The Sunday Series (39), with Mark Brodinsky

keep-calm-the-best-is-yet-to-come-2

Your purpose, your mission, your WHY. Doing what you love to do and getting paid for it, making a living at something which feeds your soul - it’s no longer work – it’s inspiring to everyone around you. But even in the center of heaven there can come the perfect storm and a need to step back, take a deep breath and reflect.

The Sunday Series (39): That Guy in the Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
and the world makes you king for a day,
then go to the mirror and look at yourself
and see what that guy has to say.

For it isn’t your mother, brother or friends
whose judgment upon you must pass,
the person whose verdict counts most in your life
is the one staring back in the glass.

You can go down the pathway of years
receiving pats on the back as you pass.
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears,
if you cheated that guy in the glass.

This one is unsolicited. No one asked me to write this Sunday Series, or to share their story. It comes simply from an observation of life and a story I stumbled upon which I believe is worth sharing. It’s only been eight weeks since I featured Jenn and Nestor Aparicio in The Sunday Series, just days after her life-saving bone marrow transplant: (http://markbrodinsky.com/the-sunday-series-32-with-mark-brodinsky/). The journey hasn’t been easy since that day. #JennStrong is somehow holding her own. It’s been an uphill battle most of the way.

But just the other day, on a beautiful Friday afternoon, I was skimming through the Facebook posts and I came across one of the latest from Nestor. He posted a story about his impending “new beginning”, a return to a new chapter in his “talking sports” business, as a writer and on the radio,  a business and passion which he has run as both king and jester for more than three decades. That’s the one sentence summary, but you need to go much deeper. I have a difficult job here, because I don’t want to steal Nestor’s thunder. The article, to which I will post a link, is in my perspective… incredible. Nestor speaks from the heart, like it or not. I believe I am in a position to tell you it is very well-written and mean it. And whether you agree with Nestor, it’s not really the point here… the guy can write. His article is engaging, brutally honest, heartfelt, harshly critical and heartwarming…all at the same time. It’s truly a work of art.

After reading it I thought the Guy in the Glass poem fit perfectly at the top of this blog — because it is exactly what Nestor does throughout his article. He’s taken a long look into the glass – he’s come up with answers – and he is refusing to cheat himself, or what he believes. As far as I can tell he never has, he never will. I don’t know Nestor intimately, I know him peripherally through the years, as a peer through his work on the radio, running into him from time to time in public and from the few hours I spent with he and Jenn on their couch two months ago, just one day removed from the biggest moment of Jenn Aparicio’s life. I shared their story and their thoughts on this blog, so maybe I know them a little bit better than I give myself credit.

nestor kissing jenn

But let me make one more point, then I need to turn this over to Nestor. I do know how much Nestor loves music, and I’m sure most of you know the song American Pie, or as some refer to it, The Day the Music Died. I heard the song just yesterday, and listening to the lyrics there was a verse I thought fit well to describe the story you are about to read:

A long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
and maybe they’d be happy for a while.

It’s exactly what Nestor Aparicio is trying to do – through his words, his conversations and interviews on the radio, about sports and about life – to make you think and maybe even to be happy for a while. Do yourself a favor. Take the time to read Nestor’s story – it’s about engaging as it gets – it’s inspiring – it’s proof he is trying to do something  big - to keep at bay the core of Don McLean’s song and story - the day the music died.  It’s the song in Nestor’s soul which calls to him to do what he does for a living and just as importantly to be there for the love of his life – the music in his heart – his wife Jenn, and her seemingly never-ending battle against leukemia. The work and his wife deserve to live on for a long, long time.

Now it’s up to Nestor: http://wnst.net/wnst/on-tuesday-at-6-a-m-my-next-life-begins-at-wnst-net-am-1570/

Until next time, thanks for taking the time.

Mark

Mark Brodinsky, Author, Huffington Post Blogger, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-brodinsky/), Financial Services

The #1 Amazon Best-Seller: It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story, (http://www.spouses-story.com/)

For ideas or feedback on the Sunday Series, leave a comment on the blog, or e-mail Mark: markbrodinsky@gmail.com

 

Livin’ in Fast Forward: It’s Just About… Life

Em and Sophie first day

I used to think running a four-minute mile was fast, a major league pitcher hurling a baseball at 100 mph was pretty quick, or a NASCAR driver taking a turn at 200 mph packed some gas.

Then we had children.

Maybe no day marks the passage of time better than that first day of school, especially nowadays, when you snap the obligatory picture and take a look as another academic year begins and you are struck, sometimes in awe, by the passage of time.

This year we have one firmly entrenched in middle school (7th grade) and the other in her first year of high school. How is that possible? How do the ticks of the clock add up – seconds become minutes, become hours, become days, weeks, months, years and before you know it… time appears to have made a quantum leap. When you accept this parenting job they leave out a couple of things: first they hide the manual, but second, they fail to tell you that time will move at the speed of light, faster than you ever imagined – and it is completely out of your control. These days it seems we try and control the world surrounding our children, maybe more than ever before, but time refuses to cooperate – it’s independent, stubborn, sometimes, especially when you take a look at that new first day of school picture, downright rude.

Emily solo sophie solo

I sat at the home of some great clients the other night, the night before school started, watching their 3-year-old and 1-year-old daughters – and wondering how you get from there to here in our lives – with a 14 and a 12-year-old. I used to think it took a long time to grow up, at least it seemed to when I was doing it, (because I’ve stopped!!), then we had kids and the law of physics, chemistry, biology and all of science seem to collide and push time even faster, if that’s possible.

I think it is. And now, actually way before now, the challenge is to savor the moment, and at the very least – to pay attention – because time takes no prisoners, accepts no bribes and if given the chance will rob you of every last opportunity for awareness, if you don’t take the time to step up and be present. I know, because it’s always a work in progress for me.

Sometimes it seems life gets in the way of living – if that makes sense – and the great challenge is to heed the call, and never forget the passage of time is calling to you to stop, look, listen and engage because while we don’t think we are – or our kids are – I have photographic proof and most likely you do too – we are livin’ in fast forward. And I’d love to rewind real slow…

Sophie and emily little

Until next time, thanks for taking the time.

Mark

Mark Brodinsky, Author, Huffington Post Blogger, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-brodinsky/), Financial Services

The #1 Amazon Best-Seller: It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story, (http://www.spouses-story.com/)

Connect with Mark: markbrodinsky@gmail.com

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Passion: It’s Just About… Life

bryanjulia26f-4-web

It’s more than just the kiss. You’ll see that one everywhere today, no doubt, over and over again. It will be re-played and probably spoofed as well in the days and weeks to come. If you missed it, actor Bryan Cranston planted one of the longest, spontaneous award-show kisses in history on the lips of Julia Louise-Dreyfuss as she made her way to the stage to accept her Emmy Award last night. But then Cranston really got down to business, giving his own acceptance speech, as he won his 4th consecutive Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama, for the show Breaking Bad.

cranston speech

With all transparency, I’m biased because my wife and I are in the middle of watching the entire series of Breaking Bad… one of the very few shows we watch and we really enjoy it. The show is not for the faint of heart, but Cranston is that good. He is obviously passionate – he proved that with the lip-lock he served up on camera – but he’s also very passionate about his profession. It’s his speech last night that hit home with me – it just might with you-  and it fits perfectly into the confines of this blog. Because while it took some time and it wasn’t easy, Bryan Cranston found his WHY:

“I don’t know why I have been blessed with an abundance of good fortune in my life. I was the kid that always looked for the short-cut, a schemer. My own family nicknamed me “Sneaky Pete”. My own family. So I did happen to stumble upon finding a passion that created a seed and bloomed into something so wonderful for me. I love to act. It is a passion of mine and I will do it until my last breath. I can only say that I have gratitude for everything that has happened. I have gratitude for the Academy for this lovely honor.

To the love of my family, I love you guys. Gratitude for AMC and Sony and especially to Vince Gilligan who made this possible for me to have this roll of a lifetime. Gratitude for our writers, our directors, the wonderful crew that we have in New Mexico and this intimate cast that we created. My dear friend Aaron Paul, (Cranston’s co-star), I love you so much and I appreciate that and helping each other. To Anna Gunn, my television wife extraordinaire – I love you. 

Finally I want to just say that I’d like to dedicate this award to all the “Sneaky-Pete’s” of the world who thought that settling for mediocrity was a good idea cause it was safe…don’t do it. Take a chance, take a risk, find that passion, rekindle it… fall in love all over again, it’s really worth it.”

Obviously this is one guy who has plenty of passion to go around…and that’s not just lip service.

(http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/emmy-awards-2014-bryan-cranston-727862)

Until next time, thanks for taking the time.

Mark

Mark Brodinsky, Author, Huffington Post Blogger, Financial Services

The #1 Amazon Best-Seller: It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story (http://www.spouses-story.com/)

Enter your name and e-mail to get posts from this blog delivered directly to your in-box.

Connect with Mark: markbrodinsky@gmail.com

 

 

The Sunday Series (38), with Mark Brodinsky

vickie and sisters

… how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see….

The Sunday Series (38): Amazing Grace

“A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” -  Oz to the Tin Man – The Wizard of Oz

So simple, so profound, so true. I know for me and I bet for most of you, that one line takes you back to a place from long ago , since many of us came to know that classic film in the early stages of our childhood. A time when innocence and hope are in abundance – a book of life being written, page by page, day by day, with seemingly no end in sight.

We were all children forever, in the minds, in the eyes and in the hearts of our parents. And the place that heart should never have to go is the place where life is completely turned upside down, a place so dark, an abyss so deep that if there was ever a moment time should stand still, if simply to pay respect to life’s greatest tragedy, then that is the moment.

The loss of a child.

On August 15th, Victoria “Vickie” Gelfman, at age 31, passed away from acute myeloid leukemia, exactly 18 months to the day of her diagnosis. On August 19th, she was laid to rest and the words which Oz spoke to the Tin Man were on full display, as hundreds filled the giant room, one which was void of enough chairs to hold all of those who came to pay their respects… proof of how much this single heart was loved by others.

I never met Vickie, but there I was sitting directly across from her father, observing a grief which is unimaginable. I am the father of two daughters and I cannot fathom the depths of what Dick Gelfman, nor his wife Lenore, are experiencing. And I’m not writing this blog to try and understand, for there is no explanation and I honestly, in the deepest recesses of my heart, the place reserved for life’s unconditional love for my own two girls… I can’t go there.

vickie and parents

I worked with Dick Gelfman when I was employed at WJZ-TV in Baltimore. I got to know Dick, a warm, smart, funny man, but I never experienced the pleasure of meeting his three girls, Vickie, Joanna and Hillary. It’s my loss – because every life we meet makes an impact on our own – and listening to the story of Vickie’s life – so eloquently told by her sisters, Hillary and Joanna – I learned a  about a life which many of us would serve to emulate.

vickie and mom vickie and dad

A good deal of Vickie’s biography is well-told in the pages of the Baltimore Sun: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/obituaries/bs-md-ob-victoria-gelfman-20140818,0,4653164.story  and I encourage you to read it, but it’s not the focus of this Sunday Series. I felt compelled to simply share a few observations because when you see love and devotion on full display and understand what legacy is really all about – it is inspiring.  And this is the way, from what I heard and read about Vickie Gelfman, this is the way in which she will be remembered… as an inspiration.

The courage, resolve and in short the ability of Hillary and Joanna to get up and speak, just days after losing their beloved sister and best friend, was in itself inspiring. They shared stories about Vickie’s tremendous sense of humor, her determination to become the best in her field, her kind spirit – always the first to help someone else in need - her love of running, her dedication in helping to raise money for causes like breast cancer and serving to fight for victims of domestic abuse, her devotion to her family and her ability to form bonds with others which managed to last a lifetime. So many are part of what is referred to as Team Vickie, as they helped support Vickie in her fight against leukemia and to encourage others in an effort to add donors to the national bone marrow registry, so often the only way to give other leukemia patients a chance at life. Vickie also started her own blog, The Most Challenging Marathon Yet, chronicling her battle against the disease and most recently updated by her sister Hillary: http://vickieuva.wordpress.com/

At Vickie’s service there was a pamphlet which included some quotes from family and friends who were fortunate enough to be part of her world:

“Through the efforts of your sisters and your family, the legacy that you all have left through this process certainly makes the world a better place.”

“Thank you for teaching us so much about strength and life and grace and dignity.”

“You are truly an inspiration. Even during the toughest of times, you manage to be brave, thoughtful and caring.”

“You have certainly have had an incredible journey, one that no one else I know could have traveled with such class, bravery and determination. It’s a journey that has inspired many others by the example you have set and it always will.”

And then there was this line from the Broadway show, Wicked: “It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime. So, let me say before we part: So much of me is made of what I learned from you. You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart. And now whatever way our stories end I know you’ll have rewritten mine by being my friend.”

vickie and wrists

As it turns out one of Vickie’s best friends in life is Carly Hughes, one of the lead singers in the Broadway show, Beautiful: The Carole King Story. Just days before Vickie took her final breath, the cast of that show made a YouTube video, with Carly holding a sign, “We Love You Vickie”. In a moment, a link to that incredible song, but first, on this Sunday, I also encourage you to take a moment to think about those you love, especially your children. Maybe it’s worth an extra hug, an extra kiss, an extra “I love you” today, for few of us know when the ticks of the clock will stop for us. But if we do it right, and live our life to give to others like Vickie did, the love will never stop.

vickie

It was Vickie’s sister Hillary who offered the line from the Wizard of Oz I posted at the top of this blog. I thank her for taking me back to the moment in my own childhood to remember, but more importantly for simply having the insight to share it – for it is legacy, because the heart is judged by how much you are loved by others. Except you don’t get there unless you love first, then you are touched by life’s greatest gift, the opportunity to receive so much more love in return.

In just over three decades on this earth, Vickie Gelfman gave that love, and it is now reflected in how she is remembered… an extraordinary life, one lived simply, in Amazing Grace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbiBmgiMSi0

 

Until next time, thanks for taking the time.

Mark

In Vickie’s memory, consider a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or Be The Match

https://donate.lls.org/lls/donate , http://bethematch.org/

 

Mark Brodinsky, Author, Huffington Post Blogger, Financial Services

The #1 Amazon Best-Seller: It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story, (http://www.spouses-story.com/)

markbrodinsky@gmail.com