Friday, December 10, 2010


If you were alive and old enough in December of 1980, you probably remember where you were when you heard the news.
“John Lennon was shot and killed tonight outside his home on the Upper West Side of New York City.” 
At least it was a madman who did it, killed John Lennon, of all people.
When I was eleven, a few years after my father’s death, I’m a Loser, the Beatles hit written by John Lennon, became one of my most cherished songs.
Alone in our apartment, I would sing along at the top of my lungs as tears trickled down my cheek, “I’m a loser. And I lost someone who’s near to me…”
John Lennon was born October 9th, 1940 while a World War II bombing raid was in progress.
His mother couldn’t handle raising him. He was raised by his aunt Mimi.
He was expelled from school for misbehaving when he was five years old.
I’m a Loser, Nowhere Man, and Help are biographical songs based on John Lennon’s personal  experience.
He saw his father for the first time in 17 years in 1964.
“All art is pain expressing itself,” he once said.
He kept a light on while he slept because he didn’t like the dark.
Without glasses he was legally blind.
            Supposedly he was dyslexic.
“Part of me suspects that I am a loser, and the other part thinks I am God Almighty.”
He may have been a petty thief, enjoying a bit of shoplifting now and again, when he was a teenager.
             He ate very little after a reporter labeled him the ‘fat Beatle’.
He didn’t like his voice and often asked his producers to change how he sounded on recordings.
“My defenses were so great. The cocky rock and roll hero who knows all the answers was actually a terrified guy who didn't know how to cry. Simple.”
In 1970 John and Yoko checked into a hospital for wealthy addicts.
“Temperatures rising, fever is high, can’t see no future…can’t see no sky,” is a lyric from his song Cold Turkey.
             John Lennon signed his autograph for Mark Chapman six hours before Chapman shot and killed him on December 8th, 1980 at around 10:50 p.m.

“If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliché that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that's his problem. Love and peace are eternal.”
John Lennon wrote Imagine, which is now the official song of the human rights organization Amnesty International.
Along with Paul McCartney, John Lennon is considered one of the most influential songwriters of the 20th century.
             “I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It's just that the translations have gone wrong.”
           The Beatles have sold an estimated 1,000,000,000 plus records worldwide. Sales continue to go strong. 
           “And we all shine on, like the moon, the stars, and the sun…”
           Remember John. Do what you have to do, though it’s not always easy. And shine on.
           I can be reached for coaching at or 805/680-5572. 

Monday, December 6, 2010


So it’s Christmas time, Hanukah time, the Holiday Season, a time of giving and receiving brightly wrapped gifts with ribbons and bows, all sorts of gifts from large to small, mundane gifts like screwdrivers and exotic gifts like $100 an ounce truffles, but what about giving the gift of yourself?
As we get older, for many of us, that seems harder and harder to do. Over time we seem to hold back more and more. We seem to close up and harden. Oftentimes, this process of closing up and fitting in begins when we’re in school, and continues throughout our work life where we think we need to keep ourselves in line, fit in and do our work so our employers, colleagues, customers and clients will be happy with us, and we’ll get paid. As the years go by we play it safer and safer all the time.
Not all of us, but most of us, hold back one or another of our gifts. We withhold our love, or our passion, or our enthusiasm, or our ideas, or our smile, or our laughter, or our creativity and artistry, our commitment, or our dreams.
How many of us consider ourselves artists by the time we’re fifty, and who wasn’t an artist in kindergarten? How much of ourselves we give up as the years go by if we’re not careful. How many of our gifts lie dormant within us waiting to be shared?
My idea, this Holiday Season, is to begin to share your gifts more and more throughout the year.          
“What,” you may be asking, “is he talking about? What gifts?”
And that’s where you begin. You need to ask yourself some questions and consider their answers seriously.
What are my gifts? How do I share them? How do I hold them back?
Why? Am I afraid? Too tired? Too unemployed? Too serious?
What price have I paid for not sharing my gifts?
How can I share my gifts more fully?
Will I?
Before you can give your gifts to anyone else, you have to give them to yourself. You have to own the fact that you have gifts worth giving and that you want to give them.
And this can be hard.
“I have no gifts,” you might be saying, “and even if I did, why would I share them with you or anyone else? Bah, humbug.”
If you feel this way, and we all do to some extent, there’s probably a reason. Things didn’t go as you had planned. Something was taken from you. Someone laughed or tossed aside some part of you that you offered as a gift, so you closed up shop.
“That hurt. I’m not doing that again. Thank you, very much.”
With each of life’s cuts we scar a bit and close up more. In the process we lose sight of our gifts, of who we are and what we have to offer. We withhold our gifts and we suffer. We start to become more like Scrooge, and less like ourselves.
Dylan wrote, “He who is not busy being born is busy dying.”
One way we die is by withholding our gifts. Giving of ourselves keeps us young and alive. As we birth our next gift, we give birth to ourselves.
You may be saying this guy is smoking dope or something stronger, but check it out. Who’s alive and who’s dead? The givers or the horders? The generous souls or the misers?
Look at where you are dying. There’s probably a gift you are withholding, or feel unable to give.
That’s it, you might say. It’s not that I don’t want to give it, but I don’t have anyone to receive it. Or I don’t know how to give it. Or if I put it out there, I might not be recognized for it. Worse still, they might laugh and reject it. It might not be good enough. 
No one said it was going to be easy, but what’s your alternative? Are you going to figure out a way to share your gifts, or are you going to withhold them? Are you going to be busy being born, or busy dying?
Often, it’s our dreams we withhold the most, because that’s where we can really hurt. Better forget about dreams, but our buried dreams can be seen in the lines on our faces, and in our tired bodies. No one sees them better than our children and others who love us, and often they carry much of the weight. And this weight can seem heavier during this Holiday Season than at any other time. 
In the real world many dreams do not come true, at least not how you first dreamt them, but that doesn’t mean you need to have no dreams, no hope, and nothing new. You mature and learn to work with what you have. Your dreams of singing on Broadway turn into the reality of singing at a local senior citizen’s home. Your dreams of writing the great American novel become the blog you write. Your dreams of becoming the next Jacques Cousteau become your weekend walks on the beach exploring the tidepools with your kids, and volunteering at the Sea Center.
You don’t shrivel up, you rave on, where and how you can. You don’t just look for the work that is your passion; you bring your passion to your work wherever you work. You show up like an artist at the restaurant where you cook, and people can feel it and come back. You run plumbing lines that would make Michelangelo proud.
At work and at play, (There might not be a significant difference for the most successful amongst us.) the happiest and most successful people are those who show up and share their gifts most fully. This is true whether you’re a lawyer, plumber, builder, teacher, real estate agent, restauranteur, winemaker, artist, or stockbroker.

It’s harsh, but death is coming. Do you want it to come sooner or later?
You have to choose. You have to do the hard work of putting yourself fully into your life as best you can.
Remember, it’s gifts you are giving. It’s not about you. It’s about something or someone outside youself.
We all have gifts to give. We can smile. We can care. We can listen. We can encourage. We can love. We can create. We can help. We can praise. We can share. We can support. We can acknowledge. We can ask. We can teach. We can learn. We can give. We can receive. We can sing. We can lead. We can follow. We can be open. We can hold. We can envision. We can celebrate. We can create. We can dance. We can design. We can cook. We can offer excellent service. We can mean it. We can do our best. We can forgive. We can remember.
We really can do all these things and infinitely more.
So, it’s Christmas, it’s Hanukah, it’s the Festival of Lights, it’s the Holiday Season. Give what really matters. Come home to yourself. Celebrate the gifts you find there, and then share with the rest of us.
             Happy Holidays.
             I can be reached at and 805/680-5572