And So It Goes

2014-07-14-opendoorbluesky1“When one door closes, another one opens.” Isn’t that what they say? I happen to believe this sentiment. I happen to believe it so deeply that sometimes I feel like it gets in the way of me actually achieving my goals. But every once in a while a door closes and you think to yourself, “It wasn’t time for that door to close. That door was supposed to stay open and I was supposed to walk right through!” You are ready. You’re just polishing. You’re putting the finishing touches on whatever you needed to get done. You were saying your goodbyes to some of those things in life that you were finally willing to let go. Everything is now neatly in its place and it’s time to make your move. That door swings wide open and you flash a big smile – that next step, that sure thing, has never felt better. And then it happens… the door closes. Unexpectedly. Without warning, you are shut out from the next phase. That thing – that looked so promising is now suddenly no longer within your grasp. So far from it actually, that you begin to question what it was you even saw in the thing. You mourn the loss of whatever it is – a relationship, a great job opportunity, you’re team winning the Super Bowl. And mourn this loss you should. There is one thing, however, to which you must pay attention. That there will never be a clearer moment in your life.

No matter what the situation (a great job slips through your fingers; that relationship just doesn’t work out; or I was sure this was OUR year) you WILL ask yourself the question: “How badly do I want it?” Why is this question so important (and you simply must be more honest with yourself than you’ve ever been)? Because you now have the opportunity to get clear. Here’s the thing that you need to take from this clarifying moment. This test of resolve does not mean that this thing is gone forever. In fact, it does not mean it is gone at all. That “thing,” whatever it may be, is still there. The closing door is an illusion to which we all too often succumb because we are sure, WE ARE SURE that it’s OUR time. But this “thing” is not actually a physical thing at all. The thing is your sense of purpose. The thing is the validity that you are someone who matters (I will save you the suspense, you matter!). And when you realize that you do matter and you get clear about that sense of purpose, you then find yourself in a much better position than you thought you were before. You have knocked that door square off it’s hinges! That shit is not closing on me now.

There is a reason that “successful” people are “successful.” When you lose something important, aside from the heartache, you realize how badly you actually want the thing; you realize your sense of purpose. Success is realizing this sense of purpose. Now, I want to be clear here for a moment, purpose does not live in a certain thing. Purpose is personal power. This moment of clarity forces us into that power. Once we embrace that power, and get clear about that power certain obstacles disappear. Obstacles only reappear when there is something that we don’t understand about our purpose. For instance, seeing past the heartbreak of loss of purpose is without a doubt the hardest part in all of this.

We also need to realize that we don’t have power OVER the things we want or another person. When we try to assert power over the things we want, this continues to create doors. We only have power over ourselves, our reactions, and our commitment. But when you embrace that power, you then take the steps necessary to achieve success. They are one in the same. Sadly, we as a society, are uber-focused on time, and time really doesn’t factor into this (not like we think it does). The factor that matters, I think, is readiness for lack of a better term. What I mean is, there is no certain age that reflects where we should be in our lives. So, for those of you with your trajectories and your five year plans, lighten up just a little. I’m not criticizing, because it is finally becoming clear to me how important goal setting actually is. My point is this, holding on too tightly to these goals actually creates more obstacles. Again, trying to assert power over the thing only puts us further away from the thing. When we set our goals and understand our goals and can be flexible in our goals, that is when we achieve success. For instance, when one thing leads to another and your priorities change, you have to embrace that. That’s a good thing. That’s growth. This life is, in some ways, a choose your own adventure, and then you get lost in the journey. But check in every once in a while and make sure that you are staying true to you. Because we can get lost on the path. We can succumb to material needs like money and status and things. And when we do succumb to material things, then we actually step out of power. I do feel like we can have those things as long as we living a life indicative of who we really are; as long as we continue to embrace our purpose and our personal power.

And if we continue to embrace our purpose then we will see that when one door opens, all of the doors will open!



“Every obstacle is an opportunity. Every obstacle is a test.” Dr. Wayne Dyer


Dear Mom,

MeAndMomPenance0001Happy Mother’s Day. I don’t say it enough. Every year at this time I miss you, but I almost never really pay my respects to you the way that I should. I generally try to avoid this day to some degree; pretending that I forget that it is even Mother’s Day. The truth is, I just miss you. You brought me into this world and I have never told you how truly grateful I am for that. I am so grateful. I am so grateful for the love, support and respect that you showed me as a child.

You taught me common sense, you taught me how to be resourceful and to taught me how to respect others. Your sense of humor was dry but you loved to laugh. I never for a moment EVER doubted your love for me. You were certainly never shy about telling me that you loved me. No you weren’t always the most affectionate person (it’s OK though, because dad was :-)), but your love for your family was clear. After all, you did have 6 of us. And at least one of us, I know, was quite a surprise.

You fed us, you nurtured us and you came to our wrestling matches and our soccer games. You taught us to never take family for granted. What you did was no easy feat and yet you could make it seem effortless. You weren’t overprotective and yet you knew exactly when to step in if something was not right for your child. During my lifetime you dealt with 5 adolescents/young adults, a new born, a sick mother, a full time job and a husband who had multiple health problems. And at the very end, you had an extremely brave battle with lung cancer. You are a super hero! You were tough and you taught us how to be tough. And even though you are gone from this world, I have never gone a day without knowing that you are right here beside me – beside all of us! I have no doubt that you are the inspiration that keeps us all going when times are hard.

You’ve been gone now for 22 years. But your spirit lives on. It lives on in your family and friends and in everyone you’ve touched with your charm, your wit, and your down to earth sensibility. I am who I am today because of you and I could not mean that more literally! Thank you, mom, for everything that you have given me.

I love you!




This is it guys. HKSMLProcrastinationThis is the blog post that I really did not want to write. So I thought I would write a little about perhaps one of my biggest “Achilles’ heels,” resistance. And resistance leads to procrastination. After all this talk about commitment and living your dreams and staying true to yourself and publishing this thing on Mondays, here I am, towing the line of hypocrisy. There are plenty of other things that I could be doing. Important things. I have music to learn. I have a business to run. Marble City Opera just got done with one show and we are about to get started with production on the next show. I am anxious, I am grumpy and I am feeling a little bit sad. And I DO NOT want to write this post. But I am going to and it is going to be good.

I have a habit of putting things off. I believe people call it procrastination. I do not like to do things on time. I do not like being on time. I have been known to call it “challenging other people’s concept of time.” Somehow, I feel like that absolves me of being on time. I have also referred to deadlines as “guidelines.” Basically if you want me to show up on time, you should probably tell me to be there 15-3o minutes ahead of time. If you need me to finish a project on time, you should probably tell me it’s due a week before it actually is.

I believe that as a society we are incredibly obsessed with time. Why is it so important that we are “on time?” I am actually asking that question. I don’t know the answer and here’s a secret, I am not really sure why I am so against it. But I am against it. I can’t tell you the feeling of resistance that pulses through my veins when I do not want to do something or when I am feeling just a little bit bad. I continually have this overwhelming desire to do things when I want to do them not when I have to. Hence this post happening on a Thursday when I have so ardently promised that it would happen every Monday. Then again, I think the point of this for me, is the challenge. After all, I am not getting paid to write this, I am doing this for me and I am doing this to share my perspective. So in some ways it’s even more important that I keep my promises. And that is why, even though it’s 3 days late, I am committed to writing this one.

But aren’t we all trying to manipulate and even fight time just a little? If you’re always early, you are probably just a little paranoid about disappointing the status quo. And that guy (me) who is always late makes you nuts. Time is money and if you aren’t there “on time” you may have well thrown a wrench in that all important linear progression. And if you are always late, you are probably just a little too resistant to the status quo. And my late friends, when WE are late we make it seem that other people’s time is not as valuable as ours. And, of course, we are not trying to intentionally offend anyone, but know that we are. And if keeping a relationship alive means being on time, then tell yourself to be there 15 minutes early. It does work. However, to all of you perpetually punctual people out there, if you happen to be meeting with someone whom you know has a chronic case of lateness then take your time getting there; Take a minute to “smell the roses” as they say. Help yourself to avoid disappointment by not putting such value on timeliness especially if you know that who you are meeting has a propensity for tardiness. I promise if he has to wait a few minutes for you to show up, he’ll be just fine. In fact, he may even be impressed. I know that on the rare occasion when I am on time and someone else is late, I have no place to be upset about that person’s disregard for minutes and seconds.

I guess what I am beginning to realize is that time is really an agreement. Time is the reason that we have relationships. It is the reason that we meet certain people when we do. Maybe you’ve fallen in love and ended up spending the rest of your life with someone. Well what if you had changed 1 second along that road to meeting that person… You may not have made the move that helped you make the decision to put you in the place at the right time to meet that amazing human being. Is that fate? Or is that choice? Well that’s one of the great questions of our existence, isn’t it? This is where I trust time, and late or early, we will continually be where we need to be when we need to be there. And inevitably, someone will be waiting!

That being said, I have come to appreciate punctuality in others and instead of constantly enforcing my own rules about time, I promise that I am continually working hard to respect everyone else’s idea of time. I am still fairly unclear as to what moves me to be so resistant to the time thing. I am not necessarily sure why I don’t ever seem to get moving until the urgency sets in. I think I’ve proven to myself that I function better when I give myself enough time  to get something done. This last minute stuff is for the birds. It’s not worth the stress. And deadlines make it stressful. So perhaps it’s up to me to change my perception of what a deadline really is. Maybe a deadline is something that keeps us moving forward as an entity. Deadlines ensure that we are continually making progress. I don’t know. What I do know that it’s not time that holds us back. It’s not deadlines. It’s resistance. If your procrastination is stemming from resistance then you are stopping yourself right in your tracks. And you owe it to yourself to get off your butt and meet that friend (and be on time) or to finish that project or in my case, to write that blog post. And who knows, when we are inclined to make that move, maybe, just maybe, something amazing will happen! And I promise, my next blog post will be on time!

Thanks for reading everyone and Happy May Day!

All My Best,



This tune is for my good buddy Seth. Well it is, of course, for everyone. But Seth knows that when I was thinking about songs related to time, I had to choose this one. Croce brings up a great point about time in this one. When there is a moment, like when you meet that special someone, it cannot ever hurt to sit there for a minute and reflect on it and make sure that you savor it. They do not last forever! So please embrace the great conversations and the amazing moments and try not to always be so concerned with being at the next thing “ON TIME!” You might miss something. Like anything, it’s a delicate balance.

Here he is: Jim Croce with Time in a Bottle


And how about a little more Croce. Just because I love him. If you have a minute check out this link for fun!

More Jim Croce




So now, the hard part… Oh wait… First of all: Congratulations on getting started! Well done! And now we take the big step. Now we commit. 2 weeks ago I started this blog (for the third time) and I thought about what I could commit to. The first two times for some odd reason I thought I could write a post a day. And what I quickly realized was that I am way too busy for that kind of commitment. So this time, I have committed to once a week. Every Monday, you will be hearing from me. Now, I write a little over several days though to get the post ready for Monday. (I have finally learned – here’s hoping – that we can’t save everything for the last minute.) And I am serious about the Monday thing. And that is really commitment, we do what we have to to meet our goal. I have committed to several other things lately as well. And here is the kicker; they are all things that I have committed to in the past. I have opened a savings account again. I went back to grad school again. And I have started this blog… AGAIN! How many times do I have to do something before I finally say this is worth my commitment?!

I have always admired those crazy people who say, “when I put my mind to something, I just do it!” I mean, that’s great, but come on, you must get bored. You must get frustrated. Do you mean to tell me the A.D.D. never kicks in? I have such a hard time committing especially when I can’t find the reason immediately. Does that make sense? I have to have a purpose.

But here’s the funny thing. I HAVE ALWAYS come back to finish the things that I had given up on in the past; singing, grad school, this blog, my website, etc. (Everything except physics. Never looked back on that one, though I do watch a lot of Cosmos.) I WANT to commit. I desire commitment. And I am beginning to realize that I will not allow myself to stop until I succeed. So why not just get it right the first time?!

But that’s just the thing… we won’t always get it right the first time. If we did then we’d have nothing to learn. My favorite definition from Merriam-Webster is “the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled.” “Emotionally impelled” – we are naturally inclined to commit to the things that we resonate with the most. Some synonyms include dedication, devotion, faith and steadfastness. These are all incredibly positive words. Who wouldn’t want to be devoted or dedicated? When we are emotionally impelled our happiness actually depends on that commitment. And that is what keeps me going; it’s the commitment to happiness!

I quit singing for FOUR years. I was burnt out. I was tired. I “hated” the business. A business in which I never truly got a full idea of what it was about. I had so many reasons to take that time off. And I don’t regret the time off. I got to sing a lot of karaoke with Marc, Matt, Seth, Brian and so many more. But I was never going to fully realize my happiness until I came back to the fold. And the minute I made that choice to embrace my happiness I knew that I had started the rest of my life. I also knew that singing might not be my end game, but I knew that by committing to my happiness meant singing again and that was where it would start. So, I stopped smoking (no not just like that, but committing to my happiness most definitely helped) and stopped doing some other things of which I was never too proud. It was actually a pretty easy choice when I thought about it. And now, six years later, I have sung professionally with roughly 10 different opera companies and symphonies, I have gone back to grad school, met the love of my life, (Oxford comma for that love) and started my own opera company. All because I decided to commit to my happiness. I haven’t gotten everything right in the last 6 years, but I am learning and growing exponentially. And what is most important is that I want to keep moving forward. I want to learn and grow and get better every single day.  Here I am today, making budgets, setting goals and getting things done. I find that more and more I am doing the things that I say I am going to do. That has been a HUGE thing for me. I want to keep my word because my happiness depends on it. I have never been happy when I am avoiding things. I get stressed out and the issue is constantly looming. It’s something that I am working on everyday and it’s not always easy. Ask anyone who knows me how resistant I can be (resistance is a whole other blog post)!

So put the resistance aside and conquer the fear. Get started on your dreams right now, today! You are the only one with the capability of making your dreams a reality. And I cannot emphasize that enough. If you don’t know what your dream is, ask yourself very honestly, “what have I always wanted (but maybe just a little afraid to take action)?” It’s in there somewhere. Do that and commitment to your happiness will follow suit. The path may change and other doors may open, but your happiness remains constant. I have never been more excited for you! Also I would like to say a very special thank You to everyone who has always believed in me. You have listened and given me advice to live by. You have challenged and helped me see a different side of a certain argument. Through the love, the friendships, the laughter, the fights and the compromises, You have always been there. And I have not arrived to where I am now without You. You are too numerous to mention here but I am sure that You know who You are! I promise I have listened to You and taken it all to heart (even if I’ve seemed a bit resistant from time to time ;-)). I am dedicated, devoted and steadfast in my happiness and You are all my inspiration!


With Deepest Gratitude,



Do you want to talk about commitment? These guys are committed to their craft. This is one of my favorite duets from the opera LA FORZA DEL DESTINO by Giuseppe Verdi. I have been having amazing conversations with friends about opera singers and about how the great ones were so truly committed to their  art form. Even for those who have had it easy in our business, the road has been long and hard. Names like Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, Marylin Horne, Franco Corelli, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherill Milnes, Leonard Warren to name a very few are artists beyond compare. These amazing artists combine music, language, history, storytelling, emotion and connection and make it look easy. It’s not! It takes years and years of commitment! Here are two of my favorites, tenor, Richard Tucker and baritone, Robert Merrill at the Rudolph Bing Gala in 1972 singing the duet “Invano Alvaro.” And if you would like to find out more about La Forza del Destino, click this link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_forza_del_destino

Oh, and by the way, 3:36…wait for it!

The following blog is a two parter because you cannot have one without the other. Both are extremely difficult and yet so essential to the process of this existence. And both have presented their fair share of challenges in my life; so I feel like I need to tackle both individually. So let’s… Get started! Hahaha.


Getting Started



I am constantly worried about doing the right thing, saying the smart thing or just plain not wanting to screw it up. I don’t want to upset anybody. I want to get everything right! If the stars could just line up perfectly and if I had just a little more money…THEN I could start to live my dream. And that is what an excuse sounds like. I am full of them. Those are only some of the things that I have used in my past to keep me from doing things I love.

Listen, these excuses actually start in a pretty noble way. I get wanting to have everything just right. Do your research. Understand what you are getting yourself into. It’s your dream, you owe that to yourself. But I am going to save you the suspense. You WILL make a mistake. You will upset someone. No matter how much you prepare, something will elude you. So stop making excuses.

My god, I have been terrified! Getting started can be so intimidating. But if I’ve learned anything, you won’t have any fun UNTIL you get started. And the truth is, failure is all a part of the whole thing. Success is fleeting – mastery is the goal! Mastery is a compilation of all successes and failures. And I am here to tell you that as sure as you will fail, you will also succeed. And if you can get past failure being well… failure, then you only have success. When you get beat or you fall down, you brush yourself off, get back up and you try again. It is as simple at that. It really is. Someone once told me, “Failure is not an option.” I have taken that to mean, that failure doesn’t actually exist. Wrap your head around that. You’re thinking, “Kevin, you’re nuts.” “Be realistic.” “I only wish that were true.” What if it were true? What if failure was an integral of all success?

“We all have bad days.” “No one is perfect.” You’ve heard it all before; and it’s true! So go out there and be not perfect. Go out there and make a mistake with the best of intentions. Do it with love. Don’t hurt anyone. Don’t be reckless with responsibility. But take the risk. I think you’ll find that you are full of surprises. And you will definitely find that you are so very capable.

So put those fears aside and fall down with joy in your heart. Laugh about it. And if a mistake does feel serious, take responsibility and make it better. Listen to the people you trust; who have tried before you and made some mistakes. What steps did they take the next time they tried something? How did they fix it? (You are not alone!) DO NOT dwell on failure. And even more important, DO NOT DWELL ON THE PROSPECT OF FAILURE! If you do, you’ll never get started.

So be brave – take the next step. “Where do I start,” you might ask? Well, what are you afraid of? I know for me, it is has always been harder to start the things that could possibly give me the most satisfaction. Why? Because of the fear of failure… or maybe even success? Who knows!  All I know is that you ARE capable! You WILL make a difference! You have NOTHING to be afraid of!

So for my birthday (tomorrow), here is the gift I have given myself. It’s still a work in progress, but I can’t keep it from the world anymore! Check it out and if you have any comments or any helpful hints, I am absolutely open! I would love to hear what you think!


And check out the Marble City Opera link on the side bar as well. We have some amazing shows coming up, so if you are in town, come see something else I have started (with a partner, a board and lots of help and support!) in the last year.

Thanks for reading everyone! Now, go out there and change the world! And come back next week and find out what to do after you get started! Commitment is the hard part. (At least for me!)

Best Wishes,



A special thanks to Jana and Lena for sharing this video with me. I asked Lena’s permission to use this. They have been dancing around their living room to this. I think it’s pretty appropriate for today’s post!



serviceSince 1995, I have been in the business of service. My first job was in retail at a store called Play It Again Sports. We sold new and used sporting goods and I worked for guys who loved their lives… and their jobs. Artie was a good friend of my brother’s and was the nicest guy in the world. And while I didn’t have much of a work ethic at the time, I learned from Artie how to be a great guy and how to care for my customers. Chuck was quiet and reserved but confident and great at what he did. Terry was a bit more of a pessimist, but he taught me not to take anyone too seriously. Let’s face it, we can all be a little high maintenance at times. But that never stopped those guys from wanting to give the best service they could.

I started waiting tables when I got to college… I was 18 years old and so began the longest, most tumultuous relationship of my life. Me and restaurants. But if I have learned anything from my 17 plus years in this industry, it is that service is an art and is imperative. The ever helpful skill of smiling when you are out of your mind and beyond pissed off; Being nice to a person who only cares if your day is awful is one of the most humiliating things there is. Many go so far as to call the industry “soul sucking.” But then something happens. You learn an incredibly valuable lesson: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!

This lesson will change your life. Service suddenly becomes an entirely different beast. Service becomes what it is meant to be. It’s about them. It’s about humanity. It’s about you too, but more about your connection with the people who you encounter. Suddenly, you can conquer anything. The occasional bad tip is no longer of any consequence. I may scoff or grumble from time to time but ultimately the greater good is doing something good for someone else; someone you don’t even know. And if you do know them, it’s even better. I always tell the kids I train, “take care of your guests, take care of your team and take care of the restaurant (your employers), then the money will follow.

I have always made money since adopting this policy. I make sure to incorporate this idea of service when I perform or when I’m producing a show as well. It’s about making a difference in someone else’s life. And it works every time. People are always more appreciative than not. They will let you know too. The greatest gift we’ll ever give is showing people that we care. When we share our joy, people respond with joy. It is impossible not to. And I know this because I have been in just about every situation. I haven’t done the math, but I have to imagine I have met close to 150,000 people in my life.

The effect that we have on each other is unmistakeable and undeniable. Think about that the next time someone pisses you off. Take yourself out of the equation and ask yourself why, or where it’s coming from. Then do your best to share your personal joy with that person and see if it makes even the smallest difference. And even if you can’t see it, I promise you, it did! Remember to take care of the people who come into your life on a daily basis (there’s a reason), your friends and family (they are your team), and God (whatever that means to you, it’s the big thing that we are ALL a part of) and fortune will follow. That’s the greatest service you can ever do for anyone!

Thanks for reading.




Take a look at the video I have attached. My amazing girlfriend Sarah has been playing this everyday for the last week and I really feel like everyone should watch it everyday. Pharrell Williams is doing HIS service by sharing HIS  joy with everyone in “Happy!” Take a look and enjoy the day! Sarah and I danced around our living room to this song the other day and it made all the difference!


Spring Break

I know I am not in the majority here… but thank GOD spring break is almost over.  In addition to being in school, I also have a job.  A job that I do not get to work at a whole lot, because of rehearsals and classes.  The job is easy, it’s something that I have been doing for quite a while, so at this point it can be kind of brainless.  Not to mention slow!

It’s not the restaurant’s fault.  The people are easy to work with.  Management is good and understanding. It’s just that everyone is out of town, customers and employees.  The absence of other workers coupled with my inability to work a normal schedule while I am in school means that I was scheduled for about 10 shifts this week.  That’s a lot by the way when you consider there are only 14 shifts in a week.

It’s hard when all I really ever want to do is work on music.  It’s kind of become an obsession.  But by the time I get home from work, I am way too tired or I have other obligations.  For instance St. Paddy’s day was this week and I have a cultural obligation to celebrate the feast of the good St. Patrick.  A feast which includes copious amounts of Jameson and Guinness getting absorbed into the sea of green.

I do look at the break as an opportunity though.  I was getting a little tired vocally, I had been doing a lot of singing.  I was also in it pretty deep.  And now even with the tiniest break and a pretty slow week at work, I find that I am so ready to dive back in.  This is what breaks do for us, they give us the ability to refresh and renew and remind us why it is that we love what we do.

It’s hard to accept sometimes, because it always seems like there is so much to be done.  But we need that reality check, ya know?  It was the restaurant (not this one specifically) that made me realize four years ago that I was wasting my life.  (Haha, no offense to the restaurant or the people that do this honorable work.  Because it IS honorable work and it is hard work and your servers, bartenders, cooks, and managers are incredibly underrated and undervalued, so if and when you get the chance, say thank you, they are working hard too.)  Or not wasting my life, but more that I wasn’t fulfilling my calling.  I don’t so much believe in destiny, but I do believe that we all are blessed with certain talents or aptitudes and our minds and hearts, I think, can be more attracted to certain things, and if we really pay attention then that is where we will land.

And while I love wine and bourbon and good food, it wasn’t doing the trick.  It wasn’t until I started singing again, for real, that I finally found that my thirst was being quenched.  The minute I got back on stage, nay, the minute I got back in the rehearsal room for my first show back with the Asheville Lyric Opera in the chorus of it’s 2008 production of Lucia di Lammermoor, was the minute that I knew that I had arrived and I was never to stray again.  That in some form or another, I was going to be a part of music and music was going to be a part of me.  Now, I’ve had to be reminded of this from time to time. And that, I think, is just one reason that we have breaks.

But, THIS break is over and I am ready to get back.  Back to school, back to music, back to rehearsal. My voice feels good, St. Patrick was good to me, I now feel like I can take it to the next level.  I am hungry for more, much more.  And I am thrilled, absolutely thrilled, just to be here.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for taking the time.  I wish you all well and to enjoy the rest of your breaks if you have them or when you have them.  And come back fired up and ready to make your mark on the world.  I know I will!


“The full person does not understand the needs of the hungry.” -Irish quote

“I believe in the sun when it is not shining, I believe in love even when I feel it not and I believe in God even when he is silent.” -another Irish quote

All My Best,