No rest for the weary…Still day one!

June 15, 2012

After a tiring first day having traveled only to Key West, we found we had transmission problems. However we had no time to fix it because of bad weather prognosticated for the Yucatan Straits in a couple of days.  So instead of resting up over night for the long 3 days – we need to leave this evening!   I’ve had 4 hours sleep and one turkey sandwich – I am not a happy sailor right now!  So because of the transmission issue, we will have to travel slower, taking maybe 3 days instead of two, in the open water. 

I really haven’t had time to think, let alone meditate.  We are a 3 member crew. One captain, one mechanic and myself the first mate! We take 2 hours turns on the bridge navigating.  And can sleep only in 4 hour shifts. 

What have I gotten into! I have ridden a bicycle for 15o miles in one day but that is a kids game compared to navigating for 3 days non stop. I hate to sound like a whiner but I am exhausted and hungry.  The captain did have time to stock up for our food but doubt there are any churrascos on the menu!  Oh, and so much for seeing the Heat game tonight.

I will be without being able to email  for I don’t know how long.  I hope and pray we hit the next port in Cancun safely and don’t come across bad weather.  The other boats we are taking in subsequent trips have satellite communication and I will be able to communicate during the trips. But not this one. I have to wait to get to the next port. 

By the way, remember we have to take 2 more boats after we fly back once reaching our destination. The day after I get back from this trip I have a job interview for an accounting job.  God I hope I get that and not have to make the next 2 trips!  But first let’s get through this one.  

Don’t worry if you don’t hear from me by Monday.  Start worrying a little if I haven’t communicated by Tuesday – Really worry if you don’t here from me by Wednesday! 

Keep us in your prayers, please.

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Message 1 from our sea traveler……..

June 14, 2012

Day 1:  

We finally left yesterday at 9:00pm for Key West, which is approximately 150 miles from Miami. We navigated all night at a speed of 6 knots, taking turns at the helm.  I was able to sleep about 4 hours total.   I am a bit anxious but know God presented me with this opportunity!

We plan to spend the day at Key West stocking provisions before continuing the second leg of our journey to Cancun.  The weather so far has been good, seas 2 feet or less with a slight wind out of the south.

                              Please continue to pray for us!

                             Sunrise from Key West, Florida

 

 

Next leg:  Through the Gulf of Mexico to Cancun…..


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……?


God’s Plan is perfect…. Why is it so difficult for us to trust in Him?

May 31, 2012

          Discernment:  The ability to be able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure….

So the story goes a man was on top of a house escaping the local river overflowing to epic proportions…. He prayed to God to be rescued….Shortly thereafter a fireman in a row-boat drifted by and offered to take him in…The pious man replied:  no thanks!  The Lord promised to save me…. Then a helicopter swung by with an army reservist and pleaded for the prayerful man to jump on board…but he replied again:  leave me alone!  My Lord promised to save me….. Well, as the faithful man reached the pearly gates he complained to the Lord and said:  you promised to save me!  And the Lord admonished him by saying:  Why are you complaining!  I sent you a row-boat and a helicopter! 

We men are trained to be hunters since the caveman days.  We are sent out to the world to chase the dinosaur, kill it and bring it back home.  So it’s tough to balance the need to provide for one’s family, while relying on God’s plan….Yet there lies the perfect Catholic life.  That balance is what brings harmony and repose to our lives.   As we get closer to our Lord and lay our concerns, worries, plans and dreams on the foot of His cross; our worries melt away because we know He has a perfect plan. 

For the past year I’ve been praying to St. Joseph for his intercession to bring more financial stability to my life.  I’ve placed my financial concerns at the foot of  our Lord’s cross and have been at peace with my current employment situation.  Then out of nowhere I receive another employment opportunity for more money.  What to do?  Was this the rowboat and helicopter from the Lord answering my prayers?  Or was the Evil One confusing me and dangling financial temptations my way? I interviewed with the other employer as my life depended on it …I went to hit a grand slam and shortly thereafter received a job offer….

             Discernment:  The ability to be able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure….

Well, a pay increase in certainly not obscure!  But the intangibles sometimes are………  Because I try to be in the spirit by attending daily Mass, stay in community with my Emmaus brothers and trust in His plan, I was able to discern what He wanted me to do….The other job would have kept me in an office 12 hours a day for more money. While at my current employer I am traveling within the community and have ample room for professional growth….I can also spend more time with my younger daughter, after having squandered that opportunity with my oldest….all important intangibles that after all…. are not that obscure! 

I met with my boss and explained I had another offer  – but that it was my choice to commit to his vision for his company.   He certainly appreciated the loyalty; loyalty that he had shown me before and I know he will show again in the future…

The Lord wants his children to live happy and prosperous lives as long as the daily focus is on serving Him. I am convinced discernment involves feeling good inside about the decisions we make.  If the decision made is to serve Him and not our own desires, it will feel good and you will feel at peace!  Right now I feel good and am at peace and will continue to trust in His Perfect Plan for my life!                                                           

                                                                 in Deo confido


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….