There’s been so much floating in my universe, that it has been hard to know where to begin to write. Of course, that results in not writing about anything, which is no solution either. So I have decided to begin categorizing all of my happenings under certain headings within “In My Orbit” (borrowing shamelessly from Douglas Adams, one of my favorite authors). It gives me an excuse to write more, and not feel torn about what to include and/or exclude.
“We have no control over when or how we die, but we do have control over how we live.” — from Fried Chicken and Sympathy
My world has recently been impacted by the death of two dear people: a wonderful man named Jack Gilbert, and my cousin, Ricky Morgan.
I met Jack Gilbert through Premise, an entertainment industry prayer fellowship. He was one of its leaders, both in role, and in example. I left Premise for a time, and it was due to Jack’s encouragement that I chose to return. Jack shaped lives through his deep commitment to Jesus Christ, and his teaching of screenplay writing at places like Warner Bros., Act One, Azusa Pacific University, and Columbia College Hollywood, among others. But he impacted through his quiet presence, his wisdom, and his delight of the arts, literature, and especially Casablanca! He delighted in bringing people together, whether it was a prayer group, writer’s group, book salon, or a movie. Jack was a great listener, a solid mentor, and from my relationships with others who were his friends, an excellent person. He embodied a life well lived, and his passing has left a huge void not only in the entertainment world, but many lives.
I didn’t know him half as well as others did, but he left a great impression by the weight of his presence and his life. Jack was always a man of grace, nobility, and gentle strength. What I would describe as “Meekness”. Matthew 5:5 says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Jack did inherit the earth, not through a powerhouse position or personality, but by just being, Jack. Now, he has received his ultimate inheritance! It’s bittersweet. He is in Heaven, which is awesome for Him, but the world has lost a tremendous presence and talent. But like all who leave a legacy of righteousness, their work and worth continues, long after they have left this earth. I know that will be the case with Jack.
His close friends and family held a private funeral service, but because of the wealth of his life through his investment in people and the community, there will be a more public memorial in May, that I plan to attend. The older I get, the more deaths I face, the greater importance I place on honoring those who have passed on.
My cousin Ricky died suddenly on Good Friday, and it broke my heart. He was a favorite, and more like another brother than a cousin. Ricky lived with us for a time when I was younger, and he and my brother Theodore were constant companions and running buddies. I probably heard more than a six-year-old should hear about the misadventures of young adult men, but I enjoyed being the mascot. Unlike my sisters, Theodore and Ricky liked my company, and they treated me like a person, rather than a kid who was underfoot.
Ricky was hilarious. He had a sharp wit, a great laugh, and a radiant smile that charmed everyone. Ricky, his mother (my aunt) Allene, and his brother Mike moved on to Northern California, and his absence left a huge hole in my young life. When I moved to California in my adult years, I was able to reconnect with him. He had since moved to Southern California, and with my sister June and her daughter Gabi, we went to visit him and his then-wife. I was writing Fried Chicken and Sympathy during that time, and he was able to share stories, give insight, and piece together some family history that had been missing.
The last time I saw him was at our Foxx Family Reunion in 2005. He looked rested and happy, was his usual chipper and hilarious self, warm, welcoming and loving, as always. I still cannot believe he is gone, and it is still up in the air about whether there will be a service or memorial where the rest of the family and friends can mourn his loss.
Whether that happens or not, Ricky knew Jesus too, so I will see him again in Heaven, where we can laugh together.
I am thankful for the personal impact of both these men, and that through their death, as well as in their life, they continue to instruct. As Psalm 90:12 states, “So teach us to number our days,that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” I am more attuned to counting the cost of my life.
Part of the counting of my days is my work with job seekers and career transitioners. One of the ways I do this is my participation (and sometimes chairmanship) of CareerCamp events in Southern California.
CareerCampLA is coming up this Friday, April 20 from 9 am to 12 pm, at Los Angeles Southwest College, 1600 West Imperial Highway, Los Angeles, CA 90044. Do I need to say it is well worth your time? Trust me, it is.
The day is geared toward “Building the Career That You Deserve” through workshops, seminars and breakout sessions. The agenda is set by the attendees, so you get your most burning questions answered. CareerCamp is a positive event focused on you and your needs in developing your career.
What I love about CareerCamp is that it’s NOT a job fair, but a workshop designed to hone your skills and give you the information you need to make the next step in your career. That next step may be starting your own business, or changing careers–it’s less about enabling and more about empowerment. If you want to be empowered to make the changes necessary to discover your career direction and life’s passion, then register here.
My world has been transformed by Yoga, and now I am able to lead others through its transformative work. I teach classes at CorePower Yoga in Sherman Oaks on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. I also teach a Soul Flow class in Northridge on Thursday nights. The Monday 12:00 pm class, and the Soul Flow class are only $10–you can’t get out of Starbucks that cheaply, and its positive effects are better and last longer!
Like the CareerCamps, it is a privilege to help others on a journey of discovery that moves someone closer to their authentic self, and offer inspiration that helps them get a better handle on their purpose in life.
Speaking of that… time to rocket off to CorePower for my Monday classes. Hope to see you around my universe.