Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A tribute to Carlos.















Yesterday was a special but solemn day.

Certainly not just because it was Memorial Day.

It started as a beautiful partly cloudy summer morning. 

I drove over to the National Memorial cemetery located by Mountain Creek Lake.

I spent the morning walking around the quiet and well manicured cemetery grounds.

Already there were several families gathered around grave sites.

Moving quietly from one gravesite to another, I made my way through the various markers.

Stopping and reading the dates and silently praying and reverantly thanking

all these servicemen and women for their ultimate sacrifice.

I took in the moment, and the many beautiful wreaths and flags that covered

the beautiful national cemetery. 

I also got to speak with a young mother of two children and her parents who were

there visiting their beloved's grave site.

I had just moved away from a grave marker when an older Hispanic woman 

approached me and asked me in Spanish who I was visiting.

I told her I was very fortunate because I didn't have anyone buried there.

I told her that I had served in the Army and that each year,

I had made it a point that no matter where I was on Memorial Day, 

that I would make it a point to go pay my respects to our heroes.

After a few minutes we began to talk about the hero that they had come to visit. 

The young lady in the group spoke up, she said that it was her husband Carlos,

who they had come to pay their respects to.

She said softly that they had only been married just eighteen months,

and were eager to begin their new family.

Her Mother in law interjected, "Carlos was just 24 years of age but he had always

wanted to go off and join the Army."

She added that Carlos had tried to enlist as a Junior in high school.

She added, "He was just a baby at 17 years old, so I refused to sign the papers for the

recruiter that kept coming to our house."

"He was very stubborn." she said smiling.. "and so when he turned 18 years old

he went ahead and joined the US Army.

It was the following year, right after his graduation."

"He was a very proud Infantry soldier!" his Father interjected.

"I really miss mijo."

He said that Carlos went on to serve in the US Army for six years,

having spent two, one year tours in Iraq, before being redeployed from his base

in Colorado to Afghanistan the last time.

His wife and two kids had just moved to Ft. Carson, Colorado

when he got orders to go to Afghanistan.

More than anything Carlos they all told me, wanted to be able to take his two children,

a seven year old little girl from a previous marriage and his little boy to visit

his 90 year old grandmother.

She lived in El Salvador and their kids had never met her.

They said that he was bigger than life, very funny and a great Dad.

He loved his wife, his Mom and Dad and his younger brother and sister. 

He was their rock.

Carlos never made it back.

He was killed three months after arriving in Afghanistan. 

They told me that he had died in fierce attack by the Taliban on his unit back

on October 14th, 2010. 

His wife Susanna said that Carlos' best friend and another soldier in his platoon

had also been killed on that day. 

His Mother Imelda remember the very day that her daughter called her at work,

and told her to come home right away.

There was a military officer at her home, and he wanted to speak to her in person. 

She remembers speeding home and thinking that they must have the wrong address,

that there must have been a mistake, maybe they had the wrong soldier.

But in her heart, her Mother's instincts somehow knew better.

Carlos had not called or e-mailed them like he always did.

In fact it had been several days since anyone had heard from him.

Deep down she had prayed every waking moment, lighting candles,

and like the rest of the family, had begun to get really worried. 

"It has been a very painful ten months," Imelda said wiping tears from her eyes. 

She had faithfully come to the cemetery every weekend.

"I just want to be as close as possible to him." 

His wife added, "We all really miss Carlos so much."

"Our Faith is the only thing that is pulling us through this."

Susanna then added, "We must have been confused as to which home,

he was going to be coming home to." 

We spoke some more and than said our goodbyes, they invited me to their home

for a bowl of homemade albondiga soup someday (my favorite soup).

I drove home thankful; for but the grace of God, my family had been spared.

I have two nephews and a niece who are proudly serving in the military.

I came home and did a little bit of research and found that Carlos was actually

from Carrollton, Texas.

He was also a very dedicated and highly decorated soldier.

Among his awards, the article stated that he received a bronze star,

and a purple heart and had been promoted posthumously to the rank

of Staff Sargeant.

I was grateful that I was able to meet Susanna and Imelda, Carlos' Father

and his two beautiful kids.

I also somehow wished that I had known Carlos.

I bet he would have been fun to be around. 

Our young men and women need our support, they are the heroes.

The need better pay, improved medical coverage, better educational opportunities

upon their return..  as well as some type of tax breaks for companies that hire them.

They are after all our true heroes.

Make it a great dia!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day, my other favorite holiday.















Today's blog is In memory of those that paid the ultimate price.

And for all those brave young men and women who risk their lives today, so that we can continue to live in freedom.

Freedom has never been free.

Someone somewhere paid with their life.

Today is Memorial Day, this weekend and all its events mean many different things to many of us.

Yet no matter where life finds me..

I have always gone to the nearest military base, cemetery or Memorial Day celebration and paid my solemn respects.

Having served with a great deal of pride and honor in the United States Army, the most important part about this holiday to me, has always been commemorating my fellow military men and women.

I am still humbled by the bravery that these young men and women display.

Each one of them who have had the most impact on the survival and freedom of others throughout the world on behalf of our USA.

Today I pray for and celebrate those who are currently serving and continue the legacy of personal sacrifice.

No matter what you may feel about the military, today we are all one with our fellow “brothers” and “sisters.”

One with all who have served or are currently serving in the US military.

Today I begin my day filled with gratitude and loving praise for our men and women - we call our “soldiers”.

Thank you for swearing to uphold the idea that freedom is for all.

Thank you for freeing the oppressed.

Thank you for the courage to never leave anyone behind.

And for going back that “one more time” when it would be easier to “cut your losses”.

Thank you for having the sense of pride and courage to volunteer in our US Military.

It was never easy and even more perilous today.

Thank you for taking up arms, regardless of the time away from all your loved ones.

For risking the potential for the loss of limbs, and even the ultimate sacrifice.. the loss of your very life.

Today I sincerely want to say, thanks for doing what many of us could or would not do.

Thank you for your sacrifice.

To all my who may be reading this; the next time you see someone in uniform, please take a moment to share a kind word of “thanks”.

You may never know the impact that your simple “thank you” may have on that soldier.

But know that by honoring that special  man or woman in the military, you are also honoring the ideals of what makes our country special.

Charles Michael Province, a US Army veteran wrote a piece that I keep on my shelf at home.

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,

And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.


Today, I pray for all those that at this very moment may be in harms way, to one day make it back to their loved ones safely.

Make it a great dia! 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The other type of enlarged heart.














How we show gratitude works to enlarge our own personal

capacity to love.

It expands our ability to live in the moment.

Gratitude moves our attention from the stress-filled "this isn’t it,"

type of thinking and into our hearts.

This quiet moment in between - the short breath we take,

serves to calm and center us.

Gratitude alone will re-center us, and add gravity so that we are capable of being

"heart centered"

That is the normal state of living we want to reach.

The balanced life that only gratitude can draw into our lives.

By taking in the moment to "Quiet" our souls,

we grow a subtle power of gratitude, one with an unending supply.

Living gratitude in all you do we allow us to speak with open honesty,

more tenderness, yet we will also tone down and quiet any

self-judgment, guilt and worry.

A grateful mind is meant to nourish you in the kindest way.

Gratitude will allow us to rest when we are tired, and to reenergize us to take

action when you feel like we can go on forever.

Gratitude by its very essence creates compassion.

We become stronger, and better able to accept the moments that come at us.

We can abandon the unnecessary and unproductive stressors of trying

to mold people, and situations to fit the images in our head.

They say that gratitude is the morning dew that breathes fresh reverence into life.

I have always found that gratitude awakens my inner kindness, the unconditional

acceptance that must live through us and in others.

Don't waste another moment… offer your best resource, to another now...

offer the best you.

Make giving openly and generously,  loving life and others a daily practice.

When we generously give of ourself, we will experience our abundant nature.

By practicing GRATITUDE we'll become less self-absorbed, even isolated 

or lonely.

We will grow calm and strong!

It will strengthen our very connection with all that is important in our life.

Make it a great día!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Love and Wisdom - always WIN.














You've heard that Love with a little bit of  Wisdom always WIN out.

No matter what the source of the problem - the hurt or the pain...

 "Love combined with wisdom always wins."

These are the six words that I grew up on - our family's mantra.

Over the years I tested it against other formulas and after struggling through

life's challenges. 

I always kept coming back to these very noble ones...

Love

and

Wisdom.

Together

They

Always

Win.

I believe that love is what is necessary to triumph.

I have lived it and seen it triumph over sibling rivalry, family discord, even divorce.

We are all in a constant stream of emotions and quite often anything,

and everything's purpose seems a bit out of focus.

Wisdom tends to bring clarity to any of Life's situations.

Even when Life may be unclear about its expectations and we of our own purpose.

It is the wise acceptance of this unknowing that leads to us to a more centered,

balanced peaceful, grateful and compassionate existance.

Life is complicated and... good or bad, love or hurt...

there is no permenance without love and wisdom in our lives.

It is through loving wisdom that we grow a sense of consciousness...

Out of loving wisdom grows gratitude and compassion...

Out of gratitidue and compassion, we are given understanding...

allowing Love and Wisdom to follow us into this world we live in that is badly in need of both.

Make it a great dia!

Friday, May 27, 2011

R U Purfect?



















When we become parents we at times feel that somehow we are obligated

to be perfect.

Society and people in general especially all those that are't parents

somehow expect us to be perfect.

Our children expect that as well, and even our spouses forget

that we're also imperfect.

Once the invisible benchmark is set, we are monitored very closely.

In the end, we end up disappointing.

Because none of us are able to meet the high standard.

I am not perfect.

You are not perfect.

Just as our children are not perfect.

Although it’s something we may aspire to be.

Yet we don’t necessarily live by.

Parenting can be a generally desolate and lonely road.

But I believe that once we get over trying to be so darn perfect,

we start to begin to enjoy the freedom of being imperfect.

We all become easier to live with.

The world in fact becomes an easier place to live in.

It all starts from a place of acceptance..

when we are ourselves, rather than striving to be someone else

who appears to be perfect.

No one likes a faker.. so quit putting your energy into keeping up appearances.

By trying to be perfect you are wasting precious time and energy

from enjoying life and your children themselves.

Imagine living your life on your terms?

And loving yourself by your own set conditions?

Acceptance has to be fundamental.

With personal acceptance comes an inner satisfaction,

that is accompanied by a true peace of mind and gratitude.

More important your loved ones and the people around you will love,

and appreciate you even more for having done it.

Make it a great día!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sí se puede!



















The words "Sí se puede!" mean Yes it can be done.

Great motto and attitude that President Obama started during his Presidential campaign.

I also have one, its "Never say I can't, say I'll try."

I can't take credit for it though, because those are the exact words my old music teacher Roberto Hernandez, used to tell us at each band practice session.

Seven simple words that have made a huge difference throughout my lifetime.

That and four other words that my Mother inspired in all of her children, "I can do that."

These eleven words have been the motivating words seared into my mind and have been the difference between my being successful or a failure.

Living by "Never say I can't, say I'll try" and "I can do that," I have gone out and done it!

The pessimist tends to use a number of opposite sounding phrases, all of which say the same thing… "I can't" or "I can't do that."

Another one I have heard is, "That's the way we've always done it."

This powerful little phrase can cause activities to come to a screeching halt.

If you analyze this phrase you will see that it's just "I can't do that," in disguise.

Negative words that have been cached to make it sound like that person somehow respects history.

What about, the "That's not my job."" or "That's not in my job description?"

I bet you've heard this one from the employee who spends his entire day looking at their watch.

That employee will be watching the clock from that same desk until he or she retires.

To change dynamics, you want to be the type of manager that motivates their employees.

A part of the type of company that always promotes people who contribute more than they're paid for.

One that rewards their employees who are dependable, responsible, and exceed their job expectations. 

One that always keeps learning and delivers personal commitment and value.

I have also heard, "We've already tried that, and it didn't work."

Maybe my idea at the time wasn’t a very good one -- but it's more likely that the person who said it was a "nay-sayer."

Just because an idea was tried months ago doesn't mean that it won't work now.

Of course, it doesn't mean that it is sure to work either, but unless they've got a road map of the future, you might as well give it a shot.

Things and people change, and if the idea is a bad one, it'll soon become apparent.

The truth is most of the reasons why things "don't work" is because of people themselves.

If as a manager you can't get people to commit to making something work, it'll never, ever work.

I always work to surround myself with employees who are "can do" types.

I believe that the "can't do" folks will eliminate themselves.

I believe that a company succeeds to the extent that the number of optimists outweigh the number of pessimists in your midst.

Its not hard being a "can do" type of person, it is largely a matter of deciding you can do it.

Today I choose to decide if I "can do" or "can't do."

I also choose whether I will be the optimist or the pessimist.

The strong contributor or that annoying detractor.

The determined leader or the crusty weighed anchor.

I choose to be a "can do" kind of person.

I've never said, I couldn't… but I have always said I'll try.

Because I can!

Make it a great día!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Not forgiving is wasted time.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I have to admit that not forgiving is painful.

Years ago one of my brothers and I had a falling out.

It was stupid and looking back somewhat immature.

We actually quit speaking to each other for over ten years.

Now we both now have another brother.

My brother has another brother.

And I have another brother.

We didn't always see eye to eye.

But now we actually enjoy each other's company.

We love each other.

We have been able to talk about the past without rencor.

Discussing things openly and resolving problems like close

siblings normally do.

The times we have spent together, we have enjoyed.

When we've gone just a short time and we have not been able to call

or write one another, we have told each other how much

we've missed each other.

Today I have the privilege of honoring another one of my siblings,

with the love and respect he deserves and reciprocates.

We can finally and honestly acknowledge the pain,

and hurt we unintentionally caused one another.

We can look back at our past struggles, and together discuss the plans

of one day seeing and hugging one another.

It was never this easy.

Two head strong men with even stronger ideas.

Time lost.

Valueable time lost.

Then again, most worthwhile things in life aren't easy.

Everytime we interact now, there is a palpable positive energy between us.

A special bond between two people who have always cared deeply

about one another.

I am thankful.

His family is thankful.

Today I am just so grateful that we both have been given the opportunity

to heal our relationship.

Healing a relationship on our earthly journey, while both of us still can.

Enjoy the hopefully, many years we may have and making up for lost time.

All it takes is forgiveness and reaching out.

Make peace with someone you love before it is too late.

Make it a great día!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Will you?
















I wanted to pick up the blog discussion on how one's message can be percieved.

Gossiping at its core is very detrimental to any sort of trust.

I read that people gossip for a wide variety of reasons..

to fit in,

because they feel inferior,

they are seeking some type of revenge,

to fill in a conversation,

or some just because that's is how they have learned to communicate. 

Are you a messenger of gossip?

Have you ever took stock of the drama that comes as a result of believing in lies?

What type of message are you delivering about yourself?

What is the message?

Do you respect others?

Do you like yourself?

What kind of life are you creating for yourself?

What kind of message do you deliver to the people you love the most?

People will always deliver messages to you,

and its up to you how you will perceive their messages.

How do these messages affect you?

If you’re delivering somebody else’s messages,

whose messages are you delivering?

How many of those messages are you still delivering now?

What will make a difference in the messages you deliver?

The answer is truth.

Make sure that your messages are honest. 

The effect of your words, the effect of your actions,

the effect of your presence on other people all come from your message.

As soon as you become aware of the power of your word,

you will be able to change the way you communicate with yourself and others.

You must admit that you know exactly what you’re doing,

and whatever you’re doing is honest or gossip.

It’s your decision, it’s your choice.

Can you go through the entire day without speaking ill of anyone?

If you are prone to gossiping can you make a conscious effort to not gossip?

Try and do it for an entire day.. and entire week.

Make it a dia of honest communication!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Tuscaloosa story of Cadie the cat.













The south slowly continues to recover.

Judy Pugh was in her Tuscaloosa, Alabama home on April 27th when a massive tornado came through that devastated the region.  

In the video I watched on the CBS channel 42, she told how a wall pinned her to ground as the twister carried her roof away.

She believes that very wall may have saved her life.

Judy appeared to have had lost nearly everything as the tornado tore her house apart.

But miraculously nearly one month later she was reunited with a beloved cat "Cadie" who she feared was gone forever.

During the tornado Judy Pugh said she rushed to her hallway along with her three cats as her entire house became flying debris, everything spinning in the air.

Then the roof blew away, and a wall fell on top of her and trapped her there.

Judy fortunately escaped with only a couple of black eyes.

But said she would have been sucked away by that tornado if weren't for a wall falling on her.

Today the  elderly lady's home is gone.

All she found were a couple of keepsakes, including crystal bowls inside her kitchen cabinet that were completely unscathed.

She thought that only two of her three cats had survived, one she hadn't seen since the tornado struck almost a month ago.

But she wouldn't give up hope, and would come back to her neighborhood looking for her lost friend every day.

Then unbelievably during the taping of a local newscast, Judy's shaggy little friend of 10 years emerged out of the debris.

"Come see your mama! Oh God love it!" she told the cat as she cuddled what appeared to be a hungry, fluffy and dirty  but apparently healthy cat.

A tender moment that brought tears to my eyes.

Judy added, Oh honey! I have everything I want now."

"I have all three cats!"

Cadie had made it through the tornado, through the day's hot and muggy temperatures and the cold of the night, over three weeks without food or water.

Reunited once again, Judy Pugh is now ready to move on with her life.

What a wonderful reminder of miracles in tragic times.

And a feel good story of the second chance, of a loving companion.

Make it a great día