Guess what? What? It’s that wonderful time of year again. Yes, my annual countdown to my birthday! I love this time of year for many reasons. It’s a time to rejoice and be thankful for what I have and celebrate life. The annual Birthday Wish List is an event for me to reflect on what I have learn through the past years and an opportunity for me to share some of my thoughts about who I want to be and where I want to go in life.
This past year has been life-changing in so many ways. It has been the most remarkable year of life filled with so much emotions – the good, the bad and the ugly. It has tested me as an individual causing me to make decisions that I never thought I would make. I guess that’s what life is all about right? No one is given a script. No one is given a “Dummies Guide to Life.” We all have to go through it in our own journeys and do the best we can. Sometimes we make great decisions. Sometimes we make the not-so-great decisions. No matter what choices we make, we are always given another day to live life and be the person we want to be.
I finally woke up last year and made a decision that would forever change the course of my life. I was aimlessly going about life in a direction that I thought I had to endure. In reality, I was not strong enough to break away from that path. It took a lot of soul-searching and a lot of love and support from friends and family to breakaway from that path and start a new life – one filled with genuine love. I truly couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, friends and now, my wife.
November 13th – 30 days to go!
Today, I would like to thank the almighty God in my life. The song above symbolizes a prayer that I held in my heart for the last couple of years. I prayed to find a person that would LOVE me and be my partner in life. A person that would be faithful to me. A person that would be there for me no matter what life puts in front of us. A person that would forgive me for my transgressions. A person that would accept me for the person I am. A person that will support me and motivate me to be the man I want to be. A person I can raise a beautiful family with. A person who would be a great wife and mother. A person who would be a great friend to all. A person with a deep compassion for others. A person of love. This was my prayer I held in my heart, in a place only God could hear. I am so grateful that he has heard me and has blessed me with a beautiful soul.
For my birthday wish today I would love for more people to be connected spiritually. There a divine power in that connection that I hope others can experience and rejoice with.
November 14th – 29 Days
One of the fondest memories of my childhood was the DAILY trips to the library. My mother would drive my older sister and I to the Streamwood Public Library after school. We would spend almost 3-4 hours there. It was a place for me to explore and enjoy the many adventures from Tom Sawyer to Sammy the Seal.
It is one of the most influential things my mother did for us growing up. At the time, my mother had limited English proficiency. She couldn’t read and write well. She spent that time at the library teaching and training herself. It is remarkable the depth of awareness she demonstrated at that time given her low proficiency in English and education. She knew that the library would be a place that would help her children. She didn’t read to us because she couldn’t. She trusted that we would use our curiosity to explore and learn on our own. What tremendous insight and love. She gave us the foundation and we were able to build upon it. She didn’t need a book to teach her how to raise her children. She only needed to follow her heart.
This event and experience has given me the confidence to teach and advise other parents like my mother who don’t have an education or high language skills to encourage reading at an early age. It will build their communication skills immensely.
For today’s wish list, I would like to go back to the days of old and enjoy a great read. Let’s forget about the digital age and the endless apps. Let’s just sit back and enjoy the minutes reading a hardcover book. I heard this book was great. Would love to read it soon.
November 15th – 28 Days
Today is Friday. It’s cold where I am at. I am about to grab lunch now. My sister accidentally texted me a msg asking my brother-in-law to grab Japanese for dinner. Needless to say, it triggered my appetite – not for food. I crave to visit my sister and her beautiful family soon. I’m the only one in my family that hasn’t visited her in Spain. Now that life is moving “up,” I will be able to make a trip soon.
For today’s wish list, I would love to make a trip to visit my sister in 2014. I will definitely be treating her to Japanese food. I am so grateful for her!
November 16th – 27 Days
It’s been a bitter cold day with another few more days of frigid air and snow. I found some time to get back to reading. I’m reading about underdogs and how people perceive advantages and disadvantages. It’s been an interesting read so far. As I start applying some of the principles to my life, I can easily relate to being an underdog and how I was born into a place where some might consider as a disadvantage. Born poor has made me grow rich. That’s the “advantage” in the “disadvantage.”
I’m sure most people wouldn’t want to be born into poverty or grow in an impoverish environment. For millions of people worldwide, it’s the only world they will know. To be born poor and to live poor – that’s definitely a disadvantage most people would agree to. It is a harsh environment indeed. Being born in a third world country and raised in America has given me an unique perspective on the living conditions and daily life of the impoverished.
When I visited Laos for the first time since my family found refuge in America in 1979, I was deeply touched by four young men I was fortunate to meet. Hearing them share their dreams brought tears to my eyes. They wanted an opportunity to see the world, to fly in a plane, to hear music from an iPod, to watch TV, to eat, to live freely with passion and joy. Best of all, they wanted to be successful so they can help their families grow out of poverty.
As I was listening, I couldn’t help but wonder how they would make it. How would they turn their disadvantage into an advantage? I said a prayer and trusted that they would continue to follow their hearts and work hard. They were glowing with an abundance of spirit and goodwill, enough to spark their desires to succeed. The reality is that the four young men had what most people want. They were full of LOVE. The real poverty is the lack of LOVE in the world. The four were rich beyond measures.
One of the many lessons in life that I have come to learn is to have great compassion for others. No matter where you are in life or what social status you are in, life is a lot easier if you have someone shepard you along and provide support and love.
For my wish list today, I would like everyone to find time and reach out to help others, show compassion and love freely.
November 17th – 26 days
Sundays during this time of year is typically spent cheering on my favorite football team, Chicago Bears. Today’s game was unlike the others. It was suspended for almost two hours due to a tornado warning in the area. This was very unusual for this time of year. Tornado season typically end late June in the area. A warning like this was definitely unexpected and dangerous. My attention was diverted to the coverage about the tornado that hit Washington, IL near the Peoria area. It was deadly and devastating. Over the last week of so, Mother Nature has been on a rampage, killing thousands of lives with the Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and up-rooting the homes and lives closer to home in Illinois. It is a humbling experience and a reminder that we can never control the force of Mother Nature. What we can control is our actions. It is admirable to see thousands of people rise to the occasion with courage as they find the strength to move on and rebuild their lives and community.
For today’s wish list, I pray for the safety for the thousands that have been impacted from the recent devastation. I hope they find courage and strength to move forward. I hope they find comfort that their loved ones who passed are in a better place and are smiling upon them. I hope they heal the pain in their hearts. It is never easy to be separated from their loved ones and home. I hope they are nourished spiritually and discover the peace and love buried in the rumbles.
November 18th – 25 days
I was very happy today to make it to the gym to workout despite the bitter cold. Ever since my herniated disc injury, I have shifted to a healthier lifestyle. This has helped me recover from the injury and best, it has given me a surge in my physical and mental well-being. Even though I can compete in sports for a couple more months now, I have been able to improve my strength and cardio endurance. My goal is to get back on my feet and running by next spring.
For today’s wish list, I would like to stock up on Nike workout apparel. Can’t wait to get back to running and feeling the Earth beneath me.
November 19th – 24 days to go
It’s been getting colder by the day here. It’s the first big freeze with many more to come. When I was younger I used to love playing in the snow and strapping on the ice skates. My friends and I would spend all day playing in the snow, building our snow forts as we prepared for the super snowball fights. I once got hit with an icy snowball between the eyes. My head started bleeding as I ran inside our apartment building looking for my mom. Luckily I didn’t suffer any major injuries or a concussion.
I think everyone should enjoy the wonders of winter. I don’t think I could ever have a Christmas without snow. It wouldn’t feel the same. As much as it can be a big discomfort now with my back, nerves and muscles aching due to the cold, I wouldn’t ask for anything else in the winter.
For today’s wish list, I would love to go visit Santa Claus in the North Pole. We would build towering forts and have epic snowball fights with the elves. Afterwards, I will take a flight in Santa’s sleigh with Rudolph lighting the sky with his shiny red nose. Maybe I can convince Santa to take a break on Christmas day and I can deliver the presents. That would be out of this world!
November 20th – 23 days
My brother texted me when his plane landed in Seattle. He had been visiting Laos with my mother for the last two weeks. I was expecting a text that would say something about being tired and being happy to be back on US ground. He had a rough time digesting food the last few days of his trip so I expected him to be happy to finally be able to eat friendly food.
Well, knowing my brothers and their knack for sarcasm and humor, I should have expected anything other than the typical. He texted me and asked an important question about how the Chicago Blackhawks fared against the Colorado Avalanche. I chuckled because I didn’t know he was that much of a fan of the Blackhawks.
I grew up a Blackhawks fan when they were just a good team. Nothing compared to the dominant team they are now. My neighbor and I probably went to over 20 games during our last two years of high school. The Blackhawks game was a night cap. We would start out at watching the Cubs game during the day and then head out to Chicago Stadium to finish our fantastic sports day. (We would worry about homework later.)
Nothing beat the roar and spirit of the fans as the pre-game introductions began. The official pre-game song was “Machine Head” by the band Bush. “Breathe in, Breathe out, Breathe In” set the tone for the team. The intensity would ignite the toughness and grittiness of that team. Today’s team would be described as flashy finesse. The style back then was blue-collar tough. The team didn’t have flashy players like Patrick Kane or Jonathon Toews. They had blue-collar players like Jeremy Roenick, Dennis Savard, and Chris Chelios. It was a different type of game in a different time. The price of entry reflects the change. Long gone are the $10 tickets, enabling a couple of teenagers to enjoy the one of the most exciting experiences in sports.
For today’s wish list, I would love to share the experience of “Cold Steel on Ice” with my brothers. I know my youngest brother would appreciate the game more and will elevate his fan status. Let’s Go Hawks!
November 21st – 22 days
Life always has a way of changing plans at the very last minute. I am bummed I will have to miss leadership development session tomorrow. This particular session is unlike the many others I have taken. It was going to be a Myers Briggs assessment. Instead of knowing how my profile will relate to the professional work place, this particular session focuses on how my profile relates to God.
I couldn’t even fathom how the results would be or what it would say about me. Where was my relationship with God? Are there areas where I can develop to become closer? What was I missing that I don’t know? Most of the times we are missing something we just simply don’t know. I was definitely intrigued about the session and will have to make it to the next session.
For today’s wish list, I would welcome more mediation time in life as I grow my relationship with God.
November 22nd – 21 days
Tonight we celebrated on of our family’s friends 60th birthday. It was a very festive event held at a Chinese restaurant. There were close to 100 guests, enjoying the great food, beverages and company.
I was extremely happy for our friend. He is a great guy. He is a great husband. He is a great father. He is a great grandfather. He is a great friend. The fact that a 100 people came out on a very cold evening affirmed his character. It was very touching to see his contagious jubilant nature as he greeted all his friends.
And that folks, is the joy of birthdays – to celebrate another year of life with friends and family.
For today’s wish list, I would love to have many years of birthday celebrations with all my friends and family. There is a great value of accumulating more years of life. The opportunity to have more loving experiences are priceless.
November 23rd – 20 days
Today we went to the mall to do some window shopping for any last minute Christmas presents for our friends and family. As we were enjoying our time in Bed, Bath and Beyond, my eyes caught site of the one thing I wanted most this year.
Ever since my herniated disc injury, I am unable to sit comfortable because the pressure aggravates my tail bone, the spot of the injury. If I sit too long or sit in the wrong position, my back and leg locks. The bones puts too my pressure on the nerves, causing immense pain and immobility. Now I have to sit with a cushion that adds additional support to absorb the pressures of sitting down. In addition to the cushion, I treat the injury with a heating pad. Heat induces the cells in the body to concentrate in the area of pain. As the cells are concentrated there, the inflammation is treated and eventually the pain is reduced.
Today’s wish list will satisfy me immensely. My eyes caught sight of the greatest invention of mankind. My buttocks have never been more excited. Time to heat things up!
November 24th – 19 days
This evening we went to watch the next installment of “The Hunger Games” featuring Jennifer Lawrence. I am always skeptical of sequels. Most of the times it just doesn’t work and does no justice to the first episode. One of my biggest disappointments is “The Matrix” series. The first movie is one of my all time favorite sci-fi action flicks. The following two were just horrible.
Anyhow, back to “The Hunger Games.” It inspired me to write tonight. Not because of the movie or visual experience but more so the title. With millions of people starving and living in poverty, I wish I could do more. I always believed that if each of us do our part to help others, no matter what the circumstances are, the world would be more positive and filled with goodwill. It is quite sad for me to think that many people do not do their part to create a better humanity for all. I simply don’t understand how so many people can have empty hearts.
For today’s wish list, I want everyone to do one thing positive each day to help someone in need. I don’t think I am asking too much. Let’s do our part to help others and put an end to “The Hunger Games.”
November 25th – 18 days
Here comes the Chinook! A warm blast of air sweeps through to remind me how the climate can vary from place to place. Before arriving here, I had no idea what a Chinook was. Now I wish there was a Chinook every winter in Chicago when I lived there for pretty much all my life.
Today served as a reminder of a previous wish list item. I always wanted to live in San Diego because of the fantastic climate there. With great weather all year round, I could imagine myself playing golf all year. Plus, I could visit the beautiful coast line and enjoy the ocean. The only thing I would miss is snow in December for Christmas. It wouldn’t feel right if there wasn’t snow during Christmas. Perhaps, I would be the only person to fly out of San Diego during the winter just to see snow.
For today’s wish list, I would love to visit San Diego and see my cousin. I can smell the ocean now.
November 26th – 17 days
I had a great win today. We had approached our deadline for the MFA Preview Magazine. All creative material was due today. There was one ad space left that we needed to confirm and close. We had reserved the spot for a small museum. Unfortunately, the night before, my contact, a very nice and charming lady, responded that she was on vacation and did not want to make the decision until next week. I decided to call her to let her know we were going to run her ad even if we couldn’t agree on a price for this issue.
At first I was very hesitant because I didn’t want to upset her anymore with my persistence. I might think it is persistence. Others might view it as overly aggressive. I had to put some thought on how I was going to approach the phone call without becoming the pushy salesman I dread to be. I decided that I would be warm and explained to her the options and this was a great time for us to negotiate a great price for her.
To my surprise, she was very happy to hear from me. She said that she is busy with her family. The only reason why she took the call on her cell phone because she enjoyed our phone conversations and she really like me. Normally she would tell other salesman to call her back or she would let the call go to voice mail. She was a very warm and kind lady indeed. We were able to close business and agreed on a great offer for her. Again, she kept on stating that she would never have done this for other people and she would share this with my publisher when she gets back to the office. I was very grateful for her.
For today’s wish list, I hope to grow more relationships with future business partners and I hope these relationships become friendships that last forever.
November 27th – 16 days
I had a great night as the Blackhawks beat the Flames in one of the best hockey games I have seen live. Today was an early birthday present. Having the opportunity to watch my favorite team tonight was a great experience. I want to say thanks to my awesome wife for the treat. We had a lot of fun watching the intense game. It came down to a spectacular shot by Patrick Kane with 14 seconds left in the game to win it for the Hawks. The Flames fans were in shocked. It was such an uplifting high to walk out of the stadium as winners.
For today’s wish list, I would like to have the winning feeling every day in all aspects of my life. I want to be the champion of my life.
November 28th – 15 days
No matter how far I am from my friends and family, I will forever be thankful for their love and care. Today is a day to be grateful and thankful. I always believed that every day should be a day to be grateful and thankful and people should act and behave with compassion every day no matter what the calendar says. It’s like Valentine’s Day. Why do people go all out to express their love for others on that day when they can do it every day? It never really made any sense to me how others decided to be grateful and thankful because the calendar and society tells them to be.
Nevertheless, I love holidays and appreciate the meaning of each holiday. Days marked on a calendar serves its purpose and meaning. Today, I am reminded to be grateful and thankful for the life I have. I know I have been blessed and I want to continue to live my life to serve others.
Today also marks a special memory in my heart. One that I will hold on forever. It was the last time I heard from a special person in my life. I miss him a lot. I remember him telling me about life by telling me that things happen for a reason and that he understood that circumstances caused an event neither of us wanted or could see happening. He is wise beyond his years. I love him and miss him.
For today’s wish list, I pray and hope that my love will forever be received by the wise young man that I can never forget. I hope that he will grow stronger and wiser to become the great man he is destined to be. I am grateful and thankful for being a part of his life. I hope to see him soon.
November 29th – 14 days
HA! I got another early birthday present. Today we went out to check our the Black Friday shopping experience. It was quite calm as compared to the US. We were able to get more Christmas gifts for family in Laos. I can’t wait to celebrate Christmas in Laos. After leaving the mall, we went to Costco and I was given my early present, the book, “The Book Thief.” I was super excited to get home and start reading it.
Once we got home, we were in for a big surprise. Our little Maltese puppy, Momo, somehow managed to climb out of her den cage. I was in shocked and couldn’t believe she was able to achieve such a feat. I suppose when one is determined to escape, one will find a way. With her new found freedom, Momo was able to do what little puppies do. She ransacked our bedroom and left us a smelly surprise. We spent the next hour cleaning up after her and I sentenced her to her kennel. For the rest of the night she would be housed in the kennel.
After getting things settled with the puppy and the mess, I was able to open the book and dive into the story. It was definitely worth the hype. The style and the narration of the book was a pleasant surprise. I’m not going to give away the details since I hate people spoiling a good read and don’t want to be that person. I can’t wait to finish the book!
For today’s wish list, I would like to restart my collection of books and build my library. If there are any great books you would like to recommend, please feel free to share. I love books and want more.
November 30th – 13 days
Tonight we went to a concert at a local church. I have always enjoyed attending concerts, especially during the holidays. We thought it would be a holiday theme. To our surprise, it wasn’t festive nor entertaining. It was the first time in a long time I didn’t enjoy a concert. Normally, there would be something I could appreciate. The choir had great voices too. It was sad that they didn’t build a song list that would entertain their audience. They didn’t know how to connect.
For today’s wish list, I would love tickets to see the Celtic Woman in concert. I have been wanting to see them for a few years now. I have always enjoyed watching them on PBS. I’m sure it would be fantastic to experience it live.
December 1st – 12 days
I can’t believe it is December already. The weather outside has been a winter wonderland for a few weeks now and it feels like the frozen month of February. I’m afraid it will be seriously cold in February. How can it be more cold than -40 C? That’s not going to be fun. Brrrrrrrr!
For today’s wish list, I will need a little more sunshine in my life to brighten up the day.
December 2 – 11 days
Today is my one year anniversary in the moose country. I can’t believe it has been a year. Looking back, it has been a year filled with special moments and events. It will go down as the most influential year of my life so far. I made a major decision to change my life to come here. Every aspect of my life changed. I am still learning to adjust and find a lifestyle that nourishes me fully. I think that will be my goal for the next year. Sometimes it takes a major event to change a person. For me, it was about finding a better environment to would lead to greater health and happiness. I am so glad to have gone through this past year. I was tested emotionally, mentally, financially, and physically. It wasn’t always easy to go through all the life challenges. Today I feel stronger knowing I made great movements in my life.
For today’s wish list I would like to have more courage to continue to fight through my fears and conquer the challenges of life. Carpe Diem!
December 3 – 10 days
The snow has been crazy here. What’s worse is the icy conditions? I am in fear driving because the roads are not flat like the ones I have trekked back home. There are way too many hills, twists and turns. Every time we are out driving, we are witnessing accidents. Today is the start of another blizzard with high winds and snow. It’s starting to be a daily routine here.
For today’s wish list, I would like for everyone to drive safely no matter where they are. There’s no need to speed especially when conditions are not ideal. Let’s play it safe people.
December 4th – 9 days
There’s only one way to conquer the snowy and icy conditions here.
December 5th – 8 days
I have been enjoying my work lately. I have been prospecting luxury travel destinations and it has motivated me to work hard to experience paradise. The cold weather outside adds fuel to this dream vacation to paradise.
For today’s wish list, I would love to take my wife to a beautiful beach vacation and experience paradise.
December 6th – 7 days
One more week to my birthday. I am starting to miss my friends and family. Typically, we would be planning the celebrations and start our own countdown. They are a big part of my life. Being far away from them has been an adjustment. I miss them a lot. I think that has been one of the biggest adjustment for me over the past year – not being able to hangout with friends and family during the special celebrations.
For today’s wish list, I hope next year to be celebrating more special events with my friends and family. Love you and miss you all!
December 7th – 6 days
Let there be peace on Earth. Is that too much to ask?
December 8th – 5 days
We finished our Christmas shopping today. We bought a ton of chocolate and candy for our gift bags for children. With the treats, we included really nice coloring books and crayons. I can’t wait to play Santa and give the little boys and girls their gifts. Nothing makes me more happy than to see the smiles from children.
For today’s wish list, I hope all the little boys and girls receive all the love and care that they deserve and need. I hope that every little boy and girl can smile with jubilant joy and love!
December 9th – 4 days
The Bears won with a dominating offensive game. It was probably the best offensive game I have ever seen them play. Perhaps they were inspired by Da Coach Mike Ditka. The Bears finally retired his number. It was a great day for Chicago Bears football.
For today’s wish list, I wish the Bears can play dominating defense for the rest of the season. They need to get back to being the Monsters of the Midway.
December 10th – 3 days
The Blackhawks have been red hot, scoring goals with ease. It’s been a fun year following the Hawks. It has also been a special year of bonding with my brothers. Interestingly, we have became closer because of the Hawks. It means a lot to me to have this fun interaction with my brothers. There is a significant age difference between myself and my younger brother, 15 years. I didn’t really have much time to play with him when he was younger since I was heading to college and entering my adult life. With hockey, our relationship has grown. We spent a lot of time playing NHL 13 on XBox. It has been a lot of fun. I feel like a kid again.
For today’s wish list, I would like to have the new NHL 14 game so I can continue to enjoy my time with my brothers.
December 11th – 2 days
I’m getting excited to head back to Laos again. There is so much more of Laos I want to explore. I am looking forward to discovering the beauty and wonder of the homeland.
For today’s wish list, I would like to experience the mystique of Laos and discover more about myself and the people of Laos.
December 12th – 1 day
With one more day left to my birthday, I am starting to realize that all I want is to be happy. To laugh. To enjoy life. To smile. To live. To love.
For today’s wish list, I would like to heal my injuries and pain. I would like get healthy in all areas of my life.
December 13th – CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES!
Today, I am 37 years old. I am so grateful for the life I have and the chance to be alive. I want to say “I love you” to my wonderful wife for being by my side and for loving me so much. It is a blessing to have a person like her. She has been an angel and has given me the love I need to become a better man.
I had a great day today. Started the day with a phone call to my mom. It was great to hear her voice. Felt so much love from all my Facebook friends and family. We caught a late afternoon showing of “The Hobbit.” We loved it! Afterwards, we celebrated at our friends’ Holiday Party where I played bartender, having too much fun pouring spirits to all the party people.
It was a fun day of celebration. Thank you God for being my guiding light. It was my special day and I was loved. The only thing I would like to ask for is that everyone bring joy to the world and make a person smile. That’s all I would like. Let’s all show everyone what it means to love and care for one another. Amen!