Free Radicals…

Recently, I gave a (brief) speech about health & wellness at my local business networking group. In particular, I wanted to explain what a “free radical” is and how it is damaging to our health. We all have free radicals in our bodies and these are introduced through the environment around us. After my speech, I began to ponder this quick lesson and soon, a parallelism began to form.

To begin, one must first understand what a free radical is and how to defeat it. In its simplest form, a free radical is a damaged molecule (bonded atoms) that has a need for one more electron in its outer orbit. To find this missing electron, it will attach itself to a healthy molecule from another cell and “steal” their electron. The transaction time is fast and soon, the once-healthy molecule is now damaged as well. This propagates throughout one’s body and if not treated with additional antioxidant supplements, the body is soon overwhelmed by these free radicals. This leads to degenerative diseases and other issues attributed to the natural aging process. It was interesting to learn that exercise of any form will automatically create free radicals (we just like to call it the “burn”). This is why your fitness trainer always encourages you to eat healthy meals after a workout including the power drinks and such.

Antioxidants boot your immune system and they have free electrons to “give away”. Our bodies naturally produce “some” antioxidants but unless you get away from your environment (impossible) and eat a ton of antioxidant-rich foods, you cannot produce enough to combat these free radicals. The sole purpose of the antioxidant is to seek out those free radicals and give away their electrons to protect the healthy cells in your body. The beauty is that the antioxidants do not become damaged when they give away their electrons! They are like the “terminator” of free radicals!

So what does that have to do with living life and moving on?  This is where the analogy was formed in my mind. See if you can follow along with me.

Our lives are constantly bombarded with situations that, at many times, are not within our control (environment). We try to remain positive about life (self-producing antioxidants in our bodies) yet we cannot control when an unfavorable situation will occur (the free radical stealing our electrons or “joys in life”). Eventually, if we do not change our circumstances, our woes become our new life and we slowly wither away (degenerative disease).

However, when we infuse positive energy and joy into our lives (antioxidants from supplements or specific foods), we not only improve our life’s health but those new positive energies will eventually minimize those woes (just like the antioxidant’s job is to seek out the free radicals and destroy them).

The end result is a healthier person because we have surrounded ourselves with positive energy, thoughts, and personal resolve that will create a new norm for our lives. In other words, we have chosen to move on and live a healthy and productive life! It is a choice – your choice!

We are inspired by those who, in spite of their circumstances, have made a decision to overcome their obstacles in life. They have a “can-do” attitude and the fortitude to survive; thus they have chosen to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of despair.

There are many stories of survival and we all love happy endings but we quickly forget that there was a journey that had to be traveled in order to arrive at the final outcome which became the inspiration for the rest of us. Our battles are different but one thing is common – we all want to survive and make a better life for ourselves.

I have made the same choice in life – have you?


The Adventure Of The Pill…

Who says “care-giving” is for humans only?

At the present time, our family cat is dealing with an issue that the doctors have not quite figured out as of yet. He’s not a very big cat to begin with but to lose almost 23% of his weight in a year’s time is not a good sign! We brought him to the vet who provided a pill (yes, we purchased the pill pockets to “trick” him into eating the medicine) and asked us to watch him over the weekend. The vet gave us some baby food to give our cat as a way to get him to eat more (we always feed him dry food so you can imagine his delight in eating the mushy baby food).

As it turns out, my wife went away for a weekend women’s retreat but showed me “how” to administer the pill  in his mouth as he won’t eat it willingly (if you know what I mean).  The vet advised me (through my wife) to give him the pill last night. Talk about an ordeal (for both me and our cat)!

Where shall I start….

I fed him the baby food and he loved that meal so I knew I had a backup plan for the pill. He doesn’t mind me carrying him like a baby (as I have seen my wife do a few times already). I told myself – “How hard can this be?

First attempt – the pill pocket!

I molded the pill pocket around the small white pill and put the brown ball on the floor in front of the cat. He bends down to take a sniff (this will be very easy). His head was blocking my view but in two seconds, he walks away and the brown ball is still on the floor! ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

So I picked up the pill pocket and put it in my hand (he likes licking his treats from my palm). He sniffed my fingers and was moving towards the pill pocket but NO, he turns his head as if to tease me. Grrr….

Second attempt – force feeding!!

OK – onto plan B. I picked up our cat and cradled him in my arms. My left hand opens his mouth (boy, those are some sharp fangs!) and my right hand puts the pill dead-center in his mouth. Like watching the Matrix movie, I could see the pill launch out of his tiny mouth and onto my stomach in slow motion! Strike One!

I picked up the pill in my right hand and once again, I pry open his mouth with my left hand (maybe I put it in the wrong spot in his mouth the first time). I placed the pill in the side of his mouth as my wife demonstrated to me the other day. He began to move his tongue and voila! The pill appears back on my stomach! It’s magic! Strike Two!

One more time (of course he is now trying to squirm out of my arms but I catch him and position his body back into my arms). Again, prying his mouth open with my left hand, I placed the pill deeper into the inside cheek of his mouth and closed his mouth. I think it worked this time!!! He became calm in my arms and looked at me in an expression that seemed to be surprised that I accomplished the task!  I looked at him with a feeling of conquest! After thirty seconds of staring at each other, I noticed that his mouth never moved (he probably swallowed it by now). I placed him on the floor as he takes a few steps away from me. His body is convulsing and before I could get out of my chair, the pill re-appears on the floor!!! That clever kitty cat – he held it in his mouth like I used to hold vegetables in my mouth when I was a kid (I seem to recall that I spit out the vegetable as well). Strike Three!

Third attempt – smash it up!!!

OK, now I’m irritated! The saving grace was that with all the saliva from those failed attempts, the pill seemed to have eroded a bit. I knew he would enjoy the baby food so I smashed the pill into the teaspoon-size portion of his serving and plopped it into his food bowl. He came over and began to eat the baby food (laced with the crushed pill). He ate most of it but his keen sense of smell and taste exposed my evil plot to feed him this much-needed medicine.

In the end, he finished the dosage but it took me half an hour to accomplish this feat. Of course he had the last laugh as I tried to replicate my clever plan this morning in crushing his pill into his morning serving of baby food – he smelled the plot and decided to skip his breakfast!!

Oh well, the vet will see him on Monday morning. One way or another, he will receive the medicine his body needs. In the meantime, I’ve been outwitted by a feline who loves me but is stubborn as can be.

Score one for the cat!

In The Periphery…

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

It is strange that some answers or inspirations constantly appear before us yet our busy minds seem to push those signs into the background of our landscape. The periphery of our lives contain many wise thoughts yet one has to slow down to absorb the messages for our present circumstances. Such was the case for me this week as I finally noticed the red magnet on the whiteboard in my office which highlights Joshua 1:9 and the phrase -“Be Strong and Courageous!Continue reading “In The Periphery…”

The Circle of Life

No, I don’t mean The Lion King!

Many years ago, I set some personal life goals. One of those was to be married by age twenty-five. Why? No particular reason except to simply set a “goal” to aim at. The good Lord blessed me with a wonderful woman who  became my wife two months before my twenty-sixth birthday. Although it was close, I accomplished this goal nevertheless. In fact, even if I had missed this goal, no one would have known (or cared) but it was fun to achieve it without pressuring anyone else.

Nearly thirty years later, the magic was about to happen all over again (Disclaimer: my legacy was not the catalyst for this occurrence). My son, who will turn twenty-five in a couple of months, proposed to his girlfriend the other night – she said “YES“! They have already made plans to be married within the next year. If all goes well, he will be married before he turns twenty-six (just like his old man).

We met for lunch and discussed grown-up things like the differences in dwelling units, life insurance, family plans, etc. It was one of those father-son conversations where I was given the privilege to impart some wisdom for his future. It was a bittersweet feeling as I looked at this young protegé across the table. My mind raced back through the years as I realized how far I have come and now, history will repeat itself in a miraculous way. How fast the years have passed as it seemed like it was only a few years ago that he was a bouncing baby needing our full attention. If felt like an out-of-body experience as I gazed at this young man who was extremely excited that the love of his life will be his wife very soon. His new life was about to begin and he has no clue of the good and bad times that await them both.

I don’t believe that the proverbial “crystal ball” is needed in life. You simply have to relish each living moment just as it was intended to be experienced – ONE moment at a time! No one could have predicted my outcome in life any more than they could their own. It is my belief that the only way to be successful in life is to live in the moment and cherish those memories when they have passed.  Why would anyone want to see into the future AND miss all the little stops along the highway of life? Those stops are the very events that molds us into the person we will become one day. Just as one cannot open a cocoon to “pull out” the butterfly or to pull up on the green stalks and expect a plant to suddenly appear, one cannot rush through a relationship – it simply has to grow at its own pace.

Do you have a favorite “Circle of Life” story from your past? I’d love to hear about it in this post.

Chinese New Year Celebration

Gung Hay Fat Choy – Happy Chinese New Year!!  It’s the year of the Ram!!!

Similar to the other traditional New Year’s Day celebration, it’s a time for Chinese families to come together and celebrate a new year. Large dinners are usually the norm along with family time, laughter, and maybe a friendly game of mahjong. The red envelopes are handed out to the children by the married adults or the parents. Money can be found in these envelopes and though it’s not enough to get one rich, it is fun money nevertheless.

Of course the Chinese calendar has its own lunar schedule which moves to a different date each year so unless you have an actual Chinese calendar, you really won’t know the date on the American calendar. The celebration lasts two full weeks and in many cities where a Chinatown exists, the annual Chinese New Year parade occurs with lots of firecrackers, lion dances, marching bands, martial arts demonstrations, the eight immortals, the parading of a future bride and groom, and of course, the serpentine dragon at the end. Different cities will hosts different fillers but the main point is the celebration of the Chinese culture.

The memories of loved ones who have gone before us are hard to ignore as well. Family traditions that have occurred for many years are replaced with new ones. When my father passed away ten years ago to cancer, my sister-in-law and brother were expecting their second child. My dad was hoping for the family’s first granddaughter and just days before his passing, he had asked my brother if he would finally be getting his granddaughter. My brother said “yes” which gave my father to peace he wanted before releasing his spirit. The family blessing arrived a few months later as we welcomed the family’s first (and only) granddaughter – my brother and his wife didn’t want to know the gender of their second child but to put my father’s mind at peace, my brother told our dad that it would be a girl. There was a fifty-percent certainty either way.

As they say, when one passes away, another is born into the family. My niece will be ten this year and I wonder if she knows that her grandpa was very pleased that she was born into the family – don’t get me wrong, he loved all of his grandsons too! He was a good father and a better grandpa!

Gung Hay Fat Choy Dad!!!

The Pen

I was rummaging through my drawer looking for a pen to use for a quick note. My usual writing tools were somehow hidden from me so I grabbed this large-grip pen instead. It was nothing fancy and the purple color seemed to draw my attention toward its availability.

My thumb pressed the large knob and with a click, the stem appeared on the opposite end, ready to obey my every hand movement. The pen’s name was “eGrip” and it certainly lived up to its bestowed model name.

The short use of this pen caused my mind to wander. Was this my favorite pen from the past? No – in fact, I don’t recall where it was purchased. Certainly, it was not obtained from any of the vendor booths I had visited in my earlier career. Besides, I would not have chosen this particular color but something about this pen gave me comfort.

When I had finished my use of this purple instrument, I stared at it for a while. Suddenly, my memory bank opened and I recalled where I had last seen its use. She loved to collect special pens (especially the ones from my business trips) while others were simply purchased for its practicality. This pen was one of her favorite writing tools because of the extra-large grip. Her hands were small and she loved writing letters so the use of this particular pen served her well.

I never know “when” a memory will unlock a special emotion because although I had placed this pen in the drawer during my relocation to this new home, no special memories were recalled at that time. The human brain is rather unpredictable.

It was as if, through the pen, she was saying “hi” to me though intuitively, I knew it was only a symbol of her memory. Nevertheless, it was very nice to be reminded of her smile and love of pens.

I carefully placed the royal-colored writing instrument back in the drawer and smiled as I took another look at its grip.

Just a regular pen …… but the memories will flow from it another day when I least expect it.

A Loving Heart Knows No Boundaries

It’s that time of year again – Valentine’s Day!

Love is in the air. Perhaps for some, it is a time for reconciliation; for others, a time to find that special person. The strange thing about February 14th is that most will do extraordinary things to win someone’s heart. Flowers and chocolates are ridiculously priced while jewelry always makes a flashy appearance. Special gestures make for memories that will last a lifetime. At the core is our innate desire to “be loved” and this is accomplished by giving love in the hopes of a reciprocal response.

Yet for those who have lost their spouse along the way, this day of love can sometimes be a struggle especially after many years of marriage. The man who adorns his wife with those private gifts that only he has the special privilege of providing yet there comes a day when he cannot provide it for her anymore as she is no longer with him. The memories of past Valentines are fun to reminisce beginning with that very first one in which neither had much money to spend but lots of love to give. It’s an emotion that transcends any materialistic gift for that is the treasured memory which can never be taken away.

For those who have lost their treasured partner and anticipate being hurt this Valentine’s Day, I hope that you will find new love that will become an additional treasured memory for the present and future years to come but you have to allow it to happen in your heart. I have learned that the heart has the expansive capacity to love more than one person and to give love freely to others as well. To love another treasured partner will not erase the memories of your first love. The abandonment will only occur if you allow it to absorb your heart.

Choose to live and love freely this Valentine’s Day because your heart will be able to handle a new love! After all, you have already accomplished this many years ago when you replaced your love of being single by opening your heart to your first love – do you remember how you felt? Your heart has always had the capacity to love more than one person. You can experience that same joy once again. The only one stopping you is… YOU!

So I hope you will have a wonderful Valentine’s Day this year, honor your memories, and choose to make new ones. Determining to live your life one day at a time is a gift you can give to yourself – no one can ever take that away from you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

She Will Always Be In His Heart

My older son graduated from the police academy after enduring six months of intense stress, pressure, and physical strain. He almost quit halfway through the program and wondered if he was doing the right thing. He missed his mother and felt that since she was not here anymore, he didn’t have a reason to complete this training. I encouraged him to finish and do his best but that’s easy for someone who doesn’t have to wake up at 4am and working until midnight on a daily basis in the hopes of minimizing mistakes (only get two chances to pass any test with the physical and emotional exhaustion to boot).

Needless to say, I was honored when my son asked that we (my current wife and other son), along with my brother and my son’s soon-to-be fiance, share the platform with him as his badge was to be pinned by my brother (current peace officer). My brother had a difficult time pinning the badge as my son’s uniform was brand new. I’m sure he felt the pressure as the audience patiently waited for the pinning to get done (note: other family members had similar difficulties pinning their graduates as well).

Finally…the pin poked through the brand new police shirt and everyone clapped! My brother felt an overwhelming sense of relief as his job was completed even though it took longer than expected. Posing for the customary pictures with my son’s new police chief, we quietly vacated the stage for the next recruit to be honored. It was a proud moment for all of us!

The festivities after the ceremony was memorable as many of my son’s college friends attended to congratulate him along with many family and close friends who sacrificed their time to attend this special ceremony. What an evening it was! Surrounded by public safety personnel of various types including some from other states, we were ushered into this new family of peace officers this wonderful night. The keynote speaker stated it correctly – it really is the few who are in the news or choose to disrupt the public that are in the minority! The majority of people believe in and support our public safety officers for without them, chaos would be the alternative and that would be a disaster beyond measure!

Interestingly, a few years earlier, my son carried a picture of his mother (my late wife) when he graduated from college. It was in a picture frame and he held it for all to see. He explained that he wanted mom to share in his triumphant moment of graduating from college. I had wondered if, and how, he would repeat this same honor of his mother at such a sacred ceremony for the police academy graduation. There was much more structure compared to a college graduation. Obeying orders in a military fashion was the dominant rule throughout the night. There were family hugs and pictures taken but only at the time of the pinning – all other times, it was meant for the aura of a future peace officer. Tonight, my son needed to simply have his mother’s memory in his heart only.

The very next morning, he confessed that the reason why my brother, had such a difficult time pinning his badge was that my son placed a picture of his mother in his shirt pocket above his heart – yes, the very location in which the first pin penetration needed to occur. He forgot to mention this and couldn’t whisper it to his uncle but was thankful that my brother moved to another spot on the shirt to complete the task.

I believe that, even in death, my dear wife guarded her son’s heart through his inadvertent placement of a simple picture at just the right location.

Yes, even from Heaven, mom was proud and protective of her baby boy growing into a young man today!

To Protect and Serve!!!

Angelic Reminder….

It was nearly six-and-a-half years ago that I lost her to cancer. Nothing would bring her back to me but I had everything to look forward to in reuniting with her one day. What a glorious day that will be when we are reunited with our loved ones who have gone before us. That’s the hope we have as believers in Jesus Christ and His promise of Salvation.

In the meantime, we who are left behind must continue to live on and make life adjustments to accommodate our losses. Some would say that our departed loved ones have become our “guardian angels” yet no one knows that for sure, What I do know is that God will never leave us nor forsake us – it’s His choosing of “which” guardian angels would watch over us.

Yet as the years seem to pass through time like the fog across the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco, our hearts still yearn to have our loved ones back, even for a visit. Not a day passes when I don’t think about my departed wife as her image is reflected in our children’s faces. So it’s a special blessing when God allows some type of vision to appear to let us all know how she is doing in Heaven. In fact, the last time I saw a vision of my wife was shortly after she went home to be with the Lord. Her silhouette appeared at the bottom of the stairs one evening when I was reflecting on the loss and thinking about what to do next. As her image caught my attention, her beautiful smile seemed to tell me that she was OK. In the blink of an eye, it appeared that her image proceeded up the stairs – I ran to see more of her image but alas, it was gone. That was over six years ago.

Today was a blessed day!

My son returned home from church (I was in incapacitated) and told me that while he was praying, God revealed a vision to him. He could see his mother dancing with the angels at God’s feet. She was happy and without pain or sorrow. This gave my son much comfort as he misses her dearly (as we all do). He shared it to let me know that God still loves us and wants us to know that she is OK in Heaven. What a comfort to hear this vision from my son (he was only ten years old when she passed into Heaven).

Yes, I believe there are angels looking over us and I believe that God chooses His timing to reveal blessings to us. I just wished I would have had the same vision that my son had today but hearing him tell it in his words was more powerful than my selfishness in wanting to see the vision and keep it to myself.

Do you have a story about how God revealed a blessing to you? I’d love to hear about it.  Please post your story!

The Dawn Of A New Day

As the sun rises above the horizon, I appreciate the opportunity to live a brand new day! The events that happened yesterday are in the past. My only options are to evaluate and learn from those previous experiences OR to ignore its very existence.

In golf, only the current shot matters! How you arrived at the current ball location becomes irrelevant because your next shot is the only important thing to focus upon. However you hit the shot, it will still count as ONE stroke on the scorecard. The outcome will depend upon your current and present state of mind as you position your body, the club, and your stance. Commitment is the key to making a great swing for a positive desired outcome! When your mind wanders back to “how” you arrived at this current shot (good or bad), your focus is not entirely true to your mental capacity at-hand. Oh yes, there’s the question of whether you have the correct club for this current shot and that depends upon the uncontrollable elements around you such as the landscape of where the ball lies (rests on the ground) and the current surroundings that nature provides (wind, sunlight, haze, rain, etc). One may believe that one is in TOTAL control of their shot when in fact, there are hidden elements that will alter the decision-making process.

Such is life (IMHO)!

How you arrived at your current day does not always rest upon the decisions you made yesterday. Time moves on without you so you may as well enjoy the ride. Unfortunately, you can’t change yesterday but you can focus on today. Your mental capacity will depend upon how you approach this day that you have been blessed with! Commitment is the key to making today a wonderful day. The uncontrollable elements in your life will occur as you step out the door. Maybe for some, it’s as soon as they get out of bed. It’s only uncontrollable if you fight against it – others choose to blend into these elements so that it becomes part of their fluid and ever-changing resolution to life.

An experienced golfer would acknowledge their uncontrollable elements and adjust their club selection, stance, swing, and mental capacity to accommodate this added element. A person who chooses to love his/her life will do the same – make adjustments throughout their day.

The other day, I had the privilege of saying “goodbye (for now)” to a dear friend who passed away suddenly on January 4th (in her sleep). We have known each other since 1986, lost contact in the early 90’s, and reunited only in the past few years. Though time has aged us a bit, our personalities were the “backspin” that rekindled our friendship and made us appreciate our past experiences. We have similar stories as we both have lose our spouses almost about the same time. It was sad to receive the news of her passing but we have the assurance that we’ll be reunited again someday. That uncontrollable circumstance, the sudden death, didn’t stop me from living. I will miss our conversations on the phone and will feel compassion for her adult children but my hope is that I can encourage them to live on as their mother would have wanted them to do.

My book, “Every Day Passes Is One Day Closer“, was originally targeted for one type of audience but I can see now that those who have lost loved ones could also benefit from my story as well.  I choose to have the courage to live  another day as I’m sure my friend would have wanted that.

What are the uncontrollable elements in your life and how are you incorporating them into your present day existence to ensure that those elements will not defeat you but will make you stronger?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.