Each of us has every right to live the life that we want to live, not one that is dictated by other people’s designs. This has definitely been the way for Michael Vincent Berry, the uber-famous actor, father, coach and master of mayhem known for playing unhinged roles in several successful films. Michael brings in joy and good news to us as he joins Dorci Hill in this wonderful exchange of pleasant stories and thoughts. Listen in as he talks about his amazing journey into fatherhood, the wonderful things that have come to him in his career and the beginnings of positive changes in the entertainment industry that would keep each of us crossing our fingers. Make sure not to miss Dorci’s good news and parting thoughts at the end of the episode. This one is going to impact you for the rest of your life.

Listen to the podcast here:

Joy, Love, Massacre & Mayhem – All In A Day’s Work With Michael Berry
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Joy, Love, Massacre & Mayhem – All In A Day’s Work With Michael Berry

Joy, love, massacre and mayhem, it’s all in a day’s work. That’s what’s on the Healthy, Happy, Fun menu. It’s time to get you tuned in, turned on, and tuned up with your weekly dose of The Healthy, Happy, Fun Hour. It’s my mission to turn your frown upside down and teach you how to incorporate play, purpose, and pleasure into your daily routine so that you create that lifestyle that you want to wake up to every day that’s full of love and laughter. Joining me is none other than the uber-famous and about to be even more uber-famous, Michael Berry. He’s a former theater teacher, father, actor and master of mayhem, a wonderful new friend and fellow actor, my brother from another mother. Welcome, Michael.

How are you?

I am doing well. How are you?

I’m fantastic.

I’m tickled to have you with me for our little chat because you and I both agreed there’s nowhere near enough joy, happiness and healthy fun in the world these days. That’s why we love movies, shows and storytelling. The world needs more good news and good stories from good people like you. I can’t wait to share some more of my favorite good news stories from around my neighborhood, from around the US, and even the globe. Stay right where you are, be comfortable, get your favorite beverage and don’t go anywhere. We’re about to get started. Michael, how are you doing?

I’m fantastic. Life is good. I’m busy with work, getting ready for new projects, wrap projects that I’m working on, and submitting for new stuff down the road.

At least from my perspective, and I’m making an assumption, yours as well, that you’re living your best, happy, joyful life these days. The title is Joy, Love, Massacre and Mayhem. It’s appropriate and people will find out why I lumped all of that together in our conversation. With this acting career, did this journey start all that years ago where you were living your best healthy, happy life back then, and it began with the first step where you are always enacting? Tell me a little bit about that.

[bctt tweet=”Find a good team, believe in yourself, declare what you want and then go for it.” via=”no”]

The first recollection I have of being in an acting role was playing the toy soldier at the end of the line in my little preschool Christmas pageant. I remember that so well, all of this fun, excitement, and my little costume. I think I was probably around 4 or 5 years old. My father was in the military so I moved around a lot. I remember being in Virginia at some point. I’m from Texas originally. I was being in the best show carwash. There is a carwash musical review of this in my little elementary school. I probably was in 1st or 2nd grade when I did that, but the biggest influence on me getting into entertainment was, and I love telling this story, back in the ‘50s, my mother used to do pantomiming, which we now know as lip-syncing. She had won this big Texas contest and she was due to go on The Jack Paar Show.

The Jack Paar Show was before Johnny Carson. He was bigger than Johnny Carson. Due to some family issues, my grandmother got very ill and she wasn’t able to go. From a very young age, I remember my mom standing up in front of a record player in our house with a wooden spoon in her hand lip-syncing Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s Island in the Stream, The Gambler, and all of that. To some degree, she was living vicariously through me, pantomime singer, lip-syncer or something, but then I started doing theater in middle school, in high school, and then I went off to college to do that. I’ve been doing theater for many years and then made the leap over into film and television a few years ago,

Some people start things late. They live dreams a little bit later. It’s never ever too late to start living your dream or even pivot from one to another by any means. There is something in your life story, and I don’t know if I’ve told you this before, we have something in common. I understand you adopted three beautiful children and they’re all deaf. Is that correct?

That’s right. I have three children. We were in San Francisco and my ex-partner is deaf as well. We were looking at adopting a child. The first route we went, we tried to do an open adoption where we could adopt a newborn baby and matching with a mother. That process was taking a little bit longer than we had hoped. In addition, my partner at the time, being deaf, he wanted to have a deaf child, but there’s no way to guarantee that at birth. We came home one day from work and I said, “I’m not leaving this house until we come to a decision about what we’re doing for this adoption.”

We sat in that house the whole weekend and on Sunday night, we made the choice that we were going to look for a child that was a little bit older that we could know that was guaranteed that was deaf. That next Monday, he got on a plane with his boss who was deaf. He worked for a deaf organization there in San Francisco. He went on a business trip and his boss sat down on the airplane seat with him and said, “I met this amazing family. They’re fostering three deaf children.” My partner was like, “What?” Long story short, we got in contact with the foster family.

A series of things happened. Within three months, they moved in with us and a year later, on Father’s Day one weekend, our adoption was finalized. We adopted our children when they were 3, 4, and 5, and they are now 13, 14, and 15. We like to say we adopted in bulk like Costco, which is ironically where this woman saw these kids. They certainly have made a huge difference in our life. People at the beginning were always talking about how we saved these kids. I’m like, “If you only knew, these kids saved me.”

I love to hear that story because I was also adopted as a child. I ended up with the best family ever. I did go on a search when I was old enough and found my biological family on my mother’s side. That was interesting finding out that I have brothers. I’m the oldest of three. It was a different situation. We all had different dads and that kind of thing, but because of that, I got to meet them. I have my brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles and met my grandparents. It was awesome. I have such a heart for those that foster to adopt, or go through the adoption process period because there are many kids out there whose joyful dream is to have a loving family.

Unhinged Actor: It is particularly critical for people in the entertainment industry to find their niche.

There were some difficult times in the beginning. We had to go through the proceedings of our children severing the ties with their mother. Our children had different fathers as well. That was difficult in the beginning and we kept trying to tell their birth mother, reassure her that we would always make sure that these kids were part of her life and they are. Basically, they see her about 3 or 4 times a year. My daughter had her quinceañera last October 2020, and her biological family was a major part of that. Our children are Latino. We also try to expose them to as much of their culture as possible. That ongoing availability for relationship, we thought it was important from the beginning so that one day, down the road, they’re not searching for who, where, why and how come and all of that. They can do that from the beginning.

That’s a little bit off our topic, but I’m glad it came up because there are people that I’ve met in my life who adopted a child and then they never told them that they were adopted. I’m telling you, it comes out at some point.

That’s the big secret. It’s a big lie.

Sometimes they don’t understand. It’s like I knew from the moment I could understand and comprehend that I was adopted. My mom used to say that I was her adopted angel. My sister was her biological angel. She adopted me and nine months and two days later, she had my sister. We are the same age for about three months of the year. It’s crazy, but then you hear these people that never tell their kids and even knowing, I still wanted to know. I still had the questions, “Who am I? What do I look like?” It is because I look like no one in my family whatsoever. They were all dark-headed, curly hair. I’m the only blonde in the family. I have a question. Your kids are deaf, are they any bit creative? Are they interested in any of the arts, music, acting, writing, singing, anything like that like their dad?

My middle son’s name is Juan. From time to time, he likes to get up and be the center of attention and tell jokes. He should be a comedian. My daughter, not really, because she was the oldest of the three and they went through some pretty traumatic stuff as kids. She has always been very much the mother of the three of them and one of the things that the biggest challenges we had in the beginning was trying to let her be a kid. She has her motherly tendency. She was looking at maybe being a nurse or maybe a veterinarian because she loves animals. My youngest son, Mario, although he takes after me quite a bit, he’s a little challenging at times. He is a big Christmas ham. He’s been going into coding, so anything technology-driven.

He’s a big gamer. He excels at that type of activity so we’ll see. He bought the computer over the summer to deaf camp. I do well to be able to turn on the light switch and work the remote control on the television. I tell my children what I used to tell my students when I was a teacher and that is, “I don’t care what you choose to be. I will support you for whatever you choose to be in life.” Part of the fun is exploring and see where they’re going to end up. I didn’t pivot until I was 49 years old and go into an area that I wanted to do all my life. It took me a long time to get here.

It’s almost like you pivoted. You hear this in marketing a lot, “You have to niche down, because if you market or speak to anybody, everybody or somebody, then you’re speaking to nobody.” In the acting world, if you are too widely cast, then it’s like, “What exactly is his or her specialty? What is their creative genius?” You can always have a tangent off from there and it seems like once you pivoted, all of a sudden, the world has opened up for you like crazy.

[bctt tweet=”Don’t just write your wish down on a dream board and then go sit in the corner. Take active steps and always do what’s next.” via=”no”]

I think it’s critical for people in the entertainment industry, in particular. When I left education years ago, I left a great job, a great salary and health benefits to pursue a film and television career. I didn’t know where to begin. I had been teaching theater for so long and I’d been an actor myself for so long on the stage, but I’d never been to film or television credits or anything like that. I didn’t have an agent. I didn’t even know where to begin. A lot of this stuff for the first couple of years, I was making up on my own and learning as I went. I would pick up a little class here or a video here and I’d work with a coach over here.

I started trying to finely tune what it was I was doing. To your point, in the beginning, I got to call it throwing spaghetti up against the wall. I would take every commercial if possible. I would take every student film, any independent project, anything I could get my hands on to get me experience on set and to also help build my resume. I was living in San Francisco at the time. I had lived in Boston, in New York. I lived all over, but I couldn’t afford San Francisco prices anymore if I was going to quit my job. I hadn’t been home in many years, so I moved back to Texas which was a great move for me. It enabled me to be closer to my family, but it also enabled me to start this film and television career, and build up my resume.

I was throwing stuff up against the wall, whatever stuff I would take. I’ve done some crazy stuff. I guess I made the shift. I was doing some wonderful projects across the country. I am doing some live interactive stuff for HBO and Netflix with a company called Miko 2 out of Los Angeles, but I didn’t have any niche market. I was marketing myself too. I began to start branding myself. I had a few different coaches that I hired to help me in that process and what I started noticing was my resume looked like I was playing the killer, the rapist and ax murderer. I’m like, “I see how people are seeing me.” They’re not the most endearing characters, but they are ones that I’ve latched onto because that’s how the world was seeing me in the film and television world. When I went from this big, wide range all the way to super focused, that’s when I started putting in a lot of work. My branding took off in that nature. My moniker is unhinged because I played these characters. It is like a spectrum.

If you can imagine an arc, at the bottom of that, it would be something like Lindy from Of Mice and Men, who was a little off-center, for whatever reasons. At the top of that arc would be a raging lunatic rapist. I played that too, and then everything in between is on that spectrum of unhinged. By making that what I’m known for, I then am able to specifically go for buyers that are looking to hire the product that I am, which is unhinged. It enabled me to focus a lot on my work. The great thing too is I was told that it’s yet to be aired. It’s coming up this fall on Sony and Amazon called Them: Covenant. It’s a new Amazon series where I play a serial killer-rapist, raped the star of the show in Season 1 episode 3 or 4. The showrunner for that show set me down on a break while I was filming that in 2019 and said, “We did an amazing job casting because it takes a lot for an actor to mechanically walk through a rape scene for four days.” We filmed one scene for four days because it was so mechanical.

This is all those post-Harvey Weinstein. There are a lot of things to be aware of and cautious of, and those types of environments. They’re very mechanical in the process. He said, “We could have someone like you who can play that role and play convincingly, yet come sit by craft and have lunch. You are like raping teddy bear.” That’s the fun part. People may normally assume that, “This is a horrible person,” but that’s what they call it acting and there are opportunities when they get to know me as a person.

In many of these examples that you’re giving, we can draw parallels to anything in life no matter what job, career, and dream. If you are throwing all sorts of things out to the universe going, “I think I like this. I think I can do this. This sounds cool,” the universe, and you and I both are huge on believing what you put out in the world comes back. When you’re in alignment, it comes back for your highest and greatest good, yet if you’re throwing all this spaghetti all over the universe’s walls, it’s like, “Michael’s awesome. He can play the joyful teddy bear. He can also play this most decrepit person that you would want to put in jail, or shoot and it’d be done with. We’re not sure exactly how much to give him, which one to give him.”

It applies to everything. We’re both creative so I wanted to have a fun, creative conversation because the cool thing with the shift and the changes that COVID has brought about, especially for the acting/creative world, recording. There’s so much that’s done in person and online. I’m hearing from a lot of casting directors that this is not going to change. They see this as an add on to in-person casting sessions, also still doing Zoom casting sessions, or on camera casting going forward. Those who want to create, the nice thing is in the process of, if you’re one of those that are wanting to be on TV in the acting world, whatever the case may be, you get the opportunity to be able to create and stream your own shows. You don’t have to wait until you get picked up to start creating your own content and getting stuff out in the world saying, “Universe, this is not spaghetti all over the place. I’m throwing it right here in this one place. See me and come find me. Let’s go.”

Unhinged Actor: While there is still a long way to go, we now see actors of color and actors with disabilities find much more opportunity than ever before

It’s been amazing. At first, it was the initial panic in the industry of, “What we’re going to do? What’s going to happen?” There were a lot of us that took that opportunity to enhance our branding and our marketing classes to create our own content, which is what you’re speaking of. It opened the door and given actors a lot more control over their work. You used to have to fly if you’re out of state to go to in-person auditions where casting directors are realizing, “We don’t have to have the actor in the room for our initial audition. Callbacks, maybe on Zoom. Producer meetings, final decision-making, chemistry reads are certainly in the room.” It has provided an outlet for actors to be able to create from their living room. Another great about that too is you used to have to live in LA, New York, Atlanta, which are major markets. It puts people like myself who live in Austin on an equal playing field because we’re able to create and send off our stuff. It’s exciting, also the ability for us to make our own content, it opens up a lot of doors. It’s almost like a must where actors need to go because there’s so much competition.

There are two things that I’ve heard in some other acting groups that I think we both are in as well. They are talking about doing that. Even though there’s plenty of people wanting to break into acting to some degree, wherever they want to go, because there are many different places, genres, and areas that you can go for like different acting, hosting, whatever. There’s still a lot that will post pictures or maybe audio, and they’re still not super comfortable yet doing videos. Even as virtual as we are, there’s still a way to put yourself ahead, no matter what it is, to get yourself out visually. There was a telesummit that I was on last time. One of the actors from Breaking Bad was on and was one of our featured speakers. He is a Latino actor as well.

Somebody was asking and said, “What was the difference from when you first became an actor to now? Was it harder or easier?” He’s been acting for many years and there were few roles for his super niche Latino, so he said, “There just weren’t that many opportunities. You had to live in one of the major markets in order to go to castings, places or whatever. Now, the awesome thing is you can live anywhere and send in demos. You can create your own. It’s so much easier now to be able to get out in the world.” I was like, “This goes for anyone that wants to create anything. We have so many amazing platforms that initially are no charge unless you want to start to do some advertising or something. You can put stuff up for free in many different places and then start tagging casting directors or talent agents or start following people and retweeting and all this stuff.” The world is an oyster waiting for you, no matter what you want to do to say, “Here’s my thing. I’m unhinged and here I am. I’m great. I’m awesome. Here’s my stuff, now let’s go to work.”

The accessibility is awesome and the ability to create, as you’re speaking out, but the other thing that is happening from a social justice standpoint that’s married to the timing of all of this is now we have actors of color, actors with disabilities, and actors that are finding much more opportunity than ever before. There’s still a long way to go. I’ve saw a posting for a role for an actor. The character was in a wheelchair. They weren’t even necessarily looking for an actor that was using a wheelchair, which we still have some work to go. The accessibility factor during all of this time as well and the awareness is also exciting because there are days where I’m self-submitting. I have an agent in Texas as well as in New York and LA, and my manager’s in LA, but I also self-submit. There are far more opportunities for African-American, Latino and Asian-Americans. I see several deaf characters. That’s all a good thing that we have an opportunity for everyone.

I love that because of the conversations that I’ve been privy to around what’s happening in acting. I was doing an on-scene script reading course last time and it was a casting director that is working on casting Euphoria. I think that’s in HBO.

I know it well. My former student is the executive producer and star of the show.

We were having a conversation with him. He’s a super nice guy. He was talking about that even in Hollywood, they are getting tired of seeing the same 4 or 5 female or male lead faces. Viewers are wanting people like them on the screen. They want to see someone that looks like them and talks like them. It’s more like where they can put themselves in that person and in that story. That’s what I’m excited about that going into the end of 2020 and in 2021, there are many more opportunities for whatever your creative outlet is. The world is like, “We want it. We’re ready. Let’s go.” You have these wonderful kiddos, and you’re also a Tony Award nominee or a Tony Award winner.

[bctt tweet=”“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you’ve got to put up with the rain.” – Dolly Parton” via=”no”]

No. It was a special Tony Award for my work in theater education. I was in public education for about fifteen years. When that work took off, I was working for performing arts high school in Oakland School For The Arts. You briefly mentioned Zendaya, the star of Euphoria. I was Zendaya’s theater teacher.

I had to break it. I know you’re over the moon excited because you were her teacher and you’re like a proud papa, “Look at my students.”

She probably represents Oakland. She probably represents the African-American community. She is a strong female. I just saw the new release of the trailer. She’s nominated for an Emmy in 2020 for her work on Euphoria. She has a lot of opportunities. I worked there. I was the theater director, then I became the artistic director there. I was in the shower one morning, getting ready to go to work, and we had the kids for about six months. I realized that I could not provide the same opportunity for my own deaf children, who I adopted, that I did for my kids that I was teaching at the performing arts high school. You had to audition to get in. That began to shift some of my thinking in the ways that I was teaching. I won a fellowship and went to Glasgow and studied with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

I studied and did work on deaf studies theater. I brought that back home to Oakland and began to champion for kids with disabilities to have equal access to the arts. One of my projects that I was most proud of was we did a collaboration between the Oakland School For The Arts and the California School for the Deaf in Fremont. We brought deaf students and actors up to Oakland and we’d co-produce Rent, the musical. We had hearing students singing in the show and deaf students signing the show where they’re paired with each actor. It was an amazing opportunity and experience. I was nominated for a special Tony Award for my work and education.

Congratulations on that. You can definitely not only see and feel, but you can also hear the joy when you talk about the theater and your teaching, especially kids with any bit of different ability, giving them equal opportunity. Let’s face it, at this time, it’s about equal opportunity across the board no matter what. We all should have that opportunity, so kudos to you for that. That was amazing. I want to ask you for advice because this would be appropriate for anyone no matter what they’re doing, especially if they’re wanting to start taking that first step to living their dream. Especially as adults, we get older and we forget to dream. Secondly, even if that dream is still there, we’re afraid and fearful to step out and take that leap of faith. It’s almost like we get into a place where we think it’s not okay to dream or to leave. You left a secure position to step out into a dream. You stepped down in faith and you went and did it. What advice would you give to not only to those that are new in the arts or acting across the board so that they don’t give up on their dreams?

The first thing I would say is to surround yourself with a good team that can keep you in the right frame of mind and in the right mindset. That’s what all of this has been about for me. I knew I love the theater. I knew I love the arts. In the back of my mind, I’m like, “I’m decent at it,” but it was the belief that I could do it, I could have it, or I deserved it, and canceling out all of the other negative chatter that’s there. It runs in all of us, acknowledging it but also like, “Thank you,” and then moving on. It’s never too late. I pivoted at 48 years old. Let go of how it shows up. Get out of your own way. For so long, I’m like, “It’s got to be this way. I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to be on this show. I going to do this.” When I declared what it is I was going to have, set myself with the right mindset, surrounded myself with a team of people who were able to coach me in that. I had my mindset team and my creation team in place, then I went in and added the specialty, the acting coaches, the business coaches, and the branding coaches.

Start with a team of people that will support you in your vision. That’s the most important thing and declare what you’re going to have, get out of your way, and let it happen. You probably heard this before, “If everything is available for you, choose it.” Choose it because we’re already choosing anyway. When we choose a deliberate choice, then it makes a difference. I tell people, “There will be days that you don’t believe in yourself.” There’ve been plenty of days of this journey that I would want to like, “Pack it up. Pack the lights up and go sit in the corner and get another job.” Those are the days that I kept pressing forward. It’s a journey and that’s a stream that’s flowing.

Unhinged Actor: Surround yourself with a good team that can keep you in the right frame of mind.

I don’t know if you’ve heard this one or not, but it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever heard by one of my coaches. He was singing of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. The song is, “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” When you break that song down and listen to it, row your boat, not somebody else’s. I’ve been rowing my kids’ boats, the kids I used to teach, so I’m like, “I would love to be in their position, but I’m rowing their boat.” I got to run my own boat. Row your boat gently down the stream, not up against it. Merrily, life is but a dream. Yes, it is. Declare what it is, let it be, and then do what’s next. This isn’t like write your wish down on a dream board and then go sit in the corner, instead of take active steps. Do what’s next. That’s been a big thing. Find a good team, believe in yourself, declare what you want, and then go for it.

I love how you said that. I know the song, but I’ve never honestly broken it down like that. Especially gently, because here’s the thing that I am completely against now and making it part of my mission is to bust the image that everything has to be a struggle in order for you to be a success. That is not the case.

I am with you on that. People are always like, “You’re out there fighting the good fight.” Some of the terms I hear sometimes are, “Why are you doing that?” One of the things I hear all the time, “It’s COVID, there’s no work.” I’ve been working like crazy. It’s all about your mindset. Those roles, they’re going to someone. Someone’s got to make those movies. It might as well be us.

I modeled years ago when I was younger. It’s the same also with acting because you might have a whole lot of people show up in a room, be on a casting call, or whatever the case may be, and someone else gets the role, the job or the commercial. You go into this, “What did I do wrong? Why not me? Am I ever going to get there?” The thing that helped shift a lot of things for me is to say, “Be in gratitude instead of jealousy. Be grateful for that person, always thankful.” It’s true because you’re here. How many people are even in that room to begin with? You’re already in a smaller pool of people because you showed up and you’re in the room. Be happy and grateful for that person because there is more than enough to go around and them getting whatever means that yours is coming to.

It’s also building each other up. I have a great group of actor friends here in the Austin area, California and New York as well. Particularly, I’m talking about these amazing actors here in Austin. We are such a great tight-knit group. We applaud each other like, “I want somebody to succeed because I want them to bring me on their project when they do and vice versa. I want us to get there together.” The moment I realized that it was my own journey and I could hope and pray that one of my multimillionaire former students would bring me on their show. I would love that, but mine is a different journey and it will lead to a different place. Once I was able to embrace that and let go of the, “I wish that was me.” I know that I will have my impact the way that it’s supposed to be.

You will shine and be exactly where the universe wants you to be and that’s the joyful part of what you do. As you said, letting it go, embracing the journey, and knowing that not only will you be where you want to be, you’ll be somewhere even greater because you’ve let go of the expectation. You’re rowing your own boat gently, not up the stream fighting, but down the stream. Tell me something real quick. What is a fun fact about you, Michael, that people may not know simply by looking at you?

When I was two years old and living in East Texas, where there are big pine trees and lots of ticks, I got bit by a tick and got Rocky Mountain spotted fever and was in a coma for two weeks.

[bctt tweet=”You are not a template. Do not live your life according to someone else’s design.” via=”no”]

I thought I said fun fact.

Fun fact, I lived. My father was back from overseas to plan for my funeral.

I’m glad you made it. Michael, thank you for being here and sharing some of your journey and your personal story because we’d love to hear that. Let’s face it, stories sell and bring us in and increase not only the know, like, and trust, but the authentic version of ourselves, which we all need more of. It was such a good new story with where you’ve been with your family, which is awesome, where you are now, and where your star is streaking out of this universe growing. I’m excited for you and to see your journey. I’m so happy to share it with you. Don’t worry, guys, you will all have access to Michael and all of his stuff. Go to the website at PlayWithMeRetreats.com/podcast.

If you go to the site, you’ll be able to see all about him and click to follow him wherever because you need to follow what he’s doing. He’s up to some amazing things. I promise, when you look at them, you will be like, “How on Earth can that adorable face be doing the things that he’s doing?” That shows you how wonderful you are at creating and tapping into that divine nature of letting go and becoming something even better and greater. I’m going to wrap up our conversation with what I call A Dollop of Dorci. In your honor, this is about acting in life tips. We know there is no mistake when it happens in the universe. You’ve mentioned someone, Dolly Parton. I have a quote from her. The one that she has here, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you’ve got to put up with the rain.”

You cannot appreciate the rainbow if not for the rain.

If you are in touch with your creative child-like center, you can enjoy and have fun in the rain while you’re waiting for that rainbow. There’s always a happy ending at the end of it if you change your mindset. This last one is from Robin Williams. “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You must not lose it.” I like that. I was like, “You definitely tap into that spark of madness and mayhem and do it well. That’s why your star is going off the charts.” Congratulations again to you. I’m excited to watch your journey and be a small part of it helping share that out with the world for you. Thanks again for being here with me and our readers. We’re going to say a short goodbye to Michael for now and then we’re going to say hello to some good news stories. It’s time for me to say I’m feeling some way and I’m feeling like I need a good news story in my day.

I’m telling you, that is the best part of my day, hearing that little song. I can’t help it. I giggle and smile the whole way through. I’m tapping my fingers and my feet. Let’s get right into the good news. I did not share this one at the end of 2020 so I wanted to share it now because this is a good news story for any time of the year. It is heartwarming. A Florida man paid the utility bills for 114 families at risk of having their utilities shut off. He’s a Florida businessman named Michael Esmond and he once again has paid the utility bills of families who are at risk of having their utilities shut off during the holiday season. In 2019, he paid the utility bills of 36 households in his community of Gulf Breeze. In 2020, he decided to up the ante since so many people are out of work and they’re having to stay at home and things are up in the air because of the thing that everyone was going crazy with, COVID.

Unhinged Actor: Happiness is not a checklist on a page. You have every right to live the way that you want to live.

Mr. Esmond donated $7,600 to pay for the past due bills of 114 households. That was according to Joanne Oliver, the city’s utility billing supervisor. Holiday cards notifying the residents were mailed out. Can you imagine being the recipient of that? That would make my entire day, month and year having gotten something like that in the mail out of the blue. How amazing is that? Mr. Esmond is the owner of Gulf Breeze Pools and Spas. He said he had a good year in 2020, and he wanted to share what he has with the people who need it.

He has been down on his luck like people are now and he has also had trouble paying bills. He’s raising three daughters. He was in a position to where the gas company shut off and they didn’t have any heat. He knows exactly what these people are going through and that was one of the biggest motivators for him because he has been there. If that doesn’t make your heart all warm and fuzzy, I honestly don’t know what else would. I love sharing those stories about people paying it forward. They came across something good in their life, they had a good year, or they felt good and decided to share it. It’s those little things that you hear and you go, “Now I want to go do something.” The good begets good. You start doing good or you hear about good and you want to share it out.

That leads me to my final thought segment. When I was thinking about what I wanted to talk about, here we are, still at the beginning of the year 2021, and holding out all kinds of hope, joy, and expectation for a spectacular year. How can you do that? One of the best ways is to not live a templated life. I’m titling this, I Am Not a Template. What do I mean by that? Most of us, either at some point in our life or most of our lives, have been living according to someone else’s design. Let’s say you finished high school, and then you go to college. Typically, a lot of people go to college, get out of college and get a job, hopefully in their degree field.

You then work for a number of years, you get married, have kids, get a house, get a car, a dog, or a cat or one of each, and then the kids grow up. That’s living according to someone else’s design of what they think happiness is and what happiness looks like. I’m here to tell you that happiness is not a checklist on a page. You go to school, check. You graduated high school, check. You go to college, check. You get out and get a job, check. You work for a couple of years, you’re dating someone, and you get married, check. You then have 2.5 kids. You can go down the list and check. Honestly, is that the life that you want to live? If it is, kudos to you. Rock it. Live it to your highest and greatest. If it’s not, if you are going to school or getting some education in a specific field because your family wants to or there’s family pressure, you have to be honest with yourself at some point and say, “This is my life.” It is your life. You have every right to live it the way that you want to live. No matter what it is you want to do, however big, small, crazy or simple, it doesn’t matter.

Living according to someone else’s beliefs, someone else’s thoughts, someone else’s design is never going to make you happy. Honestly, it’s not going to make them happy either whoever you’re living it for because they are still living under the impression of this idea that doing these things in their life, and then you doing them in your life is going to make them and you happy. It’s not. It never will. It never has. You’re both going to end up or you and your family going to end up coming to the end of your life and realizing that, “I lived a life less than.” Who wants to live a life less than? I want to live it to the fullest, doing what I love and what makes my heart sing. That is making people happy. That is making people smile. It’s turning your frown upside down. By being in my presence, I make you feel good and make you feel warm. I make you feel energetic. That’s what I want to do. That is my jam. That is my gift. I abso-freaking-lutely loved doing it. Why would I do something else that I suck at? Is it because I went to school and got a degree in i, or because I felt pressure to go and do that?

It doesn’t make any sense. I cannot wrap my mind around that. Let’s face it, going into 2021, it’s a whole new year. If 2020 has not taught you something about the fact that life is going to be different and change is the only thing you can always guarantee is going to happen, then I don’t know what else to tell you guys. Let’s face it, 2020 was like all of the things and maybe not all of the things in a good way, although hopefully, it made you look at a lot of things in your life, in your business, your relationships and that made you sit back and think, “Do I want to continue on this path going forward into the new year, into the rest of my life? Is this going to be it for me?” If you haven’t done that, I invite you to sit down and take some time and start looking at where you were before 2020? Where you are now that 2020 is over? Are you still doing the same thing? Are you still thinking the same thing? Do you feel the same way? Are you comfortable where you are? I can promise you if you’re comfortable, you can stretch.

There’s some stretching you can do to reach that next goal and next step. You probably have some awesome thing in there deep inside that has been wanting to come out that is ready for you to reach in and pull it out and live it. I know I am. I’ve got some big things coming. I always have big things coming because I dream big. I am not a small dreamer. I am a big freaking huge dreamer. You’ve probably heard it as well, BHAG. That is your Big Hairy Audacious Goal. You’ve got to have one. Maybe yours is not quite as big as mine. Maybe it’s bigger than mine. Are you doing anything to get out and take the steps to live it or to make it come true? Are you still living in that template of what other people or society says that you need to do to either live a happy life or to be a productive member of society? Whatever the case may be, are you still living according to a piece of paper checking boxes off? I had to sit here and be like, “That’s not good enough anymore. It’s not going to cut it. It is not going into this New Year after everything we have been through, after everything you have been through, you deserve better. Claim it.”

I say it many times and I’m going to say it again because sometimes you are not ready to hear it the first time that you heard it. Maybe you’re ready to hear it this time, “You came with all the single thing that you need to live at every single dream that you have.” If you’re given the dream, it was given to you because you already have everything you need to make that dream, that BHAG, that Big Hairy Audacious Goal come true. However, if you’re still living according to someone else’s plan and design or beliefs, if you’re living off of a checklist, you will never ever move the needle forward to making that happen in your life. I’m telling you, it is here for you and you can have it because you’ve dreamed it. You just got to be okay with being a little bit uncomfortable and getting away from those boxes and coloring outside the lines, outside the box, and being your own person once and for all. Everybody else is already taken. There’s only you anyway, so be uniquely you. Step into it with all your glory because the world needs more people like you and me being our fabulous, amazing self.

That is it for my final thoughts in this episode. Thank you again for being here. If you guys are enjoying this, which I sincerely hope that you are, make sure that you share this out with someone that you think can get a giggle, some value, and have some fun reading it. Do me a favor, reach out to me, and let me know some of the things that maybe you’d like to hear about. If you’ve got a good news story that you’ve heard about, or you have done or know of, make sure you let me know. I would love to share it. I will definitely give you a shout-out because I love chatting with all of you. That is it for this episode. Thanks again for joining me and being here. As always, my wish for each and every one of you is that you are healthy, so happy and then having so much fun in this life that you’re living and creating. My biggest Texas love and hugs to each and every one of you. Bye for now.

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About Michael Berry

Michael is a working actor, former acting teacher, dad to 3 amazing adopted kids, and loves to play unique characters that make you wanna lock your doors at night! He’s infectious, silly, serious, playful and a bit demented when the part calls for it! You’ll never meet a nicer boogieman!

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