The book reflects love, curiosity, core beliefs, and a desire to live. Through this journey as it continues to change and evolve, the more apparent all the different intersection points that have helped bring me to this moment are illuminated. Each of these experiences through people, places or things are intertwined, connected, and continue to influence even to this day. It demonstrates the power of connection, compassion, and the forward movement of energy with knowledge. It is what makes us unique, and brings us together. Sharing. It would be hard not to share with these people how they have influenced or inspired me beyond what has been written with each painting over the years. This book allows me to let them know as well as the reader, and believe this is part of our path to awareness. If we have met, then you know I love to chat and find out about people and their lives. The gift of curiosity with the ability to talk has never been an issue. Maybe being quiet sometimes and finding tact were a necessity over the years, but creating art has helped soften that side a bit. With that said, life has been almost an open canvas of experiences with different people everywhere, and I appreciate the knowledge gained through each and every one. I don’t look at life in such a good or bad way anymore, but maybe as it being a level of awareness with focus through each new experience.
Not many people know this, but my mother can also sketch, and remember the day she decided to take a few classes through the local community center. I wanted nothing to do with it, but also found it fascinating to see others creating as well. From a young age, I could see beauty in creativity and life, but if I couldn’t move around like a monkey it wasn’t going to work. ADHD wasn’t diagnosed quite as much back then, but expending lots of energy is how I helped focus myself since birth. Now it is meditation and art. Mom created for a very short amount of time, but in some ways always seemed to see beauty. If even for only a moment where others couldn’t, and even when things are not easy. This hasn’t changed, and she continues to try and find beauty every day. Some might think that the Marine Corps taught me a work ethic, but that is not true. It was a young man that decided to take on a very young Mother with two kids fleeing from Chicago and a bad situation. Ron Kalley is my father, and am thankful for him in many ways. Especially for loving us, and always trying to grow himself. Most of all, these 2 people have let me be me. They continue to encourage the path or paths I take even to this day, and love them for it. Thank you.
One thing that has been enforced over and over in this lifetime has been the idea of competition. We are an extremely competitive society, almost to a fault at times and have always felt this way. Two people early on helped me to understand the nature of competition, and how to win/lose graciously by their actions. It helped me to understand that first the goal is to beat yourself, expand, and grow through hard work and practice. The results will happen without expectations. Dave Baeten was the best coach I have ever had the pleasure to be trained by, and his love for teaching others still seems unmatched to me today. He was a surrogate father for many of us at times. During those years as a wrestler an older teammate became a bit of an older brother for me, and even though I quit wrestling he was around. Still is today. Corey Christenson demonstrated the ability to be silly, athletic, caring, and stoic at times from an early age. He is a coach himself now, and is shaping the lives of younger men every day still. One person in general noticed my ability to focus more than anyone at such a young age, and through action demonstrated his words. At the time, I didn’t get what he was trying to have us contemplate on through ourselves while taking Shaolin Kung Fu, and not so sure anyone else did either. Haha! Master Lee if you are out there still, we will meet again and I get it now in my own original way. Thank you.
Curiosity leads to so much, and the possibilities are endless. It might be our greatest gift. What makes each one of us curious or not? That is a question to be debated another time, but I do believe it is in each one of us. We just need someone to help guide us to the prize, and then it expands from there. We now see that Mathematics and Geometry are the basis for everything, and Michael Sondgeroth, and Dirk Smid helped so many to see the beauty of Math. In general, University High along with many teachers created a wonderful environment for young adults to learn Science, Literature, being physical, and the Arts in a safe environment. To stop learning is to give up, and is not an option. We must grow. This has been shown to me over and over through experience in different ways. Thank you.
Early in the book I mentioned trying a lot of different careers while living in many places. In 42 years, I have moved well over 20 times. It is getting close to 30 times at this point. With that said, the interactions with so many people have helped me to understand myself, become empathetic, and act through compassion. During these times away from home 3 men, CWO3 Houston Chanalle, Joe Amoroso, and Tom Sigel all demonstrated how to be an effective leader in each of their situations without taking from others in the process. Each one of them is confident, intelligent, and caring while trying to build others. It is something that I believe in fundamentally as a human being.
While working in North Carolina I somehow picked up golf after bodybuilding 20 years. It was funny as can be at first, but man did I practice when possible. Life was not as easy at the time with a parent in law having terminal cancer, and it was my happiness being on the course. While playing one day I hear “Do you need help with that bag sonny?” with the most energetic cheer still to this day. Just so you know at the time, I was still built enough to compete, and wanted to turn around and say, “For real?” He noticed me rubbing the left shoulder, and knew I was in pain. How bad that pain would be was to come in a few years. When I turned around it was this in-shape, vibrant light of a man smiling. Bob Demi was 82, a Marine, a father, a widower, an inventor, an engineer, read constantly, was extremely educated, charismatic, and had fire with grace like no one. He was my friend, a mentor, a Grandfather I always wanted, and taught me how to age properly. Thank you.
It took awhile to allow the impact of men into my life, and I am thankful along the way that many women have played an important part if not even more. Two women early in life made an impact though I have never met them, and I hope to meet one of them still. Jane Goodall to me is one of our modern-day Mother Teresa when it comes to helping humanity. She has been fascinating me forever. Her courage to help others that can’t help themselves while educating the world is unbelievable. Diane Fossey’s work to understand Gorillas trying to save them while giving her life demonstrated Altruism. It is the greatest lesson. Giving something you need that won’t come back while helping someone or something else in more need. Not just giving money, or having time due to having excess money. They are different. We all can help in our own individual way to a greater goal. Thank you.
Every bit of knowledge that we read, practice or discover allows us to find the courage in ourselves to take steps or to encourage others in their own journey. I am thankful for so many that have walked this path before, and chosen to express it to the world through invention, music, art, theater, writing or any other creative process. It is these expressions that connect us, and push us forward with connection into the next phase allowing creation to happen. The last 10 years have been the most challenging, rewarding and emotional period in life, and I am thankful for those that believe in this pursuit as well. More than anyone, Lesia Lichonczak (partner, best friend, and lover) has encouraged me to the point where stopping is not an option. I will always support you with love and respect as you have for me. I love you, thank you, and will not stop till 120.
While creating the book, I have been asked many times why? It is the total of a lot of living, loving, connection, letting go, and finding myself without taking too much from anything or anyone. Johnny Cash said “I walk the line,” and have followed that model to where it’s time to walk mine. I have never been formally trained in the creation of art, but have studied art history in college and a long time ago a lady named Susan Feinberg Parton told me to become an artist. It was a 3-month class as an elective in 1989 that was a little bit of everything concerning art. Looking back, she was just trying to expose us to as much as possible, and could see what was to be in time. We could be real, ourselves in there. In the class I sketched, spun the pottery wheel, & painted the Crypt Keeper from the HBO series since he was rad at the time, and the painting below since it seemed very important to me to express at the time. Susan, if you are out there I wish you well, and you were right. Thank you.
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