Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Robin Williams' death sparks global "group therapy session" on Facebook -- AND IT'S AWESOME

Robin Williams (1951 - 2014)

Earlier this week, we learned about Robin Williams' untimely death, apparently by his own hand. Immediately, a number radio and television talk show hosts (national and local), as well as a few "high-profile" people, took to the airwaves and social media to criticize Robin for taking his own life, throwing around words like "selfish," "thoughtless" and "coward." One Seattle-area talk show host even said that he could understand someone committing suicide because he/she had no access to mental health care or treatment, but couldn't understand how someone like Robin Williams, who could afford to pay for treatment, would resort to suicide instead. (Note: this is not a direct quote, but pretty close).

Meanwhile, others  rushed onto social media to express shock and sadness over the news, and to share their favorite memories of Robin, along with which of his many film roles resonated most strongly with them. They also shared their own struggles with depression or experiences with friends and loved ones they had lost to suicide. Some posts were extremely brief - a line or two. Others were long enough to be considered blog posts.

What happened next is astounding.

People who shared their struggles and experiences found response after response from others who had faced similar struggles and experiences; or words of encouragement from those who have never known the suffocating pull of depression. Some responded by sharing their favorite uplifting quotes, or a simple gesture, like the word "Hugs" or a heart symbol (<3). 

But they responded.

Since Monday, Facebook has been one global "group therapy session." People have been surprised to learn some of their most successful colleagues and  friends have faced demons ranging from addiction to depression to failed suicide attempts. They've learned some of the personalities, artists and musicians they respect most have lived with the heartache of losing a loved one. However, everyone who shared a painful secret learned one important thing:

THEY ARE NOT ALONE.

Below, I've re-posted some of the most touching status updates and posts from this week (with the posters' permission).  If something resonates with you, please feel free to share it. If you feel like joining this conversation, please use the "comments" section below.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU LOVE IS HURTING AND YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO, CALL THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE: 800-273-8255

No matter how much you're hurting, please know this:

  • You are loved and needed by someone, whether you realize it or not.
  • You are surrounded by others who may not have walked in your shoes, but want to hear your story and find ways to help you regain your footing.
  • And most importantly:  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.


A few Facebook posts that generated much conversation and incredible sharing:

Jon Horton:
So we have come to a time in our society where suddenly everyone is talking about mental health issues. It took someone we universally love, to become the victim, before the public at large, takes notice.

Look at your Facebook feed. Yes that one that defaults to the Top Stories instead of the one you really want to see. Post after post has a picture or scene or quote from Robin Williams. Many people are screaming for people to acknowledge that Mental Health is to be taken seriously.

For some of us, it's a daily reality. Whether it is depression, or bi-polar, or anger, or anxiety, or pondering ending the pain like Robin did.

Awareness... It takes a celebrity committing suicide to make us look inside as a society, all the while never considering that stranger, acquaintance, buddy, best friend, soulmate, may be in just as much pain, just as much fear, just as much closeness to the edge, may be in the same situation.

We all need to be there for each other... Mental health situation or no.

If someone who brings such joy, is in such pain, something is wrong.

We need to ask ourselves, are we kind? Do we consider others before we consider ourselves? Do we focus on others instead of the person in the mirrors?

If you have the bandwidth, to use today's term, to reach out to others, why don't you? Are we scared that we might catch something? Are we afraid that the person might make a negative difference in our lives? Or consider, the fact that we might be the difference in saving one.

Be kind to one another. Don't be afraid to listen. Don't be afraid to share.
And if you, yourself, is the one in pain... Don't be afraid to share your feelings. Just telling one person can be the genesis of change... The beginning of the healing... The start to the journey.

We only have one life. Take care of yourself. Take care of the ones you love. Take care of each other.

The smile you see may be the cover for intolerable pain. See beyond the smile. See the person. Be there. Tell them they are never alone.

Because, as Robin said, the fear we express is the fear of dying alone, when, instead, our greatest fear is that those around us will leave us feeling alone.

You, are not alone.


Meg Jarrell:

Reading many of the posts from my friends the last 24 hours has been hard. I've seen words from so many people I l care about that have struggled with or continue to struggle with depression that it seems to be everywhere. My heart breaks for them, but I'm trying my hardest to see the bright side of the equation too. The side that applauds their bravery and honesty in sharing their fight.

So instead getting sucked into my sadness, I'm working hard to find hope that when they face darkness, they will know they're not alone. The hope that if I can help, they'll be brave enough to reach out and let me know. And if I can't, that they find someone who can.

When did life get so hard?


Kevin Miles:
Depression is often a tunnel of overwhelming despair that is too long and too dark to see the light, even if you know it's there. 

If you know someone you care about who is in that tunnel, don't assume you know the depth of their pain. 

Do everything in your power to help them get the help they need and do everything you know to make sure they know they matter.



Michael Keeves:
I Am A Safe Place. 

I declare that if any of you need to talk or fear you may be dealing with depression, I am here for you. I am a safe place. 

I encourage all of you to declare this. 

All we have is each other. 

#Iamasafeplace


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Vacation = Eye Candy time

My day job is on hiatus next week and so am I. I still have 32 days of PTO (planned time off) to use before the year's end, so I chose to use five of those days to sit at home, catch up on some writing, reading, and "eye candy" time, or as I prefer to call it: "research" for my next novel.

So far, my "research" has included the following:

"Coriolanus" - movie - "EC" subjects: Gerard Butler, Ralph Fiennes and James Nesbitt (reciting Shakespeare)


"Daniel Deronda" - mini series - "EC" subject: Hugh Dancy ( as George Elliot's tortured hero)



"Paris Je T'aime" - movie - "EC" subject: Rufus Sewell (albeit extremely briefly)


"Zen" - series - "EC" subject: Rufus Sewell (older and hotter. Plays a sexy Italian detective named "Aurelius")


"Kidnapped" - series - "EC" subjects: Jeremy Sisto, Linus Roache, Timothy Hutton (yes, yes, and yes)



My "research to-do" list includes:

"Dark City" - movie - "EC" subject: Rufus Sewell
"The Very Thought of You" - movie - "EC" subjects: Joseph Fiennes, Rufus Sewell
"The Escapist" - movie - "EC" subjects: Joseph Fiennes, Damian Lewis
"Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead" - movie - "EC" subjects: Tim Roth, Gary Oldman

... and that's just the beginning. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sharing: Robert V Taylor's "Wake Up Call" regarding: FEAR

I receive weekly posts from Robert V. Taylor, an internationally respected thought leader, author, motivator, Episcopal priest and all-around genuinely nice person. I've had the pleasure of working with him on a number of occasions, including for an unforgettable "town hall" type discussion involving Robert, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, my friend and KING 5 New Day Northwest host Margaret Larson, and a group of students from the greater Tacoma area as part of the city's "Be the Spark" campaign in the spring of 2011. Click here to watch a portion of that discussion.

"Be the Spark" Discussion - 2011

This week's post struck a nerve with me, because I have been working to release myself from the fear cage I've been locked in for nearly twenty years. I've savored brief escapes here and there, but always seem to end up locked firmly behind the fear bars again. Robert's weekly "Wake Up Call" posts share a brief story or observation, usually from his personal experience, then ask a couple of simple but well-thought out questions, to get the conversation going in our brains. 


How many of you are also trapped inside a fear cage? Let's look for the key together.


FREE OF YOUR FEAR?

What we do with our fears is more telling than the fear itself.

Something clicked with my three year old nephew. Always fearful about the pool he was willing to go in with me a few weeks ago. As we splashed about his reluctance gave way to comfort and soon he was playing water games with the other kids his age.

We could have chosen to stick with trying to get his toes in the water but instead he chose to wade in the water.

The following week he took his first swimming lesson and now he relishes every opportunity to be in the pool. His delight about the water is infectious.

Splashing in the water and laughing, my nephew reminds me that what we do with any of our fears is how we discover freedom from them. How will you choose to live beyond your fears and who might you trust to walk you through them?

Call-to-Action:

  • What fear do you need to wade through and beyond?
  • Who will you choose to walk through your fear with?

Notice how each time you move beyond a fear you shed a limitation and discover new life.

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Share this link with a friend for their free subscription to Wake Up Call!

www.robertvtaylor.com

Monday, June 23, 2014

Memory Lane: my stint as Publicity Manager for MusicMasters Records & working with some of jazz's biggest legends

I fell down a rabbit hole of sorts today. It began when I saw a post from Classical KING-FM promoting a performance by Stephen Hough. I remembered doing PR for a few of his albums when he recorded with MusicMasters and Musical Heritage Society back in the 80's. Seeing Stephen's albums got me looking for other recordings I had the honor and pleasure of helping promote. I couldn't find all of them - MM went out of business years ago - but the ones I did find have some great memories attached.

MusicMasters was run by a man named Jeffrey Nissim. His family owned Musical Heritage Society (a mail order classical and jazz company). Jeffrey was pretty hip and really enjoyed helping revive and nurture careers, from up-and-coming singers like Dawn Upshaw, to living legends like the incomparable Miss Peggy Lee. As Publicity Manager for MusicMasters, I GOT PAID for rubbing elbows with the likes of Miss Peggy, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter, Ruby Braff, Louie Bellson, as well as attend the 1988 Grammy Awards (Louie won a Grammy for Best Jazz Recording that year). I sat in between Dr. Ruth & members of Earth, Wind & Fire, and walked the red carpet from Radio City Music Hall to the afterparty at the Hilton, alongside a young Irish band called U2, before enjoying an amazing performance by percussion legend Tito Puente.

The biggest surprise, though, came when MusicMasters obtained the rights to previously unreleased recordings by Benny Goodman, uncovered in the Yale University Library. Not only did I get to travel to Yale with Jeffrey and others, he included my name in the full-page Billboard Magazine ad promoting the deal. I may still have that ad somewhere among my things. Daily chats with Miss Peggy Lee as she recorded "Peggy Sings the Blues," is also a tremendous highlight, along with being able to work with Jazz PR legend Phoebe Jacobs. What a trailblazer. I read she passed away in 2012 at the tender age of 93. She was incredible and never had a problem with working with a 24 year old "little girl" <- Dizzy Gillespie's nickname for me. 

Here are just a few of the albums I had the honor of helping promote:

Peggy Lee - Peggy Sings the Blues - I love this photo of her. We brainstormed a number of cover ideas for this album. I think this turned out classy and dreamy at the same time. Phoebe taught me how to "speak Peggy." For example: I called her at the studio to see how her recording session was going, when she sighed and said, "Those mean clouds are hiding the sun today, Suzie." I learned that the best reply for this comment was to send an arrangement of sunny yellow flowers to the studio, along with a kind note.  She'd call and feign surprise and gratitude for "such a thoughtful and sweet gesture." There was also "Peggy speak" to arrange a delivery of her favorite tea and sweets. This may sound or seem demanding, but it really wasn't. Miss Peggy was very sweet, always gracious, and that Voice. She had it to the end.


Benny Goodman - The Yale Archives - All I have to say about this CD is wow. Wow, wow, wow. What a find and what a coup for MusicMasters Records.


Dick Hyman & Ruby Braff - Manhattan Jazz - This is one of my favorite albums of all time. Two friends who know each other so well, their music weaves together naturally. This is just Dick and Ruby, doing their thing. Perfect music for a cocktail hour or a contemplative evening at home.

Benny Carter & Dizzy Gillespie - In the Mood for Swing - I love the cover photo of Benny Carter and Dizzy Gillespie for "In the Mood for Swing." If you look at their faces, you can catch a glimpse of what each man was like as a child. Dizzy still had that mischevious grin and twinkle in his eyes. Benny emanated an air of the "good boy" who got in trouble nonetheless, because of his buddy. That's exactly how they were whenever I saw them together. Dizzy's sense of humor preceded him like a force field. You had to pay attention to Benny, or his quiet humor would float over your head, sending Dizzy off into peals of laughter as you try to figure out what just happened.


I can't believe they're all gone now. Well, gone in body, but their spirits and souls live on through their music, as well as some wonderful memories.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Great Woman; Wise Words - Maya Angelou, Ph.D. (April 4, 1928 ~ May 28, 2014)

I arrived at work to news that the great Maya Angelou has passed away. All of the major news outlets have posted tribute pieces and I marvel at the different approaches taken by some.

NBCNews.com peppered its story with video clips.

Time.com re-posted its "10 Questions with Maya Angelou" from 2013.

USAToday.com posted 13 of Maya's greatest quotes, as compiled by correspondent Lindsay Deutsch. In a nod to Lindsay, I've reposted those quotes below in meme form.

To Maya, I say: Spread your wings and fly, Ms. Angelou. You live on through your incredibly insightful words and important lessons you taught during your 86 years in our midst. 

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My life... in memes. Can you relate?

I've become quite fond of memes. I even tried my hand at creating a couple, because I loved the quotes and no one else had thought to turn them into memes. My picture folder on my computer is filled with memes; some that I've posted on Facebook and Twitter, others that are waiting their turn. Then I thought, I can just share them all here in one place.

So, without further ado, I bring you... Motivation Overload!

(This is the second meme I've ever created. It's a line from one of my favorite Ben Taylor songs called, "You're Not Alone." If you've never listened to Ben, you should. He's kind of like dad James & mom Carly, but with his own little twist. I highly recommend his album "Listening")


(This is the first meme I created. It's from the Rollins Band song "Starve," one of my favorite workout and motivational songs. I created this meme the morning I ziplined for the first time. I'm terrified of heights and I won't say it was the most enjoyable experience, but I'm proud to say I completed the entire course  - and it was all captured on video.)

(Okay, this isn't really a meme - and yes, I want that bracelet - but I love the quote, which is attributed to Michelangelo. Quite simply: "I am still learning." He reportedly spoke these words when he was well into his 80's. I don't know about that, but I love the power in these two words. Confession: I first saw this quote on Ryan Whitney's Facebook page. It struck me for two reasons: 1. Simple yet powerful. 2. It gave me the impression that there's much more to Ryan Whitney than hockey.)


 (Truth.)

(I fall victim to this quote quite a lot. Sometimes, if I'm 100000% honest with myself, I may use this as an excuse to not pursue my passions. Sometimes, the noise comes from within myself - a loud, nasally drone that tells me I'm not good enough or too stupid to achieve what I want. Sometimes, that voice takes on the persona of Chris Farley's Talk Show Host character, who asks stupid questions, then berates himself nonstop. Those who are close to me know that I relate to this skit too much at times.)

(This was a quote on a Seahawk's Twitter page - I can't remember which player and I'm not about to go looking for it. Okay, maybe I will look for it, but not right this minute. Pretty self-explanatory- the quote, that is.
P.S. Okay, I looked it up. It's on Doug Baldwin's Twitter bio. )

(I heart Bruce Lee. He is so filled with wisdom. Forget about the fact that he can also kick my ass with just one toe. Yes, I realize I'm talking about him in the present tense. In my world, he still lives. My sister Kimberly gave me a book of wisdom and quotes by Bruce Lee. I carry it around with me.)

(So, this isn't exactly a meme, either - just a quote someone typed up in pic form. But the quote resonates with me in so many ways, I don't have enough space to list them here. I know I'm not alone, either. I know you're reading this quote and thinking, "Damn. I thought I was the only one who felt this way." You're not alone. Hopefully, this makes you feel a little better.)

(I don't know about you, but there's a soundtrack playing in my head all day, which makes this Shakespeare quote so apropos. When I was growing up, I used to annoy my mom because I'd sit at the dinner table, tapping out the beat to whatever song happened to be playing in my head at the time. Right now, "Starve" by Rollins Band is playing in my head, probably because I wrote about it earlier in this post. What's playing in your head right now?)

(When someone says you have a beautiful heart, take it as a tremendous compliment. Our exteriors don't remain the same as we age, but our inner light is what keeps us young.)

(I've been bleeding all of my life.)

(I've experienced miracles. In fact, it's a miracle I'm sitting here, typing this right now. I'll tell you about it one day. What miracles have happened in your life? Don't say "none." It's a miracle you're here, too.)

(This is SO full of TRUTH. Don't wait. Please. You never know what the next day, hour or minute will bring. As some beer commercial from the 70's used to say, "Go for the Gusto!" Then, tell me all about it!)

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Tao of Sloth... or... Savor Life Slowly

I was reading a fascinating story on BBC's website about a woman in Suriname who rescues sloths. The story included a "Tao of Sloth" - kinda tongue-in-cheek, but wise words nonetheless. To read the story, click here

 Here are the tenets which comprise the Tao of Sloth:

The Tao of Sloth
What would it be like to be a sloth? Human life would be a blur. Sloths seem to embody a central tenet of Taoism "action through non-action" so let's consider a "Tao of Sloth":
  • Eat slowly - The sloth's diet of leaves is hard to digest, their approach is to allow plenty of time
  • Hang out - Sloths save energy by hanging from their claws rather than using their muscles
  • Smile all the time - Sloths are cute and appear to smile though they're not primates, they're related to anteaters and armadillos
  • Be kind and others will be kind to you - Three-toed sloths climb down from the safety of the tree canopy to poo on the ground, for the benefit of moths that live in their fur (the moths in turn encourage the growth of beneficial algae)