LOVE SEES NO COLOR: My View On Interracial Relationships

My feelings exactly. Image courtesy of theodysseyonline.com

 

I reckon that the title of this post has given away my feelings on people of different races and cultures dating and having romantic relationships.

A few years ago on the website HubPages.com I wrote about seeing a young teenage couple at a bus stop one day, doing the typical teenage couple thing; kissing, cuddling, etc.

The thing that appealed to me about that twosome was that she was Latina and he was an African-American, giving me a good feeling that relationships in which the people involved are a different race/ethnic group/culture are more accepted in the present day then when that Loving vs Virginia case was going down in 1967.

Unfortunately – and especially in the current cultural atmosphere triggered by the election of this country’s President-Who-I-Refuse-To-Name – there are plenty of folks who are completely against Miscegenation; folks who have the view that different races and ethnicities should never mix romantically, which includes Asians, Latinos, Pacific Islanders, and Jewish people as well as blacks and whites.

I remember back in high school having a crush on a Persian girl; to make a long story short, when I tried to call her, her mother angrily rebuffed me, me not knowing that a big part of Persian culture is for them and their children to only be “with their own”.

Of course I saw – and still see – that as plain old bigotry.

 

Florida, USA — Young interracial bride and groom on wedding day — Image by © Kai Chiang/Golden Pixels LLC/Corbis I love this wedding pic – that groom is SO lucky to be marrying such a beautiful bride! Photo courtesy of imgarcade.com

 

In fact, I’ll be perfectly honest…

While as a black man, I want to emphasize that this is no way whatsoever implying that I have anything against African-American females as I have a list of black women and girls that I had a crush on over the years, including Clueless’ Stacey Dash (her politics notwithstanding), The Facts of Life‘s Kim Fields, and especially Michelle Thomas, who played Urkel’s obsessive girlfriend on the TV show Family Matters and who tragically didn’t make it to the age of 30, dying of cancer before reaching that age,

I have always been attracted to females of all races and ethnic groups as their personality and integrity has far more importance in my book than the color of their skin and how they worship God.

Basing my romantic interest choices by initial physical attraction (unfortunately, that’s a natural reality) and  – more importantly – “the content of their character”, to quote Martin Luther King, is something that I have always emphasized.

In fact, I’ve always felt that to limit my dating/relationship options to strictly “my own kind”, as too many people, particularly social conservatives and right-wing types, would prefer to do, would not only be akin submitting myself to a voluntary Jim Crow-segregation,

I would feel straitjacketed, limited, and bored.

BOTTOM LINE:

When it comes to love, a mate should be chosen based on one’s heart and soul rather than skin pigmentation and cultural/ethnic sameness.

They say that “The heart wants what the heart wants” , and I’ll always strongly believe that anything between two individuals that is loving and affectionate should be appreciated and celebrated.

Which was why it gives me a feeling of gladness whenever I see interracial couples out there; it’s real good to see that race, ethnicity and culture in dating is far less of an issue for millennials than for previous generations.

My suggestion to all those couples out there who are given dirty looks or nasty comments because their skin color or ethnicity is different:

Just say this to those folks:

“Love sees no color, because there is only one race – the human race.”

Or tell them,

“You have a right to feel that way, but you know what? It’s SO none of your business!”

Which it isn’t!

Or better yet,  just ignore them.

 

Now this is a great picture of a truly gorgeous family. Photo courtesy of triadmomsonmain.com

 

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THE CURRENT RACIAL CRISIS IN AMERICA: Some Random Thoughts

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I love this picture, for obvious reasons. Photo courtesy of abc3340.com

 

Musings, based what has been happening in this country, on what seems to be a nadir on relations between races, cultures, and ethnic groups in this country with no end in sight.

 

Like seemingly every other black male of African descent in these United States, I have been the target of negativity solely based on my skin color.

I have been called the “N” word, particularly as a young boy in Riverside, CA, where the then-rural community I lived in (Woodcrest) featured numerous Caucasian folks of European descent from places like Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

I have been denied jobs solely because of my skin color, notably when I was in my early 20s and a lady, upon laying her eyes upon me and giving a less-than enthusiastic reaction after such an enjoyable conversation on the phone, told me that the job I was seeking had already been filled.

I have felt ostracized in various places throughout my adult years.

And I have been the target of racial profiling as I was stopped by the police in Santa Monica, CA, where I lived for over twenty years, on at least four occasions, being handcuffed during one of them in front of my house due to me fitting the description of a stalker;  if I didn’t show them my ID, I probably would have spent a few years in jail for something I did not do.

So when I heard about the latest killings of unarmed black men by police in Minnesota and Louisiana and what was apparently a retaliatory strike in Dallas with the lives of those five cops being snuffed out by Micah Xavier Johnson during a Black Lives Matter protest, my thoughts were varied…

 

 

Something that will hopefully induce hope: Cat Stevens’s (now Yusuf Islam’s) classic song “Peace Train”

 

 

First:  None of this was anything new as African-American men have been unnecessarily killed by authority figures for as long as African-Americans have existed in America.

Second:  Those cops who murdered Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in the Minneapolis area, like pretty much every other cop who has committed similar acts before, will not be charged with any crime and will essentially get off free and clear.

Third:  It seems like race relations have plummeted and are at their lowest point in decades during Barack Obama’s presidency, as statements and efforts from conservative whites, in politics and elsewhere, to discredit our 43rd Commander-In-Chief have abounded.

Not to mention the rise in racist incidents at colleges like the universities of Oklahoma and Missouri.

Fourth:   As I have written in an article on Hubpages.com, despite the efforts and labors of icons like Martin Luther King and the advances that the Civil Rights Movement produced, there remains a certain amount of self-separation between races and ethnic groups due to cultural differences, a natural desire for people to interact based on what they have in common, and a notion that differences often breed discomfort, which breeds distrust.

I remember writing that no matter how many “I Have A Dream” speeches are made or how many times “We Shall Overcome” is sung, you can’t force a racist – in any color – to not be one.

You can’t force someone who thinks folks of different races are inferior, created to be subservient and who need to be “in their place”, to feel differently.

And you can’t force someone – black, white, Latino, or Asian – who vehemently frowns over racially mixed couples to suddenly embrace them.

 

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Why can’t we all get along like these two sweet little girls? Photo courtesy of blackyouthproject.com

 

Fifth:   This is something that has been in my mind for a while.

Based on all the current protest marches and confrontations between (mostly) white police and (mostly black and Latino) demonstrators, not to mention the riots that have resulted after incidents like this in the past,

I cannot help wondering if we are on the brink of a second Civil War.

A war not between the states, but a war between the races.

Judging from the comments I have read in articles regarding race that I have read online and the various statements from conservative whites (and African-Americans like Stacey Dash), one may well think such as I can’t help feeling that all it would take is one riot,

One skirmish between blacks and police that gets out of control,

One instance of some conservative white person who may be among some anti-Black Lives Matter counter demonstrators, who says the wrong thing and is attacked and (probably) killed by folks who are fed up, triggering an all-out brawl,

And you may well have the first battle of a race war, a Fort Sumter in a sense.

I also can’t help wondering if a hundred years from now, the dreams of racists will come true and America will be separated on the basis of color due to an impasse, the leaders conceding that the longtime racial animosities will never be solved and – like a divorcing couple or the Hindus and Muslims during the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 (much to Mahatma Gandhi’s dismay) – the best solution being a formation of separate countries.

Of course it’s my sincere hope that this scenario will never come to pass, but…

Sometimes it’s a little difficult to be completely hopeful based on these recent and ongoing racial incidents and unrest.

However, I do know this:

Killing police officers will not do anything to stop racial profiling and murder of blacks by law enforcement.

Neither will rioting as if that were the case, attacks on people of color would have ended nearly 100 years ago.

I’m honestly not sure what the answer is – besides love and loving one another according to what Jesus Christ commands – but…

As Marvin Gaye once sang, war is NOT it.

I suppose that’s all I have to say about all of this, at least for now.

 

Group of diverse teenagers standing together and smiling for the camera. Horizontal shot.

Group of diverse teenagers standing together and smiling for the camera. Horizontal shot. Love this shot, too! Photo courtesy of ojaialano.wordpress.com

 

 

 

My Worst Encounter With Racism

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Photo courtesy of suenammirichardsromance.blogspot.com

 

Despite being born after most of the big Civil Rights events – the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the various sit-ins, the March on Washington, the Selma-to-Montgomery March, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts – like pretty much every other African-American I have encountered negative and stereotypical behavior directed towards me because of how my skin pigmentation looked.

This includes being called a word that rhymes with “bigger” and starts with an “N”.

However, the encounter that I consider the worst in my life with regards to this did not involve that epithet…

It was sometime during March, 1991.

I was in the midst of my last year as a student at UCLA at that time, but this personal encounter with racism had nothing to do with that either as it happened off campus.

You see, I had been a youth baseball coach for the past several seasons, working with young people in the Santa Monica Little League and Bobby Sox Softball League. It was my way of staying involved with the game that I consider my favorite, and a way to do something that I enjoyed: interact with kids who liked baseball and softball as much as I did.

I was managing a baseball team in Santa Monica Little League’s Intermediate division – a level geared toward seven-to-nine year olds where the coach pitches, which my brother happened to be on – that season, but for some reason I wanted to coach softball as well.

One day I was reading UCLA’s student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, as I had done every day, when I came across an ad in the classifieds calling for someone to be an assistant coach for a girls’ softball team in a league located near the campus in Westwood.

I remember thinking, “This is perfect for me!” as I called the number listed in the ad.

I won’t mention the name of the lady who answered my call, if I am going to talk about what ultimately happened.

We had quite the conversation, this lady, who was the manager of the Major division (10-to-12-year olds) softball team (whose name will not be mentioned, either) and I. Especially after I told her my experience and qualifications, which at nearly 24 years old were already formidable as I had started on youth baseball coaching staffs while still in high school and had managed a team at not-yet twenty.

She was very friendly to me on the phone, giving me an impression of being very impressed with what I had to say, and she invited me to her team’s next game that following Sunday (I believe) so we could formally meet and – as I had every reason to think – make my joining that squad a formality.

It was what ensued at that field that Sunday that induces bad memories for me…

I had arrived at the diamond about a half-hour or so before the game was to start, feeling very enthusiastic.

When I met this manager face-to-face in the bleachers behind her team’s dugout, however, her expression a bit strange as her in-person demeanor was as unfriendly as it was friendly on the phone. She, in a bit of a gruff manner, asked me to have a seat in the stands and she would talk to me after the game.

Looking back on it now, it was apparent that she was not only surprised to find that I wasn’t a European of Caucasian descent, she was also rather reluctant to interact with someone from a race/ethnic group/culture like mine. Nor did she have any desire to have her little girls interact with any scary-looking black male, either.

I say this because of what she said to me after the game, which her team won and which completely caught me by surprise – and obviously not in a good way:

“We’re going to have another person with us to help the team because he asked first, but I’m going to put your name with the board in case there are any other openings.”

I know this is not exactly what she said – there’s no way I can remember that two and a half decades after the fact – but as far as my memory is concerned, that’s about as close to her exact words as I can remember, especially the four words, “…because he asked first.”

Which to this day I am convinced is a lie, because of this:

How can someone be so friendly to and enthusiastic about someone on the phone, then have their attitude about that someone change 180 degrees the moment they saw them in person for the first time?

I can’t honestly think of any other reason in this case except that she was judging me for the color of my skin rather than, in Martin Luther King’s words, “The content of their (my) character.”

Of course I grew at least a little bitter upon realizing such a couple of days after that encounter, but strangely enough not as bitter as I could have been; I wish I could tell you why that was so, but I can’t as I really don’t know.

I DO know that if time machines existed, I would go back to that episode, go to the league’s board, and charge that lady of racism, telling them about how she was so nice to me on the phone but was virtually the opposite upon setting her eyes on me, giving me the impression that in her opinion, blacks and whites should “stick with their own kind” – how could there be any other explanation?

Could have there been someone who truly asked to assist that team first? Sure. I fully understand that I have no hard evidence of any racist intent by this softball team manager.

But why did she not mention such over the telephone, say something like “We have other candidates to consider; I’ll get back to you with my decision.”

It would have saved me from spending a Sunday making a trip to that field when I could have been doing other things.

I reckon one can see that though I’m not nearly as affected by all of this as I was, being in my late forties, 24 years later the memory remains a bad one, as it would for roughly 95% of the African-Americans out there.

I never saw that lady again, though I do forgive her for what happened in those Persian Gulf war, George Bush Sr. days.

It’s not my intent to grind any axes or hold any real grudges; she may even be dead by now, and it’s just not worth it to me to hold any bad anger over what happened.

But it did teach me a real-world lesson, that there are those who will never see African-Americans person as equal to them – intellectually and otherwise – will always consider them as somehow inferior, and a group that they would just rather not interact with.

It’s not a pleasant lesson to learn, but it’s an important one not just for blacks, but also for Latinos and other ethnic groups of color.

 

 

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Certainly illustrates my experience here. Cartoon courtesy of huckleberryfinnsatiremap.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Is The Quest For Full Civil Rights and Brotherhood Failing In America?

 

 

 

 

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Our nation’s President making a commemoration speech at the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, AL on the 50th anniversary of the March from that point to Montgomery

 

Policemen getting away with murdering young unarmed Black men like Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

Fraternities singing graphically bigoted songs; does anyone think that the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma is the only Greek Letter organization that partakes in that sort of thing? FAR from it!

A fraternity at the University of Washington jeering and throwing things at a parade of people protesting the goings on at Oklahoma.

The young African-American student at the University of Virginia that was recently beaten up by cops.

A ten-year old white girl writing to her Black friend that her father wouldn’t allow her to attend her birthday party because of the color of her skin.

Various courts undermining details of a 1965 Voting Rights Act that so many people marched, were jailed, and died for.

Continued racial profiling and traffic stops for the crime of “Driving While Black”.

Continued hostilities over the fact that the President of the United States for the past six years has been a man of color.

Personally reading the most brutally racist comments at the end of online articles covering racial issues or incidents.

Considering these and other tensions stemming from race, ethnicity and culture, I believe I’m justified in wondering if the 150-year quest (I’m dating it to the end of the Civil War and the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, in 1865) for true equality, love, and brotherhood in America is failing.

If Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of a nation where one is judged by the “…content of their character” is rapidly on its way to being over and lost, if not already such.

All of this reminds me of two things that I once read, the first one being this:

“…black and white players on a whole talk differently, walk differently, listen to different music, drive different cars, and even dress differently…these differences breed mistrust.”

Tim Green, a former player in the National Football League, wrote this in his book The Dark Side of the Game to describe race relations in his league.

He was talking about an entity where one would think that things are all hunky-dory, given that over 60% of the NFL’s players are African-American.

So one can easily imagine what things can be and – from what I’ve seen as of late – are in regular society.

Personally, I would have added this to what Green wrote:

“These differences breed discomfort, which breeds mistrust.”

That, I feel, is a main root of all these tensions and incidents, the fact that as one approaches adulthood, they have a tendency to – socially and otherwise – gravitate to others based on what they have in common, base their friendships on such.

Race and culture is among those bases.

Not that I’m implying – at all – that I approve of this, but that’s the cold, hard truth.

As is the fact that there will be always a segment of Caucasians of European descent who will always see Blacks – and other people of color for that matter – as inferior beings whom should never be near where they are, whether in neighborhoods, schools, or anywhere else.

The book Friday Night Lights, depicting a high school football team in West Texas and the social life and nuances of the town that fanatically supports them, illustrates this concept quite well in that nearly all of the town’s whites, who hold very conservative views regarding virtually everything there is to hold views on, commonly regard to black as “N*****s”

And think nothing of it as according to author H.G. Bissinger:

“In (whites’) minds it didn’t imply anything, didn’t indicate they were racist, didn’t necessarily mean they disliked blacks at all. Instead, as several…explained it, there were actually two races of blacks…the hardworking ones who…didn’t try to cut corners…And then there were the loud ones, the lazy ones, the ones who…every time they were challenged to do something claimed they were the helpless victims of white racism.”

 

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At a Ferguson protest; as for the sign, I couldn’t have said it better…

 

Another telling passage from the book concerning this issue:

“What was wrong with the use of that word (n*****)? Wasn’t that what they were? Let a judge shove school desegregation down their throats. Let the federal government have all the free handout programs it wanted. It wasn’t going to change the way they (whites) felt.”

A restaurant owner in that area describes his opinion of blacks bluntly:

“…I live (in my neighborhood) because I want to live with people like me and I don’t want kids bused in from the black side of town…Mexico’s nothing but a big god***n pigpen.”

And in an editorial from this town’s newspaper during the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement:

“If there are those who insist on integrated schools, let them. Those who prefer all-white schools, or all-black schools, likewise should be allowed to exercise their choice.”

The worst part of all of this is that these views were voiced in the late 1980s, when the book was written.

And more importantly, judging from recent events these views are still alive and well a decade and a half into the 21st century, not only in West Texas,

Not only all over these United States,

But throughout the world; check out the reports of soccer fans in Europe making monkey noises and throwing bananas at black players sometime.

And lets not ever forget the dark days of apartheid in South Africa that ended just over twenty years ago.

It all comes down to one thing, that I honestly feel that Dr. King and his Civil Rights associates may have overlook in their struggle:

REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY MARCHES, SIT-INS, LAWS OR “I HAVE A DREAM” SPEECHES, YOU CANNOT FORCE BROTHERHOOD OR ACCEPTANCE OF A RACE OR CULTURE ON SOMEONE WHO HAS NO INTEREST IN IT.

I reckon some who are reading this may be thinking that I’m blanketing all whites with regard in how African-Americans, Latinos, and other people of color are viewed.

Let me firmly state that nothing can be further from the truth, as I know full well that in the forty years since Dr. King’s assassination in 1968, things have gotten much better in society as integrated neighborhoods, romantic relationships and marriages are at an all-time high.

And thanks to what the Civil Rights Movement accomplished, I have never seen a “Whites Only” sign anywhere, nor have I ever had to sit in the back of a bus or have been denied service at a store or a restaurant or anywhere else.

But racist experiences has not eluded me as I was called the n-word as a little boy, racially profiled in my 20s and 30s, and although the prospective employer said that it was because someone “asked first” denied one job in particular clearly because of the color of my skin.

So at the end of the day, the question remains:

Is the quest for full civil rights and brotherhood along racial and cultural lines failing in America?

Lots of folks would say no to that question, considering all the incidents.

As for me, the only thing that come to my mind is this:

I certainly hope not, because it would mean an extreme sense of heartbreak and an ultimate sense of losing if this century-and-a half quest indeed fails.

 

 

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A symbolic protest against SAE’s actions at the University of Oklahoma; encouraging to see whites involved as well as African-Americans

 

 

 

My Personal Reflections of Black History Month

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One of many, many elegantly put quotes by this man

THOUGHTS REGARDING THE 28 DAYS SET ASIDE TO FOCUS ON BLACK AMERICANS OF AFRICAN DESCENT FROM A MIDDLE AGED AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE

As this year’s version of Black History Month is beginning to wind down, I have always wondered about a few things regarding this occasion, the most prevalent one being this:

Why is the month set aside for commemorating and celebrating the achievements of African-Americans the shortest month?

And that was an improvement, as it was originally slated to be a week when it was first introduced in 1926 and continued to be that way for fifty years until it was officially expanded by the U.S. Government in 1976, the first unofficial celebration of Black History Month being in 1970 at Ohio’s Kent State University after it was proposed by African-American students there the year before.

As many folks have shared this same sentiment, I see it as a legitimate concern, as is this:

Why – during this month and any other time that classrooms pay any attention to blacks in their curriculum – are the only things covered (seemingly) are Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech?

At least, that’s the way it was when I was in school during the 1970s and 80s.

It’s true that Barack Obama certainly gets priority in school lessons regarding the contributions of African-Americans these days, but being that he is the President of the United States, I’m sure that there was no choice in the matter.

And I’m sure a few more figures like Malcolm X and Jackie Robinson are given some decent attention today during these 28 days.

However, here is my point:

As much as I feel that learning about the achievements and contributions that blacks of African descent have given to this country is very important, I must be honest and state that…

Black History Month has never excited me as much as it should over the years, simply because it’s my strong conviction that African-Americans should be given proper attention in schools and society every month of the year.

The same goes for Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, women, and gays as setting aside months for those different people gives a message that outside of February (for blacks), March (for women), and the period from mid-September to mid-October (for Latinos, as that’s when National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed), those groups don’t matter as if  mainstream society is saying, “OK, you had your month where we had to pay attention to you, now go away.”

With those different groups being expected to say with gratitude and a happy face, “Thanks for the crumbs!”

Which in my opinion is exactly what these commemorative months are: Crumbs.

In this day and age where policemen are murdering young unarmed black men and are getting away with it thanks to grand juries, with riots (read: Ferguson, MO) resulting from those injustices,

Where according to John Legend at the recent Academy Awards, there are more African-American males who are incarcerated today than were enslaved in 1850,

And where there is seemingly a diminishing sense of sympathy over the plight of blacks and Latinos among certain groups of conservative whites, who feel that those so-called “minorities” need to stop whining about their lot and how things are so racist and unfair and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps,

The notion of African-Americans, Latinos, women (as well as Native Americans and gays) being given a few weeks for America to pay special attention to them should be changed to having all of those groups’ achievements, contributions celebrated all twelve months.

Perhaps relations between mainstream America and the different races, genders, and sexual orientations who are so vital to the well-being of this nation would improve as a result.

Just a few ramblings from me. What do you think?

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The University of Dayton Singers performing in a Black History Month concert; Love the unity between the races being shown here

Pondering My Mortality

 

 

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MUSINGS AND THOUGHTS REGARDING MY HEALTH ISSUES AND REALIZING THAT ONE DAY I WILL NO LONGER BE HERE AFTER NOT THINKING ABOUT THAT FOR SO LONG

 

For the past several months, I have been working very hard to improve my health by working out four and five times a week and changing my diet to include more vegetables and fruits, along with  cutting way down on, if not out entirely, foods I have enjoyed for years such as hot dogs, hamburgers, cured meats, and anything else with high amounts of sodium and fat.

This has been the case not because I’m some sort of health nut like those folks you see on TV, or because I’m vain or anything like that.

It was a fear of death that got me going on what I should have been a part of my life all along, as a stroke scare caused by extremely high blood pressure “woke me up”.

Though I had made progress – a check up in December revealed that I had lost over 20 pounds – after I had taken some blood tests it was also revealed after I had high cholesterol and was pre-diabetic.

And on top of everything else, I have been unable to properly walk these past few days as a gout attack has swollen the toes on my right foot and have rendered it painful to get around.

All of this has led me to think about something that I’m sure everyone has given thought to at one time or another, something that’s increasing pondered as one grows older:

Death.

Along with taxes, it’s something that I fully understand that every living being eventually experiences.

In fact, like I suppose everyone else – except for those unfortunate youngsters with cruel diseases like cancer or cystic fibrosis – for the longest time I knew in the back of my mind that I would eventually stop breathing, but because of my youth I never really considered it in the grand tradition of young people thinking they are invincible and immortal.

In the midst of experiencing these health issues of mine – which I reckon I’ll continue to have to deal with – more than ever I have realized that while I definitely have no plans or desires to die for at least another thirty years, these issues I’m going through has inevitably led me to consider the possibility that I may not have as much time left on earth as I would like.

Like Dr. Martin Luther King stated in his last speech before his assassination in Memphis…

“…I’d like to live a long life, longevity has its place. But that doesn’t matter to me now. I just want to do God’s will.”

With the greatest respect, I differ with Dr. King with regards to longevity as I admit that still matters to me.

But I’m in complete agreement with him in that I am doing, and continuing to do, what I can to improve my health, and after that do something else that is of the utmost importance:

Leave it to God.

Which is all I can do.

In other words, if the Good Lord decides that my time is up despite all my efforts to stick around, there’s nothing I’ll be able to do about it.

In the meantime, I’m going to eat some things that an article on the internet said will help get rid of this gout pain and swelling that I currently have, as well as do some abdominal crunches, which will tide me over until my foot is back in shape and I am able to do cardio again.

 

An Update On My Health Issue and Musings on my Mortality

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UPDATING WHAT HAS BEEN GOING ON WITH MY HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE ISSUES AND MY PROGRESS WITH SUCH

 

It’s been nearly a month since I took that trip to Kaiser Permanente’s emergency room due to the major squeezing sensation that the right side of my head was experiencing and the prickly “asleep” feeling in my right hand.

Nearly a month since the ER nurses and the doctor who treated me said that I sorely needed to lose weight, take the medication prescribed, and drastically change my diet.

Since I was understandably scared as I thought I was on the verge of a major stroke, I proceeded to do just that, taking the first dose of my medications upon arriving home that night and being diligent in taking those pills daily.

Not only did I proceed to completely overhaul my refrigerator, throwing away all of my hot dogs and lunch meats, which were high in the factor that’s a predominant cause of high blood pressure – sodium – I made a concerted point to look at the sodium content in anything I bought at the supermarket.

That meant having to give up many of the foods I liked to eat save for canned tuna and chicken, which I was OK with as perhaps for the first time, I took my food choices seriously in choosing to purchase carrots and celery rather than the ground taco-seasoned turkey and turkey kielbasa that I loved.

I also began working out like crazy, particularly in cardio as I began to ride a stationary bike and go on the stair master in the work out room in my condo complex’s clubhouse, go on runs and walk up hills around my neighborhood, increase my sit-up and abdominal crunches from between 1000 to 1500 to between 2000 to 2500 per week, and set aside one day a week to lift weights.

Not that I have been perfect as I did slip a little in my eating habits, snacking on potato chips which although they were unsalted, I shouldn’t have done.

Nor should I have eaten the chicken from my supermarket’s deli section as even though it was broiled instead of fried, I could taste the sodium in it.

Still, I wouldn’t have been honest if I said that I didn’t notice the radical changes I was making in my food and health lifestyle choices, thinking how different I was making things.

After stating all of this, you may be thinking that all of these changes have resulted in a complete bill of health, including a significant lowering of my high blood pressure and the end of the headaches and prickling in my extremities that go along with that.

Sadly and frustratingly, that’s not completely the case as despite everything, including my pants feeling noticeably looser…

Although the pressure sensation on the right side of my head is gone for the most part, different spots of my head continue to feel little pricks of pain and pressure from time to time, including a spot on the top of my head just last night, which coincided with prickling sensations in both my hands and feet.

Which – as you can figure – negatively affected my sleep and rendered me scared, praying to God for help and my life.

And this after I worked out for an hour and a half, including doing 40 minutes on the stationary bike and the stair master plus some weightlifting.

I know, because I was told this by another doctor a few years ago, that my high blood pressure is a genetic thing and is something that I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life; that’s why I wasn’t as frustrated as I could have been and have harbored no thoughts of giving up.

HOWEVER…

All of this has made think – seriously, for the first time – about my mortality.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a football game and for seemingly no reason, a part of Martin Luther King’s last speech before his assassination, the one about him going to the mountain top and seeing the Promised Land,  popped up in my mind…

“…I’d like to life a long time; longevity has its place…I may not get (to the mountaintop) with you, but I want you to know tonight, we as a people will get to the Promised Land!”

A couple of tears formed as I thought maybe God was telling me about some foreboding fate.

Or perhaps God was trying to give me some courage as King ended that iconic speech in Memphis, TN with the words…

“I’m not fearing anything, I don’t fear any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!”

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not considering stopping this commitment to taking my medication, working out, and making better food choices as I fully intend to keep up with it and do what’s necessary for my health.

Like more or less everyone else, I want to live a long time.

BUT…

The thought of “What if this ultimately doesn’t work and you have a fatal stroke anyway?” has crossed my mind at least a few times.

I know that due to my genetical disposition to having high blood pressure, that may not be conducive to me living long enough to be an old man, as much as I’d like that to happen.

I remember this girl I went to school with, who I not only had known since the 7th grade, I was in the school band with her throughout junior high and part of high school. I saw her at my high school’s 25-year reunion, she looked good and was doing well with her life.

Then not three weeks later, I got the news that after attending a Los Angeles Dodgers game, she went to bed and never woke up, dying that night; I was told later that she had a defective heart, which no doubt killed her.

The point I’m trying to make is, one never knows when your number comes up, so to speak.

And the older you get, the more prevalent that sentence becomes as opposed to when you’re in your 20s and the concept of death is much more abstract and “a million years away”.

If I said that passing away doesn’t scare me, I’d be lying like a rug for this one simple reason:  I don’t want to die.

That’s honestly a significant factor in my working as hard as I am on my health.

In other words, it’s my job to get my blood pressure down as much as I can and my weight down, period.

Theer’s frankly nothing more for me to say about this issue of mine, except for these things:

1.   That I’m going to keep up with these changes I have made and keep battling.

and…

2.  I’d very much appreciate it if you keep me in in your good thoughts.

 

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