape, eat right, follow a better sleep discipline. Want to gain health? Follow James Altucher’s The Daily Practice as best you can. You will see, feel the results.

Grandpa Frank was beside himself.

As they closed Nellie’s casket, he collapsed. Screaming: “I wish I would have treated you better, I LOVE YOU!” 

I never heard “I LOVE YOU” from him before. Ever.

From that point he was a different man. Completely.

On Christmas eve 1985 I called him.

“Grandpa, you’re my friend, I love our relationship. I’m just so grateful we’ve become so close. I’ll never forget it.”

He died the next day.

Christmas.

And I’m thankful.

One less weight on my head.

I have enough already.

So do you.

Time to bury them.

The Eyes of Death – What Happens When you Stare.

I never realized how many websites exist about suicide. They’re close to being academic, actually. Taking you step-by-step through the self-kill dejour. Clinical. Videos of men who have taken it down to a science. Like Jerry Hunt.

http://www.jerryhunt.org/kill.htm

Today I searched those sights. Read through them. Because I felt lost. And I needed to shock myself back into reality. I wondered why tortured souls contemplated such things. I also saw the beauty in no longer being; perhaps non-existent is best. There is a peace, a new turn, a new beginning from an end. I’ve never been so deep in the dilation. The eyes. They mesmerized me for a second..

You can see I’m not thinking straight because I stared into the eyes of death, hopelessness until other voices told me to pull back, wake up. Breathe again.

The eyes of death are all around you. When they blink you can feel the breeze of an eyelash It vibrates the energy around you, turns it black. When the eyes capture you they don’t let you go right away. They follow you for a time, like a creep of a targeted cold chill on the back of your neck. As you move the eyes follow, steadfast.

The death glares – a past love, an old career, a  lost friend, loved ones gone. All which makes you feel human disappears. When the death gaze releases, you crumple to the ground. Sort of slow, deliberate. You wonder how to find those eyes again.

You examine how to take your own life.

Random Thoughts:

1). What’s important is how you rise from the ashes. Know when you’re in the grip. Focus on the fact the grip will pass, how you will fall. Just don’t forget to rise again. Even though you will no longer be the same person. You’ll be alive. You’ll rediscover the people who really love you. Those who care. Gratefulness will accelerate your rise.

2). Understand how far you will fall but swing. Hard. Even when the grip has you so bad you can’t eat, think, drive, walk, move, drink. You’re as good as dead.

3). A financial crisis doesn’t define you. The death grip despises your self worth. It will look to shatter it. Take drastic action to protect. Sell assets, hunker down.

4). Lock yourself away. Your friends will understand the decision to contain the wounds as the death stare is life altering.

Jerry holds up the face mask and puts it on his face. The mask is fastened by an elastic band which fits over his ears and behind his head. Emerging from inside the mask, below Jerry’s chin, is the plastic tubing which attaches to the gas cylinder.

Watch for Jerry.

His eyes will follow you.

Until he stops.

Then you will fall.

Just remember to stand again.

When Fear Turns to Strength – 4 Ways to Stand for What you Believe.

“She may never come out of this Richard, but she may. You never know.”

Some doctor at Coney Island Hospital blurted these meaningless words at me. Advised me how this time around, this attempt to take her life was most likely, going to be successful. Or not.

Mom really did it this time, that I did realize. Now in a coma. I saved her. Just in time. At least I thought I did. Obviously, to the doc anyway, my “just in time,” was not timely enough. Or was it? I couldn’t tell from his words.

And I was scared. She was hooked to a respirator. Last time she tried to take her own life, mom was home the next day, following a stomach pumping. This felt different. Or didn’t.

It looked bad. And at ten years old I was scared. Shaken. Perhaps this doctor was right. Or not. The system told him she was dead, already. I should just deal with the fact.

I was afraid to be alone. I wasn’t prepared for this. It was then, the feeling was born. The feeling of ice water in my veins. The flow of dread. Helplessness. It pooled in my gut. Got colder. Coldest.  Froze me from the inside out. I needed to break free or remain under cold forever. I had a choice. Believe in the worthless words from an uncaring doctor. Or fight. For her. For another. For the others who also heard the same careless words.

I stood. Looked straight at the doctor, in the eyes, and said -“she will make it.”

He didn’t know what he was talking about. He didn’t understand the fight in her. Frankly, he could care less. I could tell. She was a number. Job security. A check mark in a box. I was thinking he was going to pick up a Quarter Pounder  & a Shamrock Shake on the way home and eat in front of some late night TV show circa 1974. Perhaps the late, late, late show on CBS. And the next day his routine will start over again. Another day of dispassion, lack of empathy. But at least he would get paid. Because that’s what it was about, wasn’t it?

I found a way to warm, melt the ice that night in March, 1974. I spoke my mind. I provided information the doctor wouldn’t/couldn’t know, I stood my ground. I turned fear into strength. I re-focused. Away from the cold and towards the heat. Just long enough to focus again on what was important. Her life. Her survival. Not my fear.

He turned. Walked. He adequately delivered his line. To keep his job.

Many of the people you deal with daily. Your boss, your spouse, friends, YOU. All believe you’ll buckle under – allow the system to overwhelm. Until you feel nothing. Until you’re spiritually broken. Just working to pay the bills. No waves. Afraid to stand for a higher calling. For others. Scared to make things better. Not bothering to try. Because it could mean danger to you and yours. And when you stand, sometimes you’ll fall under the weight of the decision; the consequence will overwhelm you. Until you re-focus on why you made the gutsy decision in the first place. But you’ll need to feel it first. It’s just the way it is.

The ice water.

ice water

Random Thoughts:

1). First understand: There’s a switch inside your brain. Maybe deeper than that. A beacon, a light, buried under the ice. Takes a lot to turn it on – the switch to warmth  comes from faith and fight. A passion for what you believe, because you know it’s the right thing. For others.

You are privileged. Many never have the guts to stand and fight. Because they can’t stand. Because they’ve lost the faith in their strength. They allow the ice to cover them, sink them. They won’t speak their mind or take action even though they know it’s the right thing to do. They’ll just document and report. They convince themselves with lame self-righteousness, how they’re good people. But they’re not. They’re spineless, nameless cogs in wheels of bureaucracy. They lie to themselves. They lie for others. Don’t sell your soul. Because under the ice you’ll be dead. 

2). Be selfless. Through selfless acts, following a passion with others in mind, you will indeed win. They’ll be battles, resistance in the short run. On occasion, a Goliath, a monster will attempt to crush you. The system lives to break you. Temporarily, you’re down but you’re not out because your focus is on stirring up change,for the better of others. In turn, good things will happen for you.

3). Realize it’s all a test. Almost every time you take a stand, your resolve is going to be tested. You’ll feel sick inside. You’ll doubt your past actions. You’ll regret the decisions. Because the system feels comfortable once you’re in it. It fools you. It makes you think it’s good to be dead. It wants you back. It wants you to surrender.

4). The system wants you to fail. It doesn’t want you to save, watch credit, live below your means. The American system entices you to overspend, consume. We are now all paying for those actions.

I don’t regularly attend church. Today I did. Up on a screen, above the Pastor, I read these words. I found a pen. Wrote them down.

“Jesus sees a man unafraid to push the accepted limits in order to bring about needed change.”

For some reason I needed those words, today. I closed my eyes. I could feel the ice melting again.

Mom was alive again.

She made it.

So will I.

Because I believe.

And will always push the limits.

For others.

The Lives you Sever to Save your Own (and Others).

“Are you done yet?”

I was kneeling. Looking up. At a shell. A skull with eyes. At ninety-seven pounds, mostly bones. Slumped in an ornate, chipped wooden chair I still own and stare at today. He still commands it. Owns it.  I can’t sit in it. After all these years. The chair frightens me.

dark chair

When he spoke, I remembered happily. I recalled the power. His presence. His flair. How strong he was. Even after cancer took 70 pounds away. Like a thief. Draining him. He was in a three-piece suit four sizes too big. We couldn’t alter clothes fast enough to keep up with the weight loss.

Yes,” he said. along with a tear. His. “I’m done.”

Water rolled down his face. Landed on our joined hands. I put my head in his lap. He stroked it. I told him I loved him. I didn’t want him to go. How can I convince him to stay. To change his mind. I would do anything. Anything. Wasn’t my love enough to keep him here?

Told me “it’s no big deal. You’ll be fine. You’ll see.”

Huh? I wasn’t going to be “fine.” I couldn’t “see.”  It was tough to ask the question and receive the answers I knew I was going to hear. But it was nothing less than I expected. I then understood how I needed to be strong. To help him move forward. Because I knew he wasn’t “done.” He had more to do in this life. It was a time. A snapshot of sweet surrender and acceptance. Still. Quiet. Like God was taking a photo of a moment for me. There was nothing else we could do. And surrender and acceptance are on occasion, not easy. Sometimes surrender and acceptance rips your heart out.

Through life you’ll need to sever lifelines to those who hold power over you. Those you love more than anything. Yet, they’re not there. Or here. And you can’t move forward. And last night I had a dream about dad. What he said to me that day in 1993.

His one last thought. Because he always had the last thought.  One lesson I’ll never forget.

He said: “Sometimes love isn’t enough.”

I literally carried him down the stairs. He let me. I know that was tough for him. Tough on his pride. But he let me. Because he knew I needed to. He spent years being the strong one. Carrying me. I rested him on the couch. The vigil began. He wanted to die at home. I made sure nobody would dissuade me from the mission. I held his hand as he slipped into a coma.

On a frigid, gray February day before he spent 48 hours dying on a couch, dad severed his lifeline to save me. Made me feel ok about his inevitable exit. At least he tried. He even worked a full day at the office before coming home and slumping in that damn chair. The death chair. Like it was no big deal. Close some car deals. Drive home. Die.

“I don’t want you to be done.”

But sometimes love isn’t enough. And you always want love to be enough.

Random Thoughts:

1). Some lifelines get severed carelessly. Why must they? What the hell stands in the way of happiness? There are people we should engage as friends, lovers, mentors, yet sometimes love isn’t enough. Respect isn’t enough. Something unspoken hangs like a deep cancer you can’t cut out so you decide to cut off. It’s easier – but is it the right move? Do you sit in the chair and say “I’m done?”

2). Some threads need to be severed so both parties can survive, move forward. And it’ll rip your heart out because you know the sever feels wrong. You lose a part of yourself when it comes to this cut. This one is gonna hurt. It’s going to take time to heal. But sometimes, love isn’t enough and it needs to be done.

3). On occasion the attempt to sever causes reflection. Do you really want this person out of your life? Is there an illness, an internal hemorrhage that can be healed? Is there some feeling other than love which blossoms health and unity? Or do you allow release? Do you move a person you love to another plane?

4). Be prepared to sacrifice yourself, go out on a limb, be cold. For resolution, or severing you’ll need to “prep” the area. Not easy. What is the catalyst that gets you to this point? It’s different for everyone. Dad knew when it was time. After all, it was going to be fine. No big deal, right? At least that’s what he said when I know it tore his soul to say what he did to me. He appeared strong, almost defiant, flippant? Just so I would have the balls to move forward. An ultimate sacrifice. Sometimes love is enough?

5). Don’t sit in the death chair. Until you’re ready. And you may never be ready. Surrender isn’t easy. Acceptance is worse. Understanding you have too much debt, or you suck at saving, or you can’t handle investing in stocks, or you got duped by a financial professional promising unrealistic returns, is a good first step. Accept and improve.

It was 1am. Dad woke out of his coma. Briefly. He moaned. The whites of his eyes turned blood red. He spoke to me one last time. He said – “you’re going to be great.”

I whispered in his ear. I had all these memories I need to share.

“Remember when my green Schwinn with the banana seat was stolen two hours after you  bought it for me? You came home and bought me another one.”

He grimaced. Maybe he smiled. Then he was gone.

He stopped breathing. I could still see the movement in his chest. It was his heart.

It was still beating. Fighting to stay. His body moved with the rhythm of it. Because of it.

He was strong that way. He needed to leave me a lasting impression.

I told him his love was enough. It was time for him to go.

Then the world stopped.

But I didn’t.

heart light

He wouldn’t accept it.

Governing Money – Lessons from the “Governor.”

In a former life, the world before hell and earth went inside out, Philip Blake was a husband, father. I think he sold insurance (and wasn’t very good at it). He probably carried too much debt, drank too much  – I’m certain erectile dysfunction was a grim reality.

I bet he fantasized about having sex with the twenty-something barista at Starbucks or even worse – the overweight college dropout with crooked, yellowed teeth and soured look from behind the register at the local Piggly Wiggly convenience haven. In other words – HO HUM. Mundane. An existence we all mistake for a life because we were told that’s what life is, ya idiot. Or as a friend would say – lame ass!

And now?

He’s bigger-than-life in a world shrinking (literally) from decay. Ain’t that a bitch!

walking dead zombie A former insurance prospect? You betcha!

The “Governor” as he’s been proclaimed by the inhabitants of the fictional town of Woodbury, exists, rules, and on occasion, thrives (code for: gets some). You know what that means. Wink, wink.

It appears the whole end of the world thing has added pep to his step. He dons cool vests and brandishes a big-ass knife low on his hip. He’s handy with an automatic weapon. Yep – he’s discovered his true, higher calling, although the path he takes on occasion, would classify him as certifiably insane. Well, if the world was as it was, once upon a time – the one of sales calls, stopping for beer and milk on the way home to the mortgage payment; praying to get it up on a weekend for the wife he’s long tired of. But in this new world?

He’s the king, baby!!

the governor hip

The Governor appearing calm, collected in front of Woodbury residents. Notice the power stance (I’ve eaten a great breakfast at the coffee shop behind him and was able to leave town, peacefully).

But this new normal is truly abnormal. It requires a huge (over) dose of out-of-the-box thinking followed by unorthodox actions to keep him and his close-knit brood, alive. Fight or die. Stay alert because at any moment you may become a food source for ravenous, rotting flesh eaters and/or victims to the living who want what you have, what you worked so hard to build. All you possess can be gone in an instant. In this place, you fear the living and dead, equally.

His life demands tremendous inner reflection, strong leadership, a healthy dose of paranoia, an intense hunger for knowledge of the deademy (my zombie bon mot for enemy,) stamina, charisma, a penchant for strong tea, an instinct to survive and on occasion, cold-blooded murder of his own species (the living) which is an odd way to re-populate the planet. The deeper he believes in his mission to preserve what’s left of the human race, the more he perceives outsiders as threats. Appears almost everyone is an outsider.

fish tanks

The Governor laments the “experiments” that just didn’t work out.

The end of the world definitely raised his stature. Forced him to rise above. Imagine a former insurance hack re-born as a new-found savior. Only in the America of the living dead. Bittersweet (bloody) success. Climbing the ladder of what’s left of the human race.

The Governor fights passionately to protect what he’s re-created – a tree-lined, bucolic microcosm of once was; the time before this time or whatever this putrid shit is now. He preserves, behind big makeshift walls made of of fat tires and metal, the lives and well-being of his followers. The ones who still breath and don’t seek to eat each other.

In this Georgia sanctuary, residents adhere to daily routines like doing laundry, taking the kids to school and on occasion, they gather together to enjoy a hearty zombie gladiator fight in the center of a dilapidated makeshift arena. Hey, we must have our sports events no matter what, right?

Born from the imagination of master comic-book genius and creator of the concept for the hit show, “The Walking Dead,” Robert Kirkman’s “Governor,” is possibly one of the most complex characters to bridge the annals of comic and television history.

the governor walking dead

The Gov, played by Brit actor David Morrissey, in a pensive mood.

Something has gone dreadfully awry on the road to Woodbury (when it’s not dressed up for television this town is really the peaceful haven of Senoia, GA). You can see it in the eyes of the town folk. They’re scared of Philip Blake. Philip Blake who knocked on their doors once trying to push term insurance. In that old life, they didn’t open the door or got the dog to chase him. Maybe a family pet bit him.

I guess change happens when you can no longer self-regulate (or have no reason to try) – you create the rules, acquire minions to reinforce them. Ostensibly, a bit of sanity erodes as you’re tormented by the memories of those you lost, those you cherished, to wide-mouthed bites of growling corpses who drool black goo. When your back is truly against the wall – you shake things up.

Ponder the horror long enough and the snap-crackle in your mind ostensibly goes pop. You’re no longer who you were. The person inside, the one who worried about following the lawn fertilization schedule to the letter on weekends, is in a dark place now. Deader than dead.

The Governor has allowed the demons to occupy a great portion of his psyche and they rest on his mind on a full time basis. He can’t win against them any longer, so he commands them steer them to push him forward. Hey, when in Rome!

Black inside, tortured but he’s moving. Getting shit done. Every day.

He’s been re-shaped, reborn, by the end of the world he knew and the path he cuts to cling desperately to what was. After observing him you cannot decide who’s more rotted inside – him or the staggering corpses who meander around the parameter, tripping over debris, bumping into burned-out husks of rusted autos of drivers not lucky enough to escape from rotting marauders of warm flesh.

To the people he protects, the Governor is the best thing around. He’ll do whatever is necessary to guard his flock from strangers – living or dead – as long as they’re loyal. There’s something admirable about his rise to power, his grandiose vision to take back a human race most likely lost forever; yet, his actions at times are so horrific, his thought process so cold blooded, you almost wish to take your chances with the ghouls outside the walls of Woodbury.

He does have his heartwarming moments. Like when he talks soothingly to the chained and straitjacketed pre-teen zombie  who once was his daughter Penny. He keeps  her nestled in what appears to be a human kennel, deep inside his quarters. He brushes her hair (which falls out), sings to her.

Penny snarls and snaps at him as he releases the chained collar tight around her neck – her jaws make a  sharp snap sound, directed toward his warmth, like a blind ravenous canine searching for a steak in the dark. She’s so long gone, however. Yet, it’s Philip’s very last cling to hope, to who she was, the young life with so much potential she represented. Represents still, as he works with a genius professor geek deep in the bowels of Woodbury who works fervently to discover what makes these dead things tick. And perhaps, just perhaps, a cure!  He denies the fact there’s truly no cure for what ails precious Penny (except a bullet to the brain).

Penny

A heartwarming moment as Penny noshes on body parts of the once living who faced the Governor’s wrath. 

And if you watch AMC’s hit show “The Walking Dead,” you’ve been fascinated by the Governor and his actions. Why? Because you know (oh, you do), that you can go bat-shit wacko if faced with the same horrific circumstances. You would be altered in ways you cannot imagine. You would work effortlessly to cling to what was, because what was there and now is gone changes you. Lose enough people you love, then you tell me.

There’s a little bit of Philip in all of us. 

There’s a bit of anger, insanity, in all of us. 

There’s a bit of bad behavior where the living are slaughtered, the dead walk (figuratively) in all of us. 

There’s a bit of motivation to protect Woodbury, the safe haven, in all of us.

And when we sit alone and stew about this stuff, allow the demons to play handball against  our psyche, then we are no longer insurance salespeople, stockbrokers, artists, psychologists, the “sane” ones. We are indeed – governors.

Random Thoughts:

1). Construct the walls around you (carefully). Just be mindful of the materials you use. Employ love, civility, warmth and mix in a small dose of paranoia for those who attempt to enter your Woodbury. On occasion, you’ll let undesirables through however, do what the Governor does – dispose of them quietly and explain to yourself how that person, entity, drug, drink was endangering the lives of your minions (or brain cells).

2). Be open to what breaks your current mindset. Recently, I had a revelation after an e-mail exchange that allowed me to easily remove someone from my Woodbury. Realize that Penny isn’t gonna return, put your own back against the wall, get winded. Then wake up. Instead of changing for the worse (as you’ll see in the Governor in the remainder of season 3 and 4), bounce hard against that wall and propel forward. Philip Blake has been broken by the horror of his experiences. He had good intentions in the beginning, but something really bad happened along the way. Watch your path. Create guardrails to not veer off to blackness.

3). Don’t be afraid to retaliate now. As the economy improves, I’m personally seeing, hearing, about people breaking the chains of their old employer and discovering healthier ways to make a living. Something I predicted in my book “Random Thoughts of a Money Muse.” Check out the link below, here’s a blurb from a recent CNBC article outlining the trend:

The steady drumbeat of “you’re just lucky to have a job” that played through the recession is finally starting to fade and employees may be getting ready to say, “I quit!” and bolt for the nearest exit.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100359891

Don’t feel bad – be slightly angry about how you’ve been treated. Rise above. You’re the Governor over your fate and as the economy slowly recovers, you should get your mental minions to focus on a brighter future.

4). Get shit done. Every day. For a time you’ll seethe, give yourself that. Then go ahead and continue to tend to your walls which surround the quaint town in your mind. Eat healthier, exercise more, find better conversationalists, seek friendships where you didn’t look before. Read a book. I’m reading Eckhart Tolle’s Stillness Speaks at this time.

5). Be bad. It’s ok. Just don’t appear to be above, criticize, or correct others. You’re not perfect and on occasion, you rot and stink worse than the walking dead. And your opinion is just that especially when wrapped in judgmental tone. You’re getting tuned out, too. Fast. The Governor has convinced himself that even the horrific things he does is for the good of his little community. He’s lost the ability to judge his behavior, self correct. You cannot do the same. Oh, unless the dead want to eat you. Then feel free. Have a glass of wine, a dessert, kick a wall (I accomplished all three last month).

6). Appreciate what you have. Now. Before the dead come back and the world goes to hell. Learn to appreciate those you care about. Feel good about your possessions; realize there’s a point when too many possessions eventually own you, especially if you’re taking on debt to “own” them.

7). Appreciate and gain protection. I know I’m making fun of Phil being a pain-in-the-ass insurance salesman in another life, but do not discount the need for life insurance. Bypass the salesperson. And think term insurance. It’s the cheapest, purest type of insurance. One of the best life free life insurance needs calculator out there is here:

http://www.lifehappens.org/life-insurance-needs-calculator/

For insurance quotes investigate http://www.selectquote.com or http://www.matrixdirect.com.

8). Know your enemies. Inside and outside your skin. Which emotions hold you back? Are there people in your life who do the same? Self assess, write it out, drink some strong tea or coffee and take some time to analyze. Then toss out of Woodbury, those threats to your well being.

9). Learn to let go. When the Governor lost his beloved Penny to a samurai blade to the head, you can tell how broken he was and about to become (terrific acting by Mr. Morrissey). You need to let go of what’s dead already. A love, a longing, a feeling, a thought, a friend, a lover, an actual shopping cart with wheels that work at the supermarket. Learning to let go means less stress. Laugh more.

10). Stand like the Governor. I mean it just looks cool, right? Hands on hips. Your body language says a lot about you.

DSC_0370

The set of “The Walking Dead.” Note the tire, metal walls. Also, the building in the background (with ladder) was the place where the Governor & Michonne fight was filmed. 

11). Don’t lose yourself in anger and regret. With his beloved Penny gone, the Governor has lost all hope (and sanity). He is consumed with the torment that goes along with surrender of the traits which make one human. And a white-hot anger about his failure to protect Penny was enough to break his sanity. Regret and anger has now overwhelmed every thought, each motivation. Perhaps a cure against living death was close.

It didn’t matter now.

It was sweltering on the “set” of Woodbury during Season 3. Then he emerged. Walking behind us. David Morrissey. In his cool signature Governor vest. Carrying a script.

When I asked my daughter why she sat off to the side instead of joining me in a discussion I was having with him, she said bluntly:

“Dad he scares me. He’s the Governor.”

Comic Gov

The Walking Dead comic-book version of the Governor.

Impressions are everything.

Aren’t they?

From mental imprints, projections are born.

Out of grief.

Fear.

Anger. 

Regret.

Don’t let them consume you.

Work to break free.

Today.

I have faith.

You’re not the Governor.

A new season of “The Walking Dead” begins October 13, on AMC – 9pm/8pm CST.

 

Three Lines. Three Words. Three Lessons. Three Tips. Three Reasons to Believe.

Don’t worry. He won’t hurt you. Just sit there (three sentences).

Santa

Not sure why Santa scared me so much. Clowns frightened me. Women frighten me. Threes.

Scary happens in threes. Scary movie sagas frequently occur in threes, although many times I wonder why. The Godfather movies? Three. Don’t ask me why. Don’t see Godfather III. Abomination.

On occasion you need three signals to wake you, shake you, bake you – Three hammers hit you in the head, three lightning strikes. You cry, you deny, you wake up. Maybe you wake up. Most likely, you don’t wake up. Try. I try every day.

Why?

Because your brain forms protective layers. Three from what I’ve discovered about myself. As your mind tries to protect your heart. To get through to you, to others, you need to bust through the layers.

Thinking in threes, speaking in threes, can improve your life, possibly save it.

Everything you ever need to know can be learned in threes. Everything you ever need to communicate can be accomplished in threes.

Random Thoughts:

1). “Leave me alone. Go away. I mean it.” Use this for bad thoughts, bad people, bad ideas, bad anything. Sure, you can stop at leave me alone but it’s not enough. Go further. There is a force in threes.

2). I love you. Three actions prove it: I’ve been there for you in rough times, I’ve been there for you when you disappear and return, I’m there for you now that you’re gone again. Being there through bad times isn’t enough to prove you love someone. It’s through the challenging times, confusing times, the times when you want to let go. But you don’t. And you should.

3). All you need are three rules to be successful with money. Save more, spend less, be thankful for what you have. It’s not rocket science people. The financial services industry makes it more complicated, sexy, confusing, on purpose. Now you may need a coach to help you save more, spend less, be thankful. Most of the time it’s a failure to accomplish one of the three simple rules that upsets the game plan. Recently, I met with a distressed lady who saved, had no debt (and a beautiful home), but was not thankful and wanted more. I spent hours taking her through an inventory of all the gifts she’s been bestowed, most of them based on her good habits.

Try writing out your throughts in three sentences. Let me know if it works.

In 2000, I received a call from a doctor I didn’t know. I was at work. 1pm.

“Mr. R? Your mother is here at our hospital. She’s been ill. She’s about to die.”

“I can speak with her. What do I say? I’m not sure.”

“Tell her you love her. Forgive her for the bad things. Help her to move on.”

He handed me the phone receiver.

“Richard? Are you there? I’m sorry.”

“I love you mom. I forgive you for everything. Grandpa is waiting for you.”

I heard three breaths. Then nothing. Then a dial tone.

Threes. What an impact.

On everything.

 

What the Dead Taught Me – Lessons from an Urban Cemetery.

It was out of place then. It’s out of place now. Hundreds of years ago-perfect. And when I climbed the fence or dug a hole underneath to enter this hallowed wedge almost directly underneath the elevated “F” Subway line, I felt at home. Calm. An oasis of rest. There was nothing to fear, no one to judge. Just whatever is left after bodies move beyond the rot and weathered gravestones, some with captivating epitaphs.

First time I saw the sign was 1970. It’s timeless.

Hey, the cemetery was founded by a babe (lady). A plus.

There was a rumor that a tunnel existed underneath the caretaker’s abode; allegedly, this channel lead to the back of the cemetery, up through an unmarked grave to daylight. It was an escape route/hiding place during the Revolutionary War. I never had the guts to investigate the validity of this tale, although at times I was tempted. A couple of nights a week, especially during the summer, I’d find myself waking up early morning behind a grave marker. I felt a very live affinity for the dead.

The infamous caretaker cottage. Sealed for decades.

I’m not so macabre. You’ve been there. Many of the living hold a fascination with graveyards and tombstones. My connection, however seemed deeper. As I sat on lumpy ground deep inside iron gates, I’d close my eyes and attempt to cast out a spiritual thread. I was desperately seeking answers. Hoping for a visceral spiritual pull. Once, at 1AM through an August late night that turned to early morning, I felt a tug on the other end of the ethereal thread. It woke me. A voice.

I was startled. Awoke with a rapid heartbeat. It was so strong, I recall my ears closing up to any external sounds. The voice was inner and soothing. He said his name was William. Who the hell was William. I didn’t know a William, or a Bill. The words filled my ears-I live by them 40 years later (or at least by my interpretation of them):

                                                      “We are all the same.”

Underneath the surface not much different.

Random Thoughts:

1). Deep Down We All Seek. Love, good health for us, friends and family, success, fortune. Our paths to what we seek are different. Could be life experience, frames of reference, luck. Yet, no matter what, there is a measure of peace we all wish to discover. You wouldn’t know it based on the day-to-day surface noise we encounter which keeps us divided-class warfare, politics, work, the kids, constipation. Remember though we all share a spiritual thread. The key to reward is to cast it willingly and see what happens. Deep down we are all the same.

2). Empathy/Fairness Strengthens your Signal. If you learn (not easy) to set aside the divisions and truly connect with the very human elements of others, then you will learn something that will make you a well-rounded individual surrounded by friend with rich experiences. Empathy or fairness provides mental fuel for the adventure. Regardless of who you decide to vote for in November, we are all the same.

3). Stock Markets are Fear & Greed Machines. It’s helpful to understand beyond the sophisticated math formulas and technology, financial markets are people. Irrational people. Fear & greed cycles through all of us therefore it flows through markets. It’s not different this time. Far from it. It’s always been this way and always will be unless the dead create a stock exchange. It’s best to understand and work within this framework. You’ll sleep better and deal with the fact that “it is what it is.” The thread that winds through markets is  all the same.

4). Better Them than Me. Recently I watched (50th time) the latest movie remake of “Dawn of the Dead.” When asked to say a kind word over the bodies of the dead (and dead again) Ving Rhames’ character blurts out candidly: “Better them than me.” Yes, better them than you. If you’re alive, keep an open mind. Rise above petty politics and trivial distractions of the day. Get acquainted or possibly connected with other breathing souls. Because when you cut through all the shit realize we are all the same.

And being alive and all the same is better than being dead and all the same.

Ok, Ving R. is a badass. Maybe a bit different? No. Just an actor.

The voice was gone. Heartbeat normal. The streetlight above was bright. I was able to read the gravestone.

Asleep in Jesus. W. Williams. We are all the same.

I went back to sleep. I was no longer the kid with the crazy mom. I was the same. I fit in.

Thanks for the lesson, William.