Thursday, May 23, 2013


Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

       In the coming weeks, thousands of graduates will don caps and gowns, receive a hard-earned diploma, and set sail on their idyllic journey to great places. They will no doubt thank all those who helped them in reaching this milestone: Google, Wikipedia, Starbucks and Mr. ATM to name a few.
    And they will be lathered in accolades, pats on the back and high-fives. The path to graduation will be like playing Candy land – frothy, and laden with fluffy, artificially sweetened pieces of advice. Enjoy every last bite of the sugar-coated pearls of wisdom.
And after the last sip of your iced mocha, marinate on this:

    No one owes you a thing. Oh sure, your parents may be picking up the tuition tab for now (which may be closed before your first Incomplete), but you are not ENTITLED to anything. Carve your path in life by wanting what you already have, not having everything you want. Living each day from a place of immense gratitude and thankfulness will lower your blood pressure, extend your life, improve your health and wellness, and attract others to you like a magnet.

    Appreciate where you are right now. You may never get that dream job, but find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Remember, in this job market tighter than Spanx, don’t give up or consider certain employment beneath you. Manage what little money you have and make it last. Don’t contribute to the national debt, but pay your debt to your community. Invest in making your corner of the world better, safer and nicer.

   Make the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ part of your daily vocabulary. Like magic, you will be amazed at the doors they will help open for you. In a world increasingly void of civility and thoughtfulness, being polite and courteous to others will always give you an advantage.

  Discover what moves you, inspires you and brings out the best in you, and then chase this passion to the ends of the earth. What you are passionate about will define you, not the leased luxury car you think you must drive or the crib in the fancy zip code where you think you should reside.

   Living an honest life of purpose will take leaps of faith and involve risk-taking. If you play life safe, you will never truly know what you are capable of doing, or feeling. Your true success will not be measured just by all your wins and getting what you want, but by your losses and disappointments as well. Failing IS succeeding, if you find the lesson to be learned in the experience and don’t let it be a lesson lost.

   Life is not easy. In fact, it will be downright hard when you least expect it. But it will always beat the six-feet-under alternative. Rest your faith in a higher power.

   Don’t marry the first person who sweeps you off your feet. Romance and butterflies in your stomach have a shelf life shorter than a Taylor Swift song; Build your future on a bedrock of commitment, respect and shared values with someone you see yourself sitting side by side with in wheelchairs in a nursing home someday.

   Give back, each and every day, in big or small ways. Whether it is holding the door for an elderly person, letting the shopper with just one item leap ahead of you, or volunteering for a non-profit, giving of yourself, your time and talents isn’t for others to do. It is part of your unspoken contract with growing up and becoming a mature adult.

   Reading may no longer be mandatory, but never stop. Read everything you can get your hands on. The more you read, the more you know, the better you are able to converse, and the more interesting you become to others.

   Enjoy the obstacle course that your life will become. That’s right, the student loans, the unreasonable professor, the selfish roommate. You’re not going to be able to rewind your journey like a television episode on demand. ALL of it will become the fabric of your life!

   And finally, laugh often. In almost every circumstance veiled by uncertainty or angst, there will be slivers of something worth laughing at. Laugh at yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously. Not only is it the best medicine, but it is much cheaper than prescriptions.

    As beloved Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel writes in Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, life really is a ‘Great Balancing Act’. Wherever you go and whatever you do up there on the high wire of life, be authentically you, and not someone you think others should see. Take ownership of your actions and all of their consequences. In doing so, you will strike the perfect balance, and what really ‘Manners A lot’!

Monday, May 20, 2013


    I don't have a horse in tomorrow's special election race to fill the 16th California Senate seat vacated early by Michael Rubio. But from my perch in the grandstands of the 3rd District, I find the spectacle that is Leticia Perez's campaign really bad form. I kept thinking, i'm missing pieces to this puzzle. There must be something more to her decision, besides 'seizing opportunity', that would make it okay in her mind to court, seemingly so sincerely, the voters of Kern County's 5th District last year, rake in thousands of dollars in contributions, and then just a few months into the gig have a sudden change of heart when a better looking 'suitor' came calling. 
     But if there is a greater, authentic justification, I haven't found it. And i've looked. I've really tried.
    Last year, in announcing her run for supervisor, candidate Perez said the voters of the 5th District should not pick a supervisor who used “political loopholes”, a reference to her opponent, Karen Goh, who was appointed to the seat by former Governor Schwarzenegger.
   Perez argued that voters should judge the candidates “by how deep the roots of a candidate reach into the earth of the district.”
   Political loopholes look a lot like rungs on the ladders eager politicians like Ms. Perez can't keep from climbing. And as for those roots in the 'earth of the district', sorry 5th District residents, apparently they just didn't run deep enough.
   Whatever happened to saying what you MEAN, and meaning what you SAY?  12 months ago your performance of someone anxious to go to bat for the little people of the 5th District earned you the job.  If you meant it then, shouldn't you have felt the same way for the duration of the term?
    Maybe what you mean to say now is that if you are elected to serve in the 16th Senate District, 16th Senate District residents may find themselves in the same boat as your current constituents, should a congressional seat, a Presidential appointment, or a job at Chevron roll across the conveyor belt of her political ambitions. They have no real assurances, other than Perez's word (and I'm not sure how much of that you can take to the bank) that she's any more comitted to you than she said she would be to the voters of the 5th District of Kern County. Her win may become your loss if a more attractive 'opportunity' comes calling.
Should Perez be defeated, the residents of Kern's 5th District, the ones in the rear-view mirror of her short-sighted political ambition, will be stuck with someone who apparently doesn't want to be in a long-term, committed relationship with them for the duration of the term. Her loss will be yours as well.
    In an age when distrust of politicians and the political process is at an all time high, wouldn't it be refreshing if emerging public servants with great promise and the potential for years of service SAID what they meant, and MEANT what they said?  Afterall, it 'Manners A lot'! 

Friday, May 10, 2013


    Among my mother Socorro Munoz Kimble's many talents, was her creativity in the kitchen.  So much so, that in 1987 she co-authored the book "Mexican Desserts...the Sweet Side of Mexican Cooking". Born in Auguascalientes, Mexico, she emigrated to this country as a child with her sweet tooth intact.
   She could easily have written about the wonderful world of tortillas or having fun with tequilla.  But given her lifelong affinity for sweets, it was only fitting that she chose to shine a spotlight on the oft-overlooked end of the Mexican meal.
      Those ingredients in her recipes, rich staples of her Mexican culture, made for some mouthwatering desserts, and in honor of Mother's Day, give me some food for thought for baking a recipe of life and love:
     1.  Sugar.  The sweetness of life may come disguised as brown sugar or honey, or even powdered, but regardless of its form, it should be enjoyed and appreciated. It can be found in the littlest of things, the smallest of acts, the shortest of sentiments, like "I Love You", but its purity should never be taken for granted. And it will always off-set the sour moments that will be inevitable.
     2.  Spice.  Always add a dash or two of spice to one's life. Yours, your friends and family. Just as cinnamon, nutmeg and chili powder evoke uniquely different responses, spice up your interactions with the people in your life, the places you visit, and the experiences that you heap onto life's plate. 
      3.  Lemon Rind. Without a little sour taste or bitterness, life would be simply bland.  It is a necessary ingredient for building strong spirits and characters of beauty.
     4.  Coffee. Life should be lived caffinated. Don't let the decaffinated version pass you by. Breathe deeply, love passionately, laugh heartily and soak up life like a sponge whatever rolls your way.
     5.  Warm Water. Without this binding agent, many recipes would fall flat. We will all encounter frigidly cold shoulders, and cold-hearted souls, but the warmth of a smile, an embrace or gesture will bind us to one another in ways we are intended to be.

     Stir all these ingredients together, bake them in the oven of your heart forever, and savor the marinade of a mother's recipe of love.  Afterall, ItMannersAlot!  Happy Mother's Day!