Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I remember when I heard the news of Patrick Swayze being diagnosed with cancer.

Why would the news of an actor who I never met, place an indelible mark in my memory? Because when you have cancer, there is a connection that almost automatically happens. And from what I had read about Mr. Swayze, he was a good human being. A good Husband. And that was good enough for me. He married his wife in his early 20's, just like me. And his Wife, was totally dedicated to caring for him--just like my Wife, Teresa. He was diagnosed in March of 2008. That was during the time I was recovering––still am, to be honest––and I watched him whenever he came on television or would show up in the press. He was an inspiration.

This was in the press release on his passing: "Swayze was married since 1975 to Niemi, a fellow dancer who took lessons with his mother; they met when he was 19 and she was 15. A licensed pilot, Niemi would fly her husband from Los Angeles to Northern California for treatment at Stanford University Medical Center, People magazine reported in a cover story." Now you may think that of course, your spouse always stays at your side during the cancer battle. Well, you would be wrong. The "interweb" is full of stats and stories of how people just can't deal with having a loved one suffer through cancer. The reasons, are endless.

cancer touches EVERYONE. It's a nasty, frightening, confusing, depressing, unforgiving disease. If you let it, it will destroy everything in your life and try to suck the life out of those around you. The Swayzes didn't succumb to that. Mr. Swayze fought hard, lived hard and kept his optimism right in your face. He forced us to watch him battle, watch him do what he loved most––entertain. I will always admire him for that. And his Wife, Niemi, has to be one of the strongest people on the planet. Just like my Teresa.

Here's to you, Patrick Swayze. I know you had the time of your life.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Trusting Your Gut

We all have an inner voice. Now before you think I still have an imaginary friend at the advanced age of 51, let me explain myself.

I "discovered" I had cancer in the shower. No, it wasn't a previously undetected lump that I discovered. I had a small "bump" on the right side of my jaw, just below my ear which I thought was caused from being sick with a very bad cold. I've posted about this before, but my "inner voice" kept asking me a question: why do I feel like I have cancer? That's some pretty heavy duty shit. And to some, I'm sure, pretty hard to believe. But it's the God's honest truth. If it wasn't, I wouldn't be at the keyboard right now. I'd be six feet under or spread over the outfield of Dodger Stadium as my ashes became a fixture at Chavez Ravine.

But this isn't about that day in the shower that saved my life. This is about having to present myself and my group at work in front of the new Big Boss. And this was a big moment for myself and the group who works with me––and I wanted to crush it and hit it out of the park. (Sorry, I have baseball play-off fever and it's on my mind). We've been doing some really great work lately. And I wanted everyone to know it.

So I agonized. Wrote down stuff. Wrote down stuff others wanted me to say. Got on the defensive. Went on the offensive. Talked to myself––my inner voice was NOT paying much attention at the time––and even juiced up on more caffeine. I wasn't nervous. I was anxious. I love the stage. I love being able to share work that others have created. It's a positive blast to the ego, and we can all use that every now and then, right? Then about 15 minutes before we were on, one of my co-workers walks in and says, "we only have 2 minutes? What do we say that they already don't know?"

After he walked away, my inner voice finally spoke up––about time, rat bastard––and gave me the same advice Denny Kuhr gave me 20 years ago.  Go with what you know. Speak from the heart and the head will follow. Forget trying to script it or spin it or spew out somebody else's words from my mouth. I know this stuff. I live this stuff. I love doing what I'm doing. I don't know exactly where my "inner voice" lives inside my body. My head? My neck? My feet? No.

Right where it should've been all along. Right in my gut.