Archives For Personal Growth


(Edited from posted in April 2015)

Since I was a little boy and as far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a strong belief in God and something “bigger than me and this world”.  This was so much so that in High School I began to question everything I was being taught in the Catholic church, and set out on my own journey to “find God”.  That search for “truth” continues to this day, but one very practical thing that never really made sense was how the world has portrayed Jesus, which has been a very frail, skinny, white, pale sickly looking man who anyone could take down with one punch to the face.

I believe in a very different image of Jesus Christ, one that I feel should have been adopted a long long time ago, and it’s based on very practical observations.  I believe that Jesus was not frail or sickly, but rather a very strong and fit man with dark skin, strong forearms and biceps, resembling a very fit and toned MMA fighter of today.  He probably didnt’ have the physique of a bodybuilder, and may have been more lean, but by all means had more muscle and endurance than most of us.  How have I come to this conclusion?


The fisherman of today have it pretty easy compared to the days of Jesus.  There were no motorized boats or machinery that lifted nets and brought fish into your boat.  Lots of rowing by hand, pulling up nets by hand all day, every day.  Unloading the boat of fish, packaging the fish, pulling the boats in, etc.  A complete work out like this every single day would have to keep these guys fit and toned.  The exaggerated depiction of Popeye’s forearms was not just the creation of a cartoonist, as I’m sure that fisherman developed huge forearms from all of this work.  In addition to all of the manual labor that kept them fit, take into account their constant exposure to the sun which probably kept them nice a tanned all year round.


Carpentry today can’t compare to the work involved in the days of Jesus either.  Because of my circular saws, miter saws, jig saw, and my dewalt cordless drill, I can build in minutes what it probably took hours or days for them to build back in the day.  And the energy exerted would be minimal.

If Jesus needed to build a table for someone, he had to manually cut each piece of wood, shave each piece by hand, and perform tasks that required strength and arm pressure.  Wood work back then was not easy work and I’m sorry, but if you do your research on the many different facets of wood work back then one would have to come to the conclusion that these craftsman were building muscle while working.


Without going into detail about every task involved with being a fisherman or carpenter back in that day, I would hope that you can see how easy it would be to come to the conclusion that Jesus was not what the world has described to us for so long.  I feel that one of the major reasons that Jesus was able to endure what he did during his crucifixion was due to his physique and fitness.  The “frail” Jesus wouldn’t have made it past lashing #4 or #5, and yet Jesus withstood 40 FREAKIN LASHES with a weapon that was designed to rip his skin off!

Add to this the beat down that he received from the soldiers, the fact that he had to carry his own heavy cross to his own execution, and then having huge railroad type spikes driven through his arms and feet.  The strength needed to continuously try to pull him self up and position himself to breath easier required a strength that the little white sickly Jesus simply wouldn’t have been able to handle.  Many of us would have been dead before even making it to carrying our own cross.


As you sip on your coffee this morning, prepare for lunch, or even as you make plans for this coming Easter Sunday, remember that the man behind the Easter holiday was plain and simply a Bad Ass.  Whether you believe that he rose from the dead or not, Jesus was a real man who walked this earth, and history supports the fact that he was executed in one of the most gruesome ways possible.

His message was just as real, which in a nut shell was one of LOVE and FORGIVENESS.  If you take anything away from the story of Jesus at least take that.  Learn from his selfless life of Love and walk in it everyday.  He gave us so many great lessons and tools to use to live this life and his story has stood the test of time and will continue for centuries to come.

Have a Great Easter everyone and eat lots of BBQ this Sunday.  *smiley face here.


 Photo artwork from Tjokorda Bagus Wiratmaja


Im pretty sure the day was a Monday afternoon in the summer because dad had just called us in for lunch and his days off were Sunday and Mondays and we weren’t in our Sunday clothes.

As my brothers and I grabbed our plates and parked ourselves around the behemoth of a TV, ( you remember that crappy cheaply stained big box of a tv that looked like it took an acre of trees to make) we started our routine argument about what we were going to watch. Of course I wanted to watch cartoons and they wanted to watch MTV or something I had no clue about. I was only 7 and it was a long time ago but I can still feel that blue shaggy carpet and the summer breeze that would blow through the windows.

Growing up in our house there was an unwritten law that everyone abided by and that was that the AC was only allowed to be turned on from 4pm – 6am. So if you wanted to be inside the house during the heat of the day, you made sure every window in the house was open. As we continued arguing, we kept getting louder and louder about what to we should watch. By then My father was fed up and simply yelled from the kitchen , “lla!”. Translated to English , “Stop! Cut it out!.”We did and as always I was out voted. After that, My older brother changed the channel to what he wanted watch and we just sat there eating our lunch in silence.

As we continued eating,  my older brother began to sniff the air and then continued to sniff with determination, like a blood hound out to find his target. This then became his mission and he took another long sniff of the air to confirm the odor and yells, ” who farted? I’m eating! That’s nasty!” Everyone denies the accusation and the ping pong match begins. He then says, “Well why does it smell like shit!” The timing could not have been more perfect if it had been scripted, they all said in a unanimous voice, ” Steve did it !”, which surprised the hell out of me! I was completely lost! Had I farted and not realized it? By then my two brothers had jumped on my older brother’s wave and started saying it was because I hadn’t showered since the day before and that maybe I didn’t wipe right. Needless to say I defend myself the best way any 7 year old kid would, by simply saying, ” nuh-uh, nuh-uh!”

Of course by this time we were very loud and my dad decided to walk over to the living room and asked what the heck was going on. Once aging the destiny child group sang in harmony ,” Steve crapped on himself or really needs to go take a shower because it smells like poop and we can’t eat.” Like a scratched record I stayed in the bridge signing , ” nuh-uh, nuh-uh!”

As my brothers waited for my dad to get after me, my father simply asked, “Were you guys playing outside?” “Yes” we all said. He then looked at my older brother and simply said, “Look at the bottom of your shoe.” You see my brother was sitting Indian style with a huge turd on the bottom of his shoe which was facing the side I was sitting on. I can see how my older brother thought it was me, I can see how it was so easy to say that I was the source of the stank. The one who made a stink about the stank is the one who ruined his own appetite.

Although I was free and clear of all wrong doing , Id like to believe we all learned a valuable lesson that day. Like most valuable lessons they fly out the window when we need to apply them. Like myself, I’m almost certain you have reflected on some instances in your life when you could have saved yourself some pain, embarrassment  and sadness by simply checking the bottom of your shoe and admitting to your contribution to the situation.

There will be times in life when everything seems like it’s someone else’s fault, like all the signs point to someone else for your misfortune or “bad luck”.  Well I say to you today, before you start blaming someone else or society and whatever excuses we can come up with, let’s take a hard look at ourselves.  Let’s be honest with ourselves, about how we acted, what we did, how little effort we have put in and most importantly lets be honest about how no matter how awesome your are today, there is always room for improvement.

I say to you once again, let’s be honest with ourselves and dig deep, leave no rock unturned and no shoe unchecked so we can enjoy our lunch and enjoy this show we call life.

Steve Martinez:  Guest Blogger.  |  @iamstevemtz

TV Made Me: It’s not the same anymore…

“Television is bad for you. It makes you dumb.” These are the things we hear quite often these days. In my opinion television may have saved my life and for better or worse, I can proudly say it made me who I am.

Unfortunately, growing up alone in a house of 6 is something you may understand.  There was love in the house, but in my family’s own special way. The bills always got paid and there was always food on the table and as we got older the birthday and Christmas gifts got better.

I had friends in the neighborhood and in school, and though I wasn’t one of the popular kids, I was definitely in the “it” circle. As far back as I can remember I was never affected by what people thought of me and I was always the comic that could lighten up any mood. I’d  also give the shirt off my back if needed and I say these things in the most humble way possible. I wish I could say my parents and siblings had something to do with any of that, and maybe they did, but it might have been indirectly, like doing the opposite of what my environment was doing.


As I reflect on my life I can clearly recall the first moment when I can say TV had altered my life.  As the assistant principal waited for me to explain my actions -I simply answered . . .

“I don’t recall.” She then asked, “do you know what that means?”

I said, “what”?

“The word recall,” she said.

I said, “yes, I mean, like…, to remember?.”

She asked where I had learned such a big word.

“Isn’t recall smaller than remember?” I asked.

“Well, yes but a word like that isn’t typically used by a second grader” she said.

I guess she expected to hear that my teacher, my parents or even my siblings may have taught me such a word and for some reason I didn’t want to admit I had picked it up from watching Mr. Belvedere. I mean you could only be taught from a teacher or by someone sitting you down and teaching you what words mean, right? What if my context clues skills were not as accurate as I thought. Needless to say I just shied away.


Growing up there were many family sitcoms that had positive messages and more importantly they showed me love and compassion for others that my environment seemed to dismiss. Programs like Mr Belvedere, Growing Pains, Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Little House on the Prairie and of course Good Times all found a special place in my heart and helped me view the world in a different way. I found myself engulfed in the antics and complications of a scripted life, and was always satisfied with the way everything came together at the end of every episode.

This may sound ridiculous but some of the valuable lessons that I adapted into my life came from watching TV such as:  honesty is always the best route because at the end of every episode the truth always comes out, to take responsibility for your actions, and be ready to pay the price because every action has a reaction.  I also learned to always apologize to someone if you have hurt them because at the end of the day we are all in this together, as well as defending yourself in a tactical manner because life is not linear and you never know what life is going to throw at you after each commercial break.


The most evident thing that I have kept in my life is the one liner approach to life… (thanks Cheers and Night Court) I sometimes surprise myself with my quick wit and one liners and it sometimes feels like I’m on a show… I’m sure you know what I mean. We all have that moment when that perfect joke lands. (Except for me it’s all the time, yeah I’m funnier than you.) This may not all be tied directly to TV and I’m sure my environment gave me no choice but to look at the brighter side of things. What I can give credit to TV for is teaching me the timing to a joke and the ability to take the blunt end of a joke for the sake of a good time.

There are so many things and so many shows that are not on this list that were and are fantastic that can be very useful. I know they should be listed on here, like Herman’s Head… I know you don’t know what I’m talking about so take a break and google it. Herman’s Head was awesome and ahead of it’s time, the idea and concept was used for the animated movie Inside Out.


I understand TV is what you make of it but unfortunately this generation and my kid’s generation will not have the privilege to know what I am talking about. How there were more positive messages on every channel and the “bad” shows were limited. Television these days is focused on the wrong things and is being used to project the wrong messages. (Yeah I know I sound old but your mom likes it…) I understand that TV works off ratings and if the junk shows are what people are watching then that’s what’s going to be on the majority of the menu.


I say all this to say, thank you 80s and early 90s TV sitcoms for making me the person I am today. You taught me many lessons while my brothers were too busy with their lives and while dad and mom worked so hard to keep the little we had. Thank you for not being full of crap, and for allowing me to escape for a brief moment and walk out the other side a “wiser” kid. Yes, thank you for Alf and Pee-Wees Playhouse as well, I took the good with the bad you dished out…. I was able to see what kind of family I’d like to have when I got older. I was able to envision what kind of career and environment I’d like my children to grow up in. Don’t get me wrong I still have many flaws which my environment and TV are not the blame for. If you’d like a list, I’m sure my wife would be glad to forward to you.


I encourage you today to reflect on that one source that you may have over looked and say thank you. It may have been tv, comic books, that one teacher, the weird uncle or that aunt that always seemed to understand you and make you feel like everything was ok with that warm smile. Take those positive values and share them with the world.

So once again, TV, Thank You and know that I will share all the positive things you have taught me with my family and friends. As in all great sitcom . . . fashion, hugs and fade scene – roll credits.

Shout out to:

Mr Belvedere, Growing Pains, Full House, Who’s the Boss?, Married… With Children, Mork & Mindy, Happy Days, Diff’rent Strokes, Little House on the Prairie, The Facts of Life, Family Ties, Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, The Jeffersons, Taxi, MAS*H ,The Cosby Show, Cheers ,Herman’s Head, Boy Meets world, Saved by the bell, Fresh prince of bel-aire, Sledge Hammer!, Knight Rider, Sledge Hammer!, Three’s Company, ALF, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Tracy Ullman Show, Miami Vice, Fraggle Rock, The Love Boat, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, MacGyver, The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team, Quantam Leap, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, The Wonder Years, Magnum, P.I., Night Court, At the Movies, Martin, In living color and many many more ….. especially all the cartoons.

– Steve Martinez:  Guest Blogger


It’s Valentines Day and if you’re not already eating some chocolate that a special someone gave to you then you’re chilling at home watching the Notebook or Dear John, back to back, because that’s all they’re playing on cable for all you love birds, over and over and over.  Vday is definitely that one day that causes us all to pause and think about love, relationships, and yes, chocolate, lots of it.  Whatever you’re doing this beautiful day I wanted to share something about love that I hope you find helpful, especially if you’re in a relationship.


I hear the term “ride or die” regularly as a description for someone’s girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife.  It’s the ultimate term of endearment and if your significant other feels this way about you then you’re doing something right.  It describes someone that will stand by your side no matter what, someone who will ride with you through any storm or challenge in life until death.  It’s someone that will protect you, guard your heart, and never give up on you.  This is the kind of love and commitment that we all desire and if you have a ride or die in your life, cherish that person, because they’re hard to come by.

On Instagram I follow MMA fighter Conor McGregor and this week someone shared a post of his that clearly described a ride or die woman in his life.  Conor’s words about his partner were as follows:

“We’ve been together for more than eight years.  We lived in Ireland , 30 km from Dublin, in a rented apartment on the 188 euro unemployment benefit.  I had no job because I spent all my time at the gym.  I believed that I would be the champion, and she always did too.  She believed in me.  Despite the lack of money, Dee Devlin tried to get me to eat right and always keep my daily regimen.  She dedicated herself to it.  Coming home after an exhausting training session, she always said, ‘Conor, it’s okay, you can do it!”

Conor is now one of the most successful MMA fighters in the world and Dee is reaping the benefits of sticking by his side when he had nothing.  From what I’ve read and understand, these two are madly in love and she’s there in his corner, whether in the ring or out.


I’ve always been curious as to how a couple can be together or married for 40 plus years.  That type of commitment is slowly becoming extinct and being with someone that long is either a true testament to love or two people who got stuck.  I’d like to think that it’s love in most cases.

I know a couple who’s been married for 30+ years and one day I asked what the secret was to keeping it together.  The first response was of course “love”, lots and lots of love.  You can’t be with someone that long unless the two of you truly love each other and in this case the couple was still very much in love.  But it was secret number two that interested me the most and I feel that it’s the key to longevity in any relationship.  My married friend looked at me with all seriousness and said “Hector, the real secret however is forgiveness, an enormous amount of it.  Each person is going to fuck up, guaranteed, and those fuck ups will be plenty, and you’re going to each have to forgive one another over and over and over.”

I’ve had my share of fuck ups in past relationships and needed forgiveness, but I’ve also had to give it many times as well.  I’m a ride or die type of person and the past two serious relationships are ones that I never wanted to give up on.  My marriage only lasted as long as it did because I fought for it and I wasn’t going to give up on her.  My last relationship was full of love and required lots of forgiveness from both sides, but apparently wasn’t enough.

As you ride through life with your partner in crime, I’m sure you’re already learning this big secret to longevity and I’d like to say that you’ll master it one day but I doubt anyone ever does.  There’s no “one size fits all” manual out there for relationships but if you love that person next to you with all of your heart, don’t ever give up on one another and learn to forgive each other even in the worst of times.


If you’ve ever ridden on the back of a motorcycle with someone, the safest way to ride as a passenger is by wrapping your arms around the driver and holding on tight.  You realize how important this is when making turns or when the motorcycle accelerates.  If you’re not holding on tight you’ll fall off that bike so fast and either die or experience lots of pain and no one likes pain.  Hold on tight as you two ride through life and don’t let go.  Life will have so many twists and turns and you simply need to lean into those turns together.  As life speeds up or even slows down, hold on tight and have fun.  Be each other’s best friend and when the other person “fuck’s up”, show them how much you love them by giving them the best and most powerful gift you can give, forgiveness.

Love is powerful and it’s best friend is forgiveness.  Walk with these two daily and hopefully you can look back 20 or 30 years from now and say “Thank you so and so, for never giving up on me and being my ride or die”.

Ride or die.  Happy Valentines Day.



It was 1998 and I had just started riding Flatland again after having been out of the sport for almost 8 years.  After graduating High School in 1990 and entering college my dedication and interest in riding around in circles in a parking lot decreased, altogether letting it go once my GT Pro Performer was stolen out of my back yard.  Those off years were full of other cycling, mountain biking and a few years stent of aggressive inline skating (yes, go ahead and laugh).  I can’t recall what brought me back in but I jumped in head first, and doing it all on a bright red Hoffman EP frame which took a beating and lots of throws while relearning all of the tricks that I loved doing as a teenager.

One of the first things that I had to do was catch up with the sport and that involved lots of BMX videos being sent to my house from Dan’s Comp, or borrowing them from new rider friends.  No flatland homework was complete without watching any or all of the Dorkin in York videos produced by Mark Eaton, and it was in Dorkin 5, I believe, that we were all introduced to this little tiny kid doing multiple whiplashes on a bike that looked a little too big for him.  I was like “Damn! This kid is going to blow up.”, and sure enough he did and became one of the most recognized and accomplished BMX athletes in the world.  His name was Dave Mirra.

This week the world was shocked as news circulated the web that Dave Mirra had passed away in an apparent suicide.  As this news became viral, my feed became full of love for this man and many many shares of his story.  With the love were also expressions of anger and confusion from riders and friends who couldn’t understand why someone as accomplished as Dave could take his own life, especially in that two beautiful daughters and a wife were left behind.  I stand with everyone who is left confused and I have something to share with you that I hope will help.


I doubt that anyone wakes up in the morning and says “Later today I’m going to kill myself” and from the reports from Dave’s friends and family who spent time with him that day, I’m sure that wasn’t on his agenda.  Suicide sucks and many people feel and wish that those that have taken their life should have called them or reached out for help.  There’s even suicide hot lines that serve for this purpose and I’m sure they have helped many who have walked on that ledge, but for the most part, it’s not this easy for those suffering from depression or a mental disorder.  There are reports that Dave was suffering from depression to some extent, but there still isn’t enough information about his state so all we can do is speculate.

I was with someone for approximately 5 years who battled bipolar depression on a daily basis and everything that I have to share on this topic comes from personal experience.  Know that no one could have stopped Dave from taking his life.  The same way no one could have stopped Robin Williams or any other celebrity from doing the same, the thought or action of taking one’s life is something that can come instantly, with no warning and with no time to “call a friend” to come to the rescue.

A few year’s ago I found myself racing down the freeway at 100 mph hoping to get to my girlfriend’s apt in time.  She went from laughing and lots of love in the parking lot of the restaurant to hurting herself in minutes.  Situations like this and many years of being with someone with a mental illness is what has taught me so much about the mind, mental disorders, and suicide, and it helps reduce the confusion of why someone like Mirra would take his own life.


Many of your friends and family could be suffering in silence and you would never even know.  For this reason we can’t be too hard on ourselves when someone close to us attempts or commits suicide.  No one would have ever suspected that my ex was suffering in silence because on the outside she was a very happy bubbly person with an outgoing personality, which she genuinely was.  However when depression would take over, it was something that she had no control over and even she was left confused as to where it came from.  This is the case with a few other friends that suffer from depression as well.

When this would happen I would comfort her as best as I could and she would try to push through as much as possible and not let it steal her day away.  Only time was the savior and she was a victim until that mood “went away” on its own, with no amount of hugs and kisses being able to help.  It was all new to me and I wasn’t always great at dealing or understanding, but I did the best I could. There is no manual for mental illness or being with someone suffering from depression, and all we can do is love, care, and be super supportive when these moods show their ugly head.

The mind is powerful and we will never understand how someone can take their own life like Mirra did.  It’s easy to become angry or confused and even accuse these people of being “cowards” and taking the easy way out, but please know that it’s bigger than that.  I firmly believe that Dave Mirra loved his life, his kids, his wife, and his many friends and fans and he didn’t want to leave this earth yet.  Something else took his life that day and it’s bigger than me, you, and a BMX bike.


If the root of this tragedy was depression and mental illness then all we can do is gain some understanding and then share that with others.  Mental illness is as real as cancer and heart disease and it deserves so much more attention than what it currently receives.  Learn what you can about this and be sensitive to those around you that might show signs of depression or something similar.  One of the best things that mental illness can use is a good support system, but even then we can only do so much.  The mind will do what it wants at any time and we won’t always be ready for it.

Much love to Dave Mirra’s children, wife, and family.  Their life is forever changed and I pray for peace and love to surround them for the rest of their days.

Note:  One of the first books that I read that helped me in my search for understanding mental illness was one called Detour:  My Bipolar Road Trip.  It’s a memoir and I couldn’t put the book down.  It opened my eyes to a lot and I hope it does the same for others.  You can order it on Amazon: