My new motto is Just Be.

Sounds simple and it’s meant to be. After a long and wonderful career as first a newspaper reporter and then a television and movie director, I’ve decided to slow down and smell the roses.

That’s a real challenge for me because I’m the kind of person who gets very nervous when he looks at his calendar and there is nothing scheduled for tomorrow. I’ve written before that I’m a hunter warrior and I can’t sit still so it scares me when I have nothing on my day planner.

After 11 Hallmark Channel movies in the last three years, I’m taking some time off for self-reflection. What do I want to do when I grow up—if I ever grow up! For one thing, I’m writing my first play. For another, I’m doing an Orca Whale Recovery project for KCTS in Seattle. Oh, and I’m shooting a documentary in Uganda in March about an amazing musical instrument –a giant xylophone made of wood called the Embaire that comes from a small village at the base of the Nile River.

These are passion projects. I’m also starting to play tennis again after knee replacements shut me down many years ago. And I’m going dancing and singing karaoke and just taking time to appreciate what a beautiful place we live in—taking back roads instead of the freeway. Instead of listening to depressing news, I play 60’s on 6 on Sirius radio and sing along with all of the songs I grew up with.

I get in an airplane and visit my wife and kids in Los Angeles and my sister and brother in Palm Springs, and recently reacquainted with my college newspaper editor, Zoketsu Norman Fischer, now a leading Zen Buddhist based in Marin County, California. Norman wrote the most recent Have Faith column for our paper and will be a very positive influence on me as is Father William Treacy, my 100-year-old close pal.

When I start to get anxious about money or health issues or family matters, I look outside my window in my living room at the beautiful San Juan Islands and thank the Good Lord that I’m living the life I should be living in exactly the right place.

Yes, sometimes when I look out that window, it’s pouring rain and the wind is howling. I put on music from my new collection of wonderful old Vinyl records. And then the sun peeks out and there are the beautiful islands no longer obscured by the clouds.

Ain’t that how life is. Sometimes, it’s rainy, sometimes it’s cloudy, then the sun pops out and we get to reflect on how lucky we are to Just Be alive.