Thursday, November 27, 2014

An Attitude of Gratitude. Appreciate life and the ones you love.

Today is Thanksgiving and I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of the things that I’m thankful for. Aside from sports and the Yankees, there are many people in my life who have touched my heart and made me smile. To you, I say Thank you.
This has been quite a year for me. I’ve been traveling and working like crazy and of course the Yankees Hat has been with me on every trip. I just got back from Florida, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago but I’m in the Midwest now spending the holidays with my family, which is what I’m most thankful for.

I love my family and I thank God every day for them, especially for my brother Shane who has battled cancer twice, underwent a sternotomy and a stem cell transplant and won his fight. It’s a true gift to see him sitting across from me at the dinner table.
When a loved one gets sick it gives you a whole new perspective on life. It makes you appreciate things more and you begin to value relationships more. I put my life on hold for five years to be with my family through the tough times and it was the best decision I ever made. Our family got stronger and my brother got healthier. In a way, the whole experience saved my life. And I’m grateful for that.
Going through trials makes you stronger and wiser. It also makes you cherish the holidays more. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow so let’s live each day like it’s our last. Don’t sweat the small stuff, forgive others, and fill your lives with love, compassion, understanding and joy. And no matter how good or bad you have it, be thankful for your life because someone else may be fighting for theirs.

Something exciting happened to our family this year. My brother Shane and his wife Amy had a baby! He’s a little miracle and has turned years of affliction into joy. Children change everything and they sure do brighten up the holidays. He is the love of my life and brings happiness to everyone around him. Not only do I get to spend Thanksgiving with him, but I’ll be there for his first birthday, Christmas and New Years too! You should have seen how cute he was on Halloween. Yes…that’s me with the Yankees hat.
I’m also thankful for the great friends in my life. This past year I’ve met some incredible new friends as well who hold a very special place in my heart. I’m a very private person and I respect the privacy of others so I won’t name names, but you know who you are. Thank you for your love, support, and the always entertaining and anticipated phone calls and text messages. You make my life complete. Hope to see you soon.
I’m also thankful for my career. I get to work with so many talented people and have the most exciting life. I get to travel, meet new people, and do something I love. I feel fortunate and I don’t take anything for granted.

I want to leave you with an image. Although this day is joyous and many of us will be spending it with loved ones eating great food and watching football games, remember that some people have not eaten today. And they won’t eat tomorrow or the next day or the next.
That photo was not to depress you but to make you aware of just how blessed you are. When I first saw that image, it made me cry. It broke my heart to see this woman and her child suffering and in need. I looked at the little boy and thought what if that was my nephew. And what if that was his mother. Sometimes when I need a reminder to stay humble and serve others, I get out this picture. It’s not to ruin your Thanksgiving or make you sad, it’s to remind you of how thankful you should be today and every day. And if you have the opportunity to help someone, do it.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and cherish the time you get to spend with family and friends. I cherish each and every one of you and I’m sending you lots of love today. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll write again soon.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Meet AnnaLynne McCord, Actress and activist beautiful inside and out.

Although baseball season is over, the Yankees Hat is still traveling and this time it went from one extreme to the other. I started off in sunny Florida where the temperature was 80 degrees, the sun was shining and I spent most of my time on the beach. I was covering a charity event with some Miami Dolphins legends 

and then two days later, I ended up in South Bend Indiana with a massive snowstorm experiencing the wrath of Mother Nature and the polar vortex. 

I hate the snow and cold but it ended up being a great trip because I had the opportunity to meet an amazing actress and activist, AnnaLynne McCord who spoke about a very powerful topic.

I had just arrived in South Bend from Florida. I was back in town for the Notre Dame Football game and also visiting some friends and family. I had a lot on my agenda but as I was reading through my emails, I came across an invitation to a campus event with AnnaLynne McCord. She was talking about her personal experience with sexual assault and forgiveness.
You all know her as a beautiful model and actress but I got to know her as a beautiful human being. She was funny, witty, charismatic and full of life. She was an incredible speaker and her words were powerful. She was not only honest, down to earth and real, but she is by far one of the nicest people you will ever meet. She had you laughing one minute and thinking about serious issues and life the next. She stayed afterwards to meet all of her fans and was there for over an hour talking and listening to everyone with a smile the entire time. I was truly impressed. I give her so much credit for being so cordial and generous and for not being afraid to speak about what happened. She is the voice for so many people who don’t have one. 

When I met her I told her what an impact she had on my life and thanked her for sharing her experience so that others could learn, grow and heal from it. She was thoughtful and attentive. A true beauty on the inside and out. She genuinely listened to what everyone had to say and made eye contact throughout each conversation. She gave lots of hugs to every person that came up to her and it was obvious that she truly cares about people. 

I was so glad I had the chance to meet her in person and hear her speak. I will support all of her efforts down the road and encourage you to do the same and learn more about her. If you ever have the chance to hear her speak at an event you will love it. She’s a strong woman who didn’t let what happened to her take over her life. I admire her for being so brave and opening up so that others could learn from her.  
As I was trudging through the snow on my way back to my car, I had to ask myself why in the world was I even out in this cold. I knew the answer. I was meant to hear AnnaLynne’s message tonight and now I’m sharing it with you. I passed the Golden Dome which was covered in snow and the campus began to look different to me. I’m not a fan of the outdoors especially in the winter, but this particular night was actually quite breathtaking. 

There was a purity to it...which is the word that entered my mind. The message I got from tonight was about becoming pure again. There is a bible verse about becoming white as snow. We can all become pure again and find our purity through forgiveness, redemption and healing. It was a symbolic night with the snow. One I will never forget.

Thank you AnnaLynne McCord. You inspired me to share this story and to think about my own life and struggles and to remember that no matter what happens in life, we all have the power and ability to free ourselves and learn from adversity instead of letting it take over our life and rob us of true happiness.

That's me in the snow. Life is good. Enjoy it to the fullest! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What we should learn from the Michael Del Zotto situation

I wasn't sure if I was going to write again in my blog until next season, but after an unfortunate turn of events, I feel compelled to share some thoughts.

I recently filmed an episode for a sports series I’m working on called Beyond The Offseason. I wrote about it in my blog a few months ago. It’s a show about athletes giving back and making a difference. It was created to put athletes in a positive light since there are so many negative things happening in the sports world today. This particular episode featured a 12 year old boy with cerebral palsy and his best buddy, an NHL athlete. It was a beautiful story of friendship and hope. The athlete was Michael Del Zotto. Ironically, Michael was recently involved in a situation that not only hurt his reputation, but it also affected his career and personal life which in return, had an impact on Beyond The Offseason.

The reason I’m writing about this situation is because I have gotten emails, phone calls, tweets and messages from random people about the episode we did with Michael and Liam since the incident happened. Some were kind, but a lot of them were not so kind which is heartbreaking because the show was pure and innocent. There were people involved who were hurt so I felt the need to stand up for the integrity of the show and everyone involved in it. You would think people would have the decency to leave a young boy, his family and a project with heart out of this mess, but unfortunately that is not the case.

I won’t get into to details but all of this drama and pain was caused by a woman in the adult entertainment industry who made claims about the athlete and sent out numerous humiliating tweets about Del Zotto in a twitter blast over something very juvenile. It ended up destroying lives.

I had to ask myself “why”? Why would anyone do something like this? What kind of person is this woman? She accused the athlete of something so trivial. Did he really deserve public humiliation over this? Does anyone really deserve this? There were better ways to handle this situation.

My question to this woman who started everything is…Did you ever think for one second how many lives this would effect and how many people this would hurt?
Did you think for one second that it might damage his career? His family life? His friends? And most importantly, his friendship with a 12 year old boy living with cerebral palsy?

I decided to watch the video again of the episode we did with Michael and Liam to make sure that everything I saw and experienced that day was true. I found myself in tears. I saw a young NHL hockey player who truly cared about a little boy who had many struggles in his life. There was nothing phony about it. I was there. I saw the friendship between the two and also between the entire family with Michael, which is why it’s so heartbreaking to watch everything unfold and to watch this misunderstood athlete be on public display for humiliation and ridicule. He has been mocked, scorned, laughed at, made fun of and has been treated so unkind it makes my heart ache. I know a lot of athletes who have done much worse – they just chose to do it with people who weren't vindictive.

I was in tears because this beautiful story had been tarnished by a woman who did not care about anyone but herself the day she decided to get revenge. There is no doubt in my mind that Michael Del Zotto is a great person. The little boy with cerebral palsy agrees and so do his parents. It was a very special day and as I got to know Michael and Liam better, I saw their friendship blossom and it touched my life and soul because this athlete meant every word he said and was one hundred percent genuine in everything he did.

But people don’t care. They just like to see the bad things in life. What a disappointing world we live in.

Del Zotto might have made a careless mistake, but it doesn't change his heart which is full of kindness and compassion. I think the biggest mistake he made was trusting a porn star to be his friend. I think we can all admit we've done some stupid things in our life, and we've all made bad choices, but if we learn and grow from them it makes us better people. No one is perfect. We have all done something we’re ashamed of or wish we could take back. Michael Del Zotto is a 24 year old NHL hockey player who started his career at a young age in New York City. I’m sure the spotlight and lifestyle got the best of him…it does to a lot of athletes. The difference is that he got involved with someone who chose to hurt him instead of help him. 

A lot of young athletes today need help and guidance. It’s a big adjustment to play sports professionally. Many careers have been ruined from not being able to handle the fame, money and power. You know what would have been a better solution from this woman… to simply care about this young athlete and have some empathy instead of being the woman scorned. Maybe say to him “I think you need some help. Let me be a friend and help you figure out why you're doing this”. Not “I’m annoyed and I’m gonna throw you to the wolves”. But it sounds like she may have some problems of her own. We all do. I just don’t understand why people have to be so hateful. I think it all stems from loneliness and pain. I feel sorry for this woman and I feel sorry for what she did to Del Zotto. This incident should have never happened.

I hope we can all learn something from this. To all the men out there…please stop looking at women as objects. I know it’s tough to avoid when people in the adult entertainment industry like this woman prey on the lonely and make a living at being an object, and every add, TV show and magazine focuses on beauty, sex and scandal, but you have to know that there are some decent women out there who are more than just a pretty face or hot body. And girls, don’t lose your class and dignity. Don’t be so desperate for love and attention that you sacrifice your integrity or beliefs. It’s hard to keep up with the fantasy world that has been created in society, but just be yourself and love who you are and in return, the right person will love you back.

There’s more to life than just a pretty face, fame or money. We need to stop hurting each other and start loving and respecting each other more. Let this be a lesson to all of us. 

Men…you need to have more respect for women. And women…you need to have more respect for yourselves.

And to anyone making negative comments to me about the episode, the little boy and his family or Michael, please stop. The goal at Beyond The Offseason was to tell an inspirational story with heart and that was accomplished

No matter what is being said, Michael Del Zotto is still a good guy and Liam is a brave young boy who has many hopes and dreams and this is his friend. Lets not be hateful or hurtful to anyone involved. Here’s the video. It speaks for itself...