Eureka! This is an exclamation of joy or satisfaction when someone realizes something. This happened to me while I was meditating this morning. I started meditating yesterday and I don’t know what I am doing. Right now, I take deep breaths and when I exhale, I imagine all of the stress and negativity that may be in me is expelled, as though it were smoke. It dissipates in the room and I take another breath. Each one is cleansing and as I fill my lungs, I imagine that life-giving air is absorbing any and all bad things, like a fluid sponge. I also started stretching yesterday – which I also did this morning. I am so horribly out of shape and stiff that I felt enough was enough. I started stretching and meditating in an attempt to change my habits. It is hard to quiet my mind, it’s just a torrent of thoughts with voices and memories, reflections of things I’ve said from all throughout my life. Imagine walking into a crowded room where everyone is talking – that’s my mind! Scary, isn’t it?
This morning I sat with my meditation music (a playlist on Spotify) playing off my phone, the living room heater on and the cats running around the house like maniacs – they had just inhaled their breakfast. I try to get myself into an attitude of gratitude. I try to think of all the things I am thankful for: my family, my home, my….holy crap! That’s when it hit me and all the voices in the crowded room that is my mind cried out, “Eureka!”
As I was listing the things I am grateful for, something incredible dawned on me: ALL OF MY DREAMS HAVE COME TRUE.
I have a family: check
I have a house: check
I live in a place that has 4 real seasons: check
I do a morning radio show: check
I have voice tracked radio shows in other markets: check
I have my own studio: check
I have my own business: check
I am making movies: check
I was seriously blown away because I have had so many dreams of all of these things, but never at the same time. I remember when I wanted so badly to do radio, it was all I could think of. I remember seeing hosts with shows in many other states and how cool it would be.
While living in Florida and working my first professional job, I was trapped. It was always hot and I was in a prison of a job. I would watch movies and in those movies people lived lives they enjoyed. They were quite happy dressing warm in the winter and loved what they did for a living. They would come home to their family and enjoy life. I was so depressed from my position in life and all I wanted to do was create for a living. I wanted to make other people laugh and to think and to reflect on their own lives and appreciate what they had. I was so depressed that I slowly fell into a spiral of drugs and alcohol. I never sold my TV to get high or any of the other stereotypes, but I still felt empty inside unless I had a buzz. I lived that life for 16 years.
During the time I was struggling, there were patches of happiness. Those came in the form of my wife, Kelly and my kids. But there was still the darkness – the emptiness, the sadness and I could not fix it. I chose to drown it instead.
Today is a fantastic day because I am no longer caught in the grips of that sadness and it is so easy to maintain an attitude of gratitude. I have movie projects in the works and although each day has challenges, I can face them with joy in my heart. I really hope this happens to you, because I am ecstatic.
Life is a marathon for sure. The Facebook Page Big Fit Deal ” is dedicated to helping everybody – and every body – find their fit. While we respect the right of every person to decide what to do with their body, this page will not engage in or promote pro-diet or intentional weight loss discussions.” I love this approach because we see “fat shaming” all the time in our society and often it is not obvious…or it is? Look at any diet or fitness page or advertisement and you will see perfectly sculpted bodies drinking their scientifically designed shakes and doing exercises with ease. They are happy and enjoying life as the beautiful perfect people that they are. HOGWASH. Hey, if you want to be “in shape” with a six pack and chiseled everything, more power to you! Some people don’t have the genetic makeup for that, period. I don’t have it! I tried and I got close but it just didn’t work for me. Personally, I gained all my weight back from drinking alcohol. It was a terrible period of self doubt and a deep feeling of insignificance that lead me to my binge. It lasted for several years and although there were times when I was able to put down the booze and pick up a protein shake, the monkey jumped back on me. I’ve finally beat it and that’s thanks to the support of my family and friends as well as the work of Annie Grace – you can see my interview with her on the podcast/webcast.
Let me get back to Big Fit Deal. They posted a link to a story about a woman who finished last in the Boston Marathon. She’s 46 and almost didn’t make it. It is a story about going after a goal with a laser focus and not giving up. There’s a lot more to her story and I’m not the one to relay the info here – but I wanted to use this posting as an example of why we need to pay attention to our society and what we idolize. My Facebook feed is lousy with ads hocking slimming shirts and other things to make people look like society thinks they should look. I am not going to tell someone that they are wrong if they want to lose weight or if they have a certain physical goal they wish to accomplish. I do want to tell people that they should go after whatever it is they want and not give up – regardless of what the onlookers say.
Is it a big deal that this woman finished the Boston Marathon? Absolutely! Everyone else went home – they were cleaning up the finish line. Her son was waiting there and she finally crossed the line. She did it! She cried tears of painful joy. This story touched me deeply because we all have our own personal Boston Marathon. Yours could be losing weight or quitting drinking or smoking. It could be auditioning for a play or trying to get that big client. Whatever your goal – make it your Boston Marathon – make sure you get to the finish line – and don’t listen to what people are saying about you.
I’ve been very vocal about my former job at Carnival Cruise Lines. I have not come so far as naming my direct supervisors, but I have definitely openly called them out about how they treated me and others in their personal pursuit for corporate domination. At one point, I was sitting on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean, about 1 or 2 days out from Nassau, Bahamas and I was in tears because I was forced to create a “crew video” from tons of footage given to me by crew members and stuff I shot. This was technically not my responsibility. Our department was onboard this brand new ship to shoot and incorporate video into the production show as well as produce some corporate training videos. That’s it. My boss had this grand plan to make our little video department a big corporate department with big budgets. He played to my mid-twenty year old dreams of having a six-figure per year job at such a young age. (At this time I was in considerable debt for my age, so I was really interested in the career track he dangled before me). He promised that if we dug in and did this kind of stuff – showed “them” what “we” could do, we would be sitting pretty, making lots of money and delegating this lowly work to others. I’ll admit, I was onboard! But I soon came to realize that I was the main guy who was to do the majority of the work to get there.
I actually left school for the job, with only 5 classes short of my degree. I was a supposed to go into radio, but I had a good knack for shooting and editing video. Plus, I was a radio guy and therefore, free Voice-Over talent! (For many years, my voice was on over 20 ships’ TV systems). I often wondered about the qualifications of my boss. He seemed so much older than me and really talked the talk. I soon realized he couldn’t do anything I could do and he was mainly self-taught. I found his resume one day when I was searching for some paperwork. It was wedged in the back of the file cabinet so I was intrigued. I will sum his resume and qualifications up with this: he spelled College “Collage”. ‘Nuff Said.
Generally, he was a nice guy when we were having beers and smoking way too many cigarettes. We’d have some fun here and there – just enough to keep me in line with the dream. But, then it would kick back in – the stress and the impossible deadlines. I would be working late, until 10 or 11pm. I would oversleep the next day because he expected me to be back at work by 9am. I was tired, burning out and he would just keep hounding me.
If I was late he’d make me work the weekend. If I needed a day off for a doctor’s appointment or if I was sick – I was expected to make up the time on the weekend. I was so green and naive, I had no idea that he was breaking corporate rules. Add to this, the fact that he would often call me a “fat bastard” and make fun of the fact that I was often single. He would poke fun at me because I could never “pull” when I was out on ships. (Basically, that means chatting up girls and sleeping with them while I was onboard). I loved women very much, but I always wanted a girlfriend who was wife material, not a one-nighter. I could have gone to HR to complain – but the VP on HR was one of the people who he was always trying to impress – so we could take our little video department to a higher level.
Keep in mind that this takes place over the course of 4 1/2 years. The company was cranking out a new ship per year and each time, our department had something to do with it. Many times, it was not really something that was in our job descriptions, but we were all seeking that Holy Grail of the big budget corporate video department, so we agreed that we needed to “show them what we could do”. In that time span, I think he chewed up and spit out 5-6 other staff members. I have a very cool management style. I would never make my staff do something I wouldn’t do myself and if they had a skill that I didn’t have, I would never exploit it or worse, pretend I could do it better while “choosing not to”. My supervisor forced me to emulate his management style – which was autocratic and unforgiving. I failed terribly. Meanwhile, he was grooming someone else who would take up that style.
I finally quit. I was done, I was over it all. I had to move on. I was really depressed and started self-medicating with various substances to escape from the constant stress. The 4 1/2 years really changed me. While onboard the ships, it was customary to go to the crew bar where drinks were very cheap. Everyone would buy a round and I was told it was rude to decline. One of the things he stressed to me was the importance of having the crew on your side. You see, we were from the head office in Miami, so we were considered management to the crew. If we had them on our side, we could get things done onboard outside of the typical chain of command-ish.
I left the company and moved to Rochester. I brought all of that emotional baggage to my poor soon-to-be-wife. The escaping from problems with self-medicating, emotionally over sensitivity, general depression and so many self-esteem issues I cannot even begin to enumerate them. Now, I am sure not all of that came from the job, but I am positive any of it I had was exasperated because of it.
You know how some women cannot leave an abusive relationship? It was like that for me too. I had difficulties finding work in Rochester and an opportunity opened at Carnival and the old boss called me back. It was actually a sweet deal so I took it. I figured that this time would be better and it was a marked improvement. But, there was a huge difference this time. So much had changed in the department – and the one guy he was grooming along with me, took over my position in the management chain and he was a clone of the boss. We got into it a few times because I taught him a lot and he would take that condescending tone with me and I would not have any of it. We got called into the boss’s office a few times because of that friction. The guy was once my friend and I could not wrap my head around the idea that he would treat me the way he was. This was a different position and so I was travelling quite a bit and working on my own. I had a 10 month contract with the option to renew..but I didn’t. This time it was because my wife and I were going to have a baby and she wanted to come back to Rochester.
I went back one more time for a stretch of 3 years and that was the last straw. I felt oppressed in that environment. Even with the boss leaving me mostly alone to do my own thing. I had a family with young kids now and I wasn’t going to let him stop me from doing what I needed to do. The depression and the self medicating was still an issue – so I finally got fed up and decided we were moving back to Rochester for good. That was 2007 and I am so grateful that I made that choice. It has not been an easy road, but I have the love of my wife and kids and some great friends. I am getting therapy now because to this day I still have nightmares that I work in the video department of Carnival Cruise Lines. That department is no more. Initially, the boss was fired (forced to resign) for misappropriating funds. He didn’t steal, but he robbed one account to pay someone else more money so the job would get done faster and make him look better. Ironically, all of the senior management has since gone and he is back there in an adjacent department.
There is so much more to write about but I think you have the general idea. I let him control my life – I take ownership of that. I signed up for acting classes one time and he convinced me to quit, I lost my $700 I paid for the class.
If you have a son or daughter and see them going down the corporate path…pay close attention to them and their mental well-being. No job is worth the years of emotional pain I’ve endured and caused my family. Yes, the skills I learned there are a big factor in my life now, but I mostly try to practice sound management. When I direct a film, I am approachable and honest. I actually have trouble delegating jobs because I sometimes feel the task may be “beneath” the person I am asking to complete it. I can work on that.
I never really realized how much therapy could help me get over this and I look forward to not having dreams about working there.
Today it has been 30 days since I ingested the poison. Now, keep reading – I am not going to bash your beloved single malt or craft whatever. This is my understanding of what alcohol is at a chemical level. It is a highly addictive poison which is not good for any human. Historically, it was used to kill germs (antiseptic) and as a pain reliever – but they eventually found (arguably) better chemicals for that. Read This Naked Mind by Annie Grace for the skinny on alcohol.
After 30 days I have logged how many times I really wanted a drink: 0. Absolutely a huge goose egg. I am amazed that I didn’t want a drink because I’ve had some not-so-stellar days here and there. It is the first time in recent years that I have not sought some kind of substance to ease my stress. Nearly everyone does it – but some people use healthy things like jogging or weight lifting to beat stress. Others like a glass or two of wine or a martini. Some like a few beers to unwind. I have now become privy to the fallacy therein.
Here’s what I have experienced:
I have the ability to fix my own problems, rather than ignoring them or masking them with self-medication.
My sleep has improved by leaps and bounds.
I have the clarity of mind to remember things I was forgetting often.
My brain is a wonderfully complex organ that has all of the power I require for everything life can throw at me.
People are beautiful and I need to be more open to learning from each and every person I come in contact with on a daily basis.
One thing at a time. In the past I have always attempted to fix everything all at once and then wondered why I fell flat on my face. It’s perfectly fine to focus on one thing and not move on until it is fixed.
I have every right to be angry at things, but I have no right to affect others negatively because of that anger.
I am so much more productive than I used to be, simply because I am not tired and feeling low.
I am looking forward to how life will be tomorrow and 30 days from now and so on.
I am not going to be an evangelist for temperance. To each his or her own. But I can offer advice…and that advice is to quit drinking for 30 days and do an honest personal inventory.
“Fitz, will you stop with that crap?! I’ll be annoyed if I want to be!” – you
Let me explain…there is no time…let me sum up. Recently, I made friends with a person and we had mutual business needs. It made perfect sense to barter our services because it was win win. That person ended up finding a gig and in the back of my mind I like to believe I was part of that. I was sad that person is no longer involved in my business but at the same time, I met a few others via that person who have been very great contacts! So, sometimes a person moves into your life to move you in a new direction. I think most of the time the direction is positive, but sometimes it can be negative. With that in mind, I’ve only ever experienced positive changes – I will list some examples:
Toxic people moved themselves out of my life. It was not easy at the time, but it was for the best.
Mistakes were made in business with people who were not a good match and I was too trusting. But, once I was aware of the situation (and listened to my mastermind group) I was able to move on with a better understanding of the situation and learned a great deal about how to avoid similar situations in the future.
Past work experiences that set me back years both professionally and personally (emotionally, mentally) all made me who I am today and make me better at what I do. I know how to listen to people, I know how to lead people, I know how to apply ethics to every decision.
These examples are not specific to me, I am sure. YOU probably have experience with one or all of these examples. Granted, they are broad and can apply to many situations in life, but this is why I have to be amazed and not annoyed.
I could choose to be annoyed that I was taken advantage of or that because of the evils of one person, I am undergoing therapy. But, instead, I am amazed at how life works. I am amazed that life has presented me with lessons to learn from and not events to dismay me.
I have almost an entirely new set of people in my life than I did one year ago and they are much better for me. The positive people, the ones who only lift me up and move me forward are here and will always be here. The new ones are a result of my change of perspective and desire to be on the forward path. I was on a path that did loops -forward for a while, then back around, always repeating. If you find yourself there, stop and sit down and look around and really assess where you are going. I was going nowhere. Now, I am going forward and not looking back. I owe it all to my people.
Excuse me while I blather a bit about regrets. Imagine regrets are a distant land about the size of Northern Uganda – maybe Southern, I’m not sure about the exact geographic scale, but let’s say it’s bigger than your backyard. This land called Regrets has a king, his name is Fitz. He rules with an iron conscience and doesn’t let any of his subjects out. He keeps them there and it makes his country too much to manage, so he often falls apart. OK, I’ll admit that metaphoric scenario was a bit convoluted, but I think you get the picture. My point to all of this is, don’t be King Fitz (I kind of like the sound of that King part).
“Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention”
Old Blue Eyes had it right. Too few to mention is a great goal. I always wondered if I really thought about my regrets, how many of them I could write down.
Dropping out of Camp Challenge, Fort Knox Kentucky.
Dropping out of New Mexico Military Institute.
Experimenting with hallucinogens.
Not taking college more seriously.
Putting my music “career” before learning.
Letting my first boss run my life.
Not recognizing my lack of self control.
Allowing my self confidence to make my decisions.
Allowing self doubt to make my decisions.
Allowing my regrets to run my life.
I think these are my top 10. There are a bunch of little ones – mostly based around drunken statements or actions. I’ve remedied that by giving up the sauce – and that has not been an easy road…but I am not doing it alone.
Take it from me, kids: regrets have the power to give you concrete boots and make you swim with the fishes. (They can really bog you down). You need to work through those regrets via therapy or some kind of meditation….something. I am doing it by writing – by BLATHERING! I think I’ll write out my demons for all the world to read. Writing helps me feel better and maybe one day I can get through my day with no regrets.
Mike Russo passed away. He was a good guy and a talented writer. We worked together on a 72 hour film competition. That is to say, we tried to work together. He had a lot of ideas and we just didn’t jive. Mike had a certain formula for making great 72 hour films, but I wanted to be different. The film we ended up making was great, we won 5th place, but it was a really gruelling process. Mike and I had a conversation after it was all done and I admitted that I should have listened to him. We both laughed about it.
Mike Russo was one of the driving forces in the early days of the Rochester Movie Makers, now the Rochester Association for Film Arts and Sciences. His scripts ended up being the first project for many a local and aspiring filmmaker.
In the summer of 2016, I had Mike on the radio to talk about his need for a kidney. Mike had to call in because he was not well enough to make the trip downtown.
Here is the interview:
I briefly contemplated getting tested to see if I was a match. But, in the end I didn’t do it. I had my reasons and I wonder if they were the right reasons. I am still here and Mike is gone. I got busy – I was always busy.
There are others who knew him better. There are others who can recall many memories with Mike. Most of our correspondence was via Facebook messenger – and I regret that. I should do a better job connecting with people on a personal and more meaningful level. You just never know what can happen. RIP Mike, I wish I knew you better.
Tuesday was a crazy day. I had to shoot video, record voice overs, record a radio show, make dinner and then get over to Geva Theatre and see Thurgood. One of my favorite perks of this radio job is that I get to see all the shows. I brought my 15 year old son, Shaun. I figured he should see a play about Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to sit on the Supreme Court. I’m a bit of a history buff and casual wonk, so I was interested as well. I knew that name, Thurgood. I thought I knew why I knew that name, but I really didn’t know anything.
Lester Purry delivers a captivating performance as Thurgood Marshall. I went into this play not knowing anything about it. I didn’t know it was a cast of one. i didn’t know it would be a guy on stage talking to the audience the entire time. Well, it really was a whole lot more than that.
First of all, we get serious insight into Thurgood Marshall, the man. By the end of the first act, you feel like he’s a kindly old man you met on the train who had amazing stories of his life to share. I think we’ve all been in that situation, where a person keeps yapping and yapping about this or that and we couldn’t care less. This was NOT one of those times. Learning about the 14th amendment to the Constitution was something I had not intended. Plessy v Ferguson and Brown v Board of Education both ring a bell from my school days, but I had forgotten why.
It is important to remember these legal precedents. It’s just as relevant today as it was back then. I would argue it is even more relevant today, because we’ve come a long way as a society, but not far enough.
Thurgood Marshall was a smart and fair man who brought a new perspective and set of experiences to the Supreme Court and he was there at the right time. I only wish he was still there.
My son and I were mesmerized the entire time. I made the perfect dad joke after the curtain call. “Thurgood was ThurGreat!” Yes, he gave me the 15 year old eye roll too…
I am trying to get back on my correct path. Which path are you referring to, Fitz? Well, whichever path is the correct one for you. That path will be easy – effortless. You won’t have worries on that path. Your correct path won’t even seem like a path that you follow, rather it will seem to be correcting itself as you go forward – as though it was always going that way. You won’t necessarily be able to see where the path leads, but every time you make a turn, you’re still on the path.
I am not saying that it is impossible to stray from the path – it most certainly is possible. But, deep down you will know – through some form of instinct, that your decision will lead you off the path. You may choose to ignore those inner warning, but I hope you don’t. I have chosen to ignore my inner most warning signs.
What happened? I veered off the path. I KNEW I had veered off the path and it has always been in my power to hop back on – but I didn’t. Why? I cannot pretend to know the answer except to say, perhaps, I was too scared. I had been on the wrong path for so long that I think I was confused as to where my path really was. I forgot that my path was effortless and joyful, not riddled with doubt and fear. I forgot these things and I decided to remember them. Honest writing shows me the path and once again it is up to me to allow the path to lead me out of the muck and the mire. My path leads through groups of amazing people who are strong and positive and caring. Where does your path take you?