Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Crood Thoughts for Stimulating Happiness

It’s the middle of summer in Arizona and I’m hot and frustrated. A walk in nature would help, but unless I pour a bucket of water on my head and time my jaunt from midnight to 4 a.m. I’m likely to suffer heat exhaustion.

Last year I lived in the Pacific Northwest so I thought I’d revisit a blog from my experience there. Guess what? I was frustrated with the rain. After writing the first draft of this story I decided against revisiting the subject, but feel free to revisit my older posts. I have more than 300 of them.

But back to the present.

When it is so stifling hot, the last thing I want to do is go outside, but I really needed a change of scene. So I asked my daughter, Alicia, and granddaughters Rosannah and Briannah, if I could treat them to an afternoon at the movies. They happily agreed. We went to see The Croods. This cave family had to deal with harsh environments as well. It was funny, touching and a visual delight. There are a few scary moments too.

My most frightening observation was not part of the plot. It was the realization that the character I identified with the most was the old grandma (voiced superbly by Cloris Leachman.)

Her famous tagline was “still alive.” She would announce this statement to the chagrin of her son-in-law. I can only imagine this thought is NOT shared by Greg and Jamie (my daughter’s mates) but if it is, they would be too polite (or scared) to admit it. If experience has taught them anything it’s never piss off an old lady.

Anyway, we enjoyed the movie, spent a little time at the mall, and returned safely home. I went back to working on the computer and my daughter said the girls played happily together in their rooms. I think the family unity message had a positive effect on them.
Laughing during the movie, spending time with my family and changing my surroundings did a lot for my attitude as well. In an ideal world, I would have taken a walk, either by myself or with Rosannah and Briannah in tow. However, as in the movie, the outdoors can be a dangerous place (sun stroke anyone?) As also brought to light in the movie, sometimes you have to change the old thought patterns and come up with a new idea. While going to a movie is hardly an original thought, it became a welcome detour from my daily routine.

Whether we live in a harsh desert climate or a soggy forest, we can’t change the weather. However, we do have the ability to change our minds and attitudes. If we need a little help we can watch a funny movie or inspiring messages from self-help lecturers on you tube. In fact if you want to see some humorous insights from me, please visit


Also, because I like a sale as much as the next person, I’m offering one of my own. You can get my ebook, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, for half price. The ebook, normally $6.99, will be offered for $3.50 through July 6. Log on to smashwords.com and find Erase Negativity. When you go to purchase it enter the code LU574. The paperback version will be discounted from $14.99 to $10 plus shipping for those who contact me directly by responding to this blog or emailing me through this blog.

Happy reading.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Tribute to My Nutty Dad

I’ve been thinking about my dad lately. Father’s Day is here and even though my pop died more than 17 years, I still think about what kind of gift he might like to have for Father’s Day.

Dad had a weird sense of humor and wasn’t particularly helpful when we asked him for gift suggestions. Each year it was the same.

Me: “Dad, what do you want for Father’s Day?”

Dad: “A new butt. Mine’s cracked.”

This was the same response for Christmas, birthdays and other gift-giving occasions. I don’t know which was sillier, his corny response or the fact that my siblings and I continued to ask the same question.

That is not to say that we didn’t come up with some good gifts over the years. My brothers Terry and Dennis took him to ball games, my older sister , Diane, bought tickets so he and mom could go out to a show, my sister, Tina’s fiancĂ© bought him a new television and VCR (back when the technology was new.) My sister-in-law, Joannie, always bought him a new pair of slippers. Dad wore slippers all the time so he needed replacements on a regular basis.

However, the gift that I think he enjoyed the most was a nutcracker my spouse, John, and I bought him. It wasn’t any ole nutcracker. This little marvel held the nut in place and a weight (released from a rubber-band-type launcher) cracked the pecans perfectly in half.

My dad loved nuts and we had three pecan trees in the yard. Having grown up in the heart of Chicago but probably being a country boy at heart, my dad loved it that he could go outside, gather nuts and pick fruit (especially citrus) and make something from scratch. Even during his years of dementia he never tired of making fresh squeezed lemonade or cracking a bowl full of pecans.

What made this gift special is it was directly related to his passion. Now cracking nuts is not MY passion, but it was something my dad loved to do. So rather than buy him Old Spice or another useless tie, we hit the mark with the nut cracker that year.

But now that my dad is gone, I still think of how I might have done things differently. What my father (and I think most fathers) want is to spend quality time with their children. As we get older we have the money to purchase bigger and better things, but finding the time to spend the day with dad is sometimes more difficult than cracking a nut without a nut cracker. It makes me think of the Harry Chapin song, “Cats in the Cradle” song chronicling the busy life of a father and son.

However, I found a simple answer while promoting my clients, International Academy of Hair Design, ITS Academy of Beauty, Hair Benders and Olympian University. They have a father/son special for TWO haircuts for $10. The regular price is $8 each. Here is a link to the Arizona press release, but the same deal is in effect at all their schools in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Florida.


You can also visit their website www.BeautySchoolRocks.com.

It can be difficult to find the time to spend an entire evening or afternoon with dad, but we all need to have our hair cut. Why not ask dad to come and join you for a simple errand? It could be a trip to the post office, a walk to the store, or you could even ask your pop to ride shot gun while you pick up the kids from school. The added bonus to the haircut idea is it shows dad that you know how to manage your money wisely. I don’t know about your father, but my dad would have been very pleased to see that I knew a good deal when I saw one.

I miss my dad, but when I think of the corny things he used to say, it still makes me smile. I remember an anecdote last year. I was helping my granddaughter with her toilet training. She goes to preschool and she is obsessed with naming things. She pointed to her butt and said, “What’s my butt’s name?” I told her “Briannah’s butt.” If she would have said “I want a new one, mine’s cracked” I would know that my dad had reincarnated back into our lives again. Even still, it’s nice to know the little nut didn’t fall far from the tree.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Half Off Happiness

Happiness is half off. As co-authors of the book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, Jackie and I are offering 50% off the cover price of our popular, self-help ebook. We also offering discounts to organizations booking presentations on the Erase Negativity topic.
The ebook, normally $6.99, will be offered for $3.50 through July 6. Customers must log on to http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/11183 and enter the code LU574. The paperback version will be discounted from $14.99 to $10 plus shipping for those who contact the distributor directly at www.erasenegativity.com.
“They say you can’t put a price on happiness, but you can offer discounts to help the process along,” said Marks. “For those who cannot afford to purchase the book, I’m encouraging folks to request their local libraries to carry it and I will offer discounts to them as well.”

Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within is a practical guide on how to reduce negativity and embrace happiness. From meth addicts to multi-millionaires, the book offers powerful experiences of individuals who have faced dramatic challenges, but did not lose hope. Using these compelling biographies, as well as practical advice and simple exercises, the reader is guided on an internal journey toward adopting a more joyful way to live.

In addition to being an author, Marks is the president of Marks Public Relations, a public relations agency specializing in the promotion of small businesses. The award-winning journalist, comedy writer and author graduated with honors from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and has published numerous articles and stories in local, regional and national publications.
For more information call MPR at 480-664-3004 or email markspr@cox.net.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Something to Laugh About

I’m a reformed joker. My gag-telling abilities used to make me the life of the party, but sadly jokes seem to be relegated to the internet these days. Now I’m a rusty. My humor is limited to things I can write about.

The advantage of writing comedy, as opposed to performing it, is you get a chance to fix potential problems without having to worry about someone lobbing a tomato at your head. Although with the cost of fresh produce, perhaps I could save a few bucks and take a basket on stage with me instead of heading off to the local grocery store.
But I digress.

My dream for many years was to write for sitcoms. It started when I was a kid watching reruns of the Dick Van Dyke show. Although Rob Petrie, Sally Rogers and Buddy Sorrell wrote for a fictional comedy/variety show, I was thrilled to learn that comedy writing was a legitimate career.

Unfortunately, I lived in Arizona, not Los Angeles (or even Manhattan where the fictional Alan Brady Show was aired) so my dream of writing for television took a detour. Instead I took a traditional route in writing and pursued a degree in journalism. However, whether I was working my way through school as a waitress at Red Lobster or landed my first job as a public relations coordinator for the City of Mesa’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Division, I found a way to write humorous skits for special events and celebrations. Some were spoofs from Saturday Night Live, others satirized city employees, but all of the humorous productions were a big hit with the audience. Even in my spiritual life as a Buddhist with SGI-USA, I penned skits that used characters in popular television shows to satirize philosophical messages.

One day I took a trip to LA to scout out the area and see what I would need to do to pursue my television-writing career in earnest. I chatted with a successful sitcom writer and she informed me that it was nearly impossible to work as a sitcom writing in Hollywood after you reached your 40th birthday. She suggested I turn my attention to screenwriting instead. I followed her advice. I’ve written numerous screenplays, but hadn’t written a television episode for a long time. Using logic, rather than tapping into any internal sources of empowerment, I decided to discontinue my goal of writing for a sitcom. This decision took a toll on my psyche. A little piece of me died with the shelving of this dream.

Then one day a concept for an original television show crept into my sleepy, little brain. Unlike other fleeting notions, this one was persistent. I had no choice but to create characters, develop a clever plot and tap the whole thing out on my computer. I didn’t know if my script would find a home, but I was so happy to write comedy again that I didn’t care.

Ironically, I learned about a contest for original pilots and was getting ready to enter. However, while I was doing research I learned about another contest. This one called for writing a spec script for an existing show. My daughter had suggested Modern Family. I watched numerous episodes several times, examined the scripts, and came to know the characters as if they were members of my own goofy family.

The bottom line is I came up with plausible ideas for an episode, had a few friends that were familiar with the show vet it, and I mailed my creation off to be judged. I did all this in the matter of three weeks. To be honest, two months ago I wouldn’t have embarked on this expedition. However, I listened to the inspirational words of Linda Johnson, a national women’s division leader for SGI-USA, and realized I was limiting my potential.

I also reminded myself of a few helpful hints from Chapter 9 of a book written by me and my friend and co-author Jacqueline Howard. Here are a few tips I’d like to share.


•Clear your mind of negativity and imagine what you really want your life to be like. Allow yourself to feel the joy of realizing your dream.
•Write your negative beliefs on a piece of paper. Read it aloud. Burn a candle, light incense or perform some sort of ceremony, then burn the paper. As the paper burns say aloud. “These statements are no longer true. I release these lies to the universe.” Feel free to allow yourself a moment of sadness. Many individuals cry as they allow these negative thoughts to incinerate.


•Design a rough plan of what you wish to create. The universe will take care of the details, but you have to have an idea of what you want.
•Once you have your idea in place, write or draw the steps you will need to achieve it. This could be, taking a class, reading books or doing research on the internet. Visualizing is fine, but you have to take some sort of action to kick things into gear.
•No matter how rough things are, remain open to the idea that wonderful things can happen.
•Never, ever, give up on your dreams.

It would be great if this story had a fairy tale ending and I could report that I was selected in this program, but the truth is none of the applicants will know anything for several months. But it doesn’t matter because I feel that I already won. I challenged my doubt (and even common knowledge about Hollywood and ageism) quickly created something I’m proud of and I got my script in the mail before the deadline. And that is a victory in itself!