The day my life changed!

Just over 2 months ago, my son, baby Justus was born. I have been preparing for the day, but nothing could prepare me for what happened. The day he was born, and all of the fear of a tough labor pregnancy, as soon as I saw him, I knew I had changed. My wife’s pregnancy was amazing. She rarely had problems and for the most part it was complete enjoyment. that was, about 30 minutes before the baby was born. Placenta praevia happened before I knew what was going on, and she was rushed out of the delivery room into the operating room. according to her from what the doctors told her, 18 minutes later it was over. It seemed like it was longer than that, but never the less, after that period of time, I was quite exhausted.

My German is ok, but not good enough in high stress situations. The nurse kept reassuring me that everything was ok. it was the few words that she was able to say in English. Of course, I am in the room, I see how the doctors are behaving, you can fake a smile, and words but body language is hard to fake. Something was wrong. Even after he was out and crying, they took him to another room and ran tests on him. I was told later that they were going to rush him to a children’s hospital. The ambulance was already called.

Luckily, the decision was reversed and he was allowed to stay. I was able to hold him once we went to another room. Justus and I were taken out of the room, while Silvia stayed in the OP. I was told to focus on him and the doctors would take care of my wife.

I was told to take off my shirt so Justus and I could cuddle. Skin to skin contact was necessary. He and I laid in bed covered with a blanket until Silvia was brought back into the room. That moment, I was a better man. In that moment, I made a vow to be a better man than my father. I promised that I would be at every event that he partook in, if I could.

I am also glad that I was in Germany and not in America. I was able to Paternity leave. I couldn’t take the whole time off, because I am worried about keeping my job, but I still took off three days of every week for a month. I have enjoyed every month that I have able to be with him and my wife.

Right now, I am on holiday break. Another advantage of working as a teacher is having holiday times off. Where there is a lack of money of having a year round job, there are many days I can actually spend time with the family.

I always say a smile can make a day go from bad to amazing. Justus is now at the time when he is “cooing” and he is smiling. Every thing he does, smile, poop, even cry, I am very happy. I love being a parent. I love being a dad. My life has changed and I am loving every moment of it.


surround yourself with people that can help you grow

Everyone has room to grow, to become a better version of themselves. To go further in life, it is great if we surround ourselves with people that will help us reach goals that, at the moment, may seem out of reach; even if that means abandoning the people closest to you.

I, like many others, always set goals in which to get better. I have set lofty goals so many times, yet to abandon them so quickly. Goals such as getting in shape has been one that I have at many times stated “this is it.” Two years ago, I had made it up in my mind and I stuck with it. At first I stood alone in my task, but eventually when I proved to myself and others that I was in for the long run, others joined in my ranks. I was able to get support from people that I had inspired, but also I sought out others who I could seek some motivation from. The more I surrounded myself with people that had already enjoying the benefits of hard work, the harder it became for me to give in. I couldn’t be the weak link, for I wanted to claim my own standing.

There is something wondrous when you can share your success and progress with others. We are social beings and we embrace the comfort of others. People around us usually cheer us on, encourage us to become better. Help us when we are weak, and brag upon when we are strong.

At moments the greatest people that are threats to us reaching full potential are the very people we hold dear. My uncle always stated that some groups of people, are like crabs in a bucket. Whenever one tries to climb out, they are stopped and pulled down by another. It can be argued that really the second crab is really trying to grab on so it can also escape, but what actually happens is that they both end up remaining trapped. Whether it is through jealousy, or for another reason, friends can hold you back. For they do not share the same feelings about some topics as you., which could lead you and them astray. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it could happen.

Most of the time people do not have ill intentions when they get in your way. The people you are around enjoy the lifestyle that they are living and just do not want to change. And why should they? Whenever you hope to reach a lofty goal, many times that means you have to make some changes from your current state of being, even make sacrifices that your currently would not hold for granted. One example is through my family. We love to eat. The majority of us are a bit overweight. We are a living testament of love going through the stomach. We had so many eating contests, I have lost count; We favored restaurants that had all you can eat buffets, and you always asked for seconds when someone cooked. We ate to celebrate and honor every occasion. As well we ate through all the types of human emotions. I was one of the ones that everyone knew could eat a lot, and I did so with a passion. A sign for others to know if i loved the food, was if I ate multiple portions. Two years ago, I started to change my eating habits. I had gotten too overweight. The people around me though, started to ask me if I was sick, or if the food didn’t taste good, mainly because they were used to my old eating habits. For that was the only thing that had changed.

Mom had it the hardest, for she couldn’t cook the way she normally would. See my biggest problem is that I am addicted to food. If it is in front of me, I would eat it, and I couldn’t stop at a small portion. I learned the best way was to just stay away. Do not sit at the table, or not go into the restaurants. My methods were a bit unorthodox, but it is what i did to get in shape. I had to make changes, but the changes were uncomfortable for others, it happens. After awhile everyone got used to the new me, but it took changes.

Not everyone is ready for the changes, and not everyone is going to be able to adjust. Depending on how and what you do to reach your goals, you have to be willing to embrace change. That could mean not going out as much, that could mean not hanging with the same crowd. That is hard though, because we are social creatures, so the best thing to do is find people that are similar to you. Find people that share the same passion as you. When they have the same passion and desires, you will be able to go further and reach your goals.

Adventures: Marathon in Duesseldorf

Every weekend, up to the time my kid is born, I will go out and enjoy what my region has to offer. From major festivals to small village festivals, i want to be part of it all and document my experience. I want to become a true resident of my community. Events can only grow when others go out and participate and help spread the word. That is my job, and that is what I intend to do.
     Duesseldorf held a half marathon today, Halbmarathon auf dem Ko, I believe that is what it was caused. I went there, partially because i wanted to get out, but mainly because I was working. I dressed up as the school mascot, Spirit today. I danced, took pictures, and had a genuinely good time. Part of the day was rained out, so not so many spectators were present as i would have liked. Wearing a costume allows me to act, because no one can see my face, no one can see the fear, and I do my best to hide the body language that would show signs of discomfort. I can’t say that I do not psych myself out, for i still find ways to do it. So I just have to tell myself, no one knows me, just have a good time and others will be attracted to you. Plus when wearing a costume, all of the kids seem to be drawn to me. They are curious to what a horse is doing standing on two legs.
I didn’t run, but i was tempted to try to run in the costume. I did dance and clap a lot so I did get some exercise.
   I was able to witness people of all ages enjoying themselves. Watching others work toward their goals is so inspiring. There were people there that looked as if they never ran a day in their life, compete to try to show their strength. People with some form of handicaps, run their hearts out to try to compete the race. I was totally inspired to reach my goals. I also realize, that i have no excuse. Watching the competitors, proved to me that all of my excuses, was just me being lazy, was me giving up, because of fear of failure; it was me just giving in and giving up. This will help motivate me to take charge and strive for the best. Hopefully, the motivation will last more than just today.

buying a bike: learning to trust sales people

a1So on Saturday, I went looking for a bike on Saturday, I went to a used bike Sale in Cologne. They have one every two weeks. I think they also have one in every city. The problem is, can I trust the salesman?

Like many typical buys, that go into a situation without enough information, I go in looking at the salesman as a trickster, a snake; many times they are. I want something for dirt cheap yet I want it almost like new. It is hard to find something like that. Yet, on many of these deal hunter shows they seem to always get something really great for dirt cheap. For me though, it seems that the seller is trying to sale something that is a piece of junk for the depreciated value of a almost new one.

There is nothing wrong with a salesman trying to make a little money or at least not lose a lot of money, that is the reason why they are selling it. There mark up is usually not as high as it would be if you go to a dealership that sales used items, and usually not as high as a pawn shop either. Yet, I find myself trusting the used car dealer more than a personal seller. So why is it like that? why is it hard for me to buy from someone? why am I worried that I will be cheated?

If i buy something used, i should be prepared to fix it up, am I willing to learn how to fix up the bike or whatever item I am buying? That is the prospect of buying something new: In theory, since it is new, their should be no problems and their is a warranty that is guaranteed if it does mess up. That guarantee is a nice. I like that guarantee, even though I am paying full price.

I am not buying a car though, I just want a bike. All of the moving parts, I am sure that if I did buy it used, i can fix it up and getting it to work properly, and more than likely it is better than a Walmart special in quality.

See I need to work on my trust issues. I need to realize that not everyone is trying to take advantage of everyone else. I do not have to buy something and be mad at the seller after the fact. I will get over my trust issues and next time they have the event in Cologne, I will buy a bike. I will, however, go in with more research and have a clear understanding for the type of bike I want and need. I also need to know that I do not have to buy if it doesn’t fit. I do not “need” a bike, I just would love to have one. I will also ask for a lower price. They watn to make a sale and they are always willing to bargain.

Adventure Time: local Attractions

me travelingPart of my development of the new me is to step outside of myself and to do things that I never would do before. I always hated traveling alone and doing stuff, so I decided to change that by going on trips. So many events happen where around where i live. This weekend I wanted to see them, and I went to them alone.

Saturday 27, I went to shopping type things. Lidl, the grocery store that I use the most has weekly sales on different items outside of food. One week they might have America week, in which they sale food and items from or based in America. The next week will be fishing, sports, etc. After three or so months, they collect everything that did not sale and of course did not go bad and have a sale. I decided to go to it. It was in Solingen, which took me about an hour on a bus to get to the destination. I knew that any of the best items would be taken, bu what if there would be things that I wanted to have but just was not willing to pay full price for. I am always looking for a deal. I had never been to Solingen, outside of the train station, so this was a new experience. First of all the city is pretty. It is clean as far as I could tell. I will definitely go back to the city again, especially if their is a festival in the area, which, if you live in Germany there are always some type of festival.

I ended up going to Eissport Hall, Once I got in range, I knew I was in the right place when I saw people coming out with garbage bags full of stuff. My excitement grew, because maybe I would find some really great things. The impulse to buy is unbelievable, of course you have to be reasonable. some things seemed not to be really on sale, some items were incomplete, mainly because people were pillaging through the items and just throwing it around, it seemed to be chaos. I did find some items that I wanted and I did save money. I will go again. As soon as I left, I decided to go to a used bike sale in Cologne. From Opladen, it could be a 20 min ride, but from Solingen, it seemed to take over an hour. The bus I took stopped at every stop on its way to the train station, there was no a/c, and the sun was out. It was hot. This was one of the times that I wished I had a car. not driving though, I had the chance to look around and focus on what is going on.

I made it to Cologne and once again I had to figure out my way around. This was not a stretch that I was used to taking. The used bike sale was near Koln Arcaden, next to the Burgerpark. I was there late and not as many bikes were there, but I was glad that I went. I didn’t buy a bike, I had the sinking feeling that I was going to get ripped off. that is another topic, but i was glad I went.

ON Sunday, I went to Duesseldorf, because I was supposed to work NRW Tag was going on and also I saw on the way there, that Dusseldorf was also hosting a Gourmet food Festival. I had the chance to participate in both of them. I even had the chance to eat a Deer Bratwurst, it was the best tasting bratwurst I had ever had in my life. I also was able to get a free scoop of ice cream from Emirates taste of the world. I had a banana flavor one, it was fantastic. What I loved most about this festival was that they had unique foods that I would not be able to eat at anytime. Even the traditional foods, many had unique spin that I would love. Most of the festivals around here usually have unique beer. Te thing is I do not drink, so I do not get to participate in it. For NRW Tag, i dressed up as a horse, that was part of my job. It didn’t last too long though, I was told we were getting bad publicity; people felt bad for me because it was unusually hot that day and wearing a costume ? yea, the people were sad for the sate I was in. I am glad I went though, because I was able to see all of that.

This is another part of my journey, every weekend, I will take the time to explore my local area, participate in as many festivals as possible: the big ones and the little ones. Each one usually has something unique.

Healthy Cooking: Tofu Parmigiana

In order to incorporate healthier eating habits in preparation of my family I have been experimenting with alternative sources of protein. This is my attempt at Tofu Parmigiana.

My wife sometimes makes a comment that I have to eat meat with every meal, and for the most part that is true. I do not usually eat meatless meals. I have since i started working out a few years ago and tried to find multiple forms of protein. I also sought out cheaper sources of quality protein. I have found some good cheap sources of proteins, but needed preparation. The biggest goal was alternatives to protein. I have been told that not eating so much meat is bad for the environment. Of course overeating is not good. Finding a way to get all the nutrients needed without overeating was one goal. The other goal was using less animal products and by products.

Some misses were the vegetarian hot dogs, non dairy cheese. Soy milk was OK. What I have loved so far has been black bean burgers. I love beans, and I am willing to try any recipe. Almond milk is great, and now adding to the list is Tofu. This was my first significant time eating Tofu. I think I had it before at a Japanese restaurant (believe it was sweet and fried), but it was not a major focus. This time i used 400 grams of Tofu, the main ingredient. I got the recipe from the app Dinner Spinner and it combines tofu, cheese and tomato sauce. I made the tomato sauce myself. Easy to make and tastes good.

Though, not aesthetically pleasing like I have seen some pictures, it tasted fantastic. The tofu’s texture was good and soft. The cheese, and sauce were also good. i was worried, because I haven’t made sauce too often. I will definitely make this again, but I will also use tofu in other recipes as well.

New Hair cut, New Me part Eulogy to my hair

After 10+ years of wearing braids, getting my hair relaxed and various hair adventures, I finally cut my “long” hair off. All of this is part of my new life starting at 30.

The process didn’t really happen all that once. It started about 8 months ago when I decided to get my ends clipped. The last time i got my ends clipped was about 2 years before when I was in America. I didn’t know where I would get my ends clipped here in Germany. I am sure i could have found someone, there are now two African shops in Opladen but we decided to just go to a salon in the Mall. I am not mad at the lady, she just tried her best. other women didn’t want to even attempt to do it because they didn’t’ want to mess up. None had dealt with hair like mine. When the girl was finished she cut what seemed like about 5 or 6 inches off my hair. I think the decision was made then.

The next step was when the opportunity to go back home and visit my family came to fruition. I had promised my niece and nephew when they were 3 and 4, that they could cut my hair. I was like yes, they can do it. I don’t think i was quite ready because it seemed like we ran out of time; I think of course we could have made time. My whole trip to America, though felt like there was never enough time. Before I left though, my brother Jaime cut my hair, but only cut the sides and the back and left the top. I was going to wear it like that for awhile and i did until 8/13/2016 at midday. No tears, I just think i was ready to let it go

For years, my mom asked me when I was going to cut my hair, and tell me how handsome I would be. I would always tell her and others, I like my hair. My hair for years, was a way of defiance. Other than moving here, it seemed that I always had gone down a path that others had chosen to me. It was me and my hair. That was a way to show defiance.

I always told others that through my hair was my strength, like Samson in the bible. A gist of the story from how i heard it in a sermon was that Samson had super human strength and Delilah was trying to trick him into giving away his secret in order to give the information to the enemies. Eventually, he gave in, probably because of love. He ended up losing all of his strength and was beat and blinded. So for others was “If I cut my hair, then I would become weak and lose focus. If you say something often enough, you will start to believe it. I really felt that my hair was part of my identity.

The reasons why I cut my hair:

I was spending more money on my hair and hair products than my wife. I would like to say i spent more time, but that isn’t true. Once my hair was braided, i kept it up for 2 weeks. Still though, I have bought beads to wear in my braids, hair bands, combs, picks, hair lotion and other conditioning products. having short hair versus long hair, means I can wake up in the morning and just go. of course I will brush my hair, but that will not take long, I can do that while walking or on the train.

After 10 years, and getting close to 30 years, it just felt like it was time. I tell people that I was getting too “old” and it was time for changes. I shouldn’t have said that. People take it wrong. When i say i am too old and someone is actually older than me with long hair or with tattoos, they take it as literally an age thing. What I mean is that sometimes I am in need of something different. Sometimes I don’t want to wake up and have to comb my hair or have to sit and feel the pain of getting braids. At one time, i was completely used to getting braids but lately each twist seems to hurt.

I was afraid my hair was going to fall out: One of the biggest fears many men have is the fear of their hair falling out. George Constanza from Seinfeld worried about this. Many parts of the series was based on his thinning hair. Rogaine and other hair is, I am sure, is a billion dollar company. The advertising works at causing fear.  non life threatening fear, but one that works. Also from the pulling and pulling from having tight braids did seem to have an effect on my hair line. I worried too much about my hairline constantly. While I admit some men can pull it off. Jason Stadthman can have the balding head look and pull it off, while the Georges in the world can’t pull it off. Maybe it is a confidence thing. Being in great shape and having model looks help. Other men though, like Dwayne Johnson, just shaves his head completely bald, that is probably the route I will take when my hair does fall out. For right now, My once thought fading hair line is good.

 I will miss my hair, and I have ideas about growing it back out, but I do like that i am making changes, every time I look in the mirror i see a different person. A person that is forced to see that the changes have begun. No point in turning back, it would take a while for my hair to grow back.

Gone are the days of sitting in the salon getting my hair braided, chatting with the ladies that gossip versus the men that gossip. All about the same thing. I will miss my hair, the different ways i could express myself. Those days are gone