Your status will be changed to “Dismissed” on July 17, 2012……

June 3, 2012

On July 17, 2006, I was admitted to a doctoral program at Nova Southeastern University.  At that point in my life I was winding down my lobbying business and was a finalist for a “C” level role at a prominent local health care facility.  I remember telling my wife the shelf life for these type senior roles was 3 – 5 years and I wanted to be prepared to transition to life in academia as an exit strategy. I already had a MBA/MHA and was hoping a DBA would cement my future allowing me to teach or consult as I walked off into the sunset of my career. 

                                  During the 6 years while I was studying for the DBA:

  • I wasn’t offered the “C” level job I thought was a slam dunk
  • My finances went into a tailspin since most of my clients were affected by the sinking economy
  • I lost my home of 15 years since the “equity” I thought I had disappeared like sand through my fingers
  • Sent my daughter off to college to Los Angeles without the financial resources to support her
  • Moved my wife and youngest daughter into a 1,000 square foot apartment – 3,500 feet smaller than what they were used to
  • Spent 18 months underemployed – teaching college classes when available
  • Was on unemployment – something I thought I would never have to do
  • Started a new career – reinventing oneself is easier said than done
  • My marriage survived.  Thanks to the omnipresent Grace of my Lord and my God and the wonderful support of my brothers and sisters of our Emmaus Group
  • And kept a 3.75 GPA throughout the entire DBA program leading up to the last course required

And that’s when the wheels fell off this armored truck I had been driving for the past 6 years…. The last course was offered by an instructor that exemplifies the frustrated academician – without a life outside of the ivory tower.  I’ve tried not to sound like my 12 year old daughter whining about teachers she dislikes.  The difference is I have a classmate that could not believe the obvious discrimination and badgering this instructor showed towards me.  After all was said and done, she gave me a failing grade based on capricious and subjective grading.  After 6 years of doctorate level statistics, operations theory, logistical planning and qualitative and quantitative analysis – she flunks me on the simplest course on organizational theories…

The Nova program has a 6 year window – concluding on July 17, 2012. The failing grade, my first since kindergarten – puts me in academic probation.  Typically you have one year to retake the class and get out of probation.  But since the program window ends this July 17th,  I cannot retake, so….. I received a letter stating:

                             Your status will be changed to “Dismissed” on July 17,  2012……

I’ve blogged about God’s Perfect Plan.  And how difficult it is to discern what he wants from us.  But this is a really difficult pill to swallow.  I’m trying not to let my ego show its ugly face – On one side I’m pissed and defiant, on anther I’m embarrassed, on another I’m depressed and yet on another side I am very, very confused.  

I know God want us all to be successful and joyful and for our lives to be bountiful.  I also know a Catholic life does not call for us to be patsies in the face of adversity or obstacles. I will pursue all administrative and legal options left to me.  But what a body blow to my plans. I hate the fact that I will have to spend positive energy and very limited financial resources on litigation.

                                                                 But what else to do……?

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Men and the Rosary….What a powerful combination!

May 26, 2012

I know children’s prayers hold special favor with our Lord….But I have to think hearing a room full of grown men praying a Rosary must also command His attention!

Our parish men’s group is named Emmaus. The name is based on the biblical passage showing our resurrected Lord walking with two men on the way to a town named Emmaus. I dedicated this blog to my walk with the Lord and the many obstacles and challenges I face along the way.  When the men’s Emmaus group meets, we always begin by praying the Rosary. 

It never ceases to amaze me when I sit back and listen to the powerful male voices praying in unison to our Blessed Mother.  I sense a feeling of raw power when we pray as a group one of our faith’s most traditional methods of prayer. We take turns offering each of the five decades to a personal petition.  It’s awe inspiring to hear a man dedicate a decade of the Rosary to his wife, or to his family or for a sick child or friend…. I hear offerings for vocations, addictions and healing. 

We Catholics have many forms of prayer, including the traditional rote, contemplative and thanksgiving ….to name a few.   But the Rosary to Our Lady is a powerful, yet relaxing tool.  Our non-Catholic brothers miss the point when they say they pray directly to our Lord….  We Catholics do that as well – but also pray to our Blessed Mother to intercede on our behalf with her son.  What more powerful intercession than that of a mother to a son? 

I look forward to these Emmaus group meetings in order to feed off of the exuberant faith displayed by my brothers.  We are all challenged with day to day crosses we bear, however, when we focus on praying the Rosary we are strengthened in our desire to continue serving our Lord.  

It serves our society well for men to take leadership roles in evangelizing to others.  In a world of unhinged sexual desires and topsy turvy morals, we men of faith must show others the importance of walking with our Lord….

May we realize the wonderful gift we have in praying the Rosary…….And may we continue to be a light in this ever darkening world.

                                                                               Maria, Ora Pro Nobis


All I want is to see my mom smile again….and for her last days to be happy ones….

May 23, 2012

The physician taking care of my mother in law, an alzheimer specialist – inside a hospice unit in a university hospital – had just asked my wife what outcome she expected from his staff regarding her mom’s care. It broke my heart to hear her response; especially knowing her mom was in a rapidly declining state of alzheimer and dementia….

Her mom was an independent woman who raised three children and cared for an overbearing, cantankerous husband that had various failed marriages before he met this angel on earth. Her mom took an instant liking to me as I did to her. During the 27 years of our marriage she regularly cared for our two girls, volunteered in our various businesses and routinely traveled with us all over the world. When others complain or say bad jokes about their mother in laws I just smile and think how lucky I’ve been to have shared over half of my life with her.

When her mom decided to sell her house we jumped at the chance to have her live with us. She was never a burden; on the contrary, she was an ever present positive impact on those lives she touched. Once she moved in she became a fixture at our neighbor’s homes, bringing together a community like no politician could ever do. One neighbor has become a life-long friend because of my mother in law’s outgoing and caring personality. My mother in law later moved in with my mother when my mother was sick. She cooked for her, bathed her and became her companion. My mom passed away last June and it has been a steady decline in health for my mother in law since.

My wife is blessed with the opportunity to take care of her mother in her final days. She gets up in the middle of the night whenever she hears a noise from her mom’s bedroom, even after a long day of work and taking care of her immediate family. She spends the day catering to her mom’s every need, while she tries to juggle work and family. I don’t judge those that have their love ones live in assisted living facilities or other type of institutions during their final days. I don’t know what their work or financial limitations are. But the Lord knows what is in our hearts and at the end of our journey, we each have to feel comfortable with being able to discuss our actions with our Maker.

I know one thing for sure, if there is a fast lane to Heaven, my wife will be in it. Her faithfulness, unselfishness and loving example to our two girls, has earned her a special place in our Lord’s heart. Our girls have now seen how my father, my mom and her mom were taken care of by their children. Our marriage has had ups and downs spiritually, emotionally and financially. But I can say one thing now loud and clear….I’ve never been as proud of my wife as I am now. She is a woman of faith and truly understands that her mom will soon pass. Her mom will be in a place we all pray we could one day reach. Her mom will be at peace with our Lord and we will be at peace with each other knowing we made her last days as comfortable and loved fill as possible.

I could only hope that I am able to hold on to my wife’s coattails as she one day speeds directly to spend eternity with our Lord. In the meantime, I pray we can grow old together, while we continue on our walk during this wonderful journey of life….


Off to the circus…. we love you… we will pray and worry, and pray and worry some more…but will be proud of you every step of the way….

May 19, 2012

Yes, I know, prayer and worrying shouldn’t go hand in hand….But for those whose children are flying off on their own fully understand this paradox. ….I always had a feeling my oldest daughter was like a round peg in a square hole while studying at one of the best all girl prep schools in Florida….  I felt the same while she went to a top 50 US university in LA then to a master’s program rated one of the top 3 in the world…. 

My daughter has a split personality that amazes me. She is an academic on one hand; performing complicated research and landing at the top of her class….while at the same time seeking to perform and display her creative side in the most interesting and unusual art forms…. During her prep high school years she excelled at musical theater. The classic triple threat:  singing, dancing and acting. We sent her to London, Salamanca and New York to train in the top venues in her field.  In New York she fell in love with circus performing.  She graduated from prep school, went to LA to one of the best film schools in the world and proceeded to graduate with a bachelor degree in archeology…  Yes, it’s a wonder her mom and I don’t have whiplash from her ongoing career changes!  She found a local circus group and performed as a contortionist while going to school.  Those were the longest 4 years of our life – but she got through it, as did we. 

Back in Miami, I got her into one of the most prestigious marine archaeologist masters programs in the world.  She achieved 5 different degrees of high level diving certifications and completed her course work.  Now I realize she excelled in prep school, college and a master’s program probably because of my pressure and my selfish reasons…. All along she dreamt of being a circus performer.   So right after passing her final masters class, she announced to her mother and me that she was heading back to LA in less than a month to join a circus troupe fulltime.   

Her mom is convinced she won’t be back soon.  I tell her if that is the case it’s because she is successful in what she chose to do. If her artistic dreams do not meet her expectations, she will always have a great education to fall back on.   However, that won’t do much to alleviate the helplessness and fears her mom and I will feel while she tries her hand at something that is so foreign to us. 

We are people of faith and know the Lord has her in His Hands.  But as we lie awake at night wondering how she is doing so far away, I will always remember my little girl hugging me and telling me as I fail to hold off my tears……it will be OK papa, I will always love you both….you and mami taught me well…  

And off she goes to the circus….as I pray and worry and worry and pray some more…but always proud of my baby girl…..I love you too….


You’re the worse dad in the history of the world!…No really…you are!

May 15, 2012

We have a new policy set in stone in the Alvarez family beginning the next school year. Boy do I wish I had implemented it this past year!  Our youngest daughter, evolving from a tween to a teen, will begin the school year grounded until we get the grades we feel she is capable of attaining….  As a seventh grader, we have struggled with the huge emphasis from her peers on guys and parties….Geez, I could have sworn our 23 year old didn’t start the drop off boy-girl parties until her sophomore year in high school….Then again our soon to be teen says her older sister was a nerd!

Parents, we need help, we need to work as a team of Catholic parents focused on living the faith we proclaim to be ours. It’s easier to turn a deaf ear to the constant wailing and whining when our soon to be teens do not get their way.  My 12 year old daughter, otherwise a wonderful human being, seems to thrive on skating on thin academic ice.  She expects us to jump for joy when her friends get summer school and she doesn’t. She expects us to applaud mediocrity.  She also expects us to reward her with party after party on the weekends…. 

We put our foot down this week and limited her to one party this past weekend.  Each and every day the week before the parties brought exaggerated levels of whininess, including the old standby: I hate you! She tried using her mother against me and vice versa. She actually waited until her mom was asleep, then cajoled an OK from her while she slept to go to the second party! When I held my own the next morning, she raged and sulked…something only a tween can do at the same time!

The morning after the grounding for the first party, the storm passed.  I can’t believe  my wife and me held our own and held to our new rule.  I’m sure our daughter now understands that rules will not be bent from now on.  But unfortunately, some of our peer parents don’t do the same.  We as parents, need to set the standard. We must set the bar at a level that will make them successful young ladies, both academically and morally.  Next year she goes into 8th grade. A pivotal year academically that will determine what high school she goes too. 

Sending our children to a Catholic high school does not absolve us from our responsibility to prepare their souls for eternity. I had the incredible blessing to go to confession with our beloved Bishop Augustine Roman only a few days before his passing.  I mentioned my concern as a Catholic parent that I wasn’t doing enough to guide my daughter through these tumultuous years as a Catholic young girl.  He told me in no uncertain terms that a Catholic education is only as good as the morals and lifestyle taught at home and shown by the parents. That Catholic High schools in and of themselves are not an adequate replacement for the examples of parents.

I wasn’t on a committed walk with our Lord while we were raising our eldest daughter.  Even though she is a wonderful young woman and gifted academically and artistically, I beat myself up for not giving her the example I should have as a Catholic father….  I am determined not to the same with my evolving tween….  I pray that the Lord give my wife and I the strength to hold our own and be an example as Catholic parents; not only to our daughter – but to our peer parents as well. 

 


The Devil in the Bedroom….. Fifty Shades of Gray and The Magic City

May 11, 2012

Miami, the Magic City and Fifty Shades of Gray….

Those that have heard my testimony regarding my walk as a Catholic man, have heard me say how dangerous it is to dismiss the existence of the Evil One…. It’s easier to turn a deaf ear or blind eye to the not so subtle attacks on those of us that have chosen to walk the walk and not just talk the talk….

A few nights ago I convinced my wife to watch, in a rare moment of idleness, the much touted and positively reviewed, Miami, the Magic City.  The program shows Miami Beach in the early 60’s including the influence of the early Cuban exiles.  The segment we watched began two very sexually provocative scenes which were a bit uncomfortable to watch.  However, it escalated quickly with a scene of the programs main character in a bedroom telling his sexual partner that he was a God and she should sexually sacrifice himself to her…Shortly thereafter she went to lie in a bed,  totally topless and began to masturbate in front of him; presumably to turn him on….

The Evil One entered our bedroom and in a fog of pornography froze my wife and me into brief submission…. Because she and I have put our lives into God’s hands, HE quickly came and lifted the confusion from our eyes and I told her this is not something we should be watching…   

Now, those that know my wife and me, know we are not prudes…and no matter how melodramatic the above paragraph reads…. Hollywood and its liberal, immoral majority, want my wife and I to feel abnormal and out of the mainstream if we didn’t enjoy the newest hit on HBO….. 

We are called to be soldiers of Christ in all walks of life.  The war against the Evil One begins in our bedroom, extends to the rest of our home and into the workplace.  We, Catholic men,  must stay vigilant and be leaders of our families in all aspects of our lives…..Let us stay strong and in community and tell Hollywood and their advertising sponsors, that we will not give in to the immoral movies and television programs of our times….

And to my women Sisters in Christ….. Beware of the newest popular book to invade your psyche….. Fifty Shades of Gray….  or Mommy Porn, as it is affectionately being called… The book is one of three in a trilogy with a lead character that enjoys affairs, bondage and other sorts of kinkiness shrouded in the entitlement you are being told you have earned…  Where women’s independence is more and more based on the lowest forms of sexual abnormality ever seen in our society…..The title insinuates that there are no more moral boundaries of black and white….just do what makes one feel good while wallowing in the fifty shades of gray…..

Sisters, you can’t have it both ways… You want your men to be Catholic leaders of your families and soldiers of God in society – then we need your help and support.   The Devil knows that by dividing and conquering Catholic marriages, he will win….. We cannot and will not let that happen.

Remember, when we wake up in the morning and our feet hit the ground, we want the Devil to say:  OH SHIT – THEY ARE UP! Not only one soldier – but two married soldiers of God that will defeat me with their collective commitment to the Lord!

Be strong and stay together in the Lord – Our society and our children’s future depends on us…..