Awesomeness, one bowl at a time.

img_0320If you know me at all… You know I LOVE to cook!

A friend clued me into a recipe published in Women’s World Magazine by Nutritionist, Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman. Her “Fat Flush Soup” has been extremely popular since it was first published back in 2011.

img_0318Me, being me of course, had to make it my own. A few key differences are that I use a combination of celery, carrots, and onions to provide a aromatic element referred to in classic cooking as a “mirepoix” (pronounced “meer-pwah”). Being true to my roots, I have to add some heat to it in the form of serrano peppers. Finally, my version ends up being more “rustic” and hearty with tons of stuff going on in each spoonful. Feel free to try the original, as well as mine. You won’t regret either version!

I’ve had friends and family ask, so I wanted to take the time to show you how I do it. Mind you, I make a double batch. This freezes well and, frankly, tastes better as the flavors have a chance to meld.

Makes 18 servings.
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories: 188
Total fat: 5g
Sat. fat: 1.2g

The software:

- 1 LB lean ground beef. I use "Laura's Organic" brand. 90% or leaner, preferred.
- 3 small yellow onions, or 1 large yellow onion - sliced
- 22 cloves of garlic (peeled) - sliced thin or minced
- 4 bell peppers (I use a rainbow medley. I.E. Green, Orange, Yellow, Red) - diced
- 1 cup celery - chopped
- 1 cup carrots - peeled and chopped
- 16 oz white mushrooms - sliced and washed
- 16 oz portabella mushrooms - sliced and washed
- 3 serrano peppers - chopped thin
- 16 oz canned pinto beans - rinsed
- 16 oz canned black beans - rinsed
- 92 oz - V8 vegetable juice - Spicy hot/Reduced Sodium
- 1/2 cup cilantro - chopped
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley - chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh juice of one large lemon
- Fresh cracked pepper - to taste

The hardware:

- Cutting board
- Chef or Santoku knife
- 6 quart stock pot
- Food processor (optional)
- 1/2 cup ladle
- Large sturdy wooden spoon

img_0294Mise En Place” – It’s a term. It literally translates to “Mess In Place”, and it means to prep all of your food ahead of time. So wash, chop, cut, and dice your veggies, beans, and mushrooms. Then, it’s easy to just put it all together.

It looks like this.

img_0292Step 1:

Cut your bell and serrano peppers in half and clean them of all seeds. Then slice into julienne strips and dice.

Step 2:

Slice onions. I cut them in half and then take the halves and slice right down.

Peel and slice your garlic in very fine slices. It costs a little bit more, but most super markets will sell garlic pre-peeled. It’s a huge convenience and time saver.

img_0300TIP: Here is where the food processor saves a LOT of time. You can painstakingly slice your garlic, or “pulse” the cloves in a food processor 6 times, for a second each pulse. Season with some black pepper.

img_0303Step 3:

Heat stock pot to medium high heat and add olive oil, onion and garlic mix. Cook until the aroma starts to come out (approx. 3 minutes) and add ground beef. Cook until browned, remove from stock pot, and set aside.

img_0307Step 4:

While on medium-high heat, add diced peppers, serrano peppers, celery and carrot mixture to stock pot. Stir well. Place lid on stock pot and allow to steam for approx. 5 minutes.

Step 5:

Add mushrooms to stock pot after 5 minutes and stir to combine. Cover. Continue to steam for an additional 10 minutes.

img_0311Step 6:

Add ground beef mixture, lemon juice, beans and V8 to stock pot. Stir well to combine. Cover. Reduce heat to medium heat for 20 minutes.

img_0316Step 7:

Reduce heat to a low. Add in chopped cilantro and parsley mixture. Stir and cover for an additional 10 minutes.

img_0314Step 8:

Remove from heat and serve immediately. Freezes well, and also keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

Remember, a serving is one big hearty cup! At less than 200 calories, you can enjoy seconds, guilt free!

A su provecho!

Commodore, and the Amiga – The future of computing; forever changed.

The Commodore Amiga 500

The Commodore Amiga 500

I loved my Amiga!  I’m also not talking about the pretty girl I had a crush on in High School.  No, like some weird Cyberpunk Indie “B” flick, I’m talking about my first computer.

So, I won’t lie.  Why a Commodore?  I remember walking past a long gone store chain (Software Etc.) and seeing some awesome video games being demo’d on this computer.  Of course, like any 14 year old living in the Atari/Nintendo era, I had to walk in and check it out.  Twist my arm at that moment, and I’d admit that what happened next was pure selfishness.  I’d talk for days to my parents about how a computer would be good for school, how I’d be able to write my papers, and how it was only $500, etc.  Where, in reality, I was thinking of the cool game I saw that day, that I *NEEDED* to keep playing!  That game, Shadow of the Beast II, just blew my mind.  This, at an age where the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) was king, and stuff like the Atari Jaguar, Sega Genesis, and Super Nintendo were still dreams being talked about at CES (Consumer Electronics Show).

Needless to say, I got my way, and I became the proud owner of my first personal computer; our family’s, actually.

Fast forward, and my naturally curious self actually started diving into the mechanics of how the GUI (Graphics User Interface) worked.  I had some exposure with Macintosh back then, and Windows was in it’s infancy by comparison. So this was truly “cutting edge” stuff!

The other big thing this computer did was expand my horizons outside of the small little town of 15,000 people I knew my whole life.  The computer came with something called a Modem (MOdulator/DEModulator).  Modems allowed you to connect your computer to another via the telephone.  You got to interact with the “O.G.” of social media, Bulletin Board Services (BBS’s).  In those early days I quickly realized that my fancy “Video game system” did a LOT more then I ever thought.

"OctaMED" - The software that landed me my first job in music engineering.

“OctaMED” – The software that landed me my first job in music engineering.

I have a very musical background and quickly got into using my computer to write music.  So much so that my first “big boy” job was at 15.  I was recruited to write music for a video game company.  TRUTH!  It was a pretty cool experience, because that company then realized I had a natural aptitude, and started teaching me computer programming.

Digress for a moment, and think about this.  In 1985, what did you have?  IBM’s 8086, then, in the late 80’s, the 286 was king.  Those computers had a little speaker that beeped at you, and the wonderful “green screen” displays were appropriately named because you had 2 colors (green or black), or an upgrade to a whopping 8 colors!!

Windows v1.01

Windows v1.01

Commodore's Workbench 3.1

Commodore’s Workbench 3.1

In the same period of time, Commodore offered you a computer that had 4 channel stereo sound, a MASSIVE pallete of 4,096 colors to pick from, with 64 of them being displayed at any time.  All while running a silky 50 or 60 frames per second (based on PAL or NTSC regions).  It’s no wonder that the Amiga quickly became the “de facto” computer for those in the creative arts.  Take it one step further, and also consider that in the modern world of gigahertz computers, gigabyte memory, terabyte storage devices, and Graphic Processors that can render a pixar movie in real time:  Commodore did it on a 7 MHZ processor, with 512 KB of ram, and an 880 KB (KILO byte! Not even 1 *one* MEGAbyte, or .000088 GIGAbytes) floppy disk drive.

Let’s put that into perspective.  An Alienware I7 (considered top of the line for gaming rigs) runs at 3.5 GHZ (3,500,000,000 instructions per second).  That Amiga was doing what it was doing at 7 MHZ (7,000,000 instructions per second).

That’s an increase of 49,900%!!!

The little computer that could!

But, it’s all about the games, right?  The processor used was manufactured by a company called Motorola.  Their 680×0 series of processors were so efficient that even the mainstream video game companies adopted them.  Sega utilized the same processor, in the Amiga, when they created their flagship video game system of the time; the Sega Genesis.

Want to try some of them?  Have a fast computer?  Keep reading!

Special thanks go to the developer of the “Scripted Amiga Emulator“, Rupert Hausberger.  He created a way for us to be able to host and play some of these old games and video demonstrations, in our web browsers.  I’ve set up some old favorites for you to try at:

Mind you, this takes a VERY fast computer to run.  I’ve had great luck using Safari and Chrome.  But, for those who are curious to see what it’s all about, but can’t properly run it, take a look at the video I created, below.

Finally, if you REALLY want the experience, every major operating system has a desktop Amiga emulator.  Google “UAE” and your operating system (I.E.  Linux, OS X, Windows, etc) and you will find free emulators you can use.

You’ll need two things to make it work.  A “Kickstart” ROM, and then the floppy disk image of what you want to play.  You can google the name of a piece of software, and “ADF” (Amiga Disk Format), and then you can load up and start playing.

For those who want an open source alternative, the AROS group has created an open source Kickstart replacement you can download for free.  Check them out here!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip down memory lane.  If I can help answer any questions, feel free to email me at  Make sure to put Amiga Emulator in the subject somewhere.

Finally, there are dear friends I’ve made because of this computer. One, specifically, was a huge part of this movement. A life cut too short. Jon, you’ll be missed. Whether you go by “Pasha Jon”, or “Neon Messiah”, we know you’re kicking it up there! R.I.P.



Raspberry Pi, or is it Pie? – The $35 computer that could

I’ve always been positively fascinated with technology and how it continuously becomes smaller, faster, and more creative.

Take this little gem. It’s been a hobbyist’s joy within tech circles for years. The Pi is a playing card sized full fledged computer that has the capability to run almost any modern operating system you want. It’s been huge in the science and hobbyist communities because it’s cheap, surprisingly powerful, and extremely versatile. I have a few ideas for these little gems (more later), but for now, I wanted to focus on just how much punch this little guy has.

Case in point. As you read this, I’m now hosting my entire website (all 30k+ hits a week) off of this $35 computer.


Let’s take a look at the specs:

SoC: Broadcom BCM2837
CPU: 4× ARM Cortex-A53, 1.2GHz
GPU: Broadcom VideoCore IV
RAM: 1GB LPDDR2 (900 MHz)
Networking: 10/100 Ethernet, 2.4GHz 802.11n wireless
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.1 Classic, Bluetooth Low Energy
Storage: microSD
GPIO: 40-pin header, populated
Ports: HDMI, 3.5mm analogue audio-video jack, 4× USB 2.0, Ethernet, Camera Serial Interface (CSI), Display Serial Interface (DSI)

wiringI’ve built many a custom computer in my life. I originally did something with similar hardware, back in the 90’s. I had custom built an arcade cabinet to emulate arcade games. Was a rousing success, and there were many a night lost; laughing with friends, nursing sore fingers!


I’ve since built a desktop version of that setup for four players. It’s great to kick back on the couch, and play 4 player Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the kids! Ahhh, but I digress!

We were talking about running a serious web server, weren’t we?

I’ve been a huge fan of the *nix style operating system for many decades. Why pay $100 for Windows, when you can do the same thing for $0! That’s right, *nix style operating systems are free, the software is free, and they are so efficient that you can use an old Pentium 4 and breath usable life back into it! In fact, that is the exact type of computer my kids have had in their bedroom for years. They run Youtube, Firefox, Chrome, etc. To them, *nix operating systems are just as familiar to them as their IPad, or Windows PC.


I selected one of my favorite *nix operating systems, Ubuntu v16.04 to run this website.

jorge@jorge-pi:/var/log/apache2$ free -h
total used free
Mem: 925M 330M 72M
Swap: 2.3G 456K 2.3G

As you can see, with 330 megabytes of RAM, I’m not only running this web server, but also running a full on desktop operating system!

But, back to that video game fixation. I saw a little “DIY” project that I simply must build! To me, these would make some awesome Christmas presents for some people I know…

I’ll just throw out a picture. The rest should be self explanatory.


I’ll be doing a followup article in a few months. I think that will make for a fun fall project!

So, in closing, Google “Raspberry PI”. You’ll be pretty surprised at how creative people have gotten with their little $35 computer. I know it’s no big deal to some, but when you consider the possibilities with weighing a few ounces, an after market that includes cameras, built in WiFi, Bluetooth, and being able to be battery powered. Well, now you’ve opened up avenues for drone pilots, artists, investigators, etc. No longer just the realm of a hobbyist or techno geek.


I’ll have my Pi, ala mode with some coffee, please!


Life 3.0: The dating chronicles – 2015


Online Dating is a 2.2 BILLION dollar industry!

Online Dating is a 2.2 BILLION dollar industry!


Certainly not what it was back in High School. Now, like all things humans touch, it’s new, improved, shiny, and “better”!

You know… Match, E-Harmony, PoF, Tinder, OKCupid. Yes, online dating! Here it is!  Finally, the axiom of human engineering in the 21st century! Let’s optimize and improve on time honored tradition by throwing as many people as we possibly can at someone!

YES! This is what I’ve been waiting for! 5-6 different dates a week, a different beautiful woman every night, food for the ego!


4860When I wrote my last Life After Loss article I’d already spent almost a solid year “single”, and a cool 7 months since I’d had any contact with my ex. Sure, in the last 11 months I’d thought I was ready and done my fair share of “dating”, but I realized very early that all I was trying to do was find someone who embodied all the positive attributes I enjoyed in my prior relationship, without the bat-shit crazy emotional drama I had to deal with. At it’s best, it was a noble effort. Though, in reality I was far, FAR, from ready. So I spent quite some time over the fall and winter just really trying to work on myself.

After emerging from my self-induced hiatus I set out to “play the game”. Let me tell you.. there are some choice take aways that anyone who reads this should consider if they find themselves wanting to go down that road.

“Like what?”

Well, here’s a small list:

-Your average person is talking to 5-10 different people at a time.
-Most people say they want a relationship, but tend to want to play the field.
-Human nature says that if you keep dangling a carrot (or 5-10) in front of someone’s face, you won’t give any one person any sort of honest chance.
-Men tend to lie about their height.
-Women tend to lie about body types.
-Everyone tends to lie about relationship statuses.
-Non-smoker seems to also mean “smoke sometime” (then you call them out and you’re the ass…)
-Most women are still bat-shit crazy. (though, I’ve remained friends with a few who weren’t relationship material, but have since proven they’re not bat-shit crazy.. so there is hope)
-Guys tend to like to post pictures of their fancy sports cars and topless gym selfies. Women like the fishy face.. I still don’t get and understand that one.. *groan*

There’s a term I became familiar with very early on.  “Catfished”, a term used to describe an individual who met someone under false pretense or blatant dishonesty being forced on them.

Here’s a good one I’ve told in the past.  I walk into a bar; seriously this sounds like a bad joke.  A Mexican walks into a bar, and I’m looking for my date.  I scan the room and suddenly I’m like.  “No…”, scratching my head.  I grab my phone, pull up her picture, look up; again, “NO!”.

Then she sees me..  and starts jumping up and down waving her arms.

“FML, it IS her!”

So, what’s wrong here?  OK, when you use adjectives like “Slender”, “Athletic”, “Petite”, etc., you are painting a fair and objective picture about yourself; truly not subject to interpretation.

This lady was at least 10 years older then the pictures showed, and was easily 50-70 lbs over weight.  Not that the weight bothers me at all.  I was close to 400 lbs myself, so I have an appreciation for a thick girl, just don’t lie to me about it.

Here’s another quick one, which I elude to above.

I’m talking to someone and their profile clearly states “Non Smoker” and “Divorced”.

After several days of talking, I find out “Divorced” means separated and just starting conversations on seeing a lawyer, and “Non Smoker” to her really meant “I only smoke sometimes, but it’s no big deal.”

So, I call her out and tell her I’m sorry, I don’t think that’s fair when a friendship and relationship is supposed to be built on trust and respect, how is this supposed to look to me now?

At which I was told where to go, and “How DARE I talk to her that way..”

I have at least another dozen stories like that; sadly.

textingMy take, is that it’s this damn digital generation we’re in.  I love the “Social Media” challenge.  Everyone puts their phone on the bar.  First to reach for it, has to buy a round.  We’re so tethered to our devices.  Someone WONDERFUL could be staring right at us, and we’d never know it, cause we’re looking for them on a dating site.

What happened to the old fashioned days where someone just goes out by themselves for a night, walks into a bar and just introduce themselves to someone who catches their eye?  That old fashioned way, when you stare into each others eyes and you both just “feel” that tingle; both having to pull away, smiling inside.

Then, before you know it, you’re still at that bar, and six hours later you have exchanged numbers and realize that what you just experienced truly is the way it’s supposed to be done.  The way that endures, when you can actually focus on ONE person, and truly give them a shot; and them, you.

I would like that..


Life after Loss: A future, your future

We all have baggage we need to carry.  The question is, will someone special come along who's selflessly willing to help you carry and unpack it one day?

We all have baggage we need to carry. The question is, will someone special come along who’s selflessly willing to help you carry and unpack it one day?

The end of the “Life after Loss” winter session was concluded with a study aptly named “Now That We Know“. It was fairly profound, especially eclipsing the holiday season where many people, who have sustained loss, were left reeling in the wake of their grief. The death of a loved one, a broken relationship, wounds that are still tender; the suffering I could see with my own eyes would bring a tear to anyone’s eyes.

How has this process looked through the lens of someone who went through a physically and psychologically abusive relationship (<- Click to follow. Originally published: 2014/11/05)? It's hard to put into words; what my future would look like, or where I'd end up. But here's a glimpse, wondering if I can make it (<- Click to follow. Originally published: 2014/10/23), knowing I will make it, and looking for opportunities despite the loss.Now that I know..“But, what do we know?”

18 months ago my world started to change. I knew it was what needed to happen. I knew (as un-natural as it is for me) that I needed to care for myself because the person who I prayed for 4 years would, simply wouldn’t; and at the end blatantly made it worse in her own sickness.

“What did I know?”

I knew my decisions would cause immeasurable pain to my heart, but in time it would lead to healing. But it was a short lived resolve when I gave into trying again. Making it worse when I ripped away again almost 12 months ago. Then doing it again, and finally tearing away for the last time 9 months ago.

I went from my world changing, to myself being changed. Our personalities are defined by late adolescence. But, in the wake of a traumatic event, our psyche can re-arrange. The filter with which we live life is forever damaged, leaving our view of the world colored forever. I know that happened to me.

“How did I know?”

Simply? Because I realized that I was far less trusting, far more bitter, and far more closed off. Not wanting to let anyone in. Fearing that the only thing I’d find for my effort was more abuse and pain. Yet, as bad and tragic as that mindset is, a tremendous empathy and compassion sprung up from the cracks in my heart that she left riddled in her wake. I’ve never given up in anything in life, so I knew that something good had to come of the gut-wrenching pain she put me through. I believe in my faith that my God needed me to learn from it.

“What was it then?”

I knew that my largest gift, the ability to care for and love others, was also my biggest weakness. I never learned to love myself, to care for myself. This experience has certainly left me in a more emotionally grounded state. One where I’ve learned to trust in my Lord, and to trust my own instincts. Never again rationalizing the hurts someone causes me.

Sadly, that’s also not a good thing for my future. One day, if I choose to let anyone in again, I will need to trust. I will need to drop my guard and close my eyes again. I do believe that there is a good person out there who will understand, or who’s experienced my pain. That empathy binds people together. But if it’s God’s will that someone claim my heart, I know I need to have faith that they won’t be like her..

I’d much rather be single, then suffer one more day of my life with someone incapable of loving someone the way God commands it.

“So that’s it then?”

Well, ironically, the beginning of the year I had made it a point to just let God bring someone to me, to focus on myself in earnest. It was actually a speaker who came into church (Dr. Henry Cloud) who gave a sermon to people in relationships, as well to single people, that convicted me to change my thoughts on it.

Check out this video clip from that day. It’s hilarious!
<-- The full link to the entire recording is here, for those who are interested in seeing what he said. It's truly worth the view.There's a saying I heard. We all have baggage we need to carry. The question is, will someone come along who's willing to help you carry it, and eventually unpack it?I have faith that I will one day allow myself to open my heart and be vulnerable again. If there's one take away over the last 18 months, it's this. I've been exposed, and gotten to know countless examples of women ten times greater then "she" ever could hope to be. It was just me, who was too afraid to open up to them. It wasn't my time yet.But now, I know

Life After Loss: What’s your random act of kindness?

homeless_coupleAs we celebrate Random Acts of Kindness week, here’s a story of my own that touched me.


Brokenness? What is it through the filter of your own life and experiences? Loss of a loved one? Issues at work? Family or relationship issues? Every single person who’s reading this can empathize with what I’m saying. That said, in our lives it’s always the people who’ve experienced the most brokenness who you find are the most caring and selfless.

I know I’ve been through my own journey which has fostered an extreme ability to show grace and love to others. It reminds me of a time not too long ago, while on a business trip to Seattle. I was there with several co-workers of mine, out getting some dinner after a long day at a client.

After dinner, we started walking back towards the cars when I walked past a homeless couple on a bridge. Both sitting Indian style, on a rug they had. A backpack they shared with some extra clothing, a bowl, a bottle of water, and some paintings they had sketched on what looked like an old thrown out sketch pad. The care taken to trim off the frayed edges of the salvaged sheets of paper, making as good a rectangle as they could. The man playing a guitar and singing. Streaks of dirt wiped near the back of their necks and cheeks; obvious they try and keep themselves clean as best they can. Making the most of the life given them with dignity and pride.

I looked at them as we walked by, and nodded. No blatant attempt at soliciting to me. Just an honest smile from her, and a nod from him as he kept playing and singing. But what honestly moved me is how, at the worst point of their lives, she just wrapped her arm around his, smiled, closed her eyes, and rested her head on his shoulder. Just enjoying the melody he was singing. Clearly, both stripped of everything they had, but what mattered was they had each other during this season of their lives.

About 50 yards later, I felt a tapping on my shoulder by the Holy Spirit, and a whisper in my head to go back and help them. I stopped our party, and said to hold on. I walked back, and patiently waited for him to finish his song.

I then said to them both: “You know.. in a world where so much is taken for granted, divorce is at its highest, and we just selfishly destroy everything that’s good in our lives; here you both are. Together, happy, and clearly content to weather whatever challenge God has for you both. Thank you for giving me faith and being an inspiration. God bless you both!”.

With that, I put $100 in that bowl and started to turn and walk away. They both just gasped and started profusely thanking me, asking me if I’d like a painting, or if he can sing a song for me. I just looked at them, smiled, and said “You already gave me a gift that you can’t put a price on. Blessings!”.

What was that gift? To remember and never take for granted the grace a complete stranger showed me when I was broken; never forgetting how something as simple as a smile, at the right moment, can turn someone’s life around forever.



Life After Loss: “Why?” ..or is it “What?”

James, the brother of Christ himself, understood what it was to live in a broken world full of heartache and loss. James 1:2-4 - James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James, the brother of Christ himself, understood what it was to live in a broken world full of heartache and loss.
James 1:2-4 – James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

A table leader once told me a proverb that has stuck with me for years.

“Bitterness; it’s like drinking rat poison, waiting for the other person to die.”

Profound, isn’t it? When you really get out of that “ICU” phase in your grief, where you are constantly being talked off the ledge, or continuously finding yourself needing intervention from others to keep you from withdrawing further and further into your shell, you need to do a health check.

The “Why” factor:

Do you find yourself constantly asking “Why?”? Well, being a student of Psychology and Sociology I’m no longer naive enough to think EVERYONE has that capacity for emotion and empathy. Some are simply so detached and aloof in their own psyche that their superego can command them to move on… because they never held on in the first place. Then you have others, like me, like the person I wrote about in the last entry I posted, who’s basic fear is of not being lovable. Our superegos command us to try and hold onto anyone that brought us that feeling of warmth into our lives, for fear we will never find it again.. But I digress, I can have a whole other conversation about my E(I)SFJ and Enneagram type 2w3 personality. I say E(I) because I’m a 60/40 Extro/Introvert split. So both ESFJ and ISFJ types personify in me. Google em. Pretty cool stuff.

So “Why?”? Know people who have gone through trials and were horribly broken? EVERYONE goes through the “WHY?” phase. But do you know people who’ve gone through some terrible heartache; a loss, divorce, a bad breakup.. and months, years, decades later, they never got past the “WHY?!” phase? So engrossed in their pain; every meeting is like them hitting play on a pre-recorded message of how they suffered.. and no matter how many times you’ve heard it, that’s all you get from them.

I realized I was like that for months. That’s OK though. Everyone is allowed to be the victim. The question is, are you going to remain a victim, or become the conqueror? Notice, I didn’t say survivor. That implies status quo. I intend to transcend that. More on that in a minute.

"Crisis"  In Chinese it's comprised of two characters.  One meaning "Danger" the other "Opportunity".  Fitting, isn't it?

“Crisis” In Chinese it’s comprised of two characters. One meaning “Danger” the other “Opportunity”. Fitting, isn’t it?

Look at the above. It’s not “Danger” and “Survival”, it’s “Danger” and “Opportunity”. To win, to succeed, to overcome and persevere.

Trials are inevitable. They also tend to make us or break us, especially if you remain the victim. Your soul sours so horribly, that it forever changes you.

Going through my own divorce, before the hell that was my last relationship (see… I still do it.. playing the victim), I always found myself struggling with some of the decisions I’d see concerning my children. Just, things you are powerless over controlling. That begs the question, just what CAN you control?

Simply, your attitude.

Reminds me of a night last summer. At our local summer festival. For background, I’m a photographer. Not much I haven’t shot in my life. The camera lives in my hand. So, I was shooting a great local band I love. I remember, walking up to the stage in the table area, focusing and concentrating on how I planned on framing the shot when I just walked right past someone (literally a foot away, on my left), and I froze in place, two steps later.

I had just walked right past my ex and a guy she was dating. This, mind you, is all of 3 months after a very tragic breakup, and literally a week or so after I finally realized I needed to walk away from what she was doing to me ( <-- See Life After Loss: ...depression).The “What” factor:

I stopped… she stopped.. I could just FEEL the gaze piercing my heart. I had a choice. What I WANTED to do was to turn around and say the most unthinkable things to her and him. But nothing could come of it. So I looked forward, literally and figuratively, and started walking towards that stage.

What else can you do to conquer your grief? Well, you need to endure. You need to ask yourself the question “What do I need RIGHT NOW, at this VERY second?”.

Then finally, as opposed to asking the question “Why?”. You should start looking to God and consider the following.

“Lord, you are all knowing, all powerful, and all merciful. I know you didn’t fall asleep in the last season of my life, so I know you enabled or endorsed what just happened to me. So then tell me Lord, what would you have these hands do, and what would you have me gain to help me become a better person though this experience?”

Let’s close, going full circle. We don’t have to go to far in God’s word to understand how to deal with loss and pain and brokenness.

The entire New Testament was written during a political and spiritual powder keg. Just look at the caption on the first image. Then remember, that people like Jesus, Paul, and Peter; who are shining examples of the devout image of our Lord God for us, suffered innumerably in their life times.

Brokenness is inevitable. God does have a plan to redeem this and every difficult experience. He promises whatever painful ordeal you go through, the pain will not be wasted. He will leverage your pain, transforming anger into acceptance, guilt into surrender, and fear into peace.


Life After Loss: The Journey of Grief

Like the Titan Atlas, some try and carry the burden of their grief on their own shoulders.  More often than not, with catastrophic results.

Like the Titan Atlas, some try and carry the burden of their grief on their own shoulders. More often than not, with catastrophic results.

Déjà vu.. Ever have those moments? I’m a firm believer that God brings people into our lives for his purpose with us. Whether for a season, or for your lifetime, the fact remains that we all have lessons to learn or a role to fulfill in each others lives.

Last night was the start of our winter session in Life After Loss. There were some familiar faces who sat at my table, and some new ones. In particular, one person who sat right next to me touched me to the point of my eyes glassing over. My heart absolutely broke for him when he talked about the end of his marriage and described how he’s spent the last 2 years broken, continuously punishing himself. Blaming himself, as if he should have done more to save it.

But why did my heart break? Because I could relate to him. Everything was blamed on him. Even when it was clearly her, she spun it to always make it his fault. Their lives were something to envy in the public eye, but behind closed doors she was anything but. He never knew when to expect her to fly off the handle; and yet, out of no where she could be touching, only to smash him a second later, yet again. He missed her greatly, willing to do anything to see her smile one more time, rationalizing the pain she put him through for over 7 years. He carries the guilt of what the experience is doing to their three children, because he came from a broken family and remembered what it did to him.

A Man who walks with his heart on his sleeve, and only ever wants to see the good in others and be happy. Yet has gone through his life being abused and taken advantage of.

Like Atlas, carrying the weight of the failures in his heart to the point of being lost, lonely, and destroyed. Those who read my blog last season know of my ability to recall, and this was something that just kicked me right back down the rabbit hole of my own depression. Recalling how in the not so distant past, I was that man, telling his own tale of abuse, the same tears, the same silence at the table. Just that this time, I’m armed with the knowledge and the skills to understand how I hurt; using my reflexes to catch myself before I tumble down the rabbit hole. Still staring into it as I listen to him, but still able to pull myself back up after.

Viewed as a journey, your grief can be a vehicle that frees you of the shackles of your burden of loss.

Viewed as a journey, your grief can be a vehicle that frees you of the shackles of your burden of loss.

I’m a big car guy.. and as a result can spend hours in a car with no destination in mind. Just “being”.. not “doing”. In those thousands of hours driving around, I’ve had ample opportunity to observe others. You can tell those who are also on a journey of exploration, and then those who have a destination in mind.

The latter are the ones who are just heading to a destination. Those are the ones who get irritated at traffic, and at every yellow light they fail to get through. Those are the ones who’s conversations in the car are always about how irritated they are at everyone else; thinking of themselves.

The former are those who are enjoying the view along the way. They don’t care how long it takes; heck.. they take the scenic route. Conversations are light, and about stimulating topics. When they arrive at their destination, everyone is relaxed, enlightened, and in good spirits.

The grief journey is no different. You can sit there and rush from day to day, ignoring the festering wound that is never getting any better. Or stop, face it, work through the journey of grief with various stops along the way, and get to the end a better person. Though it’s unnatural to consider pain your friend, the pain is simply signalling your soul that something is wrong. “I’m broken, please help me!” When you cut yourself, you don’t just sit there, bleeding. You address it and care for that wound. Your heart and soul need the same care. “Getting it out”, talking about it or writing about it is a great way to start to clean the wound in your heart and soul.

There’s a good verse in scripture very metaphoric to the Atlas reference above.

Isaiah 41:10 - Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not Anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Let the Lord carry the weight of you burden. When you set the world at his feet and give it to him, you’ll find peace with Him at your side.


Life 3.0: Men.. For 30 days, we Mo’d.

December 1st, 2014 - A few flicks of a razor later..  Movember will have to wait till 11/01/2015.

December 1st, 2014 – A few flicks of a razor later.. Movember will have to wait till 11/01/2015.

Pretty clean cut and shaved, don’t you think? Well, that’s this morning. But let’s back up 30 minutes before and I looked completely different.

For the last 30 days Men across the world used November as their month to draw attention and awareness to Men’s health issues. Several organizations honor it in some capacity or another. NBC loves their “No Shave November”. But where I first heard of it, and as far as I know where it started, was in the land down under. “Movember” is a spin on the Australian slang for a mustache, a “Mo“, and the month of November.

December 1st, 2014 - Yes... I feel weird with a 'stache.

December 1st, 2014 – Yes… I feel weird with a ‘stache.

The rules of Movember are simple.

1: On November 1st, each “Mo Bro” must begin with a clean shaven face.

2: For the entire month of November, each Mo Bro must grow and groom a mustache.

3: Don’t fake it.. No beards, goatees, or fake mustaches.

4: Use the power of the mustache to create conversation about Men’s health issues and to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and Men’s health issues.

5: Each Mo Bro must conduct himself like a true gentleman.


November 22nd, 2014

November 22nd, 2014

LOL… I’ll be honest, after 30 days it was pretty funny how many “Ron Jeremy” jokes I was getting (and if you don’t know who he is, you’re better off I’m sure.. 😉 heh). But, it got the job done. I was having conversations with strangers, family, friends, co-workers. All because it just wasn’t natural for Jorge to have a ‘stache. Mission accomplished.

On Facebook, for example, I would post weekly pictures of my ‘stache’s progress (like a real life Chia-Pet 🙂 !). I also would post facts about men’s health that were pretty humbling.

I personally champion Men’s mental health issues. Having been something very close to me, personally, in the last 13 months of my life, it was natural to jump into advocating and educating on it. Here are just some of the sad facts.

November 8th, 2014

November 8th, 2014

Movember: Day 8

Did you know that 15 million American Adults (6.7% of the populous) are diagnosed with depression each year? Of those, more than four times as many Men die by suicide in the United States!

Case in point: in 2010, a total of 38,364 Americans died by suicide, and over 3/4 (79%) of these suicides were Men.

So be nice to us, girls... We hurt just as bad, if not worse (social pressures to be tough) then you do.

Here’s another one..

Movember - Day 15

A few stats about Men's health:

-1 in 7 Men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

-Nearly half of all testicular cancer cases are among Men between the ages of 20 and 34.

-A Man's risk of dying from testicular cancer is about 1 in 5,000.

-Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults every year.

-About 60 percent of prostate cancer cases are in Men age 65 or older.

-Men are significantly more likely to commit suicide than Women. <-- Still dear to my heart, understanding full well what hitting rock bottom feels like.

The feedback and conversation generated has been priceless. Plus it continues to edify and empower me to see how people talk about sobering facts like the above and how it relates to my own personal story of the last several years.

As always, I'm here to answer any questions anyone may have. I'm getting better at responding to all the emails. Thank you again for all your support.


Life After Loss: The Holidays…

Christmas Day - 2011

Christmas Day – 2011

It’s funny.. I should take it as flattery that I’ve had a few people bug me already on where this week’s article is. Honestly? If you twist my arm right now and make me cry “uncle”, I’ve simply been afraid..

..afraid of the cost of writing it.

Afraid of what you ask? Here’s a word picture for you.

Imagine that blockbuster suspense movie you and your friends couldn’t wait to see. That scene where the survivors have barricaded themselves in the only safe place they can control. But, then they realize that they need to leave the safety of that haven they’ve built for themselves because they can’t stay there forever. In doing so, they will have to squarely face all the things that have haunted them up to that point. The things that have spent the entire movie trying to fight their way in.. Causing casualties here and there when an unsuspecting survivor was being careless and was dragged through a hole in the fence, or some other equally tragic circumstance. Now, they have to find courage they never knew they had… cause if they don’t, they’ll die slowly in the prison they created for themselves.


We can’t barricade ourselves in our mind. But, I’ll come back to that in a bit. Let’s keep going.

Ironically, I knew I was going to write about ways to cope with this time of year, even before it was the topic during our last week of discussion at Church.

Death, divorce, abuse, abandonment.. All of them leave you feeling stripped, violated, empty.

The Apostle Paul understood this. Near the end of his own life, he was all but abandoned and stripped of the things most dear to him. His son in the faith, Timothy, was one of them.

2 Timothy 1:3-4“Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I might be filled with joy”

This below will resonate to those who’ve suffered divorce or abuse.. When even (as wrong as it is) the hand or your abuser or ex spouse still brings you comfort.

2 Timothy 4:16“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me”

Memory is a great blessing—and can be a great curse. The memory of relatives separated from us by death, divorce, or distance is a legitimate source of great pain and a legitimate reason to hurt. As you read about last week, my ability to recall memories make it doubly so.

But, just keep reading one more verse…

2 Timothy 4:17“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength”

So what does this all mean? It’s OK to grieve. Give yourself permission to. But then you ask how this helps you with the pain. Walk with me, let’s unpack some thoughts and suggestions.

Thanksgiving - 2008

Thanksgiving – 2008

Paul wrote once that he “despaired even of life” and “felt the sentence of death” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). But Paul also knew and believed, “This happened to us that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).

Jesus, forsaken by His Father because of our sin, was raised from the dead by His Father.

While certain things have seasons that need to end (like an abusive relationship), hope and redemption aren’t things that should die in your heart. It’s possible to hope because our God is the God who raises the dead.

If you believe that, in faith, you’ll believe that he can resurrect your hope.

Here are 10 wonderful tools, tips, and ideas we unpacked this week:

1: Create a PLAN

Use Thanksgiving as an example. Dinner with a friend, volunteering at your church, dinner with family. Have a destination… start with that, and keep reading.


If you are neck deep in the grief process, don’t be afraid to say no to any sort of obligation someone may try and put on you. Hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas at your house and being asked to make the bird of honor may not be the best idea. Especially if you’re having a hard enough time finding the car keys in the morning. Don’t be afraid to simply say “no”.

3: Develop REALISTIC expectations

In being selfish, you (and you alone) have a choice on whether you want to enable a situation that may bring discomfort (if an Ex was invited over by family, etc). If so, communicate to those that matter where you’re at, what you’re feeling, and develop safe boundaries for yourself.

4: Expect POWERFUL emotions

For me, the next 60 days are plagued with powerful “traditions” that are haunting me even writing this. Birthdays to children I love who I’ll never see laugh or smile again. Friends and family I won’t be laughing with, comparing craft beers with, or watching play poker or darts. Traditions of being up all night putting out gifts for the kids who will wake in a few hours; eager to be called to the tree.

And more…

5: Remember the PAST traditions

It’s in a tremendous moment of God given peace that I was able to type the above. I just spent the last 10 minutes, sitting at this keyboard, just visualizing… Remembering the scent of waffles being made Christmas morning, the sound of Redi-Whip cans emptying out at the breakfast table. The scent of turkey stock simmering for hours from what was left over of the bird on Thanksgiving. The sounds of multiple “Happy Birthday” songs being sung, and the very distinct way those who’d celebrate those birthdays uniquely reacted to getting the “one” gift they really wanted.

…I’m actually sincerely smiling right now. 🙂 It may hurt in 5 minutes. But, for the moment, I’m going to live in the memories of those children. How I love and miss them.

6: Acknowledge your PRESENT situation

But, now it’s time to acknowledge that (for me) the above (as great as it was) has passed. It’s not the life God wanted me to have. But I’ll cherish certain moments forever. Now, I have to acknowledge the very real fact that I am a recovering abuse survivor (physical and psychological).

I’m still broken.

I’m very open with my story, and any one who wants to get close to me reads this very blog and understands that. My present situation is that the holidays are loaded with old memories and traditions. My goal and focus in my present is to create new memories and traditions. That, all leads back to *MY* plan for the holidays. I need to remember certain memories, but I also need to rewrite others in my mind. So that means un-barricading the door, and assaulting these memories with eyes wide open.

7: Create NEW/FUTURE traditions

Christmas Eve - 2004 - A very different me, with my 4 month old little pain in my butt!

Christmas Eve – 2004 – A very different me, with my 4 month old little pain in my butt!

As part of your plan, have new things you want to do this year. Try a variety of things. Expose yourself to new things! You never know, you may find yourself looking forward to reliving it again the following year!

Here’s one example I’m doing this year: My kids and I had discovered this little ceramic shop about 10 minutes away. We enjoyed picking out our pottery one day, spending the afternoon glazing them, and then getting lunch after. I like the idea of going out on Black Friday, doing a new ornament each year, and then having it fired and hung on the tree. Each year, when we put our tree up, we’ll be able to have a story to tell through each ornament.

8: Find safe PEOPLE and safe PLACES

Inevitably, someone’s going to want to talk about “it”. Whatever “it” is for you. Your loss, your pain, etc. Make sure you are surrounded by those who will be kind and compassionate.

I write that, but I want you (as I need to myself) to remember, that it’s not a bad thing to talk about what we’ve lost. If anything, bringing it to light, and the memories behind the individual will help you heal. Remembering what a loved one you lost would have been doing at a funny situation happening in front of you. Or, remembering some little limerick they’d always respond with when “A Christmas Story” was on it’s 16th re-run of the day.

9: Give yourself permission to do HEALTHY HIDING

In short.. Don’t be afraid to cut the night off. I’m an extremely outgoing individual (Extrovert to my core). But, remember that healing through grief consumes tremendous amounts of spiritual and emotional energy. Even I (as is testimony to what I’m doing right now) need a quiet night to myself. Quite a few offers of things I could be doing right now. Instead, what do I do? I’m here pouring my heart and thoughts out for you. 🙂 LOL!

When you’ve felt you need some quiet, “Be Selfish” and take your leave.

10: Be aware of the MEANING of the holidays.

At the end of the day, it’s just that… a day. Don’t let a label placed on a day stall your healing and forward progress, all because you want to live in that moment one more time.

It’s just a day. Treat it like yesterday, and treat it like tomorrow.

As I’ve said before: “This too shall pass..”