Leaps of Faith

Posted by Michael Mazzella
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Posted on February 28, 2014

Michael Mazzella Risks, in my opinion, they’re the epicenter of the fear of the unknown. Everyone has their own goals for what they want their life to look like and for some it may be finding that one true love, creating a family, or like me, their career ambitions. How far is too far in desiring to achieve your dreams? Is it worth possibly losing everything you hold dear for a possible step up the ladder? I have spent many nights pondering over these questions, agonizing over them, really. I have gone to the ends of the Earth to reach a higher point in my career. Every time I take a giant leap, I risk it all. The fear is real. The fear reverberates in the “what ifs” and forbiddance of the future.

Here I stand, yet again, facing the ledge, and ahead of me another mountain, I know I must jump to reach the top. I don’t want to. I want to remain comfortable in my home, where I know I’m safe. The home I worked so hard for. The thought of yet another huge risk makes my soul ache. I’ve been told by so many throughout my life that in order to become more comfortable, you must take a step back and get uncomfortable first. This is true, it’s a fact, but I’m struggling. I’m hurting. To give up a home is a hard thing to stomach. Every hanging picture, piece of furniture, and decoration has a story behind it. There is nothing in my home that is meaningless.

Anyone who has followed my career knows that I had and have a major struggle with food. I’m a food addict, no ifs ands or buts about it. I have binge eating disorder and it will always be a struggle. There is no point in hiding it – it’s just as much a part of me as the color of my skin. My weight battles have been a point of much pain, but like all things it can be a force for good. No one facing this battle is alone – know there are others out there. The leap I stand before is starting to unhinge the doors that have locked away the monster that is food addiction. In the last weeks I’ve found myself so overwhelmed by the unknown, “the what do I do? Do I go this way or that way? Left or right,” that my daily practice of prayers, mediation, reading, and writing have fallen off course. I’ve slipped.

The irony? I asked for this, I asked GOD, the universe to grant me this but that’s just the thing, GOD listened. Sometimes it’s one thing to dream, to ask for a wish to be granted, but what happens when it comes true? For me, shear panic and incomprehensible anxiety and paranoia. My life is so simple, so why do I insist on complicating it with my own insanity? I suppose that answer lies in the fear of gaining it and losing it. Losing a dream is possible. Failing is possible. Success is also possible. Dreams can be real. The other shoe doesn’t always have to drop. I believe the universe rewards risks, by showing that you will put your own comfort second for the greater goal. This is absolutely a huge act of trust. Trusting that GOD will always come through can be hard. I admit I’ve had dark thoughts and questioned this to be real. GOD’s grace is real and mighty. He will not let his children suffer a loss that ultimately serves no good. There is good in all things, even those masquerading as brutality.

I’m doing it. I’m going to take the risk. Give up my home in Los Angeles that has held the key to my heart and uproot myself to New York City. I dream a dream that I know will be. I know I can help others and bring them joy. The sweetest sound is the sound of a fellow child of GOD laughing. In that split second of laugher there is no angst that exists.  To know that I can cause such a beautiful moment for someone is a tremendous blessing. Though my soul may ache through the leap, I know that if nothing else, when I get to heaven GOD will know I tried. Soon when I am able to bring joy to viewers in the comfort of their homes on a daily basis, my own personal comfort will no longer matter. The tears will have dried and the risks will be worth it. I’m choosing to believe. What else is there to do?

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Michael Mazzella

Michael Santino Mazzella

Imagine a place where drive-through alcohol and bookie-gambling fathers are the norm. Stumped? Well, that place is Lafayette, Louisiana – the place of my birth. It is a fun loving, cocktail-in-the-morning, gossiping kind of town.

My mother, a housewife with the most bless-your-heart southern charm, and my father, a jet-setting dad with a glamour-filled life only Hollywood could concoct, were my only sages. Growing up in a small town, my world comprised of my parents, a sister, a community of ladies who lunch, and a rigid religious education.

At the tender yet tyrannous age of four, I had a feeling that there was something other than my present circumstances that I was meant to pursue. I knew then and there that I was on this planet for a reason. Granted that at the age of 4 my ability to articulate such thoughts was close to non-existent, but the “feeling” was absolutely there. We all have that “feeling” and mine was all encompassing.

There was nothing worse than having the “feeling” and not knowing how to pursue it. I gained weight. I suppressed the racing intents of my mind because I was a cord with no outlet, and it hurt. The birthing pains had begun…good times? I grew to a robust 300 lbs. At the time I didn’t realize it, but this too was part of my path.

One day, I was watching TV with my mother and we came across a woman named Joy Behar and an actor she was interviewing on the now iconic talk show, “The View.” THAT was it! THAT’S what I was born to be! I was meant to become a storyteller of the human experience and continue on an exploration of the human heart through entertaining others.

But how? How on Earth was I going to embark on becoming a storyteller, entertainer, and instigator of laughter that would bring joy to people and open their hearts to the human experience? I needed to learn not about people but about being human.

This question and answer manifested itself through tennis.

In Lafayette, tennis was at the epicenter of the social scene, so I naturally followed it closely. During one particular match, I overheard a commentator that the tennis player in front of them attended the IMG Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. In my extraordinarily naive mind I thought that if this player achieved such success in his career, I must follow in his footsteps and attend this institution too.

Two weeks later, I moved to Bradenton, Florida to attend Bollettieri. The day-to-day hell, physical and mental beating, endless life lessons, friendships that will last a lifetime, and stories of triumph and failure are far too many to list here. This part of my journey brought me closer to realizing that “feeling,” my Dharma.

I knew to get even more comfortable, I was going to have to take a step back and get incredibly uncomfortable first. That discomfort appeared as a debilitating left shoulder injury. As a left-hander, this meant the end of the glory days as well as my career in professional tennis. At the age of 17, I left the institute, knowing I had learned all the lessons it was meant to teach me. I said goodbye to those who had become my new mentors and leaders in thought, such as Monica Seles.

I blindly moved to Los Angeles with the knowledge that failure only breathes when lack of effort does.

My latest sage, Wendy Williams, became my idol. I watched her everyday knowing that one day I would have a stage too that would allow me to be a vessel for whatever message I was am meant to relay. This road is hard; it is riddled with success greater than anything my mind of limited capacity could have conjured, but it has also come with great grief, disaster, and deep loss. I believe these are all lessons part of my path.

Today, I have appeared on “The Wendy Williams Show” and spilt my time between Los Angeles and New York City, producing celebrity events and programming. I have learned a lot, but I certainly have a long way to go with countless life lessons in front of me. I’m on a journey and trying my best to blindly trust that it will be “all good in the hood. “

Think of me as the love child of Wendy Williams and Andy Cohen, with a Godmother named Oprah, born in Jessica Lange’s Asylum. Aka, Blanche Devereaux.

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Extending Oneself

Posted by Francie Lora
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Posted on November 17, 2013

By Francie Lora

Francie LoraThere has been a chasm of silence between this moment and my last piece of writing. I have felt overwhelmed with the endless reality of gypsy meandering. The passions, commitments and structures of my former life continue to live on in my heart and soul, and though this physical reality can be dealt with and endured, there are aspects of it which, over time, diminish one’s ability to function beyond survival. This can be distressing and life threatening, as the body takes on the messages and its vitality begins to wobble. And yet, my soul knowing is that giving must be kept alive, as this is what makes us human.

Being taken to one’s knees brings the conscious and subconscious together in ways that are otherwise not possible. What is it about being in dyer distress that propels clarity? When illness, pain or loss land in one’s lap, ultimate truth blinks back.

Whenever we see blurbs on tv immediately after a natural disaster, the common response to microphone in face is ‘We have each other’ or ‘The important thing is that my loved ones are safe’, and then the surge of the masses come help.

The agonies and loss of those in need touch us with life in its purest form and we see, face-to-face, what is real and essential, and this is true of ourselves, as well.  Our yearnings, our courage, and our faith rise to the surface and we are all one.  Everyone sees and feels and recognizes truth and spirit in these moments and it is here that we know what being human is all about…it is about reaching out and holding hands. It is about giving and receiving.

What if it is oneself that is in crisis? What then? The same and more so. Once one has walked these walks of fire, and embraced the lessons of patience and surrender while the pain is burning deeply, compassion is ignited in a new way. All that one sees is the plight of being human and the immediate recognition of others’ trials becomes the lens through which one filters everything.

Extending one’s heart and sharing a moment of recognition is the most beautiful gift.

Learn more about Francie:
homelessmountain.wordpress.com
tigresstales.blogspot.com