Wednesday, December 10, 2014

GET YOUR HEAD IN THE CLOUDS


Do you remember those family trips when your parents would keep you looking at the clouds to see the shapes as they emerged trying to save you from boredom and keep their sanity? In those clouds you saw everything from a dog to a dinosaur to a pirate ship. The sky, in those days, was a giant canvas full of endless possibilities for a child’s imagination. One summer afternoon the sky was a brilliant blue with clouds like cotton balls floating by, each changing shapes with the wind. I would see cars, animals and a variety of other pictures. Even today I will look at the sky to see if there is anything painted on the canvas of heaven.

From a very young age we are taught to look into the sky and use our imagination. This skill of seeing disguised clouds floating along in the horizon would serve us well on those long summer days outside. As the wind slowly and gently blew them across the sky they would appear alive while a metamorphosis would take place before our eyes. Sometimes they would change into something better and other times just a big cotton ball. But each time you would look into the clouds, you could see something different and then you began to grow.

As you grew your parents kept reminding you to get your head out of the clouds. Face the realities of the world in which you live. You will become a steel worker, a teacher, run a restaurant or something else reasonable. For some these are their dreams made real but for others not so much. Regardless of what you would become, you were encouraged to get your head out of the clouds and back to earth. In a way, they would be protecting us from pipe dreams that lead us to disappointment and preparing us for a life of real experience. Who could blame them really? They didn't know of anyone who had their head in the clouds and survived.

However, so many success stories come as a result of people seeing their goals “in the clouds.” It doesn't matter if it is a movie star or CEO, they saw it. They imagined it. Sometimes their image changed with the age of time and the winds of reality but they kept their head in the clouds. Those kids who began writing songs as an elementary student dreaming of stardom would later become the Taylor Swifts of the world. Then there’s the guy who struck out of a small town to become the George Clooneys of Hollywood. Perhaps they heard “get your head out of the clouds” but they chose not to pay any attention to it.

The reality of life is this. Dreams change and perhaps yours has. Another reality is not everyone can be famous but flip that coin over because some can be, so why can it not be you? The clouds are full of limitless possibilities of shapes and sizes. So are your dreams. You can become whatever you chose to become. You just have to stay determined and focused. It certainly won’t happen if you don’t do anything towards the goal of capturing your dreams.

If you want it, then get your head in the clouds.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

FROM THE DARKNESS COMES THE LIGHT OF CREATIVITY

The door is left open, nightlight is turned on yet it didn't deter the occasional a jump into the parent’s bed in the middle of the night. Have you been there? If you are a parent, of course you have. You’re also familiar with the words, “I’m afraid of the dark.” “Why be afraid of the dark?” we try to reason with the frightened toddler. But how can you reason with someone who has seen a mountain lion poke its head out of the closet or felt the monster under the bed. The noises heard from the dinosaur outside the window have the covers pulled all the way up only revealing two eyeballs searching the room.

Recently I read a quote, “Creativity, like human life itself begins in darkness.” This to me proved to be profound because, we have never been more creative than when we were little kids in the dark. There laying in our bed, the darkness of night around us, we created monsters with multiple eyes and sharp teeth. Ghosts hid in the corner and the alligators on the floor almost daring us to get out of bed. As we got older we began reasoning and what we had created had become a shirt on a hanger or a pair of shoes barely under the bed. As we got older the fear of darkness dissipated as did our creativity.

After reading that quote I began to think about the darkness and why we were so creative then. Outside of just plan paranoia, which I might add most kids don’t have, I think there are 3 reasons why were more creative in the dark. If we can reacquaint ourselves with the darkness perhaps creativity will reign once again in our minds. We have forgotten about the mountains we conquered, the robbers we caught and the sword fights we experienced. Perhaps, we can once again, be creative.

In the darkness there is quiet. When you laid there in your bed, you would hear every growl of the monsters and the click of their claws against the floor. All because the quiet drew your attention to every sound and you had no other option than figure out what it was, those monsters. There is a benefit to the stillness of the night (or morning) which permits you to hear your thoughts. If you want to get in touch with your creativity again, mark out a time where you can just be quiet. Perhaps it’s on you back deck with a cup of coffee as the birds sings. Maybe you have to wait till the kids are actually down for the night before there is a stillness for you. Whatever it is, you need to find it. Even the Bible gives value to the stillness and quietness. It’s when Elijah was finally not distracted by the noise and commotion that he heard the voice of God, in just a whisper (1 Kings 19:9-12).

The fear comes in the darkness when we lay there alone. Mom would tuck her little man into bed then leave and there he would be by himself. Sometimes even the bedtime story wouldn't work, often feeding into our thoughts as we lay there with no one around but the monsters. A lot can be said about finding some time where there are no distractions. Nothing but you and your thoughts running wherever they may. Each morning I awake before everyone else (or at least I try), grab my pen and pad then write whatever is in my head, free-writing (not typing on my computer) three pages each day. I have written jokes, articles, have had ideas for TV shows and been very creative when it’s just me. Not to mention all the ‘To Do’ and grocery lists I have created. But it’s more about capturing my thoughts, its unleashing a flow of creativity which allows me to explore areas otherwise pushed aside or not even seen due to the distractions around me.

The third reason we were more creative in the darkness was because we used our imagination. While we laid there engulfed with darkness, we saw what wasn't there. We would hear sounds and then imagined what they were. They were real to us, those monsters under the bed and dinosaurs outside the window. We just knew once we were tucked in for the night our floors turned in moats or lakes filled with kid eating alligators. But it only happened when it was dark and we saw them with our mind’s eye, our imagination. Then we got older and our imagination grew dimmer as more light of reality shown on it. We just forgot our bed was actually a ship floating in the ocean and our cap guns would protect us from any danger.

The next time the lights go out and you are blanketed with darkness don’t be afraid. Instead, use the light of creativity to open a whole new world.

Friday, October 24, 2014

HALLOWEEN: Have Fun, There's Nothing To Be Afraid Of

It’s Halloween time and I am looking back on the stuff I used to like. I guess I still like them but just never do them anymore. Such as Trick or Treating. Going from door to door in the neighborhood dresses in a costume and asking…no wait…expecting the person behind the door to give me candy. My mom would tell me stories of when she was a kid and instead of candy it would be money, mainly pennies or nickels. Beggers night is what she would call it. When you look back on it, I guess that is what we did and in a way they still do.

Then there are all the stories to go along with the night. Ghosts, Goblins and Witches rule the night going in and out of the shadows. A full moon’s glow with and eerie night cloud floating by it only makes the most scary night of the year more fun. Then hospitals opening the doors to X-ray candy and those apples Mrs. White always gave out to the neighborhood kids. They would look for razor blades, synergies and any other spooky threat perpetrated on the un-suspecting youth.  Nothing was ever found or reported but still they would look, adding to the “terror” of the night.

What about all those movies which would come out at this time. The Nightmare’s which happened on Elm Street or the camp kids getting hacked by dude in a hockey mask. Then there was the crazy brother who terrorized his sister, especially around Halloween. Not to mention the Screams, the houses at the end of the street and the campy ones making fun of all the others. Designed to frighten people, these movies were a God-send to guys on dates. Fun nights were had as we played protector or were they just wanting us to put our arm around them? Ahh a mystery for the ages.

Haunted houses, Halloween alternatives and a variety of other events helping create memories in our minds as we get older. Entertaining every one with stories around back-yard fires as we cooked hotdogs are on a stick and with those gooey marshmallows. We impart these rites of passages to our kids so they can have the same yet different memories to pass on to their children.

So this Halloween, put on your favorite costume, watch your favorite scary movie but most of all remember this is for the kids. Allow them to have fun and teach them to enjoy life by not being afraid of those things that can do no harm. We need to stop raising our kids to be afraid at every shadow and raise them to enjoy living.

Have fun…there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

LIFE ON THE ROAD IS NO VACATION

My "Five Star" Hotel Room
Life on the road is a glamorous life. You’re on vacation all the time. There’s a party 24/7 in your five star hotels. The only reason you aren't in a four diamond hotel is you don’t want to appear haughty and out of touch. Picked up at your door whenever it’s time for your show and you’re whisked away to a microphone in the glow of a spotlight. Once autographs are signed and pictures taken you’re then chauffeured back to your awaiting king size room with a pillow top king size bed befitting the celebrity you are. Well, that’s what people think…shoot it’s what I think, sometimes.

I have stayed in fine hotels and have seen many great sights. From the Puget Sound to the Niagara Falls, to quote Johnny Cash, “I've been everywhere man.” I recently had my first trip to Canada and have swam in the Caribbean. This, many believe is the norm, but it isn't, at least for me it’s not. I think many celebrities feel the same way. What you consider a vacation is our job. I know we aren’t building cars in Detroit or farming tobacco in Kentucky but its work still the same. For the most part, all most see is the escape from real life, i.e. a vacation. Flashing bulbs of cameras, nice clothes and fancy cars, that’s the life.

Well, today I’m in another city and I’m not even sure I can remember the name. My “Five Star” hotel is a block room painted diarrhea green with one wall that’s orange. The complementary mouthwash has something floating in it and there is no coffee. I didn't even know they made hotels with no coffee anymore. I have been on the road or as some call it, vacation, for 9 days and I have 2 more to go. On Monday I’ll be up at 4am to drive to the airport to drop the car off (yep I drive myself everywhere) and catch a flight back to Florida where I will wash clothes to get ready to do it again.

I’m not complaining, you see, it’s the life I chose…rather, it’s the life that chose me. To not be touring, traveling the friendly skies or driving the country’s highways would be denying what I was made to do. I've never been a homebody and I have always wanted to see the world from a windshield and in some cases, a rear-view mirror. Dreams and the pursuit of those dreams have been my driving force for as long as I can remember. Standing in front of a mirror, hairbrush in hand, singing Elvis songs complete with guitar (no strings on it by the way) I dreamed of being on the road…being a star. But chasing a dream as I have come to find out is hard work.

Waking up each morning full of hopes and promise only to fall asleep at night wondering if there is still more to do then you begin again the next day. Each time you get a gig or even an interest you count it as a good day but those days you hear nothing provides you with a choice. Do you doubt yourself leading to giving up or do you wake up that next morning, no matter how tired, with hope and promise ready to grab that dream? If this life chose you, then you wake up ready.

Life on the road is no vacation, but for me it’s a dream coming true.

Friday, September 12, 2014

I'M FLYING HIGH

Here I am at over 30,000 feet in the air and all my mind is thinking about is, “air travel is barely 100 years old.” I remember learning in history class even one of the Wright brothers flew planes in World War 1. This is just fascinating to me. With every bump in the…wait, how does air have bumps? They call it turbulence which I guess is air pockets, rough weather and nothing to be concerned about, so they tell us when it happens. All because two brothers from Ohio took an idea of air travel and made it a reality. For which I thank them and my pilot. For me air travel is the best way to go. Always an adventure worth experiencing and fodder for stories.

I remember one flight we hit one of those air pockets and dropped a several feet. Just how many feet I don’t know but we fell none the less. The little boy in the seat in front of me turned to his mother and asked her a question just as sincere as it was loud, “Hey Mom. If we fell from this high would we die?” The mother, obviously embarrassed, tried to quiet him while answering his question. Every few minutes and until we landed, the curious toddler continued to ask, “How about this high, Mom?” The mom knew she was fighting a losing battle trying to teach him talking about crashing in a plane isn’t a great topic for conversation. As for me, I laughed and hoped he would ask it louder. It was more entertaining than an in-flight movie.

Air travel does has its ups and downs though. The lay overs in towns you don’t know and not enough time to leave the airport to experience them. Recently coming home from some shows in upstate New York my wife and I had a delayed flight which erased any time to grab something to eat and almost erased our being able to get to our connecting flight. I hate running through airports. Well, I don’t run…ever. I may walk fast but never run. There is always a story to relay when asked how was my trip.

Once I was getting ready to head through security and got fast passed. They had chosen me to get pre-screened which bumped me to the head of the line. I didn’t have to take off my shoes or anything. Through security I headed to Starbucks as is my ritual. When I got there the guy in line said, “Here, go ahead of me, I’m waiting for someone.” This is turning out to be a great flight. Arrived to my seat on the Boeing 737, removed my flip flops and settled in to relax while reading my book. As we took off on my perfect flight sent to me from the Lord above I heard a young child say, “Uh Oh.” I’m the father of two girls and I’ve heard enough “Uh Oh’s” to know this wasn’t good. Soon my bare feet discovered the source of this “Uh Oh” as they were covered in slushy. Almost on cue, another child began to cry. My perfect flight quickly became less than perfect to say the least.

But today I am having a great flight to Michigan. Other than my head plugging up, it’s perfect (the two children on the plane are behind me and quiet). It’s the 13th Anniversary of 9/11 so I am feeling patriotic, proud to be an American and grateful to those brothers from the Buckeye state for developing this mode of transportation. In spite of the kid asking his mom if we would die or my slushy covered feet, I love to fly. This has taught me to take the good with the bad. The good is always better but without the slushy feet and layovers, I may not appreciate the good as much. This is such a great lesson to remember for our everyday walk in life. All because two bicycle repairing brothers made the dream of air travel a reality.

So today, at 30,000 feet, all I can say is, “Nice job Mr. Pilot. But if we were to fall from here…” 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I HATED SCHOOL

I hated school. There I said it. I said what almost every student thinks and how they feel each time they wake up at 6am so they can be at school by the time class starts. My youngest daughter is actually up at 5:30am getting dressed, putting together her own lunch all while hollering at me to hurry so I can drive her to her “job.” When she arrives home she’ll watch a little TV then its homework. Supper time allows her a little break but then she is right back at it until bed time, which for her is about 8:30ish. No wonder she dreads Mondays through Fridays. I did to, except I wasn’t near as studious as her. For me I enjoyed being at school to see all my buddies but those dang classes got in our way. As a result I was an average student scooting by on barley enough. Not my daughters, for which I am both grateful and extremely proud.

As I get older, though, I realize what I missed by not being a student. To me it was a classification of what I was but it wasn’t who I was. It’s that distinction that kept me from being as successful as I could have been. I still may have never been Valedictorian or Salutatorian but I certainly could have done better, perhaps even have earned some scholarships for college. I was content to show up and just fill the seat until I got to see my buddies between classes. If I could go back with what I know now, things would certainly be different. I would have studied more played less, well maybe not played less certainly loafed less. Making better use of my time.

I have now applied that “study more loaf less” concept to my work as an entertainer. I still like hanging out with my buddies or sit on a boat fishing but it all has its place. Because if it doesn’t I will remain a no name comic among other no name comics all of us hanging out talking about when we “make it” not really doing what it takes to get where we want to go. Too many of us take our good time high school/college living into our career life then wonder why some make it and we don’t. This came home to me a while back when I was hanging out with a comic who got “the call.”

We were all hanging out when this comic was invited by a friend of ours to come over to the house to watch sports. A great invitation. Food, drinks and sports on TV how could you turn this down? Not to mention the opportunity to hang out with a great friend he’s not seen in a while. What would your response have been? If you’re like most of us you would have said, “I’ll be there as soon as I get up and shower.” Not this comic. He simply declined the invite. He wanted to go. He wanted to spend the day watching football but there was something more pressing, his career. In order for him to reach his goals, he needed to chill in his hotel room, alone, to write. To be creative. To prepare. To research. Because he knows to reach his goals, he needs to be a student and that requires some sacrifices.

Every successful entertainer, CEO or sports figure is a student. They are a student of their craft. They know sacrifices will need to be made in order to be in the top of their class. Do they play? Do they loaf or have down time? Of course they do. The difference is knowing when play time is and it’s not all the time. They realize the need for rest and when it’s the proper time. This is the mark of successful students.

Hello. My name is Vic. I’m a student.

Monday, August 18, 2014

HAVE YOU MISSED ME?

Have I been missed? Did you wonder where my weekly words of wisdom have gone? Did you say to yourself, “He must be super busy and that’s why he isn't writing anything”? I certainly hope I have been missed even if my words are far from wisdom. I wish I could tell you I have been so busy conquering the entertainment world that I just couldn't find the time to write. I wish I could even tell you, life got in the way, preventing me from putting my thoughts in cyber form for you to read. I wish I could tell you, my dear reader, a lot of things, but truth be told, I can’t.

Life didn't get in the way nor have I been so busy that I couldn't write. My trouble is I've had a bout of the Lazies. TV shows needed watched. Naps needed taken. Mindless, near comatose, pure laziness was all it was. I apologize to you, reader of my prose. I wish I had a better excuse. I wish I could say it was a hangnail on my typing hand. I wish I could have even hung up a sign reading, “Gone Fishing” but I didn't even do that. I just didn't feel like it. I didn't want to write (and you know how much I love it). Then I wondered if I really had anything of value to say. If there was any real value found in the pictures I try to paint in your mind. But here I sit on an airplane thinking I have robbed you of any value you might find. In reality, though, I have robbed myself these past weeks.

You see, I write because I enjoy it. I hope you do as well, but I do it for me. I do have thoughts in my head and writing helps me fine tune those thoughts into my own masterpiece. I guess most writers or composers feel the same way. They don’t necessarily write for you the reader but rather because it is in them and it has to come out. A great poem, story or even a song is written from the mind, the heart of its author. Emily Dickinson’s poems weren't discovered until after her death and she is listed in literary history as one of the best. She wrote them for herself and we were blessed to discover them. Beethoven was blind yet composed great music because it was in him and needed to come out.

Although I hope you read my words and enjoy them, I write them for me. I write them because it’s in me to write them. My words may not roll of the page like an Ernest Hemingway novel or an Edgar Allen Poe story, they are still my words put up for you to read and hopefully take away something useful. If not I will continue to write for my own therapy and edification. If you can gain anything from this today, take this, do not let laziness keep you from doing what you should be doing. For you not only rob us of your gift but you rob yourself of being who you are.

Monday, June 23, 2014

HERE COMES THE DREAMER

Growing up in Eastern Kentucky, church was a big part of my life, as it is with most people raised in the south. Our weekly routine was simple, if the doors of the church were open then we walked through them. Sunday morning, Sunday night and the dreaded Wednesday night. If there wasn’t any youth group meeting on Wednesday then we had to sit in the adult Bible study. But Mom said we had to go so my brother and I went. As a result, a lot of the stories from the Bible sunk in and stick with me.

There was a king so fat, when he was assassinated with a sword, his fat engulfed the whole knife. Guys were thrown in a furnace, a lion’s den and swallowed by a giant fish and lived to talk about it. A donkey spoke and a snake tempted. There are stories of treachery, love, victories and agonies which captivate as they draw you in, so much so, you forget your hearing a story from the Bible. One such story draws my attention to new aspects and nuances each time I hear it. A simple story of a guy with seemingly no direction in life yet turns out to be on the path of his purpose all along. When he walked up to a crowd, people would mockingly say, “Here comes the dreamer!” Yet, there are a few lessons we can learn from Joseph and his dreams.

Some are Not Going to Believe in You. 
When Joseph revealed his dreams to his brothers they were jealous, made fun of him and even told their dad he was one weird cat.  Even his dad told him to get his head out of the clouds. Dreamers often face this lack of support from family and friends. They may get a ceremonial pat on the head or a verbal cheer lacking sincerity. This is a usual outcome because dreams lack practicality and are foreign to the non-dreamers. Yet, like Joseph, you must not give in to their lack of belief. As a matter of fact, their lack of faith in your dream is all the more reason you most continue to cultivate a strong faith in you and your dream.

Some Will Try to Derail You. 
Joseph’s brothers were so fed up with him and his dreams, they devised a plan to get rid of him. The oldest altered their plan to kill him to sell him into slavery then tell their dad he was attacked. I am sure Joseph wondered what would happen to him and his dreams, but he stay on track. He didn’t fully understand how it was all going to work out and he knew if he allowed himself to get off course it definitely wouldn’t reach fruition.

Some will Seek to Contain You. 
Joseph became a well-respected employee in a high ranking official’s business until he was placed in a position that would compromise his dream. When he stood firm with who he was, he was lied about, framed and then falsely imprisoned. Being shut out from everyone, ostracized even, is a form of containment and can tempt you compromise your dreams in an effort to be accepted. In the end all you have accomplished is changing your dream to someone else’s, confining yourself to less than what you could be. Dreamers remain committed to the dream regardless of how dreary, damp and dark the dungeon of containment may seem. Dreams stay focused on a bigger picture.

Some will Commit to You. 
While in prison, Joseph treated everyone with respect and helped one realize his dream even when it meant his friend would achieve his goal before him. When the opportunity arose, however, Joseph’s friend recommended Joseph. He wasn’t forgotten about, just the opposite in fact. This guy believed in Joseph’s abilities so much he risked everything with his suggestion. Long story short, Joseph became the most powerful person (except for the Pharaoh) in the country and his dreams were fulfilled. The reason for this rests with Joseph. Sure he had help but had he doubted himself, given up or comprised his dreams he would not have been in the position which allowed him to make his dreams a reality.

When you walk into a room and hear someone say, “Here comes the dreamer,” hold your head up and say, “Yes I am.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

MEMORIES

Memories are tricky things. They often come at the most inopportune time. They will pop into your mind, often times for no reason at all. I was watching a fast food commercial once then “astounded” my kids with a story of my youth which had nothing to do with the commercial. Often times they look at me and say, “That was random” or “What made you think of that?” To which I have no good answer, it just happened and once you have heard some of my stories, my daughters’ questions/statements make a lot more sense.

I imagine you have had similar experiences though. How about this? Have you ever gone into the kitchen (or any room for that matter) then stop dead in your tracks with a confused look on your face and wonder to yourself, “Why in the world did I come in here?” You stand there confused, a little embarrassed and then just turn around going back to where you just came from wondering if you will ever remember why but kind of sure you won’t.  The funniest part is when you are watching it happen to someone else and you watch them start over trying to jog their memory by retracing their steps only for it to be forever lost. When it happens to me I always think to myself, “I never needed it anyway.”

However, I do have those memories, as I am sure we all do, that we wish we could forget. It could that time you embarrassed yourself in front the girl you had a crush on in high school.  Maybe there is something no one else knows that you wish didn’t happen and could forget about. But it’s those memories which have helped mold you into the person you are, and hopefully for the better. It’s one of those cool things about memories, it teaches us, molds us and gives us a little enlightenment as to why we are the way we are. Sometimes those memories allows us the opportunity to connect with those who are younger, bridging, ever so slightly, the generation gap with a story.

Memories are history. Our history and our family’s history. One person once said, “If we don’t learn from history, we are destined to repeat it.” That’s our memories and the lessons that come with them. On this Memorial Day weekend, I have thought about what I was going to grill and how I would celebrate it. Burgers, hot dogs or steaks? Those are my tough decisions to make. Will I have baked beans or mac and cheese? Probably both. Then there are a dozen other items that need my attention on this Holiday. In the midst of all the festivities the most important part of it could be lost and perhaps for many it did. The part which causes us to remember. Remember the soldiers who have giving their lives just so I could be put in the overwhelming position of having to decide between burgers or hot dogs. On this day I will offer you a little help of memory.

Remember the Alamo.

This day will live in infamy.

Lest we forget, 9-11.

Monday, May 19, 2014

I HATE YARD WORK

My Name in Neon (chalk)

Yard work is the one chore I dread the most. I wake up Saturday morning knowing the yard needs to be mowed, weeds trimmed and the gutters cleaned out. I will drink a cup of coffee, perhaps 3 or four, while I “think” about how to form a plan of attack and get it all accomplished. In essence, however, I’m just putting off what I know needs to be done, so it isn't really the yard work I dread as much as actually starting it. It’s been said, “Every journey begins with the first step.” The same is true with yard work, it all begins with the first step toward the garage for the yard tools. Each tool has its purpose to accomplish, a specific task to, supposedly, make my job easier and more tolerable. But I know I am still going to sweat and get dirty.

Of all the chores I do, the one I dread the most is the cleaning out of the gutters. It involves getting out the ladder, setting it up in the right spot then climbing it, one rung at a time, while carrying my leaf blower. I just know it’s going to be frustrating at times and a struggle to get those leaves out. I’m going to get sweaty not to mention all the leaves and gunk covering me as the blower forces them into the air. Bottom line is it’s not glamorous. Just the opposite in fact. It can get extremely dirty, and difficult at times. It’s actually much like climbing the ladder to success.

Too often when we look at our successful heroes who are walking red carpets and generally living the “jet-set” that’s all we see, the glamour. I’ve been guilty of looking at the name in lights and forgetting about the times when their name was written in sharpie. I rolled into Louisiana once, excited to do my show thinking, “They’ve never heard anything like me” until I saw my name written in neon chalk on the sign out front. Then, with laughter in my head, I realized my name will be erased with the swipe of the hand or a good strong breeze. 

Staring at our heroes standing at the top of the ladder, we totally overlook all the rungs they stepped on to get there. The ones standing at the top, for the most part, know what it took. They know on one rung they learned the value of networking. On another was the lesson of marketing. Then others consisting of practice, material, business and the rungs go on and one. For the entertainer it’s in those dive bars they learned the value of connection or how to further hone their art form. Every rung brings you higher, closer to the end goal. Make no mistake, however, you might slip on a rung or get stuck on one for a time, but they will take you closer to your dreams as you climb. Slow or fast, you still have to climb it one rung at a time.

Excuse me now while I go get my ladder and work in the yard. Man, I hate yard work.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

THE INVISIBLE MAN

I remember going to dances in high school and seeing those group of kids standing along the perimeter of the room not sure what to do. I’m not sure how they are referred to now days, but we called them wall flowers back in the day. Most movies depict those awkward teenagers as nerds and just socially inept. Outcasts from the social elite even to the point where they walk the hallways like ghosts. You never really see them as they quietly blend into the background, never noticed or doing anything to draw attention to themselves. These invisible students just go about their lives, living in the shadows doing what they do hardly ever finding their way into the light.

This invisible mentality can also move from high school/college right into your work life. In the move The Office there was a character who just came to work, stayed quiet and no one even noticed him even when they discovered he had not received a paycheck for a long period of time. With belly laughs, we laugh at those scenarios the characters find themselves, mainly because, we identify with them. Yet we still get up the next morning go to work only to blend in. Creativity is hidden, even squelched. Ideas are dismissed and along we go one of many who clock in then clock out as wall flowers.

How many reading this have ever felt like you are in the background? Not even background noise just background, almost invisible. I know I’ve felt this way. I live on stage in front of people all the time yet I find myself struggling to not be invisible. It is a struggle. People drift to the sidelines for a variety of reasons. Some lack the self-confidence to be involved, share little to no interests with the group, or a number of other reasons. But how does one correct this? How can they go from being invisible to being seen? The quick and most honest answer I have is, I don’t know. I don’t know what the psychologist and the other experts on this subject will tell you. All I know for sure is what I do, what works for me.

In a nutshell, I decide not be background. It’s a conscience effort. Every day I wake and I have a decision to make. A decision whether I will be invisible, overlooked and forgotten or not be. Every morning I make the decision to walk out of my house with my head up seeking to make my way. Maybe this will help you wake up and decide to not be background.

I wake up and decide on this day I will pursue my passion. My passion is to be an entertainer and everything I choose to do has to fit under this heading. From comedy, to writing and even giving speeches, I decide. I wake up deciding to follow my passion. Although I do get sidetracked even a bit distracted and go off-roading so to speak, it’s a decision I conscientiously have to make. My passion is important to me, which is why it’s a passion. If it weren't my passion it would be an interest or worse just a hobby.

The second decision I wake up making is perhaps the hardest but I still make it. It isn’t easy but it has to be done and to be honest sometimes I fail. But I don’t allow it to stop me, in fact it makes me become more resolute in this decision. In addition to deciding to follow my passion, I wake up and decide “not everyone has to notice me.” Yep, that’s it and it is hard especially for someone who feeds on the attention. You have to decide to be happy with who you are even when no one is looking. You must decide what you will be when you are alone.

To stop being a wilting wall flower and be visible all you have to do is wake up and decide. Trust me, it’s easier said than done, but you can do it.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

OUTLAWS ALWAYS TAKE THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED

Outlaws have always had a peculiar way of capturing our interest. We seem to be more fascinated with those who color outside the lines than those who use the lines as a guide. Many reading this may think I’m referring to the likes of Jessie James and Billy the Kid, although, colorful Outlaws, I’m writing about those who are the Outlaws in any particular industry, namely entertainment. Every profession has them. Take Galileo for instance. He went against the Scientific & Religious views when he touted the unpopular view of the Earth rotating around the Sun rather than the other way. He even spent time in jail for it.

The thing about Outlaws is they refuse to be boxed in by society rules and norms. Rather, they often become our heroes and role models in life. George Washington and the rest of the revolutionaries are great examples of this, rebelling against the status quo and the British Empire. As history has proved, it’s worked out pretty well. When you walk through the halls of the history of the world you see portrait after portrait of rebels, Outlaws and the like who go against the grain only to be regarded as heroes. Within the entertainment world it isn't any different. It’s those who choose to go their own way we turn into legends, eventually.

Artists such as Waylon Jennings fight for what they believe in and for who they are at their core. His “Wanted: The Outlaws” album was the first Platinum album to be seen in Nashville much to the chagrin of the radio executives (until they saw money was to be made). Elvis Presley chose to shake and gyrate his body to the point society called him the Devil. Now we simply know him as the King of Rock & Roll, a hero. The Blue Collar Comedy Tour is an example for four guys going against what the comedy hierarchy says was true comedy entertainment, to the point the higher ups wanted nothing to do with Foxworthy and the boys. But they became the highest grossing comedy tour in the history of comedy tours, then the entertainment world jumped on their bandwagon. Three examples of Outlaws becoming heroes.

What it boils down to is those who make the rules and “control” the given industry often times have no idea what will actually work. They strong arm and bully their “show ponies” making them dance to the beat they set. They disavow and disown anyone who goes against the path they've set. Enter the Outlaw. He will do his own thing even if there are no riches involved. He will go his own way, even if alone. He will not be bullied and sets his own beat, even if he has to play all the instruments himself.

Robert Frost spoke of the outlaw (sort of) in his poem, The Road Less Traveled. The Outlaw takes this road. This road isn't easy, oftentimes lonely and has the occasional pothole of doubt. He is branded the rebel, the heretic and even of the devil (remember Elvis) but he wouldn't have it any other way. His mind just works differently. His attitude is his own. His satisfaction is knowing he is true to himself.
On the heart of the Outlaw are the last words of Robert Frost’s poem, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” All the difference indeed.


THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
-          Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Monday, April 28, 2014

NASHVILLE: The Land of DREAMERS and DOERS.

A few weeks ago I had a three hour layover in one of the greatest cities in the country, Nashville, TN. So I spent this time in the World Famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge (airport edition). As I sat there, the place was busting at the seams. The singer on stage was playing and singing old country classics. This packed restaurant became a classic country choir and it was amazingly fun. If I had to have a layover, I couldn't have planned it any better. Three hours in Music City USA and I felt the old fires burning deep inside me. Fires that can only be fueled by the atmosphere of Nashville, even if I only made it as far as the airport.

This is what makes this town such a unique place. On every corner you see and hear people, young and old, living out their dream of making it. Keep in mind their idea of “making it” may just be playing music for a living whether they’re heard on the radio or not. Dream chasing just oozes from the veins here. One cannot walk into a bar in the lower Broadway area and not hear music playing. It happens at all hours, different bands and singers switching shifts throughout the day just like the wait staff. From all over the country, each one came to this town just to play music in hopes of being discovered or bumping into someone already on the radio.  Nashville, TN the place where people come to chase their dreams. They may drive beat up trucks or arrive on a bus but they come, their dreams are what puts the breath in their lungs, so they come.

People all over America have dreams. They dream of a nice home with the perfect family. They dream of winning the lottery. They dream of their name in lights or on playbills. It isn't any accident the term “American Dream” was coined. We are dreamers. I have them, you have them and those singers in Nashville have them. However, there is more to it than just having dream. It’s what sets you apart from the dreamers to the doers that makes the difference. Actually, it’s the determination to go from dreamer to doer that makes one successful.

Far too many people are content to dream. Dreams help us sleep. Dreams give us something to talk about. But if dreaming is all we do then the streets of Nashville would grow quiet and stages across the country would be empty. It’s the drive, the determination that turns dreams into music. It transforms dreams into reality. It isn't just in the entertainment world, it’s in every realm, where determined dreamers find success, which isn't always fame and fortune, but success nonetheless.

The difference between the Dreamers and the Doers is The Dreamers dream then sleep and the Doers dream then they do. Which one will you be, a slumbering Dreamer or a successful Doer?

Monday, April 21, 2014

LOOK!...A SQUIRREL.

Plans today is to go for a long bike ride. It’s my New Year’s resolution from last year. Ride my bicycle at least three days a week, however winter was a rough one and I got out the habit. I felt guilty about it so I sat around until that feeling went away. Today that is all going to change. I haven’t gained all my weight back from being on a bike riding hiatus but I have gained some. When I get started here in a little bit I will be ahead of the curve. By the time summer hits I will not only look better more importantly I will feel better. Here lately too many of contemporaries have passed away due to unhealthy living, that’s not going to be me. I’m planning one being here a bit longer.

Well, that’s how my morning began. When I got up I put on my exercise shorts and tee shirt with all the intentions of the world of going. When I ride, I really ride. 9 miles is minimum for me and its nothing for me to be return a few hours later having rode 18 miles or more. As I was preparing to leave Shadow needed to go out to do whatever it is he needed to do outside which among those activities usually includes chasing lizards. If he gets one, which 9 times out of 10 he does, it will be a little bit before he is ready to come back in. Knowing this, I grabbed my trusty laptop and proceeded to work. Before I knew it, I was in the middle of a project and the juices were flowing. Briefly interrupted to let shadow back in, I was engulfed and had all but forgotten to go for a ride. Distractions number 1 and number 2.

OK, it’s time to re-group and get out there to ride. I have to get in better shape. So here we go, time to ride. Wait, look at that sink. Those girls of mine! I wish they could do their chores without being told. I can’t leave it like that. I can’t stand a dirty kitchen. Many people don’t know this about me but I like to cook. I don’t cook often and it’s usually something I do on the grill or smoker but I want a clean kitchen just in case I take the notion to cook something. So off to straighten the kitchen. Distraction number 3.

Well the kitchen looks better, however it’s time for Rebecca to come in from school so now I just can’t go. She can’t come home with me not here (although she does so about every other day) because if I’m gone she will just text me until I can’t concentrate on my ride. So I might as well give up on my ride today and begin brand new tomorrow. Distraction number 4 and the final one. Distractions 1 and Vic 0.

How many times do we let the distractions of life get in our way of accomplishing what we want? It could be a dream, a chore or in my case, a bike ride (exercise) but those minor distractions mount up to form what seems to be an insurmountable wall and we just give up. It’s those distractions which get in the way of our dreams. Too often our dreams sit up on the shelf because we have allowed the distractions of life to get in the way and our fullest potential is never achieved. It’s a conscience effort to move past those distractions, those items in your way to achieve your success, whatever it may be.

So tomorrow morning I will get up take my daughter to school and begin brand new with a conscience effort of determination to reach my success. I've already started, I put air in the tires of my bike. That’s step one.

Monday, April 14, 2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

It’s April 13, 2014 and I sitting in the World Famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in Nashville, TN (Airport edition). In here there’s good music, a packed house and something to eat. Hanging out with complete strangers singing classic songs is a pretty good way to spend a 3 hour layover. I met a cool young country singer trying make a living doing what he loves to do and he’s good at it.

As much as I love town and a part of me is tempted to just stay, I must get back to Orlando. You see, tomorrow is a very special day, it’s my baby girl’s birthday. It isn't one big ones but that doesn't make it any less special. She turns 15 tomorrow and has been counting it down since New Year’s Day I believe. She thinks that is fun and for her I suppose it is. I remember my birthdays back in the day, the anticipation of its arrival, the excitement and the feeling of becoming older, so I get it. But it still doesn't change the fact my baby girl is getting older and it hurt a little.

This little girl growing up was my shadow, wanting to go where I go and do what I did. She wanted to be fishing when I went fishing or just sit next to me on the couch. Now days she is more interested in manicures and boys than worms and fishing (although she will still go when asked – once a redneck girl always a redneck girl). The times where she sits next to me snuggled up on the couch is getting fewer and fewer as the days pass by. She thinks it’s fun to watch Say Yes to the Dress while to me it just means she’s growing up and already dreaming of leaving me to begin a new life. But as a father it’s what I do. I raised her to be strong, independent and bait her own hook when fishing. There’s still a tinge of hurt with each birthday that passes.  With this one she gets her permit already in anticipation of the next one.

She spends hours in the bathroom doing make-up, her hair and becoming a young woman. With each birthday the time draws nearer to when she will gain the favor of a young man and leave. Gone will be the little girl who scared me with blood streaming down her face from jumping on her sister’s bed. The one who asked me to lay beside her and tell her bedtime stories. Next on the agenda will be to teach her to drive and she wants to drive my truck, which is such a big girl thing to do. Then before I know will be graduation, college and well other events I am not looking forward to but I will always do the Daddy thing, smile.

On Monday, we will celebrate her birth. We will celebrate her growing up. As for me, I will put on a brave Daddy smile masking the hurt of losing my little girl to this young woman blowing out those candles.

Friday, April 4, 2014

YOU'RE MY HERO, CHARLIE BROWN

Growing up one of my favorite cartoons were the Peanuts. It didn't matter whether it was the holiday classics shown on the television or the daily strip in the newspaper, I loved them and I still do. There was always a mis-adventure involving Charlie Brown and his band of friends. The first “troubled child” we knew about in America and we all still loved him, perhaps identifying with him on some level. It didn't matter that he was always the losing pitcher on his baseball team or missing that football every single time, we loved him. Even when he had to see the psychiatrist at a nickel per visit, we never stopped rooting for him. Never stopped being in his corner, cheering for him. Hoping this time it would be different for him, but it never really seemed to work out just right.

Could it be the fault of those around him dragging or holding him down? There’s the little sister who is not only more popular but has a major crush on Charlie’s best friend, Linus. Oh Linus. Dragging his security towel everywhere he went, he stood by Charlie Brown ready with advice. What about Lucy, the nickel psychiatrist, who always seemed to belittle him with insults? Peppermint Patty, who liked “Chuck” but was very domineering over him. Of course we can’t forget about his beagle, Snoopy. A very talented dog who also would outshine his owner. The list could go on, the Pigpen, the accomplished pianist, the nerd and more. Not to mention never being able to really understand what any adult had to say. Could any of this be the root of his issues?

We could go on further and discuss his athletic abilities, or rather the lack of athletic abilities. He could never quote Charlie Sheen’s “Winning” and mean it because poor ole Charlie Brown didn't know what it was like to be a winner. He fell for the same football trick every time. Even when he knew better and she promised him it would be different, it never was. He’d run toward his goal, lift his leg to kick it and then Lucy would  pull it away at the crucial moment leaving poor ole Charlie Brown on his back wondering to himself, “Why did I fall for that again?!”

Through the years there is one thing I've noticed about him, he never gave up. He never gave up on his friends. He never gave up on his dream of pitching a winning game. He never gave up on kicking that football. Most importantly though, Charlie Brown never gave up on Charlie Brown. With all the hindrances in his life, who would blame him if he, in turn, blamed all those obstacles for his lack of success? But he didn't. He always got up and spent time with the same friends, feed the same dog and tried once more to kick that ball. He suited up every Saturday, believing today could be the day I pitch a winning game. He simply never gave up. His problems are not unlike ours each day and yet he got out of bed each day. With all the rejection in his life, Charlie Brown never gave up.

Today, as you struggle with what to do or if it’s worth the effort to chase your dream, remember that little Peanuts character and NEVER EVER GIVE UP, for today could be the day.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

WORK SMART AT WORKING HARD

When I was a kid I did what I could to not work hard or even work at all. When Mom would tell me on a Saturday morning I had to go to the basement and sweep I would remind her that the allergy doctor said I was allergic to household dust. Therefore, in my mind, the logical thing to do was stay right where I was, watching Saturday morning TV on our 19 inch television. Needless to say I had to go work at cleaning my room. If I knew in time work was coming my way I hit the woods before the list of chores was handed down. Perhaps every kid has this aversion to work and why we always got mad at those “slave driving” parents of ours. Although I hated it, I remember hearing, “Things worth having are worth working for” and “If you have to work for it you will appreciate it more.” So in my family, in my wheelhouse of experiences, hard work was a great practice to exhibit. Through hard work you can get what you want and your needs are met. However all the hard working people I knew were just as poor (lower middle class sometimes) as we were. Happy, it seemed, but still poor.

As I grew the phrase, “Work smart, not hard” resonated with me because, well first off I hated hard work. But what appealed to me was it was being said by seemingly rich people. CEOs, entertainers, and well to do business executives driving nice cars living in big houses. That is what I want. I want the big house on the lake or ocean. I want the new truck and car and boat and well you get the picture. So I determined I need to develop my mind. Become smart and not have to work hard. Plans were developed. Short term as well as long term goals were listed. Books were read and sacrifices made all in the effort of working smart and not hard. Riches had to be right around the corner, right? Nope, I still had to budget. Watch my pennies (yes pennies not dollars).

Then it dawned on me, phrases like those mentioned above aren’t just clich├ęs, they have stood the test of time for a reason. The reason is this, they go together. What I have realized is you have to work both smart and hard in order to achieve success of any kind. When you look at the areas in the lives of successful people they have been smart about the hard work they have done. They stay determined to move forward and focused on what they want to achieve then work hard at it. Plans are developed, relationships are made and meetings are strategically made all in an effort to achieve their goals set. Intelligently working hard.

I think working smart encompasses the idea of knowing when to punch the clock to go home for the evening. As a comedian I always have an “eye open” looking for a new joke premise and I would imagine successful business people are the same way. In today’s world it seems 24/7 work week is the way to go in order to get ahead then never enjoying it once you’re there. Worse yet, missing out on what is all around you now. Such a heavy effort of “working smart not hard” may not be that smart at all. We are not designed to work like that without sustaining a long term negative effects. Our burn out often sets in, relationships suffer or just end, and our bodies just wear out, even die prematurely. Working smart means knowing when to take that break to go fishing or to the kids little league game.


Let’s promote a new phrase in our pursuit of success. Let’s all work smart at working hard. In doing so our 24/7 lives will be balanced and we will be much happier.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME

They call it Daylight Savings Time. I will wake up in the morning still tired wishing more sleep was in my future. While the Sun still waits to make its appearance, I’ll be sitting in my truck waiting to take my daughter to school. Sipping on a cup of hot, black coffee I begin my day. Feeling like I have lost sleep, lost daylight and wishing I could lose consciousness for a couple more hours, I get to work. The only saving grace is knowing the days seem to be longer so I have more daylight to accomplish what needs done. More daylight to see the next rung I need to take for this ladder of success. Then I get to thinking it’s odd to have more daylight when we are supposed to be saving it and what exactly are we saving it for?

Saving things is what we have done our whole lives it seems. When I was a kid I save Elvis clippings, baseball cards and a peculiar looking rock or two. As I grew I was told I need to save money for a rainy day, in case an emergency pops up you need to have it. I have a collection of toy race cars that I have saved over the years because “one day they’ll be worth something.” At least that is what I tell myself. I have a collection of John Wayne movies because, well why not? Books, oh my goodness, you should see the books I have saved over the years or even bought recently. Saving them to read and many of them to read again. Fishing lures, poles, and many other “valuable” items surround me. I have even save the first coffee cup I had a drink of coffee in. It has a crack in and leaks but I still have it.

Saving stuff. Why do we do it? Why do we put things up on a shelf or have keepsakes near us? The nearest I can figure it is, we save because it is important to us. Or the reason we are saving is worthy of the sacrifice. We sacrifice time, money, space and a variety of other interests just to save for what interests us the most. However, I was never good at saving except for what I wanted the most. Some even find that difficult even painful as they try. Ask any kid with a dollar in their pocket, they’ll tell you.

Daylight though, how do you save daylight? I have heard the expression, “Let’s get a movin’ we’re burning daylight.” But never, “Hey there, let’s be careful to save some daylight.” Who exactly are we saving it for anyway? I am not sure if we are really saving it as much as we are just moving it around so our evenings are longer and we feel like we have accomplished more with our daylight. Whatever it is, saving it or just moving it, I don’t plan on wasting any of it. I am saving too many “important” things up on a shelf afraid they will lose their value if I put them into use. But not my day. Not anymore.

I choose from henceforth to no longer save my daylight but rather I will spend it, use it and above all else enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I'LL SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD

It’s 3am and nothing in the refrigerator looks good for a famed “Midnight” snack. Warm milk tastes awful so insomnia will win this night, as most nights. What choice is there other than turning the TV back on, grab a glass of ice water and write. I find a biopic about Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis (one of my favorites) and settle into what can only be described as an “I hope I don’t collapse later” kind of night. It’s dark outside and I should have fallen to sleep a long time ago but alas here I am with Martin & Lewis, my computer and a cold glass of ice water.

I guess there are many causes that keeps one from getting the sleep they need. Lucky for me, I've never required much, so four or five hours is enough, I guess. But what causes insomnia or as my mom used to call it, “the big eye?” It could be a disorder, or just too much sleep the night before. Perhaps its stress or just a lot on your mind. Could there be an argument made for a bit of all of that or maybe other stuff? Maybe it’s just a colicky baby crying, a new puppy or your babies just not being babies anymore. Whatever the reason, here you sit not sleeping.

What keeps me awake at night varies from night to night. Some nights it’s my sinuses going crazy. Those nights I just hate. I can’t breathe, I can’t get comfortable and my head eventually just hurts. Other nights I lay there and just think. I think about what is on my mind, what stresses me out or a new bit for my show. Even a mind like mine can have a lot on it. There are bills that need to be paid, stress about what it will take to move my career up that proverbial ladder and then there’s the private stuff of which is none of your business. I feel like I should sleep. I yawn, feel my eyelids droop but yet can’t pull the trigger to doze off to dreamland.

So here I am doing this weekly blog, hoping you read it and know there is one other person who can’t sleep either. If I’m going to be nocturnal I figure I might as well get something done, right? I hear this is one of the characteristics of those that become great. Not necessarily the insomnia thing but the getting stuff accomplish in these moments. I was once told by one of my college professors we waste so much time in the bathroom when we don’t take something to read or work on. As weird or gross as that may sound, it’s true.  Insomnia is that way as well, if I am going to sit here I might as well get something accomplished.

So in the words of Sam Elliott’s character, Wade Garrett, in the movie Roadhouse, “I will get all the sleep I need when I’m dead.” Until then, here I sit, awake & alone taking another step up the ladder to success.

Friday, March 7, 2014

ON MY WAY TO THE SHOW

Its 8:30 in the morning and I am about 40,000 feet above the Carolinas as far as I can figure. Welcome to my office, my neighborhood and my mode of transportation all rolled up into one. People tell me all the time, “WOW, Vic you lead some life flying here and there seeing the country telling jokes to hundreds of people. You must have a blast doing it.” I am not going to lie, sometimes I do just sit back and think to myself, “This is pretty great.” However what a lot of people see is just the surface, just the fun side of my job. So this morning I am going to take you through my morning as I head to Zanesville, OH for a show tonight.

However this trip just didn't start this morning. It actually started yesterday when I had to pack. There’s the checking the weather so I know if I can pack shorts and flip flops which makes traveling so much easier or something a bit warmer. Then there is the show clothes that I wear, the boots, the hat then, well my signature look. If that isn't enough I have to make sure I have enough merchandise so after the show I can sell koozies, t-shirts and DVDs. I discovered I don’t have enough and not had the time to order new t-shirts (new design coming soon). But what I have I will bring to you, my fans. Now I am finished the clothes & merchandise bags, time now to move on to other chores.

My video camera needed charged so I can record my shows this weekend. I am anticipating a nice size crowd and want to submit my show to Sirius XM and 24/7 Comedy. Then I had to find my tri-pod which wasn't where it’s supposed to be but rather in my daughter’s room which I figured it was. Can’t forget about programming my GPS for all the places I need to be this weekend but I forgot one, I never can remember which exit it is to get to my Dad’s place. Age, not for the weak. Before I could even think about sleeping, I had to create an event page for a big show I am doing at the Improv in Orlando so good thing I was able to watch the rodeo on TV or otherwise the light would have seemed much longer than it was. Finally though, I was able to allow myself to relax and find sleep around 1:50am.

Yep, that’s the last time I looked at the time, well until my alarm went off at 4:30 this morning. My flight was scheduled to leave at 7:40 and I needed a shower, find my clothes and load up for the airport. Compared to all I did last night this morning was a breeze. I made it on time. Security was easier than usual so I was able to get a coffee, a banana and even peed all before I got to my gate. While there I got to watch an old cartoon with Droopy Dog, one of my favorites. Now I am on a Southwest flight in the window seat looking out the window with row 20 all to myself. But I am tired, looking forward to my hotel so maybe I can grab a quick nap before my show, probably not though. I love this life though. The places I've been, people I've met (celebrities and regular people) and stepping up on the stage makes it all worth it to me.


Next time, however, you see your favorite entertainer doing his or her thing remember there’s a lot that goes into bringing you the show and none of us would trade it for anything. We love performing and we love you, our fans.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

THE BEST LAID PLANS

A quote from one of literature's greatest works, Of Mice and Men reads, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” seems fitting for this week. Every day we fill our lives up with plans. It can be just plans for the day, for vacation or even for life. I have seen people come into a theme park and be angry with a work because something has occurred that has thrown off their well laid plans for the vacation. Many a high school senior is frustrated because of the counsel they are receiving from every turn about the plan they have for their life. Then there are those who have had those plans laid out by others only to be miserable until retirement.

This morning I wrote about my two-fold plan for my career. Rather I should say, my plan was made a little more clear to me. In my morning pages, I have written about being more focused, a little more determined and a little more discipline when pursuing my dreams. However, it just dawned on me this morning I have no plan about my career to be more focused, determined and disciplined about. All I've written about was, I am going to be a comedian and writer but that is way too vague. So what will I accomplish with being obscure? Nothing. It will just allow me to spin my wheels giving the appearance of accomplishment when the reality is I’m just spinning wheels. Making a lot of racket but not going anywhere, or at least not anywhere quick.

My career plan has two major tracks – Performing & Writing. Those are the two avenues I love and feel like where my talents lie. Being on stage I am at home, comfortable. Like laying on your favorite pillow or covering with your favorite throw blanket. Whether I am on stage telling jokes or delivering a speech, performing is where I belong. I feel the same about writing. It fits me like my most favorite jacket, warm and comfortable. I have had articles published in magazines and I have this blog which I hope showcases this gift I have been given. Many have told me even encouraged me to write a book about, well, about anything. I have several titles in the works but not much more than that. When I see what is out there, I always leave the bookstore or close the book I have just finished and think, “I could do that and better.” I haven’t yet, but I will because I love it. I love them both.

So I have started developing my plan for those two tracks in my life. Plans that will give me direction and focus. Plans which will serve as benchmarks I can look at to see where I am and how well I am doing. Everyone need to have plans. Success is built on those plans. When we see someone “make it” and hear them say, “I was so lucky” or we say that about them, it really isn't being lucky, it’s working your plan and when the door is opened, having the courage, the vision, to walk through it. Another quote to keep in mind, mainly because of the last part of the earlier one, “Luck isn't given but made.” Because when those plans do go awry you are not devastated, you re-group then move forward again.

Plan for your success, don’t wait on it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

LESSONS FROM THE DAYTONA 500

With the Daytona 500 on the horizon I thought I’d share with you my love affair with this sport. It doesn’t take people long when they meet me to realize I’m a huge NASCAR fan. I enjoy lots of sports, football, basketball but my number one is racing, especially NASCAR. My first race, I've been told, was when I was 2 months old and as I lay in my mother’s arms at the Columbus Motor Speedway I, apparently, was hooked. My aunt and uncle would travel every year to Daytona for the race and for hours I’d listen to their stories of watching the likes of the King, the Silver Fox, the Alabama Gang and many others of who we now consider legends. Along with the stories, there are many lessons I've learned over the years of following this fast paced sport.

Lesson one is DRIVE. The stories are things of lore now, but back in the early days of NASCAR, Hall of Fame driver, Lee Petty would drive the family car from track to track each week. Once he would arrive, some quick modifications would be made then the race was on. Following the race, he would transform the car back into the family sedan and drive home. This was the story of several of the early guys. They had a drive in them to compete, to be the best at what they did and they stopped at nothing to achieve it. Even today the drivers are driven to excel. This is a lesson to all of us who have a dream we desire to make into a reality. Dreams are achieve when there is drive.

Lesson two is SACRIFICE. This is one lesson that sneaks up on a person. When I watch a race on television all I see is the driver wheeling the car around the track until he is lucky enough to receive the accolades that come with victory. There’s the magazine covers, the cameos in music videos and even the occasional movie. What isn't seen is the practice laps, the trekking across the country and sleeping in hotels. There’s the business and team meeting that take up the first part of the week. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the behind the scenes demands that cause them to sacrifice time with family, friends and even fun many of us enjoy. When you ask any of them, a celebrity or any person who has achieved great success they will tell you it was worth the sacrifice (with the exception the time away from family – but when you watch a race you will notice the drivers have their family with them).

Lesson three is TEAMWORK. It’s the drivers who often get the praise and the glory however, each driver when interviewed is quick to point to the fact that he couldn't do it without his team. The engine builder, the jack-man, the tire guys and a whole garage full of people supporting him as he takes the checkered flag. NASCAR is a team sport, like football, baseball and many other sports. When success is showered upon one person, a closer examination will reveal they couldn't achieve it by themselves there is always a team of folk supporting them

Come Sunday when you are watching the Great American Race pay attention to the lessons you can learn and realize there is a lot more to NASCAR than just turning left.

Friday, February 14, 2014

GOOD MORNING!!

Let me tell you what I’ve got going on today. I was up at 6:30 this morning (I slept in a little) so I would be ready to take my youngest to school and get her there on time.  I remember my mom getting up so early and thinking, “Why?” The older I get the more I see the wisdom of the morning and getting the day started. The wisdom of the morning is its quiet (the kids are gone), its still, and cool. I can just sit and enjoy the stillness or put on some music. With a hot cup of coffee and marking off items from the ole “To Do List” I’m feeling accomplished and creative. My mom was right, the early mornings rock.

Then I came home to write my three morning pages. I really enjoy this morning ritual and more than I thought I would. If you don’t know what morning pages are allow me to explain. It’s kind of like writing a journal each morning, but a little different. With a journal/diary you write what’s on you mind, events, stresses and joys. Morning pages is more of a “brain connected to pen” type of writing. Although the previous stuff can be a part of it, the true purpose of it is to get the creative juices flowing. It doesn’t have to make sense or it can. The point is to write…just write then let the creativity out. Many of my blog ideas have come and will come from this. A lot of what makes it in are whatever is going on with me whether it’s a new gig or a fight with my daughter, I really look forward to it each morning. I’ve heard about this my whole life and now I kick myself for not doing it sooner. I am convinced I would be a more creative and better performer if I had.

I’ve also done a little promotion of my March 8th show in Cross Lanes WV at the Mardi Gras Casino. This is a constant part of my mornings and not just for this show but for every show. It just so happens someone on Facebook mentioned they bought tickets to this particular show as a Valentine’s gift for her husband. A constant part of my life is booking and promoting of shows. Many think I only work about 2 hours or so on the weekend when I am standing on stage. What they don’t see is all the hours put in to get this show or any show for that matter. Emails, phone calls, and mentions on all the social networks all go into that 1 to 2 hours. Although I really like the applause, laughs and the celebrity aspect of the weekend (and I really REALLY like it), it’s the stuff during the week(s) prior I enjoy. It’s the challenge, the creativity and the feeling of accomplishment that gets me going every day. When you are doing something you genuinely love, then work isn’t a bad four-letter word but one you look forward to each morning.

Now I am writing this blog I hope everyone reads. I love writing and think I am pretty good at it. Before the invention of blogs (and my discovery of them) all I had was to write for journals hoping to get published. Now I write and self-publish, still hoping a journal picks one up or hires me to free-lance but if not, it’s ok. I do this because I love it and hope you do as well. This is my morning in a nut-shell. I hope your day begins each day as great as mine does.

Good Morning! Let’s accomplish something today and make a difference.