This I Believe

Dr. Ricardo - Winter Park, Florida
Entered on October 1, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in the power of doing. I believe that when I cook, I not only know what goes into my food, but also see that with each cooking step, I feed my body and soul in ways more than food ever does. But this belief did not happen overnight. I grew up cooking barrio fiestas with my mom who nurtured family and friends through food. I found classroom work easy, so I engaged in doings outside school. I made jewelry with my godfather or sewed with my aunts. I built tables with my father. I tended animals and vegetables in my grandfather’s farm.

But I was not meant to be a farmer. That is, according to my parents. Steeped in tradition, I followed my parents’ wishes, and became a teacher. Secretly, I succumbed to the seductive glamour of marketing. While teaching, I sought a business degree. Upon graduation, I found a totally different kind of work and ethic. I supervised advertising campaigns for cameras, airlines, luxury hotels. It was glamorous alright. But after the doing was done, I felt empty. As I got married and my son came into the picture, I felt even emptier because I was away a lot. So I quit. Instead, I taught at a foreign university when my wife accepted to teach overseas. I guess my parents were right. I the knew that I was a teacher but, with a little twist. In studying occupational therapy, and later, neuropsychology I learned ways to help others by practicing my belief in doing! I teach others how to fend for themselves and return to the track of wellness! Meanwhile, my marriage fell apart, leaving me with intensified focus as father. While teaching and running a university program, I ran a practice, and sought funding to serve underprivileged preschoolers.

But events threw a major curve. One grey winter, I woke up from a coma, 98 pounds light, weakened by diseases that ravaged my systems. Given a few months, maybe days to live, my son and I planned my funeral. But I was not ready. Weak in body, strong in will, I was determined to live. I pinned bright colored streamers on dreary hospital drapes, using get well cards pinned on ribbons from flower gifts. I followed prescriptions strictly, and reconnected with someone who cared. With family and friends around me, I entered a new beginning, cautiously avoiding unhealthy pathways. Now, I pamper my orchids and bonsai trees, raise my herbs and spices, or grow edibles in crammed spaces. I walk my dogs as religiously as when I work out at the gym. I enter a peaceful place when I arrange flowers in a container I molded with my own hands. I work hard at sustaining my relationships, and I work hard at work.

When I reflect on the things I do, I see that they are infinitely diverse, yet woven together by a common thread that I am fully engaged in purposeful doings, flexing with each challenge, celebrating every success, or simply learning from all that fall in between. My life is back on track; thanks to my belief in the power of doing.