Profoundly Grateful

Thank you Heart

I am profoundly grateful and thankful that my parents did not make me play sports as a kid.

Growing up in Portage, MI, a town of about 50,000 people in Southwest Michigan, boys played sports.  You went to the AYSO or South Portage Little League sign up on Saturday morning, picked up your box of World’s Finest Chocolate bars to sell, and you were a “member” of the stereotypical boy club.  I guess the next step of membership was getting your uniform.  To me that was the best part!  I fondly remember my AYSO soccer uniform, white on one side and navy on the other.  Reversible!  Fancy!  Though my storied sports career only spanned two seasons, fall for soccer and spring for t-ball, when I was 7 or 8 years old, I’m glad my parents had me try it out and I’m thankful beyond measure that they didn’t make me continue.


I was recently at a training workshop and the ice breaker the first morning was a name game.  It was that morning that I actually got the idea for this post.  We were to tell the story behind our name.  The name game that day was very different from the name game the first day of acting class when I was 8 or 9 years old, but it took me right back to that place.  It was a very excited and grateful place because my parents found something else for me to try, acting!!  Let’s be real, I’m not sure why that wasn’t the first thing they suggested I do.  Look how natural the microphone(or a wooden spoon as a mic) are in my hand as a child.  Please also note the fashionista in training with suspenders and then THOSE shorts coupled with cowboy boots!  I know for sure that I got that microphone and the boots for my 5th birthday!  It was my GOLDEN Birthday!


But I remember that acting class fondly.  I remember that I chose the monkey to represent me.  We had to choose an animal that started with the first letter of our name.  I remember doing face painting and improvisation and all sorts of other fun acting things.  Man, I was far more suited for that type of thing than sports.  Organizing oranges for halftime at soccer and picking grass were my favorite things to do.  I can remember begging my soccer coach not to put me in.  I hated it.  And for baseball my mom and dad tell stories of being afraid I’d get hit in the head with a fly ball because I was out in the outfield, sitting down, playing with the grass.  Was it my ADD or my hatred of sports?  Either way, I had better things to do.


XOXO to my Mom and Dad for their love and support.  You are the best!


What I know for sure is that in high school I was able to find my “club” in marching band.  I loved those days. I loved band camp and Wednesday night rehearsals.  Arriving early on Wednesday nights was common just so I could socialize with others.  Looking back, finding a place, a group I fit in with was huge in my development.  So was playing soccer and baseball and going to acting class.  Every experience we have in life points us in the direction of where we need to go.  We definitely do not see it at the time, but take a moment to look back on the fun times, the hard times, the crazy times, the dark times and think about it.  Are you where you are now because of something that came out of those times?  I bet the answer is yes.  Although it wasn’t the social norm, I am where I am today because I chose not to play football after school, rather I went to a neighbor girls house and put roller skating and flag shows together to be performed in her garage.  I remember riding my bike so fast past my childhood best friend’s house where the football game was going on, hoping no one would see me.  The boys in my neighborhood could probably have cared less, they were great guys who always treated me well, but they knew I had different interest.  And that is what I’m talking about here.  Had my mom and dad not picked up on my varied interests and put me in an acting class at age 9, would I have had the confidence at age 13 to say, “no, I’m not playing football with you guys, I’m going to go put a show together”?  The answer is probably no.

My parents never told me I couldn’t play dress up, although my mom’s old majorette skirt disappeared at age 4 and I’m still sad about that! One of my first memories was scouring, SCOURING the house in search of that skirt.  I used to love dancing around to Barbara Mandrell.


The infamous skirt and I’m pretty sure that is a microphone in my hand and oh yes, gym socks!!

But isn’t it crazy that even at age 4 I knew I wasn’t supposed to do that and I never asked where the skirt disappeared to.  My parents never stopped me from laying in front of the stereo on Sunday mornings listening to four hours of American Top 40 or watching Star Search on Saturday AND Sunday(the same episode twice).  We got a family VCR for Christmas in 1986.  My dad actually suggested that, “you might like to tape this show, Miss USA, tonight.”  See Dad, you knew something even back when I was 10.  He’s to credit for my vast pageant knowledge from 1987-1997.   I can’t tell you how many people I scare with that knowledge, or connect with actually.  Who knows what all the little things we pick up on along the way do for our development, but I’m certain that although I felt like I had to hide a lot of my interests growing up, my house was always a safe space to express myself.  I so deeply believe that parents are just trying their best to raise decent human beings who can flourish in this world.  Thank you Mom and Dad for allowing me to take my own path.  At 38, I think I’m flourishing!

You Are Not Alone

I was recently in a training and I have no idea why, but the phrase You Are Not Alone came to mind.  It’s a mystery where this came from.  You might instantly think about the Michael Jackson song from HIStory or that creepy video with then wife, Lisa Marie Presley.  Or more seriously, you might think about times you are alone or feel alone.  Feeling alone, loneliness, are they the same?  Different?  I myself am someone who needs very little alone time.  An hour or two a week is fine by me.  I don’t often feel the need of taking a break from others.  This might be why, during a break-up, I felt so lonely.  Or did I feel alone?  What I did then for myself and what I see now, well over a year later, is that we are never alone.  You Are NOT Alone.


By the encouragement of my friend Jeremy, during the summer of 2013, I started taking myself to brunch after Saturday morning long runs.  This turned into an almost weekly venture during last year’s horrendous winter.  During those times, going home and being at home was not a happy place for me.  I did not want to be there, so I would take my Entertainment Weekly magazine to one of my favorite brunch spots, typically Taste of Heaven or Nookies, and I would boldly say, “Table for one” or “Just me today” and I would sit, by myself.  However, I was never alone.  I had my magazine and my coffee, things that bring happiness to me.  I had the wait staff who grew to recognize me.  One time my waiter even bought me breakfast.  Taste of Heaven became my place, “where everybody knows your name.”  Most of all, I had all the other people in the restaurant with me.  Some would be laughing with friends and others, like me, were simply enjoying something they loved: food, coffee, reading, etc.  I learned that being “alone” does not mean you are alone or lonely.  I grew to love those Saturday morning dates with myself, my coffee, my magazine, and my other brunch lovers.  It was something that put me out into the Universe to say, here I am.  It’s me, Matty, and I’m living my life.  If someone wants to join me, that would be lovely, but I can do this on my own too.  I am not alone.


All during this enlightening time of my life I also started a daily event, meditation.  Deepak Chopra and Oprah have a meditation series that is free for 21 days, then you can buy it.  I believe they have about five in their series.  On my birthday in 2013 the first of these meditation series began.  I fell in love with the practice of meditation.  Getting up at 5:30 a.m. weekdays was an all new experience.  Some of the meditations were great and super meaningful, while others did not connect with me as much.  But I loved the routine and the waking to about 30 minutes of quiet time before I would get out of bed.  To this day I still try to meditate, though I do not do it nearly as often as I would like.  It is another one of those things that I believe awakened me to the spirituality of the Universe.  Here I am.  It’s me, Matty, and I’m living my life.  Recently in this series of meditations, Energy of Attraction, Oprah said, “Like attracts like.  You attract who you are.  Change your energy and you can change your entire experience of the world.  Change your intention and you change your path.”  I honestly believe that during that dark period of my life, finding something like meditation to connect me with the Universe was a changing force in my life.  It gave me structure, which I desperately needed in order to put one foot in front of the other.  It also gave me hope; hope that the Universe would see me out there trying and would feel my energy.

“You always have a place here, on your mat.”

On a particularly rough day last fall I remember getting the text from my friend Sarah that said, “You always have a place here, on your mat.”  Her yoga instructor said that quote at the end of practice.  It now always means something to me.  I picked up the practice of yoga about a year and a half ago.  Some nights, during the hellish winter of 2014, I would take a 4:30 Sculpt class and a 6:00 CorePower 2 class.  Part of the reason was that it was always 80 or more degrees warmer in the studio than outside.  The other part was that I did not want to be home.  I did everything in my power to not be home alone.  If I wasn’t out with friends for dinner I would go to yoga and just stay.  My yoga mat is such a safe place for me.  I am now in a much different place in life, but I keep my yoga practice going.  I actually missed yoga during the 2014 marathon training season.  I love that I am back to nearly daily practice.  For me, yoga is an intense workout, but it is also spiritual, a time for me to find strength in myself.  It is a time to find space between me and my day, me and the outside world.  It is a time for me on my mat.  I never feel alone with yoga because in my mind it connects me with the Universe.  It puts my energy out there for all to feel.  Here I am.  It’s me, Matty, and I’m living my life.  Just remember that your time on your mat is for you.  You are never alone because you have yourself!


“And I’ve learned

That we must look inside our hearts

To find a world full of love”

What does lonely feel like?  What does feeling alone feel like?  How does feeling alone in an empty room differ from feeling alone in a room full of people?  What I know for sure is that it feels all different for all of us.  I am grateful to have learned even a little bit about looking inside my heart and knowing the difference for me between feeling alone and feeling lonely.  However you are feeling, take the steps to get out there.  Say YES! to Life.  Do things that make you happy like yoga or meditation or taking yourself to brunch.  Watch Whitney Houston videos, like me.  Go watch a great film.  Go sit at a bar, grab a drink and chat with the bartender or chat with other people sitting there.  You are not alone.  You are never alone, but you might have to take a risk once and a while to put yourself out there.  Put your energy out in the Universe and I promise you this, it will come back in return.  That I know for sure!


You might also like my blog post, “Single? You Don’t Have to Be Alone”: