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BETTER PART 4:  LOSE YOURSELF IN THE MUSIC.

I’m not sure how it started but at any given point, in what might appear to be a serious conversation with someone, I’ll randomly provide what they think is going to be the best advice I’ve ever offered.  When the time is right I’ll say “You know what you need to do, right?” which is always followed by “What’s that?”.  I’m very careful with what follows next because it has to be perfect and timed just right.  Sometimes I’ll start it with “Well . . .” or just pause for a few seconds before I offer my mind blowing advice, which is then “You need to lose yourself in the music, the moment you own it . . .”.  Haha, once the person realizes that I just fed them a line from Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself”, the response is always “Ah man!  Shut up!” and sometimes even a “Fuck you!” followed by some laughing.

You have to admit though, that line is a great piece of advice and it really can apply to just about anything.  Most of all it can serve as a mantra for everyday life in this crazy messed up world.  Yes, that’s right, this world sucks.  It’s mean, has no mercy and wants to beat the shit out of us every day.  We need inspiration everyday just to make it through sometimes, and this one line in a song can be just that.

If I ever give you those lines as advice, I may be playing, but at the same time I really do believe that we should lose ourselves in the music.  The “music” is life, and the song is different everyday and sometimes the music is a moment in the day or a moment in time that is simply asking for us to get lost in it.  That moment can be anything from a spur of the moment job opportunity, a first kiss, an opportunity to give back, or it could be you riding your bike home and getting caught in the rain.  You could get pissed that you’re getting all wet or you could simply embrace the rain, get lost in that moment, and enjoy what many kids would love to do everyday . . . play in the rain.

Living a life of “getting lost in the music” is an attitude.  It’s taking everyday and whatever it brings and being willing to embrace whatever it is that life lays in front of you.  It’s being flexible and not taking life so damn serious.  It’s being free, it’s listening, it’s following your heart, it’s feeling the beat of life and moving with it.  There will be many many moments in your day where you will feel like you are “owning it”, and you should always be prepared to lose yourself in those.

Life is too short to not take advantage of moments that could change your life forever and if you’re not listening to the right “song”, you could miss them.  If you watched Eminem’s movie 8 Mile, then you know what the basis of his song is about.  In the movie he’s one of the best rappers in town yet he chokes in an opening scene rap battle out of fear and intimidation.  It’s not until he goes through some life situations that he is finally able to stand up and show what he’s made of.  It’s then that he is able to literally destroy every rapper that he battles on stage, ultimately winning and walking away as the champion that night.

What “music” is playing right now in your life?  What beat are you moving to?  Whatever it is, let it move you.  Feel the music.  Dance.  Move your feet, your hips, your hands.   Lose yourself in the music, the moment you own, don’t ever let it go.  You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, cause opportunity comes once in a lifetime.

@hectorgarciahtx

men

BETTER PART 3:  A LETTER TO MEN

I celebrated 43 years of living on this earth in May and I don’t claim to know it all.  In fact, by this age I would say that I know very little and there’s still so much to learn.  But I’ve lived long enough and been through enough that I feel I can give good counsel and advice to others, much of that through learning from my own successes and of course my own mistakes.

This “Better” series that I’ve been writing comes from a lot of reflecting and a desire to share what I’ve been learning, hoping that maybe it can help a few.  This morning I wanted to write to men and offer encouragement to not only be better father’s, son’s, friends, and mates, but to simply be better men.  One thing that we don’t do regularly as men is encourage other men.  Women do this naturally because it’s part of their design, to care, love, share and open up to one another. The thought of doing this as men comes with reservations and not wanting to be “gay”.  Sorry, but it’s true, most men don’t spend time building each other up because it doesn’t feel masculine.  However, I would say that some of the best counsel that I’ve received to date has been from a few male friends who stepped up when I needed them most, and much of that only came after I chose to open up to them first.

What’s funny is that if asked what kind of man not to be, we could all recall that one guy that treated his girlfriend like shit in public or the one that everyone felt was always being an asshole or douche bag.  Those are easy to spot and yes, very good examples of how not to be, but I also see lots of good examples and it’s those that I want to pull from this morning.

BE THAT GUY

I know that social media, Facebook and Instagram only gives us snapshots of people’s lives and we may only be seeing the “good” or people at their “best”, but that’s OK.  I have a younger friend who I’ve known since the mid 90’s who is a single dad and one of the most encouraging things that I see on a daily basis is how much he loves his son.  I would have to say that he loves the hell out of his little boy and it’s very obvious.  I have no kids of my own, but I want to be that guy, the guy that invests in family and those that matter most.  The guy that wants to be a good example to his kid and raise a solid young man.   I want to be the guy that knows what is right and does it.  I want to be the guy that other men look up to as a leader, someone that others want to follow who know will give good counsel if and when needed.

I want to be the guy that speaks up for truth when he has to and isn’t ashamed to stand for what’s right.  The guy that won’t act like an asshole in an effort to impress his friends or put his friends before his family.  I want to be the guy that puts others first, who will always be ready to give the shirt off of his back to someone in need.  The guy that wears his heart on his sleeve and isn’t afraid to express himself or admit when he needs help.  I want to be the guy that isn’t ashamed to cry during a good movie or chick flick.  Haha.  I want to be the guy that opens her door and pulls out her chair at dinner.  I want to be the guy that makes her feel safe and secure who no other man can get to.  The guy that makes her feel like a queen or the guy that always makes her feel like first place.  The guy that lifts her up and not tears her down.  The guy that loves unconditionally and never gives up.  I want to be the guy that others look up to and not down on.  The guy that is upright, who may not be perfect, but who others will refer to as a “stand up guy”.  I want to be the guy that isn’t afraid to admit his mistakes and learns from them, who falls but gets right back up and tries again, harder.  I want to be that guy, that man that leaves his mark on the world and on those around him.  I want to lead, not follow, but if I have to follow I want to follow other men that are going somewhere.

I just want to be that guy who may not have all of his “shit together”, but is doing the best he can with what he has.  I want to change the world and rather than do it alone, I want to do it with others who also want to “be that guy”.

Lift each other up today men.  Be strong.  Be great examples.  Love on your family.  Give your girlfriend or wife long, strong hugs and kisses and make them feel safe.  Get up early and make them coffee and breakfast tacos or get to Chickfila.  Hold your kids a little longer this morning.  Be great today.  Be that guy that people will remember as awesome and nothing less.  Be better than you were yesterday.

@hectorgarciahtx

bully

BETTER PART 2  |  FEAR:  THE BIG BULLY

It was 1984 and I was 12 years old in a new school in Spring Branch.  Two years earlier my dad passed away from Cancer and my mom moved us into a new neighborhood as a result of a new marriage and some new life changes.  I was one of many little Hispanic kids that were bused in from apartments a few miles away to a “rich white school” (at the time) called Spring Branch Middle School.  It was a tough year for me, but was also one of the best years of my life.  Breakdancing was new and it became my lifestyle.  It was also a year that I was introduced to BMX freestyle, which has been a part of my life to this day.

But one thing that wasn’t great that year was something that I’m not very proud of.  You see, I had been bullying this little white kid for most of the first semester.  I’m not sure how it all started, but everyday or at least every other day I was picking on this kid by intimidating him with “toughness” and making him give me his lunch money.  Yes, just like in the movies, I was getting lunch money from this kid and it was easy.  I never got violent with him or hit him, but there was enough intimidation there to get him to comply.  My bully tactics all came to a head one morning as we walked out to the field for gym class.  I remember coming up from behind him and in one instant, I had pulled his shorts down to his ankles.  He was totally caught off guard, but more than that, I embarrassed the hell out of him. All red faced and in shock, he quickly pulled his shorts back up and as quickly as my friends started laughing and making fun of him, it all came to an end by the grip of my gym teacher’s hand on my shoulder.  It wasn’t funny to him of course, and a few minutes later, I found myself sitting in the principal’s office.  I eventually apologized to that kid but I have no idea how it affected him in the future, and to this day I still think about how sucky that all was.

Fast forward to August 2015, as I sit here and work with my friend Spotify.  He’s been playing music all morning, and his band of choice at the moment is Blue October, a band that I’ve come to love very much over the years.  They have a song called FEAR and as I’m listening to it there is a line that reminded me of my junior high bully days.  That line says “Fear in itself will reel you in and spit you out over and over again, believe in yourself and you will roar!” This statement is powerful, especially coming out of the mouth of Justin Furstenfeld, and as I’ve listened to the song over and over and over I can’t help but visualize “fear” as being a big intimidating bully, pushing people around, slapping them in the head and making them give “him” their lunch money.

Fear CAN be a bully and it can keep us from doing so many great things.  It can be the deciding factor between taking on a new job, taking on new challenges at school, or something as “simple” as following one’s heart.  Whatever the case, fear is known for being that little voice that sits on your shoulder that says things like “you can’t do it” or “if you do that you’re friends or family are going to think you’re crazy” or even “hahahahaha, you’ll never succeed at that”.  Fear is mean, unrelenting, and it hates you.  It wants to destroy you and doesn’t want to see you succeed or be happy.

There is a video online of a small little kid antagonizing a bigger taller boy outside of a junior high school.  (see video below)  Casey, the larger kid, gets punched in the face and continually poked at by the smaller boy.  Casey takes it for a little bit, but then realizes that the only way to make this stop is to grab the little bully and slam him to the ground.  Only then does the situation change and as Casey walks away, the little bully can be seen limping off camera in a daze and wounded.  That little kid symbolizes fear and the only way to win over fear is to face it head on and body slam it.  As the song states, it’s mission is to “reel you in over and over and over again and then spit you out”.  Only until a person can “believe in themselves” and punch fear in the mouth, will they be able to walk on with pride and roar like the awesome lion that they are.

Whatever fear you might be facing today, don’t let it continue to bully you.  Quit thinking so much and make your move.  Follow your heart.  Follow your dreams and don’t do anything based on what others may or may not think.  Too many times we make decisions based on pleasing others, and that in itself is a fear that needs to be body slammed.  Fear can never win.  Don’t let it win.  Body slam it,  roar like that damn lion that you are.

@hectorgarciahtx

turtle

TURTLE TURTLE TURTLE.

The word “Turtle” is a funny word, isn’t it?  Try saying that word 10 times over and over and see what happens.  Your tongue will hate you for it.  haha.

Turtles are amazing creatures and I learned something new about these awesome little reptiles a couple of days ago that resonated with me in a very powerful way.  It was Monday night and I decided to go for a run with my dog Mr. Wesley.  He loves going for runs.  We had only been running for about 5 minutes when we were stopped in our tracks by a small turtle trying to cross the track.  We stopped to figure out what to do with him and before I could make my move to pick him up another runner grabbed him and put him in the grass closest to the road.  I immediately asked the guy if he could put him on the other side of the track near the woods so that he wouldn’t end up in the street.  That’s when I was schooled on turtles and he shared how you’re not supposed to place turtles back where they traveled from.  That’s all he gave me, so with a few google searches I found out why this is.

Turtles have their territories and if they’re traveling far it’s usually because they’re on a “mission”.  That mission most of the time is to either find new territory or they’re looking for sex.  haha. Once I learned this I had an “ah ha” moment.  I was like “wow, if turtles set out on a mission, there’s no turning back”.  And even if someone grabs them and sets them back a few hundred feet, they’ll start right back at it and hit the road again until they get where they were going.

We can learn a lot from the turtle.  How many times have we set out on “missions”, only to end up going backwards when things get tough or things don’t go as planned?  This could apply to work, business, school,  and yes, relationships.  Turtles are hardcore missionaries, and as slow as they move they’re pretty brave to be crossing highways or busy running tracks.  They don’t care though, they have somewhere to be.

Stay on course.  Stay focused.  You’re trying to get a small business running?  Don’t give up or get distracted.  Get it done.  You’re a student and trying to juggle school and a part-time job?  Don’t give up.  Work your ass off because when you’re done the rewards will be awesome.  Men, Women, don’t hold one another to past mistakes.  Always move forward and walk in forgiveness everyday.  Looking back or holding unforgiveness is like a turtle going backwards.  They don’t know how to, and neither should we.

Turtles.

Follow me on Instagram:  @hectorgarcia

Follow Mr. Wesley on Instagram:  @mrwesleyandpupsicle

robinwilliams

His Life Made Us Laugh, His death should make us think.

All of our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds are being flooded this morning with tributes and RIP statuses following the passing away of one of the world’s greatest comedians, Robin Williams.  Reports suggest that his death was due to suicide, but further investigations and an autopsy will of course confirm this.

Robin, who has always been very candid about his battle with depression and alcoholism, is someone that I’m sure many would have never suspected something like this from.  Many who were close to him describe him as one of the nicest, sweetest, loving human beings that you’d ever meet.  The Today Show this morning described him as someone who genuinely loved people and he seemed more concerned about touching people’s lives and hearts than being the huge iconic star that he was.

For decades he made us laugh and cry.  One of my all time favorite movies that he starred in was Good Will Hunting.  It’s actually a comfort movie for me.  We all have our comfort movies, right?  It was one of his more serious roles, but his character was so real, so loving, and genuine, that I wanted to go sit in his office and get counsel from him and get a hug from him.  He was like that caring uncle or grandfather who you knew would have all the right answers and make everything better.

We saw a man that was full of life and laughter.  As with most people, we have no idea what they deal with off camera or away from the public eye.  When we receive news that a person like Robin killed themselves, it shocks us because it’s so unexpected and uncharacteristic from what we all see on TV or in movies.  In all, this man’s life filled ours with laughter.  His death should now fill our lives with thought, and lots and lots of questions about depression and mental illness.  It’s sad that it takes the death of someone like this to get everyone talking, but it is what it is.

Why did he take his life?

This will be a question that no one will be able to answer.  We can all try, and believe me, Hollywood and the E! Channel will try, but no one really knows.  All we know is that he battled depression, which is a mental illness, and with that came a struggle with alcoholism.  You have to hand it to him though, he held on for a long long time.  He was 63 yrs old, a longer life than most sufferers of a mental illness are able to live.

Why didn’t Robin Williams reach out to someone?

Many think that “if he just would have reached out to me, I would have been able to be there for him or talk him out of it”.  The fact is, most people who take their own lives don’t plan on doing so, so there’s no advanced notice.  Mental illness is a machine, a monster, and a suicide attempt is something that most have no control over.

My girlfriend suffers from Bipolar disorder and she’s had a few suicide attempts in her lifetime, all situations that she couldn’t prepare for nor anyone else in her life.  One night, a few years ago, we met for dinner and had a few drinks.  She was on a new medication that probably shouldn’t have been mixed with any alcohol, something we learned from after the fact of course.  We left the restaurant, said our goodbyes, and both headed to our own homes.  A few minutes later I get a call from her and she’s talking very strange and appears to be very aggravated.  After hanging up I make several attempts to call her back, but i’m sent directly to voicemail.  She finally calls me from her apt, and shares that she took about 20+ Benadryl and she couldn’t even remember making a stop at a CVS to purchase the pills.  She also stated that she threw her cell phone out on the freeway.  I jumped in my truck and raced to her apt which was normally a 20 min drive.  I made it in less, doing 90 – 100mph all the way there.  I was able to get her to a hospital fast enough for them to pump everything out of her stomach.  It was a scary situation and very rare that someone has the opportunity to call for help.  Luckily she did and she lives to share this story.

Neither one of us could have expected this to happen, the same way no one, not even Robin Williams himself, thought that he was going to take his life this weekend.  We don’t know if he was on any meds or treatment, but whatever the case, the depression and mental illness took over.

Mental illness is real.  It’s just as real as breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many others that receive so much attention on a daily basis.  Mental illness seems to be the step-child of all illnesses and diseases and people who suffer from it walk around in secret battles, afraid to talk about it because of the stigma that comes with it.  There’s a lack of understanding for the most part and people need to be more educated about it.  I applaud my girlfriend because she’s so real and unashamed about her illness.  She’s very open and has 20K plus followers on Facebook who have fallen in love with that openness and candid talk about Bipolar and depression.  You can follow her at www.facebook.com/peppervintage

Very few of us knew Robin Williams personally, but we feel like we did because of TV and Hollywood. Allow his death to teach us something and encourage us to get to know those around us.  Allow his passing to open our hearts and hunger for understanding about the illness that he suffered from.  If you suffer from mental illness, I hope that your friends and family can help create an atmosphere where you can be open and honest about it.  And if not, seek out others who can, who will encourage you and stand with you.

Rest in Peace Robin.

@hectorgarciahtx