Sunday, March 20, 2011

In Search optimistic blog

It turns out, according to the quiz I just took in O Magazine, that I am a “super optimist” not even just a regular one. For those of you that have listened to me drone on about the sure signs of mankind’s impending doom, I’m sure you find this as surprising as I do. But according to La Oprah’s folks, I’m an optimist.

This got me thinking about how, in my own estimation, I am hopeful, but not optimistic. I believe in endless possibilities while acknowledging the likely negative probabilities. I envision a world at peace and without greed, while at the same time knowing that I will not see that in my lifetime. And yet, my soul longs for that kind of world, undeterred by the seeming futility of that desire. This strikes me as just a tad, well, insane, if you will.

The results of my optimism quiz said I likely suffered from “unrealistic expectations.” Well, duh. I don’t know anyone who is in the arts that isn’t tormented and/or slightly delusional. We bridge the gap between the unseen and seen realms, between what is imagined and what is tangible. You need an extra heaping serving of crazy in order to do that!

So in light of the recent tsunami in Japan and start of a new war in Libya, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m going to do with the little remaining time we all have here. When I’m not perseverating on radiation leaks, tidal waves, and a dwindling clean water supply, (optimistically, of course), I am wondering what it is that matters in the end. And what I’ve come up with, my friends, is this – not much. Precious little really matters. In fact, I can only come up with one thing – how well we love those we love. When the waters wash away everything, we are not frantically searching for the armoire. We are searching for what we cherish most – each other. The last words we desperately try to eke out are always and only “I love you.” And so it is that we could better spend our final days here on good ol’ Mother Earth trying to embody that which we would say with our dying breath.

So me, Suzie Optimist, will be focusing anew on how best I can fully be present with everyone I encounter. I will not squander the opportunity to connect meaningfully with you, my other fellow travelers, nor will I wait for a “right time” for anything. It turns out this is not only the right time, it is the only time.

As I meet you along the way, I hope I convey that you matter to me. I hope that in the brevity that is each of our lives, I have brought some small measure of those things which I myself have longed to see in the world – peace, love, acceptance, hope.

Hey, it turns out Oprah may be right! I may actually be a super optimist after all, albeit one that's pretty sure the world is immanently ending.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Friday, March 11, 2011

In Search of...time well spent

We live in a society that determines success by quantifiable results. It you do this, you get that. If you've accomplished this, you are successful. Societally, we really don't consider poverty to be a virtue, nor do we consider wealth to solely be measured by the size of our bank accounts.

Years ago, while participating in a three month leadership training, I had to check in with someone every day and they asked me one question: What are you going to create today? It's been a long time since I've thought about that, and an even longer time since I've begun my day asking myself that question. But it is a valuable one to ask ourselves each day because it sets the tone, not only for those results which are economically quantifiable, but for those things like our relationships that are not.

As a songwriter, or writer of any kind, for that matter, it is murky water we tread in to determine the value of what it is we create each day. The fun is in the creation of it, the moment you get a spark of an idea, a fleeting glimpse of eternity and the experience of true magic. Most people aren't lucky enough to have that opportunity, but those of us prone to the joys and heartaches of creating something out of thin air hang on to those moments for dear life. They are what sustain us.

That brings me to this...a bunch of songs I wrote for my cousin Matt Angel to record. Now, normally I would refer to this as a "shameless act of self promotion," trying to downplay the fact that I have created something that I want people to spend their hard earned money on. But the truth is I'm proud of what we've done. I loved the time I spent writing and co-writing all the songs with my friends. I loved the joy of working with my cousin and of the studio experience. And yes, I love the outcome. It was a project created from a place of joy, and so when I look back on it, it was time very well spent. I hope when you listen, you find that to be the case as well.

Here's the link for it:

Whatever it is you choose to create today, I hope it brings you much satisfaction. Thank you for sharing a few minutes of your time on this blog. I appreciate it more than you know. Peace and Blessings to you all.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

In Search of...the best show on TV

Okay, so I’m prone to a little exaggeration now and then, but let’s be blunt: the majority of what passes for TV shows these days is, oh how to put this delicately – crap.

When I say that, I mean no disrespect to those precious few who work on The Good Wife, that last bastion of intelligent writing on television. No, I’m talking about the Bachelor, Bachelorette, Housewives of Who Cares Where, and His Majesty, The Donald with all his fake Apprentices.

They bring me down. They bring us all down. It is a backstabbing, mean-spirited, chauvinistic, stupidity-glorifying world that these people inhabit with no discernible redeeming qualities. And because I have been inundated with this kind of behavior on TV for so long, I was starting to think that it was I who was going slightly mad.

You see, I envision not only a TV program, but a world that does not aspire to the lowest possible common denominator, but to just the opposite – reaching for the stars, for the noblest, highest portion of our best selves. The only Amazing Race I want to see is the one to cure cancer and heart disease and worldwide hunger. There will always be survival of the fittest, but just once I’d like to see a mindset that says, “Together we will all flourish or perish.”

That’s where Secret Millionaire comes in. Imagine a show that glorifies people who are quietly saving the world one person at a time. Picture the two ladies in their eighties who are cooking and delivering meals for the hungry and housebound. Or the lady who, with her family, creates fantasy bedrooms for dying children. Imagine people who have made their own way, surmounted impossible odds to become rich, seeking out ways in which they can volunteer to give back with not only their money, but their time and energy and love and hearts. This show makes you want to give more, live better, love unconditionally from wherever you are with whatever means you have. If ever there was a role model needed, this show provides the best one. It exemplifies what we should all aspire to – the very best in us. It answers the question most of us ask in our heads when we are overwhelmed by the enormity of need in the world: What can I do? It turns out we can do a lot. I believe it is nothing short of miraculous that a show like this could make it to air, but it is here.

So Secret Millionaire is my current pick for the best show on TV. Check it out next Sunday. I guarantee when you’re done watching, you’ll want to do something to help someone right now. And that, my friends, is a good take away.

Here’s to kindhearted television that impacts a better world. Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In Search of...perseverance

As I watched George Stephanopoulos race Apolo Ohno to the top of the Empire State Building this morning on Good Morning America, a couple of things occurred to me. First, George is in way better shape than I am. And second, perseverance trumps everything from age to athletic prowess.

I can assure you that I mean no disrespect to George when I say this. In fact, it was a lesson in grit and determination to witness someone nearly twice the age of an Olympic gold medalist cross the finish line before him. To be fair, Apolo may have held back or stopped for a bagel and coffee on floor 47, who knows, but I'm going to go with the notion that George won fair and square and in earnest.

This got me thinking...does the best person always succeed or just the one who doesn't give up? Can we accomplish more than we have the natural inclination for simply because we work harder and longer at it? What determines our achievements? Is it how badly we want something, what we're willing to sacrifice to get it...or is it the kind of dogged persistence that defies all rational thinking but somehow says to an ever-listening universe "I will not stop until I achieve this goal." I believe it's the last one.

As I huffed and puffed on the treadmill, newly inspired by George's win over Apolo, I gave some thought to what it is I would be willing to go the extra mile for. With iPod blasting and sweat pouring off me, I felt rejuvenated and inspired, ready to rise one more time than I've fallen, bound and determined to make it to the top of my very own Empire State Building so that breathless and spent, I can enjoy the magnificent view of what it is I've created with sheer perseverance.

Whatever it is that you long for, I wish you the fortitude to see it through so that, together, we can create of world in which all things are truly possible.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.