It was one year ago today that this website/blog and the associated Facebook page called “Gusto” were created. Looking back, I can see in the mind’s eye what occurred that morning, less than a month after arriving back in Southern California after a nearly 27 year absence.
I remember waking very early on that fateful day, April 9th, 2010. As I sat down at the kitchen table with my computer in front of me in the home of my little sister who had graciously allowed me a place to stay, my thoughts were racing. Suddenly, it occurred to me, all of what I was and what I am, HAD to be expressed in a venue far greater than what I had found in the social medium called Facebook. For nearly the year prior, I had begun creating “notes” so that I could share more freely and in more depth in that venue. For many, what I had done to that point had created feelings of inspiration, something that was not my original intent. I was merely sharing some of what had occurred over the course of my life, but particularly so since June 5th, 2008, or what I’ve referred to in this blog as “that date.” For those of you who are unaware what I mean by that, feel free to browse backward in this blog to the chapter dated April 24th, 2010 to familiarize yourself with the significance of that term. Suffice it to say it was life-changing, the beginning of a NEW life and a NEW way of living.
Within days following the creation of this blog a year ago, there were 7 “followers” of it and 30 “fans” of the associated Facebook page called Gusto, a nickname given to me by my father as a young boy. Ramblings came to mind because of something a friend of mine once told me about how I write. She said, “You have a way with words and express yourself in ways many of us feel but don’t know how. I can sit and read what you write forever.” Hence, the rambling part.
Today, one year later, there are 21 “followers” of Ramblings and people representing 47 countries around the world have viewed 72 posts of various sorts, ALL of which are intended to be a “Source of Inspiration” for its readers, over 6000 page views in all. The Facebook page that began with a trickling of personal friends has swelled to well over 800. Many personal events and milestones have occurred over the past year, including completion of a graduate paralegal program at the University of California San Diego, the primary goal and purpose for moving back to Southern California in the first place. And though that goal hasn’t resulted in a career, other opportunities and people have just sort of “happened” to appear in my life, including the woman I love, Natalie Ryan-Ramirez.
I remember the first time I laid eyes upon her. A mutual friend of ours, a strong advocate of this blog, the Facebook page, and the purpose behind both in inspiring others, had invited me to attend a memorial Natalie and her family had put together in honor of Natalie’s husband. Her husband was a man I had attended high school with here in Southern California and who had passed away in April 2009. Ironically, TODAY just so “happens” to be the 2nd anniversary of his passing, something neither of us were aware of for quite some time after we began dating, but one we both feel bears a particular significance for our journey together. What “happened” that day when we first met in May 2010 was another one of those “life-changing” events and stands as one of the most electrifying and magical experiences I’ve ever had. I don’t remember the exact number of people who came to honor Natalie’s husband that day, but it was certainly well over 100 and perhaps closer to 200. Think about that for a moment. Nearly 200 people show up to attend the “Celebration of Life” of a man who had died over a year prior on April 9th, 2009. For privacy reasons, I won’t discuss the details or events surrounding his death, though I believe it is safe to say that an especially vigorous form of cancer had taken his life in a very short period of time. Obviously, this man was, and STILL IS, loved by many, included yours truly.
So today my friends, I’m moving forward with “Ramblings” by taking this blog and turning it into a book, or perhaps a collection of short stories, for mass publication. The goal is to inspire my fellow brothers and sisters here on earth by sharing some of my experiences, AND yours, with the gift God bestowed upon me with the written word. At the same time, this inspiration has led to another “new” beginning, the creation of a nonprofit organization whose sole purpose is to provide charitable and/or educational assistance to widowed parents and who have surviving dependent children. You can easily surmise where the inspiration came from for this second goal and opportunity, one that I feel amplifies my own personal effort in inspiring others, as well as “Keeping LOVE and KINDNESS Alive”, the impetus behind the nonprofit organization.
Of course, I can’t speak for Natalie, but I ask YOU for your support in both of these efforts; inspiring others and keeping love and kindness alive in this world. One of the ways you can do so is by taking an ACTIVE role with the “Pay It Forward” concept, something both Natalie and my-self consciously do on a daily basis. I challenge EACH of you to perform at least one “act of kindness” every day from this day forward. TOGETHER, we CAN and WILL make a positive and lasting impression for our families, our friends, and yes, even strangers, in a world often seen as complicated and confusing. It doesn’t take much of an effort to do so; it can be as little as offering a smile or a hand to a stranger.
In closing then, I offer this famous quote and a favorite of mine that embodies that effort:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the ONLY thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead.
May God Bless you all with good health, happiness, peace, and LOVE. Always.