Did I pass the test?

September 25, 2022

Good morning my friends.  I hope you are doing well and enjoying life.  In five days, we’ll close out the month of September.  It’s crazy thinking we’re about to start the last quarter of 2022!  This means Halloween, Thanksgiving and the Holidays will be coming quickly; as the remainder of the year slips away.  My repeated attempts to slow time bring me peace of mind, while I enjoy the gift of life.  The days, weeks and months continue to pass by, sometimes faster than I like.  This is why slowing down, to enjoy each moment, becomes a priority.  As I look back on this year, I ask myself, “What did I accomplish?”  Did I succeed in achieving my goals or dreams?  What did I learn that was new, helpful or rewarding?  What did I do to assist mankind (or anyone for that matter)?  I moved out of California one year ago yesterday.  I’m still trying to decide if I made the right choice.  In many ways, I’m happy to be away from the traffic, congestion, chaos, high cost of everything, taxes, crime and politics.  I left loved ones, family and friends behind, when I moved.  I miss the people I love most of all!  I was born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles.  It was a simpler time; people were friendly, respectful and grateful.  Now, the city of angels, along with San Francisco (and other beautiful places in my home state) are tarnished and tattered.  It makes me sad knowing what corruption, bad politics and egotistical politicians have done to this once glamorous and beautiful state.  

We all know life can be filled with struggles, ups, downs and challenges.  The issues we confront come in many forms, and can cover a wide spectrum of situations.  Events and circumstances that impact our lives and well-being can be frustrating, stressful and painful.  We deal with so many issues on a daily basis, that they often become routine; until we face a challenge that is paralyzing; leaving us helpless or in agony.  Every issue, big or small, takes time and effort to resolve.  Specific events, that are personal to us, can cause or create debilitating effects.  Health and wellness (mental, physical and spiritual), or events that involve family, relationships, friends, career or death; can create trauma within us. There are times our mind is our worst enemy.  It works against us by filling our thoughts with untruths and nonsense.  If we allow our mind to take control, an overwhelming negative feeling can be created within us.  Our perception and attitude can create added anxiety or stress; sinking us deeper into the abyss of darkness.  The human mind is a powerful source of influence.  If we do not control our thoughts, we can cause ourselves unintentional harm; which leads to hurting others.  I’ve been involved in variety of situations, circumstances, confrontations, events and relationships that have often leave me searching for answers.  When all is said and done, but my mind is still spinning from a particular encounter; I wonder, “why?”  I think to myself, “Did I handle this correctly?  What could I have done to resolve this in a more positive way?  Was this some sort of test”, and if it was a test, “Did I pass?”  

How many times have I walked away from someone or something wondering, “What lesson was intended for me, or what did I learn?”  Have you ever had similar thoughts or questioned the outcome of events?  Is life about “passing the test?”  We (me) all make mistakes from time to time.  Some are minor in nature, while others can seem large and looming over us for an extended period.  I’ve experienced both.  The worst case scenario for me, is when my decision or choice impacts another person negatively.  I’d never intentionally hurt anyone, but I know some of my “mistakes” have created heartache and sadness.  I can’t change the past, take away the pain or frustration.  Knowing I’m causing you pain, hurts me too.  The best thing I can do, here in the present, is change myself.  I can alter my attitude, my perspective and control my thoughts.  It took me years to realize I couldn’t accomplish this on my own.  I know, from my own experience, men (in particular) have difficulty showing emotions, sadness, vulnerability, talking about feelings or asking for support or help.  The thought of going to counseling, is often equated with weakness.  I discovered, opening myself up to change and the possibilities in the universe, reveal a bright and beautiful world in my future.  Therapy helped crack through my protective armor.  Professional guidance assisted me in making positive changes.  Each time I change, I grow and alter my past behavior.  I’ve learned how to be a better human, and for that opportunity I am truly grateful.

Much of what has happened over the last several years has increased my self-awareness.  I’ve learned it’s best to take the time to digest and evaluate critical issues.  No one wants to get hurt or suffer a broken heart, but opening your heart and soul to love and life is part of being human.  Be truthful and honest; with yourself and others.  Understanding and clarity, are always important for our well-being.  Good health / diet, exercise and nature continue to be my pillars of support; along with some amazing individuals.  Meditation is a valuable source of solace and clarity.  When turmoil and strife occur, be prepared to handle the oncoming blitz.  Don’t react with disregard.  Take the time to respond gracefully, with openness and respect.  Don’t be fearful to share your feelings and emotions.  Now, more than ever, it’s in my best interest to know myself.  My journey has taken me down a new path.  I’ve taken the time to learn about me, resolve the issues associated with past life critical events and relationships, that I consider to be defining moments.  This year has focused on my self-discovery and learning how to be the best possible version of me.  Digging into my past and trauma has yielded enlightening revelations into who I was then and who I am today.  It seems to be a bit easier, at this stage in life, to self-analyze myself.  Counseling assists me to recognize my past, see the present and set me on a new journey.  Now I understand the significant lessons that I learned and how they help me become me.  The opportunity to change and alter my life for the better was accepted with thanks.  I believe personal happiness and gratitude are key components to life’s puzzle.  

It took me far too long to realize what I needed to do, and take the first step to get me here today.  The test has been long and arduous.  The journey has taught me much.  The path assisted me to heal mentally and spiritually.  I discovered the simple answer to my question, “Did I pass the test?  No, life isn’t about passing tests.”  We all struggle at various times in life.  What’s important, is how we resolve these issues.  Life is an evolution, in various ways, for each of us.  We have choices to make along our journey of life.  What path we select weighs significantly on which direction we go and how difficult that road may be.  My education, knowledge and experience are intrgral factors into my ability to make informed choices and decisions.  Being open and willing to change is a powerful tool throughout life.  The better I know myself, and the world around me, the better equipped I am to be wiser, healthier and happier.  I may not always understand the universe, but I no longer question if I passed the test.  I focus on what I learned to be a better human right now in the present.  I learn more with each new sunrise and continue into a brighter future.  I’m grateful for each new opportunity to be a better me.  I am energized and empowered to be the man I want to be; here in the present and into my future.  The power of positivity and love remain strong and committed along my path.  Open your heart and soul to love.  Follow your dreams.  They know the way.

Two dates, this coming week, hold significance and special meaning for me.  The first is my daughter’s birthday.  It’s both exciting and interesting thinking how old I’m getting!   With each of her birthdays, it means her Dad is another year older.  I know another birthday is just a number (for both of us), but I like her numbers much more than mine.  Happy Birthday to my Amazing, Beautiful, Intelligent and Awesome daughter!  I have another one of those things coming soon too.  I’m not complaining, because I’m grateful for life and enjoying each day on earth.  

The other special date, is the seventh anniversary of meeting an incredible and amazing woman.   Our connection and love have been undeniable.  When I look back on our relationship, I wonder what drew us together and how we sustained our connection and love; and then didn’t.  It’s sad and heartbreaking when you lose a love; especially when it’s a bond shared by two.  I remain forever grateful for our friendship.  You saved me.

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The puzzle of life is always changing.  Change can lead to amazing opportunities.  Together, let’s be healthy and strong; mentally, physically and spiritually! 

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

Travel is Good for my Soul

September 18, 2022

Good morning my friends.  I hope you are doing well and enjoying life.  I have always enjoyed exploring and seeking out adventure.  It all began as a kid, by climbing the trees in our backyard.  I felt like I was on top of the world.  When I was a little older, and allowed to venture beyond the fence, I’d walk, or ride my bike, to the mountains behind our home.  My mom was not thrilled about any of these activities.  The magic of the mountains and tall trees always captivated me.  I spent many happy days exploring.  My love of nature continued to grow over the years.  Attending college in San Diego, provided easy access to the Cleveland National Forest.  Towns like Alpine, Julian, Ramona and Mt Laguna were within reach; along with hiking trails and outdoor fun.  Trips to Mammoth Mountain, in the winter, for skiing became routine; as were water ski trips to the Colorado River in the summer.  I remember visiting Lake Havasu and walking across the newly re-constructed London Bridge; shortly after it was moved there from England in October 1971.  It was then I knew, travel to historic locations around the planet was in my future.  My quest for adventure and travel grew from there.  After graduating from college, I was hired as a fire fighter by the Department of Agriculture, US Forest Service.  I spent nearly four years on a Hot Shot crew travelling across the Western States fighting forest fires.  Spending the bulk of my time (often 24/7) in the mountains and nature was wonderful.  I fought some devasting fires during that time; which created sadness and heartbreak for the loss of wildlife and wilderness.  My soul was calmed, knowing I was part of the effort to save and restore the forest.  I wonder how my life would have been different if I remained with the Forest Service.  

I’ve been fortunate to travel and visit some amazing destinations, both here at home and abroad.  If you have the opportunity (and haven’t already ventured out), get out there to see and experience what our earth has to offer.  Let me rephrase that statement, “Make the time to travel; in your state, across nation and around the world.  Once you get out there, you’ll understand what I mean.  This will only peak your desire to want more!”  Travel is an incredible experience and journey; both into yourself and life; just as much as it is into visiting new places and cultures.  I’ve often wished I could write a blog for a travel service or publication.  Each time I scroll through the internet or look through a magazine; I stop to look at travel photos, descriptions and advertisements.  I’m always intrigued by new exotic places, old favorites and far off destinations.  The history associated with other lands, is both educational and intriguing.  Our world holds a vast array of incredible things for us to learn about and experience.  What are you waiting for?  Nothing will ever happen, or change, until you get your rear off the couch and venture outside.  You can begin gradually with trips into nature; or you can go big and head across a continent or ocean.  Whatever you decide, it will be a fabulous place to begin your quest for exploration.        

My travel destinations began locally, before expanding them across the United States and the Caribbean.  I didn’t take my first flight across the Atlantic until I was in my early 50’s.  I’d always dreamed of a romantic holiday in Europe, with the love of my life.  The timing for that never seemed to work, so I did the next best thing.  I took my daughter on a month-long excursion to Italy, the French Riviera and London.  She was a young teenager, and a fabulous and fun travel companion.  The best part was seeing her eyes light up with excitement and wonder, while visiting ancient cities and ruins of past civilizations.  We toured Italy, boot to the Alps; including where my Mother was born and raised.  My Mom’s sister (my aunt) was there visiting at the same time.  It was incredible to see their family home, elementary school and cemetery, where generations of family members are buried.  One evening, while in Florence, we were strolling through a park, back to our hotel.  I saw hundreds of people gathered, watching a soccer match on an outdoor movie screen.  Italy was playing Germany.  As we stopped to watch, I could feel the excitement and energy generated from the crowd.  It soared when the Italian team won.  A few days later, we were in Venice when Italy beat France; winning the World Cup title that year.  The streets were filled with people celebrating the incredible victory.  Italians definitely have a passion for food, sports and a love of life. 

We were in Cannes (along the French Rivera) to help celebrate French Bastille Day.  Celebrations across the country, and in this city, far surpassed any Independence Day celebrations I’d witnessed in America.  The day began with a massive parade down the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris.  The event was televised live across the nation.  Locals and tourists, everywhere we visited, reflected their patriotic pride with enthusiasm.  That night, after dinner, we heard large explosions outside.  Our hotel was two blocks away from the beach, where an hour-long fireworks performance had just begun.  We made our way to the beach and saw two large barges; one positioned at each side of the harbor.  Both were firing duplicate fireworks displays over the Mediterranean.  There were speakers along the beach, with music playing, scroized with the fireworks displays.  It was truly a magical celebration of French Independence.  Touring Paris was brilliant and like being in a movie.  The Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Pantheon, Versailles and Notre Dame are just a few highlights of this romantic city.  This trip sparked the desire within my daughter, and me too, for more travel! 

My other travels have taken me to incredible lands and locations, both near and far.  Some of these fantastic adventures included, Bali, where I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher certification.  My month there was magical; filled with joy and contentment.  The Sacred Valley, in Peru, was inspirational and energizing.  The hike to Machu Pichu was breathtaking and fantastic.  How this magnificent structure was built is beyond belief.  Visiting ancient ruins in Greece, Italy and Croatia were fantastic and amazing.  There are fantastic structures that are among the worlds’ incredible feats of engineering.  There are so many other cities, countries and places I want to share with you; but there’s not enough time to write about them all today.  Beyond the wonders of these incredible places, are all the extraordinary people living in these lands.  The individuals populating these nations and countries, are amazing, beautiful and blessed.  They are thankful and grateful for all they have (which in many places isn’t much).  Each new day is seen as a blessing and gift.  They aren’t captivated by ego, fancy cars, big homes or possessions.  Their greatest gift is their family, friends, culture and life.  Many Americans, and other people living around the globe, can learn a valuable lesson from these humble and enlightened individuals.  Life in the USA can be fast paced and ego filled.  I believe life is more vibrant and energizing, when it’s enjoyed at a mindful pace.  Slowing down gives me the opportunity to cherish the beauty of existence all around me.  Time travels much too quickly, so don’t waste a moment.  Cherish each day, with respect, gratitude and love.  This is where you’ll discover your happiness my friends.         

On a side note, Autumn Equinox is this Friday, September 23rd.  How did we get to this time of year so quickly?  The end of this month (for me) typically begins the procession of the holiday onslaught, winter solstice and a new year.  The last quarter of each year seems to pass by more quickly than the previous.  Do your best to remain mindful of the present.  Don’t allow yourself to slip backward into the past.  Enjoy each and every moment, creating new and fabulous memories.  You are never too old to dream new dreams and reach for your stars.  Start right now to create the brilliant future you deserve.  It’s never too late.  Follow your dreams.  They know the way.

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The puzzle of life is always changing.  Change can lead to amazing opportunities.  Together, let’s be healthy and strong; mentally, physically and spiritually! 

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

Honoring Patriot Day 9-11

September 11, 2022

Good morning my friends.  I hope you are doing well and enjoying life.  Today, our nation honors Patriot Day and the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.  I celebrate the lives, heroics and sacrifices that day; as I honor all those who perished twenty-one years ago in this terrorist attack.  It’s difficult to believe this tragic event occurred so long ago.  Thousands of innocent lives were cruelly taken; in the World Trade Center Towers, Pentagon and on the four commercial jet airliners that were used as weapons of mass destruction in the catastrophic events that occurred that day.  Many others died later from injuries and health related effects of the incident.  Please use this day to remember, honor and say a prayer for the victims, their families and all the first responders (including hundreds who died at the World Trade Center).  The events of this day, like many other significant dates in world history, should never be forgotten or pushed aside.  Evil exists in our world.  Unfortunately, there are corrupt individuals who hide it or tell you it’s not really there.  It’s up to each of us to stay educated and informed with what’s transpiring in our nation and around the planet.  Don’t believe or rely on everything you hear as being honest and truthful.  Just because a person is considered a “leader” or spokesperson, doesn’t make them above reproach.  Seek the truth from reliable sources.  Many media outlets tend to “slant” news stories to fit their own political or ideological agendas.  Search for those individuals or entities who provide you facts, not opinions.  When we are armed with the truth, we are better equipped to make wise, intelligent and well-informed decisions.  I will never forget this day or those who perished.

The sadness and memories of this horrific and tragic day are forever etched in my mind.  I, like many others, remember exactly where I was and what I was doing at the moment I learned of the attacks.  Do you remember where you were or what you were doing?  Have you discussed the events with your children, family or friends?  Today, is the perfect day to share this important conversation.  The children that were young, or born shortly after, who lost parents or family members in the attacks, know and remember all too well what occurred.  This date is forever burned into their hearts and memories.  What about the rest of us; or children born just before or after 9-11?  What have their parents, school or we (society) taught them about the atrocities that occurred that day?  The dates in history, associated with tragic events, need to be remembered and memorialized.  This has nothing to do with placing blame or condemning a particular nation or nationality.  This aspect is important, not only to honor those individuals lost, but to be vigilant so these atrocities do not repeat themselves in the future.  Have we done all we can as a nation or people, or have we kicked this memory aside; as we do with many things that no longer serve our own needs.  

What happened to the America I know and love?  Here in the USA, instead of uniting as a nation, there are times it seems we’ve become more divided.  Individuals band together to seek recognition for their group, culture or nationality.  Politics and social influences continue to push us apart.  Rather than being an American; people are Latino-American, Cuban-American, African-American, Mexican-American, Asian, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Transsexual; the list goes on and on.  Don’t be offended if I didn’t mention your group.  There are too many on this long list.  I have no ill feelings toward any of these individuals or their groups.  We are all human beings, doing our best to coexist on this planet.  I blame egotistical and power hungry politicians and leaders who keep dividing our nation (and the world) instead of uniting us.  I dislike how our country, mostly by design of some politicians, has arranged everyone into distinct groups.  The only logical reason I see for this, is to maintain control and to manipulate the masses to achieve their own desires.  I don’t want todays message to be about politics or agendas.  I truly wish we had some amazing leaders who were honest, strong and not tied to donors, corporations, foreign countries or billionaire contributors.  Where are individuals with morals, integrity, loyalty and honor when America needs you the most?    

America is a great nation.  Our country has inflicted and endured conflict (internally and externally), over the last 246 years.  Now, our future hinges on what happens here in the present.  We need leaders who will bond our country (and people) together, instead of pushing us apart.  I fear, if we continue on this current spiraling track we are on, our land won’t be great for much longer.  I love America.  I want our country to succeed; primarily because I want my daughter, family and friends’ children to have a chance to enjoy their lives to the fullest.  I don’t want them to live in fear or oppression.  I hope this Patriot Day reminds you of the past and what we need to do so this atrocity, or others, are never repeated.  Honor all the brave men and women who lost their lives on 9-11.  They were innocent victims; and deserve our respect and honor.  Stay present, informed and always doing your best to be a better human; while helping our land (and the world) prosper.  Don’t live in in the past or fear what might happen.  We don’t know what the future holds, but the better we remain vigilant and ready, the better equipped we are to live happily in the present.  We each hold the key to a bright and happy future.  Begin with gratitude and respect, then, “Follow your dreams.  They know the way.”

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The puzzle of life is always changing.  Change can lead to amazing opportunities.  Together, let’s be healthy and strong; mentally, physically and spiritually! 

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

It’s just me, being me

September 4, 2022

Good morning my friends.  I hope you are doing well and enjoying life.  It’s already September and Labor Day weekend.  I suppose this marks the end of summer, especially for kids returning to school.  This is the perfect weekend to explore and find something new along your journey of life.  What are you waiting for?  Nothing will ever happen, unless you take the first step to make your dreams become reality.  If its fear holding you back, let that foolishness go.  Fear can be a powerful force, while it influences and dominates your perceptions.  It has the ability to control and constrain your thoughts, movements and actions; but this is only possible if you believe it’s real.  Don’t allow your untrue thoughts to manipulate your life.  I let my fears suppress my emotions and happiness for many years.  I won’t permit fear (or my past) to creep into my life any longer.  I don’t look back, because I control my thoughts and move forward into each new day.  I’m living in the present and working toward a happy and bright future.  At this stage in life, every day is a weekend for me.  Only the weather dictates what season it might be; which has the potential to be just about anything (depending on where I am).  I enjoy moderate temperatures; but I’m happy with what nature provides.  A pleasant atmosphere helps make life perfect and blissful (or as “perfect” as life can be).  I’m truly enjoying this chapter; as each day offers a clean slate to write my life story.  I plan to enjoy living as long as possible; or as long as God allows me to stay on this planet.  I’m still not completely satisfied with “me”, but I’ve finally realized I’m a good person and deserve good things.  I might have a bit more internal work to do, but I’m content and happy with who I am.  I dislike people who use their size or influence to intimidate or bully others.  These individuals have self-esteem issues, are unhappy, negative and who knows what else.  I believe in karma and what goes around comes around.  I don’t wish anyone harm, but unfortunately, there are some disgusting people in this world.  That’s all I’ll say on that subject.

So, how loud do I have to scream before someone hears me?  Is everyone so wrapped up in their own little world that they don’t hear or see anything else happening around them?  You might not know it, but I struggled with “body image” issues from a very young age.  I always wanted to be taller, stronger or better looking, etc.  I just wasn’t happy with the exterior me.  I’m not sure why or what created this problem.  It may have begun in kindergarten, when a couple older kids threatened me and called me names.  Whatever the circumstances were, thus began my odyssey.  The dilemma stuck with me for many years.  As a kid, I was never happy with how I looked or who I was.  Going to Catholic grade school didn’t help with any of these issues or concerns.  The nuns didn’t care how I looked or who I was.  Many of them seemed to be mean or angry individuals.  I won’t attempt to speculate why or what made them this way.  I do know some of them seemed to enjoy corporal punishment.  There were times when it was deserved, but sometimes it wasn’t.  When I transferred to public school, for junior high, I realized the teachers were less interested with control of kids and more with getting to the end of the day.  The kids were the same in private or public school.  Some were nice and some were cruel; it’s that simple.  Junior and senior high weren’t the best of times.  I didn’t like school and dreaded attending, but I was stuck.  When the military draft came (during the Viet Nam War), I wanted to go.  When I received my induction notice in the mail, I was both frightened and happy.  My Mom was horrified.  It was my chance to escape.  Anything to get me away from school and home!  As my luck would have it, Nixon ended the draft, my Mom refused to let me join the military, so I stayed in college.  Attending college in San Diego, and away from home, was a fabulous dream come true.  This is where I came to life, gained real self-confidence and began to actually live.

My struggles, regarding my appearance, continued into adulthood.  My difficulties with communication issues, primarily in relationships, didn’t help either.  It always seemed difficult for me to fully open my heart and soul to others.  My nearly 69 years on earth (including my career and just life), have taught me a variety of valuable lessons, about myself and interactions with others.  Everyone has struggles and issues they deal with; and if they say they don’t or haven’t had any, they aren’t being truthful.  We all struggle from time to time.  I read a social media post, by a friend, the other day.  She was talking about struggles with body image, beginning at an early age.  As I read her story, I could feel the intense conflict and sadness she experienced.  She discussed in detail how the issues continued to follow her until recently; and how she finally resolved them.  While our stories are different; the emotions, turbulence and struggles that were created are similar and very real.  It’s nice knowing we’ve both reached places of harmony and happiness with ourselves.  I’ve heard many stories associated with this; that often lead to physical or mental trauma.  Society, and humans, can be cruel and demanding; often placing appearance (and physical looks) over anything else.  It really is crazy how this process is thrown at kids at an early age.  I can only imagine the pressure and stress woman (and girls) feel, to look or act a certain way; in order to be accepted or considered beautiful.  It’s a sad and sick society we live in.  “Body image” ranges from body type, shape, make-up, hair, skin, clothing and whatever else factors in to physical appearance.  This is worldwide multi-billion-dollar industry.  It’s much like the pharmaceutical industry.  They influence entire populations into believing we need their product in order to feel better, look better or just be “normal.”  It’s all about making money and nothing to do with helping us, as humans.  It’s both comforting and empowering knowing women are rebelling against this nonsense.  Our physical body is nothing more than the carrier for our soul.  This is where the internal magic happens.  My outward appearance is irrelevant, compared to what my mind, heart and soul possess.  This is what makes us each unique and special humans.  If you’re judging me based on appearance, you’re missing the real me. 

As I’ve aged and matured with experience and knowledge, I’ve sat in silence and thought about my existence.  When was the last time you slowed down to contemplate life?  Have you ever taken a moment to consider where you came from, who you are or where you’re going?  Maybe if you pulled your face up from your cell phone screen once in a while, you’d actually witness life happening all around you.  I suppose some people can’t be bothered, or are too busy, to lift their head up a few inches.  That’s just sad.  If you came up for air, now and then, you’d discover this amazing thing called nature.  It’s all around us every day!  So many people take it for granted, (and that it exists), yet never take the time to actually go explore it.  If they did, they would find some amazing things out there.  Sitting in nature has a fabulous calming quality all its own.  Try sitting on the sand at a quiet beach, or walk through a forest of giant trees, or hike in the mountains with tall peaks.  These are the places you will find solace, peace, harmony and happiness.  I discovered; it doesn’t matter how tall or strong I am or what I look.  The only thing that matters, comes down to how I feel about me.  My self-confidence, inner power and my own abilities say it all.  Today is a new day to be a better me; positive, healthy, grateful and happy.  Follow your dreams.  They know the way.

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The puzzle of life is always changing.  Change can lead to amazing opportunities.  Together, let’s be healthy and strong; mentally, physically and spiritually! 

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

Don’t Ignore Your Trauma

August 28, 2022

Good morning my friends.  I hope you are doing well and enjoying life.  The number of incidents and stories of violence occurring in our nation and around the world seem to increase daily.  These traumatic events are sad and they have a negative impact on the lives of everyone associated with them.  Trauma occurs from a variety of sources or violent acts; often associated with victims of crimes, mental or physical abuse or professions prone to dealing with a variety of circumstances (such as law enforcement, military, fire or medical personnel).  When you are the victim of a trauma causing act, it can have devasting consequences; mentally, physically and spiritually.  If you do nothing to relieve or resolve these issues, the negativity associated with the event will continue to linger and create more suffering within you.  The sorrow, scars, nightmares and devastating thoughts that trauma creates can keep you from living a happy and fruitful life.  I know, because it happened to me.  I never considered myself to be affected by life events or trauma I was associated with, but apparently, I was.  Let’s face it, life happens to us all.  We can’t always escape its harm or the anxiety and stress it creates.  Many individuals experience acts of violence or trauma, that is harmful in multiple ways.  These acts could be witnessed or; if you were a victim, they can continue to cause ceaseless pain.  The fear and apprehension these events bring into your life are real and debilitating.  Don’t allow trauma from the past hold you back from living in the present.  Your life can be full of happiness.  I can attest to the value of the healing process.  The release of my past and trauma brought resolution and peace into my life.  It’s an enlightening experience.      

Over recent years (since I retired), I’ve dug deep into myself; physically, mentally and spiritually.  This was the first time in my life, I realized I needed to resolve issues associated with my past, relationships, childhood, self-care and just me.  It wasn’t an easy process, especially when I had to admit I couldn’t help myself get to a better place mentally.  For me; a man, strong persona, former law enforcement officer and sometimes stubborn individual; making a decision to seek professional assistance and guidance wasn’t quick, simple or easy.  My self-perception told me I was capable of handling any situation, good or bad, thrown at me.  Resolving critical incidents, at work, was a daily occurrence for me.  Why would I think I wouldn’t be able to handle my own personal issues in the same manner?  I have been open to change for many years, but somehow neglected to include changing “me” in the process.  Unfortunately, my break up, of a serious relationship with an amazing woman, forced me to realize I needed professional guidance.  I believed I could heal myself, and resisted the idea that seeking the aid of a therapist was needed.  The entire “macho” or tough guy attitude was a cover or shield to protect a scared individual who was fearful to show emotion or reveal his weaknesses.  It’s sad I lost an incredible love over something so foolish.  I allowed the trauma of my past to influence my present.  What I later realized is this; strength and courage are when a man (or woman) can openly admit and share their weaknesses, emotions, passions and thoughts with the people they love without fear.  Opening your heart and soul to someone special is where strength begins and true love develops and grows.  This openness doesn’t mean I’m weak in any way, shape or form.  It means I’m a human being, who is willing to share himself with the people I love.  Don’t ignore the trauma of your past.  Deal with it now, to lift the weight and constraints of fear and sorrow from your heart.  The first step to healing is typically the most difficult to admit.  When I made that admission, it saved my life.  I may have lost a fantastic relationship, but I retained a trusted friend.

When I speak about my trauma, I want you to know that I don’t consider myself a victim; in any way, shape or form.  The events I experienced as a kid, weren’t necessarily traumatic at the time they occurred.  My childhood issues weren’t severe or physical in nature.  It took years before I realized how my mom’s interaction with me as a child, was having a negative impact in my present.  These issues, while not beneficial for me, are truly insignificant compared to what I’ve seen others experience, deal with, endure and survive.  The events surrounding my childhood really are minuscule in the grand scheme of life.  The events and incidents I witnessed, throughout my career in law enforcement, are sad, terrifying and horrific; but I wasn’t the person they were direct toward.  I was there merely doing my job.  The real victims are the many individuals who were the intentional targets, affected by the events I responded to as a police officer.  The many victims I encountered; associated with a variety of crimes and incidents, (during my career), suffered far more than I can ever imagine.  The violence of abuse, torture, attacks, murders, suicides and car accidents had a profound effect on me.  The beatings and torture women and children endured were truly horrible.  There were many times I wanted to break down and cry, but I couldn’t.  The destruction, death, bloody and lifeless bodies are vivid memories in my mind.  The trauma I witnessed was residual or secondary, to what the real victims experienced.  None the less, these events tortured me for many years.  I wasn’t prepared and didn’t know how to release the trauma, so it remained locked inside me.  The negativity created inside my body, impacted my life physically, mentally and spiritually.  I ignored these feelings (and the nightmares) for many years, believing this was just part of my life.  The power of love guided me (or basically pushed me off the cliff) to take charge of my life.  Yoga, meditation and counseling showed me how to control my thoughts, change my attitude and develop a new perception for life, happiness and love.  The therapy worked its magic.  Gone are the graphic thoughts and dreams associated with my trauma and past.  Now I am able to live my life in peace and harmony. 

The last few years have brought many new revelations into who I am and where I’m going.  I lost an incredible love; but I’ve gained an entirely new perspective and attitude on life.  I’ve learned to love myself and be happy with who I am.  I see the opportunities in each new day; to be a better person and to enjoy each moment I’m on this earth.  I greet the sunrise with thanks, gratitude and happiness.  I cherish life and remain positive and hopeful.  This doesn’t mean my life is perfect, because it never will be.  Right now (in the present), it’s perfect for me.  Life will always have obstacles.  Now I know and understand how to navigate myself along the path.  My journey is filled with joy.  I know a fantastic love will find me someday too.  I place my trust in God and Universe; knowing they will guide me.  Life is definitely an amazing and incredible journey.  It’s even better when you can release your past (including the trauma) and move forward with confidence and strength.  Don’t be fearful to seek aid or assistance.  We can all use some professional guidance from time to time.  Live your dreams, follow your passions, reach for your stars and trust yourself.  Life can be easy if you allow it to be.  Follow your dreams.  They know the way.

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The puzzle of life is always changing.  Change can lead to amazing opportunities.  Together, let’s be healthy and strong; mentally, physically and spiritually! 

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

My Passion

August 21, 2022

Good morning my friends.  I hope you are doing well and enjoying life.  What’s your passion?  When someone asks me this question, it evokes a strong feeling, desire, like or love for something that brings me great joy.  I have always been passionate about my career in law enforcement.  The dedication and devotion of my time with the LAPD remain strong and consistent today.  My service spanned half of my life.  It provided me the opportunity to assist others and make a difference in the world (or at least in my tiny corner of Los Angeles).  The trauma associated with my career was draining and often removed the emotion or love from my efforts.  Now my passions have grown and expanded, as I’ve released my past and trauma; opening my heart and soul to love.  The most important passion in my life is my daughter; including her welfare and happiness.  I love being her Dad, and cherish every moment and opportunity to assist her along the journey of life.  I’m passionate about my family and the people I love.  A person’s passion can range across a wide variety of activities or any number of things.  Your passion may be in music, art, writing, gardening, adventures, travel, cooking, fitness or many other pursuits or undertakings.  Determining where your passions are, will often assist you in discovering what may best suit you for a career, relationship or life.  When you feel strongly about a person, place or thing; take notice and trust your intuition.  Recognize what’s most important in life.  Allow your passion(s) to direct and guide you along your journey.  It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old; you can always reach for your dreams and live your passions.  Believing in yourself and that you can achieve anything, is half the battle.  A path filled with passion will lead you to your success.  

Running has been a passion of mine, since I first discovered the sensation of freedom it gave me in junior high school.  This source of exercise and release; remained with me throughout school, work, career and into retirement.  The feeling, and relief, it provided was beneficial for my entire well-being; mentally, spiritually and physically.  The exercise, or fitness, aspect of running built my strength, stamina and endurance.  It motivated me, increased my confidence and energized my body, mind and spirit.  The mental and spiritual benefits from this modality have always provided a calming and soothing quality not found elsewhere.  When the stress of life or anxiety from living felt overwhelming or dark; running was my “go to” resource for solace and reprieve from life. I still enjoy running; even now older and well into retired life.  It still provides a euphoric feeling, but it takes a little more physical effort these days.  I plan to keep running as long as I can, or at least while my body continues to cooperate and hold together.      

I just ran (and completed) another Ragnar Trail race yesterday.  The two-day team relay event was in Oregon at Mount Bachelor.  The beauty of the area is spectacular and invigorating.  The best part of this event was running and enjoying it with seven friends, both old and new.  The race camp site was situated at an elevation of 6500 feet.  The red trail loop took me up to nearly 7800 feet and incredible views.  Living near the ocean for the last dozen or more years, hasn’t been conducive to running at altitude or in the mountains.  I haven’t had an opportunity to go to the mountains to train; so let’s just say, this course and terrain kicked my ass!  As I’ve aged; it’s become clearly apparent how my stamina, strength and oxygen intake have deteriorated.  The pandemic and ensuing lock downs, masks and lack of training have definitely taken a toll on my physical body.  My mind and spirit say, “Let’s go,” but the means to achieve this act (with an older and semi-used body), isn’t an easy task.  The acceleration and longevity my body once had isn’t quite the same.  This means one thing; it’s time to modify my training, attitude and re-build.  I still have more to give and lots more adventures to experience.     

For many years, fitness has been my passion.  I enjoy the benefits it provides; for health, wellness and mental clarity.  I never fully understood or considered the meaning of “self-care,” until later in life.  Healing from work injuries and surgery, forced me to slow down.  Then I met someone, with an intuitive passion for life and healthy living.  I realized the importance of giving myself the love and care it needed and deserved.  Meditation and treating my body with affection became a daily practice.  Allowing myself the opportunity of time to relax and just breathe was monumental.  It’s interesting how much time and effort we spend (I spent) searching for happiness, passion or purpose.  These are traits already inside each of us.  Slowing down the speed of life, allowed me to discover myself and what I had been searching for.  The process helped me grow and develop.   I don’t worry about the past or years that slipped away; or what might have been.  I concentrate on the present and where I want my future to take me.  

I want to share an excerpt from a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt, at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on April 23, 1910.  This simple segment made the speech famous: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”   

Wherever your passions may lead you, don’t wait or hesitate to pursue them.  Humans often have a way of letting their thoughts (which don’t always tell us the truth) control their desires or actions.  Our minds have the ability to fabricate untrue stories, which can lead us to make decisions based on incorrect information.  When you control your thoughts, you control your life.  Live your passions and reach for your dreams.  If you stumble along the way, get up and keep moving forward.  You’ll never know what’s around the next corner, unless you continue to follow the path.  Enjoy each moment, make memories and cherish the journey.  Live life in gratitude, kindness and love.  This is your life, so live it without fear or hesitation.  It’s okay to take a break, relax, sit in silence and just breathe.  It’ll do your body good.  Follow your dreams.  They know the way.

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The puzzle of life is always changing.  Change can lead to amazing opportunities.  Together, let’s be healthy and strong; mentally, physically and spiritually! 

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

The Mechanics of Living

August 14, 2022

Good morning my friends.  I hope you are doing well and enjoying life.  Seeking balance, during the course of our lifetime, seems to be a constant battle for many individuals.  The vast majority of us have been consumed or driven by work, money, possessions or purpose.  All, or some of these, have the potential to create havoc in our lives.  As kids, we learn from our parents, individuals who helped raise us or people who had a significant impact on our lives.  We grow, mature and evolve based on the characteristics, traits and values we develop along our journey.  Education, career, money, things or assets have typically been the measure of success for many years.  There are people who think acquiring more money, or possessions, is the key to their happiness.  This fallacy couldn’t be further from the truth.  Happiness isn’t based on salary, a fancy car, expensive items or accumulating more stuff.  Money makes it easier to buy the necessities for living (and lots more things), but it will never buy the happiness you desire.  Happiness (like an emotion or feeling) is generated from within each of us (or not).  It’s my choice every morning, when I roll out of bed, to begin my day with happiness and gratitude.  I want each new day to be the best it can be.  My life, like a rebirth, is renewed with each sunrise.  My positive attitude doesn’t mean my life is perfect; actually far from it.  I’m grateful for the opportunities each day creates and I’m excited to see where life takes me.  The mechanics of living is finding the correct balance, to make life wonderful.  Life can be an amazing adventure, even with its ups and downs, if we allow it. 

I believe the mechanics of living has several key important components that work in unison.  The majority of us begin learning (our schooling and educational process) at an early age.  We reach a point in time, where we find a job and begin working to help support ourselves.  Our intention (with education or a career) is to gain more knowledge, independence and freedom.  I doubt I gave “balance” much of any thought during the educational phase of my life.  Attempting to equalize the working me (school, learning, education, job, career, etc.); with the rest of my life; was the beginning in stabilizing my entire being (physically, mentally and spiritually).  My work (and career) have been a major part of me for half my life.  Finding the proper balance between work, play and rest can be a juggling act at best.  Determining how much I need (or can tolerate), of each of the component parts is critical to my health, happiness and harmony.  Living a happy life includes enjoying my passions; family, friends, travel, adventures and hobbies.  Fitting all the puzzle pieces together assists me to maintain better health, and motivates me to continue to move forward into each new day.  

Another aspect of this equation consists of self-care and love; of my mind, body and spirit.  Caring for myself is a full-time responsibility.  No one else has the capacity or obligation to fulfill this task.  It’s up to me to take great care of John.  My goal is to increase my longevity and well-being; for better fitness, physical strength and mental clarity.  The aspects for living, center around building a solid foundation to assist in maintaining good health.  Equal parts of all of these are significant and important components to the puzzle.  Obviously, there will be times when our balance is disrupted, because life happens.  Don’t become discouraged or fearful.  Even if these events take you far from center, or you get stuck there for an extended period of time; remember, the goal is to establish an equal balance that works for you.  Self-confidence, discipline, determination and motivation always bring me back on track; to re-establish harmony.  There are times the mechanics of life can be a battle.  Resolve these events swiftly.  Knowing and understanding what my body needs is a key element to assist me.  It’s up to me to remain mindful and open to the universe.  I’ll continue to maintain my balance.  The rest is up to God and the Universe.  

I do not believe humans were put on this earth solely to wander through life unhappy or searching for a “purpose.”  There is so much more to life and living, than just existing.  I work to earn money to support myself (and my family), but that doesn’t mean I have to become a slave to my job or career.  Some individuals choose to work over life; sacrificing family, friends or love; out of greed or ego.  I think it’s interesting how people complain about their job or life, yet do nothing to change or make alterations to improve their circumstances.  When I became a police officer in 1980, I spent a lot of time at work.  I learned the job (literally) from the ground up.  I enjoyed the challenges being an officer presented, but I cherished the moments that allowed me to assist those who needed help.  As I excelled and found my work balance, I believed I was making a positive difference in the world (or at least in my small corner of Los Angeles).  I enjoyed the part of the job that brought me satisfaction from assisting victims of crimes.  There were many nights I worked overtime, on investigations or situations, that I wanted to resolve.  It didn’t take me long to realize I couldn’t save the world, or all those who deserved aid in the massive metropolis of LA.  There were times I went home feeling defeated and crushed, but those emotions typically re-energized me to come back to work stronger than before.  Law enforcement showed me how important finding the balance between work and play, or family and career, was required for better health.  Let’s face it, all humans operate a little differently.  Our internal systems are constructed the same (respiratory, circulatory, skeletal, muscle, etc.), but how they function can vary from person to person.  The differences in how our individual bodily systems operate can be caused by a variety of factors.  Our genetic make-up, family history, exercise, disease, accidents, what we ingest (food, liquid, drugs, etc.); are all factors in our bodies life.  Like any machine, proper upkeep and maintenance; how we care for our individual structure, all can play a significant role in our physical, mental and spiritual health and wellness.  It took me many years, with periods of trial and error, until I discovered the balance, peace and harmony that worked for me.  Loyalty and honor are an integral part of my daily life; cherishing my family, friends, career and myself.  

My friends, go out into the world feeling confident and strong.  Don’t fear life or live in the past.  Live and enjoy every moment of each day.  Do your best to reach for your passions and live your dreams daily.  You have to work hard; and if at first you don’t succeed, you try again and again, in order to reach your goal.  If you never put forth the effort, nothing will ever happen or change.  You can’t just sit back and expect amazing changes to occur, by not trying.   Don’t fear change or life; because they are both inevitable no matter what you do.  It’s always best when you’re the catalyst for your own change.  Open your heart, mind and soul to the possibilities the world has to offer.  Opportunities abound for greatness; but you have to recognize and reach for them before they pass you by.  Don’t wait!  Our journey on earth is a limited time gift.  Cherish life and don’t waste a moment.  Find your balance, love deeply and enjoy life.  Follow your dreams.  They know the way.

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The puzzle of life is always changing.  Change can lead to amazing opportunities.  Together, let’s be healthy and strong; mentally, physically and spiritually! 

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

Family

August 7, 2022

Good morning my friends.  I hope you are doing well and enjoying life.  I’m attending a family reunion this weekend in Ohio.  It began with a dessert and drinks gathering Friday night.  The fun continued Saturday with an all day picnic.  The family weekend will conclude today with Sunday brunch.  The days have been filled with lots of cousins, family (obviously) and love.  Each event (and my visit) definitely had no shortage of food, hugs, fun, awesome memories and wonderful people!  When Italians throw a family party (big or small), you can bet your rear there will be a vast assortment of delicious dishes, desserts and wine.  This weekend has been no exception!  It’s always fabulous seeing relatives you haven’t seen in a while; no matter if it’s been a day or years.  I saw some of the same family members, a couple months ago, for a wedding anniversary party.  Seeing them again for this event was just as fantastic!  I wish more cousins would have attended.  I realize travel across the country isn’t always easy or possible for some.  My question; how many more opportunities will you have to visit with family?  Family and friends are the life blood of my existence and mean everything to me.  I’m happy and thankful my parents instilled that amazing family gene in my sister and I.  Our family picnic / reunions began years ago, in Ohio, when I was a kid.  They have evolved over the years; alternating each summer between Ohio and California.  I had the opportunity to host one several years ago.  It was an exciting and fun day; like many others.  My Dad organized so many of these family events, it was second nature for him.  He provided his expertise and guidance, to assist me with my planning.  I miss my Dad every day (and my Mom too).  He was my best friend; always sharing his knowledge and wisdom.  I wish I could have my family with me, near me or close to me every single day.  Okay, maybe that’s a little exaggeration, but I think you know what I mean.  Family times are fun, crazy, opinionated, happy, sad and always full of love.  There is nothing better than great family and friends!  I love my family!

My parents moved to Southern California, in the early 1950s, before I was born.  I was lucky to have aunts, uncles and cousins living close by; with others in Ohio and some scattered from coast to coast.  For a young kid, it seemed like every weekend there was a family event.  We’d visit a relatives’ home, or there was someone visiting us.  The rotating gatherings made it very natural to always have family around.  Reunions, dinners and family events were the absolute best!  Many of my most favorite childhood memories (teen and adult too), revolve around family, food, summer, reunions at the park and holiday gatherings.  Living in SoCal was the best, because the weather was great all year round.  Kids played outside, while the adults socialized inside.  I recall; the women were inside making food, while the men were outside playing bocce or on the patio playing cards.  These activities and fun stayed consistent coast to coast.  I was one lucky kid; with good parents; and fun aunts, uncles and plenty of cousins.  Families; large or small, close or far, are amazing and wonderful entities of support and motivation.  We may not always agree (as is true for all of life’s interactions), but we always have each other’s back, not matter what.    

It’s both sad and disheartening, realizing the family unit (across America), is crumbling, dissolving or just non-existent. Families, (especially parents that take an active role in their child’s life), are such an important aspect of kids development and growth.  Children need focus, guidance, discipline, motivation and love.  Parents who provide direction; set the example for what’s right and wrong, truth, honesty and respect; set the foundation for their child’s future.  A strong support system, of a proactive family, teaches the character traits needed to succeed in life.  There are times, it may be a single parent, grandparent or relative, that steps in to provide this invaluable resource.  Without these fantastic and loving individuals, kids are left alone to determine their own path.  Life has enough hurdles, especially today, with added peer pressure, social media and the advertising blitz from every day advertising marketing campaigns.  Our children deserve all the necessary resources we can offer, to assist them in navigating the world ahead.  Kids need parents, and family, to teach and help them learn, mature and become adults.  It’s a crazy world out there and we’re living in dangerous times.  Please give your children the support and foundational tools to be happy and successful adults.  They are the future of this planet.     

This weekend marks the anniversary of another significant event for our nation (and world) history.  America ushered in the atomic age seventy-seven years.  During World War II, America sought out our nation’s physicists.  President Roosevelt put them to work developing a new bomb.  Several remote locations were utilized to maintain secrecy and outside interference.  Other nations were working, in the attempt, to develop similar capabilities.  Many of the thousands of individuals who worked on the Manhattan Project, either didn’t know, or had little details on the projects purpose.   The code names, Fat Man and Little Boy, referred to the bombs.  The untested work (at the time) with uranium and plutonium, brought us into the world of nuclear weapons.  On August 6th and 9th, 1945, atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The use of these newly developed weapons brought an end to World War II with Japan.  The blasts killed thousands of people, both from the initial detonations and later from radiation contamination.  The two cities were completely destroyed from the blasts across the sky.  It’s sad the use of these weapons was necessary to end this brutal and deadly war.  I doubt any of the individuals (who worked on this project) knew or understood what the consequences of their actions would be; or the devastation and death these instruments of destruction would create.  From that moment on, the world be forever changed.  America introduced the world to the atomic and nuclear era.  Now many nations, across our planet, are armed with these catastrophic weapons of mass destruction.  The locations where testing was conducted, bombs exploded or nuclear accidents occurred, have forever scarred our planet.  We may never know the true numbers of individuals killed or affected by these horrific devices of death and mutilation.  I pray we never witness these events again.

I love my family, friends and life.  I hope and pray that no nation, deranged leader or group, now or in the future, takes us down the path to annihilation.  Living in, or worrying about, the past serves no purpose.  Reflecting and learning from history, and the events that shape our future, can be beneficial.  Knowing the consequences and understanding the dangers of conflict and war, hopefully will restrain nations from utilizing these devices in the future.  Live now, in the present, as tomorrow is not promised.  Use your time on this earth wisely; spending quality time with family and friends.  Tell the people you cherish, you love them.  Take the time to share incredible memories together.  Live your passions, dream new dreams; while you reach for your stars every day.  Love your life and it will love you back.  Follow your dreams.  They know the way.

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The puzzle of life is always changing.  Change can lead to amazing opportunities.  Together, let’s be healthy and strong; mentally, physically and spiritually! 

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

Relieving the Pain

July 31, 2022

Good morning my friends.  I hope you are doing well and enjoying life.  It’s already the last day of July 2022!  August is merely hours away.  I continue to be amazed at the speed the months (and year) are flying by.  If you aren’t enjoying life, then it’s time you change your attitude or perception.  The new month means we’re more than halfway through summer as well.  If you’re a fan of the hot weather, get out there and enjoy it!  I’m a transplant from the west to east coast, and summer is definitely different here.  SoCal summers are typically hot and dry (beach and mountains included), although some beaches enjoy that cool Pacific breeze.  The main difference, here on the southern coast, has been the humidity (with heat) and the frequency and intensity of storms.  A day may start with sunshine and blue sky; then massive dark clouds roll in, with earth shaking thunder, bolts of lightning and torrential downpours.  The storms and amount of rainfall is really quite impressive; especially for a SoCal boy (born and raised).  I’m enjoying these amazing events and displays of God and Nature.  They are incredible and fun to watch.  Who knew a rain storm could produce so much fun!  The east coast heat and humidity; well what can I say, it’s icky and sticky. 

Some individuals would say the new month brings more opportunities for growth and success.  I say each new day brings the same possibilities.  The question is, do you take the time to slow yourself down and recognize those chances before they pass you by?  Life is like a story.  Some pages are sad, some are happy and others are filled with joy and excitement.  If you don’t embrace life and be an active participant of your story, you will never know how it all turns out.  Life is a priceless gift.  It’s yours for a limited time.  Once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.  Many people are moving at warp speed, from point A to point B.  They don’t slow down enough to see or understand the events or possibilities as they pass by.  We may never know what the outcome could have been when an incredible opportunity is missed.  Life will continue, and work out, as it should; but I believe slowing down allows us to savor and enjoy each moment.  It’s okay to increase the speed now and then, if needed, but slowing down just works better.  Every morning when I wake up, I thank God for another day on this planet.  The rest is up to me.  It’s my responsibility to be happy and live my life with kindness, respect and gratitude.  No one else is in charge of making me happy.  Life provides us with this amazing opportunity.  It’s up to us to enjoy and cherish these moments or not.

A few months ago, someone told me I was “too positive.”  I’m not sure that’s possible, but I sat with their comment for some time.  I don’t know this person very well, but I do know they’ve dealt with struggles in life.  Maybe they’ve been tainted by trauma or the cruel nature of humans.  I can only speculate on the reasons.  I’ve experienced difficult times in life, as have us all, in varying degrees.   What I once thought was important, as a young man, is no longer at the top of my list now.  Maturity, age and experience have altered my insight and wisdom.  I’ve had my share of heartache, tragedy and sadness.  My goal, with each new sunrise, is to be a better, happier and more positive me.  It doesn’t mean my life is perfect, because perfection is a myth.  Yes, I have “down” times, but I recognize them and lift myself up again.  Life can be as easy or as difficult as we make it.  My choice is to live a happy, grateful and positive life.  Being negative or hateful serves no purpose; ultimately only hurting me.  My attitude impacts each individual I encounter, and that carries on to each person they contact.   I am a true believer that kindness makes the universe a better place; even if it’s just one person at a time.  If I smile and greet each person, with a friendly demeanor, that smile will be paid forward each and every time.  If you wish to be cynical and remain resistant, that’s your choice.  Our world has individuals that aren’t good or positive; for whatever reason.  I’m not here to judge them or anyone.  The world is an imperfect place.  My attitude brightens my day and hopefully yours too   It’s a good time to change your attitude and be part of the solution for a better life.   

The events we encounter in life can be difficult, tough and challenging (at times); to say the least.  For some individuals, it can be a relentless battle to breathe and exist.  Anxiety and depression have the ability to manipulate our perception and well-being.  I’ve experienced the dark feelings these create, from years of dealing with tragedy and sorrow.  I understand how a person can get to the point of no return; where they believe the pain is too much to endure.  I’ve seen the darkness and evil, and I know where these thoughts lead.  My mental fortitude and strength helped carry me past those difficult times; although it wasn’t until years later that I realized the damage that had been done.  Our military, law enforcement, first responders and others, often fall prey to these horrors.  When you feel the pain overtaking your body, please know that relief is there, possible and it works.  I’ve seen and experienced the sorrow and loss of friends, co-workers, loved ones and individuals I didn’t know.  The tragedy of life surrounded me for over half my life, and the memories will remain etched in my thoughts forever.  Pain relief doesn’t come from medication, alcohol, drugs, manufactured substitutes, possessions or people.  These “crutches” simply mask the real issues; while creating additional problems.  Take the time to dig deep into your mind, body and soul and search your past; you’ll discover the root of the problem.  This is where you will discover your pain relief.  I’m fortunate to have a friend, who helped me recognize the need for professional assistance, based on my trauma and events from my past.  I did my shadow work, peeled back my armor (with the help of counseling and EMDR therapy) to expose my soul.  It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t difficult either.  I wanted to heal, feel better and live a happier life.  The effort I put in paid off and I discovered my pain relief. 

Our time on this planet can be amazing and spectacular.  Navigating the difficult days and creating happiness takes work and commitment.  It’s definitely a choice.  I’ve outlined, in past articles, how I wake up each morning, making a conscience choice to be happy.  I understand how this isn’t an easy or simple decision for some individuals.  I use to think my happiness was dependent on others.  I didn’t recognize how personal happiness was my choice and responsibility.  It wasn’t until later in life that I realized this was all on me.  No person, possession or thing can make me (or you) happy. People, possessions and adventures, help create moments of joy, that make memories.  The experiences, especially those shared, are what makes life worth living.  Cast aside your fears, doubts and pain; to relieve yourself of these burdens of life.  I live my life with discipline, determination, positivity and happiness.  Gratitude and kindness play huge roles in my everyday life.  I have much to be thankful for; beginning each new day with my prayers of thanks.  Stay positive my friends.  If you need help or assistance, it’s within reach; as am I.  Follow your dreams.  They know the way.

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The puzzle of life is always changing.  Change can lead to amazing opportunities.  Together, let’s be healthy and strong; mentally, physically and spiritually! 

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!

What do you Believe

July 24, 2022

Good morning my friends.  I hope you are doing well and enjoying life.  In today’s world, when an event or incident of significant consequence occurs, everyone seems eager to quickly render their opinion or cast judgement.  Like most topics of critical importance, it’s often best not to respond immediately.  I find it’s beneficial to give myself time to breathe and allow my mind to process the information.  I’d rather wait and examine the facts, before expressing my views (if I share them at all).  I considered not writing about this particular topic, but there are a few points of interest I’m compelled to discuss.  I hope you can understand my thought process, even if our views or ideals differ.  I’m not writing this to sway anyone’s opinion or convert you to a new faith, religion or way of life.  My intention is only to share my views and hopefully generate more intelligent thoughts and discussion on the topic.  There are valuable points on both sides of this matter; although many refuse to recognize anything than their own one-sided perspective.  I realize there are many people, on this planet, whose beliefs may never be changed or altered.  These individuals won’t sway one bit, no matter how much logic, intelligence, truth or facts are provided.  It doesn’t matter if their thoughts are rooted in political, religious or cultural ideology; they will fight to the death, instead of listening to reason.  The behavior of these folks doesn’t necessarily bother me; as long as they don’t violate the law, infringe on the rights of others or compromise our freedom. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

When I began publishing my blog, nearly three years ago, I told myself not to discuss politics or religion.  If you’ve been reading any of my articles, you know I collapsed on the political issue in 2020, during the covid lockdown.  The ludicrous behavior, insane political rhetoric and lawlessness that over took society and the world, compelled me to share my thoughts.  Now, it seems, that time has risen again.  Here is a little background information and my views on the subject. On Friday, June 24th, the Supreme Court, rendered a decision to strike down Roe vs Wade.  I question why this legal body ever rendered a decision in 1973, but that’s another story.  I believe this ruling impacts all women, whether you’re Pro Choice or Pro Life.  My intuition and logic tell me this is a woman’s choice; and has nothing to do with judges, politicians, men (or me).  I know there are millions of opinions on the topic; some are fanatical, to say the least.  I’ve witnessed some of these radical behaviors first-hand, during my nearly 34-year career in law enforcement.  I worked an array of demonstrations, protests and violent encounters with various groups.  Politics and religion have a way of dividing people (intelligent and logical humans), into angry, chaotic, uneducated and unruly mobs.  Some of these determined individuals take their beliefs to new extremes.  Vandalism and destruction of property, assaults and murders (of medical providers) and an array of other offenses; reveal the dark side of human nature and individuals in the support of their cause.  My profession brought me into close contact with many individuals associated with criminal deeds.  Like all stories, there are always two sides.  There are extremists and law breakers on both sides of this issue; as there are with every controversial puzzle.  The truth is typically somewhere in the middle.  What do you believe?

When did having a different opinion become a deal breaker in our society?  I was born in the early 1950’s and joined the LAPD in 1980.  Growing up, throughout school and into adult life (including my career); open communication resolved most issues or differences.  People with varying political, religious or cultural views, actually talked to one another (for the most part), and lived in harmony.  Individuals who create conflict (like the fights at Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyland, this past week, to name a few), unfortunately, will always be among us.  The majority of people respect one another and their opinions.  So, when and how did all this change?   Did innovation, technology or social media destroy the art of communication and understanding?  Have these interpersonal skills been cast aside, for whatever reason?  Can a portion of the blame be placed on socialist or communist ideologies, that emerged onto our school and college campuses; saturating students with radical ideas.  Is it a result of the pandemic lock down, one sided news reporting; or did I miss something?  Political, religious, cultural and a wide variety of other differences, have been part of our everyday life for decades.  Humans have come along way, since the birth of our existence.  Respect, kindness and understanding, once valuable traits, now seem to be lost as we continue down a destructive path.  The madness of our world only intensifies.  Why do differences of opinion stir radical or fanatical behavior and responses.  I believe the solution can be found in the breakdown of society; including respect, morality and the family unit.  Some of our own government leaders (at all levels) fan the flames of division, discontent and disrespect.  Their copycat followers rally behind these idiots.  I realize times change, but this is sad and ridiculous. 

I can understand why individuals base their opinions on religious or political beliefs.  I’m an American, born into an Italian-American Catholic family.  I devotedly followed the church, until my divorce and exile.  My career with the LAPD brought new enlightenment and education, regarding humans and life.  Working the streets of Los Angeles, opened my heart and soul to a vast world of heartache, suffering and evil.  My years, interacting with a vast array of individuals, altered my beliefs, ideals, thoughts and changed opinion on a number of topics and issues.  During my career and lifetime, I’ve witnessed a variety of atrocities and horrific experiences victims suffer.  I’m not a scholar, theologian or political activist.  I’m an ordinary human (with my opinion).  I believe in God and pray daily.  My career in law enforcement exposed me to the “real” world.  It showed me how people are manipulated by greed, ego, power, religion and politics.  I witnessed the evil acts committed by humans and the lack of empathy or compassion they have for others.  Evil exists my friends, because I’ve seen it.  My life, as a police officer, was often disgusting; making me sick or heart broken.  Crimes perpetrated against individuals, especially women and children, are horrible, to say the least.  Rape and incest are criminal acts, yet you want to tell the victim she has no choice if it results in pregnancy.  Women drugged in bars and nightclubs, forced into prostitution, sold as sex slaves or kidnapped into human trafficking rings are real and sad.  My exposure to these daily events made me wonder, where are the laws to protect women and the victims.  

I’m tired of the “elitist” and “woke” mentality, attempting to push their agenda around the world.  These egotistical individuals, and groups, attempt to dictate what the rest of the population should think, say or do.  Is it because these people believe they have some special power; based on wealth, ego or agenda?  The rants of billionaires, radical agenda of extremist groups and ideas of some politicians, don’t have social value in our world.  Politicians are elected to make decisions for the good of all people; not to enhance their own wealth or power.  It never ceases to amaze me how fanatical some individuals are when it comes to politics, religion, or some other belief.  I made the mistake of responding to a social media post regarding the court decision.  My comment was to support women who have to make a difficult choice, and allowing them the freedom to do so.  I quickly discovered my opinion doesn’t matter, from a bashing response. Apparently, if an opinion is contrary, it isn’t allowed.  I was told I was heartless and wasn’t a real Catholic.  I laughed at the comments and I leave the judgement of others to God.  My opinion matters, equally, as does every other human on this planet.  I refuse to remain silent or apologize, because my thoughts don’t match your beliefs.  I believe we all have the right to live a life in peace and freedom.  

America declared its freedom and independence, with the Constitution and Bill of Rights, in 1776.  Personal choices to protect yourself, especially for women, is a right that shouldn’t be governed by men, politicians or religions.  I believe in God and the right for women to choose.  If you don’t share my views, that’s fine and your constitutional right.  Don’t chastise or attack others for not sharing your opinion.  Leave judgment to God, that’s his job, not yours.  Follow your dreams.  They know the way.

Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more!  The puzzle of life is always changing.  Change can lead to amazing opportunities.  Together, let’s be healthy and strong; mentally, physically and spiritually! 

Thanks for your love and support!  Embrace Life!  Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!