Life Is So Precious Because… – Message To My Family

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(With Christian years back – Since the time I posted this last year, I had surgery to remove the remaining appendix that ruptured mentioned below, tests to rule out a suspicion of cancer in the area, another seizure that sent me to the hospital, some mini-seizures that didn’t, etc.  And through it all, I’ve been so blessed with a precious life I value immensely and the words below still ringing so true today in belief and application.)

4/6/16

“Life gets so much more precious, when there’s less of it to waste”. – Bonnie Raitt

It just occurred to me that one year ago [now two] at this time, I was in the ER after two unexpected grand mal seizures that occurred while driving that happened literally seconds after I pulled over with Christian in the car knowing something wasn’t right.  Luckily Christian, all of 13 years-old, stayed calm and got me the help I needed during the time I was amidst the haze of these developments, finding myself on the curb with paramedics treating me and Deb at my side.

So in thinking back as I shared with Christian today, had he not been in the car with me when I was seeing the auras that at the time I didn’t understand we’re precursors to the seizures I was soon to experience, I might not have pulled over seconds before they occurred.  So in a sense Christian saved my life that day by his presence, just like all of you have each done so many times before when it sometimes been so f’ing hard to do so on my own on more occasions than I’ve ever let you or anyone else know because that’s never been my way in this life of mine, or I just can’t remember all the countless times over the years those moments have almost struck me down, you know?  I’m supposed to be strong enough or so it has seemed throughout most of my life as a result of the way my parents raised and continuously demonstrated to me, and I guess I’m still here on this earth because of it.

So what’s it mean?  Well if Christian hadn’t been there giving me the awareness that I had to protect him and pull over, I would not have been there to see Jason’s game that night in Irvine (after a great deal of persuasion and begging to get the doctors to discharge me from the hospital), the one last night, and all the ones in between; or seen Christian’s game last Saturday or everyone in between; or even be here as Mom reaches the 46th year of her life after knowing her for all of them other than the sixteen years before those.

I know things are not as centered as I’d/we’d always wish but I wonder had it been my time to join my parents at this time last year, or when my appendix ruptured in October and went untreated for a week, or my first falls in 2013 that led to a traumatic brain injury and first seizures that I somehow recovered from when there was some doubt that I would; or the recent second fall where I would have bled out had I not been found unconscious; or just those times I tripped over myself and couldn’t get out of my head; what would have been missed or lost by us had it been my time to leave this earthly existence, or stop fighting and just give up, which is seemingly the same thing in my mind.

It’s impossible to know or imagine but I’m here with hope, optimism, and love as always as each day continues to present itself, even on certain days when life challenges my faith in its meaning.  All I can do is thank you and be grateful for being there and giving me sustaining breaths when the air was almost taken away from me way too many times since you’ve been part of my life, and in a sense all of us!

Upon quiet reflection and in looking back which is hard because it gives rise to some temporal pain with the honesty, it seems the last few (maybe several) years are an illustration of persistence through the good and epic chapters we’ve written but especially the tougher ones but boy, it’s hard to argue with what’s occurred, been overcome, and ultimately been achieved to date that I’ve been blessed to be a part of with so much more I could ever dream of or imagine.  With that said, I’ll end with this quote: “There is no such thing as a quantum leap.  There is only dogged persistence – and in the end you make it look like a quantum leap.” – James Dyson

I love you all!  Thank you for letting me share because I’m sometimes not strong enough to hold it in – more temporal honesty there.

You’ve Got This Kid!- Reminder To My Son

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I remember the day I wrote this to Jason after speaking with him by the gym pool while he was going thru forgettable teenage struggles and a few weeks later he won the first of his two California high school division baseball championships.  I reminded him of the same today to continue to apply to whatever college challenges that exist or may arise (baseball or otherwise) because they will likely turn out to be either forgettable or not as substantive in due time as well.  In looking back, it may have been one of best days of my life with him!
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“…So finally here’s the more basic and generic message I wanted him to live with and by.  Until his final moment ends, the tomorrow’s of his life carry the potential to turn out to be the best days of them all, and it matters not whether it does or doesn’t turn out that way!

Importantly, what he does or does not do will have an incremental impact on the chances of them occurring and if he proceeds with “optimism” as I suggest, then he will likely avoid the indecision to do things that ultimately just might work out a lot better for him had he done otherwise.

Moreover, he will start to disregard relying on the easy justification of doing nothing based on the mindset that “nothing will probably come of it”, “there’s not much of a point”, or “it probably won’t matter”, because the way I see it, everything CAN MATTER, since I believe EVERYTHING WORKS OUT one way or another if we just nudge, or downright shove, things along in the right direction!

Oh and when things aren’t going so well at the time, that just means that there is a greater margin for improvement and potential that the next day will feel like ONE OF THE BEST DAYS OF HIS LIFE just by the nature of comparison.  At a minimum, it will likely turn out a hell of a lot better than the one before if he releases and let’s go of what did or didn’t happen because then, there will exist a fresh potential and perspective for successful and wonderful new days…”

Perfect Days – Message To My Sons

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(A friend sent me a copy of this passage from my book that she said was an important reminder for her so thought I’d repost and share – it turned out to be a good reminder to me and my sons as well.)

1/15

Always remember what is perfect for you!  Your life does not belong to anyone but you and at best, it’s only borrowed from God for the time He has designed.  Perfection is the ideal but perfect is how the simplest, truly magical things each day add up to make you smile at night when you afford them their proper recognition, and set aside the truly unimportant and meaningless frustrations that in time will be forgotten as they fade and take their place among the fairly inconsequential. I wish this for you each day because I love you my children.  Make sure to share this magic in the hope that someone who needs it may also end their night with a smile when they reflect upon what was so simple to share.

For God’s Sake, Life Is Fair! – Thoughts For My Children

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(Originally posted 4/15 – a favorite)

12/20/14

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” — Martin Luther King, Jr

Let’s start with something I’ve learned to accept in my lifetime.  People are not always fair or kind; We may not always be fair or kind to ourselves; Circumstances may not start out equally for everyone; Timing of the tests in our lives are not ever convenient.  With that in mind, it is hard to contest my following belief:  LIFE IS FAIR!  It does not seek out anyone individually to punish yet it does allows us the opportunity and freedom to overcome almost anything, even though it may not be exactly as we’d prefer.

Dr. King recognized that when faced with the hardships in our lives that we inevitably will encounter, we unveil the strengths and/or deficits in our character.  We begin to understand that although those difficulties feel seemingly insurmountable at the outset, the quality of our response and the determination we exercise to overcome them provides us with a growing belief structure that provides us with the groundwork to confront future challenges.  Hopefully we can exit each struggle with the knowledge that we are much more prepared and durable (rather than just surviving), as a result of each encroachment on our collective mental, emotional, and other intangible capabilities.

I do think that there is a sliding scale of the challenges we encounter.  The most difficult and defining are those that seem random, unexpected, and seemingly out-of-proportion to the resources we currently have to overcome them.  Those are the most tragic because they are the most difficult to process since they appear without rationale or logical origin.

At the other end of the spectrum are those challenges that are products of our own creation whether it be through poor choices, a misdirected sense of entitlement, lack of appreciation of the gifts bestowed upon us, or general self-absorption.  Those are almost as troublesome since they require a telling reassessment of the shortcomings in our values and priorities. The hope is for a sense of enlightenment so that we are better prepared to avoid similar catastrophes while laying the groundwork for an improved existence for ourselves and others.

On a related note, I read an article the other day in the sports section about a 56 year-old female minister who is an amateur boxer.  Besides being amazed at the tenacity of this unassuming and older woman, the quotes in the article reminded me of Jason’s pre-game ritual of listening to the scene in “Balboa” where Rocky explains to his son what defines a winner versus a loser (“not how hard you get hit but…”).  Some of them are as follows and worth serious examination as to how we react to obstacles we may encounter.

– “You learn to take a punch…and that soreness is not pain.  The literal informs the metaphorical… Refraining pain is part of spiritual growth.”

– “The biggest thing about taking a punch is your ego reacts, and there’s no better spiritual lesson than not trying to pay attention to your egos reaction.”

– Boxing “reminds me of the difference between feeling neurological pain and real pain.  With neurosis, there are lots of things that feel like assaults on the self.  With greater degrees of mental, [physical], and emotional health, fewer things feel like assaults on the self.”

I really took a lot from those quotes.  When faced with challenges, our first response is usually generated from our egos because we find it difficult to understand the reasoning and source for our misfortune.  Remember again – LIFE IS FAIR and it’s unreasonable to believe that we are insulated from the adversities that others encounter.  Once we overcome the perceived insults to our egos, we can be more adept at facing our obstacles.  Then when that occurs, we need to ignore the psychological and neurotic pain, so that we can address and absorb the “real” pain that we must undergo to surpass that which we would rather, but have no choice to, avoid.

Being removed from our comfort zone is consequently unsettling and it takes a lot of desire, patience, courage, and inner-strength to return to that sense of well-being.  The easiest way is to surrender meekly to our tragedies and let them dictate the remainder of our days because unless confronted, we remain slaves to their continued presence.  The most difficult is to somehow prevail beyond the “real pain”, doubt, insecurities, and assaults on our psyche so that we do not remain further paralyzed to these continued deficits.  I’ve found no comfort in surrender (although I’ve been close to that point), because any constructive independence I can assert is dependent on my ability to neutralize tragedy and their associated demons.

More of who I am is based on what I’ve overcome than what I’ve been given and I feel better prepared for the next onslaught, if and when it occurs.  I have to remind myself to serve as my own master rather than kneel before one who is my figurative assailant!

I will leave you with one last quotation. Where do you see yourself in the following divisions of of the populace?  If in the latter, then I guess find comfort in the idea that “Life is NOT fair”!

“…there are persons who seem to have overcome obstacles and by character and perseverance to have risen to the top.  But we have no record of the numbers of able persons who fall by the wayside, persons who, with enough encouragement and opportunity, might make great contributions.”

We Are Waiting On You… – Message To My Sons

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3/10/17

“Believe with all of your heart that you will do what you were made to do.” – Orison Swett Marden

You know my remarkable children of  unlimited promise, my good Lord blessed my prayers with the birth of two healthy sons who’ve grown within the brilliance of the drawings I created in my mind and heart and then so much more beyond that.  Then on top of that, He answered your prayers by giving you a life of opportunities that you’ve discovered and captured.  He’s now left it to you to answer many of the prayers and beliefs for yourself that you have faith in because as one would assume, He’s fairly occupied with more serious matters that confound our world.

Remember my quote: “Be the god of your own dreams” and produce the answers and results you want, even if it means taking chances out of your comfort zone.  Why?  Because God is now waiting and relying on you to take your own actions to reward His faith in you, my children, and average efforts only produce average results (if any at all). Upon reflection, I really do wish I understood that In my youth but then again, I either didn’t have someone from where I stand today to enlighten me to those things that I’ve afforded you to consider, or did not listen when I should have and give it the attention it deserved when it was relayed to me.

You need to understand that you can control the momentum, pace, and direction of your own fate within the design of His supreme, yet undiscovered, plan He has for you.  So, be diligent and determined in your efforts so you reveal all the best that may be in store for you because as I see it, God is waiting on you, not the other way around.  Make us both proud because we believe in you more than you can understand but only you can validate that faith so make it happen!

Feelings And Emotions – Thoughts For My Sons

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3/14/17

“Often in life, the most important question we can ask ourselves is:  do we really have the problem we think we have?” – Sheri Fink

Boys, I want to share something with you to remember and hopefully incorporate into your mindset through those daunting times which will undoubtedly arise in your lives  and may lead you to the fringes of despair.

Be honest with those deeply rooted “feelings” that trouble and can confuse you so that you find a way to constructively address, express, and release them in order to understand what led to their causes so that better steps can be taken to avoid them in the future.

However, do not allow yourselves to be susceptible or vulnerable to impulsively submit to all of your “emotions” because they can change in an instant and consequently, they are not always as reliable for you to trust as often as you might anticipate.

Give it some thought because in the end, your understanding of the differences between both will lead you towards a profoundly better destination, rather than being led down unpromising paths because of an inability to make distinctions between the precise impact and value of the two.

Plans For New Days – Message To My Family

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(A friend who has a copy of my book recently wrote me about how much these particular thoughts meant to her so I thought I’d re-post it again.  This is the unedited version – Joe Dico)

1/5/15

“Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can’t change.  Kiss slowly, play hard, forgive quickly, take chances, give everything and have no regrets.  Life’s too short to be anything but happy.” – Unknown

I don’t think I have to elaborate much beyond the contents of the quotation above.  However I will include something I wrote awhile back.

“Find the best in you, maintain it for as long as you are able, channel it towards the best available to you, and discover that which was once beyond your horizon.  It’s funny (maybe not so funny) but since my injury, I have felt that way more frequently and I feel sometimes guilty for the amount of undefinable happiness I feel.  I do see more than what I should have imagined before and though I may share it in odd ways, at least I share and rest assured it is genuine.  That’s the bottom line I guess.  Find the path to feel the best about yourself, embrace and cherish it, use it, share it, and then you’ll feel good just about almost everything large and small.  We can only give to others based on what we reserve and allow to give to ourselves.”

With all that in mind and after you find that particular baseline, don’t hesitate, don’t think so much, and do it all to the best of your capabilities and with all at your disposal at the time, because the return on your investment will be abundantly in your favor and those around you.  Have a good day(s).

Stay Within His Plan

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Photo contributed by Marlena Groomer)

3/5/17

Seeing as how I believe that God or a greater power in the universe has a plan for us, I’ve learned through experience, trial, and an abundance of avoidable error that it’s best to do all we can to try not to head in a direction that gets in the way, or take us farther from that plan! – Joe Dico

Deeper Into The Cave – Father To Sons

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3/2/17

“Dream big and dare to fail. ” – Norman Vaughan

Boys, at this stage of your young lives and when you begin to think you have done all you can do and reached the ceiling and outer boundaries of what you can achieve, please  ablige your father’s belief in you and do the following:

Explore, discover, and create more with what has not been found by going deeper into your caves because what you will uncover for yourself will likely surprise, shock, and amaze you by the revelations awaiting within, and what you fear that makes you hesitate to go farther is only an aberration of what likely won’t occur.

Trust me – there is so much more within you waiting to be revealed and you’re so close to it by venturing outside the zones of your comfort and taking those steps because what may not be seen yet is only simple, optimistic decisions and choices away that in hindsight were the best ones to make after all!

The Magic Of Compliments – Message To My Family

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(Palos Verdes, California)

11/20/14

“I just think it’s silly to be stingy with compliments.  If you see someone and they strike you as beautiful in any way, why not let them know?”

Obviously I embrace this mindset and during the past year, I’ve made it a point to let people know of any observation that justifies praise of the quality of their character and/or characteristics, regardless of age, gender, race, et., since my senses are not limited by filters that may distort them.  I’m sure it may appear to some as a way to draw attention to myself, but it’s more an expression of gratitude for drawing my attention to them.  Acknowledgement of another’s simple beauty is no less glorious than the artistry captured in the works of Da Vinci or the Egyptian pyramids, and can be simply appreciated within our personal surroundings and observations.

Here’s an abstract concept.  There is nothing more remarkable than the feelings generated when an infant smiles or giggles in response to our presence.  Regardless of the setting, I know that I am mesmerized by such simple expressions of a baby who’s just discovering awareness of that which is around him/her.  I suppose in those simple moments, that newborn reminds me of the power behind a simple “compliment”.  I mean this tiny human being sees with fresh, untarnished eyes in front of them how I’d like to see and feel about myself, sharing it so willingly and without restriction that in that moment, I actually am that person!  Such simple and modest an action by someone so young and small, but how magnetic and mystical the emotions and semi-comedic actions generated in our responses.

We are taught about the concept of our inner-soul but there is no specific definition of its precise makeup as it relates to each individual.  There are objective explanations that we are given mainly through religious interpretations and then additionally defined by our subjective measurements through personal experience and enlightenment.

Our souls grow through the wealth of daily trials we encounter and then it is measured by the results and the quality of our responses.  We cannot define it by compliments we strive for, desire, or demand, since then we are confusing our souls with vanity, ego, and at times insecurity.  Our souls soar when we receive them unexpectedly, from the most unlikely sources, with some thought and genuineness, and best of all when it’s needed the most.

For me, my soul travels outside my inner self and is strengthened when I offer complimentary observations not necessarily based on the response I receive in return, but more the appreciation of someone or something that is part of my world as it exists at that moment.  “Stingy with compliments” just robs ourselves of opportunities to expand the width and depth of our awareness.  It also restricts our connection with the innocence of our youth going back to our infancy that is often shuttered behind the travails of our time.

Lacking better words on my own, I have embraced and am determined to live through the following quotation because it has given me sanctuary from everyday discord, and provides peace and rhythm to my day.  My hope is after reading it, you will do more than embrace it as you live!

“I will be generous with my love today.  I will sprinkle compliments and uplifting words everywhere I go.  I will do this knowing that my words are like seeds and when they fall on fertile soil, a reflection of those seeds will grow into something greater.”