I make simple, complicated😊


I remember watching her walk by, 2 or 3 times, that first week

Then, as I struggled with a new schedule, new routines, I stopped noticing what wasn’t directly helping me manage myself

Three weeks later, she waved. At me! She was walking towards me, but needed to go a different direction

She stopped. I approached. We talked.

On my way back, knowing where I could find her, I did. We talked more

Before I left for home, I stopped to see her. She stood a few feet above me, on an elevated platform. There was a rail, she leaned over it as we talked

I promised cookies, next time I see her. She accepted😀


Which is really part 1, but, let’s not complicate the stories

I met her, 9-10 weeks ago. An innocuous meeting, as we’re the next 2-3

Time before last, I got “the look”

Ambiguous. Intrigued. It happens

Yesterday a combination of fatigue and boldness overcame me as we encountered each, quite unexpectedly

“Here’s my contact info. Let’s make arrangements to meet again.”

Really?!?! That was my line!😄

But, she agreed

I walked away, but could feel her still standing there, watching

I stopped, turned, looked back

Indeed, following me with a smile, she gave a wave, and then, went on her way



Just like me🙃

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Humble Heart💞

As a 17 year old, I was a big fish in a little pond. I was arrogant, prideful.

And worse, there were few I looked up to, admired, or sought guidance from.

Until my first drum corps camp. I didn’t know ANYTHING about anything, turns out 😄

There might have been three or four instructors in my first visual block, but I only remember one.

She rode me up and down several reps in a row. Her comments were very precise: encouraging when I applied proper technique, then on to my next flaw, and she’d DIG into that😊

I learned what fervor was.

Passion, exuberance, inspirational energy.

Roxanne was an iron fist in a Velvet glove

Over the next few years her directness, sometimes gentle, sometimes a “punch,” always appropriate for the moment, always helped me as a performer, and more importantly, her comments always helped me as a person.

Roxanne cared, loved, and had FERVOR for what she did, and who she did it with.

…and she was always humble

That enabled her to connect and inspire so many. She was felt what you felt, she understood what you didn’t, and if not, she let you know that too, take you by the hand and walk with you, forward. Always forward, always to somewhere better.

Years later, as I dove back into the performing arts, I ran into Roxanne💞

She was as much, and MORE of the person I remembered.

Her humble spirit enabled her to continue to grow and develop.

We crossed paths off and on since then, almost 20 years now, with occasional texts and messages here and there, about this, that, and the other😊

Roxanne lifted me up, lifted everyone up, as performers and as people. From adolescence into adulthood, her Light, her Fire was a guide and centering point, for me, for many.

She leaves us with some of her Light and Fire. She’s a part of who we are, now.

I will honor her memory with the Light and Fire she shared with me, to love, guide, and inspire others by example.

We all will.

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When in Love❤…



Seriously, though…,

4 times I have walked away from possibly the best choice I could have made in my life, for my life.

But, not for them. That was my thinking, at the time, and what continue to believe.

I used my faults and flaws as reasons, for myself, to discontinue relationships.

In hindsight, I possibly created faults and flaws to enable me a reason to discontinue relationships🤔

In a recent conversation, a relatively objective observation was shared with me by a new friend, friends:

Paraphrasing: I have a great ability to love, be loving, to others, for others.


THAT, I’ve never doubted…


That ability has caused situations and dilemmas (not without benefits😉) that have no always led towards desirable a direction.

But, enough…

for now🤗


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When I work with people I always make sure to be aware of subjects that directly or indirectly refer to family.

Too often I’ve seen others make assumptions when talking about or referencing family.

I’ve been fortunate, very fortunate, with my family and my extended family. Lots of love, patience, understanding, compassion, forgiveness.

My experiences, too, have provided a rich and diverse perspective on what family means to others.

Not always a good thing😞

A conversation I had recently about family made me think, review, reflect on opportunities not seized, or not right, in those moments, for me to have possibly started my own family.

Even in hindsight, as much I can imagine how each situation could have worked out well, I still believe I made the best choice, then, now, and probably even for the future.

I have to believe that.


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I promised a friend, friends, I would pray for forgiveness.

Interesting that is where our conversation led.

Although my past has had more than my fair share of moments that needed forgiveness, none of those stories were shared, today.

Looking back, way back, I do not ever recall asking for or wanting forgiveness from others.

Forgiving myself, on the other hand, is something I have needed, and probably will need in the future.

…and forgiveness is something I have prayed for, throughout my life.

My effort, every day, to be better, is in part driven by those times in my past where I was less than who I was created to be.

“…forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those trespass against us…”

My weakness of character, the fragility of my ego has led my thoughts, my words, me, to do, or fail to do what is true and righteous for my fellow brothers and sisters. I ask, Lord, for forgiveness and humility.


I think a lot, before I click my mind off each night. A prayer of forgiveness, reflection is a good way to end each day. Now, and evermore.

Remembering part of an earlier conversation: health, family, community. Those are my basic values.


Go to bed, drink water. Wake up, drink water, stretch, exercise. Make and eat breakfast, everyday. Snack smart during the day. Stretch. Exercise. Eat an appropriate evening meal.


Daily, do something to support, nurture, strengthen my family.


Daily, do something to support, nurture, strengthen my community.

…and now, evermore

Pray for forgiveness, humility, and for my spiritual strength to come through contrition.

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My mother’s side of the family has incredible faith and devotion. Faith and devotion to God, family, and community❤

Faith: complete trust, complete confidence

Devotion: love, loyalty, enthusiasm


It unites us. It also divides us in the most terrible and inhumane ways😞


I am guilty of boundless shameless faith in others and myself. Does that lead to disappointment in others and myself sometimes? Damn straight 🙂 Does it shake my faith for either? Never. There is always another moment or situation for others or myself to shine, to be a light to others.

As much as I appreciate religion and how it helps many people, at times “religious” people put too much emphasis on the mechanics of their particular set of beliefs and forget the essence of what their faith really teaches.

I love tradition. I love rituals. But, standing and sitting at the right times, that saying certain words with other people, and doing all that in a certain building only scratches the surface of making the world better.

The beauty of working with young people is the faith, trust, and belief they have in the adults that surround them. They haven’t become jaded about the world. All the possibilities, all the options about what their life will be, for the most part, remain open. You can see it in their eyes. I truly appreciate every moment working with the youth. It is a blessing to serve youth.

What happens to people that causes them to lose faith, either in them self or in others? Well, many things. Sometimes it starts in childhood. We all know more stories than we care to recall about terrible things that happen to children, infants even, and some that don’t even survive those situations. On the positive side, sometimes, not always, people that caused that evil are held accountable. You can’t give up faith because someone else wants to make the world seem like something it is not.

The world is not evil. People can, and do, evil.

I have faith those people will meet the karma they make.

I must admit, I am somewhat hypocritical when it comes to me, and how the world reflects back to me what I give it. I am always of the belief that I can be better, I can do better. At times, I feel I am a failure, yet I get thanks and praise in those same moments.

I know me. Sometimes people regard my efforts as above and beyond the call of duty for a given moment. My standards, how I evaluate myself, are not based on others expectations.


My faith in myself is such that I believe, given an opportunity to max a moment, I can do that. When I don’t, it doesn’t decrease my believe that I have that ability.

Reset. Take it from the top. One more time.


I always have faith that others will do their best 24/7. Sometimes my faith in others causes me a moment, or moments of anger, in myself, and/or disappointment, in my judgement, when others I trusted were not their best.

I get over it quickly. Life is too short. Plus, there’s always another moment around the corner to make something good happen, or to see others shine in their moment.

I guess that’s what I like most about myself. I never get down, never complain. Some final thoughts on the thoughts that consistently travel across my brain everyday: figure it out, I will deal with it very effectively thank you very much!, why are you such a dork! (and then smile at myself), make it happen, get s*** done, be positive – smile – say amen.


I don’t know why my drive for intangible things is so strong. Maybe I am just one of nature’s/God’s reaction to so many people and things that are driven by pursing things/stuff.

I think I’ve seen a bumper sticker out there that says “Whoever dies with the most stuff wins”


Maybe I’ll print up a bunch of bumper stickers that say this: “Whoever surrounds them self with the most good people wins!”


Although, that doesn’t sound quite right either. Good people should be distributed evenly and not be in piles😁

I dunno. I’ll think about this one more, a little later.


I strongly believe that the more we help and support one another, in the end, that makes the world a better place for all of us.

Bless all you parents. You are your child’s lifelong teacher. Bless all teachers, coaches, and leaders of youth. You are making the world a better place. Bless all vets for protecting us and allowing us the freedom to have Faith.


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Will a divided America Ever become One America again.


I say that because the truth is since It’s inception, there has always been different visions of what America is, and which direction it should go.

Political parties

What’s been different, of late, (and by of late, I mean the last ten years+) is the ability to not agree on basic facts.

Even worse, maybe, is the processes that have been used for thousands of years to determine facts are no longer useful, to those pushing an agenda.

Climate change is an example.

There is a well established judicial norm “preponderance of evidence.”

For years, the preponderance of scientifically researched data was tested, tested, and retested. New data was collected, tested, tested, and retested. Results: man’s activities are contributing, negatively, to climate change.

Many are still skeptical, however, as is their right (to be wrong)


In the 1980’s a group of socially and politically like minded people banded together and labeled themselves the Moral Majority.

(Side note: an Los Angeles based radio station, maybe others, quickly capitalized and started labeling themselves, in on-air promos and merch as the Immoral Minority😆)

The Moral Majority was founded on the basic premise that religion and politics should NOT be separated.


Since that premise is against the United States Constitution, it is, by its own admission, Un-American


It is understandable that people are passionate about what they believe. However, following a principle that goes against the U.S. Constitution is, by definition, Un-American.

Will a majority of Americans decide to agree to disagree? I say that has always been the case.

The difference now, of late, regarding our disagreements, is multiple platforms and multiple personalities now exist to exploit and enrich themselves on our disagreements.

You cannot legislate decency.

It is our “right” and “freedom” to be dismissive and condescending

As long as there is profit and notoriety to be gain from amplifying and propagating our worse ideas about ourselves, and each other, a divided America will be, into the foreseeable future.

What is more American than those seeking profit and notoriety😉

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To Love Yourself, now, and in the New Year🤗❤

We all talk to ourselves. Some of us talk to our self more than others 😀 Some of us talk to ourselves out loud 😀 which helps keep our thoughts organized. Hearing our ideas out loud helps us listen to ourselves better

When we were young, the voice inside our head was often words we have heard from our mother or father or some other relative that we love and endear. As we grew older those voices inside us start to include words from our teachers, words from our priest or pastor, and words from our friends.

As we continue to grow as people, we became readers of literature. When we read, the voices of favorite characters and the voices of our favorite authors enter into the conversations we have with ourselves.

I must say at this point I am making a great assumption that we all have been and always will be in conversation with ourselves. I know that is not true. It is my hope is that it is true, because of a point I am going to make towards the end of this post 😀

Being alone allows a person time to sort through your thoughts. I know many people, particularly younger people, who are always or frequently seeking distraction, entertainment, or some other muse to occupy their mind’s time. I don’t understand the expression “I’m bored.” I do, but I don’t. How can a person not look at a space of time, no matter how short or long, and not think, awesome! I can think about something that just happened that was good, or bad, (and nothing is truly “good” or “bad,” we just say so) or think about something in my future that I want to make happen.

That’s it; I know I am constantly at odds with whatever reality other people perceive. What is true is not what I think or what others think. The truth is something that exists between us. What we think are the words we believe to be true. What words each person believes to be true are slightly different than the next person. That is why we miscommunicate. We don’t always agree on the meaning of words we speak, or our true thoughts we cannot give the proper words because we haven’t taken the time to think about how to express what we truly feel, what we truly think, what we truly believe.

Earlier I was talking about talking out loud to yourself to help sort out your thoughts. Writing them down is also a good thing to do. Seeing your own thoughts in writing can be very powerful in helping you “find” who you are. Who we are, our essence, always remains the same. Over time we make adjustments to our perception, because the world is always changing, but our essence remains constant.

As we go through adolescence and emerge into adulthood we have an s-load of voices in our head; hopefully most of them are the ones we now have ownership of. We’ve filtered through the many voices in our life growing up and want those words to be a part of who we are now. Some of the voices are ideas we have deconstructed and reassembled, mixing and matching words that make sense to us in their own way and we can take ownership of those words as we go out into the world, seeking our own individual happiness and peace.

Inside of all of us is the voice of our soul. It always knows what’s best for us. We have the voice of our heart, the voice of our pragmatic intellect; we have the voice of our prejudices and biases. We have voices we speak in anger, sadness, and joy. It can all become very confusing at times. When we speak to ourselves it is sometimes helpful to identify to yourself what voice is speaking to you, what voice you are listening to. It will help clarify and put into perspective that moment you are in and hopefully bring a calmness and peace with whatever your thoughts are at that time.

We are all human. We each are all essentially of the same essence. That is the soul in each of us. What makes us all seem so different from each other are the words we believe and the voices we listen to in our heads. What we believe determines how we act. If we believe there are inherent differences between us, we will conflict. If we believe there are inherent similarities between us, we will cooperate with each other.

This is a perfect time to get political, but I will not. Because I believed that to be true doesn’t mean it was 😀

To hope, to love, to dream, to want the best for ourselves, to want the best for others, I believe is what we all want. I am obviously oblivious to the reality of life 😀 I don’t care; I believe, and I will continue to believe that to be true. Which is a good thing and a bad thing. Other people do the exact same thing. They believe in words and speak in voices that directly conflict with the reality around them.

War is not natural. Many conditions and situations in this world are not natural, they are man-made.

Love, dreams, hope for the future is natural 😀 That is in our soul; that is in all of us.

We have to find the voice of our soul and let it guide us. We have to follow and listen to the other pragmatic words and voices inside our head too, because stuff has to get done sometimes. You don’t need your soul to get the laundry done, or kitchen cleaned 😀

We do need to listen to the voices that lead us to love, that lead us to peace, that lead us to care and support each other. We have to find time to hear those voices.

It is the end of the year and I think a lot of voices are saying to people that tonight is going to be a night of cheer, a night of reflection of the past year, and a night to celebrate a new year, a new beginning and another chance to get stuff done right; for ourselves and for each other.

Thank you readers; be merry be safe. I will see you next year!

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When I was about 10 years old, w

e went once to the little town, puebla actually, my mother was born in, and lived the first 12 years of her life. It was dirty. Not in the traditional sense. It was void of any concrete or asphalt. Just dirt roads and adobe buildings. No one in my family got out of the car. I remember being somewhat amazed how different life was in this place compared to my home. I also remember looking at my mom, and her not looking outside the car window, reading, instead, the ever present book she carries. Not the same book. She reads lots of books, all the time. A new one every few days. 🙂

Mom is a reader. The poverty she rose from is quite remarkable.

I don’t speak Spanish because as a child my mother was still not much of an English speaker. My father wasn’t much better, but he was functional, having been in the army and having gone to college. I did know some Spanish as a child but was always told to speak only English, even when they spoke to me in Spanish.

My mother was always a volunteer at my elementary school. For some unknown reason my 4th grade teacher, Mrs Arnold, talked into taking night classes to get her GED, as she had only completed up to the 6th grade.

The self taught scholar was about to catch fire.

She started taking night classes in 1974 and by 1982 had earned her Master’s degree in Education.

She was hired as an instructional assistant in 1979 and told her principal that if he didn’t hire her as a full time regular teacher the next year, she was not coming back. She had her own class the next year.

During the time she pursued her education I called her the Tasmanian devil. I would wake up each day and she would already be up and stuff had gotten done around the house. The family would be served breakfast and out the door she went. When I came home the house would be empty. Then around 4 or 5 a tornado would blow through the door. More stuff got done in the house and before the tornado left hot food was on the stove or oven. As I went to bed each night I could hear her either typing a paper or listening to her and my father working on her assignments together. I am told she helped my father a lot through college, mostly typing up his assignments. Not her first experience with a language she didn’t know. She had an uncle that taught her to “read” English and gave her books to read, and she did 🙂

Within 8 years she earned her GED, A.A., B.A., and M.A. All while running a household with a husband and 3 children. In my opinion, the husband was just as much and sometimes more work than her 3 children. She took care of that 😀

I don’t remember the sequence of events but it went something like this. She used to do all his ironing, even boxers and handkerchiefs! One day he found fault with her ironing. Next I knew all his clothes were removed from the closets and drawers and piled on the bed. Another time he criticized her washing. She stopped washing his clothes. Final thing, the guy was a little slow what can say, he criticized her cooking. That meal wound up in the sink.

To his credit, he learned to wash, iron, cook, and other household chores. We children also learned early to do those things for ourselves also.

They both came along way together. Having been born and raised very traditionally and poor, they transitioned rather smoothly into middle class Americans.

Education is a powerful thing. The desire to make yourself into the person you see yourself as, and not how others see you, was very strong in my parents.

See you soon! Enjoy!

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Please, may I make a request of all of you? You are not required to respond, but, please stand if you can or would like to, and if standing or not, look around, and in the spirit of fellowship acknowledge each other

Ok, also not required, but, if you need to, roll your head around, roll your shoulders, extend your arms, roll your wrists, wiggle your torso a little

Thank you, 🙂

Let us give thanks for the opportunity to honor a life of LOVE, COURAGE and FEROCITY

Let us give thanks that we are able to share this moment, together

Let us give thanks for the path in our life that has given us, an opportunity, to celebrate…

A life,

The life of Maria Irma Romero Santos


Spirit, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, wife, mother, mentor, grandmother, great grandmother

On August 15, 1936, a tenacious woman, Esperanza Jimenez, and a gentle man, Longinos Romero, gave birth to a little girl. Irma was born in a humble village near Juarez, Chihuahua Mexico. That humble unassuming beginning on earth has been a part of Irma’s personality throughout her life. And through that humble beginning, Irma developed a thankful, and generous spirit.

Irma’s life fed and nurtured an amazing and wonderful spirit. Everyone who met Irma could feel that spirit. She had respect, generosity and kindness for all. She was thankful for the opportunity to be a blessing.


Irma’s SPIRIT inspired…


Irma treated everyone as worthy of kindness and love. Irma was an example to the world that true unconditional and selfless love existed. I believe that her example of selfless love has been a model for all of us to emulate, and to love one another, and be kind to one another, as she so loved and was kind to us.

Irma’s SPIRIT inspired…


A little girl, born into a life where bare necessities were not a guarantee. A little girl, that the world had little to no expectations of. A little girl that dreamed she could, and did, create a life others only imagined. A little girl, that through hard work and grit, persisted to achieve beyond the expectations of others. This little girl, Maria Irma, has inspired others to be courageous in their own life, and to purse and conquer their life goals and life challenges.

Irma’s SPIRIT inspired…


Anyone that knew Irma long enough, knew of her ferocity. Very few people mistook Irma’s kindness as weakness. Irma was a Leo. Katy Perry sang a song about Irma, and women like Irma…spend enough time with Irma, and you’re going to hear her roar

There are many things to say about Irma, some already said today, but the Irma I knew best was the teacher, of over 30 years. Same school, teaching 2nd grade, kindergarten, or 1st grade. She taught for so many years in the same neighborhood, that she taught not only children of former students, but even a few grandchildren of former students.


Irma left home after 6th grade, and moved to the city, Ciudad Juarez. Eventually, with each pay check, she would keep enough money for her self care basics and send the rest of the money home to help her 4 brothers and 3 sisters.

Around 16, she met a tall handsome man, Ramon. About a year later, they were married.

Irma and Ramon lived in various cities in western and central Texas, in the mid fifties and early sixties, as her husband pursued his education and the beginnings of his career.

By 1964, they and their two young daughters had moved to southern California, and in 1966, bought a house, with a Whittier zip code, but the neighborhood was appropriately referred to as Avocado Heights, a single tract of homes in an area surrounded by avocado and orange groves, grain fields, barns, and a dairy farm.

When I started elementary school, I was bilingual, but my school and neighborhood were 85-90% Caucasian. A decidedly English only environment. I clearly remember Irma taking the opportunity to improve her English, which was not very good at that time. Every afternoon, she would review with me my lessons in school, especially English.

From kindergarten through third grade, Irma always volunteered for classroom room mother opportunities. In 1974. Irma became a volunteer teacher assistant for Mrs Arnold, my 4th grade teacher. Thankfully for me, she was a master of maxing her role as Mrs Santos, not Ray’s mom, while in the classroom.

I believe Mrs Arnold saw the potential irma possesed, maybe not as a teacher, but certainly as an individual. Not knowing the powers about to be unleashed, Mrs Arnold encouraged Irma to take night classes and earn a GED. Irma did, and followed completing her GED coursework, with an A.A. from Rio Hondo College, and a Bachelor of Arts degree, a bilingual teaching credential, and Master’s Degree from Cal Poly, Pomona by 1982.

A stay home mom, became a certificated Master of her profession in 8 years.

As a child, during this period, I used to liken my mother to the Tasmanian Devil. I recall in the mornings, her making breakfast for everyone. I remember more often than not, she would be out the door before I finished breakfast. I remember in the afternoon at home, a tornado would blow in the house, stuff got cleaned, food got made, and the tornado would go out the door. Then at night, as I drifted to sleep, I’d hear her and my father, Ramon, going over her readings or assignments, or her alone in the kitchen, typing away at her next paper.

Of the many lessons I learned from my father, the ones I remember most fondly are the ones he didn’t directly teach me. These lessons I learned by watching a man adjust to the reality that the doe of a wife he married was turning into a lion. The theme of the lessons: Respect and honor the lion, or the lion will turn you into hyena chum.

I don’t remember the exact sequence, or the exact timing of these events, but it went something like this. Irma had tried to continue the cooking, cleaning, and other duties she had filled, prior to her new life: working full time and going to school full time.

One day, at dinner, my father made a critical remark about the food. Mom got up, grabbed his plate, dumped it in the sink, grabbed the pots and pans with the unserved dinner food, dumped them in the sink as well.

Dad learned to cook.

Another time, while preparing his clothes for the next day, Dad found a flaw in the ironing of one shirt. Not the quickest learner, Dad thought bringing that to Irma’s attention was a good idea.

Dad became quite skilled with the use of a clothing iron.

The last thing I ever remember my father, Ramon, ever criticizing Irma about was the laundry. Ramon found a stain on his shirt, and brought this to Irma’s attention. Irma took every clothing of his hanging, (and pressed), from the closet and dumped them into the dirty laundry. She also took his pressed boxers, and pressed handkerchiefs (yes, pressed boxers and pressed handkerchiefs) out of their drawers and tossed them into the hamper as well.

Dad got really good at washing clothes.

To his credit, and through Irma’s ever present LOVE, COURAGE, AND FEROCITY, Ramon learned to love, respect, and honor the lion that had emerged from the doe.


Irma was a paradox, in some ways. She loved to socialize, but she equally enjoyed her books and quiet time alone.

Irma loved her family, both sides, her in laws and her own extended family. She was always joyous, genuine, and full of love to all in her family.

The world, the world that encoutered Irma, has been better, because of her. Irma gave as much of herself, as well as she was able, into everything she did.
Irma was a hero to many.

Irma was my hero.

We will miss Irma

I will miss irma

But, if we can take our personal moments of sorrow and pain, find a way to open our hearts, extend kindness to a stranger, call a friend not heard from in awhile, stop and visit a family member, finding something, to turn the sorrow and pain into a gesture of thoughtfulness…

What a way to honor a life that revolved around selflessness and dedicated to the wellness of others

The body has passed, but her spirit is alive

May we all find a purpose in life, that sustains and lifts others, as I believe the life of Irma Santos has, by sustaining and lifting the lives of so many.


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