Words on Wednesday

28 Jul

It’s not always easy celebrating someone’s life while at the same time remembering someone who passed away. It’s an anniversary you’d rather forget. 

July becomes a test of mental and emotional strength every year. Finding the right balance of happiness for kids getting older and reaching milestones and fighting back the sadness because grandpa’s gone and he’s missing out on life he would have enjoyed living. No advice on how to tackle that, how to feel happiness and joy, while sadness lingers in the back and creeps up on you when you don’t expect it. You just take it as it comes and give it what you got.

Finding the happiness in kids turning double digits.  That’s 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 10! Remembering Harold and The Purple Crayon and Goodnight Moon like it was last week. Play-Doh and bubbles. Pictures drawn in Crayola Crayons and paints that come in plastic jars. Rainbows, puppies, snakes, flowers, and smiling stick figures. Now she’s using colored pencils and practicing her best Bob Ross skills on sketch pads and easels with fancy paper. Hitting home runs, watching Bear Grylls, jumping off diving boards, and learning everything about penguins. That’s what happens when kids turn ten.

Then you get a kid turning 13. Yup. The teen begins. Random clerks at a store chuckling and shaking their head at you saying ‘oh, 13, that’s gonna be a fun year for you.’ Like they know something, a parent secret, but not telling you because you’re about to find out in a BIG way. 

13.

Sounds ominous.

I don’t remember it being that way.

But then again I was the 13-year old. Not the parent of one. 

Here we go. On a new roller coaster ride and I don’t know where the turns are, but they’re coming. 

Now no more TV shows with animated characters, they got shows with people and issues. Got my own Wonder Years experience going on here with questions about getting cell phones and driver’s permit. Hang on a second! This one is a to be continued … and those three dots right there, that’s what’s gonna make it interesting. 13 and in 8th grade. I imagine a lot of goings on will be going on. It’s puberty. It’s transition. It’s voice cracking, stinky socks, and peach fuzz on the upper lip about to become a full Magnum P.I. style mustache. It’s funny. But it’s not.

But at least sports is still a common denominator and I still rock as coach and trainer and they come to me for guidance and I can give advice and they’ll listen. Through sports I can still teach life lessons, even without them fully knowing it. It’ll sink it.

I hope. 

13 and 10.

I’ve become a life coach to kids in double digits. It happens to every parent, I know. I’m just realizing it’s happening to me while at the same time celebrating someone that would have been 73, but was taken away too soon.

I imagine a lot of untold stories went with him and I feel bad about that, about not hearing the rest of them, about the unfinished life he had and the years as a grandpa robbed from him. It’s sadness and joy. He probably had so many more memories and pieces of life to share with me, about when he was 10 or 13, or the parent of one. But now I can only hold onto what I got. That’s the tough part. Knowing he had more but we never got around to it because unexpected sickness happened and that sucked. 

From one day to the next. Celebrating your kids to grieving your dad. It’s a state of funk that’s difficult to navigate. But you get up and keep moving. That’s July for me. The world keeps moving even if you want it to stay still. It moves with or without you. 

So I found myself celebrating and being happy one day, sad the next, and bumping it up again the following week. 

No rules on how to do it, just finding ways to live through it.  So even though this writing hiatus was unplanned it was probably needed. Sometimes the words just don’t come out and it was probably for a reason. Settling in and coming off my own birthday as well, trying to turn the page and get the creativity going. I got another 365-day journey around the sun, so it’s a good time to start again. So I went off on an outdoor adventure, away from people, away from the city and tried something new.

Sometimes the Outdoors sprinkles a little magic and you feel different. Sometimes not. 

But luckily that day the cloud of funk lifted and the getaway brought perspective.

 

Buen Camino!

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Feel Good 5 Friday … on a Saturday Night..

3 Jul

Rebounding.

It takes a lot of out of you.  The energy of getting back up when you’ve been knocked down takes some extra umph.

Back in the day when Showtime ruled the hardwood floors, Chick Hearn crushed the airwaves. The game was in the refrigerator, the door was closed, the lights were out, eggs cooling, butter was getting hard, and the Jello was jiggling … and there was AC Green. Magic was well …  Magic with no look passes, and clutch shots he helped ignite a comeback when they were down by 5 with 10 seconds to go. Worthy was the finish man, catching those no-look passes and taking them to the basket. Kareem was the Skyhook champ, couldn’t beat him. Michael Cooper wore the long socks and nailed three-pointers from anywhere around the perimeter. Anywhere. He was money. And then there was AC Green.

The Rebound Man.

Sure. Kareem had plenty. He was the Big Man. But AC was a forward and he was still battling.

Up in the air fighting elbows, and over the shoulder fouls, there he was grabbing the rebound, boxing out, putting it up for two on the offense, or sending the outlet pass for a fast break or an offense about to storm the other side. He battled in the paint, he battled outside of it. He rebounded.

He was not the biggest on the team but he fought on the boards.

I remembered AC and the work he put in just recently. Rebounding takes a lot out of you and sometimes you don’t even know if you have anything left in the tank. The patience and grace you got may have run out by 11 a.m. on some days and then you realize you still have a long ways to go. You’ve given up on the day. That’s it. You want to just lie down on the couch for 24 hours until time resets the day for you. Sometimes I feel like that. Just sitting there with some dark chocolate Kit Kats and taking deep breaths and hoping for a miracle.

But most of the time you have to make your own magic happen. Just the way it is and resetting is step one. But that’s hard when you’re feeling dejected, and just not feeling an ounce of gratitude, can’t find nothing in that reserve. Giving up on the day feels necessary. Just logical.

But sometimes breaking your day up in quarters might help. Morning, Lunch Time, Afternoon, and Night.  Just because one quarter went bad doesn’t mean the entire game is lost, it may in some instances, but you still have three quarters to bounce back, to rebound.

You’re still AC Green.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. I know. Believe me. Two kids, distance learning done, Summer Break in full effect, tight budget so you’re job hunting while working on an independent project, in addition to having family that isn’t really supportive or uplifting. This type of negative environment could be difficult to survive. The everyday stresses compounding with personal setbacks make it difficult to find the daily gratitude. Some people turn to different outlets to survive. Alcohol. Smoking. Those are popular. But because my uncle died of cancer, and he didn’t smoke, and my Dad passed away of lung disease, brought on by second-hand smoke, asbestos, or who knows what, that’s not a cool option for me. Alcoholism runs in my family so I don’t turn to it in troubled times. I got random bouts of profanity in the solitude of my locked car, exercise, nature, and music. That’s what’s in my tank. 

Then sometimes I think of AC Green. Still rebounding in the 4th quarter because the game isn’t over.

I got one quarter left in me. That’s what comes to mind and then soon enough I find bits and pieces of gratitude moments. Blueberry pancakes.  30-minute Pearl Jam yoga with Denis Morton in the morning.  Strength workout where I find a faint sculpting of my arms in effect. Dark Chocolate. Gas in the car. Giving a ride to my neighbor. 80’s music on the way there. 70’s on the way back. Entering a contest. My team winning tonight after nine innings. Clean sheets and the cool side of the pillow.

And sometimes that’s just enough to cross the finish line.

Buen Camino, my friends …

 

 

 

 

The Police – De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

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Carlos Vives and Ricky Martin — Cancion Bonita

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CCR – Have You Ever Seen The Rain

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Electric Light Orchestra — Mr. Blue Sky

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Donna Summer — Last Dance

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Sunday Morning … Remembering Your Pops…

20 Jun

Most of the time he would not take the day off. My dad used to work seven days a week for months on end. Then years later he realized that was bad for his health.

Workaholic. Part of the working-class mentality is having that drive, that work ethic to do the hard labor, to show up and take pride in what you do, and provide for your family.

But every once in a while he’d take a vacation though. Day trip, road trip here and there. Take a plane to Guate to visit his mom. He’d call her all the time but didn’t make a regular yearly trip to see her until I was in college. After years and years of hard work he learned that taking a day off was good for his mental well-being.

Monday’s and holidays. Those were his days off, the days he’d sleep in, maybe go to the driving range and hit a few. Go to the movies with my cousin, call to hang out with me, visit my uncle at the cemetery. Eat fried fish at the Marisco place down the street, the one that unfortunately is no longer there. I think the owner sold it a few years back and now it’s just something called a bistro, and the last time I heard of one of those was when Jack Tripper opened up one of his own after working at Angelino’s.

He’d still work on Sunday’s though, even if it was Father’s Day. So if I wasn’t working, I’d make the drive just to hang for a bit at the shop. Told him I’d buy him a cup of coffee. Talk about life. He’d laugh at the thought of his daughter talking about life over a cup of coffee, seeing how I did t drink coffee. But I’d do it anyway.

I’d tell him I’d see him later for dinner, which usually involved a steak, sometimes Italian food, but most of the time steak followed by Lakers game, Dodgers game or HBO.

Today’s the day to think of that. To think about the conversations I had but can’t quite remember, but knew I had them. Time to remember his smile and the feeling of hanging out, to remember his laughter, the smell of his musk aftershave, white collared shirts, and butcher’s coat. Time to remember the times he didn’t wear white, like when we used to go to plays and talk during the intermission, to remember the hard times and the good times, because there were both. Time to remember that 11 years ago, Father’s Day was the last time I had a conversation with my friend in a hospital room, that last time he’d talk back. I remember leaving the television on and telling the nurses not to change the channel because the World Cup was on and he loved watching it. He might not have been able to see it, but maybe he’d be able to hear the famous GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL! GOOOOOOOOOL QUE GOLAZO!

Most definitely.

It’s the day to celebrate and remember your dads. The ones that you were born with, the ones that saw you in diapers, and the ones who acted like your dad, encouraged you and supported you even if you weren’t related, they were still family. To brothers and uncles that had your back, to teachers and coaches that helped you when you needed it.

It’s tough being a good dad. Pressures weigh heavily on the shoulders of a family man, and not everyone is strong enough to fill that role. Not everyone can handle that. Now with raising my own family, I realize that. So it’s important to highlight the ones that do. To the ones that pay the bills and show up to soccer practice, and basketball games before beer with the guys, to the ones that are there for Saturday morning cartoons, even if they’re just sleeping next to you on the couch, to the ones who read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other bedtime stories, to the ones who teach you how to drive and change a flat tire, to the MacGyver’s and the remote control masters who cross wires and eventually fix the DVD-VCR-Cable connection, to the ones that high-five you when you succeed or pat you on the back when you don’t, to the ones who snore so loud they can inhale the wallpaper if you had any, to the ones that tell you to chase your dreams, to the ones who have a cup of coffee with their daughter and talk about life … today’s your day.

Happy Father’s Day

Buen Camino …

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Feel Good 5 Friday

11 Jun

I found myself at the bottom of a Famous Amos Chocolate Chip bag.

It was the necessary and required amount of comfort needed.

Sometimes things go your way, and other times they just don’t. A job offer you were expecting to come in, comes back with, we decided to go in a different direction, a promotion you thought you were going to get goes to the nephew of the guy in charge, a test result you thought would be favorable comes back as a reality check, a grant you were hoping would help catapult your project into the next phase is instead welcomed with a letter that starts off with … unfortunately. There could be more scenarios out there causing a massive downers on everyone’s day.

You feel like crap and totally want to reach for another bag.

You sit there contemplating your next move, wondering what’s it going to be.

You feel like you just struck out at the bottom of the ninth, with runner in scoring position on a 3-2 count, or maybe like missing that crucial buzzer beater with your team down by one point.

So where do you go from there?

After going through the different stages of sadness and disappointment because I got to get them all out. I needed to put one foot in front of the other and find something … something that I was grateful for, some potential, some pint-size of positivity I could cling to during a not-so positive moment. It’s hard finding something you’re grateful for when you feel like you’re in a pretty crappy stage. But even if it’s small, like going for a swim, run, bike ride, or dance. Eating great food. Beach therapy day. Trying a new adventure. Reading a good story. A friend. A cool sunset.

Something positive is out there.

When I’m driving and I’ve got the bad news, the music is my savior. Changing the stations I end up listening to a tune I hadn’t heard in months, sometimes years. But just in case the radio doesn’t have it, I’ve got that go-to playlist. The one you listen to when you’re running and you want to feel powerful, or the one you listen to when you want to celebrate something good in your life, or the one you listen to while you’re driving, the one that gets you dancing at every stop light, or the ones where you just want to feel sad and the soulful sounds help you because someone has been where you are and feels what you fell.

Go-to songs have a way of turning the corner when you need something to push you in the right direction. That lift. You have some for different circumstances in your life.

I always got a couple that make it happen for me … but that one song … the one that makes me smile and just feel good is Katrina … Katrina and her Waves. That song just makes me smile and feel good. Makes the morning better. Makes the run stronger. Makes the care ride better. Walking on Sunshine is a feeling I’d like to take with me. It’s been on my Feel Good 5 Friday before and maybe even in my mixed-tape series. But that’s the song … that’s the one that does it for me. That and probably the Jefferson’s Theme Song. But since we’re not talking about theme songs, I’d have to go with my girl Katrina 🙂 Everyone has got one.

So I pressed play and tried to get the tunes to change the state of mind. For some reason if I’m outdoors or in the car it seems to work a lot better.

And so my journey began.

In the music I found gratitude bits and pieces and slowly started to get out of the funk. Feeling the rhythm and the beat. Singing at full volume in the car. Found parking and still left the music on, jamming and starting to feel different. And then I received a text message.

A friend of mine had won a Pulitzer.

Dude.

Duuuuuuuuuude.

Have you ever heard some spectacular news, I mean something that didn’t even have to do with you, but something for someone else, and it made you so happy. I mean genuinely happy.

I was so happy for them that I completely forgot about my own troubles, my own day and smiled because something good happened to a friend of mine. Hard worker, filled with determination and grit. I was proud to have known them. Good things happen to good people. They do. And that right there made me happy.

Buen Camino …

Walking on Sunshine — Katrina & The Waves

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Homegrown — Zac Brown Band

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No Tengo Dinero — Juan Gabriel

Livin’ on a Prayer — Jon Bon Jovi

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Never Know — Jack Johnson

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Feel Good 5 Friday … on a Saturday Night that turned to Sunday

6 Jun

Cherry Garcia.

I can’t believe I had never tried it until yesterday.

Sometimes you go into the freezer to grab a celebratory treat, satisfy a sweet tooth, or comfort after a bad day. Motivation behind the freezer-reach is different but the result is the same.

Feeling good.

Sometimes it’s a great run. Sometimes is a funny show. Sometimes the sweet tunes of a mixed tape. Sometimes Ben & Jerry’s.

As I mentioned before, I was only introduced to Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead in college, freshman year. Music setting a feel-good vibe. And today’s discovery of this sweet, creamy ice cream flavor, tagged with music, was definitely my jam.

Sometimes choices and options are so popular you avoid them because everybody does it and that turns you off. You like to set your path. Other times you just never get around to it, until you do.

Has that ever happened? You just never tried something, even in the midst of popular opinion, just never got around to it? A friend of mine had never seen I Love Lucy. Someone else had never done a 5k. Another friend said she’d never gone to the snow, which made me think that many people had never gone to a beach or a desert. Someone else had never baked a cake, not even the Betty Crocker kind. Another friend had never tried to play a musical instrument, which made me think that some people may never have tried dancing. Made me curious as to why people just don’t get around to trying something new that almost everyone has already gotten to experience. Doesn’t have to be any of this stuff, as geography and money can factor into certain experiences. But trying something new probably means paying attention to what your path looks like, and whether new experiences can help enrich your life, or not. Sometimes it’s a risk. Sometimes trying something new is part of the act of self-care. Doesn’t have to be something big, adventurous, popular, or expensive. Just something new.

I had never tried Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.

It’s not a big deal. It was just a thing that surprised me.

I’d always seen in it in the freezer next to my Chunky Monkey and Cookie Dough, but never wanted to try it, really. I like cherries, but not maraschino cherries. Sometimes I worry about the risk of trying something new and then it burning me out because it turns out bad. Wasting money. But then maybe it’s not a waste if it allows you to get to know yourself better. Likes and dislikes.

An awesome moment of hard work led to the freezer section of the Smart&Final. Reward in Aisle 2. But a bad encounter that evening, involving an argument and a putdown, led to pop open that top and try something new.

Excelsior.

Cherry Garcia hit that spot. Blocked the negative and made way for the positive. Sometimes trying something new does that for me. Sometimes it’s exercise. Sometimes it’s laughter. And sometimes it’s good music. Like Feel Good 5 Friday on any day.

Buen Camino …

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Feel Good 5 Friday… Jalapeño Cornbread and Timeouts

28 May

Jalapeño Corn Bread.

That right there did it for me.

The week of frustration, headaches, couple migraines, Friday looked good to me. Crossed that finish line.

There I was winding down the week high-fiving myself as I managed both a 4th and 7th grade curriculum. Distance learning done! And we move on! Kids were happy, I was happy. Feeling like the strut of a Bee Gees music video.

After all the Zoom Meetings, attendance records, and extra everything going on this year I was so glad to have conquered it.

Check.

That’s when the Jalapeño Corn Bread just came into my life and made for such an amazing feeling. You know when the food is so good, that you pause, you just close your eyes and take a breath. You’re about to take a knee it’s so good but then you just dance with your stank face on. Just bust a move. It’s in your spirt.

That was me and the warm, crumbly, soft Jalapeño Cornbread.

First time I’ve ever tasted it and guaranteed it won’t be the last. I am on it. This southern comfort food place in the neighborhood that I’d never tried and the cornbread made me a fan.

Nothing like sitting in the peace and quiet of your car, picking up the food and peeking in the bag just for a minute to discover a warm goodness in its steamy container. This is the moment that you remember… hey the airplane people always say put your mask on first and then … THEN … put your child’s mask on. That’s what they say and so I did.

I stayed in that parking lot and took some time. I smelled the sweet aroma, took a bite of that top edge and instantly knew this was gonna be a good evening. I sat back in the driver’s seat.

C’mon now, you better eat, girl. I turned up that Hall and Oates jam on the radio and the next six minutes of jams and tastiness made for an epic soundtrack of self-care. A timeout. Sometimes you just need a timeout, you need to tag someone in, but sometimes there is no someone, so you need a timeout, a brief moment to get back to Zen, to restore. Timeouts are important.

If you haven’t tried corn bread yet, jalapeño cornbread, I highly encourage it. Changes your good Friday into a great Friday! Reminds you to take a minute for yourself, a minute, and just enjoy something, you deserve it.

Buen Camino my friends!

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.Hall and Oates — You Make My Dreams

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Fania All Stars with Oscar De Leon, El Canario, Milly Quezada — Quitate Tu

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Chic — Good Times

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Billy Idol — Mony, Mony

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Glenn Frey — The Heat is On

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Feel Good 5 Friday … Speeches

21 May

I gave a speech.

Most of the time when I talk I got two television-watching adolescents zoning me out as they watch episodes of their newest show on Netflix or DisneyPlus. But this time I had people paying attention for more than just a minute, or at least it looked that way on Zoom.

An old friend asked for a favor, and even though I thought she probably could have gotten a bigger cheese, you know someone with CEO after their name, I stepped up to the plate and gave my advice and thoughts to a few college graduates.

I hadn’t spoken in front of a group in years, I hadn’t been asked to give a speech before. I mean coaching my kids’ teams I give pep talks and all that, but a formal speech was something different. It was a new experience that just landed on my doorstep and even though I was a bit hesitant I gave in to the opportunity. I remembered that Jim Carrey movie, a while back Yes, Man. He wanted to change his life, as it wasn’t going the way he thought it would. Negative and unhappy with his unfulfillment. He sees the power in yes and it sparks change in him and his life.

And so I Yessssssed my way into that speech and inspired a few women along the way. At least I hope. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be, perhaps the fact that it was on Zoom, maybe it was the fact that I wasn’t speaking to a crowded stadium. Maybe they all played a role in making the whole production less overwhelming. Speeches can feel that way I guess.

But I felt good about it. I tried to send out those good vibes you need, the kind you feel when you hear a song on the radio you hadn’t heard in a while, and the beat just makes it happen. You feel better. Powerful. Ready. You need those feeling everyday, not just on graduation day. So I tried to get them ready for the “real world” and give them some advice that I hoped would help. I retold a story of my old college days, before computers, where typewriters ruled and white out was your friend. I talked about obstacles and being able to get back up and know that behind every success, failure fueled the engine to reach the top. Personal anecdotes made for funny moments as walking into the dorms for the first time, or meeting a perfect stranger that was about to be your roommate for a year were experiences everyone remembered.

Toward the end, I was glad I had said yes. Sometimes that happens. You’re hesitant about going somewhere, meeting someone, trying something new, committing to an outing. I was glad that Jim Carrey movie popped into my head.

Why not me, right?

And what I learned from writing and giving that speech is that being a motivational speaker is something parents do every day. I mean you wake up in the morning convincing yourself that the alarm clock is your friend, not your foe and that the snooze button is great! But maybe not all the time. After rolling out of bed and doing the million chores, before serving up breakfast, you give morning TedTalks for an audience of two, trying to get them in the right frame of mind to tackle the day, with good intentions and a strong purpose.

You’re a member of the parent world and we have to be ready to talk about life questions, adding and subtracting fractions, prepositional phrases, and SpongeBob Squarepants all in the same day.

Remembered that I didn’t need a CEO title to give someone a little advice, I had plenty of life experience to share. So the “yes” took me to a good place, where I was able to help and pay it forward in some way. Hopefully leaving them with the feel-good feelings you get after you hear the perfect song and it just lifts you up.

The picker-upper. That was me … Buen Camino.

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Matthew Wilder — Break My Stride

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Billie Joe Armstrong Green Day with Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles — Manic Monday

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Kinito Mendez — Cachamba

The B-52’s — Rock Lobster

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Kerris Dorsey — The Show

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Feel Good 5 Friday … Playlist for The Climb

30 Apr

Something sets you off or picks you up and then there it is … the mood.

The mood for the week born. You wake up with positive vibes and one more chance, and you start the week right, thinking good vibrations and happy salutations. You’re thinking sunshine and waves.

And sometimes during the week the lightness of being lasts, other times the tornado of unexpected chaos and obstacles present themselves. Everyone has their moments.

This is why my mixed tapes, my Feel Good 5 Friday’s make sense. They record the vibe of the week with song, verse, rhythm and flow. I try to send the feeling out into the universe to whisper into the wind and land on someone who needs to time travel to a moment that makes their heart feel good.

This week is a bit different. The intention is different. My Dad.

This week was meant to carry on, to push, to motivate, to know I can make it, because there’s purpose.

11 years since his passing.

After two years of grieving his loss, I found a yearly cause to help continue honoring his life. This will be the ninth year that I lace up my Saucony’s and climb 1,393 steps in the Fight for Air Climb. It usually takes place in the second tallest building in the city, but it’s gone virtual this year because of the virus. And it makes sense, no need packing the indoor stairwells with hundreds of people huffing and puffing their way to the roof. So I’ve mapped out an alternate route of hidden staircases throughout the city that will take me over the top. But scaling the equivalent of 63+ stories is rough. My calves hate me afterward and the scent of BenGay travels with me days following the race.

But it’s worth it, my dad’s always been worth it. The Remote Control Master and MacGyver fixing extraordinaire. The guy who taught me how to change a tire and drive stick shift, to know what the Thomas Guide was for and how to use it. The guy that used to fill my college fridge and freezer with pounds and pounds of chicken because he was a butcher and he could. Plus he also thought Cup-O-Noodles was not a cool addition to my diet. So, chicken … individually wrapped packages meant he was still helping his youngest even when she was far away. The dad that called me and left messages on my answering machine just to say hi, at least three times a week.

Yup. My pops. These little snapshots of his life make him worth it. He’s worth 63 stories and then some.

What makes the climb a bit easier?

Knowing I’m scaling the heights in honor of my dad keeps me going when my muscles feel like stopping. There’s an extra gallon in the tank, the reserve, that fuels me. He’s definitely my driving force.

But music helps set the pace, the mood. A good playlist makes me feel like I can beat Rocky to the top of those stairs. You get the one song that pumps you up before conquering that mountain, the pre-game mindset hype and then the one you play as soon as you take the first step, get you started right. Then the one that needs to be played at full volume mid-race because you need that extra lightning. That jolt. And then the one where you can see the finish line and you’re on fumes, you might be cramping, you might be exhausted, but the beat drops, you hear those drums and your legs just pick up the pace and you remember that extra gear that was dormant, that Seven Nation Army brings it out.

Feel Good Race Playlist … Definitely needed. But today I only give you 5.

And so this week the playlist was not inspired by multiple events or thoughts of the week, just by one event happening this weekend. So if you’re ever in need of some pump-it-up jams to help you reach the finish line, hope a partial look at my mixed tape playlist helps to get your feet moving a bit faster.

Buen Camino, my friends!

House of Pain — Jump Around

J Belvin — Mi Gente

Avicii — Levels

Pitbull — Back in Time

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The White Stripes — Seven Nation Army

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Sunday Night Thoughts … Yoga NO thank you, and Then The Pandemic Happened…

25 Apr

I think the problem was people. This whole time it was them and their stretchy pants.

I tried going to a studio once. A couple of times actually. Wooden floors, water bottles, rubber tree plants and all that. I tried it and it just didn’t vibe with me. I tried to like it, I wanted to like it, but it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t feeling the benefits at all and I wasn’t feeling good after class. You know the first time you try a new adventure you feel anxious or nervous, or that I-just-don’t-want-to-go feeling, but then you go and you’re grateful you stepped out and made the trip? Yeah … that didn’t happen. I didn’t feel great about it, I thought eh … that was all right. I guess.

Not the feeling you’re supposed to get.

So I forgot about it and thought, this is not for me, never gonna be for me, and that’s fine. It’s not for everyone.

Fast forward 15 years later in the middle of a world-wide pandemic and here I am with my own yoga mat and blocks. And you know what? I look forward to the Zen vibes it gives me afterward, of the feeling I get when I’m done, like I just did something good for my body.

It took a pandemic to make me friends with yoga.

Everyone looked to different ways to stay healthy or find an outlet during these tough times. Those of you who had home gyms, swimming pools, and all that … good for you. Some of us had to get creative with crack of dawn outdoor schedules so as not to run into anyone, inside strength training or boxing. But then I realized I needed something quiet, something that gave me the same feeling as swimming in the pool. That relaxing vibe, the calming effect of the water on my skin, even though I was working on my muscles at the same time. And since the pool was no longer an option I thought … I’ll try it one more time.

Just one more time.

Needed something additional, an outlet during the lockdowns, or stay-at-home orders. Needed something that was filling up the inner peace tank that was slowly being emptied because of the conditions and circumstances. So I came across a virtual/online opportunity and thought why not? Maybe it’ll be different.

And it was.

Most people don’t like videos or apps, they prefer the live studio classes, but apparently I’m OK with that. That whole entire vibe didn’t make it last time so why not change something around. Try it on my own terms in my own environment. 30 minutes. That’s all I needed to make a change. The same amount of time as a Schitt’s Creek, Community, or Kim’s Convenience episode.

I could do that.

And that’s when I found Denis, Ross, and Aditi.

Warrior 2, Triangle, Sun Salutations, Flow, Savasna. Yup. I was digging it and so were my legs and arms. Each class made me feel better. Started off right and each instructor had their own vibe, their own playlist featuring their personality and style. Yoga is not just happening during the woo-woo New Age music. You can strike that pose to Prince, U2, 80’s or rock. And I appreciated that.

I felt those feel-good vibes after I was done. The peace-in-the-morning feeling after the run and yoga combination, or just the yoga alone. Healing session in effect. I realized it wasn’t the yoga that was bothering me the times I tried it back in the day, it was the group of people, the music, the whole vibe. It didn’t sit right with my spirit. Maybe I wasn’t in the right space to benefit from it. Or maybe the at-home style works best for people like me.

Learning a lot about boundaries, and people, the importance of good relationships and letting go of bad ones. Learning big lessons and small ones, discovering new shows on Netflix, podcasts, and good books. I’m grateful for the time with the kids, and learning to be a better parent. But one of the biggest surprises was yoga. I’m still not into tight stretchy pants, but yoga during the pandemic in sweatpants? That was a good discovery. Surprisingly good.

Buen Camino!

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Feel Good 5 Friday on a Saturday Night with Take-Out …

17 Apr

After 13 months of this new non-permanent way of living hit us all at varying degrees, life lessons from different angels surfaced. Some, brand new, others reminders of lessons that needed to be held front and center. 

There are people out there that you just want to punch in the face. No amount of Zen training with Phil Jackson can help you with a jerk of that size and nature. I mean I thought they were extinct, but they’re coming out from under their sheets on full display, no need to hide anymore. Apparently. 

Then there are those whose level of kindness and empathy make you think, that there is more good out there than bad. For a moment it makes you feel that way. Everyday people stepping up and helping, when those in power were supposed to lead but failed miserably because they were too busy traveling on vacation or embroiled in some other scandal. 

Everyday people. Women. Men. Girls. Boys. Everyone who didn’t need to step up did and that made for feel-good stories about Meals on Wheels, Lemonade Stands, Children’s Hospitals, Books for Foster Care, Carpool Caravan Graduations, Virtual Music Concerts, Chalk Art, Computers and Hotspots for those most in need. The little bits and pieces adding up from your local paper and coming to light. Everyone doing a little something for someone else just to make One day out of the 13 months better.

I thought about that last year and in January. When people are busy making plans and resolutions, taking stock of their life. Small businesses occurred to me. It takes a lot to run a small business. It takes a lot to be successful, to stay afloat, to start that dream. 

While shopping at grocery stores fully masked and socially distant, I knew a lot of small businesses, particularly restaurants were hurting. Nobody knew what this was and people were worried about eating out, so restaurants sold ingredients and cook-at-home meals just to stay open. Now I love to eat, it’s my favorite. Good food, really good, tasty, and savory food. That makes you close your eyes and think C’MON NOW. C’MON NOWWWW! And then you just start dancing because that food is so good, you become a professional back-up dancer that minute. That’s what really good food does, it fills your spirit with happy. Good music. Good friends. Good food. That’s an awesome combination. 

And so while everyone was doing something little or something big, just to help make someone else’s day better. I thought I could do more than just be an advocate for voting rights, provide books for foster care youth, a little something extra to help someone out once a month. Now I got my favorite hot spots around town that I love, my go-to’s that I’ve been ordering from when I’m too exhausted to cook, but I found that if I also add a new restaurant, a new small business I can help them out at least one day. 

So that’s what we’ve been doing, picking a new small business once a month and letting a couple friends in the neighborhood know about it too.  Most people, I guess do that all the time with pictures of their food on social media, but sometimes I think it’s more about them then the actual food and chef behind the amazingness. So I try not to do it that way.

Since we’re homebodies, we enjoy home-cooked meals. But trying to help your neighborhood, your community thrive is also important. Not many people can, with job loss and loss of hours, it’s been hard for some to manage financially for the last 13 months. But we try to help someone new once a month, and so far the meals and desserts have been savory and sweet, so much so that some of these places will become my new regulars. Pho. Bavarian Chocolate Pie, Sausage and Peppers. These have been welcomed with smiles. And we look forward to new diners, drive-ins, and dives.

So for the next eight months we’ll continue helping our regular spots, but also add a brand new place in hopes that we can help them a little. I encourage you to visit any small business and help make a positive impact on their day. Spreading the good vibes, helps everyone during difficult times. It’s like playing the right song, at just the right moment. Helps you time travel and get you to a place where smiling is easy for you, happiness, good-times-noodle-salad moments, sunshine, and waves. 

Feel good vibes, keeping it better. Paying it forward

Buen Camino …

Kano — I’m Ready

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Philip Bailey & Phil Collins — Easy Lover

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Chente — Volver, Volver

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Tina Turner — Shake a Tailfeather

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King Harvest — Dancing in the Moonlight

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