Just Dance! – Lessons learned from Ellen

Ellen Degeneres.
Is there a negative thing you can say about her?

She is passionate about life.
She encompasses so much courage and compassion
She does not hide behind anything or anyone. She is pure and real
She cares about her fans and humanity more than most can ever comprehend.
She is a genuine bright spot in a world that sometimes needs a little sunshine to fall into its laps.

She isn’t a daytime talk show host, an actor, an activist for gay rights, a seeker of talent but a woman with a heart of gold that celebrates life with so much vigor that it becomes contagious to anyone around her.

I would like to say I am an avid viewer of her show but I rarely find the time to watch any television. At the request of a very close friend, I had to watch to finally see Sophia Grace and Rosie.

I will admit, they were adorable in that Mutt and Jeff, Laurel and Hardy, Odd Couple kind of way. They can even sing and rant and rave with an infectious British banter.

So why the craze for Ellen and how can we translate all the positive energy she exudes into our own lives?

Excellent question, Mr. Blogger. Let us begin by outlining some of the lessons we can learn from Ellen.

1. Ellen believes and exercises the notion that we should always dance. Music is all around us and dance is a celebration of life. Whether you are in a group or by yourself in front of the mirror, you should always let yourself go at least once a day and dance until you drop.

2. Acceptance. Ellen accepts all partnerships, preferences and beliefs. There is no prejudice in Ellen’s world. To her, love is universal.

3. Ellen brings out the best in all her guests and fans. You will never see a guest enter the stage without a kicking move and a smile. She is so unconditionally genuine and sincere that no matter how popular the celebrity, she brings out their inner child.

4. She values her fans as if they are her own family. Without the fans, she knows she would not enjoy the success and impact she has in the community. With a shower of thank yous and gifts, Ellen continuously reminds her fans how much they mean to her.

5. She has a heart as big as The Grinch (at the end of the story). She does not seek out human interest stories for the sake of ratings or sensationalism but uses her influence to raise awareness and provide comfort when it is truly needed.

6. Happiness isn’t a goal; it is a way of life. On or off camera, Ellen is genuinely happy all the time.

7. Ellen evolves and adjusts. Effectively utilizing social media to reach a much larger fan base, Ellen is visible everywhere from Facebook, to Twitter, to YouTube.

8. We are all stars. Ellen believes we all have amazing talents. She searches far and wide to find and expose new talent. She is like American Idol without the 13 weeks of waiting.

9. She can pull off her own style with just one name (aka Madonna and Prince…and look what became of them).

10. Ellen is a trend setter. Whether it is fashion, music, alternative lifestyles or comedy, Ellen has the power of persuasion. What a great asset to have in your marketing pocket.

Each and every day, Ellen has a simple message. Whether it is with a band, a funky dance, a humorous interview, or a game, the goal is simple, bring happiness and laughter to millions.

How many times do people tell us that when times are down, we should laugh and smile a little to take our mind off of things? Why should things be bad to seek out happiness? We should be happy each and every day of our lives and never ever forget to dance.

Find your inner underdog – We all need a reason to believe…

“Great moments are born from great opportunity” – Herb Brooks

All too often we are dwarfed by the media’s sensationalism of celebrities, money, fame, fortune and all the glutenous impulses that drive us all to the brink of insanity. Why is it we feel the need to live vicariously through Brad Pitt, The Bachelor and Kim Kardashian? I wish I had an answer. I wish I knew why a billionaire in Texas is giving five million dollars to a presidential candidate when every street corner in New York has a homeless person waking up each morning wondering where his next meal is.

Where do we find salvation in the direction life is taking us all?

Many of us joke about the apocalypse. Those that believe in the complete word of the bible do know this would not be the first time wen went through a planetary cleansing exercise. Maybe this is our time. Maybe we are all about to embark on a temporary extinction. With movies like Melancholia and The Road even Hollywood is monopolizing on the anticipation, fear and mockery of the end of the world.

So how do we find hope in a world crippled with the death of morals and convictions?

We live vicariously through the moments where ordinary becomes extraordinary. It is when the underdog, the unknown, the weak create miracles. It is when the Chilean Miners escaped to hug their families one more time, when 20 college hockey players on February 22, 1980, gave the United States a reason to believe again, when a young woman diagnosed with cancer, not only beats the disease but was able to celebrate life.

American freedom was one of miracles of all time. An under-manned, under-equipped, under-nourished army of colonists who had nothing more than the idea of a promise of a better tomorrow, banded together and with nothing short of will and hope defeated the greatest military in the world. A true David and Goliath story.

Then there are moments. Moments that bring us to the brink. Moments that shower us with tears of sadness and happiness simultaneously. It is these unforgettable moments that truly reminds us without spoken word that life is worth living and worth dreaming.

It is the speech by Jimmy Valvano, who had the courage to get up in front of a live audience and an international television audience on the brink of death from cancer to talk openly about his disease and his love for his family, fans and sports, it is Pat Summit, one of the greatest basketball coaches ever addressing her fans and disclosing her early dementia diagnosis and it is John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting a flag at his fathers funeral because he doesn’t know why but knew it is the right thing to do that makes it all memorable.

Sometimes you just have to believe in the unbelievable to find your inner strength.

I am here to tell you, life isn’t easy. I won’t pretend it is or even tell you things get better. We will all undergo challenges, moments of weakness and doubt but something somehow finds its way to us when we truly need it. It is as simple as a hug or a sign but its message is loud and clear.

In a world that is 26,000 miles in circumference and 6.3 billion people deep, I suppose we are all underdogs.

It is those rare few the dig into the trenches of their soul and use all the energy in their heart to find the finish line that keep us all believing in something great.

Without a reason to believe, what do we have?

What is your journey? – A Testimony to Life

“A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life.”
-James Allen

We all have a journey.

Some have a bucket list, some a mission and others are just content being ignorant assholes that are so narrow-minded by prejudice and stereotype that they contribute to the hatred in our society.

Throughout this journey of life, we will all get lost. Each day is a path of twists and turns, corners of darkness and visions of light. If a day did not go by where we thought for a brief moment, an end would simply and shorten the madness we love and hate so much we would not be human. In the end, the journey is about something. It is a quest for moral right and a rendezvous with destiny.

It all works out though.

Some have a short journey while others are long and full of evolutionary change.

Life is never about you!

We all find what we are looking for and in the end, it is never about us. Think about it. Is it about your daughter who looks at you each morning with her baby blue eyes and smiles at the sight of your morning glow? Is it your partner for life who you sacrificed your soul to spend every breathing day of your life with? Is in your mother and father who led by example and shaped you into the person you are? Is it the refugee camp that is suffering from death and disease that you have dedicated yourself to saving? Is it your true love who soul was brought to you in an act of fate? Is it the music and lyrics that touch millions of lives and turn a lost soul away from the bridge to live one more day?

We are here with purpose.
We are given the gift of breath.

What fascinates my mental being is how some of us choose to get lost in the sea of uncertainty. All too often we guess and second guess our own purpose in life without accepting that we are fulfilling it through our passions, our actions, our unselfish hand and ultimately the lives we help bring meaning to.

We are all granted the ability to be angels on earth with a chance to hold out our hand and offer shelter to those in need.

I love that we all have gifts and talents. Some is through song, some strength, some compassion but at the end of the day, the gifts we use are not for us, not for self-fulfillment or any personal pleasure. They are for the stranger in the street, the homeless child, the girl with the broken heart, the sick friend.

Find your purpose and share it.

It’s all about love

How amazing is a life where we have this much power to help others. No matter what our talent, no matter what we say or do it is all guided by one common force that brings us all together; love.

Love is and will always be the answer to life’s unanswered questions. No matter which direction we go, love is all around us.

How can you not wake up each morning and smile with that thought dancing in your head.

I know I can’t.

Blue Waters of Her Eyes – Original Poem

The blue waters in your eyes welcome my soul into a baptism of self cleansing
A friend til the end

A girl without warning, sweeping in like a tornado
Showering you with love and drowning your sorrow

In a deafening silence she pierces through the core of reality to reveal the fantasy that is within all of us.

She is a princess in the kingdom self-awareness
The cure for all disease
The warmth that melts away the Ice Age

The flow of her secret sends shivers down your spine penetrating the pores and exciting the blood flow to your heart

It is that fire that burns in the mental inferno that heats the loins of love
She blazes through you leaving only ashes

Crying for the ecstasy of one more touch
The omnipotence of eternal knowledge, the keeper of salvation, the restful tone of a nurses hand

Now, she is an offering to your empty basket
Filling up your missing void
Extending a hand to the complete the circle of one

Cancer can be beautiful – Michelle’s Story (Donations accepted to assist)

There are a few truly dramatic moments in our lives. Those moments when every facet of your soul is ripped out of your body, stomped on and then left to die. It is those moments when your body and mind going into free fall and you lose all rational control. On Monday, I was overtaken by the news that a close friend had been diagnosed with cancerous tumors in her brain and spine that had progressed to stage four.

After experiencing some dizziness and double vision, she was taken to the emergency room and since then the last ten days have been an emotionally and physically draining period for Michelle, her family and friends.

This is something none of us ever wish to go through in our lives, but all to often we do. Personally, I have felt an emptiness in my stomach all week long, yet I cannot even come close to imagining the thoughts and feelings running through Michelle’s head. Even with every ounce of my being there for her, I don’t feel like it is enough.

Life is about trials and it is the ability to overcome that makes us stronger, but in times like this you even question that belief.

Thursday evening, I was asked to do a very important symbolic gesture knowing very well, this was the final act to realization of what the next six months to a year will be like during this fight. I was aksed to shave Michelle’s hair off. I won’t lie, I hesitated. I hesitated and stalled for quite some time and she evne gave me an out. I knew I had to do it. Not because she asked and I can’t say no, but because she was putting all her faith in me.

In the end, with all her long red hair on the ground, she was beautiful. It worked. She smiled and seeing her whole face, you could see the hope in her eyes. Was it sad? Yes. Was it hopeful? Yes. Was it a rollercoaster of unadulterated emotion? Oh yes!

What is so remarkable about Michelle is that she still continues to think about everyone else around her. Each night this week she has sent me home to sleep seeing the sleepiness in my eyes and my constant yawning. She is also the mother to three beautiful dogs, all of which were rescue dogs. Her heart may actually be too large for her body. The thought of being cuddled on the couch with her dogs has gotten her through this week.

As we speak, doctors are meeting with her to discuss every possible option. Early indication is five days of radiation and chemo treatments for possibly six months to a year. It is going to be a difficult road filled with pain, sickness, crying and a whole lot of love.

I will be there for her as well as every life she has touched in the past.

It is rare in life that you meet someone that defines unconditional goodness. A person that makes you believe in a better tomorrow. Michelle is one of those people. She is pure and unconditional. Her selfless behavior and charitable personality is infectious. If anyone can beat this, she is my vote for the best option.

This is something personal that I am doing to help. With the bills mounting, I would love to provide her with some financial comfort.

If anyone would like to donate to her medical bills, please send a check made out to Michelle Schafer to:

Mark A. Leon
100 Morris Street, A
Charleston, SC 29403

Or if you would like to use paypal email me the amount and I will send an invoice request (markalex222@gmail.com)

Thank you.

The Cancer Inside All of Us – Original Poem

It silently kills as it poisons the bloodstream
Kissing the essence of life with its venomous lips

In the soul of the living, it is an aura that lingers after the body is swept away and we are only left with memories drenched in the blood of nightmares

How do we cope as we watch a temple filled with love get taken over by a growth that preys on fear?
It is the collective darkness that surrounds the frail vessel that was once abundant with the promise of a new tomorrow

As the sun sets on another life, it rises once again to those left behind
Answers never to be found
The feel of the human touch lost forever
Tears, the only comfort left

Why now?
Why cut a life in the prime of goodness?
With an open heart, she is victimed, scared and weak
Serenity lost

As the body mass declines, so to the senses, but the heart
The strength of the center of all its heavenly being is joined by the forces in all of us, fighting for a chance
The battle is long, the war eternal, the end, inevitable

Now we wait, we hope, we prepare…

Why we are all in love with ourselves?

“It is silly of you, for there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” – Picture of Dorian Gray

Recently I have tried to tackle the question of social media narcissism and determine if our desire to be noticed and followed is more marketing/branding focused or pure self absorbed selfishness. Perhaps the root cause may even go deeper to some rooted self-esteem issues. I understand the importance of “likes” and “+one” as they help shape SEO and effectively lead brand marketing your way. I even understand the significance of comments as they have become an integral part of our communication patterns.

Though, without a deeper and more significant study of a broader audience can I make any clear deductions. For some, a virtual presence has created a significant and even lucrative brand which has grown and flourished well. For others, mobile social networking has made instant gratification almost an obsession. I can certainly think of worse obsessions than an instant upload of your life.

I have witnessed extremes when it comes to active participation in the social space. Some are passionately against the public exposure of their lives and some embrace it as an extension of themselves. Each has their own medium/platform of choice. Foursquare has given individuals a sense of social celebrity status allowing them to check in to each and every spot and often rewarding them with mayor status and a digital star but no financial reward. Facebook allows users to upload pictures, video, status updates and location status within a few clicks while still allowing the opportunity to monitor each and every like and comment. Does this take away from the “actual” experience of the event? Who am I to answer. I rarely have a phone with me when I am out and I do not even own a smartphone.

So what is the fascination with ourselves? How many Facebook and Myspace pictures can you find of people standing in front of their own mirror taking pictures of themselves with their IPhone? Probably more than most of us care to want to know. We have become a society so self-absorbed in ourselves that we may be forgetting the importance of sharing, volunteering, helping and given back to those that had been there for us in the past.

If we resort to selfish tendencies, we will never recover from the economic and social woes we are so deeply entrenched in.

By no means can any one single person reverse a societal shift, but we cannot ignore the fact that there is one. Mobile technology, social media and cloud technology have given all of us a global audience to promote the one person we know so well, ourselves. In exchange for selling our soul for the opportunity at instant cyber fame, we are becoming numb to the moral standards that once made this world a better place to live.

Maybe a Mayan apocalypse isn’t such a bad thing.

There is nothing wrong with self promotion. We all want a little attention every now and again to give us the confidence we all need to get through this thing called life, but we also need to lean on our support network that has and continues to be there for us. We cannot become a “me” community. We have to look around and hold hands in unity if we are ever going to recover and prosper again.