Healthy Eating Makes for Healthy Living

blogentry_michaelI was not known to really be a cook while I was growing up. My mother and father were always the ones cooking for me and I really didn’t learn how to do anything except bake muffins when I was a child. That slowly changed when I started college and especially when I met KristaRose. She’s always been a great cook and to this day I’m still kind of baffled that she can just take whatever items are out there and create great. I think it probably comes from experience and probably she picked it up from Mom and Dad.

In any case, I started to learn to cook a few items in college. Mostly around baking more items but I also learned how to cook some Filipino food. Lumpia, Pancit, Adobo, those were all staples of date nights that we would have from time to time. Then I guess I sort of regressed once I got out of college and was living on my own in Chicago. It was hard to really cook for one person and almost impossible in my first apartment. Let me tell you, that first apartment I moved into was a complete mess! I had bug problems all the time and I still remember just the sheer number of small little roaches that kept appearing even after having the landlords come in and spray. Anyway, to say the least, that deterred me from really cooking. My second apartment that was in Arlington Heights on the other hand had a nice kitchen with a nice island countertop. I did do more cooking but I think I relied too much on frozen TV dinners still.

Fast forward to the present and now the need to cook most meals is more evident than ever. KristaRose has a lot of allergies and we have been trying our best to avoid them. The biggest one and really the hardest one to avoid is corn. Think of everything that has some form of corn in it. It could be corn flour, corn syrup, corn starch or just plain pieces of corn. It’s everywhere! When you go and eat out, you will find that corn is almost in every single item that you eat. To avoid this, we tend to cook and eat at home more often. It’s easier and it leads to less reactions for her which is always a good thing.

Now even when we got to South Bend, I was still not an expert cook. I knew how to cook spaghetti pretty well. I also did a mean bowl of cereal. Slowly though I started to experiment with other items. I would buy just some plain chicken thighs from the grocery store and mix it with various herbs and spices. I learned that it’s pretty easy to just get some garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and olive oil and slap it onto the chicken and bake or fry it. It creates an easy meal that doesn’t take too long and you can pair it with rice, couscous, veggies, you name it. The same can be done with steak. You don’t really have to throw in a ton of things and simplicity tends to be the key.

After discovering that, I started experimenting with other types of dishes. I’ve made chicken marsala and different types of stir fry that I must say can taste better than what you can get at a restaurant. I’ve also really gotten into making easy dishes for breakfast. A quiche is fairly easy to do if you prep it easily. Also, if you want to have a nice snack, stick slices of apples in croissant rolls and add some cinnamon sugar. It’s a healthier version than some of the pies you can get at stores and restaurants.

It’s especially easy nowadays to go on the internet and find some recipes matching what mood you are in. I find that eating home cooked meals is a lot healthier and it just somehow makes you feel better. I guess the worst part or the hardest part would be finding the time to do this. I have a weird schedule nowadays because of various appointments and how work is going. But I try to find time during the day to put something in the oven or on the stove and keep doing my work while food is cooking.

We started tracking what we eat on an app called MyFitnessPal. When I say we, I really mean KristaRose. I’m still not 100% there since I have a million things on my mind usually. It’s a great little app that allows you to enter in what you’ve eaten for the day and it has a huge database that’s populated by its users. You just select what you’ve eaten, what portions or serving size and voila. You can set your target goal calorie wise as well.

Something seems to be working because as of right now, I’ve lost a good 10-12 pounds and KristaRose has lost about 6-7 pounds. I’m hoping that if we continue this healthy trend of eating and I discipline myself to cook instead of eating out that we’ll continue to see these results and most importantly not see the weight come back. I think if maybe we can add some more exercise to the equation especially when Krista is feeling better, we might in turn feel a lot better and have more energy.

So really my ask to all the readers is to really take a look at your diet and see where you can make some improvements and take out a fast food meal here and there. Look into making simple dishes for yourself and watch the savings weight wise and on your pocketbook. I think you’ll be glad when you do!

Marriage Isn’t for Me

blogentry_michaelSociety has a problem. It’s been one that’s been developing for decades. There are more than a few movies that show the problems of marriage. They depict how it’s quite alright to have a divorce. It’s quite alright to just move on to the next person to find what you’re searching for. It’s a scary thought to me that it’s becoming the norm and is accepted. I think it’s because a person goes into a marriage thinking about the benefits of themselves. In reality, a marriage isn’t for me. It’s about the person I marry. It’s about the woman I love.

When I say society has a problem, maybe I’m generalizing it too much. There are plenty of couples that I know that have been happy and married for years. I only have to look towards many of our family members who are celebrating anniversaries of 20, 30, or even longer amounts of time. I’ve even had the great opportunity to be there for mom and dad’s 35th anniversary. What a wonderful thought that is isn’t it? To be married for so long and to see that love is not only still present but ever growing. It’s just a beautiful thing.

Even though I haven’t even been married for a year I’ve come to a conclusion that hopefully will help and guide me going forward.

Marriage isn’t for me.

I didn’t get married so that I would gain these wonderful benefits for myself. When I was up at the altar, I did not make vows to myself and that I would take care of myself and be selfish. I took a vow to take care of KristaRose. I took a vow to grow in love through the good and the bad. I took a vow to grow in love for Christ through my union with Krista. Nowhere in the celebration was it a congratulations or a pat on the back for me gaining anything. It makes me realize that I need to keep remembering that marriage isn’t for yourself, it’s for the one you love and most of all it’s for God.

Now I know that you might be thinking to yourself that hey wait a second, marriage can’t just be a one way street. You have to be able to have certain things that you like and be able to do certain activities that bring you joy and pleasure. That’s good and true but think about it this way… The person that you marry is supposed to be the one that will make you a better person. That person isn’t perfect. Every person is not perfect. But this one person that you have put a ring on is that person to help you grow. Your wife or your husband is going to be the one that wakes up everyday and learns about you and your tendencies. He or she is going to be the one that encourages you to keep doing the things you like to do and is going to make sure it makes you a better person.

I think a good example of this would be going bowling on Monday. I know that I made a blog post about it but it really is something special when Krista decides to take me bowling. She hasn’t been able to physically do bowling because of medical reasons but she knows just how much I love going and sat there and watched me as I played 5 games. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

Other things I can think of are the times that I’m not too much of a happy person on the road. She’s always there to make sure I calm down and see it from the other person’s perspective. She’s really showed me how to consider everyone that is around you and that sometimes if a person is having a bad day, that person can make a bad move on the road and you shouldn’t be penalized for it. Isn’t that a good lesson we should learn in life? If someone makes a mistake, we shouldn’t yell at them. We should learn why they might have made the mistake and then work with them if they need our help. It’s a refreshing attitude that the world desperately needs.

I think most of all, Krista has been able to help me back to a more spiritual path. It’s great to have lots of conversation and discussion. It’s also great that we are able to have our own prayer time that we have in the mornings and evenings. I think it really helps us to fulfill our role in getting closer to God. I think it was Manang Grace that introduced this concept to us. In a marriage, you really have a triangle where God is at the top and the husband and wife are on the bottom parts. The closer you get to God, the closer your relationship will be. What a wonderful concept that is and it’s something that I definitely believe in.

So back to where I started this post. I think the world is really suffering with an attention disorder. It seems most people are satisfied to find instant thrill and not settle down and find the people that will actually make a difference in your life. Marriage isn’t supposed to be a fleeting thrill. It is a lifelong commitment that no matter what happens, you are sticking by that person. No matter how hard it gets, no matter what sicknesses come along, you love that one person and by giving your all to them, you become the person you are meant to be as well. Keep in mind that if you find the right person, he or she will give their all to you as well. It’s not a one way street, but a symbiotic relationship that brings you closer to each other and more importantly closer to God.

Understanding People is Difficult

blogentry_michaelI’ve said many times in previous posts that the key to really developing good relationships and bonds with people is to make sure you understand them. It’s easier said than done because let’s face it, understanding people is difficult. Every single person has a different personality. Every single person has a different agenda. Every single person reacts differently to what you have to say and what you do.

The reason that this topic popped into my head this morning is because I received an invitation to a wedding this morning from one of my previous co-workers in India. I know that weddings in India are very big celebrations and many of them usually have thousands of guests. They actually make my wedding and the ones here in the US seem like very tame celebrations! This wasn’t the first invitation I’ve gotten from one of my Indian friends. It made me realize though that it took a lot of effort to get to this point.

When I first got out of my leadership rotational program at Nielsen, I still had just raw talent. I had the skills and techniques down that would get me to be successful but I didn’t really have the exposure to the global level yet that would help me really develop my communication skills. I will say that first 6 months or so after the program I struggled. I got more responsibilities and it really centered around getting our program delivered. It also involved talking a lot with our team in India and I just did not understand how they worked.

At many points during that time I thought to myself, man these guys just don’t know how to work. They don’t really communicate and give you what’s really going on. They tend to promise something and then not deliver. They aren’t being very responsive to me at all. It’s the most frustrating thing to experience as a project manager because the struggle is real and the pressure you feel from your boss is real. I struggled day in and day out because even the accents were really tough to decipher sometimes.

But slowly I started to realize that instead of being in the mindset of asking why they do the things they do, I started to focus on how they do the things that they do. There’s just a totally different mindset in their culture in how they approach their work. I find that a lot of the team does better if you give them more specific instructions on what to do. It’s not that they are dumb or stupid in any regard. In fact I’m sure that many of them are quite smarter than I am and their technical expertise just amazes me. They do require a more concrete plan though in order to achieve an objective. It actually helps me too in order to make sure I am covering everything.

I started to work more of their hours to be more available for problems that might arise. This one was a tough one because it meant waking up at all odd hours of the day. There was a period of time when I actually was up at 2am on Fridays and just worked into the early afternoon just so I can shift my schedule around for deployments. I think showing that dedication for working helped people to see that I genuinely cared and I was there to help them out. I wasn’t just that person that worked only US hours and called the shots from there.

I also got the chance to visit Chennai about four times in the span of two years. It was so much easier to connect with people when you saw them face to face. It was also another chance to show just how much you were invested in the project as well because I tended to pull 90+ hour weeks while over there.

I think the final way that I really started to understand the team is by getting to know them. By really caring about what they are saying and getting to know how their families are and what they dreamed of doing, I think it really helped to develop the relationship. Even sharing my experiences helps in that regard as well.

So circling back to the invitation I got today, I think it really is a sign of what you can really accomplish even if you don’t understand a person at first. Make a real effort to know who they are, what they want to do and how they think of life. This isn’t just applicable to your coworkers but to everyone else you know. Let down your prejudices and barriers and start to really feel what the other person feels. Try to listen and hear their struggles and understand how that may affect their life decisions. It’s hard enough going through this world with your own struggles. We don’t need to add communication problems with other people on that list!

Am I Making a Difference?

blogentry_michaelI think that one of the things that a lot of 20 and 30 something year olds suffer from are regrets and doubts that they are making a difference in the world. I don’t think it’s just me that thinks this but I had dreams of changing the world. They were grand dreams which included being able to build great websites and change people’s minds just by what I write. I would affect thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of people and I would make my place in the world that way.

Has it turned out that way? Sort of. Let me explain.

My grand dreams of accomplishing change on a great level or even a global level hasn’t really panned out that way. On a day to day basis my priorities remain to my great and loving wife and to my crazy but really loyal pup and of course to family, friends and work. It’s a life that many people have on a day to day basis and it’s not something to take that lightly. Working brings in the money that allows you to support your family. Sure it might not be something so grand, but it is something that makes a difference. Sometimes I forget this but as soon as I’m able to reflect a bit and think about things, I remember that every single day I make a difference.

I make a difference to my wife, KristaRose. I’m her rock and I’m there to make her laugh. I’m there to make sure she has all her medications. I’m there to have adventures with and to be crazy enough to just walk around a supermarket at 1AM. I’m there to love her and to hold her when things aren’t going too well. I’m there to make her a better person just as she’s here to make me a better person.

I make a difference to my puppy, Twix. If you think about it, dogs don’t have a lot to look forward to (in our eyes at least). They require attention from us and if you are willing to work on it and give your dog lots of love, you will have the most loyal pet in the world. Even if Twix is a little mischievous at times, he is still a great dog that will always come up to you and just wag his tail. He will be that dog that is so friendly to other people and pets that he literally gets disappointed and whines when he can’t greet someone. I’m there everyday for this dog to make sure he has food, water and his daily walks.

I make a difference to family and friends. I know that everyday even though I don’t have a high profile job and I don’t make the big bucks my family loves me and supports me. I feel it everyday in a text or posts on Facebook. I feel it in phone calls or letters. I feel it because there is something that makes me feel comforted every day that we have people watching over us.

I make a difference to the people at work. I know that sometimes work isn’t the most fun thing in life but I try to make everyday a better experience for the people I work with. It starts with being thankful for everything that is being done for me. It’s extended through all of the work that I do and how it helps others and it makes our whole team look good (I’ve had several great mini-projects that have been seen by senior leadership lately with great remarks).

And I think most of all I just make a difference everyday to strangers. Whether it’s opening a door for someone or offering to pay for items for someone in need or letting someone turn first on the road. Small things that you do every single day confirm the fact that I make a difference in this life.

So what does that mean for you? I think that everyday we get bogged down in life. Whether it’s work or other issues you may have in life, they just make us lose perspective everyday. Everyone has dreams that they want to achieve and many people want to make a difference. I just want everyone to know that in your own life, you are making a difference every single day. Even if you do one small thing, you’ve just made a difference. Build on this. Keep recognizing things that you do and keep doing them. Make it automatic in your life and keep trying to work towards your dreams. Always remember though, even if you aren’t achieving your big dreams now, you are making a difference and that’s always a step in the right direction.

Life’s Inspirations: Why Happiness Matters.

blogentry_michaelIf you think you can go through life without happiness, I think you are in for a rude surprise. It’s sometimes hard to grasp just how much happiness can really change our environment. I think we have to remember that every person can sense what kind of mood or attitude you have for the day and are consequently affected by it. If we are able to change our state of mind and have a constant flow of positive energy and legitimate happiness, we have a chance to really make a difference in the world.

I’ve found that happiness is not something that is easy to achieve. It is easily lost by the many distractions that life throws at you. It can be taken away by sudden events. It can be broken down day after day by an abusive source. If you let these distractions take a hold of you there’s no way that you can even have a good day.

For a long time I thought I had happiness. I thought I had a pretty positive attitude. I went through life and I had a smile on my face the majority of the time. Then came life. Once you go through deaths in the family and start having to pay for bills and loans and start worrying about so many things in life, you start to get overwhelmed. You start to feel like there’s nothing you can do and things are just going to fall apart. Once you have this mindset then you start not wanting to do anything at all. You start questioning what’s the use of doing your daily routine. Maybe you start asking yourself why would I want to surround myself with other people that are happy? They will just make me feel more miserable. Then it can start affecting work. You could start to feel that what you contribute to your team is not even worthwhile. Sometimes a single argument can be taken too personally and just drag your entire day down.

I think I went through some of this in the past few years. There was just so many things that held me prisoner. It did not help that the love of my life was thousands of miles away and it was hard to align our schedules sometimes. It didn’t help that I didn’t have too many friends where I lived (the friends that I did have around were awesome though and are my groomsmen now :D). I tended to only focus on the negatives and for that I think I suffered pretty badly.

It’s always hard to really understand another person’s problems and how badly they are going through it. But I think any person that is trapped and not feeling happy about where they are is pretty much in the same boat. Sure the problems might be different or it might be on a slightly different scale, but the fundamental problem is still there: You are not happy and it is affecting your life.

I think the big realization for me and the turning point was when KristaRose told me that it seemed that I had changed. It seemed like I did not smile anymore and she did not know what to do to make me happy.

That was a hard thing for me to swallow because here was the love of my life and I was making her sad because I was not happy. It was a great lesson to learn because how you are feeling really does affect others.

So I decided to make a change. I created this website in the hopes of it changing my thinking around. It did… sort of. My intentions were always good in creating this site but it doesn’t provide enough of what I needed to turn my thinking around. Posting my thoughts and posting motivational stories is good and therapeutic and definitely helps others but it doesn’t really attack my problem. What I needed to do was shift my mentality completely. Everytime something bad happened, I needed to remember a few things:

1. Whatever just happened was meant to happen.
2. What can I learn from what just happened?
3. God did not put something in my path that I could not handle.
4. Don’t ask or hope the obstacle is removed, pray for the strength and courage to tackle it head on.

Whenever I think of these things, my mind automatically shifts from negative thoughts to positives ones. I start to think of the possibilities of what just happened. What can I learn? Can I teach others to not make that mistake? There’s also that great mystery of asking God why it happened. We can speculate all the time and think we logically know. But in the end we really don’t but that’s what makes it so great. Life is just full of surprising things and something bad may eventually turn into something good and that might be what God intends.

So really I think I can thank KristaRose for making me realize why happiness matters. It affects everyone around you. For me, the most important thing is that it affects her. I have noticed that with her illnesses when they first started we were both filled with fear and anxiety. We didn’t know what was going on and so both of us really weren’t too happy most of the time. However, the more I thought about it and prayed about it the more I understood that maybe this is our battle we just have to go through. It has been put here and we just need to keep praying for the strength to tackle it. There’s no wishing it will go away. In my opinion, the strength I need is in my smile. It’s in the small little things that I do for her. It’s in the random dancing I do in stores that play 80’s and 90’s music. It’s in the way that I can endlessly rhyme lines to the point where I’m told to just shut up. It’s in the way that I can look at her and just be in awe of how she has all of this going on and yet still gives 110% in her life to everything she does.

This is what happiness is. This is why it matters to me.

Are you making your life worth living?

blogentry_michaelHopes and dreams. Our life is full of them. At different stages of our lives we decide we want to do a particular activity or achieve a lofty goal. The problem is that many times in life we feel that we are inadequate and that we fall short of what we want to achieve. Take every new year’s for example. The tradition is to create resolutions for the year that will inspire us to be a better person for the rest of the year. How many times do we create a goal that is pretty hard to achieve (at least for our own selves) and end up quitting on it a few months into the year? These goals are often influenced by what happens in life. We set goals and then lose focus because of big life events. I think I’ve set many a goal to have it fall flat within the first month. Upon thinking about resolutions and hopes and dreams I’ve decided that I really shouldn’t just set goals at the beginning of a year, I should be setting achievable goals every day to ensure that I make my life one worth living.

It’s hard to make a decent living in life and make enough money to support your family while trying to pursue your goals. However, it’s the very thing that we need to strive to do. If we aren’t happy with our lives it starts to drain us in many ways whether it’s with family, friends, or even your own health. It was a realization that I had a couple of years ago but I have just recently made a big effort to correct. I have always been a hard worker. I know the importance of education and having a job that pays you well. That was my focus for awhile because that’s what you have to do sometimes. If you build a great foundation first, it will pay great dividends in the end. However, as the years passed something still was missing. KristaRose was the first to point it out that I really wasn’t that happy.. that I wasn’t really living my life and letting life control me. It was something that was hard to admit or to even realize. I mean when you hit a point where you’re not happy, it’s just not a pleasant thing. I knew from them I had lost myself a bit.

I had lost the ability to laugh and to joke around consistently. I had eaten out almost everyday. I did the same routine day after day: wake up, walk Twix, get ready for work, work, eat lunch at my desk while I kept working, come home late from work, call KristaRose and see how she was doing, play around a bit with Twix, play some videogames, sleep and then start all over. This routine was not that satisfying because it was the same thing day after day. There was no variety. I didn’t feel like I was really living.

It all started to change when KristaRose got a job at Notre Dame. Because my job was flexible I was able to move and follow her to South Bend. We were lucky to always get apartments that were not far from each other. Life started to slowly get better. Being in the same location as your significant other makes a world of difference than talking on the phone everyday. You’re able to go on dates. You’re able to walk around the mall. You’re able to have videogame marathons until 5 in the morning. Trust me, the process took time and even with the move it was slow.

About a year ago, my job I again started to work long hours as I got sucked into everything that was out there. I was turning in 60-70 hour weeks consistently and with the work load that KristaRose had with her new job, it was difficult at times too. Life was better but was starting to go down the same road.

Then in May, KristaRose was diagnosed with what was the first of many different autoimmune diseases. It was a wake up call for both of us. I would even call it a bit of a blessing in disguise because from then on, I realized I needed to do better. I needed to take more time to make sure she got better. I needed to make sure we lived life as much as we can. It was something we needed in order to keep the fight alive. It was something that we needed to do with the sad news and the struggles that were to come.

I can’t say that I am completely there but I’ve made an active decision to make life happier. I think you can ask KristaRose, my smile has returned a lot more. I’ve gone back to my routine of randomly dancing in grocery stores (yes I am weird). I’m often rhyming to every statement that is made. As KristaRose puts it, she knows when I’m in a good mood when I’m doing these things. I think we’ve been able to figure out our schedules where I’ve scaled back on purpose in order to be there for her appointments and just to hang out with her. I’ve even had the ability to play videogames consistently to relax in the evenings (I’m working on trying not to play until 2AM though!). As I type right now, we have Susan visiting us from California and I was able to take vacation so that we can all chill. We’ve played videogames, eaten great food and have just enjoyed life. That is what it really is to live life. Enjoy the people you have and the things around you.

I can say at this moment that life is worth living. It’s full of exciting twists and turns. There are unexpected big events like medical conditions and job changes. But there are many smaller events that help add to the joys of life. Enjoy the times you can go to a restaurant with someone. Enjoy going bowling or mini golfing. Enjoy waking up and seeing snow outside your window. I think we all have to remember that while the big things like a job are important, there are other important priorities. Make sure you know what they are and take care of them. That will play a big part in making your life more fulfilling.

~The Lermz

If you believe in good intentions, the world becomes a better place

It’s difficult in this world to stay positive. It seems like almost every news story that is out there is meant to capture your attention. The best way to really capture your attention is to sensationalize things and to bring out gossip or the worst in situations. It’s a very sad thing to see because this world is full of good stories. Each and every one of us has many good stories that if shared, would really light up the world that much more. I think a big part of the problem is that a lot of us don’t believe in the good intentions of people anymore. A lot of these stories that the media produces, they are aimed at showing you that a certain person or group has done a bad thing or is out to embarrass themselves. Sometimes with these stories you may even feel that you’re so much better than what is happening in the article or story and that drives you to keep reading these kinds of articles. I personally think it’s a bit sad though because if you fall into this group that likes reading sensationalized articles you start to lose what I believe God wants us to be: good people with good intentions. I personally believe that everyone has good intentions and that we as a society should focus on those positive intentions to make the world a better place.

Sure it seems a bit naive to make the statement that I just made. I’m sure there will be people that question it and say that the world is not all full of good and you need to guard yourself against everything in order to protect yourself and your family. This certainly is a valid way of thinking but let me relay a time in the past that illustrates that not everyone was out to do bad things. Tita Rose and Tito Jun were talking about a time in their hometown in the Philippines where people openly helped each other out. There were many people that just played out in the street. Children would play all the way until it got dark. Neighbors would be welcome to go to another neighbor’s house and sit down and have a meal. They would not even have to ask beforehand, they literally could just show up and there would just be happiness that you could share what you had with others in the community. When a person needed to move their house (the houses I’m talking about were kind of like huts and are able to be moved if many people help lift it), people from the community would come help move the house to wherever it needed to go. Imagine it, many people, even strangers putting a house on their shoulders and lifting it to another area. I never grew up with that but it must have been a great sight to see. When the moving was done, there would be a great feast as a thank you for the help. However, now in the Philippines this camaraderie is not as strong anymore. There is no gathering of people to move houses. You now can pay others and they will go and do it for you. It’s not quite the same though because strangers or community members aren’t the first ones that hop at an opportunity to help out.

When you look at this story, you can see that people were full of good intentions. They did work and didn’t expect much pay before. You might get a meal out of it but the main point was that you were going to help people out because it was the right thing to do. Contrast that to now where it’s more like you have to pay others to get something done. It’s kind of a different picture isn’t it?

How many of us now lock our doors every night for fear that someone will come in and either take our stuff or harm us while we are sleeping? I think the answer would be almost everyone. If you can believe, there was a time when many people didn’t actually lock their doors. They would leave them open and did not fear people doing any bad things to them. My question is what happened to those days? When did we all of the sudden become fixated that the world is out to get us? Why can’t we believe in people’s good intentions?

Another recent example I’ve seen where people automatically get skeptical is with the story about Manti Te’o. If you don’t know him, he was the star linebacker for the Notre Dame football team for the past four years. This year there was a particularly interesting storyline because midway through the season both his grandmother and his girlfriend passed away in the same week. This led to an inspiring season where Te’o played through the adversity and led the Notre Dame team to a 12-0 record. The very sad part of the story is that it came out that Te’o’s girlfriend was a hoax and never existed. It was a story that was first published by Deadspin and it went viral. After that initial posting it was put up on every major news outlet and even made it internationally as well. A lot of people automatically think that Te’o was a part of the hoax and used it just to boost his chances at winning the Heisman. What possessed people to automatically jump to that conclusion? Do people really not believe in this kid’s good intentions? He did so much good during his four years at Notre Dame not only for the school or on the field but in the community as well. He visited people he didn’t even know in hospitals in learning that they were his fan. He had countless amount of stories where he was genuinely a good person. Yet society automatically thinks the worst and takes hits at him like one baseball team doing a promotion for Te’o’s girlfriend by giving the first 1000 people empty bobblehead boxes that represent who she was. It’s something that’s really unnecessary and does not help anyone out in this world. I feel for Te’o because I think that this whole situation brought a lot of negative attention to him when he genuinely is a good person. If more people actually believed in good intentions, this would be a non story or just a very sad one since he still was tricked. Instead it has become a joke to many and brings a lot of negative comments on the Internet.

I think my point in writing about this topic today is that I think the world is lacking in wanting to believe the good in people. I think we’ve been trained to only focus on the bad things and I think it comes partially because we are attracted to that naturally and partially because I think the media has led us down that path. I think we should always believe in the good intentions of people. I believe we should always be looking to do good for others around us. I believe we can have a world where we hear more about good stories and we actually experience more good stories as well. This is why I keep this blog and I try to write and share good stories and images as much as I can. I feel like we can make at least a corner of the Internet a little better. I feel that we can make a few people see something that makes them smile or helps them have a better day. I know it’s a small effort but I hope others can see the good intentions we have here at Motivate2Inspire and helps pass it along to others.

~The Lermz

Where is Thanksgiving going?

blogentry_michaelThe holiday season in the United States is usually full of joy and happiness as family members get together for several holidays. Sometimes you haven’t seen family members for a full year. Regardless, these times are supposed to be great times for us to spend some much needed time together and just reflect on what we have in our lives. A disturbing trend that I have been noticing is the fact that retail stores seem to be creeping closer and closer to Thanksgiving. I had observed this phenomena the past few years as the hours of the stores slowly crept earlier and earlier. Instead of 6 am openings, stores planned on being open starting at midnight on Friday. Then came the addition of Cyber Monday where you catch great deals online on the Monday after Thanksgiving. This year is the first time that I have heard of stores opening up on the Thursday of Thanksgiving in order to generate sales. My question to all of this is Where is Thanksgiving going?

In all of the short 25 years I have lived, I have spent Thanksgiving around family and friends. I have spent countless hours preparing meals. I remember growing up, we would make it a point to have Thanksgiving as one of our bigger meals of the year. Even though there was only three of us, we would always cook so much food. There was turkey, cornbread, cranberry jelly, stuffing, gravy. We would get a pumpkin pie from HEB and enjoy a great day of giving thanks for each other and having the time to spend. I didn’t understand how valuable that time was when I was growing up. It wasn’t until I reflected back that I realized just how special those occasions were.

Then there were the times that I was away from home but still celebrated around friends. One year I helped out with the Asian American Association Thanksgiving dinner. A group of us worked hard during the morning and afternoon to prepare a meal that we opened up to anyone to come to. It wasn’t just for the Asian community, it was for everyone on campus. The times that I participated we definitely had more people show up than we expected to.

Then there were the past couple of years where I have been able to celebrate it with KristaRose. She makes fantastic food. When I say fantastic, I mean absolutely fantastic. There was one year that we invited many people to her small apartment at Turtle Creek and we cooked up quite a feast using her small kitchen. It is in my memory still one of the best Thanksgivings I’ve had because we were surrounded by those who really loved us and enjoyed spending time with us.

With these warm memories, I get concerned when I hear that Black Friday is now going to be on Thanksgiving. I think of all of the people working at those retail stores that won’t be able to spend it with family and friends. Instead they will have to work all day to satisfy many consumers looking for good deals. I feel bad for those who want to spend time with family members but they instead go shopping for those deals instead. i think the pursuit of getting the most market share and getting the most profit is destroying family life.

Even with this opinion, I will still try to look at possible positives that do come out from these early sales. They do help individuals who choose to work and get money on Thanksgiving day. These sales do give the opportunity for willing individuals to get some extra cash that they wouldn’t have been able to get. The sales also do give a boost to the economy and businesses will get profit so that they can satisfy their shareholders. These are definite benefits and to be fair in this picture, should be considered.

However, my main concern is the family aspect. I think it is important to have that during Thanksgiving. It truly defines why we have Thanksgiving in the first place. We are supposed to be thankful for the things that we have in our lives and spend the time with those that we love. We’re supposed to eat a lot of food and probably gain some pounds we’ll have to lose at some point. We’re supposed to watch football and just relax during the day. We’re supposed to grow with those around us and enjoy their company. I just don’t see these sales and moving up Black Friday as really helping us achieve the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

Even with the media blast that we will be getting about the sales I ask that everyone who reads this to consider what Thanksgiving means to you. Is family really important to you? If it is, I would hope that you ignore the sales and spend time with your family. Keep the spirit of Thanksgiving alive. Give thanks. Spend time with family and friends. Eat a lot of turkey!

~The Lermz

Happy Veterans Day

blogentry_michaelEveryday, there are brave soldiers that defend our country. They come from every state in our great country. They come from every race, every color, every conceivable background you would want to portion individuals into. These brave men and women risk their lives on a daily basis to defend our country. They go into hostile environments and help spread liberty to others who may not have the opportunity to experience it. They stay here within our country and strengthen our own defenses against possible attacks. They develop great programs that continue to evolve our technologies. Many of our own soldiers are called in during natural disasters too like when Hurricane Sandy hit. These are the individuals keeping us safe and they deserve to be recognized today.

It is a special day for me to reflect as well because my father was also a proud Veteran of our military. He served 20+ years in the Navy and dedicated his life towards the discipline that comes with the job. There was never a moment that my dad was not proud of what he did.

I just can’t imagine life without these Veterans and what they do to protect us. They don’t ask for much from society. They just go about their day because it is their job to protect the nation. So to all the veterans out there, I humbly salute you for all the work you do for us. Thank you for keeping us safe!