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Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Look Back at The Year

A Year Without News ended last month. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to write up until the last day. Not that I was not inspired, I was just too busy; too caught up in the day-to-day. But with the perspective allowed by time and distance, I can tell you the experiment was a success. I did, for the most part, what I set out to do. I am better. I changed. I do watch news now, but not obsessively. I want to know what's happening in the world, but I can survive without a propaganda IV plugged into my veins. That's progress any way you look at it.

What I got from the year:

- I am more positive. I have learned to look at the glass half-full.
- I am a more well-rounded person. AYWN freed up a lot of time, which I have spent on better things.
- I am more spiritual. More time in front of the bible and less time in front of the newspaper is good for you. I promise. Try it.
- I am clearer. My head is not so muddled with the media garbage I used to fill it with.

Now that I do take in some news, I realize nothing has changed. The left-wing slant is as bad as ever. People still can't admit that President Obama is doing an awful job, and the best thing the news losers can do is try to find something damning in Sarah Palin's emails. Why didn't Obama get this kind of scrutiny? Why isn't he getting it now?

We know about Anthony's Wiener. We know about Kate Middleton and Prince Whatever. There were tornadoes in the South. People are still homeless there, by the way. No criticism of the president for not flying home immediately to "survey the damage." I guess it was more important for him to barbecue with the elites of Europe. Don't get me wrong, I think a president - any president - surveying the aftermath of a natural disaster, is a disaster in itself. What good can they do? None. They can only cause problems by being there. You ever get caught in the traffic caused by a presidential motorcade? Imagine trying to bring needed supplies to people affected by a natural disaster while the prez is rolling past? Ridiculous. Keep on grilling, Barry. You're less likely to do damage that way - you can only burn yourself with a grill.

You see from the rant above why I should probably continue to stay away from the news. The bias, the BS, the nonsense. Our country is in trouble. Our debt is life-threatening. Our economy is wrecked. Our future is in peril. Should we really care about a man who looks like a penis showing a porn-star a picture of his penis? I guess we should, but maybe it's time we focused on what matters.

I got better in that year. Maybe that's why everything seems worse.

- Adolfo

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 332 - Return of The King

Okay, so I am no king. I am a person like you and like anyone else. My project lasted for a while and then the writing had to take a back seat to the work when the work became too much and the hours too long. I chose family over my desire to write, over my ambition to complete a goal. Often, as I wrote this column, I thought of what I would write on the last day of this year. What would be the great lesson? What would be different about me?

A lot about me is different. My faith continues to grow, although that has little to do with writing. It has to do with maturity and accepting that I can't do it alone. I need God to help me along. I plan to be baptized on Sunday. I have asked God to break me and he is breaking me. Again, I can't do this alone.

It's liberating when you accept that there are things you can't control. It's a wonderful thing to know that there is someone infinitely more powerful than you who wants to help you, carry you. I am not different, except that I am better. I am not great, just better, and improving every day.

I did fall off the wagon. I have been "exposed" to news. My taste for it is gone. Nothing changed while I was away: politicians are still corrupt, government is still out of control and ineffective, and, according to the media, nothing good every happens.

I don't really care to hear it any more.

Remember how we would hear every day about each soldier that died in the wars? They're still dying, we're just not hearing about it? Why not? Is the life of a soldier that dies while Barack Obama is in office less important than the life of one who died while George Bush was in office? Of course not. So why the double standard?

I don't mean to get political, I just wanted to prove a point. This is why I haven't become addicted to the news again. I was away from it long enough that I now hate it. The absence provided much needed perspective.

I can share this little nugget with you: Step back. If you have an addiction of any kind, just take a step back and find your perspective. This is the first step toward mending yourself.

God bless you. Make it your best day yet. It's good to be back, even if only for a day.

- Adolfo

P.S. See you on day 365, maybe sooner.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day # 265 - The Seventh Day

I know I'm not the only one, but I have the flu. I've had it in one form or another for about a week now. It started with the itchy throat and peaked at a fever of 102 a couple of nights ago. Because I am bionic (read: a stupid man)I have not taken any time off from work and haven't really taken any medicine other than a mega-dose of vitamins and Tylenol for the pain in my bones.

Why? Because I am a dingbat, obviously. Even God took a day of rest after creating the heavens and the earth, so what makes me think I can get by without rest? The good thing is I did sleep fairly well last night, so it helps.

When we talk about work-life balance, we tend to think of it in terms of working and then spending time with loved ones. This is by far the most important aspect of it, but we also need to take time for ourselves. It's important to just rest, to sleep, read a book, watch an old movie. In short, we must disconnect from the reality of the world or the reality of the world will overwhelm us. I believe I got this flu mostly because of the stress I've been under. No one can blame me. However, when we don't keep the stress in check, we could easily trade in the flu for something infinitely more serious. Worth it? Oh, no. Not at all.

So when you plan out your day, your week, or your month, set aside quality time with your family, and a little for yourself. Get your rest, drink water, eat veggies... you know the drill.

Remember:

- Get your rest.
- Laugh.
- Be with the people you love and tell them you love them.
- If you didn't go back to work Monday, for whatever reason, your inbox will still be full.

Make it your best day yet. The only way to make it so is with friends and family. God bless you and yours.

- Adolfo

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 264 - Renewal

It's been a rough ride for my family the last month. It's safe to say January - February 2011 will be remembered, and not fondly.

But there is a limit to everything, and as my sister put it: God never gives you everything at once. This applies not only to the bad, but to the good as well. We simply couldn't handle it and He never gives us more than we can handle.

Death is a part of life, it's the one guarantee besides taxes. We will all face it at one time or another, even if only our own. Those of us who are blessed with lots of friends and relatives will have to face it even more. The pain is proportionate to the joy.

But a moment comes where you have to resolve to move forward. It's not easy. There is so much emotion involved, but you do a disservice to the departed when you allow the pain and sadness to linger. They can't see you or influence you, but if they could, they would tell you it's time to move on.

This is something that applies not only to losing loved ones, but to all the hurts, big and small, that we experience in our lifetimes. You will be hurt. You will be disappointed, betrayed. It comes with the territory when you interact with other human beings. You can't control that. What you can control is how you react to these slights. Grieve, or scream, or yell, if you must, then move on.

I allowed the pain of losing people I love affect me very much. Enough that I have a cold (or flu) and am having even more trouble sleeping than usual. I resolve to end this foolishness. Not that it's foolish to mourn, but it's foolish to allow yourself to be consumed.

I don't want to promise you or myself that I will write every day like I used to, but I will try, knowing that I eventually will.

God bless you. Make it your best day yet.

- Adolfo

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 259 - An Open Letter to Vicky and Danny

Yesterday, we spent the day at the funeral of your parents. Surrounded by people who loved them, people they loved, and pictures of the great times and memories of their lives, we silently paid tribute to two people who were angels among us and have been elevated to be angels above us.

I would be lying if I told you I understand what the two of you are going through. No one knows. All anyone can ever do is try to understand, or at least listen, and respond with love. We can try to understand this and never will. I have learned that while all things are, in their own way, beautiful, they are not always pretty. The loss of your parents has affected me in the following way: it has increased and strengthened my faith in God. I can't explain why this has been the result, but I can tell you I have never felt closer to God, and I hope that when the pain you are feeling has subsided, and the healing power of time has taken effect, you too will be able to say that this painful chapter served to bring you closer to God. Your parents are with Him now, being closer to Him, will bring you closer to them.

We all have a limited time on this planet. The measure of our success as people is not the years of our lives, but the life in our years. By this or any measure, your parents lived extraordinary lives. If the success of a life is determined by the legacy one creates, again your parents aced the test. How can I say this? Because of the amazing people they created and left to us. Watching the two of you sit there, in all your pain as people came by was heartbreaking. Listening to you comforting those who came to you was inspiring. You two became my heros yesterday.

Vicky, you have inspired me since the first time I held you. You were a week old. It was Christmas morning. You were placed in my arms. I kissed your little face and held you and I fell in love. Holding you that day was as touching to me as the first time I held each of my own children. I didn't know it then, but the lens of time has shown me that the tears I cried upon holding you in my arms that morning were God's way of telling me how special you are.

Danny, you have always made me (and everyone else) laugh. From the time you were a baby, you always had that same smile on that same handsome face and you were always the good times guy. You were always bold and tough, but as sweet a human being as anyone has ever met. In a world where more and more people seem to be lost and all about themselves, it's good to see the man you've become. It's impressive that at your tender age, you are the rock your mother was and the gentleman your father was. Amazing.

While the road ahead is long, you will not walk it alone. You are surrounded by people who love you and will support you every step of the way. Your friends and your family will always be nearby, not only to lend you strength when you need it, but to lend a shoulder or a laugh. I can't speak for others, but I can assure you that I will also be around to be inspired by your strength. I will be there when Vicky walks again and this time, I'll let her carry me.

The bible tells us that while not all things are good, all things work together for good for those who believe. I believe this is true. In your eulogy, Vicky, you said that the last three weeks of your parents' lives were the best of their lives. How wonderful. While this end wasn't what any of us would have planned or wanted, it's comforting to know how happy they were when God called them home. It's comforting to know they were as happy as they deserved to be. It's comforting for the two of you and the rest of us to remember the manner in which they lived their lives, and not the manner in which their lives ended. In the end, all we have are the memories and the moments. The laughter and the tears. The sunshine, the rain, the love. Let us not live with regret, but with fond remembrance of those we were blessed to have known. Let us not live with anger over what we have lost, but with happiness and appreciation for what we were given.

As I close this letter, I realize how inadequate my words are. I understand that what I am feeling is not what you are reading here. This is about the only thing I understand. Another thing I understand is that when trying to communicate, it is sometimes better to use someone else's words. So I want to share with you one of my favorite poems:

INVICTUS
By William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


Henley wrote this poem while laying in a hospital bed recovering from an amputation. He went on to live a complete and full life. The poem has inspired me for years and I hope it will do the same for you.

Remember my cousins, that no matter how hard it may seem, there is always hope, because there is always God, and family, and love. I know that at this moment the future seems uncertain and even frightening, the unknown always does. But God is with you. We are with you. Your parent's memories and spirits are with us all. We are strong. We are unconquerable.

I love you. God bless you.

Adolfo

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Days 253 & 254 - Pop Culture

I set out to avoid news for a year. It was easy to do. I just didn't watch, read, or listen to any news. It isn't a true addiction like alcohol or drugs, so there are no withdrawal symptoms, no urge to break into your house to steal enough money for a hot copy of USA Today (not real news but you get the point.)

I do, however, make contact with the news. For example, there is no way to not know what's happening in Egypt right now. Give them democracy, I say. Don't worry if it's new to them, they'll figure out what to do with it. We all deserve a chance to be free.

I also found, and read, an article about the most disliked figures in Sports. Al Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders, tops the list. Michael Vick is up there next to him and Tiger Woods is number four. My question is: who cares?

Tiger Woods is disliked because he is losing. Sure, he cheated on his wife. So did Kobe Bryant. The difference is, Kobe has added some jewelry to his collection, so all is forgiven. Tiger hasn't been so lucky, or focused, or whatever. He'll be back, and he'll be off the list.

Donald Trump once wrote that while people love a hero, they love a fallen hero even more. He may have been right. Why do we love to see successful people stumble? Is it envy? Do we see a little of our own failures in their story? Do we need to be reminded that the glitterati are human?

I find it odd that in a society such as ours, which is so fascinated by where movie stars have lunch or play tennis with, wants to see the objects of their obsession fall flat on their botoxed faces. I am not offering explanations or answers, only making an observation. What's wrong with us?

This may be why most of the people I am interested in were gone long before I arrived. Their warts are already visible. There are no surprises, except by those wishing to rewrite history. There are occasional discoveries, but in these instances, the new information only adds to the story.

By the way, can anyone tell me what a Snookie is?

God bless you. Make it a great day.

- Adolfo

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Days 248 - 252 - Homecoming

I was able to visit with my little cousin yesterday. She is recovering. She is hurting. She finds herself in the odd position of needing comfort and being exhausted by visitors. So much for a young woman to bear.

Maybe sometimes the best thing we can offer is time and distance. Maybe being there sometimes means not being there. Sometimes all you can do is pray and send blessings to the people you want to help, even when your heart and head are screaming that you should be there. Knowing the difference is key.

Of course, the physical component of the tragedy will heal long before the mental and emotional ones will. To have a loved one depart is difficult, to have it happen in a sudden, violent fashion that leaves you with the last words you would have shared with them stuck in your throat, is incomprehensible.

God needed angels. We cannot argue. We can only thank Him for allowing us to enjoy the company of these angels for so long. We will enjoy the memories until our reunion and then we'll pick up right where we left off.

We are now a family that is hurting and in need of closure. We are stuck in the healing process due to circumstances beyond our control. Most of us still cannot believe it. Yesterday, as I walked through my cousin's empty house, still decked out in Christmas decorations, I still couldn't get what was happening. I know it's good to cry, to let it out, but it only comes in fits. It doesn't just burst like it's supposed to - or like I think it's supposed to. That will come in time, and we will continue our lives, even as we never quite move on.

I would love to get back to writing more uplifting things, and I will. I just have to deal with this first. I know that, like a cut, if you don't tend to it and assist the injury in healing, it could become infected and get worse and worse. I am healing. I am getting better and better.

God bless you. Make it your best day yet.

- Adolfo