The irony of the pandemic

Farm companies giving away food.

People contacting each other more. Family spending more time together.

Wild Animals are seen roaming more freely.

Less air and water pollution. Fish can be seen more clearly and mountains are more visible.

People being more aware of the needs of others and the importance of essential workers.

More people are returning to their hobbies and developing new skills.

We are learning to appreciate nature and silence more.

We are all reminded that life is fragile and we need to live it slowly, with care and compassion.

We are more conscious about our hygiene.

Streets are safer and people are learning to be patient with grocery lines.

We are entering a new era in our evolutionary human history. Future generations will hopefully learn from us.

What can we learn from this chaos?

So this is a follow up from the previous post. Today the answer to the question I was asking in my last post is that, No, we are not overreacting to the Coronavirus global situation. We might actually be under reacting . It is obvious and there is no question that the human race is currently experiencing a world wide epidemic.

Watching the news is more anxiety provoking than anything else. I have watched a lot of end of times and apocalyptic movies, but now I am actually experiencing these catastrophic events in real life. Sometimes I wish I am living a bad dream, but I haven’t woken up yet.

Schools are suspended until further notice , theme parks are closed, libraries are closed, beaches and parks are empty, and stores are running out of products. Not even the hurricane season tops this. September 11 did not affect airline companies as much as the Coronavirus. The news talk about this dangerous virus all the time. It seems that they don’t talk about anything else happening in the world.

Scientists are still studying this virus. There is no vaccine yet. Death toll keeps rising. What should we do then? Panic? Not really, but certainly keep ourselves isolated as much as possible. Use social media more and don’t visit the elderly. Do more online shopping and watch more Netflix at home.

This might be an opportunity to get closer to the loved ones we live with and give each other support. It is our chance to simplify our lives and do some self reflection. This might be the beginning of a new era where human beings can reflect more about the fragility of life and how important it is to live in the present moment. It is ironic that we may continue to interact more with each other through the use of technology. But it is also a blessing so that we can maintain contact without risking contracting the disease.

So go ahead, spend more time with your children, spouse , and loved ones at home. Interact with others away from you through virtual technology. Read more books, watch more movies, and engage in other simple hobbies. We might learn something new and beautiful from each other in the midst of the chaos.

The Box, the Dot, and the Circle

The box and the dot and the circle. What do they mean? This is a post that describes what my experience has been with these three symbols and the meaning they give to life.

The Box

You probably have heard about the saying “think outside the box. ” It is simply to think outside of what we have been taught to think most of the time. It is simply to consider other alternatives other than what has been drilled in our brains from an early age. The box may represent a specific doctrine, a custom, tradition, or way of thinking. It can be used to help structure our minds by classifying things and simplifying our minds. But it can also limit our resources and our growth .

Thinking outside the box allows us to look at alternative ways of thinking. It helps us to grow and to learn new ways of experiencing things. For example, not everyone would need to go to college to have some kind of meaningful and productive life. Not everyone has to have a strict diet and exercise in order to have a healthy lifestyle. Not everyone has to take medication to treat an illness. There’s always an alternative way to almost everything.

But it takes courage and determination to go against the popular journey and do things a little different. It takes willingness to be vulnerable to criticism and ridicule in order to be outside of the box.

Don’t be afraid. Be yourself. And grow.

The Dot

How about the dot? The dot is the unfortunate or undersized events that happen in our lives that we focus so much on.

What do you see here?:

Most people would say “a dot.” Few people actually pay attention to the white space around it. When we look at the dot on a piece of paper all of our attention is automatically driven to the dot. But when we expand our vision and look around the dot, we can begin to look at the Bigger Picture.

When we focus too much on small issues (by small I don’t mean unimportant ) we miss other things around us that are also happening . If I worry a lot about not having enough money to buy all the groceries I need, I can then look at the bigger picture and consider those families and whole communities who have absolutely nothing to eat. If I obsess about the cold that I’m suffering from, I can then look at the bigger picture and think about those who have terminal illnesses.

And this is not only about how other people are in worse situations than ours. It’s also about , instead of focusing so much about maintaining our personal agenda and keeping track of our goals, to also think about how precious life is as a whole even if we don’t have everything we want. It’s about appreciating the life as it is. It’s looking at our experiences in a more holistic way. And the more we look at the bigger picture , the smaller our problems will become. When I look at the picture of our planet earth, or even a small white dot in a picture of our galaxy, I am reminded of how huge our universe is, compared to our daily problems.

Another link that beautifully talks about the dot is found here .

The Circle

Now let’s talk about the circle. We usually think that life is linear and everything happens in a straight line. But that’s not really the case. I have learned in this life everything starts and ends pretty much in the same spot.

Life is not linear , like most of us think . We begin as dependent , fragile, weak humans, and we end up the same way. Everything in nature follows a pattern that cycles the same way. From spring , to summer, to autumn, to winter, and back to spring again. The earth revolves around the Sun in a big circle.

When we do certain things, there is always a consequence . Our actions brings consequences back to us. Cause and effect. Everything can be perceived as in a circle.

There are many disciplines that use the circle as its model to illustrate its components. There is the circle of life as illustrated below.

There is also the circular model of the whole person as shown below.

The circle represents the notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement, and God .

It is a perfect symbol. In Japan it is called “Enso.” It is used to express the present moment. It also symbolizes absolute enlightenment , strength, elegance, the universe and the void .

In summary , thinking outside the box, looking at the Big Picture instead of just the dot , and embracing the totality and perfection of the circle, will bring harmony to this existence. Keep that in mind.

Letter to Anxiety

Dear Anxiety,

I hate you … with all my heart . Whatever you are, you have disrupted my life.

I can’t think straight. I can’t breath well. I can’t even sit down and be still when you attack . I feel like fainting. My heart pumps blood as if I was running a race.

But I’m not. I’m usually sitting down or calmly walking around. You’re unpredictable. And you scare me.

You act like a cardiac arrest. Or a serious thyroid problem . Or even a drop of blood sugar level. But it’s none of that.

But don’t think you have total control of my life. Because you actually don’t. I have some friends that have been helping me during this battle against you. Among them are exercise, yoga, and deep breathing . Not to mention the support of friends and family members.

I also have a couple of new acquaintances that I have decided to allow to accompany me during this struggle. Their names are Zoloft and Ativan. They are in my life to help me get you out of control. To have better control of my life. I’m waiting for Zoloft to do its job slowly. Ativan is here only for emergencies. But you get my point.

I’m going against you with full force. My long term goal is to remain with my true friends; exercise, yoga, and deep breathing , and get my life back.

Good bye.

My struggle with Anxiety

This has been my story …

I keep having some symptoms that mimic a heart attack, but I know it’s not that. Doctors and numerous tests verified it. But I noticed it still happens right when I would normally feel anxious about certain life events, such as going on a family vacation trip or stress at work.

It almost ruined my family vacation because of these symptoms. I had chest discomfort, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath right when we were preparing to head out for the trip. My wife noticed and spoke with me about it. I confessed I was not feeling well (I tried to hide it from her so she wouldn’t worry) but refused to let it ruined our mini vacation. So I took a few minutes away from everything to relax and it slowly went away. I drove for two hours, mostly taking deep breaths and disputing negative thoughts until I felt better upon arrival to the hotel. When we went to eat dinner at a local restaurant, the palpitations started creeping up again. The restaurant was noisy and crowded, so I associated it with the anxiety I would normally feel at a busy place like this. I tried to ignore it by eating and it slowly went away.

Next morning while eating breakfast, I started feeling lightheaded again, but took deep breaths and kept going. I did not feel it again in that evening. So I spent the rest of the weekend with no symptoms and enjoying my family.

Next day at work, the palpitations started again. I was driving a client to his lab appointment while taking deep breaths and trying to do some mindful exercises. It went away as soon as I returned to my work office. It seemed like an eternity.

I went to the doctor for a follow up appointment. He recommended for me to simply keep taking anti anxiety medication and follow up with the GI (which I truly believe is a waste of time since I don’t think it is gastrointestinal related).

And to no surprise, the G.I. doctor thought that this was not G.I. related but still wants to do a small test just to be completely certain.

Today I attended a meeting at a city office and had to present the services offered at the program where I work at. There were judges, directors of other social services programs, and other city officials present. I was feeling OK until it was time for me to present and then I had an episode again. It came up suddenly. It began with heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness. I was feeling so bad that I almost stood up in the middle of the meeting and walked out of the room. But I began to take deep breaths, tried to do some mindfulness by observing my surroundings, and I even tried to snap a rubber band on my wrist to redirect my attention. It helped a little bit but I still felt extremely anxious.

I managed to give my presentation, although I made several mistakes and felt like I was rushing it. Words couldn’t come out of my mouth clearly. It was an embarrassment. I could’ve done a better job presenting to all these important people, but my anxiety got the best of me this time. I got up right before the meeting was done and stormed out of the room gasping for air. I couldn’t speak. I could hardly walk. I feel I made a fool of myself . And I’m upset about it.

This anxiety is affecting my personal life and my job performance. It’s not just an annoying nervousness that we all go through. It is actually a debilitating condition that cripples me and paralyses me. God forbid if I go to a job interview, give another speech to an audience, or go to the dentist.

So this has been my experience so far with what seems to be extreme anxiety.

It has been sort of a wake up call. I remember vomiting as a kid before heading to the school bus during the first week of school. I’ve also had extreme nervousness giving speeches. In the last 5 years or so I have tried to practice mindfulness, yoga, meditation , and exercise , but it seems I have not done enough of it. I have also waken up to the realization that I have been anxious most of my life and now is the time that my body is telling me to slow down. To catch myself whenever I am feeling anxious. To not let the small stuff get the best of me.

So I will schedule routine yoga, exercise, and meditation. And continue to manage this anxiety, almost as if it were a normal part of my life. I am learning to pay more attention to how my body responds to certain situations, and starting to catch myself before I get too anxious. The next time I have an episode, I will do my best to cope by taking deep breaths, being mindful of my surroundings, and changing environment if possible. I will also make positive self affirmations and remind myself I am not having a heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, acid reflex, or any serious medical condition.

I am having anxiety attacks.

Have you dealt with Anxiety Attacks..?

Just a follow up on my previous post, I continue to experience these symptoms that took me to the ER for the second time. I have gone to see my doctor and they sent me to do some bloodwork and put a heart monitor on my chest for 48 hours. There were a couple of days that I experienced palpitations, pressure on my chest, and lightheadedness , on and off. They still can’t find anything wrong with me.

I went to the ER again two days ago for the same symptoms, however they found nothing wrong with the heart. ER doctor said that she would refer me to a G.I. specialist. And if this was not the cause of my symptoms, then it could just be anxiety .

So I have been thinking that , if this is truly just anxiety, then I really need to work on relaxation, more than what I have done.

I have worked all my adult life as a counselor and have helped people with all sorts of mental illness, including anxiety. But never have I worked with anyone with the symptoms I experience. Other people usually have racing thoughts, restlessness , and some palpitations . Some have described symptoms of panic attack, which I don’t think is what I experience either, since I don’t feel fear.

These are the symptoms I have experienced :

Lightheadedness, palpitations, shortness of breath, pressure on my chest, weakness , and a cold sensation on my extremities. I also felt a little nauseous this last time.

Has anybody else experienced anxiety problems with these symptoms ?

I would like to know if here are others who have had the same experience due to anxiety.

Thanks.

Is God love?

If God is love (1 John 4:8) , and Love is patient, kind, and does not keep record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4-8), then why would God be impatient , unkind, and keep records of our sins to the point of punishing us eternally in hell?

Waiting for my Dad to die

I am currently going through a difficult time… I was recently informed that my Dad, which I call Papi, may be in his death bed now. He has been living in a nursing home and was not eating well.. His potassium level was elevated . He was rushed to the hospital. Now his kidneys are failing and is dehydrated and the doctors gave him a 15-20% chance of survival .

This is hard . I’ve never had anyone so close to me in the process of dying . It’s incredible the amount of emotional pain this brings. Although I’ve not seen him for many years , it still hurts a lot . I have my moments of calm and serenity , but then there are the other moments of pure sorrow and grief. I think about the few times we spent together and the things I learned from him. It wasn’t much actually , since my parents were separated and then divorced most of my life. But it still causes a great deal of sadness not being able to see him like he once was.

I once wrote a post about grief, which i define as feeling sorry for missing the lost person. And I can admit I feel sad and distraught, not because my Dad is necessarily suffering, but because I miss him. I wish I would have spent more time with him. I wish I would have known him and that my children would have known him more.

So now I’m waiting. Waiting for some news about his recovery or his departure. It is torture is some way. But I feel confident that he will be in a peaceful place now.

Update: I received the dreadful news that Papi passed away… I’m distraught . I have crying spells . Can’t concentrate half of the time. But I’m doing ok. Sometimes I wonder if this is a test. An accident. Or a teaching moment.

I just attended his funeral and burial. It’s hard to see my brothers and mom crying. It is a moment I’m never forgetting. Wish I could’ve spent more time with Papi. I feel I did not get to know him . Life’s circumstances prevented me from seeing him more often. He wasn’t part of most of my life .

Yet I miss him and wish I could have at least say goodbye to him.

Miss you, Papi.

We can do better 

We humans constantly deceive ourselves with false ideas.  We trap ourselves with fabricated concepts about who we are and what we are supposed to be.  This existence we call “Life” is a great mystery that few of us consider exploring further than what our five senses allow us to .  

We complain of feeling depressed.  That’s simply our habit of focusing too much on the past that we regret. It is also our selfish way of thinking only about our perceived mysery which is masked by hopelessness.  We are basically trapped in our own living hell, refusing to look beyond ourselves. 

We miss the big picture . 

We complain of feeling anxious and nervous. That’s simply our habit of focusing  too much on an unfavorable  future which will never happen.  It is also our selfish way of thinking about our own perceived  vulnerability and limitations which is masked by helplessness and fear. It paralyzes us, so we make ourselves stagnated in our own ruminating thoughts.  We are basically trapped in our own living hell , refusing to look beyond ourselves. 

We miss the big picture. 

So we tend to create our own addictions to temporarily and superficially cope with the mysery. We become slaves of technology, slaves of substances , slaves of unhealthy relationships .  We fill our minds with more junk that come from the media, religion, and politics.  We dig a hole in the ground and stick our heads pretending we are okay when in reality we are drowning in our own created hell. 

We miss the big picture . 

But we have a choice. 

We can look beyond ourselves and start looking at the bigger picture.  We can start by accepting our mortality and be ok with it.  We can consider the fact that we are not alone in this existence and start helping each other instead . We can escape from our own selfish mysery. 

Donate . Volunteer .  Visit.  Assist.  Serve. 

Reach out to others in need and we will automatically be helping ourselves.  Like living cells that help each other to maintain the organism alive.  Our planet is the organism. 

When death comes, let’s mourn together. When hunger and disaster strike us, let’s assist each other . When blessings come, let’s celebrate together.  Let us embrace our humanness, including our  limitations along with our strengths. 

Not in our own selfish, individual mysery.  But collectively and selflessly in cooperation.  

Let us embrace our fellow human beings. 

Obsolete thinking

We are living in times when there is still communities and organizations that adopt a way of thinking that should be obsolete by now. Thinking and believing that one particular race is superior to others is simply ignorant and immature. 

These are individuals who cannot accept the fact that their way of thinking is already obsolete. Cannot accept the fact that we are finally realizing that we are one community under the description of simply “being human.”

We have been growing and becoming one community.  Those who resist and practice hatred continue to choose to live in their own premature and underdeveloped frame of mind.  They identify with the old way of thinking that is based on segregation , division, and discrimination.  It is simply a lazy way of describing our society.  It is trying to feel better about themselves by putting others down . Practicing hatred and discriminating is another way of bullying. 

Choosing to perceive one’s race , ethnicity , culture, and belief system as superior to others says a lot about our own insecurities.  It says that we are afraid. It says that there is something we don’t like about ourselves without admitting it .  It says that I cannot look at my own faults and shortcomings , so I’m going to focus on others instead who seem different than me and then attack them.  It is basically based on fear. 

But we can do better. We can live our lives, not based on fear, but based on acceptance and love.  We can live our lives accepting each other as mere human beings and learning to live as one community.  We can still do this and celebrate diversity.  A rainbow would not be a rainbow without its different colors .  A forest would not be a forest without its various kinds of plants, animals, and trees. Our bodies would not be a complete body without its different parts performing their own functions and still work harmoniously together . 

Let us unapologetically expose  the hatred , and then replace  it with acceptance and love .