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Friday, March 18, 2011

Help for the Resource Center

Dear friends,

I recently took a friend of mine to the food pantry at the John Thomas Resource Center in Dallas. I was shocked by just how little food they have on hand at any given time, and how very limited they variety was. We all have friends and acquaintances that are affected by HIV and AIDS, and I think we all know that for many of these people, the cost of medication and treatment can be overwhelming. There are times when our brothers and sisters truly need our help just to survive.

Beginning in April, I am pledging to spend $30 a month on food for the food bank. That's a small amount, I know. But for many of us that represents a couple of hours worth of bar tab on the strip. If a thousand of us give up a couple of cocktails, the food pantry could be well stocked with real, healthful foods. Please join me in either contributing food or funds to the Resource Center on a regular basis. Your help might make the difference between being healthy or being hungry for one of our own in need. I hope that you will join me in this effort to provide food for those who truly need it.

Thanks for reading...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Some New Beginnings

Most people who know me well know that my life since the middle of 2009 has seen a lot of turmoil. The fear and uncertainty that went along with my nearly two year long legal woes left me  exhausted and bottomed out by the end of 2010. I had run out of money, was living in a squalid apartment complex that was ridden with noise, crime and a bad smell. I lost my car to repossession in October, and had taken to spending most of my time, and most of my money in the bars on Cedar Springs. My career was going nowhere and my voice was wrecked for a couple of months by a nasty bout of bronchitis and laryngitis. Let's just say that 2009-10 were the collective low points of my life.

 I confess that I wallowed in it for a long time, content to  just be a bum getting by. But after 2011 came rolling in (I got drunk early, fell asleep and missed the whole New Year's shabang!) I decided on January 1 that it was time to get beyond all that had happened to me and as Mom Thieme used to say, "get off my ass and on my feet, this ain't the promised land." Thus I am happy that I have found a beautiful new apartment and I take up residence there permanently in a week or so. I also got really lucky and was able to buy a fantastic car at a very reasonable price and on very easy terms. I get that on Monday. And my career is picking up too. I have just signed on to be musical director for a review/musical, I am getting new students and my continuing students are succeeding.

In just a few more days I will be living in a home that I enjoy and will be proud of, and thus I will actually want to stay home and entertain. Hell, I will have to because I won't be able to afford to go out that much for the next few months. Sorry Drama Room! I am so looking forward to being able to cook again and to entertain guests, and to go to sleep at night knowing that a fight won't break out in the hallway or a drug deal won't go down upstairs.

Thus far 2011 has brought pretty much all good news. I hope it stays that way, and I hope you'll all want to come visit me at the new villa often.

Friday, January 14, 2011

By Request....The Christmas Letter

 Many of you have requested that I publish my Christmas Letter on my blog. I am touched by the many nice responses I have gotten. So, for those of you who want it again, here it is. Best wishes!

Dear Friends,

Peace be to you and grace from Him who freed us from our sin, who
loved us all and gave his life that we might be saved.

I must confess that after this most trying year, I was finding little
inspiration for this letter. But so many of you have told me how much
you look forward to it, I was moved to give it another go. I thought
for some time about what profound turn of phrase I might end with this
year. I looked for some angle or another, be it angels or carols or
Christmas mass. Nothing much worked. Then my dear friend Rick
Vanderslice suggested that I take it back to basics. Reflect on the
simple things. So here we go.

As we face the coming year, and as we end a year that was filled with
uncertainty, economic unease, political upheaval, warfare and needless
bloodshed, perhaps it is time that we take stock of those eternal
simplicities, those timeless gifts that can never be taken away.

As we enter this holy night, look for the beauty in the common. Take
the time to enjoy the wonder of rain. Think about how amazing it is
that moisture can be carried up into the atmosphere and dropped again
to the land, giving the soil the nourishment to produce plants and
trees and flowers that in turn grow up to sustain life by making
oxygen and giving food to breathing creatures. Think for a bit about
the miracle of our planet's placement from the sun. How that by some
divine science this ball of dust and water is the only place in the
known universe to have the perfect combination of air, water and light
to support life, and how diverse, unique and wonderful all that life
is. Take some time to look at a small animal, even your own cat or
dog. Give thanks that a little furry sentient creature can show such
undying loyalty, how it can sense when you're troubled and climb into
your lap to comfort you, how it cannot live without you, and how you
wouldn't live without it.

If you are a parent, look back upon the birth of your children. Pause
to imagine what an amazing sequence of biological events it is to
start from nothing and produce a human life. Look at the amazing
growth of those children; how they evolved and grew and learned, how
they went from utter dependence on you to being their own thinking,
feeling beings. Give thanks for the joy they have already brought you,
and for the limitless contributions that they might leave to the world
yet to come.

If you are employed, give thanks for your livelihood, and pray
diligently for those who need a job. If you are well fed, give thanks
for your food, and take the excess of your pantry and give it to
someone who might not get a meal today. If you are well clothed, take
that extra coat or garment and give it to someone who may leave his
house without enough on to keep warm. If you are surrounded by friends
and family, take some time in the near future and visit someone who
will spend this holiday, and every day after, alone. If you have a
skill, teach it to someone who needs a way to make a living. If you
have a voice, record a book for the blind.

Most importantly, think upon Him who was born this night. Try to live
by His example. Seek justice, and don't judge. Speak out against
oppression, and don't let selfishness impair the progress of another.
Forgive freely, and don't hold grudges. Think before you speak. Sleep
a night before you hit "send". Try to resolve a dispute through calm
reason and not rash words. Live because we only have today. Laugh
because your joy will lift the sad. Love, because love is the food of
life and we can only harvest and eat that which we have sown and
tended well.

And as for this night, and this celebration of birth, take a moment
before you sleep and look for a star. If it is still cloudy, light a
candle and set it in a place where you can walk around it and see it
from all sides. In so doing, remember that Christ Jesus came into this
world to bring light. Let that flame be the symbol of his love, let
the heat from that flame be the fuel and energy for your life. Then as
you awaken on Christmas morning, let that fuel power your life, drive
your soul and generate your dreams.

Live in peace my friends, and may the spirit of the Christ child keep
you in safety.

With all my love,