Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Karl D. Weikel

Karl Daniel Weikel of Tinicum Township (Pipersville), died on Friday, November 11, in Niland, California.  He was 30 years old.

Karl was born in Williamsville, New York, but grew up in Tinicum Township, Bucks County, graduating from Palisades High School in 2000. 

During his twelve years in the Palisades School District, Karl entertained many – on stage and off - and was a reliable source of laughter, inspiration, witty comebacks, and playful irreverence.  Karl won awards for his drawing and visual artistry, especially his original pen-and-ink creations which he humbly referred to as “Nothings.”  He was a staple in all Palisades musicals and dramatic productions, from PALMS through high school. 

Beyond using his gift for comedy to gain attention and notoriety, he also managed to entertain the sporting crowd by playing striker for Palisades High School’s soccer team all four years of his tenure.  He was a District XI champion in the 110 hurdles and a state qualifier three years running in that event.

He was a Rotary Exchange Student to Norway in the fall of 1999, where he attended high school, became adept at “DJ’ing,” and began composing electronic music.  He also played soccer for a semi-professional “futbol” team.  Upon his return to Pennsylvania from Norway, Karl published an independent-label CD of original trance-dance/electronic compositions, “Crazymaker,” under his DJ name of Ray Jookie.

Karl attended the Atlantic Acting School of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and was profoundly impacted by his personal experience of September 11, 2001.

Giving true meaning to the term “free spirit,” Karl was, at his core, a Traveler.  He reveled in moving from place to place, making music, creating art, and connecting with and learning from people of all walks of life and from many different backgrounds.  He loved listening to his friends – and after speaking with Karl for ten minutes or so, most people considered him a friend.  Karl never tired of engaging in challenging conversations on subjects ranging from the nature of reality to the latest episode of “Cops,” or simply playing around with his peculiar sense of humor or offering quirky, yet stunningly perceptive, perspectives on life.  His wit was beyond compare; his humor was devastatingly sarcastic, often off-color, yet never mean-spirited.  He could defuse intense situations with a spot-on imitation or a sleight-of-hand card trick leftover from his “magic” days of adolescence.  He hated confrontation.  He was a master mimic, amazing man, and brother to many.

Karl is survived by his parents, Karl C. and Lisa JG Weikel (nee Guerke), his brothers, Maximus (presently of Baltimore, MD) and Sage (at home), and Katie (presently of Baltimore, MD).  He is also survived by his grandparents, Frances and Joseph Wondoloski of Elysburg, PA, as well as numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends-who-were-family.  Karl will also be desperately missed by his beloved Sheila, Spartacus, Princess, Precious, and Gandalf.  

All who knew or loved Karl are invited to a gathering in his honor, which will be held at 

11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 26, 2011 at

Tinicum Park
963 River Road 
Upper Black Eddy, PA 18972

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Doylestown Food Pantry (in support of either food or shelter), 470 Old Dublin Pike, Doylestown, PA 18901 or the Ann Silverman Community Health Clinic, 595 West State Street, Doylestown, PA  18901.  Karl believed that food, shelter, and healthcare are fundamental rights to which we are all entitled.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Samhain

Samhain (pronounced "sow-when") is the time of year traditionally linked with the Celtic New Year.  The harvest has passed, our larders are full, and the nights grow ever darker, beckoning us to retreat into the warmth and comfort of our homes and hearth-fires.  

We are called to go within, to retreat from the gathering darkness outside and take stock of all that we have accumulated and stored inside - in our homes, our psyches, our dreams.  We are called upon, from deep within ourselves, to reflect upon the year's blessings and burdens.  We are asked to decide what we would like to plant in the rich loam of our past year’s experiences; what we would love to harvest – perhaps for the first time – next year?   

What have we learned, either easily or ‘the hard way,’ that will influence which seeds we plant in the days and weeks to come?  It’s time to reflect, time to decide.  For it is in the fields that will lie fallow for some months to come that we plant the seeds that will slowly stir, quiver, and ultimately thrive - first in that darkness, then bursting forth into the sunlight’s strong spring rays across our consciousness.  

In the darkness, these seeds will germinate.  They will mull over themselves and decide energetically either to begin the journey upward, toward the light they instinctively know is there, or not.
As we give ourselves permission to sit quietly amongst the falling leaves, permission to sit with our reflections upon this past year of new and old growth, birth and loss, sudden and slow, drawn out experiences of change and transition, we give ourselves permission to plant the seeds of the dreams we intend to nurture through the coming winter and then fully express as the year unfolds.  

In this time of retreating within, we also give ourselves permission to joyfully celebrate our abundance, to give full-throated thanks for the many blessings we’ve enjoyed ~ including surviving some of the hardest lessons we may have been asked to learn thus far.

It is said that at Samhain the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest.  In our western culture, we’ve taken that idea and run with it to the extreme, focusing on all of the scariest things we can imagine, and relishing in scaring the daylights out of ourselves (or numbing ourselves out in sugar-induced comas).  Rarely, if ever, does it occur to us to honor the abundance of both what we’ve reaped and what we’ve lost.  Rather, we intoxicate ourselves with the superficial, the masks, the excess.

Perhaps this year, as the veils thin, we can instead look at our lives over the past year and see what we may have said or done or experienced that, in retrospect, was terrifying, either to ourselves or others.  Maybe we can see or comprehend those relationships or experiences that have died ~ or maybe were already dead ~  a state of being we just refused to see until now.  Maybe we can allow ourselves to honestly reflect upon what lies within our hearts out of obligation and what is within our hearts out of simple joy.  What do we keep?  And what do we bury in the Earth, asking the Mother to mulch and break down into elements so that it may feed and nurture All Life instead of slowly serving to choke the life out of us?

Perhaps we can loosen the death grip we’ve had on our ‘vision’ of our lives and actually see that some of the seeds we keep insisting will sprout this year never germinated, never took root.  It’s time to let those old ghosts go and shift our focus, instead, toward a vision of creating something completely new and different, something beyond anything we’ve allowed ourselves to dream before.

What old ghosts are you ready to release, with compassion and kindness, into the night?   What new dream seeds will you plant in the dark, rich soil of your life experience?    

Happy new year…

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sports Awards - A Waste of Time?

This is going to be a long post, primarily because I am going to include the text of an "open letter" I just sent to our school district's Board of Directors, Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Principal, Vice-Principal, and Athletic Director.  I also sent it to as many parents of Palisades student-athletes as I could find emails. 

I've decided to post this on my blog because my feathers are so incredibly ruffled, it just seems like it would be a travesty not to publish it on "Ruffled Feathers."

*And for the record?  My son is not a senior.

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing this letter to express my dismay at the recent revelation that there will be no Sports Awards ceremony for Palisades High School athletes this year.  And by recent, I mean that I only discovered on Thursday evening (at 9:30 p.m., after sitting for two days through a rain-soaked District 11 Track Championship) that the date reserved on our family's calendar for Monday, May 23 at 7:00 p.m., designated as the assigned date of the ONLY athletic awards ceremony for the entire year (encompassing all of the sports played by Palisades student over a period of nine months) had been canceled.

Canceled?  No!  They wouldn't cancel it without telling us!  Surely not at this late date.  Surely not after just last year changing what had been a long-standing tradition of twice a year gathering all of the athletes and their parents and supporters together for a joint celebration of achievements and sharing of valiant efforts to a single, end-of-year lumping together of every single sport played during the entire school year?!

Last year had been slap in the face enough.  Wondering why we hadn't received the standard letter advising us of the ceremony, suddenly (and again, unannounced to the vast majority of people who were impacted by this decision), it was November and we were told that there would be no Fall Sports Award ceremony.  No gathering to award cherished varsity letters or MVP honors; no recounting of valiant efforts to overcome challenges, to develop team unity, to push individual limits, to become League Champions or, even in some cases, District Champions.  No shared opportunity to celebrate our young people's efforts to weave intense dedication and physical training into the academic dedication it takes to maintain good (and often excellent) grades.

No, this opportunity would be postponed until the end of the entire school year, when the victories, challenges, and sometimes amazing stories of perseverance and great achievements of the Fall sports had necessarily faded to make room for the just-as-exciting stories of success and sometimes heartbreak of the Winter and Spring sports.

And so it was, last year, that everything was lumped into one single event at the end of the year.  Mind you, this event was scheduled at a time when seniors were already stuffing end-of-high-school events into their busy schedules, and some teams were even still embroiled in post-season playoffs.  Indeed, I believe the baseball team was unable to attend last year precisely because they were at a game at the very time the awards were taking place.  The girls softball team may also have been in a similar situation - either that or they had just had a game the night before and had yet another scheduled the next evening.

There were many reasons why turnout was lower than any other sports award ceremony I can remember attending.  (This is a completely unscientific assessment of attendance, as it is based only on my personal recollection and "eyeball" estimate of attendance, having attended virtually every sports award event since 1996.)  Nevertheless, based on the astonishing decision made this year, apparently the Athletic Department decided, too, that attendance was pretty low last year.  In fact, so low that we might as well do without it all together.

After all, our Athletic Director, and her department secretary, had to spend the entire next day handing out "roughly 70%" of the awards that could have been distributed the night before, had the students receiving those awards shown up for the "All-in-One" evening assembly. 

I'm sure poor attendance had nothing to do with the fact that many of the students who participate in Fall sports also participate in Winter and Spring sports.  Thus, if they were busy in a playoff game for their Spring sport, they would, of necessity, be unavailable to receive accolades or even think much about whatever they achieved or overcame some six months prior.  Too bad, that.  Some of these students had stellar seasons in the Fall, but for whatever reason (injuries, less raw talent in a different sport, whatever) didn't have as great a season in the Winter or Spring.  Nevertheless, they were unable to attend the all-sports-for-all-seasons awards night because of their dedication and commitment to their current sport, because they are team players and had other responsibilities and priorities (i.e., "being there" for their teammates).

I'm also sure that poor attendance had nothing to do with the cavalier way the Fall sports awards had been so easily dismissed.  Gee, students today...  They just have no respect for the time and work that goes into those awards nights.  They are so embroiled in video games and their computers, and hanging out on the corner that they are immune to perceiving disrespect - or at the very least, complete lack of respect - from the school administration.  These are just dumb kids anyhow - they don't care.  OH WAIT!  We're talking about the kids who DO care enough to show up at practices after school every day.  Who DON'T go home after school and play video games or immerse themselves in mindless activities in the dark basements of their lives.  Who FIGURE OUT how to balance getting all their academic work done, attend practice, (some even holding down jobs, as well), give their competitions 100% of their focus and energy, manage to take the SAT and ACT on the weekend, and even take AP exams on days when games or meets are held.  Slackers.

I think it is safe to say that there were many reasons why attendance may have been low last year at our brand new amazing celebrate-the-entire-year-in-sport in an hour and a half extravaganza.

So how do we respond to this lower attendance?  CUT THE AWARDS COMPLETELY!

Yes, that will show those ungrateful little b*&^%#@s just who is in charge.  We'll give them a video and they can retreat into their dark basements and watch the memories for years to come.  No matter that the "awards" this year are filmed in an empty room.  No matter that there is no audience to be taped applauding the achievements of these athletes, no shots of groups of parents chatting together and reminiscing about when one family's hockey player and another family's basketball player used to play "bumble bee soccer" together when they were five years old. 

All these kids (and their parents) care about is hearing good things said about themselves.  We all know how selfish people are today.  We'll give 'em what they want.  EXPOSURE.  They can show this DVD to all the world!  They can post it on Facebook!  They can send it to college recruiters!

Yes, these are some of the reasons I've heard and read (directly from the Athletic Director), and some of the supposed "perks" that will result, for why "key stakeholders" decided to do away with the Awards night. 

And in what turns out to be typical fashion for decisions made by Palisades administrators, it was decided "whenever," but announced at the last minute.  "Too late!" is the response when faced with the completely understandable and expected upset and concern expressed by students and parents who are not, apparently, considered "key" stakeholders.  "You should have attended the Sports Committee meeting if you wanted to be in on the decision.  Take it to them whenever their next meeting is and see if they'll change it next year." 

The implication underlying such a cavalier response is astounding.  First of all, in this day and age, when most people are working hard just to make ends meet, some working more than one job, others in the depths of depression because they no longer have a job and cannot find a new one, parents are apparently being told that avoiding sweeping changes to basic, long-standing events such as a Sports Awards ceremony requires them to attend School Board Sports Committee meetings and/or have some undefined yet clearly superlative credentials so as to be considered a "KEY" stakeholder and thus asked one's opinion.  Would it have taken that great an effort to send out a questionnaire, either via email or regular mail, asking the athletes and their parents for their opinion on the value of Sports Awards night before eliminating it?

Secondly, there are many people for whom this decision marks the end of their "Palisades High School experience."  There are no "next times" for seniors (and parents of seniors), particularly those seniors who have no younger siblings, or are in fact the youngest of many siblings who have enjoyed a rich tradition of participating in Palisades athletics.  Many of these families will never have the opportunity to gather again and experience the unique friendship and camaraderie of the families they've shared their lives with over the past, in most cases, at least twelve years. 

Why won't they get together again?  Because many of us became friends precisely (and only) because of the shared community created by the Palisades School District. Because of the rural nature of our district, most of us would never even have met had our children not gone to school together and participated in various activities, including sports. Life is busy. Attention to surviving the changes that are coming at us from all directions will begin taking priority.

Our shared commonality - our children - are growing up, moving on, and many will move away and rarely, if ever, return to the Palisades area.

The simple truth is that the Sports Awards were a way for us all to maintain the sense of community that sports can - and should - foster.  It was like a family reunion twice a year.  "Wow, look at how tall Kevin has grown!"  "What are Sally's plans for next year?" 

This opportunity for the Palisades families to come together was important for other reasons, as well.  Once our kids get to high school, they are of necessity required to choose between some sports and others.  Kids who played soccer together since they were five suddenly find that a third of their friends no longer choose to play soccer anymore at age 15.  Instead, they run cross country or track, play football or softball, or compete in baseball, field hockey or tennis.  All of a sudden, the parents, in particular, discover that they no longer see their small circle of soccer-parent friends, with whom they perhaps took for granted that they spent weekends with, year after year, sometimes nine, ten months of the year.  Or because of the scheduling of games and the difficulties most find in getting to attend even their own children's events, they lose track of what sports the little girl down the street is now playing (only to find out, at Sports Awards, that she is a superstar softball player being recruited by Stanford). 

Sports Awards nights were our opportunity to reconnect, to celebrate, to hear great stories about our friends' and neighbors' children.  They were often our last opportunity to celebrate what for many of us have been the most intense, joyful, difficult, fun, and hectic days of our lives together with other people who know exactly what it's been like.

Sports Awards nights were, in essence, the culmination of what our school district has fostered and cherished for years.  Indeed, in or around 1996, the Jolly Roger Society was founded.  As one of its founding members, I was intimately involved in drafting our mission statement.  Integral to that mission statement was the recognition that the Palisades School District (all 100 square miles of it) is the geographical and governmental entity that unites people living within this vast area - and sports, primarily (with arts certainly included) being the uniting factor that brings families together and creates a sense of community that supports, nurtures, and enhances the quality of life for us all.  Our creation of the "JRS," as it was known then, was to improve the facilities available to our athletes so that even more would participate and members of the community who don't even have children would realize that our facilities were available to all.

It was about creating community.

Now, the Jolly Roger Society has changed its name and is known as the Palisades Community Foundation - a perfect moniker for the entity that recognized and valued the importance of sports and arts to the creation of a sense of family in our vast school district.

Another placating response offered by the administration?  "Change is hard," (with an unspoken, "Get over it," being broadcast loud and clear).

Pardon me, Palisades Administration, but your arrogance is showing.  Change is difficult.  And many, many families are being asked to accept gigantic changes in their lives, in our society as a whole, in the world, in our families, in our self-concepts, in our ability to pay our mortgages and bills.  Change is never easy.  But I'll bet if you ask anyone, in private, they will admit that going through change is easier if you know you're not alone.  If you have friends and loved ones who, if not going through exactly what you're going through, can relate to you, can put their arms around you and tell you that you matter.

And changing something as simple and basic as a Sports Awards ceremony, from twice a year to not at all is a change that doesn't need to happen.  It was, essentially, a change made to accommodate two people (the Athletic Director and her secretary), both of whom have good jobs, health insurance, and a sense of security, if not entitlement, to make their jobs easier.  Heaven forbid they have to spend a day or two following the awards handing out certificates and varsity letters to students who were unable to attend.

It should not matter if 10 kids and their families and friends show up at that awards ceremony or 200 attend.  They deserve to have their awards presented to them in person, in front of their families and peers, with the opportunity to be applauded and feel good about their individual and team achievements.  And contrary to the idea that Ms. George stated (to me, in a face-to-face conversation on Friday) that essentially blamed the lack of attendance on kids not being satisfied with receiving "just" a Certificate for participating - and thus not bothering to attend because they are "used to receiving trophies in everything just for participating," - while that assertion may certainly have some truth, one does not punish those students who cared enough to work hard enough to earn that varsity letter in their sport (as opposed to "just" a Certificate of Participation) by canceling the awards ceremony completely!

Instead, perhaps some of the young people who see the enthusiasm displayed when their peers and upper classmen receive their varsity letters will realize that there is, in fact, something to be said for striving to achieve an award that rewards something more than “just showing up.”  And isn’t there value in seeing students who are perhaps on the JV team or otherwise play the role of “supporting character” in one sport, who play on a team simply because they enjoy the game, making it to States in another sport, later in the school year?  Most of us can’t be the best at everything we do.  And even those who do excel at everything need other people who are willing to step up and do their best in order to play the game or field a team. Much can be instilled in our youth by showing them that being part of a team matters.  Much can be learned by our young people simply by giving them the opportunity to see and hear how their peers in other sports handle success, adversity, and challenges to their self-esteem. 

Finally, I happen to be lucky enough to be self-employed and able to rearrange my schedule and make certain sacrifices to be able to attend most, if not all, of my son's track meets.  While my middle son was in high school athletics, I was working for a non-profit in center city Philadelphia, commuting via train every day.  I found it simply impossible to arrange my schedule to be able to make it to most of his meets, a fact I've always regretted, even though I knew there was nothing I could do about it at that time.  One bright spot is that I still have parents who come up to me and reminisce about their experiences cheering for my son in my absence - an act of love and caring that means so much to me.

It is precisely because of those parents and because I appreciate my current good fortune that I try my best to vociferously cheer on ALL our kids at our track meets.  It is important to me, as a parent, to "be there" for ALL our kids (or as many as I could see from the stands - sorry throwers, you were admittedly neglected), letting them know that they were being watched and cheered and called upon to do their very best.  I felt it my responsibility and my highest priority, as a Palisades parent, to represent all the parents who couldn't be at those track meets to personally see their children do their best in their events.  I'm sure they would have been there if they could have managed it.

I say this not to make myself out to be something wonderful - but rather to drive home the point that most parents did not - and do not - have the luxury of being able to see even their own children perform at their competitions, much less see their kids' friends competing in other sports.  The Sports Awards nights were sometimes the only opportunity many parents had to gain an appreciation for what their sons, daughters, and all their children's friends had been accomplishing, overcoming, and having reason to celebrate each Fall and Spring. 

It seems to me that canceling the Sports Awards event and substituting it with an impersonal DVD (or closed circuit tv taped broadcast) misses the mark and shortchanges students and parents alike on a myriad of levels, the most important one being our shared community and unique sense of family.

I am profoundly disappointed in Palisades High School's administration for failing to recognize the importance of something so simple as a Sports Awards night.  In my opinion, both priorities and responsibilities were misplaced in making this decision. 

Lisa JG Weikel, Esq.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Be Careful What You Ask For

Well, here it is. Yet another excuse of mine down the proverbial toilet, courtesy of my wily husband Karl.

Yep, I'm writing this via an iPad 2. And no, I'm not posting this with any intention of bragging or, indeed, hyping myself as a cool, "plugged-in," and therefore "connected" neo-shamanic writer. Ha ha. Far from it.

Rather, I'm giving credit where credit is due. Karl bought me this truly and amazingly MOBILE device in order to manifest a dream I had some 20 years ago, when I first allowed myself to imagine myself a writer. At that time, Apple was just introducing its first laptop computer and oh, was I smitten. Yes, I imagined myself sitting under a tree, by a burbling creek (of course) delightedly tapping out stories under the watchful eye of Mother Nature and All Her Relations.

What a Dreamer.

While I did indeed manifest one of those amazing machines, it didn't quite enable me the freedom I envisioned for myself.


Well, I've often wondered, but even more often managed to blame it on the physical and technological limitations of the machine itself, despite how utterly cutting-edge it truly was at the time. You know, short battery life, the heaviness and bulkiness of the contraption (a pissiness I can now see was not unlike little Miss Goldilocks).

Those were the excuses I made.

And now, here I am, sitting here with a device in my lap that's pretty much the size and weight of maybe a stack of 20 or so pieces of notebook paper. I'm able to access the internet and I'm not even near a building. I have battery power enough to write chapters at a time, much less blog posts or Face Book entries or - Goddess-forbid a tweet now and again.

When Karl wrote in my birthday card that there was an iPad 2 on backorder, winging it's way to me so that I could finally - FINALLY! - fulfill my dream of sitting beside the Tohickon and writing to my heart's desire, I honestly know in my heart that he was giving this gift to me with the purest of intentions.

And wow. The lessons that sometimes come to us when those who love us give us what we say we
want! Being faced now with the reality that I really, truly, honestly have no excuses whatsoever now for not whipping this out whenever a "brilliant" idea for a blog post strikes me, or a random hour pops up giving me the chance to write a few paragraphs or pages in my book, I realize with stunning clarity the truth that's been chasing me for twenty years!

Which is, of course, that I have nothing to blame but myself and my own little internal machinations if I do not produce.

Yikes, that's uncomfortable.

But instead of harping on this in my head, I'm going to take it as the gift of truth and insight that it is. Thank you, Karl, for being an instrument of Spirit, a tool of the Universe (and no, I'm not being a jerk), so to speak, by giving me exactly what I asked for.

The question now is, "What am I going to do with this gift?"

Must run! My battery needs to be charged. Ha ha - for real, too!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thank goodness for Guidance

Anybody who knows me, knows that I'm a big one for asking for guidance - and believing that you'll always get an answer (one way or another) sometimes from the most unlikely or oddest of sources.  Usually when I talk about guidance, I'm referring to the inner kind - the kind that provides insight into questions that we usually don't ask "out loud," or really can't ask anyone else, other than God/Goddess/All That Is/the Universe/Great Spirit... 

And the truth is, I've personally experienced more times than I can count the exquisite joy and amazement that comes with realizing that my question was heard - and that I really did receive a response.  Best of all, the responses invariably make sense in ways that sometimes aren't immediately apparent.

So, I just can't help but wonder how this post is going to be of service to someone "out there," although it probably will be, in some way, since I'm actually motivated to sit down and share this tidbit with my loyal followers (all ten of you).  (Note:  You guys are on the cutting edge.  Don't let the paucity of your numbers tell you otherwise.)

I just had to laugh this morning while reading one of my favorite writerly blogs (Pimp My Novel), and saw a reference made by guest blogger Laura to the link about which I'm writing.  My goodness, I thought, now that's a document you don't come across every day!  I'll have to make note of it - and maybe even let other people know of its existence.  For who knows?  We may need to emulate this document in other 'burgs and 'burbs across the nation, sooner rather than later!

So, the guidance about which I'm writing today is not, necessarily, guidance of the internal sort, although, come to think of it, it might be...  No, it's far more practical than that.  It is, indeed, the New York City Official Apocalypse Manual.  (The actual document, available in PDF format, and referenced in the article to which I linked, above, is accessible directly here, just in case you want to download it!)

While this document contains lots of practical legal and public health and safety related references, I'm wondering if the actual existence of it, and the fact that it was brought to my attention (and thus all of yours) is the more important message.

Fellow feathered, furred, or otherwise enrobed friends, I think we're in for quite a ride.  The truth is that everything is in flux.  If you are honest with yourself, would you ever have thought that an Official Apocalypse Manual would exist outside of the world of The Onion?  Me neither.  Somehow, though, I take at least a tad of comfort in knowing there's a Manual for the Apocalypse. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Finding Inspiration from Regis

Yeah, I'm with you.  That's not a title I'd expect from me either.  But there it is - and when I felt the inspiration coming over me, a quickening in my heart and a smile washing over my face - I thought that sharing it might be a great way to start off my renewed commitment to my blog.

Driving home last night, I was listening to a short piece on Regis Philbin's announcement that he will be retiring from "Regis and Kelly" sometime this year.  I'd seen the "news" splashed on the internet and, quite frankly, hadn't bothered to read beyond the headlines.

So I was listening with only half an ear when I heard the details: that Regis is 79 years old and has been the host of this particular show (and its predecessor, "Regis and Kathy Lee") for 28 years.  I remember (vaguely) when that show began and I also remember that, after a number of years, he decided to cash in on his beloved status with his audience and decided to very successfully host the first American version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

Let's face it.  He's been a huge presence on American TV for the past 28 years; and I know he was already "famous" when he took the Regis and Kathy Lee gig.  But an "inspiration?" Yes, the inspiration part burst forth when my mind started idly crunching the numbers.

Wait a minute, I thought to myself...  He's 79 now, and he began his gig on "Regis and Kathy Lee" 28 years ago.  That means he was 51 when he began that show.  51.  Who would have ever guessed that he'd become such a well-known, household name in our culture that his retirement from that show nearly thirty years later would be headline "news" blasted world-wide via the internet and covered by every major news outlet?  (And I ask you to humor me here, and let go of any judgments you might find cropping up about just what is considered "news" these days.)

I cannot help but think that he must have felt, at least on some level, that getting into a whole new genre on TV (as a morning talk show host), in a new and different format (with a younger woman as his bantering co-host), was a huge risk "at his age." 

Yet look at how it turned out.

He is beloved, as was evident on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (even if sometimes, more recently, he's been playfully made fun of on shows such as E!'s The Soup).

I'm sure it comes as no surprise to learn that I happen to be 51 at this moment in time.  And it's probably not hard to figure out that I'm entertaining ideas of taking on new and expanded roles and exploring some opportunities I might not have even dreamed of doing ten years ago, much less 28 years ago.

And I'd be lying if I didn't admit that sometimes my Voice of Fear harangues me: "You're too old to be branching out into that!" and "Why don't you just stick to what you've already started?  The 'tried and true?'" or "Shouldn't you have figured out who you are and what your 'career highlight' is - or should've been - by now?"

I do my best to push through those nasty self-comments that try to keep me from writing and teaching and trying new things.  And I'm almost always rewarded in amazing ways for persisting, for ignoring the scrunch in my stomach, for sticking my fingers in my ears and saying, "LALALALALA" while fielding a call from a person I just know is going to offer me a chance to do something scary and cool and way out of my comfort zone.

But now there's the added zest of reminding myself of Regis Philbin and telling myself, "Hey Lis, in 28 years, when you're pushing 80, maybe you'll be remembered for making a difference, or for being a source of good humor or warmth and compassion, as a result of doing something you're only just starting to do or put out into the world today."

Thanks, "Reeg."  Live longer, continue prospering, and enjoy your Joy.  You're an inspiration.

(My apologies for the inexcusable lapse in posting.)