Saturday, September 19, 2015

You Can't Escape Time

There's only one escape from Father Time and that's an early death. I thought this as I watched an ET edition that featured actors and recording acts in their earlier years and what they look like today. Time has a remarkable effect on the human body. I tried to remember being 18 years old and how old my parents seemed to me at the time. The truth is that I'm older today than my parents were in my teens. I now recognize that how we see ourselves is quite different than how we actually look to the world. I'm convinced that it takes a little while to have the mirror and our personal picture of ourselves synchronize. So let's enjoy today because the years are going by so fast and we don't have much control over how we age. 

Keep passing the open windows...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Inevitable "Preconceived Notions"

We're programmed to quickly learn what instances, people and things can cause us harm and to react accordingly to avoid or defend ourselves from the same. Unfortunately, these intuitive alarms are sometimes shaped by outside images. In short, we learn some things by what's presented to us in the media.  
The image of a man of color is often associated with aggression, danger and sadly,  wrongdoing. This skewed perception is dangerous when your job requires that you make life and death decisions in a split-second. Law enforcement officers have high stress jobs and we recognize that their ability to assess and act on situations is crucial to their survival. It's equally important that they recognize that their preconceived ideas of what a bad guy looks like must change. A black guy is not, by default, a bad guy and the idea that brutal - and in some instances fatal- force is necessary to apprehend a man of color is front and center in the media. Whether we agree with the amount of force being used and the way that law enforcement is being portrayed in the media in the interactions with minorities, the facts and statistics remain the same. There is an issue. There is a problem. Either we come together as a society to redefine protocols law enforcement use when interacting with the public or we will see a shift in how communities see and react to those hired to protect and serve them. At the moment the evidence is clear - men of color are disrespected, disregarded and considered guilty and dangerous from the moment they are approached by law enforcement. That perception needs to change. The video of tennis star James Blake taken down in front of a midtown hotel in NYC is just one image of a man of color that was lucky enough to have a platform to resolve the injustice of brutality officers inflict as matter of "precaution" on their part. Let's stop justifying unacceptable abuse of power and make things right.

Keep passing the open windows. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

What's Important Is Life

From your perch on Blogger, Facebook and the like, my life seems simple and at times as exciting as most. I believe in God and so I'm forever grateful for his blessings. I prefaced the previous sentence with I believe in God because for as much as I am certain that he is real, I don't impose my belief on anyone. All to say that he again showed himself merciful when on the night before we were to leave for Los Angeles the electrical panel box in our home suffered a freak power surge and burst into flames. Sparks flew everywhere and the house filled with black smoke. It was but a miracle that we would be up and packing - we're usually in bed much earlier. When I saw the lights flicker and go out, I ran downstairs to see smoke flooding up the basement steps and up the radiators on the first level. I yelled for my partner and our son to leave the house and call 911. I then ran down to the basement to see the flames and sparks before heading outside to join my family. The fire department extinguished the flames and the insurance company will replace the electrical panel and restore our, now smoky home, to its original state. We left for our vacation with no power and our hearts in our hands thinking how lucky we'd been. Had we gone to bed earlier or if this happened 24 hours later the outcome could have been much different. Our lives are so fragile and the potential for our end is so immenent. I spent the greater part of our vacation in California  soaking in the view and enjoying my family. Our aunt took care of keeping the ball rolling on having us return to some normalcy and we're so grateful to her. Of course the 30-40 pounds of raw meat sitting in our house without refrigeration smelled like a foemalgajide-free funeral parlor when we returned this morning, but we're none worse for the smell. Power should be restored by Tueaday (fingers crossed). The moral of the story is that what's important is life. We're here by the grace of God and the home, cars, clothes and all the other material things we've acquired are replaceable accessories. 

Keep passing the open windows. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Love and Commitment - Another Year

It's safe to say that love and commitment  take dedication, perseverance and, if you're lucky, a person who is worthy of the work required to sustain the two as the years go by. The years have raced by and today we celebrate another wonderful year together. Our dreams have taken shape and we're still taking each other to new heights. Love is easy and loving you is made all the easier by how special you are. I'm the lucky one; the prize winner; the guy living the dream each day I wake up to you. We don't know what tomorrow brings and I'm not big on counting my chickens before they hatch, but suffice to say that I will love you forever and if my luck holds, I'll have you by my side just as long. 

Keep passing the open windows with me.  Always...

Saturday, July 04, 2015

And Just Like That...

It wasn't so long ago when I was hitting the clubs and bars to party it up especially on holiday weekends. Those meant, we got the extra day to really do it up. How fast times change and how fast we change. I thought I wouldn't see the day when I was the "old guy" but that day is here. Yeah, I know, there are many who would say that I don't know what old is, but there's a certain decline that comes in your forties that reminds you that your hey day was yesterday. Now don't get me wrong, I dream of the big healthy comeback - my last "youthful" hoorah. I can almost hear folks calling it a mid life crisis, but rest assured that the smirk you will see captured in any photo at that time will be pure satisfaction and conscious enjoyment of the fleeting youthful fun that once was. 

Keep passing the open windows...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

In Our Lifetime

There's a priceless feeling that comes from being on both sides of history. The knowledge and appreciation that comes from experiencing when injustice is stricken down and equality is allowed to reign supreme. Marriage equality is a historic occasion that may seem small to some, but for those of us who have lived in the dark shadows of a society who marginalized the gay population, we recognize the importance of this legislation as life changing. Just as some of us can't fathom an America without a woman's right to vote or marriage between folks of different races, our children and grandchildren will never know an America where love between two consenting adults of the same sex is categorized as different from that of opposite sex couples. I am so honored to have lived long enough to see this amazing change in our country and look forward to the day when my grandchildren ask me, "why couldn't two men get married back then?"  There are so many other issues and injustices I'd love to see resolved with the same happy outcome. Until then I will smile with my heart that this one happened in my lifetime. 

Keep passing the open windows. 

Sunday, February 01, 2015

A Bit of Happy

There are those that live very fabulous lives - even if it's only on Facebbok. The reality is that the day-to-day lives we live can be complicated and exhausting. Through it all I try to put it all in perspective. We have to break out of the daily routine and treat ourselves to small escapes that make the hard work worthwhile. Koby - our family's 11-week old German Shorthaired Pointer - is part of the hard work but his high jinks and goofy demeanor are little rays of sunshine  in my otherwise weary routine and the exercise he and I will soon get together are a welcome activity to the part of me that's become a restless couch potato. 

In the end, we need to find the little things that make us happy and do more of them because although hard work is necessary, it isn't going to keep us alive and vibrant. Hey,
I'm working on some balance too. 

Keep passing the open windows...

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Precious Moments - Welcome Our New Family Member

There are precious moments in our lives that serve as timeline markers - the birth of a baby, a marriage, the death of a loved one.  This weekend our family decided to add a little-one to our brood. His name is not yet set in stone - we're officially bringing him home next weekend - but we're so excited to welcome him into our lives. 

Please help me welcome "Dwight". 

Keep passing the open windows...

Saturday, January 03, 2015

When Parents Drink the Kool Aid

On November 18,1978, Jim Jones convinced the members of his sect to commit suicide and for some, that included killing their children first. Just about 300 children died that day. Today we look at that incident and ask, HOW did those parents allow anyone to convince them to kill their children? Unfortunately, it's still happening today in churches and other social circles all across America. Parents are allowing pastors, deacons and religious advisors to turn them against their children for being gay or transgender. Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year old transgender young lady, committed suicide recently. She felt she could not count on the support of her parents to love her unconditionally. Her suicide note detailed her struggle and her feelings of helplessness. 

I realize that some parents need time to accept and understand their children for who they really are, but at what point does a parent let anyone or anything come between them and their child?  

To the millions of gay and transgender teens out there - you are not alone, you are not a freak and you are a beautiful human being created in God's image. Your struggle is not forever and the ignorant folks who say and do things to hurt you are not the majority - even if they are the people you have loved and trusted your whole life. 

God is love. Love your children as is. No church service, worship or bible thumping will save you if you can't love your very own children unconditionally.

Rest in peace Leelah Alcorn and to everyone else, keep passing the open windows...

Thursday, January 01, 2015

1st Day Of the Year

There are so many promises and resolutions we make to ourselves and others every first of the year. So many hopes and dreams we share with the world as if somehow proclaiming them at the start of the year will somehow make them so. Some of us believe the ritual while the rest of us know that change only comes when we're really ready - whether that's January or June.  So, are we really ready?  Weight loss, finance changes and even the promise to treat ourselves better, all hinge on that first step that is a genuine need to do better. 

Here's to pressure, no worries...just working hard, playing hard and a commitment to accepting the present because it's all stress and heartache trying to live up to the resolutions and the litany of pipe dreams folks randomly toss out every January 1st. 

Keep passing the open windows...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Pain and Perspective of Murder

I sincerely believe that at the heart of every human being - when separated from all outside influences - we want justice, equality and peace. Unfortunately, that reality is skewed and torn by ignorance, poverty, racism, inequality and  the inability by many to pause to understand the thought process of those on the "opposing" side. 

As I watch numerous videos depicting officers charged with protecting the communities they serve actually humiliating, degrading and even killing the public they are supposed to protect, I am enraged by the wonton disregard for life and the disrespect for the authority they have been entrusted with. Conversely, I have taken the time to understand the enormous stress and danger our police officers face each day. It isn't hard to see how these two sides would validate their behavior when clashes occur. Unarmed men being gunned down in cold blood by police and police officers gunned down in the line of duty. All are inflammatory instances and opportunities to speak about a greater respect for life as a whole. All lives matter. 

Where do we go from here?  First let's acknowledge the dead and admit wrongdoing or errors that lead to deaths. We can't heal if we gloss over folks who died at the hands of rouge or irresponsible policing. Second, let's admit that our police need retraining and greater accountability to help reestablish protecting and serving as the corner stone of every police department. Third, let's create a relationship between the police and the communities they serve to help develop a trust and respect for our men and women in blue. Finally, let's instill a love and respect for life within our inner city communities. Let's instill a sense of integrity in our young men of color. 

We need change. We can continue to point fingers, but if we are simply subscribing to keeping score on each side we are simply pitiful reactors rather than proactive beacons of change. 

Keep passing the open windows...

Monday, December 15, 2014

2014 Holiday Retrospective

There's nothing like taking a quick peek over your shoulder to gauge your path forward. My 2014 was filled with blessings and challenges that helped me appreciate reality.  Hands-down my most valuable lesson of the year was finding my inner "pause" button. By pausing to gather my thoughts or simply to allow God to lead the way on any given issue, the results have been consistently positive.  A new role at work,  the shower of material niceties and nurturing strong relationships this year, have rounded out my 2014 as one that felt like a reward for some of the rougher patches of my earlier years.  There's still lots to do and some personal goals that I hold close to my heart and I am commited to bringing them to the top of my list of priorities. 

I hope your 2014 brought you happiness and here's to making 2015 a year to  make our hearts full. 

Keep passin' the open windows...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Janay Rice - A Study In Self Worth

Let's establish one thing from the start - this is not about judging the victim. This little editorial is about the question, What are you worth?  Not necessarily a dollar value, but a core value that you establish for yourself as a 'deal breaker' when it is somehow compromised. When Janay was slapped to the floor and her lifeless body was dragged out of the elevator by concerned onlookers, she was rushed to a hospital and the entire incident was captured on camera allowing her to review the full extent of her personal tragedy later. Let's eliminate public opinion, legal recourse and the friends in her ear, what did she think of her man stepping over her battered body to exit the elevator?  How did she interpret the incident in a way that gave her peace with standing by a man who had basically treated her like an aggressive stranger?  The real logic behind her decision to stay is something only Janay truly knows. I suspect that the day will come when the lifestyle associated with being an NFL wife will be outweighed by the gnawing reality that you marked yourself down and your self worth has no value. Sadly, once we don't see value in our lives we have to battle the demon that is, Why are we here?  

We can't tell Janay what to do in a case like this and it's clear by the appellate court ruling that if you tell folks something enough they will believe it - in this case, Janay established early on that her worth had less value than her husband's career.  

Many in the general public have asked us all to mind our business and allow this issue to be one between a man and his wife. Maybe they're right and maybe when a man beats the hell out of his wife and children we should also look away and mind our business. Well, depending what we deem their life is worth. 

Keep passing the open windows...   

Another Year and A Goodbye to Resolutions

Year after year we make some very important resolutions. All are well intended, but at the end of each year we have many more regrets than goals met. As we get older the list simply gets longer and, if we're lucky, some of us hold on to the desire to actually get through our list of resolutions. This year my list was cleared and was replaced with three important rules, rather than resolutions, to live by:

1. Get Healthy - this doesn't mean to get pencil-thin, but to take good care of myself (mind, body and soul)
2. Be true to myself - outside of work, I will not subject myself to people or places that do not serve to make me happy or enrich my life 
3.  Accept Life's Brevity - Truly treat life as short and valuable and not wait for a life-changing event to help me see how quickly life goes by

If you remember nothing else, remember this...if life appears to be the same year in and year out and the people in your life change, but the outcomes don't, consider what - or who - the common denominator is and make a change. 

Keep passing the open wondows...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Struggling With Gratitude

The human mind is remarkable. Many of us enjoy a host of blessings - I'm talking about the really important things - like our health, happy families, great jobs, beautiful homes and cool cars, but let one negative thing take place in our presence and we seem to erase all the great things from our minds. This is life and we're always going to be faced with challenges, but we have to keep the blessings fresh in our minds. It almost takes reminding ourselves every day about how lucky we really are. So let's continue the gratitude that Thanksgiving Day encourages. Let's give others something to be thankful for.  Let's make time to be grateful to God and to others for their kindness. 

Keep passing the open windows...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Reality More Beautiful Than Any Fairy Tale

In my eyes she has always been a fairy tale  princess. The perfect  ride or die chick. She is beautiful, brilliant, kind and strong. She is the prissy girl that can still kick off her Louboutins and change a tire. Her heart is larger than the state  of  Texas and this weekend  that heart was forever joined  to the love of her life Greg Tyler.  We have been friends for more than a decade and in that time I have  been privy to Marcia's undying love for Greg.  Isn't that what real fairy tales are made of?   The magic that triumphs through pain, the love that finds a way beyond the years. I'm so proud  of my girl.  Love has won. It isn't a fairy tale, but a palpable reality that, with continued nurturing,  will live forever. 

Keep passing the open windows...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fixer or Homewrecker? Scandal Season 3 Finale

Has Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes turned our fearless, fashion-forward Washington fixer into a common DC homewrecker? Kerry Washington's pregnancy may have thrown the steamy writing for a loop in season 3 of Scandal leaving some feeling like the once invincible gladiator princess has been reduced to a shaky weak damsel in distress who turns to giving up the goodies to try to score some wins. The finale highlighted the nail in Olivia's leverage coffin when she failed to control the media coverage during the firestorm at the church bombing. Scandal is a phenomenon that has captured viewers with the strength of its heroine and we can only hope that Kerry's real-life pregnancy doesn't prove to be the proverbial Rosemary's baby for Scandal. Fans can only hope that Kerry will return to season 4 ready to restore Olivia to the powerhouse that made Scandal must-see TV, otherwise Scandal will be just another sitcom drama about a cute chick that's sleeping around to get ahead.

- Keep passin' the open windows.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Happy Sad

It's funny how most relationships feel the need to conform to a set norm or set of rules adopted by "the majority". When we look at couples that have lasted for a long time we assume that "love" is what carried them through 10, 20 or 30 years when in fact it is the ability to compromise. Love is a great thing, but as many of us can attest, it's not likely to keep us tied-down to someone. Compromise, however, alows us to see past someone's flaws to a place where the greater good exists. In The Happy Sad, the movie explores the dilemma of rules, monogamy and truth. What makes us tick and how we can have our cake and eat it too if we're honest and upfront about our feelings and desires. Ironically, I think that the majority of heartache in relationships is born from trying to NOT hurt someone's feelings. As we evolve, grow, mature and change we have to accept that to have longevity in a relationship we have to communicate and step forward together. Otherwise we join the scores of folks that tried and failed to live by rules that were not intended for their specific relationship. Create your own rules, walk your own path and allow your relationship to grow and change according to your needs and not that of other couples. Anything else is really The Happy Sad.

Keep passin' the open windows...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

We Are - Past, Present, Future

We are all a product of our past. Experiences, influences and lessons that have created the collective we call our personality today. There's a saying in Spanish that says, "La mona aunque se vista de ceda, mona se queda." All to say that life can polish, groom and equip someone, but at their core they are still 'that' person. I celebrate my humble beginnings. As I visited Puerto Rico last week and my beautiful family, I was so proud to see how resourceful we all were and are. I'm proud to have "raices" in Juncos, Puerto Rico. The Maldonado flare, charm and ingenuity are gifts that I thank the Lord for each day. When we stop running from our past we can embrace it as part of our coat of armor. We are all the more interesting, valuable and exciting when we are all that we are - past, present and future.

Keep passin' the open windows...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Bridge of Yu Gi-Oh

The moral of the story is that you should enjoy every moment you can with your children because they won't always be interested or impressed by you.

Our son absolutely loves playing Yu Gi-Oh cards. It's a pretty complicated card game that pits monsters against each other - all with different attack and defense levels - while pairing these with spell and trap cards. All cards have an assigned point value that gets tallied when the cards are played against each other. All to say that I would never play such a complicated game in my youth and would probably not take on such a stressful card game as an adult except as I mentioned at the start, our son loves the game and I'm interested in having brief moments when we're not the old and uncool ATM in the bedroom next door. Now, it turns out that my playing the game with him has again reminded me to think out of the box to keep a connection with our teen for as long as we can.

Keep passin' the open windows...