Monday, June 28, 2010


It all started with a post on my Facebook page that evoked several comments.
I especially was awakened by the one from Dr. Mary Ann Somervill, who in the several decades of our friendship, has constantly informed and enlightened me with her knowledge and insight. After all, what else could you expect from a Wiccan-Unitarian-English Professor?

Jerry Gillies I must be a great teacher. Several of my clients are reporting back to me increases in income far exceeding my own since our sessions together. I remember some years back teasing Jack Canfield about his getting a lot richer than me after attending some Moneylove workshops. And isn't that what teaching and mentoring is all about, having the student surpass you?

Saturday at 1:47pm · ·

MaryAnn Somervill
MaryAnn Somervill
That and learning from your students. Good for you, Jerry!
Saturday at 2:25pm · ·

And Mary Ann's comment filled in an important piece of it all, certainly a major part of why it feels so good when some you teach or coach or mentor takes in what you have to offer and processes it in his or her own unique way, filtering it through their own experience and turning into their own individual perception. It's the icing on the cake when you then get back from that former student something new that expands your own awareness and knowledge.

And it isn't only what I've termed the virtuous cycle (as opposed to a vicious cycle) involving the teacher and the student. It's also the basic cycle of life--the connection between parent and child. It is part of the natural and organic evolution of the species that the parent teaches the child so that the child will accomplish even greater wisdom and success than the parent--and hopefully pass it on to future generations.
And in the best of these multi-generational connections, the parent also learns from the child. Think how many parents have been depending, in recent years, on their kids to teach them the new technologies--how to master computers, the Internet, smart phones, etc.

And you don't have to be an author or teacher or coach to pass on valuable learning, especially by example. From my mother, Minnie Gillies, I learned to love the magic of books--she was a voracious reader. From my father, Edward Gillies, I learned how time was more important than money. Whenever he had to work overtime in his job as a foreman in a manufacturing plant, and had the choice between an extra day's pay and an extra day off, he always chose the time--even though the extra money would have been a nice addition to his lower middle income level.
Learning by example is still the best kind of learning there is.

I also learned some valuable lessons from the popular music of my childhood. I discuss this on my other blog at:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The title above is the kind of thing someone in authority says to us when we are being funny at inappropriate times or in inappropriate places. In school, for instance, where I was somewhat of a class clown. Or in the army, when a staff sergeant might take offense to laughter in formation, especially when he is citing some ridiculous military practice or rule. Or in prison, where, believe it or not, there is a lot of laughter about the sheer absurdity of a group of mostly neanderthal "correction officers" (that title alone, instead of the old "guard", is silly in the extreme) with little training or education have such total control over the inmates. Remember Hogan's Heroes?

And remember back in 2001, a week after 9/11, when comedian Bill Maher returned to the air with his ABC TV show, Politically Incorrect (one of my favorite shows for several years), and made a comment about how the terrorists flying planes into the World Trade Center buildings were definitely not cowardly, and compared this to the U.S. lobbing cruise missiles at enemies from thousands of miles away. Yes, it was over-the-top, and probably in bad taste. But it was intended satirically, not maliciously--and Maher was quickly fired.

Bill Maher had not paid attention to that famous quote, attributed to Woody Allen, Carole Burnett, and many others, "Comedy is Tragedy plus Time." Not enough time had gone by for most people to be ready to hear 9/11 made light of.

As someone who has written comedy, and thousands of cartoon gags, I am always seeing the humorous side of even very serious events. I do remember one cartoon not too long after 9/11 (certainly more than a week after) in The New Yorker. It showed a woman with a cat in a carrier, and a security guard speaking to her, saying, "I'm sorry, he'll have to have his nails clipped before you can board." I remember thinking I wish I had written that one myself.

One of the favorite ones I did for Bunny Hoest that was published in Parade, and I did it while I was in prison, showed a portly middle-aged man with a pile of prison clothing, obviously a new arrival. One guard said to another, "He says that, as a former CEO, he's entitled to a corner cell."
My fellow inmates got a big kick out of that because, even though Bunny and I had never met in person, the prisoner in her drawing looked a lot like me.

Then there's the oil spill, fodder for all sorts of late night talk show humor, and perhaps because after the initial explosion, no human has died from the effects of the massive pollution--yet, it is inspiring lots of satire and comedy. And just as George W. Bush was the butt of many of the jokes after Katrina, British Petroleum is receiving most of the humorous attention--and it's terrible, fumbling CEO just adds to the fuel. Maybe that was why it took a while for anything funny to be inspired by 9/11 and be acceptable: There was no obvious fumbling butt of the joke.

I came up with my contribution in response to a request from my longtime friend and poet Tere Star, who invited people to "Give voice to your feelings about this ecological catastrophe." for the Miami Poets Soiree.
I wrote and posted on FaceBook as well as emailing it to Tere:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
My ocean has suddenly
turned to goo.
That's what oil spills
tend to do.
Wildlife is dead,
BP be through.
But thanks to my theatre historian friend and Broadway musical expert, Bonnie Weiss (, I found someone who did a much more ambitious tribute, with fantastic production values, great lyrics, and a first-rate musical presentation. Though some of the visuals are a bit hard to take, I consider it a satirical masterpiece in the wake of this continuing tragedy. Let me know what you think.

And remember, what we can laugh at--we can survive and triumph over.

I also publish another blog, inspired by my bestselling book, Moneylove, and focused on prosperity.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Don't even try to figure out the title of this post before you read further. But I wanted to tell you the story of an amazing set of circumstances--though in fact, these kinds of things have been happening in my life with some frequency since my release from prison 21 months ago.

The first event in this series occurred last week. I got a new coaching client, and my favorite kind--someone who already has a lot of prosperity consciousness and a successful career and is living her passion. Her name is Sarah Paul and she is a cellist and the founder of a string quartet in Atlanta

I should mention that in my entire long life, I have never before known or even met a cellist.
The next event was on Friday night, when I at the last minute realized it was the monthly film night in a new series begun last month at Unity San Francisco. I decided to go into the city to attend. It was a double feature, and the first film was a lovely movie with a theme about death being an extension of life, and some other sub-themes, including one that might not be immediately noticed, but was significant for me: How we need to find our own true passion, and not rely on what others think is the best path for us. It was about a young cellist whose symphony orchestra was disbanded. Unemployed, he goes back to his home village from Tokyo and takes a job preparing bodies for burial with a ritualized hands-on bathing staged in front of friends and family. And it is obvious that despite his love of music, this is his true calling.

It is a Japanese film by director Yojiro Takita, starring Masahiro Motoki as the cellist and Ryoko Hirosue as his beautiful wife. I was quite taken with her quiet beauty and the astonishing way she has a repetoire of smiles to illuminate all sorts of emotions.
The next day, I found out Departures won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

And the last serendipitous event (these things usually run in threes, but who knows whether another one may be waiting in the wings?) came about because my theatre historian friend Bonnie Weiss called me yesterday to invite me today to a show she had a couple of tickets to. It's called Opus and is being staged by the acclaimed professional Theatre Works company in Mountain View, just down the road from my home in San Bruno. Imagine my amazed surprise when I Googled the title and discovered this description:

An internationally famous string quartet finds both harmony and dissonance in this smart, funny, and compelling study of artistic passion. Forced to find a new member just days before an appearance at the White House, they are caught in a crescendo of talent and personality, their collaboration tested and their art insecure. A behind-the-scenes look at the world of great music, this intriguing “dramedy” proves that making art and living life have many a measure in common.

And you can be sure there will be a cellist in this string quartet, and probably a lot of cello music during the show itself, which I am headed for in about two hours as Bonnie picks me up.

What is the significance of this string of cello related coincidences? Who knows? And this just brought up the thought that maybe one more such event is in the offing, which would make for a serendipitous string quartet of my own. Serendipity is described as happy accidents of fortunate discovery. I'm not going to spend a lot of time trying to ponder these events, which my dear friend Rupa Cousin prefers calling "synchronicity". Another coincidence related to the first event--my new client Sarah Paul was, while a student at the Manhattan School of Music, a client of Rupa's for her Alexander Technique work, and they have fond memories of each other.

Is it any wonder I find life infinitely interesting and continue to awake each morning with robust expectations?
Everything is really connected. Even to the extent that I got my whole life theme of "Robust Expectations" from Rupa's illustrious cousin, Norman Cousins.

And don't forget to also check out my prosperity blog, where you can also download my free ebook, The Moneylove Manifesto.