Getting from Retro to Get Go

“One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.”  Jack Penn

Recently, I got a ‘heads-up’ notice about an upcoming college reunion.  It is always great to know you are wanted, but I am not a reunion kind-of-guy.  I am grateful for the invite, hold only very good memories of my alma mater and classmates, but it’s just not me.

Not only that, but I attended 8 colleges; never graduated and, what’s worse, kept on changing Majors. And, pursuing a career in Radio was an ideal incubator for wanderlust inclinations.  That’s me, I confess, guilty as charged. Altogether, I’ve probably scored enough credits that are the equivalent to earning a master’s degree.

Nothing against these confabs, but I don’t like being stuck in nostalgia-land. I am sure, for many, it can be a lot of fun.  Let me explain.

A good portion of my Radio career was spent playing the “greatest hits of all time.” For many years, it was fun and exciting.  Not only that, but I was performing this in my hometown, New York, at one of the top stations in the country.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Sounds great doesn’t it? And, it was.

However, living in the land of ‘was’ for so many years became a “Groundhog Day” repetitive nightmare.

There is the old maxim: “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.”

You may be familiar with the Oldie, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles.  Playing that and other songs most every day became a kind of torment.  What new could I say about these tunes that had not been said before at least a thousand times and still sound enthusiastic?

Now you’re probably saying, “poor baby” and you may be right. But, you‘ve got to know when to move on and take another course of action.

The Late Management Guru and Author Peter Drucker summed it best: “The hardest thing to do is to keep a corpse from rotting.”

That was me.

I needed to get from Retro to Get Go and it wasn’t easy, Today, that’s how I live my life.  I respect the past, learned from it but can’t allow it to become an indulgence or overseer.

Plus, the rules of life today are in constant flux and the updating process has become such a bitch that even the latest version is out of date before it goes to print, so I’m taking a pass on the reunion.

It really is a matter of Redefining, Refining and Realigning-know what you want, perfect it and implement it.

Now, that is easier to write than to execute.  And, let’s face it, there are times in life when no matter what you do, you just can’t win for losing and the only luck you’ve got is bad and that’s not good.

It’s like the story about the guy trying to get a handle on things; but it broke.

Then there’s the calm before the……………………..calm.

We are over the age of 50 so this is definitely a “been there, done that” scenario known only all too well.

But, we can’t just sit there and mope?  There’s a lot of that going on today.  Even the government classifies ‘moping’ as an area of dynamic growth potential.  However, there’s an extensive internship process and invoicing can prove to be a bureaucratic nightmare.

What’s worse, sideline sanctuary provides debatable consolation.

Yes, we have been “through the mill.”  So, what do you do?

Turn things around.  Be paradoxical, be counter-intuitive and unpredictable.

See things from a different angle.  We get married to a way of viewing and doing. It’s the stimulus-response, action-reaction thing.

But ask yourself, how is it working for you? It might be time for a mindset trial separation.  Habits are hard to break.  It’s a given.

Take a look at Millenials.  So many of them do what they do without experience. There is so much virgin territory open for discovery and formation that past sound judgments are irrelevant, easily rejected and considered meaningless.

Sure, it is walking a tightrope without a safety net but, if ‘sure bets’ were sure things, then, for sure, we’d all be rich and famous.  That is Getting from Retro to Get Go.  You’ve got to take a chance.

And then there’s stress.  All our lives, we have been indoctrinated to consider stress as a crippling agent, an achievement killer and something toxic.

In a recent interview Psychologist Dr. Kelly McGonigal, author of “The Upside of Stress”, offers a completely different take on stress.  She considers it “an experience that you have when something you care about is at stake”; something that  can actually make you stronger, smarter and happier.

Personally, I hate stress but find it to be a prime motivating agent.  It actually gets me more creative and focused while “under the gun.”

The hard part: Surmounting the initial surge of stagnation and fear that accompany the pressure and tension.

Stress as an activator?   Don’t knock it until you try it.  There is nothing worse than being stuck in a rut without a Plan B.

Kathy Edwards Lucas told me about her unique action plan.

Kathy is one of the nation’s leading certified life coaches. She shared with me her novel and effective approach to transforming a sour lemon narrative into a tasty lemonade finale.

Lucas told me about a time in her life when she was experiencing financial anemia.  She was going through financial drought.  Instead of bemoaning her fate, she made the most of her limited resource circumstance.

She didn’t shut down, give up nor isolate herself.   Instead, Kathy planned for tomorrow.  She shopped but didn’t buy.  She couldn’t buy.  Kathy took stock of what she needed once she generated income.

Kathy Edwards Lucas took inventory. She prepared herself for the future.  She designed a past-present prototype that detailed exactly how to handle forthcoming expectation.

When prospects brightened, there was no mental reorientation or readjustment to a prosperity mindset.  She had designed a fact-finding mission that eventually paid her beaucoup dividends.  Past intention was the construct for anticipated consequence and tangible consideration.

It reminds me of best-selling Author and Speaker Harvey Mackay’s motto, “Do what you love, love what you do and deliver more than you promise”; simple but sage words of advice.

However, as much as we might agree with this plan mentally and set forth a course of action, it is all too easy to become entrapped by ingrained emotional entanglements that keep us beholden to destructive relationships, negative attitudes and self-defeating behaviors.

This is not narcissistic indulgence.  Let’s be honest: The terminally self-absorbed have little regard for the concerns of others. They love the attention and are resolute in their one-way commitment to themselves.

What holds us back is the devastating grip of Distraction.  Goal setting and action blueprints that define what we set out to accomplish can many times take a back seat to the incidental.

What we deserve is placed on ‘hold’ as if unworthy of merit and completion. Our goal becomes an obstacle to distraction.

The mind has a way of filtering out rejection and tough times that accompany past triumphs.  It romanticizes the past, suppresses aspiration and restricts all likelihood of Getting from Retro to Get Go.















What a Year!

            It Was the Best of Times and the Worst of Times

A Tale of Two Cities-Charles Dickens.

 2014.  What a year!  2 weeks ago, my daughter Dana made me a Grandpa for the very first time. Kazuo Bryan Folick graced the world with his presence.

What a cute little guy.  He even cries cute.  There is no doubt there’s Show Biz blood flowing in his baby veins.

As a proud Grandparent let me say with all modesty the little guy is a scene stealer who stole my heart.

If you are reading this piece, the odds are you are over the age of 50.  That means there is a good possibility that you too might be a Grandparent. So, it goes without much fanfare to state that Grand-parenthood is a very special club.  There is no special handshake but members are afforded very special status.

There is nothing quite like it.

On the other hand, one of my very best friends died yesterday.

His on-air name was John Darin.  His birth name was John Christian Miller.  In Southern California, John Darin was a very well-known Radio and Television news anchor.  Before turning to news, he was a leading DJ personality at many of the top Radio stations in LA.

If you ever saw any of the early Ginsu knives television commercials, then you know John Darin.

It was Pancreatic Cancer that did him in.  His passing left a gaping hole in my life.  He was a best friend, a mentor, a joy and a lot of laughs to hang with.  And, I know I’m not the only person feeling this loss.

I’m not sure an IRS audit constitutes some stabilizing middle ground position but, it’s what I must contend with at the moment.

And, we’re just into March.

Babies, Death and the IRS have their own set timetables that don’t necessarily adhere to any clearly understandable protocol.

Two weeks ago, my wife and I got the word that my daughter was in Labor, which put us on official “Baby Alert.”

We took the first plane out from Los Angeles over to Houston to meet the newest addition to the Heatherton clan.

Seeing and then holding my Grandson for the first time transcends any worthwhile, meaningful or accurate verbal description.  It brought me to tears.  The experience is something so spiritual.  The Japanese language sums it up best, “Shi gatta ganai”; meaning it can’t be explained.

An event like this helps put things in proper  perspective; as in what is really important in life.  For me, it’s love.  This child was brought into the world by love. He is the result of love.

Watching my daughter, Dana nursing little Kaz while my son-in-law, Andy is stroking Dana’s back was an experience I will treasure for the remainder of my life.  It was Love taken to a 3rd  echelon.

It was nothing short of a spiritual experience.

We get so worked up about the Incidental things in life; Taxes, Traffic, Career, etc. that it’s all too easy to neglect the meaningful and ignore the Essentials when what really matters are those rare moments of inexplicable rapture and harmonious solace that give life real meaning.

At the same time, my friend, John, called to let me know he had Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.  He told me this as if it were no big deal.  Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer, by any definition, is a death sentence.

Since I am a Cancer survivor, I suggested to John, keep a journal.  Write down what you’re going through, what you’re thinking, how the Cancer changes your outlook so that when the Cancer goes into remission,  you’ve got a best selling tome ready to hit the book shelves along with TV/Radio interviews as well as many in-person presentations.

He agreed.  I wanted to give him hope but, I know him well enough to know that he saw through my charade.

I asked John to give me his sister’s contact number as she lived nearby his treatment center so, I could get an update.  The next day I spoke with her.  She told me the Doctors had told John the recovery outlook was grim.  He had anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months left to live.

Talk about the Best of Times and the Worst of Times.

With both events happening at the same time, I’m not sure if I’m crying Tears of Joy or Tears of Sorrow.  Honestly, it’s exhausting.

And then, there’s the IRS.  I’m being audited.

Right now, I could give a S- – t about Taxes.  They’ll get their pound of flesh and then-some on a payment plan.

At this moment, I am numb.

I can’t wait to see little Kaz again and I’m missing my pal, John.

The only consolation for me is Gratitude.  I’m so glad I’m here to see and hold my Grandson, little KazB (as in Cosby) while at the same time grateful to have been honored having John Darin as one of my closest friends.

John had a very unique sense of humor.

After I received the call regarding his passing, both my wife and I were just a wreck. We had planned to go out that night but neither of us were  really in the mood for fun and games.  But, I didn’t want to go home.

We tried a few places but nothing seemed right.

I don’t know why but we wound up at a Mexican Restaurant with a sizable Mariachi Band serenading the customers.

Even though we were in an adjoining room, we could still hear the music.  It was enough of a distraction where my wife and I could commiserate without being conspicuous in our sorrow.

We needed to be lost in a crowd and we were.

As I mentioned, John had unique sense of humor.

Out of nowhere, the Mariachi band and the singer went into their rendition of “New York, New York.”  New York, New York in a Mexican restaurant?  OK, maybe at a Mexican restaurant in Gptham but in LA?  This was a serious case of the strange.

It was sooo unexpected and so out of place that it turned our tears to laughter.  Hearing “New York, New York” Mariachi style is one of the most surreal experiences ever.

I will never be convinced otherwise that my recently departed friend John caused Divine intervention to take hold and was completely responsible for this laugh-out-loud incongruity.

That was John Darin.

2014.  What a year.  It really is the best of times and the worst of times.

So, I am left with wonderful memories of a great guy.  I look forward to seeing my Grandson, KazB and now must contend with an IRS audit.

I can only hope that during my appointment with the Internal Revenue that somewhere  nearby and within listening distance, there’s a Mariachi band playing “New York, New York.”