Growing Up With Scott Weiland

 

I have a funny kind of memory.  I’ve always been the kind of person who looks at the trees rather than the entire forest.  I can tell you everything I had for dinner the day I received my Masters Degree, the arcade machines at the Eagle Rock Lanes when I bowled every Saturday morning from grade school to college, and all the stores in the Headquarters Plaza Mall during the late 80s and Early 90s during our weekly trips to the movies.  I can remember all these small minute details but I can’t tell you where I was or what was playing the first time I heard my all time favorite band, Stone Temple Pilots.  It’s a shame because now as an adult I not only embrace STP’s music as art and an early gateway to similar artists, but also the soundtrack to my life staring in my teens up until my mid-thirties.

I know I wasn’t an early adopter of their music; I didn’t own a CD player until Christmas 1994 (sophomore year of HS) and even then my early CD collection was various volumes of “Scott and Todd Phone Scams”, music from the video game “Secret of Mana” (I totally hit it off with all the girls), and a copy of Aerosmith “Big Ones” which I only bought because I overheard the girl I had a crush on tell her friends how much she liked the band (guess she didn’t have Nintendo).  The first time I even knew of Stone Temple Pilots (STP) was in spring of 1994.  I rushed to CD World because my favorite musician at the time, Hammer, had a new album out titled “The Funky Headhunter.”   While I was at the register I noticed STP’s debut album, Core, on display near the far aisle.  I took note of it because of the band’s unusual name and the artwork stood out; I didn’t buy the album that day- in fact I never actually purchased a copy of Core or the band’s follow up Purple.  A few years later my taste in music had evolved a bit.  I had developed a habit of going to bed while watching 120 Minutes on a Sunday night.  During this time I was afraid to share my music with others and unfortunately, was too intimidated to expand my circle of friends.  Had I done this, I probably would have discovered STP earlier.  My best friend growing up had taken a liking to classic rock, funk, and electronic music and my sister had moved on to more rap and dance music.  Although I appreciated all these other forms of music, and still do, I lacked the communal feeling a fan develops from listening to music with others.  I would come home and draw (my favorite after school activity) while listening to CIV, Everclear, Soundgarden, Presidents of the Untied States of America, Bush, and others.  One afternoon my sister was cleaning out her room and getting rid of CDs she stopped listening to.  I picked through one of the boxes she was discarding and rescued a trove of musical treasures.  My haul that day included Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Ozzy, Pantera, and my beloved STP.   If my sister never gave me another Christmas or birthday gift again, I would be OK with it because her discarded tunes are a residual gift that has enriched my soul for years.  Around this time, my Language Arts teach assigned the class a paper to write about and dissect our favorite song.  We would present our papers to the class and get a change to share the actual song in the class.  By this time STP’s second album Purple was almost 2 years old and had become (and still is) my favorite album of all time.  I had memorized every note, riff, and lyric of the music and eagerly wrote about my favorite track, Vaseline.  Being that I didn’t share my love for music with any of my classmates I didn’t know the single had been played to death nor did I realize the album was considered passe by now.  After I read my paper and played my song in class, someone had commented, “really? this song is so old.”  I don’t know why the comment bothered me but it did.   I didn’t discuss music with anyone until midway in the fall semester of Freshman year at college.  Despite this, Purple, had a permanent spot in my CD player for the next decade or so.  Later the same year, STP’s third album “Tiny Music…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop” was released.  The weekend before the album was released, I was on vacation in Florida with my best friend’s family.  When we piled into the rental car for the first time and flipped the radio on, the DJ announced in anticipation of the new album the station would broadcast Tiny Music… in it’s entirety all weekend long.   By the end of the trip, I was hooked and Stone Temple Pilots had become cemented in my mind as my favorite band.  I had planned to get tickets to see STP when they came around but as many know, the tour never happened as Scott was arrested and incarcerated for drug possession.

I developed a theory, more of a policy really, stating I won’t consider myself a fan of a band or musician until I’ve seen them perform live at least once.  I formed this theory because of STP and the emotional impact their live show had on me.  Five years after my trip to Florida, I was all in when it came to STP.  I had all four albums, posters, magazines, bootlegs, everything!  My first tattoo is of the cover of Purple, a baby riding on a dragon in a distinct Japanese style.  Surprisingly enough I hadn’t seen STP live yet, due to lack of opportunity.  The closest I came was seeing Scott Weiland perform a short set to support his solo album 12 Bar Blues during K-Rock’s Dysfunctional Family Picnic II tour.  I was supposed to see the band on tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers at PNC Bank Arts Center earlier in the summer but a freakishly harsh rainstorm slowed traffic down to a crawl.  By the time I walked into the venue, I heard the band saying their goodbyes to make way for the Chili Peppers.  The opportunity to see them finally arose in fall of the same year, at the Asbury Park Convention Hall.  I remember walking into the small venue, a far cry from the stadiums and arena the band had played previously.  The entire show was all general admission allowing my sister and I to get close to the stage, but not precluding me from having to protect my sister from grabby guys around us.  On this evening, I believe I experienced what it truly means to feel the power of music and how it can effect one’s soul if allowed.  It was akin to a religious experience where one can understand an aspect of the human condition that may have eluded them before.    Somewhere between the guitar parts of Interstate Love Song, the soft quiet stillness of Atlanta, and a magnificent cover of Shine On You Crazy Diamond I felt like I had found the answers to every question I ever had.  I went on to see STP play eight more times at the PNC Bank Arts Center, Susquehanna Bank Arts Center, Stone Pony Summer Stage, and lastly NJPAC (the single best show I’ve ever seen in my life).  I sang every song, I danced around like a fool, I listened intently as fellow New Jersians Robert and Dean DeLeo told the crowd the same story every single time they played in NJ: their first concert ever, The Carpenters at the Garden State Arts Center.

Then there was Scott. Outside of his work in STP I’ve seen Scott perform with Velvet Revolver on three occasions, completely solo once, and with his final band, The Wildabouts, four times.   At one point in my life I knew I had seen Weiland once too many in too short of a time when I found myself thinking of wearing a scarf in the summertime (thankfully I didn’t).   Scott was the kind of artist who projected his emotions into his performances so heavily at times it drowned out the music. When he was happy, the entire venue felt his intensity, it was like what I would imagine watching an artist like Jackson Pollack create one of his masterpieces.  When he was stressed, we all felt it.  I had seen the shows were he showed up 3 hours late slurring his words and almost falling off the gigantic speakers adorning the stage.  I’ve been to hundreds of concerts in my life and seen a wide variety of artists from Metallica to the Dave Matthews Band, Beastie Boys to Paul McCartney, and Less Than Jake to The Cherry Poppin Daddys but no one has ever matched the amount of emotion Scott Weiland brought to the stage.  The last time I saw Scott Perform turned out to be one of his final shows- November 28th 2015 at the Wellmount Theater in Montclair, NJ.  The show itself wasn’t his best but not his worse either.  He started the show acting a little subdued and quiet but by the end the rock star I had come to admire was in full effect.  In my mind, it was noticeable his fame was fading and I had decided he would reunite with Stone Temple Pilots soon.  His last album, Master Blaster, showed he still has the talent, both parties needed each other, it made perfect sense.   After the show, Scott was doing meet and greets for $300 a couple.  I had discussed it with my girlfriend and decided to pass, as it was a lot of money right before the holidays.  Had I known he would be dead less than a week later, I would have certainly paid the money.

The purpose of my rambling post isn’t to glorify Scott Weiland’s death.  Even though I had secretly hoped it wasn’t the case I, like everyone else, knew the case of death would be drug related.  I would rather celebrate the music, memories, and understanding Scott gave me. His music was like a friend, holding my hand during turbulent times and celebrating with me during the fun times. Our heroes are never perfect, they are humans with very real problems and trials just like you or I but their work lives on and resonates with us long after the final encore.  If I ever had the opportunity to speak to Scott Weiland I’d like to think I wouldn’t gush or get nervous like I tend to around those I admire, I’d thank him for helping me understand more about myself by writing and singing about himself.   I’d like to end with these thoughts, a quote from my favorite film Almost Famous, “Music, you now, true music – not just rock n roll – it chooses you. It live in your car, or alone listening to your headphones, you know, with the cast scenic bridges and angelic choirs in your brain. It’s a place apart from the vast, benign lap of America.”

 

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Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists.  Scott truly flew without no feathers.

My Life As a Gamer

I’ve never had an addictive personality; I can’t stand cigarettes and grew bored of alcohol sometime after college.  For a very long time, however, I was addicted to the pixelated joy of gaming.  The original Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES for short, turns 30 years old this week. I personally haven’t touched a game controller … Read more

The Magic of Wildwood, NJ

  Wildwood has always held a special place in my heart.  As a child it was our annual summer vacation destination where I would explore Dracula’s Castle, eat my weight in ice cream at Duffer’s (BTW if you or someone you know works at Duffers they need to bring back the Volcano Sundae pronto), and … Read more

What the film Hudson Hawk Taught Me

It was May of 1991 and I was a 12 years old sixth grader who was an action and adventure junkie.  I’d like to tell you I found adventure every weekend riding dirt bikes or going to karate but the truth was I was more into Nintendo and Ninja Turtles than anything else.  The highlight … Read more

There is No Morocco: What the Film Almost Famous Can Teach Us About Goal Setting

As many regular readers to my blog know, I am a film fanatic and believe motion pictures, as with any art form, have the ability to educate the viewer about the human condition and about them self in a way no scientific material  or textbook can.  The Cameron Crowe film Almost Famous is my favorite picture and one I hold close to my heart for this very reason. For those who haven’t seen it, be warned I will most definitely spoil the story of the film in this post.  If you were planning on Netflixing the film tonight, its OK to close this screen for now (I forgive you) as long as you promise to come back here later when you’re done.  The movie has several layers; it’s a coming of age drama, a love story, and a love letter to classic rock based loosely on Crowe’s youth.   I’m not writing about a nearly fifth-teen year old film to give you a review, rather I had a thought recently regarding the characters in the film I feel we can all use to reach our own goals.

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

The characters in the film are dreamers, to one extent or another. William’s mother dreams of her son growing up as a respectful grounded and intelligent gentleman.  His sister dreams of freedom away from her mother’s over bearing behavior. The fictional band, Still Water, dreams of the fame, and Penny Lane dreams of visiting exotic locations.  The film’s main character, William, however, is a different kind of dreamer.  While everyone else in the film treats their dreams like a fantasy world they can close their eyes and think about with no real aim in to make it a reality William is actively working towards his goal of becoming a professional music journalist.  So what makes William different than all the others in the film?

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First and foremost, he’s tenacious. We learn early on the film he has been submitting articles he’s written in his spare time for years to his idol, Lester Bangs.  This connection prepares William for his big break, writing an article for Rolling Stone on his new favorite band Still Water.  William is intent on getting the article completed, so much in fact he misses his high school graduation while attempting to get interviews with all the members of the band.

Second, he’s not afraid to ask for help.  William wrote the aforementioned articles not only to get his work published in Bangs’ periodical, Cream Magazine, but to recruit the journalist as a mentor. This not only led William to start this life changing journey on tour with an up and coming rock band but also served as a support system when he ran into trouble with the piece, later in the film.  He also recruits Penny Lane, played by Kate Hudson who received an Oscar nomination for her performance, to assist him in getting an interview with the elusive guitar player, Russell Hammond.

He’s willing to endure criticism.  William is very much an outsider and always has been in his life.  He’s too young, too smart, and at times too naive to embrace the world around him and its limitations.  Does he have tough mental armor made of steel and Kevlar?   Not at all, he is driven by his goal, amazement with creativity, and passion for music.

He’s not afraid to tell it like it is.  Throughout the film William gets distracted by the trappings of touring with rock stars, as I’m sure we all would.  The biggest and most charming scene in the film, typifies this perfectly.

At this exact moment, William realizes he is trapped.  He’s having a great time, feels like he’s one of the band, and even has the object of his affection, Penny Lane, leaning on his shoulder.  It’s a great, feel good scene, one that would probably trap any of us but William is focused on his goal. Several times during the film, when discussions with Penny Lane get a little too serious for her liking, she talks about her dream, going to Morocco.  What will she wear ? How will she speak? Until she meets William, however, she has no intention of actually going to Morocco, she just likes to daydream about it.  Towards the end of the film, William confront her about her diversionary tactics by loudly proclaiming, “There is no Morocco!”

It’s ironic in a film with characters who seem to be daydreaming about a life better than the one they have, the most grounded person is the kid who has the most impractical sounding goal.  The one major point of contention I have about William’s attitude toward his goals is hes too serious.  It’s been my experience if one takes their passion too seriously and doesn’t have any fun, they wind up hating it.  This seems to be something Penny Lane understood when she said, ” I always tell the girls, never take it seriously, if ya never take it seriously, ya never get hurt, ya never get hurt, ya always have fun, and if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.” Lucking, it seem like Crowe picked up this lesson sometime after the events depicted in this film.  To recap, here’s what we can learn from Almost Famous and reaching our goals:

  1. Be tenacious, don’t give up. If it’s important you’ll find a way to do it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a mentor or a college.  Everyone needs a leg up sometimes.
  3. You’re going to have critics.  They’re not living your life or paying your bills, you are.
  4. Tell it like it is- in my experience people often appreciate it when you’re blunt and find your honesty refreshing.

Remember these simple guidelines and work hard towards them every day.  Make each interaction and action prove to be one step closer in reaching the finish line.  Most importantly, never stop dreaming .  This can be easier said than done at times but dreams and ambition are the fuel that drives us towards our future.  These ideals will dramatically increase your chances of reaching your goals, whether they be visiting Morocco, losing weight, finding (or forgetting) love, or just being a better overall person.

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What are your tips for staying focused on you goals? Let me know in the comments and I’ll gladly respond and reply.

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists.  Oh, and like Russell Hammond, I am a Golden God. 

How Yoga Has Made Me a Better Entrepreneur

” Yoga is the cessation of the movements of the mind” – Patanjali  I’ve been practicing Vinyasa Flow yoga at my gym for close to three years now.  I initially started my practice at a personal low point.  I had just gone through a bad breakup leaving me depressed, stressed, overweight, and out of shape. … Read more

Words Never Said – The Story of Fireflies and Flux

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I have a friend I have not seen in a few years. Who or why isn’t important, not to this post at least. I can’t say for sure if I ever will see her again, my heart says maybe my head says probably not. Rather than dwell on uncertainty I choose to make my own future. Let my fate be driven by my actions and thoughts rather than random acts put into motion by others. Still there is a conversation I wish I had with this person a long time ago. Let’s call this person Flux to avoid any further uncomfortable grammar. The rest of the details are irrelevant.

When I met Flux, Flux was very shy especially towards men. Flux had an issue with an abusive man and as a result had a fear of all men, even those in Flux’s family. Overtime Flux and I grew very close. I treated Flux like a member of my family and Flux did the same. One evening we were coming home from a night at the movies. I was in my car and Flux was in another. I didn’t see a “no turn on red” sign and was pulled over. I arrived at Flux’s house about twenty minutes later to find Flux was upset It was obvious Flux had sever separation anxiety and was afraid something had happened to me. A few months later, I was gone from Flux’s life. It wasn’t because of anything either of had done. The reason is irrelevant. I miss Flux a lot to this day and often regret I’m not part of Flux’s life any longer but I know the circumstances which separated us and know I did everything I could. There is one thing I was I had said to Flux. It haunts me now sometimes but I have faith Flux knows this because I have no other choice.

When I was a child and the warmer months were upon us, my sister and I would go outside at dusk and chase fireflies. We would try to trap one to watch their body illuminate before releasing them back into the night. On one occasion we were visiting my Grandmother, as we did weekly, and I had gone outside to catch fireflies. I managed to trap one in a small jar. I ran inside the house excited to show my family my new pet. My aunt and uncle ( brother and sister) sat me down and explained I had to release my firefly. I was only six or seven years old at the time but they explained to me somethings can’t belong to one person. They are there temporarily to appreciate and then are gone. Twenty five years or so later I realized I learned something important about people one summer evening at grandma’s house. People are like fireflies. They come into our life and they may brighten things up for awhile or they may just fly away. What makes them so special is the time we share amazed by their glow, not the time we spend missing their absence.

Flux is a little older now. I hope this is something Flux has come to realize. Every time I miss Flux I think about fireflies and say a quick little prayer hoping Flux is doing well, knowing if we are meant to be in each other’s life again, God will make it so. Until then, Every summer night when I see a firefly glow I will think of Flux and smile. Although I wish I could snuggle up next to Flux and play games like we always used to, I have to settle on this.

The Story of Two Monks – What Does it Mean to You ?

monkAssome of you may know, I regularly practice vinyasa flow yoga tohelp keep my back flexible as well as promote overall wellness.  At the end of one of my recent classes, my instructor read us a short story to meditate on during shavasana.

A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her.

The senior monk carried this woman on his shoulder, forded the river and let her down on the other bank. The junior monk was very upset, but said nothing.

They both were walking and senior monk noticed that his junior was suddenly silent and inquired “Is something the matter, you seem very upset?”

The junior monk replied, “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

The senior monk replied, “I left the woman a long time ago at the bank, however, you seem to be carrying her still.”

Although I later learned this is a classic story from the Tao, it was new to me and I found it deeply interesting on a few different levels  After class a small group of us spoke about how it meant letting go of the past and either accepting situations for what they are or coming to a peaceful resolution.

Although I agreed with this translation of the story, I found as the week continued to march on, the story took on new meaning for me.  In terms of goals and decision making the story of the monks reminded me to focus on the bigger picture.  While the younger monk thinking all the reasons why he shouldn’t help the woman in distress, the elder monk realized this was an opportunity to work towards the purpose he has devoted his life to, the betterment of man.  Although I’m not a monk and have never aspired to be one, I assume the main objective of a monk is to reach enlightenment and commune with nature on a high level of consciousness. I’ve been reading, or more accurately listening, to Grant Cardon’s “10x Rule” lately and found his overall message is not unlike this interpretation of the monks’ story.  Although his unapologetic style meant to rile up the listener with a dose of equal parts inspiration and moxie is a far cry from the peaceful monks tone, both teachings remind us to focus on whats important in life.  Don’t waste your time and energy on coming up with reasons why something won’t work and focus on how you can make it work.

This past week also started and ran a fundraiser to benefit a friend who lost her home to a fire.  I’ve always had an altruistic nature and have been a member of several different charitable and community organizations in the past.  I set a goal of raising $1,000 and proudly touted my goal and my plan online.  I was initially surprised and almost dismayed when some people I had counted on helping out flat out declined to participate. I had to pause and tell myself I’m doing this not for my own benefit but to help out someone in need.  Perhaps these people who didn’t want to help were assisting in other ways and if not, it wasn’t a reflection on me or my friend it was a reflection on that person.  Needles to say, I re-focused on the task at hand and continued to plow ahead.  I didn’t hit my $1,000 goal but at the end I had raised money from sales and donations, which I originally hadn’t considered I would receive at all.  When I collect the donations and deliver them to my friend later this week, her happiness will have made the journey worth it.

Let’s look at this from the other monk’s perspective, one can always learn something new by looking at the other perspective.  In this case, the younger monk was confined by the regulations of his order.  I’m sure we’ve all felt confined by regulations and guidelines at one time or another. That being said, the monk in this situation should have focused more on what he could do rather than what he couldn’t do.  Perhaps he could have procured a boat or canoe to help the woman sail across the water.  Maybe he could have found a way around it by wrapping her in cloth so there was’t any skin to skin contact.  Either way this is a case of ambition, if the younger monk really wanted to help the woman he would have found a way.  The fact he didn’t help the woman doesn’t make him a terrible person; sometimes good people fail to act in good ways, but in his mind he knows he did wrong.  If not he wouldn’t be preoccupied with “would have” or “should have.”  He expected the other monk to ignore the woman as he chose to, the fact the elder monk acted differently bothered the younger monk, not because he failed to act but because he felt the actions of his associate made him appear like less of a person.

In summary, here’s what I took from the story of two monks:

  1. If you have a goal that is important to you, you’ll find a way to reach it or to stay true to your path to reaching it.
  2. Over-thinking, under-thinking,and not taking action doesn’t help anyone. and finally…
  3. When faced with adversity, don’t focus on why not, instead ask yourself how.

What are your thought about the story of the two monks?  What is your interpretation and how does it apply to a challenge you’ve faced or something you want to accomplish? I want to know – comment below and let’s chat.

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists. Phil is also all about that bass. 

 

 

The Lesson I Learned From George Clooney

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I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve been in a little bit of a rut lately but I’ve successfully worked out of it and I owe it to George Clooney. I’m in a time of transition and change isn’t easy but it can be rewarding. I remain positive by focusing on my goals, associating with positive people, and putting up as many positive vibes as I can via Facebook, Instagram (@philtasticphil), twitter (@pmtick), and of course this blog. Part of change also includes avoiding old bad habits. This weekend I almost tore open an old wound typing up my original blog topic, life lessons I learned from George Clooney movies ( specifically “The Descendants” and “Up In The Air”). I found myself tearing up someone I used to be very close with, something I promised myself I would never do and took pride in the fact I’ve always acted above board. I feel it’s important I share what happened to me this weekend and how I dug myself out of it, in case you may be struggling in your own situation right now.

1. Let it flow – about halfway into my post I realized I took a turn somewhere. It was obvious I struck a nerve within myself and it needed to be addressed or it would have just festered. I let my typing continue until I was exhausted

2. Examine and diagnose – I reviewed what I had typed and said to myself ” why did I say this ?” In this case when the relationship ended there was a lot left unsaid. Part of me wants to say, ” Look I know you weren’t on the level with me and played me for a fool.” Then I remind myself, some things are better left unsaid but everything happens for a reason.

3. Evaluate where you are now – I stopped and thought about what has happened in my life since then. I rekindled old relationships with friends I was not allowed to associate with while in the relationship and cut ties with negative people I was over encumbered with ( most got the picture, two I have to ignore to this day). I started a business which really spawned a flurry of personal development in growth in me. I learned about goal setting and put an action plan into motion. This directly lead into me losing 70 lbs and improving my overall physical health. I also grew more confident by simply dating women and realizing some of my better qualities something I couldn’t recognize while in the relationship. I made new, positively minded friends who support me and help nurture my growth. I become more active and Started studying yoga. I intend on becoming an instructor one day.

I also remembered an incident about six months ago, I was leaving my Elks lodge after an event and was supposed to meet my girlfriend at the time for dinner. I was running late and hurried to my car. As I was getting in I heard a familiar voice in the distance. I peeked out of my window and saw this person, her sister, and the two negatives who can’t take a hint I noted above. I rolled down my window and said hello. This person, a single mother well into her thirties, physically hid behind her sister not unlike a shy child. She had gained a significant amount of weight and was most likely embarrassed. I don’t mention this to sound shallow, she always had an unwarranted fixation with her weight despite constant reassurance she looks beautiful. I only mention it to illustrate the different mindsets we both had in this moment. An honest person has nothing to hide, nor any reason to feel guilty. Then, one of the negatives attempted to pick a fight with me. Understand I know he didn’t want to fight, he was looking for a reaction ( juvenile I know). I smiled. It was at this time I realized how much the group had hampered me, like weeds choking plants in a garden. Without their negative influence I was able to embrace my own value and self worth to realize I shouldn’t spend time with people who devalue me.

4. Have faith – I’m not a religious person, I believe in God but I am not a regular churchgoer. During the really hard time that followed the breakup, someone gave me the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard. “You did everything you can do, now just throw it up to God and trust he’ll lead you in the right direction.” All of this success I’ve achieved since I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish if I was in that relationship because I was with a person who embraced negative thinking and was ultimately wrong for me. God led me away from the negative environment I was in because I wouldn’t have grown if I was still there and there was no way I could ever allow myself to regress.

5. Breathe deep and exhale – this is something I can say I have learned from George Clooney. Understand I’m not a diehard fan but nor will I rush out to see a film if Clooney. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are two films I had in mind when I decided to write this piece, Up In The Air and The Descendants. Both films share an underlying theme: no man is an island. The human experience is enriched by sharing our lives with others. Not everyone we meet will be pleasant or will help us be better than we were before but the people who do should be cherished and the people who deserve our attention. Without spoiling either film, Clooney’s characters go through an arc of personal enlightenment resolving when he accepts his circumstances, even though they may not be ideal. Rather than getting stuck, he breathes deep and resolves to move on.

These aren’t the type of films to have sequels but unlike a motion picture, life goes on. The best part is everyday is an opportunity to write a new chapter, create a new scene, and work towards your ideal finale. You can choose whether the story of your life is a comedy, a drama, or a disaster movie and the part you will play. With this in mind, what films have impacted your life and how ? Please reply and share.

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists. His favorite George Clooney film to date is Out of Sight.

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