Friday, July 31, 2009


Ok... I'm writing this as the thoughts come. It's raw. Unedited. Bear with me...

This week so much of my focus has been on the concept of time. I think I was letting my OCD play with that. Too much. I loved the idea of following a schedule, but then found that I only followed it loosely. That drove me crazy. I was feeling like I'd found the answer to "getting it all done" and then wasn't following my own advice.

This morning, I received a phone call with some distressing news. A special person in my world was told they had a cyst--and the possibility of cancer. Now cancer is not a new thing in my world. So many of the people that I love have had cancer. I know that's nothing unique. I would be willing to bet that most people's lives have been touched by cancer in one way or another. But I was sick to my stomach when I heard it. And then I kicked into gear. "Well, we'll deal with it if it comes to that," I heard myself saying.

By coincidence, I happened to pick up a book that I've been reading for a while, KŪ KANAKA, A SEARCH FOR HAWAIIAN VALUES. The pages opened to a section on the Hawaiian concept of QUALITY TIME. How fitting, I thought. Thatʻs what Iʻve been thinking about all week. Dr. George Huʻeu Sanford Kanahele goes on to say that the traditional Hawaiian way of thinking is to remain in the present moment, as thatʻs all that anyone really has. And itʻs not the quantity of time thatʻs important, but the quality of time. He goes on to say that the subjective value of time "lies in the quality and meaning of what we do with our time. Or, in other words, we should relax more, and live according to Hawaiian time." (Sorry, Dr. Kanahele, but I donʻt know how to do footnotes anymore!)

Now... I loved that. It made my whole body buzz. I get it! Itʻs not about getting 500 things done every day. Itʻs about doing something and doing it right. Using the time weʻre given to really concentrate on the task at hand.

Then the whole picture started coming together. Hereʻs this person in my world whoʻs confronted with the possibility of cancer. How should they live their life? In a state of stress because they werenʻt able to cross everything off of their checklist? Or concentrating on whatʻs right before them. Right at that moment. Isnʻt that what we ALL should be doing? Do we need to wait to have some sort of health crisis to understand that?

There is a happy ending to this story. This afternoon, my friend spoke to a good doctor. While they canʻt be sure until a biopsy is done, there is a very strong chance that the cyst will prove to be benign. All will most-likely be ok.

But this served as another powerful WAKE UP! call in my world. Ok... So I might make a list of things that I hope to accomplish every day. Ok... So I might give myself an outline of how long I hope to spend working on each task. But if the task takes longer, then it takes longer. Iʻm going to try to give it my REAL and FOCUSED attention. I want to do things until theyʻre done. And done well.

And that way, if Iʻm blessed to see the sunset and review the day, Iʻll be able to say that for that day, I lived as well as I could. And did as well as I could.

And that would be pretty great.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Neck Pain, Back Spasms, Migraines... Oh My!


Today hasn't been an easy one. Lots of physical pain that started last night with a back spasm that lead to a day of migraine headaches. Still managed to get some stuff done, but it's been tough.

Had a great conversation with my cousin, Steph. A kindred spirit. We are cut from the same cloth, for sure! The oddballs of the family. I think we see things a bit differently than most. But I think that we validate each other. Priceless!

She inspires me more than she'll ever know. She sees what she wants and then goes for it. It certainly seems that she's not the type to get "lost" in her head, OVERthinking everything so that she becomes paralyzed. This gal is a mover and a shaker. She's going to change the world in ways that will blow her mind. She already does by just being the kind spirit that she is. I feel blessed to know her.

Tomorrow promises to be a bit easier... I can feel the pressure in my back, neck and head starting to subside. Little by little. And heck, any bit of relief will make tomorrow a bit easier, right?

Maybe tomorrow I'll take a ride downtown to walk around a bit, too. It would be good to get out and about for a few hours. Let's see where the day leads...

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"The best laid schemes..."

Today's schedule was heavily modified from it's original form. Lots of "issues" managed to pop up and throw my allocated times into a tailspin. But you know what? I still managed to make my way through my list. I still managed to give quality time to the things that I wanted to work on for the day. That silly list full of appointments and allocated times is so liberating! Funny how something that I once considered to be a prison has actually turned out to be my liberation!

I'm also learning that even though I try to be a "hang loose" kind of spirit, I'm still uptight. I mean, I had to move all of these blog posts to another blog--one whose address is spelled correctly! If I was really "hang loose" I would have just rolled with it.

But the coolest thing about it all, I'm totally fine with being wrong. Wrong in my belief that schedules = prison. Wrong in my perception that I'm totally "hang loose" and could roll with anything that came along.

Maybe that's being a "hang loose" kind of spirit after all!


Man! Schedules are tough! And they rock!

When I was working in the corporate world, I lived my whole day based on a piece of paper that had my daily schedule printed on it. Each morning, I would arrive at the office and break the day out into "chunks"--meetings, projects, etc. I'd print it out and be on my way with the paper as my guide. It kept me on track. And it was much better than just writing a list of things to accomplish every day--things have a funny way of just being "put off until later" when I operate with a simple list.

For the past year, I've been trying to "find my groove," so to speak. Trying to determine how my creative cycle ebbs and flows. But, just like when I was in the corporate world, I would manage to get some things done and others would just fall into the "later" pile. And it was always the same things that wouldn't get done--usually the things that made me the most nervous.

Yesterday, I decided that I needed to really carve out a chunk of time each day to write. And today I did just that... Not only time to put my thoughts down in a blog, but also time to confront the collection of stories that I've been working on. It's been awhile. I was really afraid that I'd lost my groove... That the stories wouldn't sing to me like that had been doing in the past.

But the most amazing thing happened:

When the appointed time came for me to sit down and confront the blank page, I did it. I sat down and thought to myself, "Ok.... You can do this. Just start putting words on the page. One after the other..." And sure enough, the stories started to sing again. It was wonderful! Maybe they'll always sing when I ask them. Maybe my mind did it because it was just totally freaked out that I was operating on a REAL SCHEDULE again like I had when I was in the corporate world. Who knows? I'm just so glad that the groove came back this afternoon.

The schedule worked for other things, too! Things that I love to do got done. (Of course!) Things that I try to avoid got done. (Hooray!) And at the end of the day, I had a checklist of what I'd accomplished. Herculean efforts and achievements. Not too shabby, I must say!

Moral of the story: Whether I'm living the corporate life or the creative life, I need to keep myself on a schedule. Period.

Happy Tuesday.

(originally published on Tuesday, July 28, 2009)


I've determined that I need to create a real schedule for myself that includes WRITING. Not just waiting for the muse to speak. Not waiting for the "right time." Instead, I've got to carve a real and, more importantly, REALISTIC time to write each and every day. Especially if I hope to make any progress on the current collection of stories.

Even if I just sit there and write really bad poetry or prose for the allotted time, I've got to do it. I need to start training my mind and my body to accept this as part of my daily routine.

Not to mention, I miss discovering and writing the stories. They bring such joy. And surprise. And a great feeling of accomplishment. Wait, what's the problem? Why isn't this already part of each and every day?


(originally published on Monday, July 27, 2009)

Feeling Inspired

This past week, I spent a few days back in LA with some of my writing buddies, The BAMFs. JF asked me to come and speak to her art students. The school had set aside money for a guest lecturer (or a field trip!) and JF managed to secure the funds for me! I was asked to come and talk about creativity. Felt totally overwhelmed at first. What the heck did I know about the big C word?

Then I stopped. Took a deep breath. And remembered that for the past year, I have been on a quest to define my own creative process. Quitting the job and moving to the west coast was a leap of faith. Waking up every morning and confronting the stacks of music, the blank pages in the notebooks, the silent 'ukulele... I had to figure out HOW I was going to make this whole thing work. I had to look at myself in an extremely critical mirror. WHO am I? WHAT is it that I hope to do? The kids are confronted with these same questions. All artists are.

Are there other jobs that constantly ask these questions? Do those that arrive at the same office every day for 40 years constantly redefine themselves?

I told the kids about some of my sources for creative inspiration. How-to books that suggest one person's "method." Biographies and autobiographies of artists in many genres... how did they do it? How did they get by in this wacky world? Quotes. Movies. Songs. Especially the songs that get me out of bed each and every morning. I'd be lost without them.

And as I spoke to the kids, I realized that I was also speaking to me! I needed to hear my own words. I needed to fall in love with the process all over again. Like a recommitment ceremony where a couple renews their wedding vows, I found myself recommitting to the process and this journey all over again. For better or worse.

Their eyes flashed. Recognition. They are not alone on this path. I am not alone on this path. We are all in this together.

Writing with the BAMFs last Thursday reminded me of how much I LOVE THE PROCESS of putting a pen to paper. Of watching where the story leads me without my editor mind trying to control the whole process. Of being surprised. Of being delighted with a few small phrases. It's magical!

Singing Hawaiian songs and watching people's faces smile. That look of relaxation that comes over the muscles of the face. The way their mouths relax and slightly open--a smile and laugh ready and waiting. Sharing stories of my crazy times in the islands as the ultimate "outsider" who gets himself into ridiculous predicaments. Gosh... What a wonderful journey!

And now that I'm back in the Big Apple, I'm inspired. Inspired to pick up my 'ukulele and learn new songs. Inspired to open up my notebook, pen in hand, and confront the blank page again. Inspired to try my hands at new ways to express myself, too!

I love this feeling. And I need to blog about it so that 6 months from now, when I'm feeling like I have no idea where I'm going and what I'm doing, I'll be able to read this and remember it.

(originally published on Monday, July 27, 2009)

"I'll go and put some coffee on..."

That was something I heard all the time when I was growing up. It was something that adults did when they wanted to sit and talk. Good news, bad news, a simple conversation. Mom always went to "put some coffee on." So I thought it was a fitting title. Come on over and stay for a while. I'll go and put some coffee on...