Archive for October, 2009

Broken Guitar + YouTube = Worldwide Celebrity!

October 31, 2009



Dave Carroll

Dave Carroll’s now-legendary United Breaks Guitar songs are a terrific example of how to deal with conflict. Instead of ranting and raging and threatening legal action, a little creativity and humor can go a long, long way.

The singer-songwriter, who formed a duo called Sons of Maxwell with his brother, Don, was on a United Airlines flight in 2008 and . . . well . . . I’ll let Dave tell the story:

In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in (more…)

Bernie Siegel Struggles With the Story of Abraham and Isaac

October 30, 2009

Dr. Bernie Siegel

I wrote in an earlier post how thrilled (and later terrified!) I was that Dr. Bernie Siegel included a lyric I wrote in his book, Peace, Love & Healing. Nearly twenty years later I asked Bernie to share a life-changing story with me for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything. Here is Bernie’s intriguing story, beginning with his bio.

Siegel, a former surgeon whose book, Love, Medicine & Miracles, catapulted him to the forefront of the mind-body-spirit revolution, founded the Exceptional Cancer Patients support group ( near his home in New Haven, Connecticut. His latest books are Love, Magic & Mudpies, 365 Prescriptions for the Soul, and the children’s book Smudge Bunny. Click here to visit Bernie’s website.

The Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac has always been difficult for me to accept because the idea of sacrificing one of my children is so unthinkable. Well, ten years ago, I had some experiences that gave me a deep appreciation of that story. While talking to a friend on the phone about my travel schedule, she asked, “Why are you living such a busy life?” I suddenly and literally went into a trance-like state and saw myself with a sword in my hand, killing people. The same thing happened again a month or two later as I was sitting in an airplane looking out the window. It felt like I was watching a movie with me as the main character. I was a knight, and my lord told me that I was to kill the neighbor’s daughter because the neighbor had been imposing on his land. I agreed to do it out of fear that I would be punished if I refused. I learned where the daughter slept but when I walked into her room with my sword drawn, she awakened and turned toward me. I saw my wife’s face, (more…)

Yikes! Don’t Step in the Bolsta!

October 29, 2009

sixty-seconds-coverBarbara, my literary agent, e-mailed me yesterday with a publishing dilemma. A translated copy of my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, was going to press in Brazil—but the publisher there said the book would not be taken seriously unless we changed my name on the front cover.

Why? Because my name, Bolsta, without the “l,” leaves “bosta,” which in Portuguese translates to . . . ummm, well . . . excrement.

Hilarious! I told Barbara to publish the book under the name Philip Charles, which is my first name and middle name. An easy fix.

When I told this story to an Iranian friend of mine, she informed me that Philip in Farsi means elephant. So of course my sister started calling me Elephant Excrement.

UPDATE: In September 2011, I started to tell this story to my daughter’s yoga teacher, who is from Brazil. All I had to say was that my book was translated into Portuguese and that my name was spelled B-O-L-S-T-A . . . and she burst out laughing! As my daughter commented, it’s nice to know that I am the laughingstock of an entire country!


Sixty Seconds is also being translated into German, Italian and Spanish. As far as I know, my name in those languages doesn’t equate to excrement or profanity, so we should be good to go!

Click here to visit the website of my Brazilian publisher.


Click here to visit the website of my Italian publisher.

Click here to order the Italian translation from Amazon.


Click here to visit the website of my German publisher.

Click here to order the German translation from Amazon.


Click here to visit the website of my Spanish publisher.

Click here to order the Spanish translation from Amazon.

Ironically, considering my Brazilian language snafu, I had written an article for Twin Cities Business magazine about companies that come up with names for products and organizations. In the following sidebar to the article, I wrote about foreign business translations gone bad. Get ready for some good yuks!


In 2002, Nametag International was wrapping up a project to name a new-generation healthcare information solution for one of the leading global manufacturers of engineering and electronics products. Nametag had screened the name Soarus in eight languages by running it through World Test, a linguistic screening tool that helps clients understand what a name might mean in other cultures. At the eleventh hour, the company mentioned it was planning a joint venture with an Israeli company, so Nametag added Yiddish and Hebrew to the mix. Oops. World Test spat out a sound-alike Yiddish word, tsoris, which meant “trouble and suffering.” Undaunted, Levin and Young began tinkering away. A few tweaks here, a few tweaks there, and they ended up with Soarian, a name that retained the strategic position of “rising above new heights” and allowed the company to own a truly global brand with no cultural difficulties.

Not all companies are so thorough. Here are our favorite naming nightmares.

• Coca-Cola in China was translated to Ke-kou-ke-la on thousands of signs. Unfortunately, the phrase means “bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax” depending on the dialect.

• In Taiwan, “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” was translated to (more…)

Might As Well Jump!

October 28, 2009

I’m not a big fan of jumping rope but I was transfixed by this amazing performance. Watching it, I wondered why I hadn’t heard of these girls before because they’re good enough to be a finalist on America’s Got Talent.

According to Twirl Planet, an online twirling baton retailer, this performance jump rope team is called (more…)

You Are Weeping For That Which Has Been Your Delight

October 27, 2009

stone-statue-of-grieving-womanGrief, whether for the loss of a relationship, a loved one, or our health, is a necessary bridge between life as we knew it and the “new normal.” Yet, immersed in sorrow, we fear that we may never again drink deeply of the cup of life.

Grief is often tinged with regret. We dream of traveling back to happier times and making the most of second chances. Spare yourself such anguish; beginning today, make the most of your first chances.

When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough.
Maurice Maeterlinck

Our own suffering can give us insight into (more…)

NBAer Jim Petersen’s Life-Changing Encounter with Brother Anandamoy

October 26, 2009

Jim Petersen

I enjoyed interviewing former NBA player Jim Petersen about his spiritual awakening for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything. Here is Jim’s story, beginning with his bio.

Petersen, a television analyst for the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, played eight seasons for the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, and Golden State Warriors. His best year as a professional came during the 1986-87 NBA season as a member of the Rockets, when he averaged 11.3 points per game.

I read Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda when I was with the Golden State Warriors toward the end of my basketball career. Yogananda had founded a religious organization called Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) in 1920, and his book made such an impression on me that I decided to check out a service at an SRF temple if I ever had the chance.

In 1993, the year after I retired, I moved to San Diego to complete my degree in sports psychology at San Diego University for Integrative Studies. While I was looking for a place to live, I stayed at the Doubletree Hotel in San Diego.

One Saturday, an ex-NBA teammate of mine named Alton Lister came to town for a visit, and he and I went for a workout at The Sporting Club at the Hyatt Regency in La Jolla. In the locker room afterwards, Alton was bragging about how great his son and daughter were. I wasn’t married and had no prospects at the time, but I said that if I ever had a daughter, I know that she would have me wrapped around her finger. This guy next to me, a complete stranger, says, “You don’t know how right you are.” Alton and I were taken aback, but he looked like a friendly guy so I chatted with him for a few minutes before I went back to the hotel.

The next morning, I was able to go to an SRF temple for the first time. I had asked the general manager of the Doubletree Hotel if she had ever heard of SRF and she said, “Yes, there’s a temple just north of us in Encinitas.” She expressed a desire to go with me, so off we went. Brother Ramananda gave the service and it was phenomenal. He really inspired me.

After the service, we decided to go to a restaurant called the L’Auberge right down the coastline in Del Mar. We walked in, and lo and behold, the guy I had seen the day before, whose name was Paul Friedman, was sitting at a table with some other folks. He introduced me, among others, to a guy named Mike Flynn, the general counsel for SRF, and a woman named Ophelia, who was an assistant to Deepak Chopra.

It turns out that Paul knew all of the SRF monks and was very connected with Mother Center, the SRF headquarters located at Mt. Washington in Los Angeles. After this second chance encounter, Paul and I decided we absolutely needed to be friends.

The next weekend would have been Yogananda’s one hundredth birthday. There was a big celebration at Mother Center, so Paul took me up to Mt. Washington with his whole family. I knew virtually nothing about SRF so Paul tried to give me some perspective on who all these people were as we were driving up to L.A.

Paul told me about Brother Anandamoy, a native of Switzerland who was an architect with Frank Lloyd Wright before becoming a direct disciple of Yogananda, who the devotees called “Master.” Paul said, “If you happen to have an audience with Brother Anandamoy, you have to realize it will be like meeting one of Jesus Christ’s disciples. To meet him is like meeting Master in a sense, because he was blessed by being in Master’s presence.”

At Mother Center, I joined the line to view Master’s bedroom, which was cordoned off. You can go up to the door and look into the room but you can’t go into the room. Many devotees kneel down in front of his photograph, which is sitting on an easel inside the room. Now remember, at this point, I’m only a week into my SRF experience. I considered myself a Jesus Christ disciple, so kneeling down in front of this Indian yogi didn’t feel altogether right.

After viewing Master’s bedroom, I went back downstairs and started chatting with Paul on the veranda, and he introduced me to Brother Anandamoy. This was all such a whirlwind for me. Here I am, going from having no real knowledge about SRF to visiting Mother Center, meeting all these blessed souls, and chatting with monks who were direct disciples of Yogananda. I was able to talk to Brother Anandamoy for four or five minutes.

That conversation with Brother Anandamoy was when my heart changed. Meeting him was truly an epiphany. Kneeling down in front of Master didn’t make sense in one second, and then the next second it did. It wasn’t even anything Brother Anandamoy said. It was just being in his presence; it was his energy, his peacefulness. He had that special something that those who have meditated and given their life to God in a very real way have, and I wanted it, too.

Just shaking Brother Anandamoy’s hand was transformative in and of itself. Whatever way he did it, he was able to transfer his peacefulness into me. And it changed my life forever.


Paramahansa Yogananda

Click here to view all my posts about Paramahansa Yogananda and Self-Realization Fellowship.

Click here to view all my posts related to my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything.

My Never-Before-Published Kids’ Poems!

October 25, 2009


I had five poems included in a wonderful book called Kids Pick the Funniest Poems. Click here to read the post I wrote about that book.

Here are six more kids’ poems I wrote that I hope will make your kids smile!


At night, if I’m a sleepyhead,
My Mommy tucks me into bed.
If I’m not tired, that is when
I like my Dad to tuck me in!

‘Cause when I say, “Dad, I love you,”
He does whatever I want him to!
I tell him I’m lucky to be his daughter …
He gets me an ice-cold glass of water!
I tell him my friends like his rugged good looks …
He reads me two of my favorite books!

Then I kiss his cheek with a nice loud smack,
And ask him to pretty please rub my back.
And if I play my cards just right,
I (more…)

Every Cubic Inch of Space Is a Miracle

October 24, 2009

two-hands-cupping-a-star-of-lightSeeing every moment as a gift provides revealing glimpses into the mysteries of the universe. Slip any random moment under a metaphysical microscope and you will find that it contains the DNA of God’s master plan.

Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.
Eckhart Tolle

You would then understand why every thought you think, every word you speak, every step you take is an outright miracle cloaked in the guise of an ordinary moment. This awareness presents a thought-provoking paradox. You can view ordinary moments as miracles or miracles as ordinary moments.

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Your perspective depends on how you define “ordinary.” The higher you elevate your consciousness, the more naturally you will behold the ordinary as extraordinary. Indeed, “miracle” is a word commonly used by those who (more…)

Dr. Estehr Sternberg Discovers the Role of Belief in Healing

October 23, 2009

Dr. Esther Sternberg

When I interviewed Dr. Esther Sternberg for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, she told me how she came to understand and appreciate how the mind-body connection can enhance the healing process. Here is an excerpt from her story, beginning with her bio.

Dr. Sternberg, the author of The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions, is Chief of the Section on Neuroendocrine Immunology and Behavior at the National Institute of Mental Health. She is internationally recognized for her discoveries in brain-immune interactions and the effects of the brain’s stress response on health—the science of the mind-body interaction. Recognized by her peers as a spokesperson for the field, she translates complex scientific subjects in a highly accessible manner, with a combination of academic credibility, passion for science, and compassion as a physician. Click here to visit Esther’s website.

In the book proposal, my editor and I decided to include a chapter titled “Can Stress Make You Sick?” as well as a chapter called “Can Believing Make You Well?” The plan was to debunk the notion that believing could make you well, because there wasn’t much solid research that proved that believing in anything in particular could help a person heal.

As I was writing the book proposal at my new house on a rainy March afternoon, my next-door neighbors, Tarja and Dean Pappavasiliou, rang the doorbell to introduce themselves, carrying moussaka and all kinds of delicious Greek food. When they asked me if I was a writer. I said, (more…)

Don Jose Luis Loses His Sight, Regains His Vision

October 22, 2009

The radiant smile of Don Jose Luis

Don Jose Luis told me a remarkable story of faith and redemption for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything. Here is his story, beginning with his bio.

Don Jose Luis grew up in a world of magic, a gift of his heritage. His father, Toltec teacher Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, oversaw his training in the ancient Toltec wisdom of the native people of southern Mexico. This teaching was handed down to Don Miguel by his grandmother, Mother Sarita, a Toltec faith healer, who learned the wisdom from her grandfather, Esiquio, a Toltec “nagual” or shaman. Through his workshops, steeped in Toltec wisdom, Don Jose shows participants how to illuminate their awareness and move toward transformation and authenticity. He also leads five-day Power Journeys to magnificent sacred sites in countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru. Click here to visit the Ruiz family website.

In June 2001, I drove from Malibu to San Diego for a dentist appointment. On the way back, I started feeling a terrible pain in my eyes when I looked to either side. It even hurt to look in the rearview mirror. When I arrived home, I told my wife my eyes hurt and that I was going to lie down. When I woke up, the pain was still in my eyes and I couldn’t see. I was very scared. I (more…)

Victor Wooten’s Close Call with the Guardian Angels

October 21, 2009

Victor Lemonte Wooten

Victor  Wooten told me a couple of very cool stories for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything. Here is one of them, beginning with his bio.

Regaled as the most influential bassist since Jaco Pastorius, Victor is known for his solo recordings and tours, and as a member of the Grammy-winning supergroup, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones. He is an innovator on the bass guitar, as well as a talented composer, arranger, producer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist. Click here to learn about and order his first novel, The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music. Click here to visit Victor’s website.

I’m lucky to have grown up with very spiritual parents, both of whom came from very spiritual families. When my mom was growing up, for instance, everything from finding the right land to farm on, to what wood to build their house with, to the spot to actually build the house, was all governed by my grandmother’s dreams and visions.

My mother had the same gifts. I remember (more…)

The World You Live In Has a Population of One

October 20, 2009

Bertrand Russell

What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index into his desires—desires of which he himself is often unconscious. If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence.
Bertrand Russell

I not only can’t argue against Russell’s observation, I must plead guilty to it. I am far too receptive to (more…)

One More Pitch: The Music Video!

October 19, 2009


My lil' bear cub and me

Yesterday was a happy, happy day! I had the wonderful and profoundly moving experience of showing my daughter, Erin, the music video for One More Pitch, a song I wrote to celebrate her childhood and the joy of our Daddy and Erin times together.

Click here to read about the history and meaning of One More Pitch. You’ll find the lyrics to One More Pitch at the bottom of this post.

I am forever indebted to my very good friend Jeffery Goodson for writing the music to go with my lyrics and for doing such a beautiful job of putting this video together. That’s Jeff with the guitar at the start of the video.

All the home movie footage and photos are (more…)

Dan Millman Tastes Enlightenment While Peeling a Grapefruit

October 18, 2009

Dan Millman

It was a joy to work with Dan Millman on this story for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything. As Dan’s story illustrates, enlightenment can come at the most unlikely times and in the most unlikely places. Here is an excerpt from Dan’s story, beginning with his bio.

Millman, a former world-champion gymnast, martial arts instructor, and college professor, has for three decades explored the heart of the spiritual traditions. His keynotes, seminars, and trainings present practical ways to live with a peaceful heart and warrior spirit. Millman’s twelve books have inspired millions of readers in twenty-nine languages, and his work has influenced people from all walks of life. His first book, Way of the Peaceful Warrior, was made into a motion picture starring Nick Nolte. Click here to visit Dan’s website.

On an ordinary spring afternoon in 1967, I was sitting on a curb on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California, carefully peeling a pink grapefruit I had just purchased from the health food store behind me. In about an hour I would walk, with the help of a cane, down to Harmon Gymnasium to continue my strength-building and rehabilitation program. I was recovering from a badly broken leg, which I had injured in a motorcycle crash a few months before.

I was twenty-one years old, beginning my senior year of college. In that moment, though, I wasn’t thinking of past or future—I was just peeling that grapefruit, sitting on that curb, in a kind of peaceful reverie, watching the wheels of various cars drive by, noticing pieces of litter blowing in the street, and life was okay.

In the next instant, something happened. No (more…)

Piano Prances!

October 17, 2009

Why are sixty-six percent more people than normal choosing the stairs over the escalator in Odenplan, a subway station in Stockholm, Sweden? The more important question is why isn’t everyone choosing the stairs?

Here’s a creative in-store performance of Bach’s celebrated Toccata and Fugue in D Minor at FAO Schwarz in New York City?

Encore! How about a double feature of Chopsticks and The Entertainer from The Sting?

Of course, the inspiration for these videos dates back to Tom Hanks (more…)

Locked My Keys in the Car? Awesome!

October 16, 2009

man-looking-into-car-keys-locked-in-ignitionBefore a recent massage appointment, I stopped at the local library, just a few miles from my client’s house. The day was flowing smoothly and I was on track for our 5:30 appointment.

After taking care of my library  business, I reached for my car keys and . . . GAH! No keys! I rushed back to my car, peered inside and saw my keys lying on the front seat, taunting me with casual indifference.

I hadn’t locked my keys in my car in a good ten years! I always hold my keys in my hand when I lock the door. Well, “always” minus once, I guess. After my initial wave of panic subsided, my thoughts flashed back to the time when I crashed into a snowbank on my way home from Chicago. In my post about that experience, I wrote:

After all, there was some reason why all this was happening and I was intent on keeping my awareness high so as not to miss any clues.

Instantly, I switched from panicked and upset to calm and curious. Feeling an urge to look down, I saw a quarter at my feet. Hey, I’ll take any sign I can get. So far, so good.

I called my massage client and (more…)