Volunteering at the dog shelter has been occupying way too much time as of late. I’ve been scratched and nipped, I have felt uncomfortable, sad, angered, frustrated… but I also have felt love, hope, joy, excitement, and happiness. Cleaning up dog excrement may be far from glamorous… but it is completely honest. Opening gates and leashing dogs you don’t know or trust can be nerve wracking the first times you do it, but if no one walks the dogs, what chance to they have of not going mad, or finding homes? Heck, even most of America’s most hardened, incarcerated, criminals get an hour of yard time a day, and most of the dogs at the shelter did nothing wrong, they just happened to get lost, misunderstood, old, under-trained, or circumstances changed in their owner’s lives that forced them to give them up…
When I volunteered yesterday, I was delighted to have received a thank you note and picture of two elderly dogs that found a new home a few weeks back… I was also elated to have a terrified dog want to spend time with me (in her kennel) wagging her tail the whole time… I was overjoyed to see video of a dog that was too scared to come out of her kennel walking around and moving freely in the yard after one of the key volunteers carried her there.
It really is a tragedy that so many shitty people are in the public spotlight, humans who are the furthest thing from positive role models in my opinion. Most of the time doing “good” work is thankless. At the shelter, 95% of the time we never hear from the people that we help or see pictures of the happy dogs in their new homes. [Though maybe I’ll start implementing a new idea I just came up with… creating fantasies of receiving letters and pictures directly from dogs who I feel like I may have helped improve their lives while at the shelter or by finding them a new home.]
We all matter. Everyone. All creatures are part of the greater WE. I grew up being told that WE are all God’s creatures, and that we should treat others the way WE would like to be treated. WE should treat others the way WE would want others to treat OUR mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, friends, or pets. Have I failed at this at times? Unquestionably yes, but we/I are/am flawed, and today and tomorrow are new opportunities for all of us to become better.
Regardless of whether or not WE receive thank you notes, WE can all choose to make a positive difference, to matter, WE can choose to help, to improve the lives of people in and out of our communities, or animals, whether it is when WE are being paid to do jobs, when WE are volunteering, or even when WE are just walking down the street.
It really does cost nothing to be kind and decent, but it really is worth so much. Thank YOU for every selfless, positive, and amazing thing you have done in the past, that you do today, and that you choose to do tomorrow.
This past Friday, my gal and I went to an archery range… a Christmas gift she had gotten for the two of us. Entrance, rental, targets, instruction, and lunch.
The funny thing was, while the instructor was watching over our form, and Fe was thriving… I could barely hit the paper, let alone graze the outer ring. I was consistently off, my patterns always close together, with whatever adjustment she had me make, which is usually a good sign, but, I swear, I’d hit relatively tight patterns in the white.
Then.. I swear… The moment our instructor walked away, to instruct another party…
Yellow, inner circle, a fraction from dead center.
The next two arrows I let fly also landed in the yellow. A hilarious moment, proving that while I required and appreciated instruction and direction…
With a few more sent arrows, I was nailing dinosaurs, and pegging pigs, at double and triple the distance.
It’s funny how everything illuminates and relates…
Learn, relax, breathe, aim, redirect, stay focused, adjust… Hit your target.
– Quiche Out
Just one of many targets
Dinosaur looks tiny from this angle.
Great day out
Almost a “dinosaur-eye” – and yes, I was aiming for it.
After a beer
Foot, hip, meat… Adjusting for distance. And no, it’s not that small.
The other day I posted “GIVE UP? I gave up on giving up years ago” on my twitter feed…
In short, the reason I posted it was as a response to a response… After I mentioned something on social media about singing, a FB pal wrote and asked if I was going to give up acting.
Tonight I may have opened a door in my singing career. The future will tell. But I am flying on a cloud.
You giving up acting
GIVE UP? I gave up on giving up years ago.
Honestly, at this point, I don’t believe in “giving up” any more. I do however believe in out-growing. I believe in moving on. I believe in changes of focus. I believe that people find other things to be passionate about. I believe in living to fight another day. Trying other paths. I believe in determining what fits better, swimming with the current once in a while, and resting… But “giving up,” I truly “gave up” on years ago, after having given up too many things I truly enjoyed. In each instance it was for the wrong reason, and if you don’t know the difference between “giving up” and those things I listed… It’s one word, “REGRET.”
Never “give up.” Never ever “give up.”
– Quiche Out
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This morning a headache rings loudly inside my head… And the idea I held of traveling towards the watch the waves in the water to the west this morning or driving anywhere at this point in time seems torturous… This pain shall pass in time, perhaps in an hour, perhaps by lunch, but looking for the positive… Being productive. I’m choosing to write.
Many friends traveled over their winter breaks, and while I flirted with the idea of tripping North, or East, or even Internationally… I ended up staying where I was. Where I live. And I took time and the quiet to explore more internally.
“No matter where you go, there you are…”
While it seems to be a subject of debate on who first said or wrote it, “No matter where you go, there you are…” Were I to travel to Oregon, or Mexico, to Europe, or Jersey… It would be me and me alone who I’d travel with… And no amount of new scenery or distraction could change that. Happiness comes from within.
“Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us which makes us happy; it is that which we think and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves.”
Continuing the path: For years I have lived within the same concrete walls, facing the same direction… “When I get…” “When I move…” “When I buy…” “When I sell…” “When I get on a series as a regular…””When I book…” “When my life takes off…” “When I meet the girl…”
Here’s one simple example: Until just this past week I had posters rolled up in my garage in a cardboard tube, and books stored in plastic bins, just waiting for the day to have a proper production office to line the walls and bookshelves with… Posters and books that make me happy to have in my view. Waiting for some future day… Waiting…
“Live for today for tomorrow never comes…”
“Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?”
Life is now… Not stumbling on the past… Not waiting on an uncertain future. So, as simple as it sounds… I took the books out of boxes… I ordered frames for the posters… I better arranged my life. I straightened my immediate surroundings up. I wait no longer. Life is now. “Tomorrow never comes.”
Another step in my self-discovery: We’ve all heard the expression “treat others how you’d like to be treated…” Well, in this current internal exploration I realized that I don’t treat myself nearly as good as I treat others… In the past, 97.9% of time when I have had a date, friends over, or took someone for a ride, I’ve cleaned my truck or made sure where-ever I was living was reasonably clean, and comfortable for my guests… Even when I’ve had house cleaners in the past, I’ve straightened and went out of my way to make it easier for them. Yet, without visitors or others… I would often have dishes sit in the sink, or clothes on the floor, the bed not made… Well…
“If you do not love yourself, well, you cannot do anything well…”
~ Nawai El Saadawi
It’s all a learning experience… It’s all trial and error… Climbing up… Getting knocked down… Getting back up… Licking wounds… Raising hands… Perhaps if I choose to live with excellence throughout more of my life… I will receive more excellence back… Perhaps if I give myself the respect and honor I seem to freely give others… I will reap respect and honor back…Perhaps if I practice positiveness, more positiveness will find me…
“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”
After all, my conscious choice to work on happiness 2013 proved to be beneficial… From adding a few supplements, changing morning rituals, mixing up exercise, looking at nutrition… Practicing daily gratitude, smiles and laughs… I’ve changed what I listen to when I work out and drive… Look to surround myself with inspiring supportive people. Continue to embrace “not knowing”… Of being practicing acceptance and openness… And explored some new avenues such as Reiki (which I’m still not at all sure of) and Hypnotherapy (with a trusted friend).
Let me end on a story… For lunch on December 31st and for breakfast on New Year’s Day I visited a restaurant called “Happy Tom’s.” A restaurant that I had pasted a few dozen times in my life, but had never noticed… It’s a few miles from my home, located on a busy street, and I had been in several establishments all around it.
A morning, about a week or so earlier, while having breakfast in one of my more regular eateries… Out of the blue one of the waitresses started calling me “Happy Tom.” Quite a shift from the glum, “realist,” “make due,” “don’t get your hopes up,” “it’s fine the way it is,” Eeyore nickname some have pinned upon me at times in my past.
So… Yeah… “Happy Tom.” After the third or fourth time she called me “Happy Tom,” I had to ask… “Okay, where did that come from? How did I earn that name?”
She shrugged, said “I don’t know…” and walked away… A minute or two later, with a remembering sparkle in her eye, she informed me that there was a restaurant a few miles away called “Happy Tom’s…” And she just thought of it.
it was that simple.
Now, while I don’t believe I’ll become a regular at that particular Echo Park establishment, and by no means is this a commercial endorsement… I figured if… If we are what we eat… Why not end 2013 and start 2014 with a meal at “Happy Tom’s.”
Now is it coincidence I had never seen the business before, even though it has a sign, and the name printed on every single window? Is it coincidence that my waitress friend, who before that conversation was not connected to me on any social media (and more than likely never read a blog of mine) just started calling me “Happy Tom?” Is it all a coincidence… Does it matter?
Not to me it doesn’t.
Here’s some simple logic I’ll run by you… And yeah, this will most like make the mathematicians, realists, pessimists, scientists… out there crazy, but…
If “garbage in equals garbage out…”
(A in = A out)
One could conclude that anything in equals anything out.
Greatness in equals greatness out…
High performance in equals high performance out…
(B in + B out)
So, by that over-simplistic reasoning…
Wouldn’t the flip of all those statements also be true…?
Garbage out equals garbage in…
And if that’s true…
Could it be that excellence, positiveness, respect, love (and whatever else we wish for) out could lead to all those things in?
(A + B + C + D + E out = A + B + C + D + E in)
F’n A right it could…
So, in summary, I did not end up going geographically anywhere this long holiday break, but I truly believe that the journey that I consciously chose to continue on, may take me places I have been unable to reach in the past. And, in case you’re wondering, after spending a few hours focusing on this, my headache is pretty much gone. And now I’m gonna consider what’s ahead of me today…
Thanksgiving is upon us again, and while I’ve been doing a better and better job practicing gratitude on a daily basis… And even though I don’t tend to go back home and surround myself with family… Thanksgiving still remains my favorite of all holidays, even though corporate America and super-sale seekers continue to infringe upon it with what used to be known as a single day, “Black Friday.”
Thank you. Thank you to all that have hired me. Thank you for all the casting offices that have brought me in. Thank you for the ONE MILLION plus views on YouTube. Thank you for the nearly 50,000 views on this blog… Thank you for all the likes on Facebook. On all the pages. Thank you for telling your friends. For yelling… “I know that guy!” when you’ve spotted me on TV. Thank you for all your support. For all your help. For all your forwards. For all your referrals. For all of you that have introduced me to people. That have encouraged me. That have challenged me. Thank you to those that have spurred me on, insulted, turned me down, or even backhandedly slapped me with supposed compliments… Thank you for your motivation. Thank you to those that have taught me. Loved me. Liked me. Left me. Laughed with me. Thank you to those who have read my books. Heard me sing. Thank you to those who have come to live shows. Listened to Crazy Uncle Tommy stories. Thank you to those that have worked along side me. Those who showed up. Invited me. Those who believe in me. Who inspire me. Those who have told me I’ve inspired or taught them… Those who have written. Those who check in. Those who wished me a happy birthday. Who have subscribed to this blog. Thank you to all of you who appreciate life… Thank you to those who sparkle and make the world a better place. Thank you to all of you that breathe before honking… To those who lend helping hands when one is needed… To those that volunteer… Thank you for your hard work. Your humor. Sharing your talents. That smile of yours. The warm hello you once gave me. Thank you for looking out for others. For your selflessness. For that much needed hug. For the welcome. To those of you who have rescued dogs and cats. Yes… For all the good in the world I know and the world I have yet to meet… Thank you.
And to those of you, like me, who want to keep Thanksgiving simply Thanksgiving, and not a day of shopping for sales with crazy lines and frenzied ridiculousness… Stay at home. Stay at your friends’ home. Have an extra slice of pie… A song at a piano… Or a game of cards… Keep it a day about friends, family, food and simply giving thanks.
No lie, those are the only words of wisdom I remember my high school guidance counselor telling me, and I’m sure it’s not so, but I would hope I am the only person who ever received such stellar guidance.
It’s possible he possessed a wicked sense of sardonic humor, which I mistakenly took for lack of his confidence in my intellect… And it is also possible that, “the world needs ditch diggers too…” was his unique way of motivating students to apply themselves more. Sort of like just saying the punchline to a cautionary tale…
It wasn’t that I was a poor student, by any means… But in high school I was more concerned about missing opening day of trout season when taking the SAT then scoring well… And I wasn’t informed to what a GPA was till after my first semester at a local county college, when I asked someone, “What are all these numbers next to this ‘GPA’ thing?” (For the record, I graduated with a 3.36 from a quality state school with a Biology major, Chem minor with emphases in Business and Communications.)
Anyway… “The world needs ditch diggers too…”
I am not able to tell you his intent… But by no means am I putting down any one that does any manual labor sort of job… Throughout my high school and college years, I did dig ditches… move refrigerators/furniture… landscaped… did construction jobs… helped put in sewer lines… I also bar-tended… assistant managed… worked retail… waited tables… worked for the State Of New Jersey in the Department Of Agriculture (wet chemistry)… mixed chemicals for a photo lab… worked in a day care… I did a lot of stuff to get by and pay for my own school.
For quite a while now I’ve been fortunate to have made a living as a television actor, with occasional earnings as an author, screenwriter, playwright, singer, stage actor, voice-over artist, photographer, editor, improvisor… And I will happily admit that in the past decade I have done several jobs where I’ve dug ditches (as a volunteer).
Thankfully, where-ever I learned it from along the way, I have never been one to allow what I am currently doing define who I am, or what I may be capable of achieving.
This week I’m shooting a national commercial for a global company where I’ll play a construction worker… Yup, I suppose, a “ditch digger.” And as those who have followed my acting career for the past twenty years, it’s not by far the first time I’ve played one, and hopefully won’t be the last.
Perhaps when my guidance counselor gave me that gift of word-turds, the last time I talked to him or any other “guidance counselor” for that matter, he was simply a visionary… Seeing me through his enlightened mind’s eye, playing blue collar roles as an actor… Mechanics, plumbers, cops, firemen, construction workers…
I know I owe a ton of thanks to all those who instilled in me that our exteriors do not have to define our interiors… That pasts do not have to dictate future paths… That we should constantly question authority… Never stop challenging ourselves… And what we do to make a living, does not define who we are or who we will become.