It is important to recognize live’s stormy periods so you can grow from them. That is easier said than done because our tendency to sulk about what we perceive to have lost. I know this firsthand after having faced a bevy of challenges throughout my sixty-six years of life.
Life transitions often catch us by surprise. When they happen we can become unnerved and disoriented, especially if we thought we were doing all the right things in our lives. They make it difficult to explain why that dream job you got five years ago has become empty and lackluster. Or, perhaps, the ideal mate that you married has inexplicably become aloof and distant and you fear a divorce is in the offing. At times like these, we become so afraid of the changes we may have to make, that we often chose the road of denial as a way to sidestep the feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction. But no amount of disavowing will allow you to escape the inevitable change that is coming into your life.
My daughter Molly, along with her husband, Nelson, and two boys, Quintin and Bauer, love all animals. They have always made room in their home as foster parents to abandoned dogs and cats. Last year they rescued a young dog that had lost one of his hind legs after having been ran over by a car. They named him Falcore after the magic dragon in the movie Never Ending Story, Molly’s favorite movie growing up.
I have never understood why the myths about finding the “one” were initiated, but they promote the idea we were born deficient in some way and must find the corresponding missing half in another. There are many popular expressions to describe that “special someone” waiting to be found. We call them soul mate, better half, kindred spirit, true love, or second self.
Here we go again, another mass shooting and the habitual cycle of madness is off and running. When is this ever going to end? My heart goes out to the victims and families of the senseless massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I cannot fathom the grief and hopelessness this inexplicable event has promulgated on these innocent people.
Last week I wrote about the illusionary phase of romantic love that I called the “bliss bubble”. Mentioned in my blog were the scientific explanations of how natural hormones and chemicals flood the bodies of two attracted mates to create a sense of wellbeing and compatibility. Today’s topic deals with how the bliss bubble can be prolonged or heightened when the lovers add sex into the mix.
Our culture is filled with literary works proclaiming the virtues of finding that one true love. Many exalt the virtues of love at first sight as the way of knowing you have found the one. Shakespeare’s tragic play, Romeo and Juliet, come to mind. Their forbidden love began when they cast their eyes on each other. Their passions so strong that they defied all rules and sacrificed everything for each other. Yet, for as romantic the idea of love at first sight might be, the truth is more likely a reflection of the chemical/biological and emotional changes that occur in all of us when we are attracted to someone and they repay our interest with like attention.
There is good reason why we take time in the middle of February to celebrate love. Being in Love with someone is an important aspect of the human condition because it allows us to connect to the deepest and most meaningful parts of our lives. Romantic unions give us our greatest chance to evolve into authentic human beings even when we fail miserably.
Until I reached my sixties, I was always a pretty good basketball player. My greatest asset was my jump shot, the result of countless hours spent alone shooting hoops on nearby playgrounds and imagining i played for the Boston Celtics (Denver didn’t have an NBA team yet). I can still remember the drills I conducted; dribble, sprint, stop, jump, raise the ball above my head, launch it with a soft arch towards the rim and……swish! Then repeat; to the left, the right, down the middle…..swish, swish, swish! Every made shot always eliciting a roar from my imaginary crowd.
Regardless of where you stand on immigration policy, the comments and actions made about the young immigrants known as Dreamers, Haitians, Salvadorans and those who come from African nations reminded us of our national rancor and division. These events are alarming and upsetting, but if we can put aside our hatred and name calling for the other side, we can learn a valuable lesson that can help push our world forward.
It is virtually impossible for anyone to get through life without struggling through a myriad of negative or irrational feelings about ourselves. We were exposed to these negative beliefs early in life. In most cases, these harmful “self truths” have been buried so deep in our unconscious mind we don’t even know our actions are driven by them. After successfully weathering the miasma of the holiday season, I was reminded of how our family connections can help regenerate these overwhelming feelings we carry about ourselves. This is why psychologists have contended for decades that our earliest experiences and traumas must be examined and healed to make progress on the road to our highest selves.
Every human was given a valuable life purpose, but it is up to each individual to find it in themselves. A great purpose involves working in symphony others to create a better world. It is greater than the self and that is why it transcends all the elements and forms of self-seeking. It does not demand fame, power or wealth, helping one person is enough. However, it requires an open heart, respect and acceptance for all regardless of who they are and what they do. A divinely given purpose also treasures the planet and understands the need for ecological balance among all living things.
I have always envied the Biblical heroes like Moses, Jacob or Abraham. They seemed so lucky as compared to me. God appeared to them and told what to do next. That hasn’t happened for me. In fact, if I ever saw a burning bush, I would take a fire extinguisher and put it out.
Sometimes life is running so smoothly that you are sure you can’t do anything wrong. No matter what direction you take, the wind easily fills your sails and off you go traversing an ocean of calm waters. Other times the wind is so violent and the waves so tall that you are sure your ship will split in two and you will drown.
In the heat of our many discussion, a friend of mined would make fun of me by saying, “Guillermo, opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.” This was his good-natured way of pointing out my tendency to share an opinion on everything under the sun whether I knew anything about the subject or not.
I had a terrible outing playing tennis the other day. By the end of my play I stood completely frustrated with my effort, As I can be prone to do, I eagerly distributed the blame for all that happened. My partner was at fault; the courts were too slippery, the other team made terrible line calls, the sun was in my eyes, and the net was too high. I had a hang nail also, but I don’t think it affected anything, although I am not sure.
I spent many years creating a plan for retirement. Without thinking much about what retirement meant, I followed the counsel of financial advisors like a mouse running in their maze. I was conviced I was being prudent following their directions, as many commercials seconded their retirement advice.
One of my favorite musical groups of all-time is The Eagles. Their music spellbinding and their lyrics always seem to speak to my heart and soul. One of their most popular songs, Lying Eyes, provides a great metaphor for how our inner guide speaks to us and how we choose (or not) to follow its guidance.
I have been an agnostic and a great skeptic of any mystical beliefs for most of my life. I considered people who believed in things, like the existence of an inner intelligence guiding us, not to be sane. One day a friend described for me how he deciphered a dream where God spoke to him. Having eaten more than my fill from the banquet of my father’s cynicism, I countered with my own “special” dream. I told him how I had spent the night dreaming I had eaten a giant marshmallow. I professed I didn’t know the dream’s meaning but, after waking, I discovered my pillow was missing.
As a young child, I had no choice but to rely on those more powerful than me to decide my fate. My parents, of course, played that role in Cuba until I was ten. When mom and dad sent my brothers and I to the United States to escape from Castro’s Cuba, that role was handed over to the authorities running Operation Peter Pan, an American government program that assigned unaccompanied Cuban children to orphanages in all fifty states. When we were sent to Sacred Heart Home In Colorado, I had to rely on the priest and staff in charge of the orphanage. Four years later, the role returned to my parents when we were reunited and moved to Denver.
I have written before about our human tendency to see ourselves as inferior, not good enough, not worthy. Having spent the past few years confronting this negative self-belief, I stumbled across something important, this damaging concept is rooted in something we hide about ourselves. Perhaps it is a terrible event that happened in childhood, or one that caused a painful loss. Perhaps it is something about you that is judged negatively by religious dogma. Whatever it is, this hidden part of yourself keeps you living a limited life and keeps you away from your authenticity. I will illustrate this point by sharing a personal story.
It Is Not About Whether One Sees the Glass as Half Full or Half Empty, It Is About How One Chooses to Evolve
There is a lot to learn about a person from the way they handle trying times. The old saying about the way we describe a partially filled glass of water might predict optimism or pessimism in the observer, but it does nothing to speak of how a person handles themselves during tough times. I believe I am positive person, but I was mediocre in the way I dealt with difficult life events in the past. Ultimately, I get through them, but not without a lot of kicking and screaming along the way. In my twenties and thirties, an old joke went around that seemed to speak to my situation. Here is how it goes.
Life transitions really, really suck! They are always there waiting in every corner of your life to bite you in the ass. Neither age nor wisdom grants you immunity from them. Transitions are some of the most frustrating times in life and every individual will go through them sooner or later. Yet, regardless of the upheaval they cause, transitions are an integral part of our human evolution. Without them we would remain in our own comfort zone and rot
I never met Tom Petty, but his music was transformative for me. Some of my favorites were Free Fallin’, Refugee, Learning to Fly, You Don’t Know How it Feels, to name a few. But the one that moved me the most
was I Won’t Back Down. The song became my recalcitrant anthem that was a retroactive middle finger to anyone who ever made my life more difficult. Every time I heard the song I could take myself back in time to flip Fidel Castro off for taking everything my family owned. I flipped off my high school counselor too for insisting I didn’t have the smarts to become an engineer. Even my old boss who laid me off got a well deserved f-bomb. The song also worked in this manner for all kinds of future situations. It made me the hero battling the dragons of my own making.
The strangest thing happened to me recently. I was busy writing my blog for the week when a giant crab—shown in the picture above—startled me by scratching on the sliding glass door. I named him Karkinos after the giant crab in Greek Mythology that the goddess Hera placed among the stars to make up the constellation known as Cancer (my birth sign)
I have mentioned several times in my blogs about learning to love yourself if you want to find true love with a
partner. For some of my readers, this term is too vague, and they have requested I explain further what I mean by the phrase “learning to love yourself”.
I thought I would change the subject from my last several blogs and go back to reflecting on my dating experiences and my attempts to connect with a more authentic self. This is the topic of my new book coming out soon titled “Catch and Release – One Man’s Improbable Search for True Love and the Meaning of Life.”
Mother Nature has sure flexed her muscles these past few months with her deadly winds, devastating floods and catastrophic tremors. The loss of life and property has been unfathomable and it is hard to see a silver lining in the midst of the rubble.
All my hurricane shutters are in place. The car is packed with water, emergency food supplies and clothes to last me for ten days. All of this in preparation and anticipation of the unwelcomed visit that wild bitch, Hurricane Irma, is about to make to my neck of the woods.
The late American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, is credited with one of my favorite quotes. “When someone shows you who...
A Chicken Hawk refers to a person who speaks out to support war, yet has avoided active military service all of their lives. The world, unfortunately, has suffered enough of these types of fools throughout its history and we must all do our part to prevent the wars they perpetrate.
As I travel daily down my spiritual path, I noticed my tendency to judge and segregate between the people I like and those I don’t. Try as hard as I can, I cannot erase this trait from my modus operandi. Up to now, this has been an unconscious reflex, but now I know of it and I cannot accept this as a trait that enhances the greater good I am trying to create. If I truly believe we are all made in God’s image and likeness, then I must accept that every life comes from the same source. This can only lead to one conclusion, every life does matter.
Doing the right thing is not a default position for great leaders to take, it is their only option. While it is important to note a person’s modeled behavior and inspirational speak to determine the level of his/her leadership ability, comportment alone is not enough of a measure. The quality of their decisions must also be part of this evaluation.
Hating Trump or His Critics is Wasted Energy, Put Your Efforts Instead Towards Uniting Those Around You.
Ever since the presidential election, I have listened to nighttime comics poke fun at our new president. Months before, I had stopped tuning in to the news because of the constant bickering between political sides. The laughter relieved my anxiety, but it could not cover up the sense of impending doom waiting just around the corner. Out of all this, a question kept surfacing into my conscious thoughts. “How is insulting and criticizing the President helping or improving anything?”
All of us went to bed last night wondering if our world was heading towards a nuclear war. This morning’s news didn’t make me feel any better, as coverage continues to highlight this Russian Roulette style foreign policy being practiced by two powerful world leaders. It is clear international tensions are reaching a boiling point.
A few months ago, my daughter Molly had a brilliant idea. Based on her great memories of the road trips we had taken together when she was a child,...
While I don’t claim to be an expert in foreign policy, I am old enough to understand that a familiar cycle of creating fear to justify war has already begun. Those of us long in the tooth have witnessed this cycle several times before. In my lifetime this political strategy was used to justify our actions in Cuba, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The target is now being painted on North Korea.
It was during my thirties when I first realized that a life based on materialism and self-seeking leaves you with nothing more than an empty spiritual barrel. This was an empty, meaningless life that led me to a scary period of depression and forced me to strip away these false external prophets of happiness. This was a giant step towards spiritual maturity and the discovery of the true meaning of my life.
Having spent the last couple of year ruminating in search of my spiritual path, I came across one of the main tenets of new spiritual thought called “the law of attraction”.
President Donald Trump’s tweets should not surprise anyone anymore. Although their content is unpredictable, the fact he uses Twitter to communicate his thoughts and feelings should be expected. Also predictable is the overwhelming news coverage that the tweets create. Every time I witness the furious fervor raging in the various media outlets, I ask myself, are these actions from a seriously deranged man, or are they an example of a genial mastermind strategically implementing his agenda? You can hear arguments from both sides of madman vs. genius but, since I don’t live inside Trump’s skin, I frankly do not know the answer to my own question. One thing is sure, as an outside witness, I am left to wonder, what should parents be telling their children about the illustrative values being flashed in front of them?
Whenever I see the slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again”, I am reminded of my body’s physical changes as I have aged. More specifically, I recall the changes I had to make to remain an effective basketball player. Let me explain what my bodily deterioration and a political slogan have in common.
The question of forgiveness has been around me a lot. Perhaps this past Father’s Day made me recall the thorny relationship I shared with my father and mother. A week earlier, as I was cycling in Spain, I had plenty of time to reflect on the topic.
Having just spent ten days in Portugal and Spain riding 300 miles on a bicycle, I got a lot of time to reflect on my ongoing aging process (not to mention a very sore butt). I never realized before how much I feared growing old. As I reflect on my life, I can see how this anxiety progressed in my conscious mind like a slow rot poisoning my disposition with every passing year. This became particularly true when the thoughts of dying destitute and alone surfaced soon after my divorce from the person I believed I would spend the rest of my life with. I am not the only person experiencing this, for many single people over fifty obsess about their impending end. As the baby boomers generation ages, this fear is apparent in an American saying that is growing in popularity, “as we get old, we look to marry a nurse or a purse.”
Ever since Donald Trump surprised the world by becoming President of the United States, there have been many articles comparing the current American political atmosphere with the one in Orwell’s classic novel “1984”. The recent budget submission by the Trump administration, along with the passage of the AHCA bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, reminded me of another Orwell novel, Animal Farm.
Although one might say that my life has been a long series of encountering and then persevering though many difficult stages, nothing has been more perplexing to me than the issues surrounding love and relationships. At age sixty-five, I found this trial to be more mystifying than ever, especially because of the need to rely on online sites to meet a possible mate.
This week I am using my blog as a warmup to my new book, Catch and Release, Part I – Adventures in Love, Dating and Self-Discovery During the Latest Stages of Life. I am sure you will enjoy reading this story although I never planned on writing such a follow up to my memoirs, Boxing for Cuba.
With all the BS Proposals to Fix Immigration Reform, How About Resurrecting A Solution That Would Actually Work, Senate Bill 744?
I am sure it does not surprise you when I say Hispanics were feeling differently about the Cinco de Mayo celebrations that just passed, for it is hard to see a positive outcome for immigration reform between the building of a border wall and the new threats about withholding funds for “sanctuary cities”.
Over two years ago I was coming to terms with the ending of a long-term marriage as well as the conclusion of my formal career. The abrupt removal of these props that I used to hold up my self-image marked a time of deep confusion and identity loss. It was not until the recent months that I embraced the new beginning that is now possible in my life.
I just finished reading an article about how iguanas are spreading into South Florida like a scourge. Apparently, they have outgrown the population...
As we have all witnessed throughout our lifetimes humans segregate, separate, look down upon, differentiate and discriminate against others that are different. This tendency is ego driven and it provides us with a way to feel superior and more blessed than those we look down upon.
Much has been said and written about the negative effect of undocumented (or illegal, the moniker some like to use) immigrants on our nation’s economy, social security system, health care, security and so on. Much of it is false hyperbole used to generate fear among us and stop logical discussion. These are some actual facts to help clarify some of the biggest myths out there.
With all of the debate in our country about immigration reform, I am providing a practical summary of the reasons why we need new legislation to help solve this problem. Many solutions have been suggested, like building a wall, but these are inherently rendered useless if the approach to solving this problem is not more comprehensive.
I wanted to have a little fun and play a part in the long suffering tradition of spreading bad jokes and hoaxes that are part April 1st every year. I have included a very amateruish home video of myself “honoring” the life long and devoted effort that so many people among us dedicate towards perfecting a skill or talent.
”Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” These immortal words, spoken on June 12, 1987 by President Ronald Reagan, forewarned the end of the Cold War. Two years later, the Berlin Wall was disassembled, along with Communism in Eastern Europe. After 26 years, the toll was 160 dead, 120 injured and over 3200 people imprisoned trying to cross over from East to West Germany. This victory of U.S. foreign policy marked the beginning of a euphoric time, as it promised to every human being around the globe “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
Grudges between coworkers exist in the workplace. This unfortunate happenstance can determine the quality of the work environment in any organization. If leaders project an atmosphere of punishment for errors, they will foster an air of bad feelings and finger pointing among their employees. If they put stock in the value of every employee’s contribution and use mistakes as important lessons to improve, they will succeed in creating an environment where every person has a chance to do their very best.
Have you stopped to wonder just what the f— happened to our country? How did things get this out of whack? When did we get here? Why did we loose our sense of a republic, our pride of being the world’s beacon for democracy? When did we start believing that our neighbors who disagree with us are not American? What caused us to think that it is ok for a state to secede from the union? When did we start designating Christians as the only true Americans? Why did we start believing that immigrants are rapists, murderers and terrorists? What are the reasons behind allowing our elected representatives to openly work against our president and our government with no repercussions for their actions? How did it become acceptable for a foreign power to interfere with the way we select our leaders? I could go on and on, but I know you are asking yourselves similar questions.
So You Are Thinking About Immigrating to the United States? Here is a Checklist to Consider Before Making Your Decision
For reasons beyond your control, you happen to find yourself pressured to make a decision that will impact you and your family forever. If this is your case, you are probably living in a country where one or all of the following three scenarios are part of your reality.
Throughout the course of my life I have been surrounded by leaders who inspired me to use my gifts and energy towards creating a greater good. My experiences have also exposed me to others who have not cut the mustard. In both cases, I have learned great lessons about the kind of leadership that creates and nourishes the efforts of those around them. Leaders that asphyxiate, paralyze and extinguish the creative effort of the people they represent or manage have also schooled me. Today I chose to write about this other class of leaders because their lessons are so important.
Because February is well know for it’s connection to lovers, I wanted to dedicate my writing efforts to the subject of dating and finding love at any age.
Let’s be honest here, although I don’t want to appear too cynical, the fact is that Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark invented occasion to celebrate romantic love and to bring business to flower arrangers, candy stores, jewelers and stationary/greeting card shops.
I tossed and turned most of last night tormented by the dark atmosphere that seems to be overtaking our country. I feel anger, fear, disappointment and dread. I also seem to be spending a large amount of my waking hours fighting back the urge to live in the imaginary confines of my hopelessness.
Now that President Trump has officially taken his oath of office, there are many who are hopeful he will follow through on his promise to build the “Wall” on our southern border. Sadly, other than this particular strategy, you don’t hear much more about immigration reform these days.
In the spring of 1994, my father disowned me. My crime was that I went to work for Colorado’s Democratic Governor Roy Romer after he had chosen me as his chief of the Colorado Department of Transportation. This political divide between my father and I is emblematic of what is happening to a much larger scale within our country.
No matter how you perceive the results of this last presidential election, one thing is certain; President Elect Trump’s ascension to power will bring about a monumental change to our United States and probably the world.
The quirky thing about change, whether one considers the nature of what catalyzed it to be good or bad, is that it can become the source of immense stress. I call this phenomenon the “What do we do now syndrome”.
I always get a bit melancholic as I notch the passing of another year on my life belt. I remember as a young boy how long and tedious our planet’s orbiting around the sun for three hundred and sixty five consecutive days could seem. Now, the years whisk by me like a cool summer’s breeze.
With Christmas Day fast approaching, I am reminded of the paradox that holidays can be in our lives, especially for those of us who have lived with a complex relationship with our parents. On the one hand, these are the times we share with our families to celebrate the love and gratitude we hold for one another. On the other hand, these are the very occasions that revive the hidden pains of growing up in a difficult environment and so we dread the holidays because of the angst we feel towards the very people we hold responsible for our suffering. For this reason, I wanted to write about how I managed to find forgiveness for my parents and, in so doing, become a happier person
By way of introduction, my name is Guillermo Vicente Vidal. There are many titles I have been given which identify my life. I am a youngest son, rebellious teenager, athlete, boyfriend, college graduate, husband, father, stepfather, divorcee, civil engineer, unemployed, government bureaucrat, executive director, political appointee, manager of public works, deputy mayor, mayor, CEO, and now, of course, old man. Yet, the title I most identify with is that of Cuban immigrant.