In Memoriam

In Memoriam

There is a lot said negatively about social media, much of it well deserved. However, my experience today with social media (e.g. Facebook) is one that bridged the gaps of time and distance.

My day started by reconnecting with an old friend. This is someone whom I’ve known since I was about eleven years old, and it’s been about twenty-five years since she and I had any kind of conversation. Yet through instant messaging, we reconnected quickly and it felt just like those times we’d chat right before Brother Carl’s English class in high school.

My evening ended with the opposite set of emotions. Once again through Facebook, I was informed by my cousins in Mexico my uncle Jose Luis had passed away. For someone I’d seen only six times in my life, my uncle Pepe – as he was known – was a joyous figure in my life. He was always witty and gregarious. If you were around him and not laughing, it was because you weren’t listening to what he was saying. He reminded me much of my father, and when I saw him last in 2014, it was bittersweet for me (my father passed away in 2004).

Pepe
Tio Pepe and me in 2014.

To hear of his passing moves me, mostly because I am not in a position to get to Puebla and mourn with my family. It’s always been an unfortunate reality; half of my family 1,200 miles away. Even though we are related, my life to them is more of a foreigner than that of a family member. I mourn nonetheless because it was Pepe who was standing bedside with me when my father died. It was Pepe who held me tight as I broke down with emotions. It was Pepe who reassured me things would be alright.

…and they eventually were.

How I wish I was in Puebla to hold and console my cousin Paula and her daughters. How I wish I could be there for them to remind them everything will be alright. Yet I mourn nonetheless the loss of my uncle, a devout man with a friendly soul.

I wish I had more words, but my heart aches. Instead, I will share the words of my cousin Janny. Her heartfelt eloquence says it best.

My precious and handsome uncle, today your suffering ceases and you finally start your journey to be reunited with your beloved Lola (his wife), with Gaby (his daughter), with your mother and your brothers. Someday we will meet again!

Thank you for all your love and teachings. Thank you for your example of honesty, rectitude, fidelity, optimism, joy and strength! Tireless warrior, now it’s your turn to enjoy eternal life! We hurt with your departure. It squeezes the heart this feeling of emptiness that you have left. But as you taught us, we will be strong, we will smile, we will joke, and we will love with strength and courage because we come from a caste of warriors!

I send you lots of kisses and hugs, and when we meet again, we’ll laugh again together! See you soon, my uncle!

 

Pepe.jpg
Rest in Peace, Tio.

 

Project Gratitude – Spot On

Project Gratitude – Spot On

At the core of Gil 2.0 – the post-divorce, get life back on track Gil that emerged in 2006 – is music. Specifically, live music. There is something uniquely special about being at a concert, especially if you share that experience with those you love.

But when I can’t be in the audience, I love to put on a good song and let it take me to a particular place and time in my life. This evening, as I was driving home from dropping my son off at his Parkour class, I had a craving for nostalgia. I opened my Spotify app, looked up U2, and listened to the song ‘One‘ as I drove home. It was an escape.

Music on demand is amazing technology, and today I am grateful for my Spotify (and other music listening apps I frequent). To be able to think of a song you want to listen to and then easily listen to it is quite awesome.

Spotify

I am also thankful for the time I got to spend with Daniel before his class. We normally don’t spend much time together throughout the week, so being able to hang out with him and take him on in a game of FIFA on the PlayStation was a lot of fun. He played as Argentina and I played as Mexico. The games ended in a 2-2 draw.

FIFA 16

Once I got home, Lee and I lounged as we caught up on some of the TV shows on our DVR (I think we all should be thankful every day for DVR’s!). And even though the magic of the DVR is that you can skip through the commercials, there is this one commercial for Hulu with a very catchy song, and I had been trying for some time to figure out what song is used in the ad. I paused the commercial, grabbed my phone, and launched the ‘Sound Search’ app by Google. Turns out the tune is ‘Dust My Shoulders Off’ by Jane Zhang. Today I am grateful for the technology that bring such simple joy to my life, and for what is, perhaps, my new favorite song.

Yoga To Be Kidding Me

My wife and I are in the middle of a wonderful, ten day vacation at the Hard Rock hotel in Cancun. It’s been a wonderful experience so far, and the fact we’re here until the 14th makes me giddy with excitement.

We’ve also made no secret about eating cleaner and dropping weight, a lifestyle change we decided to do together at the beginning of the year. As part of that change, we’ve both realized that we need to couple clean eating with physical fitness. Although it pains me to say that with the recent traveling/vacationing we’ve been doing, I’ve put on some (and my some I mean most) of the 30 pounds I had shed (thank you, beer), I am proud to say we’ve worked out a couple of time so far on this trip.

One of those workouts was this morning.

We got up and figured we do the same thing we did last Friday. Hit the gym at the hotel, my wife on the treadmill, me on the elliptical. The difference with today was that we woke up a little bit later than we wanted to, and when we arrived at the gym, there was an instructor there. (Believe it or not, we did our first workout at 6:30 AM).

The instructor greeted us and asked us if we had any questions. She also told us of the classes available should we be interested. In particular, the yoga class would start in 30 minutes. Lee looked at me with wide-eyed excitement – she’s been taking Pure Barre classes – and I, in the spirit of being an adventurous and supportive husband, shrugged my shoulders and said, “Why not?”

Now …. I’ve drank shots I can’t pronounce, some of them having been on fire. I’ve done some crazy-ass _____ in my day, but I can’t, for the life of me, think of spontaneous decision that ended up being so ….. well, physically painful (although there was that time in high school I dove off the pier in South Beach only to belly-flop in spectacular fashion).

Plain and simple, yoga kicked my ass.

I sweated three times as much doing yoga as I did 30 minutes on the elliptical. I now have soreness in muscles that I haven’t used since Clinton’s first term. Most importantly, I have a new-found respect for everyone that does yoga on a regular basis.

It was also a very educational experience for me, and I thought I’d share some of my findings with my fellow brothers in case they’re interested in giving yoga a shot.

  • As flexible as you think you may be, you’re not. Yoga will expose you for the concrete column that you are.
  • There is no comfortable clothing for men for yoga. Boxer briefs and basketball shorts make something that ridiculously hard even harder.
  • Although you may be the only male in the class, the notion you’re going to enjoy the ‘eye-candy’ effect of yoga is put to rest in the first 30 seconds. You’re going to spend the rest of the class trying as hard as you can to not throw up (or fart).
  •  The ‘child’ or resting pose is relaxing ….. if you don’t have a beer gut. Otherwise, it’s a great way to asphyxiate yourself since your stomach rolls up into your chest and doesn’t allow you to breathe.
  • Whereas, “How much can you bench?” was the measure of how strong you are, the real test is, “For how long can you hold a bow pose?”

Child Pose

Guys, if you’ve ever scoffed at yoga – as I have in the past – and thought it’s only a chick thing, I’m here to tell you it’s one of the most exhausting workouts you can do. It’s also one of the most serene because it forces you to focus on so much of what going on with your body: breathing, balance, mental fortitude. Grunts are replaced with exhales. Posing in front of a mirror replaced with meditating on your inner-self.

The soreness in my legs and hips and arms and wrists tell men that signing up for the class was a big mistake. I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow and do it again.

Succinctly

Today has been a reflective day for me. Thoughts, like a steam train in my head, rolling and rambling non stop. I’ve been thinking about my life, my relationships, my kids, and what happens next. The movie in my head has been a series of flash-cut scenes full of memories, ideas, and wishes yet to be fulfilled.

2014 is a milestone year for me. The past ten years have been whirlwind and amazing. I found myself taking mental inventory of the key moments, and I thought I’d capture them as best I could using a simple phrase.

2004: My world came crumbling down.

2005: I was a complete and total idiot.

2006: I was introduced to the most amazing friends ever.

2007: I jumped out of a plane.

2008: I took the most amazing trip ever.

2009: My world was made complete.

2010: I learned to change my mind.

2011: I got to climb poles for a living.

2012: Music guided me.

2013: I was reborn.

2014: …… so far, so good.

Memory Lane

A Belated Love Letter

Sometimes life – and laziness – tend to get in the way. I noticed that when I came to the realization I had not posted to my blog since the 13th. Ugh. So much for me writing every day.

Still, there are times when the ability to sit at the keyboard and put together a post just isn’t feasible. Yard work needs to get done, kids need to be shuttled to events, beer needs to be consumed with friends. And sometimes, the routine just needs to make way for something special.

It was nine years ago on the 15th of February that I first met my wife Lee. It was at a blind date at Lee Roy Selmon’s restaurant in New Tampa (I know, I’ve got super-style, right?). I still remember being nervous as I spoke to my friend on the phone as I waited for her to arrive. I remember the confident smile on her face as she introduced herself. I remember going home that night with a sense of ‘Wow!”, and looking forward to the next time I’d see her again.

Since we met on the 15th of February – the day after Valentine’s Day – Lee and I refer to that date as our Valenversary. It’s worked out for us since we don’t have the pressure of trying to do something for Valentine’s Day knowing we’ll be going out to dinner, or doing something special, the following evening. As Lee and I enjoyed our Valenversary dinner Saturday night, I made the comment that our first date felt like a lifetime ago. She looked up from her plate, smiled coyly, and replied, “That’s because it has been. We’ve lived a lifetime’s worth of experiences these past nine years.”

And she was right. It’s such a blessing to be able to rattle off the laundry list of cool things we’ve done since we met. In 2006 we were introduced to our ‘music family’, the people that make up our close circle of friends with whom we’ve shared so many experiences. We’ve been to so many music concerts and live shows, it’s nearly impossible to list them all. We’ve traveled for music festivals, and have gotten to meet and hang out with some very cool performers. We’ve been on six Rock Boats, as well as two other Sixthman cruises (Zac Brown and Elvis).

In 2008, Lee and I traveled to Costa Rica and had a week of jungle experiences. We paired that with a trip to Mexico for a relaxing stay at an all-inclusive resort. We loved it so much, we bought into their vacation package and have stayed with them several times since (we were married at the Palace resort on Isla Mujeres in 2009).

We’ve connected with the social media community in Tampa. That has allowed us to meet so many fascinating people, one of which is Mama Lucy who is transforming the lives of children in Tanzania.

Lee and I have found our spiritual home in Relevant Church, and we’ve been able to share and celebrate our faith together, despite our very different religious backgrounds.

And through it all, the most amazing part is the transformation I’ve experienced because of Lee. To say she saved my life is an understatement. She was an angel sent to me when I needed it most. She opened my eyes to what great love looks like. She’s challenged me to be a better man, a stronger husband, and a vessel for God’s work here on earth. Although it took me some time to realize it, she’s been exactly what I needed in my life.

No, we’re not perfect. We argue and fight, and we get on each other’s nerves from time to time. Still, sharing my life with Lee has taught me those disruptions are just that; disruptions. Brief, momentary hiccups that don’t come close to comparing to the mountainous joy we otherwise share on a regular basis.

These past nine years have been spectacular, and I am giddy at the thought of what forever after has in store for us.