Musings of an Irish-American

Sometimes I think about stuff, and then I write it here…


“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” – John 14:1-3

This reading has followed me over the course of my life in the last seven or so years (or at least that is as long as I have been aware of it as it has surfaced). The first such instance was when my church music director in high school shared a David Haas album with me which included a musical setting of text from John’s gospel. I listened to that song almost non-stop during some of the more difficult stretches of my time in high school, doing my best to let the words sink into the depths of my being in those moments.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and faith in me. I will go forth to prepare a place for you, then I’ll come back to take you with me, that where I am, you may also be.”

I wasn’t as aware at the time that the Gospel reading is a (can’t think of a better term here) popular choice for funerals; my first interaction with it on the level of grief and sorrow was at the funeral service for former DePauw professor, Dr. Stanley Irwin. I was sitting in Gobin United Methodist Church in Greencastle when I heard the reading proclaimed and it was the first time I resisted the message.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God; have faith also in me.”

‘How can my heart not be troubled right now? This man, this educator, this joy, was taken from us before we were ready…how am I supposed to have faith now?’

A thought something like that crossed my mind as hearing these words that, for so long, had been a comfort were now bringing tears to my eyes in grieving for losing Dr. Irwin.

Turns out it came up again, when my uncle Jim Mahoney passed away.

Now, this week, I cantored more funerals than I ever have before (four in three days), and, since losing Maria D’Albert, that reading kept coming up. Just hearing the opening line brought my grieving to the surface, tears welling up, doing my best to be recovered by the time I’d have to sing again.

That word, “troubled”, just kept sticking out to me. A quick definition check of troubled gives us this: adjective, beset by problems or conflict, showing distress or anxiety.

When we lose someone, our faith is tested, and I mean that in so much more than a religious way; to steal a phrase from my mentor Michael Bernoff, I don’t care what you believe in, God, light, sound, horses, pigs, whatever it is that’s important to you, I mean your personal belief, your own purview of the world around you, is fundamentally shifted after losing a loved one, belief in God or not. If it’s not, then you’re most likely a sociopath and I have no idea why you’re reading my blog right now.

Do not let your hearts be troubled; you do not have to feel conflicted or anxious in your loss. You most likely will feel conflicted or anxious (or both or many other things), yet the operative word in that command statement is “let”. You let your heart be troubled or conflicted or sad or angry or any multitude of emotions; how you respond to letting yourself feel that way is the incredible influence we have in our lives.

Even as I write this, I feel the tears welling up, I feel the lack of understanding of why we’ve lost who we’ve lost, I feel grief and sorrow and joy of love. Yet I also know that these feelings are not who I am, though they make me realize that I am capable of great emotional depths and capable of giving and receiving a tremendous amount of love in my life.

I’ll leave you with this quote that I’ve been reflecting on about loss; do not let your hearts be troubled, my friends.

“Live so as not to fear death. For those who live well in the world, death is not frightening but sweet and precious.” – St. Rose of Viterbo



my voice

About 8 days ago, I found out that my childhood voice teacher, Maria D’Albert Matyas, had passed away. I was sitting in a Starbucks listening to a training call from Michael Bernoff waiting to go to a movie screening with a friend of mine when I received a call from my mom.

“I’m afraid I have some bad news….”

As she told me that she had heard from Maria’s husband earlier that she passed that morning, I sat there just weeping. The woman who taught me how to sing was no longer with us. Had it not been for her and her husband’s insistence, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today; they heard me singing in church (as I’ve been told by other parishioners, “rather loudly”) and cajoled my parents to sign me up for voice lessons with Maria, which I started at the ripe old age of nine or ten as a boy soprano.

I didn’t really know it was unconventional until I started sharing with my friends what it was I was doing afterschool every Monday afternoon. Turns out singing Italian arias in the female voice range isn’t exactly most kids’ idea of a good time.

It wasn’t until I went to DePauw that I realized what I had been doing with Maria; as I was taking lessons from her, I honestly had very little clue what was going on. It was much through sheer repetition of vocal exercises and repertoire that Maria managed to instill discipline and develop my instrument. I often wonder what kind of student I was; she must have had some kind of saintly patience to deal with me in those years. When I got to DePauw (on a partial music scholarship, another credit to her) and I actually started taking my study seriously, I started to pick up from my own voice teacher there, Dr. Jay White, that there were many things that Maria had taught me that I had no understanding of until Jay reflected them to me in a different way.

Unfortunately, when I decided to leave Chicago to go to DePauw, my relationship with Maria changed; given that she mentored and taught me through some very formative years of my life, she felt a sense of ownership about my progress. With that, though she may have never admitted it, she was a little resentful that I flew the coop to go to college elsewhere. I’d visit occasionally when I’d be home on breaks, or take a lesson here or there, yet our relationship was fundamentally different. With what I know now, I realize that we had grown apart, and neither of us was fully willing to accept the other person for where they were or who they had become, instead holding on to the ideas of the other we had developed and being frustrated that we didn’t stay that way.

In the last two or three years, Maria’s health wasn’t great, and on the few occasions we saw each other, our interactions were relatively stilted and mostly one-sided. She’d speak and I’d listen, my heart aching a little bit with each conversation, knowing that we just weren’t seeing eye to eye with each other. I always knew she wanted the best for me, that she loved and cared for me dearly, yet she wasn’t willing to let me to attempt life my own way, usually critical of my choices and career path. She referred to herself often as my “second mother”, and, in a lot of ways, she was; familial love manifests itself in many different ways, not always in the ways we “want” or “prefer”, yet always from a place of love and good intentions.

The woman who almost literally gave me my voice is gone; I know confidently that I would not be the actor, Catholic, friend, teacher or human I am today without her direction and tutelage, so I know she isn’t truly “gone”. She lives on in my life, in the lives of the many voice students she had over the years. When I sing, it is because of her and it is with her, and, for that, I am infinitely grateful.

Rest in peace, Maria, may you sing with the angels, my darling.



private sacrifices

“Whenever you see a successful person you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.” – Vaibhav Shah

As you read this right now, I certainly hope the new year has been treating you well! After my 30 Day Deal for December and how much I felt it helped me make progress moving into the new year, I made a personal commitment to continue my regular contributions here, especially since I realized that, when I was so intentional about committing to contributing here, I started seeing so many different opportunities in my life to utilize this medium to process and to reflect.

I saw the above quote from Vaibhav Shah (who, by the way, is an utter mystery to the Internet, it seems) on a calendar hanging in my parents’ home. It really resonated with me after a friend shared an article last week about a University of Pennsylvania student who committed suicide and her battle with the dichotomous perspectives we create between our “online lives” and our true selves. The world we live in now has this sense of constantly attempting to capture moments (or, at the very worst, manufacture them) so people will “like” them, or retweet them, or share them in another medium. What we end up doing is presenting a distorted sense of what our lives are like, which then influences the perceptions of other people.

The common ground of this quote and that story is the very idea of “private sacrifices”. When you see someone considered “successful”, you are only seeing half (or a third, or an eighth, or what have you) of their story; you don’t see the long nights obsessing over a business plan, or the constant dodging of questions from family members about “what you’re up to these days”, or the bill that shows up in the mail saying FINAL NOTICE – PAST DUE. These are only a few hypothetical situations among the hundreds that I’m certain many successful people have overcome to get to the point where you know about them now. So, when we look at social media and start to think, “That person’s really got it all together”, we need to start reminding ourselves that we are only seeing what they choose to share.

Guess what? Nobody wins all the time; think about it, in the history of the sport, there is only one football team to ever have an undefeated season and win the Super Bowl and, every time a team seems to be getting close to something like that, everyone (who cares about such things) talks about how the 1972 Miami Dolphins will be hoping that team misses out on their perfection. That happened once, and yet we keep having the idea that success must mean you have everything you want and you’re happy all the time (y’know, you have a perfect season, every season).

I’ve learned from Michael Bernoff recently that “how you define things in your life is your ability to accept them”. So, it’s truly up to us to redefine success in our own lives, to create a definition that is attainable for us individually, rather than holding up our progress to the yardstick of someone else’s journey.

When we arrive here, we all start with the same breath in our lungs and the same beat in our hearts; as we grow, it’s up to us to learn how to create what we want in this life and to learn how to love everyone around us who has that same air and that same beat as we do. That will take glories, that will take sacrifices, yet, most importantly, it will take coming to love and accept ourselves and everyone around us for who they are, and who they can be.


fertile ground

This has been a thirty day period of incredible growth, progress and momentum. I am so very proud of myself for committing to creating a 30 Day Deal for the month of December. This post marks the completion of the commitment I made to make at least four contributions between December 1 and December 30.

I have difficulty remembering a time when I’ve felt this focused and had this much momentum carrying me forward. It is truly powerful that, at the beginning of this month, I told myself there were a certain few objectives I wanted to accomplish over that period of time and I stayed focused on making them real to me. Beyond the mere accomplishment of those objectives, I also worked on my awareness of how I accomplished them, what that process entailed.

As I’ve learned from Michael Bernoff, one of the most vital processes one can commit themselves to is to become obsessed with the process of how to become the person who gets the goals you want. Rather than jumping from goal to goal to goal or from idea to idea to idea or from strategy to strategy to strategy, if you dedicate yourself to figuring out how you become that person, it becomes a part of who you are. Once you’ve integrated that process into your being, you move beyond needing motivation or strategies and you live your life as that person with what you’ve become as a part of you.

I also completed another goal I set for myself by finishing reading the book Using Your Brain for a Change by Richard Bandler, who is a mentor of Michael’s; in the afterword, he talks about how Neuro Linguistic Programming (which Bandler co-created) is more than a set of tools. He posits that it truly is a mindset that one develops about how they learn and view the world. I really latched on to this idea; how we perceive the world is really one of the few things we have any control over in our experience. What most resonated with me from the afterword, however, is seen below:

“You see, whenever you think that you understand totally, that is the time to go inside and say, ‘The joke is on me.’ Because it is in those moments of certainty that you can be sure that the futile learnings have set in, and the fertile ground has not been explored.” – Richard Bandler, Using Your Brain for a Change

I had not truly realized before reading that book, and letting its knowledge sink in, that certainty is a sure path to becoming stuck in your life. When certainty arises, you lose your curiosity and stop asking questions; when someone presents something to you that challenges that certainty, you close off your perspective and lose an opportunity to expand. We all have fertile ground in us that is unexplored, whether because of certainty or because we have not allowed ourselves to acknowledge it or discover it. I invite you to examine how certain you are in how you view the world and to challenge that certainty, to allow yourself to be curious, to have wonder, to ask many questions, to let the joke be on you. It is then that you will truly begin to expand out into the person that you are possible of being.

Here’s to 2016: the year of exploring fertile ground. Happy New Year!



It’s been a rather emotional few days, what with having our closing weekend of It’s A Wonderful Life, a friend surprising me from out of town with hugs and smiles and the joyful anticipation of the Advent season into the quickly approaching Christmas.

I was on a training call with Michael Bernoff and the Core Strength Leadership team recently when he reflected back to me some of the strengths I have that I really wasn’t giving myself credit for. For all intents and purposes, I was taking for granted the fact that I work very well with other people, I’m willing to answer the call and say “yes” when the opportunity arises and I have a great propensity for thinking on my feet and rolling with the punches. It was part of a great exercise where we were taking “inventory” of what we have to give us strength and momentum into the new year.

Fast forward to today, when I woke up far later than I had planned and, despite not feeling great and not being in top form with my voice, I decided to crash Book of Mormon Equity auditions since they were in town. I did what I could (which in this case was, to some extent, sound strained and forget my lyrics; such is life haha) and then I was lucky enough to be able to have lunch with my friend Marshall, who I just closed Wonderful Life with. We had a great time talking about what we were working on in our lives, regaling stories of lessons we’ve learned in our experiences, and sharing a lot of laughs of some of the foibles we’ve gone through. I really treasure the time I’m able to personally share with people, especially the ones who have such life and vitality about them that I’ve attracted into my life these days. After that, I dropped Marshall off at his place and went to visit my family; I found out while I was visiting with them that some of them were planning on going to Confession at the local Catholic Basilica.

I realized that, in this reflective Advent season, I had not yet gone to Confession; the last time I had gone was during Lent (the precursor to Easter). So I decided to take the opportunity to join them in this important rite of my personal faith. When I stepped into the Basilica, I was overtaken by the presence I experienced; there was just a glorious silence that surrounded me. It reminded me of how noisy our lives can get, especially when we have so many obligations and events in a time of year like this, and how calming it can be to take time to remove yourself from that and be reflective for a period of time.

During the course of my own confession, I shared some of my own personal frustration with how my life has been progressing on some level. I know that I have made a lot of progress in the last few years, though I also experience a sense that I may not be doing enough. It was at this point that the priest I was sharing this with reflected back to me that that frustration was coming out of my own sense of compassion and the fact that, in some way, I was not being merciful with myself. “Mercy begins at home,” he said to me. It was then I realized what he meant; I was forgetting the many varied and amazing ways that I can (and do) contribute to the world around me, and, as I had shown to me just days ago, that I wasn’t giving myself enough credit. The mercy I can show myself in recognizing how blessed I am and feeling empowered to continue sharing what I have to offer to the world is exactly what I needed to learn in that moment.

“Count your blessings” as the old song goes; however, I’m afraid that piece of wisdom falls into what Michael Bernoff refers to as “the good idea box”, when we miss the true value of a piece of wisdom by labeling it a “good idea”, putting it into that box and then doing nothing with it. I would much rather learn to live that advice, see the abundance that this life and universe offers me, cultivate mercy for myself to export to others and continue becoming that best version of myself that I know I am capable of being; isn’t that what makes this beautiful life we share worth living?



Continuing my intention set in 30 Day Deal, I’m back here (for the second time in five days; FIVE DAYS!!!). I’m back partially because I made a deal with myself, yet also because, through that deal with myself, I have had experiences that I feel worth reviewing and sharing with you here.

On Friday night, five dear friends of mine from my college days came to Chicago to see me play George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play at Oil Lamp Theater, as well as to visit with each other. It’s funny that, as you’re growing up, no one really tells you, “Hey, you’re going to form connections with these people and grow to love them, but there’s going to be a time when you have deliberately make time to see them because you won’t be able to just walk down the hall to be with them.” Thanks to the collective efforts of all six of us together, we were able to make the time and space to get together and share laughs and tears and memories and, most importantly (to me), hugs.

I knew, approaching the night of the performance that I knew they were going to attend, that I was going to most likely have a level of emotional vulnerability that was quite a bit higher than what I usually work to achieve in playing the man who forgets that he is not a failure because he has friends. I knew it, and it happened; I was almost a wreck twenty minutes in when (SPOILER ALERT) George’s father dies (I normally wouldn’t think this warrants a spoiler alert, but I keep meeting people who have never seen the movie, which is confounding to me). I so deeply felt that loss because the people I knew were in the audience had gone through that same sense of loss as I did when our friend Chris Alonzi passed away two years ago this past December 10. I learned that that level of vulnerability was within me because of those people and our experiences together and, ultimately, because of the love we share for each other. I could not have learned that without that experience.

I also learned today that, when you set an intention and pursue it authentically with your whole self, you can truly achieve a sense of accomplishment that boosts your confidence and gives you an incredible amount of momentum to move forward. In my 30 Day Deal, I set the intention to learn one to two new monologues. I did it because I knew there was an audition coming up for a theater company here in Chicago that I have auditioned for multiple times and that I would very much like to collaborate with in the future. I knew I needed a new monologue to present to them, so, when the 30 Day Deal came around, I said to myself, “I’m going to put this on here and I’m going to do this, so I can give myself an opportunity to win in that audition room whether or not the people casting like it or not.” So, in less than two weeks, I learned a new monologue from a play called Arcadia by Tom Stoppard on the suggestion of a former theater professor of mine who has shown great confidence in my abilities in the past. I walked into that room, made some very pleasant small talk (even managed to get a joke in before I started to make all of us feel comfortable) and presented my pieces. When I finished, the artistic director, who I am always happy to audition for because he’s incredibly intuitive and gives excellent notes, noted that he thought the play I took my second monologue from (The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh) was nice (in comparison to some of the very tragic outcomes presented in McDonagh’s other works) and then gave me an excellent note about the Arcadia monologue. Before I left, he said that he thought my choices in monologues were nice, and that the note he gave me about the Arcadia monologue would create an even better contrast from the choices I was already presenting in the Inishmaan piece. I walked out of that room knowing that I gave them my all AND that I had accomplished an intention that I challenged myself with two weeks ago.

That knowing brings with it a fantastic sense of confidence because, when you tell yourself that you’re going to do something and play full out in getting after it, you make it real for yourself, and that’s what we’re here to do. Learning is part of that process, yet I think people miss that learning is a process. You learn some things easily, you learn some things well, and you have difficulty learning other things, that’s life. However, if you can take how you learn from the things you learn easily and well and apply that process to those things that you have difficulty learning, that is when true achievement occurs.

These experiences and this journey have opened my mind to knowing that learning how to learn is the greatest process we can engage in. We’re all different, driven by different ideas, beliefs, outcomes and emotions, so it’s imperative that we direct our attention and our energy towards learning how to best live our lives and how we function. When I function at my best, then I can serve you to function at yours; it’s as simple as that.

Simple, not easy, though certainly well worth it all.



So, I missed the seven year anniversary of my first post here on Musings, which continues a ridiculously prophetic element of my first post and how I’ve treated this blog over the last seven years.

I had decided (then) that I did not want this blog to be some sort of appointment-keeping task, where I would regularly write out of obligation. In fact, I shared with a friend today that I felt that nobody ever got what they wanted by doing things out of forced obligation. However, I have recently realized that I have been missing an opportunity to exponentially boost the progress and learning I’ve done over the last three or so years by sharing my thoughts and processing here in this forum.

That is why you are reading this post on my blog right now; I made a promise to myself to make at least four contributions to this blog between December 1 and December 31 as a part of my personal 30 Day Deal.

What is the 30 Day Deal, you ask? It’s a jumpstart to the end of 2015 as introduced by my mentor, Michael Bernoff. When you listen to the replay of the free training call Michael did about the 30 Day Deal, you’ll find out that, the rest of the world gets excited about the dawning of a new year and we get caught up in a flurry of resolution-making and goal-setting because it’s the spirit of the turning of the calendar. However, what usually ends up happening is, when the high of the new year fades away, we lose that sense of momentum in the shared experience, and our resolutions and goals fall by the wayside. So, Michael invites you to make a deal with yourself to ask yourself, “what can I accomplish in the next 30 days?”  When you set that intention and accomplish it, you create an incredible amount of momentum for yourself, and what better time to do that then in this last month of the year, to give you an excellent start to 2016 without just riding the high of the collective new year’s frenzy?

I want you to focus on this right now; there is something amazing about you and what you’ve accomplished so far. As you’ll find out from Michael on the 30 Day Deal training call, it really comes down to this:

“You have mastered the art of getting to where it is that you are right now.” – Michael Bernoff

I want you to re-read that for a second; you, the wondrous human being that you are, have mastered something. That speaks to the truly phenomenal things of which you are capable. It reminds me of something I read in Using Your Brain for a Change by Richard Bandler (a mentor of Michael’s, and another part of my personal 30 Day Deal). He shares,

[P]eople work perfectly. I may not like what they do, or they may not like it, but they are able to do it again and again, systematically. It’s not that they’re broken; they’re just doing something different from what we, or they, want to have happen.” – Richard Bandler

So, if we already work perfectly, why do we have all of the rage and turmoil and suffering in the world that we see on a regular basis? Because there is a difference between working perfectly and working for the benefit of others. Every issue we encounter, from violence against others, to hateful rhetoric, to even just rudeness, is the result of fear. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to a perceived idea of lack of love and consideration. Everyone works perfectly because they have learned whatever behavior it is they have learned from their experiences and their feelings and they are able to replicate it regularly over and over again in every situation they encounter. What our task is is to help those people who make their decisions based on fear to make a new decision; we do that by showing them love, by learning to become a persuasive communicator, by helping them see the world in a different way, and by learning how to become a person who can help them make that new, love-based decision.

I’m very excited to share more of my experience with my 30 Day Deal here in this medium with you, and I invite you to check out the resources I shared and even create your own 30 Day Deal and share it in the comments below! I recently shared with another friend that, the more you share your intentions with others, the more real you make it for yourself, in thought and word. In fact, when you’ve shared it, you now have created an inherent sense of accountability from the people you’ve shared it with.

I am now accountable to you; will you be bold enough to join me?


headwinds & tailwinds

So, here I am writing a post that 1) I intended to write back in June (there’s a theme for ya) and 2) celebrates, to the day, the six year anniversary of my first post here.

I knew as the date approached that I should return here, especially given the fact that I haven’t visited since the beginning of the year.

And what a year it has been so far: I worked on three productions in seven months, then spent the latter three working on three more (I’m a glutton for punishment, I’d say :-D). I produced a concert to raise money for cancer research. I ventured off into the world, outside the walls of my family’s home, where they had been so gracious to let me live for the three years post-DePauw.

I feel like I’ve learned so much, and, yet, that I’ve only begun to learn, all at once.

As I reflect on the six years since I started this blog, I realize that I am a very different, almost newer, person. I’ve begun to crack the surface of who I am and what I believe, and developed an awareness and openness to receive that with a full heart and a free mind.

That said, yes, Fall still does remind me of smooth jazz.

Now, to the heart of my post: I entitled it as such because of a tremendous experience I had this past June (which is why I had intended to post then). I participated in a charity bike ride for cancer research in Toronto (and neighboring parts within Ontario) in honor of my fraternity brother, Christopher Alonzi, who lost his battle with leukemia this past December. I did the ride with another fraternity brother (and very dear friend of mine), Cameron Gindap.

Cameron and I, at the end of the Ride in Toronto, 145.58 miles later :-)

Cameron and I, at the end of the Ride in Toronto, 145.58 miles later 🙂

As we reflected on the ride together, I noted how, at certain times, the headwind (that is, wind blowing toward us as we rode) created a lot of resistance and made it harder to ride. Then I said, “It seemed like we never had a tailwind at all.” It was at this point that Cameron pointed out to me that, when you have a good tailwind behind you, although the riding is easier, you tend not to notice it.

“Wow,” I thought, “what a great analogy for our lives.”

Really, when you think about it, what is it that we focus our attention on in our lives? The hard stuff: I don’t make enough money, I don’t have what I want, I didn’t get that job/that date/that promotion. It’s a precarious place of scarcity that we’ve developed; as if we’re always riding right into a headwind.

Yet, when things are going well, do we take the time to acknowledge them, or do we take for granted the considerable tailwind we have benefiting us? This is where living your life in gratitude and prosperity comes forth. Recognize the blessings in your life, and the incredible momentum there is in their presence.

With a tailwind like that, this ride through the journey of our lives just got a whole lot easier (and more wonderful).

Much love & gratitude for six years,


Thus 2014 begins.

This is the time of year where the fateful (and/or dreaded) New Year’s resolution comes to mind; some people take this very seriously, and legitimately see the turning of the new year as an opportunity to make a change (or many changes) in their lives.

Then there’s the rest of us: I resolve to (work out more/eat better/live every day to the fullest/read that book from high school I never finished/start that novel/learn an instrument/ask that person out/so on and so forth).

I almost laughed when a friend of mine asked me what my New Year’s resolution was. I’ve basically written it off as a yearly exercise in futility. It always seems to be some ridiculously large overarching goal that you’re excited about for approximately 3 weeks and then, by February, you go, “Well, didn’t get that done; oh well!”

It wasn’t until I looked deeper at the word “resolution” that I decided that I’d write this post.

Resolution has a pretty standard definition: a firm decision to do or not to do something. However, it’s the root of that word that truly intrigues me and excites me for 2014.

That root, of course, is “resolute”: admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.

We all make resolutions with the understanding that it’s a goal, or a hope, or a wish. What it really is, though, is a promise, a purpose, a vision. Look at what you want from this life; listen to that wisdom deep inside you that gives you your motivation, your inspiration, your spark. It’s from that point at which you make your resolution; your truest self, your inner strength, or, as James Blunt so wonderfully puts it, your bonfire heart.

When you listen to that voice, making a resolution is easy, because you can throw the entire core of your being behind it, and you’ll love every second of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say that achieving that resolution would be easy. As I keep learning, anything worth doing on this rock isn’t easy; it takes sweat, tears, passion, love, support, effort and whole host of other things to work toward your goals. What I am saying, though, is that you can make a resolution that you are in alignment with, month after month, and go after with an admirable purpose, a gritty determination and an unwavering sensibility to do something amazing.

Last night, I rang in the New Year with a dear group of friends; we’ve all reached that point where, as one of them has so truly put it, we have to find our own traditions to put together so we can see one another. Just after midnight, I shared a poem by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, excerpted here:

“Do not go gentle into that good night./Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

As this New Year begins, seek light, both your own and the one that burns within each soul you encounter. Be resolute in your life, so that others see and embrace that resolution in their own lives. Thomas was talking about the light of day; I encourage you to rage against the dying of any light, my friends.

A happy and healthy New Year; let’s make 2014 the best yet 🙂


learn to do good

Never has my blog’s domain name applied to my situation more than it does now; truly, this is a post about making sense of life.

A week ago today, I received a phone call from my friend & fraternity brother Matt to inform me that our dear friend & brother Chris had lost his battle with leukemia.

I was stunned; Chris’ initial diagnosis was surprising, because he was one of the fittest people I knew. He was an avid bicyclist, even after a ridiculous accident during the 2010 Little 5 race at DePauw where he suffered a concussion because of the recklessness of another participant. Over the last year and a half, Chris had battled against the odds, and he had kicked their ass.

Unfortunately, his body just couldn’t keep fighting a battle that he had been winning. Losing a friend who is your age is extremely difficult, no matter how old or young you are, because you knew them. You remember their quips and mannerisms, their likes and dislikes, their smile and demeanor.

I thought about in what way I could process this loss in this medium, when I found the most fitting tribute to Chris I could possibly share.

The age we live in is a very different one, especially because of technology. There was no Facebook in days of yore; when someone passed away, most of what was left was memories and letters. Today, there’s a digital imprint that lasts past your earthly existence; it’s an extremely surreal occurrence, as you look at pictures and posts that have been shared from this person that you no longer can share those moments with. It’s because of this occurrence, however, that I’m able to share this, to honor the memory of this wonderful friend.

On December 12, 2008, I shared a post about how a family friend, Sammie Williams, had passed away. A few days later, Chris posted this on my Facebook.


I came upon this as I was with friends reminiscing about Chris, and I realized it spoke to the core of the kind of person he was. Chris read that post and was considerate enough to write to me about it. He didn’t have to do that, but he did it because that’s who he was. Chris was caring and compassionate without fail; he was always quick with a joke or a quip to lighten the mood and brighten your spirit.

This was a difficult week for everyone whose life was touched by this vibrant soul. On Saturday, many people gathered at the funeral service to honor and pay tribute to Chris, and the Biblical passage from the worship aid still resonates with me.

“Learn to do good, search for justice, help the oppressed.” – Isaiah 1:17

We miss you tremendously, Chris, and I deeply believe that, if the everyone in the world was a bit more like Chris Alonzi, the world would be a much more pleasant and loving place.