Double 21 or 2 Score and 2 Years

Well, whomever thought up the addage, “time flies by,” was not joking.  Yesterday I celebrated my 42nd birthday with my closest family and friends.  Looking around I was reminded of just how blessed I am to be surrounded by so much love by truly amazing people.

I have a habit of using a birthday or specific holidays as a time to self-reflect and sometimes, doing it to the point where it consumes my entire thought process and is exhausting.  Sitting around with my family and friends yesterday as well as some events that took place over the past week that left me in this self-reflective, melancholy but grateful mood.  Yes, I know right, it’s confusing?  

My birthdays have never really been the same since March 14, 2007.  My closest and dearest friend was killed in an automoblie accident, an event that would forever change my life.  I try not to associate the accident with my birthdate but even after all these years I find it difficult to do.

Most of the day was pretty funky and I think it was a combination of turning 42 (yikes), lost in thought and self-reflection, eventually snapping out of it when I was reminded of all that is good and love in my life.  This year was the first time in 4 years where it felt like “my special day” and was humbled by the expressions of love and care by those closest to me.

Saving the best for last, all the gifts I received yesterday were great but there is one that will always stand out, an expression of love and two souls united, as is and was meant to be and together a brighter light shines forever.  

Yes, Happy Birthday to Me and  Yes, I love you too.

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You Inspire

My friends and I have a few discussions and many debates but it is a rare occurence when I have a discussion that inspires me. I am always interested in the life story of others, many times their stories put our lives in perspective and can provide us a unique insight into other cultures, beliefs, morals and values.  

Admiration is a large word with a big meaning and is not used very often by me but when adversity is faced and not feared and obstacles are viewed as challenges to overcome and applying the tools necessary to achieve personal goals is commendable but facing those in a culture that is all new, learning their language and having to acclimate to an environment in a culture that is unfamiliar with an expectation that failure is not an option earns my admiration.  Faced with incredible odds, personal expectations and high goals, seeing obstacles as challenges and not barriers should be admired by all of us.  The ability to live the American dream and experience success resulting from determination and patience was the only motivation he required.

10 years ago he arrived in the United States with limited exposure to our culture or traditions but he had heard that with hard work and patience the American dream can happen for anyone.  Life was not easy for him, growing up he seen his family struggle daily, where hard work was necessary to keep warm meals on the table.  Having to work THAT hard to provide the family meals was not how he wanted things to be for him.  He was distraught over the working conditions in Mexico but was inspired by the American dream.  A place, he had learned where hard work and patience is recognized and rewarded and he knew, for him to live up to his personal expectations and to achieve his goals this is where he had to be.

Arriving in the United States he immersed himself into the American culture and traditions.  He listened to pop artist from the United States to hear English.  He remembers listening to Bob Marley and Sublime, hearing the English but confused on the concepts behind the stories told to him through music and it would be these two artist that would emerge as his favorites.

He had a little over a year left in high school and he was worried that he would not meet the educational standards of this country and pushed himself even harder, reminding himself that failure is not an option.  He picked up on English quickly, completely immersing himself in an environment where English was the only spoken language, applying post-it notes to common household items and furniture to assist him in learning the English equivalent of a word he only knew in Spanish.  He joined his High School Band and performed in drum corps, enrolled in a drama class and played a singing part in Les Miserable, cast in a commercial to promote a local product and after graduating from High School enrolled in and graduated from college where he trained to become a Medical Assistant, all in a span of just over 2 years.  Failure was not an option.  It is times like this where I gain a deeper appreciation for what our country has to offer and it makes me pause and celebrate the freedoms and liberties we enjoy.  

We need to remember our roots, embrace the spirit of our great country and appreciate all America has to offer.  We need to stop feeling entitled and practice humility and begin to appreciate all our freedoms and liberties many of us take for granted.  

I was fortunate enough to witness how the American dream can happen.  He was able to vote in his first election, own his first car, travel and now is sharing all his success with his family and I have never met anyone who loves this country more than he does.  Once, I asked him “What is it about this country that you love so much?”  He replied, ” As a kid growing up, I dreamed a lot and I dreamed big and all I had wished for and dreamt of is now my reality and I am grateful and humbled to be American.”  

Seeing the American dream happen and his answer made me come to love and appreciate this country even more.  Let us all take a step back and appreciate and be proud of the ideals and beliefs that truly captures the essence of what our country represents.

Thank you my love for showing me that anything can be accomplished and your strength and courage through all your adversity inspires me every day and YOU make me proud to be an American.