STRONGER in 2015

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IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. – Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities

2014 was a whirlwind of good and bad for me personally. Regardless of details, it was definitely the most memorable year of my life.

I got engaged on January 16th to the woman of my dreams. I have a back spine physically, but spiritually she is my spine. She’s my heart, my soul and my pride and joy. We’re getting married on July 25th, 2015 here in Las Vegas.

I lost my mom on March 6th, 2014. My life changed forever. I blamed myself for several weeks following her passing. I wish I had been more assertive months earlier in helping her and my dad to get back on track with a healthy lifestyle. On Mother’s Day, I became inspired by her memory to do everything I can to be a better leader, a better family member and a better all-around person to the people around me as well as strangers. My start up non-profit, Showtoriously Healthy is dedicated to her memory. I plan on trying my best to make her proud going forward, always.

My fiancée Amber has battled seizures since she was a child. When we first met she was 100% honest with me about her situation and I embraced her ailment and did everything I could to help her improve her condition. To make things more difficult, she was unable to find full time work while she had this condition, so unfortunately she was stuck in a state health care system that didn’t give a damn about actually helping her. It was like putting a band aid on a never closing wound. In her case, it was a matter of obsolete medication that UMC and the state forced her to stay on for several years. The combination of Dilantin and Keppra suppressed her seizures for most of the month but she continued to have them between 3-10 times a month at random times. Enter the Affordable Health Care Act, better known in some circles as Obamacare.

People bitched and complained about the way our current President organized this new insurance law but I looked at it as a potential way out of a bad situation. The state system that was in place back in 2013 was a dead end for Amber and me, so all of our options were open. Instead of listening to Fox News and jackasses online, I researched Obamacare ON MY OWN TIME, USING MY OWN SOURCES. The fact of the matter is that Obamacare expanded Medicaid to those who were in financial difficulty and couldn’t afford independent insurance.

For those who have ever dealt with traditional state benefits prior to 2014, you know how bad that system was. Medicaid is a whole different animal. Medicaid, while still a state entity, it is backed federally and is leaps and bounds better than what Nevada was offering on its own. It enabled us to get a REAL insurance policy that allowed us to select our own doctor. While it wasn’t PPO premium stuff, the Health Plan of Nevada HMO option they provided was on par with what my employer offered but for free for those who qualified.

After selecting our own primary care physician and visiting her, we got a referral to a REAL neurologist, who pretty much confirmed what I researched about her medication; that Dilantin was a drug designed in 1908 and may not be the best stuff on the market, specifically for the injury induced seizures that Amber had. That, and Dilantin can also be detrimental to an unborn baby, should we decide to have kids in the future. Two red flags were enough for me.

Long story short, the new Neurologist cycled her off of that medication and gave her a more modern drug to go along with industry standard, Keppra to suppress the seizures and enable her to have a healthy pregnancy. In turn she’s been seizure free for well over 9 months. During that time she’s been able seek and obtain full time employment with a GREAT salary and benefits; she’s been able to cycle off of Obamacare and into insurance offered to her by her employer (that she pays for, of course) and TODAY, she got behind the wheel finally to learn to drive.

Quite honestly, I think this is the way Obamacare was supposed to work. Not only did it help her improve her health, it got her employed full time and completely out of the welfare healthcare system. Makes me wonder how many other good stories about Obamacare are out there that they news fails to report.

I went back to Chicago for the first time in almost ten years on October. I didn’t go for pleasure though; my grandfather was in bad shape and I needed to see him. I’m glad I did, too. I was able to help him eat and have a halfway conversation with him; even got him to laugh a little bit when I visited. I knew what inevitable though.  Grandaddy passed away on October 31st, 2014 at home as he desired. Was extra strange, as that is the same day as my other Grandaddy’s birthday. I made a promise to myself to never allow myself to go that long between reaching out and visiting my family in Chicago ever again.

Also in October I changed jobs again. In 2013 I left the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas essentially due to a salary dispute. I had the skills to manage the resort but was never given an opportunity to excel at what I do best, lead. Of course with leadership comes a better salary. I was actually cool with the workload at the Cosmopolitan as unofficial Assistant Manager of Resort Services. I wasn’t cool with not getting paid what I should have been making with that workload though. The M Resort came along though and gave me an opportunity to feel what being an official member of management was like, complete with salary.

Though I disagreed with the way the hotel was marketed and half of the dimwitted departmental rules that I had to pretend to be in favor of, I appreciated the opportunity. Loved my team there, but as much as I would have LOVED to flourish and eventually knock the revenue manager and VP of hotel ops off their pedestals in the hotel, I really didn’t CARE for the property the way I wanted to. I mean, when you have a couple million dollar ideas rejected due to asinine reasons, you tend to drift off professionally.  That and coming from a 3000 room megaresort to a 390 room hotel that operated like something out of the 1960s I totally had a big fish in a small pond syndrome.

I started with the Palms Casino Resort in October 2014 and it has been an absolute DREAM to work there. They took care of me financially, I have an excellent team and management staff to work with and for the first time I really feel like an asset to the industry that I love. Granted, the Cosmopolitan always made me feel like an important asset but this feels like home; like something I can help develop, grow with and be confident in my decisions without regret.

As we end this year, I look back on the good times and the bad times and fully OVERSTAND how it has affected me as a human being. I also know how how my positive state of mind has helped keep me on the good path, despite the heartbreaking events of this year.  All I can do is continue to make my Mom, Granddaddy and the people I love and will love, proud. That alone provides me inspiration to keep up the good fight in life.

Going FORWARD:

I never finished my weight loss goal this year, which again will become a focal point of the New Year. I plan on marrying the love of my life in July and I refuse to be the fly fat guy that folks have come to know and love. While progress has been made it’s now officially CRUNCH TIME.

After the wedding we’re buying a house and starting a baby making factory. I’m 36 years old next year; not trying to be that 42 year old dude with a newborn.

The most important thing for me next year and every year is to CONTINIOUSLY IMPROVE. I’ve lived by the sword of Kaizen for years and I won’t stop until I flame out in a blaze of glory.

Mentally. Socially. Economically. Physically. Artistically.

STRONGER in 2015.

You haven’t seen ANYTHING yet! #BestinTheWorld

Joshua 1:9

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