50 Days to 50 Years: Day 13, morning coffee with Beth Chamberlain, morning Yoga with Ali Jo, and lunch at Auntie Em’s Kitchen with Vicki Schmidt

19 07 2016

“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” — Helen Keller

Tuesday was packed to the brim with goodness: the goodness of beautiful lady mentors, beautiful Yoga, and delicious food and drink!

I jetted out the house earlier than usual so that I could meet Dr. Beth Chamberlain at Peet’s Coffee in Pasadena’s South Lake area. Beth is the wife of Pastor Scott Chamberlain, the campus pastor at Montrose Church Pasadena-Bresee. She is a very beautiful soul, with the most gorgeous eyes that drip with awareness and compassion. She is the type of person that I would like to be: someone who has such an incredible weight and presence that you are content to just be around them. I also admire her and Scott because, like Hermione and Samuel, they adopted two children that were not their own. The Chamberlains pastored in Skid Row for many years, and took on the care of two African-American boys connected to their mission, and raised them along with their own two children. That really does take a special kind of heart, and speaks volumes of who Beth and Scott are as people of God, and humans in general.

I wanted to ask Beth some insightful questions to get to know her better, but like the skilled counselor that she is, she turned it around and asked me some very deep and thought-provoking ones. So I talked about everything from my childhood in Chicago to my best and worst birthdays to date.

It was all too short for me, but Beth had to get to her office. So we hugged, took a selfie, and she was off to the rest of her day. It’s been six years since I’ve had a traditional job, and I’m always reminded how blessed I am that I don’t have to do that any more.

Since I was already in Pasadena and had to teach at noon, it only made sense to get in a 9:00 a.m. C-2 with Miss Alexandra Johansen!

Ali Jo is our beautiful, Amazonian, North Los Angeles Lead for several of the CorePower studios, and another exceptional human. I had the opportunity to be a coach in one of the Teacher Trainings she led, and it was one of the best experiences all around. I greatly enjoy Ali Jo’s classes for their complex simplicity, and her phenomenal cues. She is a young lady with a lovely presence and a generous heart. I used to throw an annual tree trimming party around Christmastime, and I asked people to bring an ornament for the tree. Ali Jo not only brought an ornament, but gifts for my dogs! How cool is that?! She is blessed with a gorgeous beau named Dana (of whom I greatly approve—not that it matters) and a cool bulldog named Joe who I would love to steal from her for a play date with my fur babies… One day.

As usual, Ali Jo set my morning off right, and my noon class was exceptionally sweet with focused students and good energy. Then it was off to my afternoon break, where I met Vicki Schmidt at Auntie Em’s Kitchen in Eagle Rock!

I only know Auntie Em’s because they have some slammin’ coffee and great bakery items. I had never sampled their lunch items, but I was happy to have the opportunity to do so with Ms. Vicki.

As I said in Day 16, Vicki has a special needs son named Jimmy. He is actually an adult, but still needs round the clock care for a variety of ailments. So when Vicki is not working, and able to get nursing help, she finds time to be with her friends, of which I am glad to be counted among them.

Vicki attended CCN long before Lynn and I came, but due to needing to care for Jimmy, and her daughter Traci’s illness, she didn’t attend often, so I hadn’t formally met her. For about two years I would hear about this woman named Vicki and her daughter Traci; Traci was often on the prayer list, because she had undergone a bone marrow transplant for a rare lymphoma, and was currently in remission. In my mind, I assumed Vicki was this 30-something mother, and Traci was a little girl. When I finally met Vicki and Traci, I was surprised to find Vicki to be a mature woman in her late 50s, and Traci was the 30-something mother—with kids to boot! We had a good laugh over that.

Vicki has been going through a painful and energy-sucking divorce; yet despite that, and the constant ups and downs with Jimmy’s care, she always bears a beautiful smile, a ready hug, and like Dr. Beth, an exceptional listening ear. She’s also incredibly fun and funny, bearing the cutest giggle when something strikes her as humorous.

Thankfully the ugly heat wave predicted this week had not hit yet, so we sat outside and knoshed on Quiche and a Pulled Pork Sandwich. It was obvious that we were both exceptionally hungry, as neither one of us took a food picture. In between bites of the really good food, we caught up on our lives and mutually encouraged each other. Vicki is also part of that group of CCN friends who have seen Lynn and I through hell and high water, and she is always faithful to check in on how we are really doing, instead of  assuming that just because we don’t have any crises going on that we must be fine.

When we decided to split a Strawberry Creme Bread pudding, and the waitress brought it out, it was a sight to behold—so a picture was not only required, it was an imperative!

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Of course, we smashed that too. Auntie Em’s did not disappoint!

Vicki had to get home to Jimmy, and I had to get back to the studio to teach my 5:30 p.m. class; but it was a wonderful completion to a day rich with women of exceptional gifting and generous spirit. A person is fortunate to have one of those in their life, and I am blessed with three.

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50 Days to 50 Years: Day 20, Prayer for the World

12 07 2016

“Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

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Found this in a friend’s feed, and it is so powerful. From America to Israel to France, the world has not been a stable, safe or happy place. I do not have words, but I do have prayers; and prayer is what will fuel sound action and proper change. Gandhi knew, many others need to learn; perhaps these times are part of the object lesson.





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 25, Morning Coffee with Roger Barkley

7 07 2016

“You can tell a man is clever by his answers.
You can tell a man is wise by his questions.”
— Naguib Mahfouz

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I was extremely blessed to have Pastor Roger Barkley kick off Day 25 of these 50 Days to 50 Years at Priscilla’s in Toluca Lake. I had heard of Priscilla’s, and drove by it a million times, but never stopped for coffee—it was definitely worth the trip!

I have been fortunate to have two spiritual fathers in my life. Glenn Kirkpatrick was instrumental as a healer and a covering, who opened the way for Lynn to come into my life. Pastor Roger Barkley has been a spiritual father and shepherd to both me and Lynn for over 8 years.

Roger married us, and was a spiritual shepherd and support for my sister June as she walked through the last days of her battle with cancer. He was the first one there for us when she passed away, and gave the eulogy at her memorial service. Roger walked us through the grief of her loss, and the compounded grief from the loss of jobs, home, finances, and stability.

For many years he has been a touchstone for bedrock faith, resilience, and the gentle, brooding presence of the Holy Spirit.

So it was a delight to catch up with him, and on the happenings at the Congregational Church of Northridge (CCN). Roger asked some very insightful questions (as only a good shepherd can) about Montrose Church (our new church home), and what drew us in and keeps us coming. He honored me further by commending me for embracing and pursuing life on the entrance of this new decade. “You are someone who is open and committed to growth, so this next decade is going to be rich and fulfilling for you,” he said.

Coming from the wisdom of 69 years, that holds great weight. Roger is vibrant and still pursuing life to the fullest, and supporting the spiritual life for an entire congregation—so his words and support are of great worth.

We would have been hard pressed to get through those difficult years had it not been for Pastor Roger and the CCN, and we are thankful that even though we have transitioned to a new church home, we still maintain a friendship with him, and other members of CCN.

Like anything that matters, his resilience was not easily acquired. Roger’s faith journey is a testament to God’s hand, and how he uniquely weaves his plan for every life. Roger lived the first part of his adult life as an atheist before powerfully encountering the living God. The encounter was so profound that he left a high-powered career in sales and pursued the ministry. That alone is amazing; but the subsequent years of pursuing ministry and living life has been peppered with pain and suffering, highs and lows, and health struggles for himself and his loved ones. So when he expresses understanding, compassion, and gives counsel, you know it comes from a deep well of empathy and experience, and not just momentary emotions or spiritual platitudes.

What most blessed me about our time was his prayer before we parted. With the recent tragedies in our nation and around the world, there are many who are mocking those who offer prayers, as though the fact that these evils exist and continue is an indication that prayer is anemic, and makes no impact. Roger, me, Lynn, and many others that I know are a testament to the truth and power resident in prayer to not only mark a life, but cause it to overcome and thrive; not in an instant, but over the long term.

Without prayer, action and activism devolve into human error and destructiveness, and we are seeing this play out in our nation in ways that make me sick at heart. So do your activism and your outcries, but what will truly change these situations are inviting God’s power through prayer. No other way.

What many fail to understand is that the power is not in the mere act of prayer, but to whom the prayers are directed. Through Roger’s spiritual leadership, we have always been pointed to Jesus, and our prayers are directed to the one who came to save and give life, and that to the full. Because we have that fullness, we can be conduits of it to a world that is dying and desperate.





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 29, Sunday Worship, Sunday Fun!

4 07 2016

“An authentic life is the most personal form of worship.
Everyday life has become my prayer.”
— Sarah Ban Breathnach

Day 29 began with corporate worship at the Montrose Church. The authenticity of Pastor Dave Roberts, and his exhortation to us to live authentic and relevant lives is part of the reason we are excited to be in service every Sunday. We mostly attend the Pasadena-Bresee campus in the evening, but we change it up when we have an evening engagement or I have to work. So yesterday we attended the 10 am at the Montrose campus and got to see people we normally don’t on Sunday. Lynn ran into Bruce, a fellow he carpooled with to the Men’s Retreat in February, and I ran into Sandy Cortes, from my Women’s Bible Study small group. Sandy was kind enough to help me out with a medical appointment a few weeks back, and she is like my spirit sister; she is a delight to be around and her cooking is awesome.

At Jana’s birthday tea, she was wearing a pair of lady bug earrings—I told her I collect ladybugs! Then today, she was wearing an ebony elephant necklace, and I collect elephants too. Suffice to say we find commonalities we share every time we get to meet.

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Montrose is a lovely community, and they have a Sunday Farmer’s Market and car show; so after service we walked down to Honolulu Avenue and took in the produce, wares, and the classic cars. We returned home after a few hours, and I made cornbread to go with a delicious late lunch of Crockpot Chili. I’m doing as much as possible to not spend too much time in a hot kitchen, and Crockpots help this tremendously. Then we headed over to Memorial Park in La Canada-Flintridge to take in an Eagles cover band called “The Long Run“.

My new friend and social butterfly Jana had expressed interest in this event posted on Facebook, and Lynn and I love the Eagles. There are very few bands I want to see live. While live concerts are awesome, the money and mess that goes along with them is not something we like to subject ourselves to; but it would have been so great to see the Eagles live. Alas, Glenn Frey is no longer with us, so that one will never happen. But a good cover band will do in a pinch!

Lynn and I arrived at the park first, and scoped out some spots for all of us. Jana said her husband Mark would come at least for a little bit, and her daughter Becca was also planning to come. We found great seats just a few paces from the bandstand and straight on where we could see the band. Jana, Mark, and Becca found us, and we settled in and waited for the music to start.

It was a rocky start, though. The sound was not on point, and Gary Grantham, the lead singer who does the Glenn Frey vocals left much to be desired. Jana and I looked at each other, hoping that this wasn’t going to be a total dud. It turned a corner with the other vocalists: Bill Worrell doing the Timothy B. Schmit highs, Chris Sobkowich working a great impression of Joe Walsh, and Chris Varosy doing the Don Henley vocals, keyboards and percussion. That’s when it popped—the band seemed to hit a groove, and so did the audience. When Chris Varosy ended the first half with “Desperado”, the crowd went wild, and rightfully so. He did the song justice.

Mark and Becca left, so during the intermission Jana and I strolled through the park to see if she knew anyone. This area of town was virgin territory for me, so I wasn’t expecting to see anyone I knew. Boy, was I wrong! We spotted Betty Smith, the co-leader of our small group, and her husband, along with two people that I personally knew and Jana didn’t: Denae and Patrick, clients at CorePower, who used to regularly attend my early AM classes in Sherman Oaks! They were delighted to see me, and I them. They lived in the area, and were friends with Betty. We caught up, and I let them know my new teaching schedule and studios. Hopefully I’ll get to see one or both of them again in class soon.

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The rest of the night kicked into high gear when “The Long Run” came back with “Tequila Sunrise”, “Peaceful, Easy Feelin'” and “Hotel California”!

I decided to go “Live” on Facebook as Lynn and I sang along with the band:

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Betty tracked us down and encouraged us to get up to the stage and dance. I told her when my favorite Eagles tune came on, I would dance with her. Wouldn’t you know it, when the electric base line of “Life in the Fast Lane” started, I popped up and joined Betty at the stage. Lynn and Jana followed, and we joined folks up front line dancing, rocking out, and generally having a fantastic time. The band’s encore of “Heartache Tonight” was even better, and had most everyone out of their seats. Normally, we would have gone to Eagle Rock Park and seen their fireworks show by ourselves. While its nice, the communities of La Canada, La Crescenta and Montrose put Eagle Rock to shame—particularly in its friendliness. We have gone to Eagle Rock Park consistently for three or four years, and never met anyone new or felt welcomed by those around us. Thanks to our new friends at Montrose Church, we have been introduced to this warm, friendly enclave where people actually say “Hello” to you in the grocery store. It’s quite a change. We’re so glad we chose this instead, not only for the fun musical experience, but for the community, camaraderie and the unexpected meeting with old friends and new. I could not have planned a more cool evening had I tried.

 

 





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 36, Elizabeth House and the Montrose Church

26 06 2016

“Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” — Matthew 25:35-40 NASB

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I was blessed with the privilege of presenting a workshop to the women of Elizabeth House titled, “Job Seeking Skills for the 21st Century Worker.”

Elizabeth House is a 501(c)(3) organization which the Montrose Church supports. The organization exists to provide shelter, hope and support to homeless pregnant women and their children by addressing their physical, emotional, spiritual, and economic needs in a nurturing atmosphere. Elizabeth House has been serving women and children in the Los Angeles area for more than 20 years. With two houses in Pasadena, the staff and volunteers of Elizabeth House are committed to the health and welfare of adult pregnant women and their children; part of that health and welfare is offering programs to help them grow and thrive.

Once we became members of Montrose Church, I knew I wanted to pick up the work I had started at the Congregational Church of Northridge through Tuesdays with Transitioners. I felt a distinct loss when I ended the ministry, and knew that I would continue it in some fashion somewhere down the road.

After a Sunday service, I spoke with Debbie Unruh, Executive Director of Elizabeth House, to see if they would have need for the type of career help that I could offer. She passed my information to Terry Bright, the Programs Director, and we had a very lovely meeting where I shared my ideas with her, and she explained some of the needs of the women who are residents of the house, as well as alumni—women who have been able to transition out of the house. From that meeting, the workshop was born, and a month later, I was presenting it.

While it was a different challenge from many of the members who attended the T-w-T meetings, it was a good one. The bulk of the workshop was spent walking the ladies through LinkedIn, explaining the benefits and features of the social networking site, and helping them get a profile started. We also touched briefly on how to deal with gaps in employment, and learning to tell a compelling story about their job history and job skills that reflected positively on them and the work they could do for a potential employer.

I supplied handouts and articles that they could reference later, and each woman asked insightful questions and shared key information on what they desired in their next job or career. Some of the women who attended remembered me from church, and we talked about the services, and how Pastor Dave had just returned from a mission in Swaziland. They seemed intrigued, and some of the women who hadn’t attended church in a while talked about returning.

So when I arrived on Sunday, I was highly encouraged to see most of the women from the workshop in attendance! Debbie said that they had to take two trips to get everyone there. One of the women greeted me warmly, and we talked for a bit before service began.

I hope I have opportunity to do more work with Elizabeth House, but even if it was just this one time, I believe it made an impact on the lives of these women and for the Kingdom. One of the alumni even asked about my reinvention services, and wanted to talk further on this. I encouraged them to connect with me via LinkedIn and to give me feedback on the seminar via my website. I hope to hear good things, and desire to see these small seeds sown reaping a harvest for these ladies.

 

 





Election 2012 Post-mortem: Still looking for the Silver Linings

7 11 2012

This is the last post I expected to write on November 7, 2012. But life, often gives unexpected results.

As opposed to 2008, when I went to bed early already knowing the outcome of that election (and wrote about those “silver linings” the next day), this time around, I was much more optimistic that Americans wanted to oust this fraudulent leader. A friend even invited me to an election night party with other like-minded Conservatives, and I was excited to go and have a room full of people to potentially share in victory. So I prepared to stay up late, but be happy in doing so.

The stay up late part came to pass, the happiness and victory, not so much. President Obama was re-elected for a second term, and this grieves me beyond measure. After watching the demise of the America I thought I knew last night, I did what I do in good times and bad: look for God’s perspective on this. For my life, this is best found in God’s word.

So my comments will be interspersed with scriptures that come to mind or that fit the focus of my thoughts. Take it for what it’s worth. I will start off my rant with railing at the storm clouds first, because that’s always the first thing you. But take heart, after gazing at the dark clouds, if you look deeply enough, you can still find silver linings.

In honor of PBS funding and Big Bird being saved by an Obama re-election, this rant is brought to you by the Letter “D”.

It is Disastrous and Disgraceful that a Leftist media protected and propped up this President in order to ensure he be re-elected. Former-Hurricane-now-reduced-to-SuperStorm-Sandy is the most recent example, but they are legion. The most egregious is Benghazi, which I have written about, and will continue to write about until justice is done for Ambassador Stevens and the other Americans who lost their lives because of the incompetence of this President.

Concerning this corrupt and gangrenous entity called the mainstream media, Isaiah 5:20-21 came to mind, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.”

Describes the MSM to a “T”. But what they do not know is that any shred of credibility they may have had left is now completely gone. I portend that their Demise will continue to be swift and Decisive–more than we know. I plan to dance on the graves when this happens. The collective lot of them are a Disgrace to Democracy.

It is Disheartening that American people refused to watch both the Republican and Democrat conventions, the debates, or read anything the candidates were saying and critically compare their messages. More important, the refusal to look at the false and inaccurate claims on both sides and weigh the information accordingly. Some of these people are culled from my Facebook and Twitter interactions, but if this is even a microcosmic representation of a cross-section of our population, then we are in a world of hurt as a country. Laziness and Ignorance really do great harm.

It is Disturbing that a sector of Blacks are perfectly fine with having a Black President for the sake of having a Black President. No care about his lack of character, his ability to lie, blame, and obfuscate, along with his inability to keep his promises. Again I go back to the aftermath of Former-Hurricane-now-reduced-to-SuperStorm-Sandy as a shining example of who this President is and how he operates. President Obama showed up, made promises, took lots of photos, pretended to “feel their pain” , and then left to continue campaigning. Yet the people of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut continue to hurt, continue to be without food and power, and most frightening, as the weather turns colder, remain homeless. FEMA is failing in its execution of emergency aid to a degree that exceeds Katrina. But this crop of voters is still blaming Bush for the bad economy? Well, you can’t blame Bush for Sandy, or for the next four years. It’s all on our “first Black President” Obama.

Even with all this evidence, some Blacks still laud Obama as a hero and hold him up as a shining example for the Black race. How Delusional is that?

It is beyond me that some Blacks are content with 14.3% black unemployment, preferences of another race group’s voting power over their increasingly dwindling one, and black genocide in the form of highly-funded and unfettered abortions among minorities. I doubt that I will feel any sympathy toward them when they come to see that they have been bamboozled. What I do have is Hosea 8:7: “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up.” Matter of fact, they should read the whole chapter, as it is a frightening reality on what America has become and what may be in store.

So glad I got that off my chest. Now on to that flash of light in the darkness.

God is in Control. Daniel 2:21 “He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” I navigate in lots of worlds, and in my Christian world, lots of people were fasting and praying for the outcome of this election; I believe God’s will was done. What that means for me as a Christian is that I continue to pray for President Obama and our nation, according to 1 Timothy 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

What it also means is that I do what I can to fight and stand for what is right. And much about this administration is not right. I am also praying Luke 8:17: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” I will work for this revealing to unfold, and for believers to know their role and place when it does happen.

I gave 2 Corinithians 4:8 to another Christian Conservative who was very disheartened at last night’s results: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not defeated, crushed, but not in despair.” For those who believe like me, if we pray and we seek, we are going to see God’s intended plan for this time, and hopefully make a difference for righteousness–no matter what the circumstances.

Black Conservatives have become more visible and vocal. I’m not just talking about Herman Cain, Congressman Allen West (who continues to fight for his seat), and the “acceptable” ones they trot out on Fox and CNN. I’m talking about all the grassroots brothers and sisters I have found (and who have found me) on Twitter, Facebook, and some organizations of which I have recently become a part. These fired up folks represent and fight with reasoned thought, penetrating words, facts, and their presence. We will no longer be ignored.

I know I have increased in my conservative thought and activism over the years. It started in 2000, crystallized in 2004, and became more strong in 2008. Now on the other side of 2012, I am no less fired up, and no less motivated to see Leftist memes about Black monolithic thinking destroyed. Not every Black supports everything this President does just because he is Black. His policies and practices are the problem, not his race. I and other Black Conservatives will continue to trumpet this, and hopefully join together to make our stance known. A fellow Black Conservative, Demetrius Minor said it best on Twitter: “The racial division will only continue to widen under Obama. Conservatives: We need one another. Let’s unify.” Amen to that. Let’s demonstrate Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Finally, Grassroots activism is still alive and well. Now that this national election is over, I can turn my attention to local affairs of city and state, which is where leaders are built and real change can occur that affects the national level. While I still plan to point out the falsehood and hypocrisies of this Obama administration, I’m shifting some of my to focus the Los Angeles mayor’s race. Antonio Villaraigosa has overseen the decline of Los Angeles business and it’s economy, while feathering his nest for whatever place he will be rewarded with in the Obama administration. Many of the candidates running to replace him willingly aided and abetted Mayor Eleven Percent, and I plan to point this out, while promoting candidates who truly want to reverse the damage Villaraigosa has incurred on this city through his negligence, neglect, and power mongering. Proverbs 29:2: “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan.”

Please don’t misunderstand me that I want a theocracy or only “religious” people in elected office. I take the textbook definition of “righteous” which says, “morally upright people.” I know moral atheists and immoral believers, and I’ll take the moral atheist any time. If you hold to a worldview that embraces, uplifts and seeks to further the good of a people and a community, then you are righteous in my book. On the converse, are leaders like Obama and Villaraigosa who use people and communities as a tool for the furtherance of their own agenda–and damn the consequences.

We need “righteous” leaders locally and regionally, so we can have better choices nationally.

I’ve said my peace.





In My Orbit…

16 04 2012

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

Life

“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.

Jack Gilbert, 2011

They say dogs know a good person, and dogs and cats loved Jack. Captured by his good friend and mine, Sarah Lucy Beach.

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.

Mike (left), Aunt Allene (middle), and Ricky at the Foxx Family Reunion, 2005. R.I.P. my cousin.

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.

The Universe

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.

Everything

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.