There is a time every year when we take time to appreciate that special man in everyone’s life. No matter how, what, when, where and why, he is always there in presence or thought to listen to you when you want to talk, to comfort you when you’re sad, to guide you when your indecisions takes a hold of you and to support you like a good friend in good times and bad times. You may disagree with him sometimes, gone around and done it your way but when it is all said and done, he will still be there by your side extending a hand to help you get up or to hug you and congratulate when you succeed. He is the one we call Dad, the one that raised you and watched you growing up to be the person you’re today. For that we salute you Dad, thank you for being my Dad! Mi Padre, the relentless warrior. There is nothing that can stop you or prevent you of doing what you set your mind into, dealing with whatever you have at hand, improvising and adjusting as you go until it is completed. I admire your determination and one of the things I hold dearly of you is the persistence to continue to go forward in the face of adversity and never give up. I salute you Dad! As a son and also a Father, I reminiscence into my childhood and all I see is the circle of life manifesting in the present where I now instill those values and skills you showed me as I was growing up into my own children. Job well done Dad, even though you may think I was not listening or paying attention back then, here I am now following your lead. I love you and appreciate you being there; I can always count on you and you on me!
I started a new journey teaching kids the fundamentals of Systema: breathing, relaxation, structure and movement. Strength, courage and humility are qualities found in Systema’s principles going back for centuries, so I will also be focusing on character building and discipline to educate the children to become better people. It can be challenging to teach children; they never stand still and their attention span is short, so I have set the class to last 20-30 minutes. We start with the children falling in a formation rank like in the military; to develop good character and the right attitude, we repeat the code of honor or Scout’s promise and Scout’s law. I chose this because I was a Boy Scout myself, making it all the way to Eagle Scout. It created the foundation of who I am today and I believe in its principles. Scouting even opened the doors to the military which its discipline and values shaped my character and helped me grow as a person of integrity in leadership and responsibility. I believe that if taught to the children early and on regularly, it will be rooted deep into their sub-conscious becoming part of them and their values for life.
We spent time on breathing and movement drills, emphasizing relaxation which I quickly learned that children don’t know how to relax without being calm. They are already “relax” in their own terms without worries, being playful and happy. I have to adjust the drills based on each child reaction and skill level. Overtime I will have everyone going at the same pace once they are familiar with the drills. In general it is all fun and play, rolling on the floor, running around, jumping up and down, and just being kids. To me teaching is also learning because I am involved in the process and I get the best feedback from the children’s position. Learning is finding out what we already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers and teachers. (Richard Bach, Illusions: Reflections of a Reluctant Messiah.)
It’s been more than a month since my son was born. Throughout this time, my wife and I have been witness of the changes of our growing baby; miracles of God’s creation unfolding right in front of our eyes, his body is getting stronger and fuller. During the day, he is aware of his surroundings and reacts accordingly to sounds around him, he tears up when crying which is a sign that his vision is developing. He has a ferocious appetite; wherever we go we have to bring a cow in tow. Consequently, “The kitchen” no longer being able to keep up with his growing demand of mother’s milk has closed its doors completely and forever. The well of mother’s milk supply has gone dry and we have switched to formula to satisfy my boy’s increasing demand of milk. This creates additional work since now we have to prepare the formula, have the bottles sterilized and ready for the continuous feeding regiment my boy demands. My job of being the chief diaper changer has been modified with other titles such as master formula mixer and assistant bottle feeder first class. I am not fond about the latter since that includes overnight feeding rotations which I am not keen to perform since I find myself dozing off in the middle of the feeding just to be woken up by my boy’s smacking lips unaware of where the bottle went.
However the changes, our baby boy sleeps, eats and poops around the clock the way it should be. Karymar, the baby’s guardian is always on watch, making sure your hands are clean before you pick up the baby and that the “ring” of safety is secure around the baby. We are proud of her for being such an exceptional big sister. We celebrated Ian Karlo’s first month of life with a small cake at my parent’s house with the family. I thank God for all the blessings we have to this date.
Despite of all the changes, things are falling into routine around us. That is all, but our sleeping routine. Recently, we decided to take shifts during nights, each rotating every time the baby wakes up. This allows us to sleep at least for four to six hours each night which is a pretty good slumber. We also resumed going to church, presenting its new member to the community and even went on a road trip to Miami, his first of many.
The family along with my Mother in law, which I respectfully call her our “portable- sitter” spent the weekend in Miami. I participated in a major seminar of the Russian martial art of Systema with Maxim Franz. We enjoyed two days striking, punching and kicking people, who like me, love Systema. It was a great seminar and although bruised and beaten, I enjoyed very much. This is one of the few arts, if any, where you can hit someone in the face or stomach and later shake hands and even laugh about it. I truly love this art; even Ian Karlo was there with his camouflage onesie watching Daddy have a lot of fun. The girls obviously not getting the gist of getting punched and kicked went shopping instead, taking my boy with them.
After the Miami road trip, I took a working-solo- retreat to the Florida’s Panhandle for a week, inspecting multi-family housing properties. I wanted to take time to work on my personal projects ; organizing my life’s priorities and goals, getting clear with strategies and action plans for myself, my lifestyle and my businesses. Instead, I bummed along the clear waters and white sandy beaches of the “Redneck Riviera”. I had no schedule, obligations nor curfew so I was free to roam around aimlessly. I started at a property in Tallahassee then Marianna, visited the Florida Caverns State Park where I was invaded by a nasty swarm of bloody mosquitoes and one mean super jug bug. They made sure my visit to the park’s trail was speedy and without stopping. I could not stop even to take a picture. I was quickly surrounded by the swarm and that mean bug buzzing and hitting my head, prompting me to speed up my walk. I knew that I will have to add one essential item to my road trip bag of essentials, insect repellent. In other areas of the trail that were not mosquito infested, I was able to unwind in solitude and reflect on my life. From Marianna, I drove to Panama City where after my inspections, I found myself inspecting the beaches of the so called “Redneck Riviera”. The day was perfect; warm sunshine, clear and refreshing waters. I spread out on the sugar white sand, feeling the ebb and flow of the cool waves, surrendering to the elements, tuning out with the outside world. Time stood still, my mind calm in meditation as I absorbed the moment. Later, I drove up to Pensacola and was once again captivated by the serenity of the waters and the beaches of the Gulf Coast. Overall it was a 1,000 mile road trip living life with no schedule or timeframe, roaming free. I did nothing that I so carefully planned and organized and after all, it was o.k. Taking time for myself and reflection on the current changes in my life was all that I really needed, so I drove back home feeling at ease with the priorities in my life. When I came home late Friday night, I saw a change in my children that took me by surprise. My boy grew up a lot over the week as I saw him sleeping on his crib and when I went to pick up my daughter, who fell asleep on our bed waiting for me to arrive, I felt her heavier than the last time I held her and saw her limbs much longer. I don’t have a little baby girl anymore. What I saw is a little girl growing beautifully.
In concluding this chapter of Ian Karlo’s chronicles, I celebrated my 36th birthday this past weekend. As of today I look back to reflect on where I was a year ago and where I am today. I am grateful for all the blessings that I have received and for all the blessings I will receive. My life has changed in so many levels; my attitude towards life has improved since I made the irreversible step of becoming a better person, husband, father, friend, brother and son. I understand more my feelings, emotions and aware of my thoughts and what they say. What I look forward to as my birthday turns is to continue on getting to know myself even more, understanding my emotions, what I think and what I attract in my life, always looking with the eyes of progress, opportunities, compassion and happiness. I know my priorities which its foundations are on the family, my children. Everything that I am today, what I choose to be and do, I do with fatherhood in mind for my children, to provide them the structure, the values, the love, compassion and respect they deserve to help them grow into life loving individuals, self-starters and leaders with the courage and humility to do wonderful things for others and for themselves.