Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cuba

What was the grand strategy?

Did the Castro's really believe that capitalism was going to fall?  Were they looking for power or did Fidel want to help his people and therefore built a 'revolution'?  How does Cuba's communism compare to other versions I've seen?  How are the reforms going?  Is their current 'opening' going to cause any environmental destruction or inequalities?  Will Cuba ever have private education?

Truth be told, I admire the regime.  They have done a better job of organizing the country than some Western countries.  From what I could tell, the oppression I was bracing for, doesn't exist.  Of course, I wasn't there in the in the 90s and I tend to believe that the 'not so good' areas of Cuba are hidden from tourists and/or Americans.  Either that, or I'm a socialist. 

The buildings are dilapidated and an urban planner showed us precisely why.  The average salary is $20 USD a month.  A gallon of paint is roughly $7.  That doesn't leave much to live on if you want to feed your family.  The restriction on cars is fascinating.  There are only old American cars from the 50s, a collection of Soviet-era cars and then new ones that Raul has decided to allow in 2008, BMW, Mercedes, Geely (Chinese).  I even saw a few Skodas.  Every dashboard, aside for the well -refurbished ones we toured in for an afternoon, has a mish-mash of parts; made in Czechoslovakia, Cyrillic writing and Honda cooling systems.  And, of course, the highly educated Cubans who are doctors and lawyers are not the top of the socio-economic ladder, it's the ones who work in tourism and deal with the CUC (the currency used for tourist and foreign investors- CUP being the national currency)  We met an English catering gynecologist who was working as a waiter because it pays better.  These are all reasons why the regime has started to make reforms and has invited foreign investment, on their own terms of course.

It can be argued that the huge influx of American tourists will bring about the ugly changes that no one likes in an overly touristic community (pick-pocketing, swindling, over-charging, etc), but, as the woman of the casa particular I stayed in, who was a very opinionated woman, told me, "We've always had tourists".  It's just the Americans that haven't been around for decades.  We're also the likely candidates to turn in a car once it's passed 100K miles.  Or once the muffler rusts through, or the dash doesn't work, or it's been totaled by two deer.  The Cubans are incredibly resourceful and
just like the cars, they already have in place a Marine Protection Agency, which cites a study done over 40 years of the destruction of the Florida Keys coral and marine life using GIS.  This is according to an Economist who works for the University of Cuba- he may or may not have been simply telling us a story to show they are prepared for reform; I've also heard they have let a lot of the coastline self-degrade. 

The bars we went to in La Habana seemed no different than higher end bars in developing countries.  The Fabrica de Arte Cubana was truly an experience, a place where youth gather, wait in line in mini-skirts, pay a cover, grab a mojito or rum and coke and look at art or dance all night.  Inside, it felt like a combination of the Nacional in Madrid, Double Deuce downtown San Diego and Dali's museum in Figueres.  Nevermind that the bar is a creation of the government.  I only wish I had used the bathroom there, I was dehydrated for the first few days due to the humidity and not having the first world luxury of drinking from the faucet and therefore did not use it.  I can say, however, that myself and two others had stopped into a restaurant/bar on the way home one day to use the bathroom and it was so nice we just had to have a drink inside.  They also served gazpacho and while it was good, it was not as good as mine or others I've had.  That bar, a private bar, was most likely sponsored by a Cuban living abroad and once we stopped in there and then later went there at night with the group, I started to see stickers for the place on cars around town, very clever marketing in a country where Yelp doesn't exist.  It's called Sarao if you're interested and it's in Vedado from what I can tell.

The other stickers found in and on cars, even the old ones, were both Playboy stickers and the Apple sticker.  Peculiarly with the American flag backdrop.  I guess Apple has been clever as well.  Viva California!  Playboy and Apple at least...  and Google... gmail at least is alive and well according to some emails I received.

We spent some time in the tobacco fields (an experience that got me choked up) and on the coast snorkeling on the reef mid-week.  I thought I was being smart by only paying 2 CUC at the gas station we stopped at on the way for a large bottle of water and a small juice box container of rum.  Until I tried getting away with a free pineapple juice from the man on the beach who looked into my eyes and told me how I beautiful I was and then charged me $2.50!!  I put up a fight and he threw in a banana.  (I needed the potassium anyway after having swam out to the reef and back).  I did do an interesting swap of goods at the beach too, my swim googles for a Cuban Red Cross cap and t-shirt, brokered with the assistance of a classmate.  Apparently, my $5 goggles I got from Big Five two years ago are incredibly amazing.  I promptly suggested I organize I triathlon in the area since triathletes care about the environment and would be best suited to bring in healthy development.

Back in La Habana, I finally had a chance to talk to people that I wasn't introduced to and spent two hours in one plaza gathering information.  Normally the people that sell antique oddities, books, coins and stamps/postcards are also relatively old.  However, this plaza was full of young men that were well suited for my mother, if you know what I mean.  Probably because they make more money in tourism than working as an Engineer for the government.  It felt like a Prague square 10 years ago and there were actually hundreds of old Soviet lapel pins.  I bought one from Bulgaria, Romania and finally found one from Poland.  I found a postcard that had been sent from New York City in 1910 to La Habana.  I found a very fascinating piece of propaganda from the 50s that I bought for my post-communist BFF.  And then I found myself in conversation with a man who must have been in his 50s, called Sixto Valon.  He seemed like any normal black Cuban man, he and his younger counterparts offered me a fermented drink made from a root, called pru. 

This man helped me find my way to the Marina Hemingway, answered some sociological and cultural questions I had and then asked me about the police in the United States who kill black men.  Of all the pressing questions, this was on the top of his mind.  He asked me how many times it has happened since Obama was elected, as if his presidency has prompted it.  When I went in to explain the socio-economic reasons and the racism behind it, he was mesmerized.  Luckily for him, I was able to use some of the skills I learned in my Ethnicity class last quarter on the fails of policies directed toward minorities.  Like a proud revolutionary, or a speculating bookseller, he told me that their are no poor areas of Cuba made up of purely blacks or any other minority and these kind of murders simply don't happen.  (Nevermind the human rights violations committed by the Castros)While I couldn't answer his question of how many blacks have been killed by police in the United States since Obama has been president with a solid number, we both walked away with a deeper understanding of each other's culture.  There were many other topics we discussed as well.  In addition, his email address is a gmail.

When the American journalist we met with, who has been writing from Cuba for Reuters for 25 years, told us that Fidel was never after money, only power, I asked if that was why, using my fingers as quotes, the revolution has been so 'successful' all these years.  He questioned my use of words and I explained that as I saw it, there have been no uprisings, civil wars, ethnic cleansing, after 57 years.  Perhaps they have all been hidden from Western eyes and ears HOWEVER, a man living in Cuba as a journalist for so many years wasn't able to give me any reasons aside for the collapse of the Soviet Union causing rafts of Cubans to show up in the 90s and the current 'brain drain' going on among the youth to believe that change will cause violence or vice versa.  (There is an opportunity to quote Petersen's Resistance and Rebellion here to prove that there are not enough oppressed groups to form cleavages that would cause any uprisings)  As a matter of fact, as the Economist we met with explained to us that instead of organizing society using doctors and teachers, the Cuban government is poised to use economic models to organize society using mojitos and Guantanamera players to guide tourism in the way that only a Socialist society can. 

The next 10 weeks is really going to be fascinating, as we are now in the spring quarter and are taking the Cuba; Revolution and Reform class.  I am also taking in conjunction, a Human Rights class and either Mexican Policy Making or Managing a Non-Profit.  Perhaps I should return over the summer.  With some real numbers on those murders on black people in the US. 

This was written with haste and I have been hesitant to write anything since I've started graduate school since my ramblings seem to have less importance than the academic stuff I've been reading and writing.   (This is considered an op-ed and I am by no means a Socialist) :)











Monday, May 19, 2014

I believe in God. I believe in Love. I believe in Humanity.

I have always been someone who takes quotes and inspirational ideas to heart.  In 5th grade, I participated in a play that took place during The Great Depression and we sang a song called, "Nothing's Impossible".  The idea was to instill faith in yourself and in your hard work in order to overcome life's challenges.  I remember all the lessons from that play.  Especially that song.  I can still sing the melody.  Plus, I knew that I could achieve any dream, no matter how possible or impossible it seemed to society.  In addition, I believed and still believe that as a society, we can overcome our challenges together.  (diseases, wars, even poverty...?)

But those intangibles?  Something that cannot be measured in economics, or put into statistics or objectives to be met.  

I knew that in the end, we are all just here floating around, trying to figure something out and then we're gone.  Therefore, what does it matter what we do with our life?  Who cares if there is a God or not?  What's the point?  Especially in our society where we rush to get to work, hate our jobs, rush home to do chores and errands and have weekends full of crap to do.  In a world where I can justify hating my job because others do and also justify leaving my job because I know I shouldn't live like that and don't want to... because... I'll be gone soon... 

Digressing, my point is that I always had trouble believing in both God and Love.  It just seemed like that job.  A dogma.  Going to church and praying is like falling in love and getting married.  Do you go along with society because that's what you do?  Or do you question why we do these things.  Does it matter in the end anyway???

Over the years and through self-exploration, God has become closer to me and I finally feel like he's a friend.  I knew there was a point in praying and just like training for a race, the dogma of doing it has become real. We make agreements, he takes care of me as long as I take care of myself and we get along.  I finally understand the phrase, "Everything through prayer."  I use my time alone to have those conversations and being able to be entirely open with a true friend has become very special to me.  I hope to continue to develop my relationship with God and look forward to getting closer.  Some of the traditional dogma still doesn't appeal to me but I am open to exploration regardless.

The idea of Love has haunted me.  Unconditional love from family makes total sense to me.  But, in a romantic relationship, I questioned it the same as I questioned God.  I've never been the first to say "I love you." because, as much as I enjoyed being with someone, I never felt compelled to declare my love.  It seemed absurd to me.  I felt that they were just obsessed, they wanted something from me or they were trying to manipulate me.  Or just crazy.  

However, there are people that believe in Love but don't believe in other intangibles.  So, that told me that Love is an emotion that logic cannot get around.  Where logic can tell you there is no man up in the sky maneuvering our lives, it's hard to argue an emotion that pulls you towards someone else, gives you butterflies and causes you to miss someone when they're gone.  It's a different kind of intangible.  In some scientific circles, it can be measured as well.  I'm sure there is an equation that measures heart rate, body temperature and other senses to determine the amount of love someone is experiencing.  

I now understand why someone would feel compelled to proclaim their love.  The emotion is so strong, they cannot resist the urge to share the feeling with the other person.  Which makes obvious sense but I now have a deeper meaning of what that means.  Which is also why the follow-up question, days and weeks later is always a variation of, "Do you love me".  Because the idea is to share that emotion with the other person.  Otherwise, there is no point of being in love, if it cannot be shared.  That person encompasses and completes you.  So, it needs to be mutual in order to be considered legitimate love.  I finally get it.  

Humanity, well, we have a lot of work to do.  Knowing that we are only going to die and in the end and nothing matters, I have such a hard time accepting the fact that there are entire societies living in utter poverty and suffering while the rest of the developed world keeps going at rates impossible to keep up with.  So we have a polio vaccine.  Too bad parts of the Middle East and Africa are still suffering from it.  But, it's alright since we're creating more health issues to solve in the US by producing food products with less actual food in them and creating more and more sugar addicts.  (I have a product that fights this- from my chiropractor)

However, just like the partnerships of oneself with God and love with another person, Humanity cannot solve it's own problems.  You cannot allow it to go on without your help.  "Be the change you wish to see in the world." said Gandhi.  He refused to sit back and watch society destroy itself.  If you disagree with the way we are evolving, do something about it.  I recycle the water I boil potatoes in.  I know how much water California doesn't have and the Colorado River is not replenishing.  If you want to leave more for the following generations, it starts with simple acts of saving food.  Don't buy more than you're going to eat and eat what you buy.  If you take home your leftovers, which you should, eat it.  And bring your own containers!  Styrofoam should be eliminated like polio.

If we work together on these little things, we will get somewhere.  If everyone threw a piece of garbage out of the window every day, can you imagine how much garbage we'd have everywhere??  So, the positive actions work the same way.  If everyone conserved their food, can you imagine how much food, energy it takes to make the food, money it takes to pay the laborers, and water it takes to feed/water the food we could save!!???

I believe, just as Gene Roddenberry did, (a surrealist version of Spock it sitting next to me at the cafe I'm at), that we can develop into a better society.  One that allows us to believe in whatever God we want, love whomever we fall in love with and trust in one another to bring Humanity to that point.  


Elizabeth

Check it out, UNICORNS:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/leahland/i-believe-in-unicorns
Polio:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poliomyelitis_eradication
Bret Barrett:  bretbarrett.com -  Spock, Dali and Warhol





Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Am I being asked to change or does he actually care about me?

Society presents us with all kinds of ideas on how to behave, what to wear, who to be friends with, etc. We also have to deal with our own feelings on top of it.  It’s a tough battle, knowing that you are probably not doing what society says or what your family believes is right but your emotions are telling you to do something else.  Where do you draw the line?  Are you even conscious of this line?  If you’re a man, you’ve probably never thought about it.  If you’re a woman, you’ve overanalyzed it time and again.  Especially when someone posts an inspirational quote with a beach behind it on facebook, telling you to live the life you want to live and do what you want to do.

 

I have gotten myself into romantic relationships in the past that have disturbed my image of what is right and wrong.  One that I wanted out of for almost 2 years yet I kept trying to please him, hoping that it would work out eventually and it never did.  The other I wanted to be in the relationship for life and simply did too much for him and jeopardized myself; making myself vulnerable.  Either way, looking back, I realized that I did too much for the relationship than what I was getting out of it.  When we discussed issues, independent of who brought them up, I was the person who was committed to making it work out.  I was told that my ‘selfishness’ was getting in the way, so I moved him up in the priority list, I was told that my problem with his mother was my ‘problem’, so I threw myself in the pit and spent the weekend with her, etc.  FOR YEARS I did these dumb things, thinking that it was the best way to go about these things.

Until I started to take into account all of those comments from women over the years about dating men who simply wanted to change them to fit their image of the woman they wanted.  I dawned on me that I was doing that same thing.  “Why don’t you wear lipstick?”  I made an effort to wear lipstick…  Or, “You use too many pronouns, I can’t understand you.”  I thought I had a problem.  Maybe I did use too many pronouns???  So, I tried to change the way I spoke around him.  Which caused other problems in my daily life, in turn complicating life in ways I don’t want to even think about anymore.  Little did I know it then, but, I was putting way too much effort into relationships than they were worth.  I was honestly getting too little out of them for it to even be worth it.

This is not the problem however.  The problem is that, NOW, I cannot distinguish between a legitimate relationship concern and a boyfriend trying to ‘change’ me.  I am so terrified of someone compromising who I am to even think about their concerns from an objective viewpoint.  I’ve taken the stance to be who I am, no matter who that is and who I hurt.  Which is honestly very sad.  Whenever a subject comes up that concerns the relationship or the needs of the other person, I refuse to listen.  I’ve gone all the way over to the other spectrum where I cannot even listen to the other person’s concerns for my fear of being manipulated and ‘changed’. 


Therefore, where do you draw the line?  I don’t feel like I can trust my emotions since they’re the ones wreaking havoc on my heart in the first place.  Yet, logic tells me to be aware of men and to be vigilant as to who is going to try to ‘change’ me.  Emotional abuse is a real thing.  I suppose Pat Benatar knew what she was talking about in “Love is a Battlefield”.  For now, I’m going to focus on taking some time for myself, getting to know myself on a different level, without the manipulation or even the guidance of a man.  Although, in the future, I hope to accept advice and constructive criticism from a boyfriend/partner without thinking they are trying to manipulate or change me; while still being aware of the malicious ones.  

Thanks for reading!

E







Monday, February 10, 2014

Family

I took an online quiz probably close to 6 years ago with inquisitive questions that asked you to relate a color to a person, list how much you like certain animals, etc.  It turned out that family came up first in my order of importance, money being the last... I always knew I am a family oriented person, I grew up close to my cousins, am a 3rd generation lifetime member of Sokol, a family fitness organization and love children.  However, when the answers to this quiz were presented to me, it was right there.  Granted, it's simply a fun online quiz, but these things are powerful for me.

They say how when you start to think about something and you desire it deep inside yourself, those things take shape.  I realized at age 30 that I was getting to that age where most men I were to date would have children or if they had never been married, probably had a reason why or nobody wanted to marry them.  (I've since realized that there are many other reasons for someone to be unmarried...)  However, I decided that I would have a ball dating a man with children.  No more than a month later I met Jorge's kids, Cony and Panchito.  And they were a BALL.  From playing with the continual flow of puppies at their Grandma's house, making slides on the beach or creating our own games, I had a ton of fun with them.  I haven't seen them in years yet I can still hear them calling my name.  Panchito used to come to me when he needed to use the potty- and I loved it!

Since then, I've pondered what it takes to make a family a family.  In my immediate family of parents and 3 siblings, we've remained remarkably close.  In the outer circle of family, we are just as close.  How can you gather 60 people together EVERY Christmas Eve in an outer suburb of Chicago, some people traveling 70 miles to come on Christmas Eve?  We have a Cousin Club Pub Crawl every fall!  We get together for the 4th of July, we go to weddings, we make beer together, my male cousin even put sunscreen on my back on a topless beach in Spain...

We have a family calendar that Emily started doing a few years back, probably close to 7/8 years ago.  In the digital age, this is so important to print every year.  If not, how will my great nieces see the picture of Great Uncle Matt and I running a 50K if it's not printed.  Who knows what will happen to facebook in years to come?  Who will see the text my sister sent me of her dog when we're in our 80s?

With family, it is important to remember that the dynamics will not come together on they're own.  Just like any other relationship, it takes effort.  The chemistry is there simply because of the genes.  But, when there is backlash, you cannot walk away from it like you can a former co-worker.  You'll still need to see each other at family events.  Unless, of course, you convince yourself it's useless to go because nobody likes you or you don't want to see the other person.  And, in that case, you only have yourself to blame for allowing the family to fall apart.  I text with my sisters practically every single day.  However, we have gone through our fights like most sisters do.  We haven't spoken for weeks.  We've called ourselves bad names and bitched about each other to the other one.  But, you better believe it that we'll be there for each other when the time comes. I appreciate my family so much for not only their unconditional love but also for keeping me in line.  It's fascinating that we have matured to a point where we can give each other tough love without getting offended and without pointing fingers and making fun.

However, I've realized over the years that the relationship relies not only on tradition and getting together for holidays, etc, but it's a constant effort.  It's a good thing we have facebook!  Unfortunately, these things would be much more difficult.  However, I still think of the cassette tape my sister made for me and sent to me when I was in Spain and how I got my rolls of film developed in doubles so that I could send them home since I didn't have a digital camera.  It made for a very emotional reuniting at the airport when I finally got home.

That being said, there is something very important to keep in mind as well, regarding knowing when to stop trying.  When you are the only one putting into the family and it starts to destroy you, that's when you need to learn to take that step back and put yourself first.  However, for most families, like other relationships, you're only going to get out of them what you put into them.  We wouldn't have a family calendar announcing birthdays and anniversaries if we didn't upload our pics into a common drive.  Uncle Mike and Aunt Terry wouldn't continue to host Christmas Eve and the 4th of July if no one came.  My mother wouldn't make red velvet Santa bags for everyone if they weren't used and appreciated.

I love my family and vow to continue to keep the lines of communication open, send cards out, appreciate their advice and spend quality time together.  It's not too late to come to San Diego and enjoy some sun during winter!!!!  It's 63 degrees at this very moment, 11:52 pm.  And 3 degrees in Chicago.

Thanks for reading, I had to get these ideas written out...

Elizabeth








Tuesday, December 31, 2013

They say that 'time flies when you're having fun'.  2013 FLEW BY!  I guess I had fun!

It started off with an adventurous vacation in Paraguay with a good friend, visiting another good friend in the Peace Corps.  Drinking tererĂ© in the plaza, jumping off waterfalls and discussing machismo while staying out all night!  Then English Dave and I celebrated our one year anniversary in February and my sister Anne came to visit in March where she witnessed the Old Goat 50 mile race and met a lot of my close running buds.  I also took a class at San Diego City College on Native California Indians in the spring.



When I originally came to San Diego, I knew there was good running here and when I got the invite to run Badwater Salton Sea, I couldn't pass it up, regardless of vacation time confines and training for my first 100 mile race.  So, I quit my job in the for-profit higher education industry I was sick of and knew it was time to make my change and take the steps towards a career change.  After completing a brutal 81 mile Badwater Salton Sea race and getting a kidney infection, I got the call about my mom being admitted into the hospital on a Saturday, I was there by Monday evening.   

My mother has always taken care of everyone else.  Driving us around, working two jobs, devoting herself to our events and our goals, she has neglected herself for as long as I can remember.  Either believing she can live vicariously through us, or that her happiness depends upon ours, this is what I have seen over the years.  While it may be normal to think that this is exactly what a good mother should do, underlying emotions and barriers have developed in the progress.  She has seen herself in us and has worried that we might bring the same lack of respect for ourselves into our lives.  In my case, I have subconsciously never been able to rely on emotions in romantic relationships, instead, using logic to guide my actions.  I have such a fear of neglecting myself that I have become too selfish to get myself into a position where I could possibly give myself to someone else.  I had been contemplating this since my mom's hospital stay and during an emotional sports kinesiology session with my chiropractor, after I asked if perhaps I was holding emotions in my foot, this came up! 
What I'm going to do about it is yet to be determined.  Attend emotional workshops?  See a therapist?  Run some more and think about it??  Whatever I do, I'm glad I am now consciously aware of it.

After she got strong enough, my dear mother was released to go home and now has a new lease on life!!  Thank you to friends, family, God and the world for the support.  She's doing well and keeping herself busy with projects for both others and herself!  It's an everyday battle, just as life.  She got out of the hospital just in time to celebrate in the best way possible.  My sister's marriage!  It was beautiful and they are perfect for each other!  I love you all.



Returning to San Diego after having ran no more than 15 miles in total since the 81 miler 4 weeks beforehand, the San Diego 100 mile endurance run on June 8-9 was amazing.  Everyone asked about my mom and I thought of her the entire time.  I had a great crew and pacers with me the entire time.  It got into the 100s in the mountains and while 60% of the runners who started did not make it, I was able to tough it out.  (I get that from my mom! :))

The summer involved climbing Mt. Baldy and Gorgonio, the 4th of July with the Hassetts, saying goodbye to Cadbury, my other sister's wedding in August and a visit from my cousins and a friend from Chile for the Cubs game!  It was great to be able to see family so much over the summer!  September was Mt. Whitney, we did it in one day and dealt with altitude sickness, cold weather and hail on the peak!  Thank you to my good friend Julius for getting the permit and inviting me!

The newlyweds Ginny and Jeremy came to visit the following weekend and the 4 of us literally spent the entire time on the water.  We left for only minutes at a time to walk the dog or see the sports game and I managed to sprain my ankle in that half hour!  AND THEN, at the end of September, I participated in my first swim event, at the La Jolla Cove and swam two 1 mile legs for our team, Ladies of the Sea. 

Since October, I've had a few volunteer opportunities at races, I have been applying to grad school, (SUCH A PROCESS), building a marketing position for my chiropractor, Dr. Garrett, selling a new-to-the-US-market herbal supplement, and training others in the art of having fun while running.  Recently, as a Christmas gift, my mom gave me a shirt that reads:  "Any idiot can run a marathon, it takes a special idiot to run an ultramarathon."  I guess she's proud of her special idiot daughter.



2013 has been a year of trying new things, of strengthening family bonds, of spending time with David and our silly dog Maximus, and of making new friends!  It feels great to have made such strong connections with great people over the course of the year!  I love keeping in touch with people and therefore, cannot deny how much I appreciate the technology that allows us to do this.  

For 2014, I look forward to my nephew coming to visit on his spring break and swimming in the pacific with him, the opportunity to attend a long time friend's wedding in Slovakia, getting a scholarship for grad school (!!!), going to Florida with my sisters and mom, running another 100 and becoming a student again in the fall.   

In 2014, I also hope to focus on releasing my fear of giving myself up, spending quality time with loved ones, helping the world in little ways and learning Portuguese.

I have not been able to come up with a resolution and simply have these goals.  However, if you have a resolution, stick to it and believe that it will make you a better person in the end if you can tough it out.  There are so many things to do in this world and a million ways to do them.  You are stronger than you realize.

Elizabeth
December 31st, 2013

















 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My experience with Nelson Mandela started Junior year of high school with Mr. Casey.  He was an assistant cross-country and track and field coach.  I also took his African Cultures elective where we studied the geography of Africa, politics, history, etc.  We watched The Power of One in his class.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_of_One_(film)

He introduced me to TIME magazine and I got myself my first magazine subscription.  He introduced me to Swahili.  He introduced me to Nelson Mandela where I learned to believe.  Believe in myself.  Believe in my ideals.  Believe that I could do something.

I had other things to do in life so I told myself I was going to visit Africa before I turn 30.  

On a trip to Salzburg, on the Sound of Music tour, I met a man from South Africa.  The first person I had ever met from South Africa.  He helped me with my luggage, I was only 20 and hadn't perfected the art of packing... we shared some smokes I and had to be out to Vienna.  When I discovered I didn't have enough money to get to Vienna, he offered to help.  Remembering my grandmother's words of advice about being too trusting, I declined.  To which he responded.  "Don't let your pride get in your way.  Pride can keep us from doing things we would or otherwise should do."  

That stayed with me forever.  I still quote him to this day and carry it with me daily.  Don't be too proud to speak up when others are not.  Don't be too proud to tell someone you are hurting.  Don't be too proud to ask for help.  Don't be too proud to do a job below your pay grade or education.  

Today Nelson Mandela has passed on and we are left with his legacy.  He had the innocence of Anne Frank and the power of Gandhi.  A hero for his people and a role model to everyone everywhere.

Please take a moment to watch the trailer for the film "Mandela:  Long Walk to Freedom":  http://mandelafilm.com/#/

There is also a portion of the website dedicated to educational resources.  If you have children, are a role model or teacher, please consider using these educational resources: http://weinsteinco.com/mandela-education/

In honor of Mandela and in order to celebrate the holidays more effectively, I propose the following:

- Do not judge anyone this Holiday season.  
- Don't think you're too cool to give money to the homeless.  
- If you're someone who brings food home from a restaurant and doesn't eat it, give it to someone who will.
- If you're someone who doesn't bring food home, stop ordering so much or cook your own food.
- Be thankful for what you have always.  
- Realize what is important not just to you but for everyone.
- Do something differently than you normally do.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of thinking.  

Use your own thought to come to conclusions. (This may be difficult)

Stand up for what you believe in.  

Do not be afraid.  

These are the ideals I have learned from Mandela.  I think it's time I go to Africa.


RIP Madiba
You will forever be in our hearts.












Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I DARE YOU: CARLSBAD '14

Wanted:

  • Group of 2-6 individuals to train for and run the Carlsbad marathon Jan. 19th
  • Must be able to dedicate the time it takes to train for a marathon, roughly 10 hrs/week from now until January
  • Need to be motivated and enthusiastic
  • Must have either running experience or be fit enough to begin running immediately

 

Training:

  • We meet to learn your capabilities and get to know one another
  • I provide training schedules two weeks at a time according to your ability; including mileage, cross training and injury prevention exercises as well as diet
  • We communicate regularly by email, text, phone
  • Hold each other accountable and plan runs together, including me!
  • We meet every two weeks to discuss your successes and difficulties in order to make the next schedule

 

Compensation:

  • $100 per month/per group
  • First two months paid in order to begin
  • Sundays are for ourselves and family

 

Rewards:

  • Lifetime achievement of running a marathon
  • Pushing yourself beyond your physical and mental comfort zone
  • Learning about your body and it's limits
  • Acquiring the ability to conquer anything else in your path

 

Contact:

  • Elizabeth Kocek: (847) 804-7506
  • lizapotranca@gmail.com
  • www.facebook.com/ekocek
  • ASAP- this race will fill up!
  • San Diego Rock 'n' Roll will be coming soon in June as well!