Tag Archives: Sysy morales

2012 New Year’s Resolutions

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I once wrote a short fiction story for school where we lived in a super modern society, drove cars through the air like the Jetsons, and travelled to outer space with the same casual ease with which we now travel to a nearby city.  I wrote that this all took place in the year 2012.  We didn’t exactly meet my childhood expectations for the future but that doesn’t mean we can’t set out to meet our own expectations for the future.

I know New Year’s Resolutions get a bad rap.  It’s because people write a list of things they want for the year with no plan or serious steps involved in getting those things.  For the past two years I’ve followed Leo Babauta’s (of the immensely successful Zen Habits) 6 Changes Method.  It’s simple really, you just spend two consecutive months focusing on one habit you want to make, one change you want to implement, and by the end of the year you’ve made your way through 6 changes.

Ana is going to do this with me this year.  Here are our goals:

Ana’s New Year’s Resolutions

January/February Stretch everyday

I used to be on a dance team up until my junior year of high school. It wasn’t until about a year after that I realized how much of an impact regular stretching had on the way I felt everyday. I definitely took my flexibility for granted and now I have to start nearly from scratch to get back to where I used to be. My goal is to reach that point again and then to exceed it. To do this, I’m going to start stretching everyday, just a little at a time because my muscles are so tight right now that it hurts!

March/April Check glucose levels more often

My blood sugar levels have been all over the place for a while now, so one thing I’m determined to do is start checking more often so I’m not in the dark and caught off guard as much. I often get caught in the bad habit of being lazy about checking and assuming I know roughly what my blood sugar level is, so my goal is to resist the urge to do that. I might have to start off using alarms…

May/June Eat less processed food

One of my biggest struggles while I’m away at school is eating well. I’ve mentioned before that it’s difficult to keep fresh food fresh in my dorm and it’s also hard to maintain a regular meal schedule where I can eat real food and not just snacks from vending machines. I’m going to start by not keeping a bunch of processed food in my room where I’ll be easily tempted (aside from a few emergency snacks for lows). I’ll buy more raw fruits and vegetables (in the smallest amounts possible so they don’t go bad before I can finish them) and I’ll do some research on other healthy snacks and meals that I can find within campus dining.

July/August Research graduate schools/programs

I’m planning on going to graduate school to get my masters degree in fine arts, and application deadlines will loom over me in less than a year. As much as the thought of graduate school freaks me out, I have to admit I’m also very excited about it. Two years to focus just on my artwork surrounded by other talented artists? Yes, please. Anyway, I have to start seriously researching different programs and gathering all necessary materials to start applying! I’m going to make sure to set aside a few hours a week to do this.

September/October Educate myself on presidential candidates and vote!

I have to say that politics have hardly ever interested me. I usually start zoning out when people talk about it and because of that, I don’t know much on the subject. With the next presidential election coming up, my goal is to learn about the candidates so I can make an educated vote as opposed to a blind vote or no vote at all.

November/December Post on my art website regularly

I’ve been struggling to maintain my art website since I started it, so my goal for the last two months of 2012 is to regularly update it with photos of my work and posts about things I’ve learned, what I’m doing, my plans, etc. I have lots of things to post, it’s just the discipline to set aside time for it that I lack. Hopefully, the consistent new content will help attract more viewers and make it easier for me to keep posting regularly.

Sysy’s New Year’s Resolutions

January/February  Finish Diabetes Blog Series

Exactly a year ago I unveiled an idea I had to write up a general guide about how to start one’s own diabetes blog.  Then I panicked and didn’t do it.  I started up again the other day and realized that even though I’m not an expert, I can at least share the little I know in hopes that someone out there who is itching to start their own diabetes blog will feel comfortable enough to go ahead and do it.  I wouldn’t mind if you remind me I’m supposed to do this.

March/April  Focus on healthy eating habits

I may have to do this every year but it’s because eating is a complicated issue for me (you can probably relate) and I find that I have to always put a lot of effort into sticking with my goals of healthy eating.  Sometimes it’s difficult because there isn’t a lot of money for healthy food and sometimes anxiety/depression is rearing it’s ugly head.  Either way, it pays for me to spend some time every year focusing on what I really want to eat.  Plus, it’s a good time to learn new recipes!

May/June  Focus on health coaching business

I can technically start seeing clients at the very end of this month but the other day while talking with my health coach, I realized all the different tasks I’ve been up to lately.  And I realized that if I’m not careful I will end up sorely neglecting the things most important to me like my health, my kids, and my husband.  So, I am going to take it slow and focus on balance.  I feel my best during late Spring and Summer months so that is when I’ll tackle this with more energy.

July/August  Write up and send book proposals.

Ok, I’ve put this off long enough.  I was reminded of this quote the other day:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?”

~Marianne Williamson

And it struck me…that this is our deepest fear.  I’m literally more afraid of writing a blog post that people enjoy more than I’m afraid of writing a blog post that no one reads.  And I do ask myself, “Who am I to write a book?”  It’s time to meet that fear head on.

September/October  Focus on diabetes advocacy

This is so near and dear to me and I’d like to put some extra focus on it.  I know it seems I already eat, breathe, and live diabetes because of this blog but, due to the nature of diabetes, don’t we all?  I think it will be fun and meaningful to dig deeper into diabetes advocacy issues.

November/December  ?

I don’t know, yet.  I guess I can’t see that far ahead this time.  I’m sure something will pop up and need my attention by then :)

Wish us luck!  We wish you luck with yours.

The Book of Better, Book Review

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Chuck Eichten has had type 1 diabetes for over 30 years.  He has written a book called, The Book of Better targeted at anyone with diabetes.  The book’s all encompassing message to you: that perfect isn’t possible but improvement always is so why not strive for that?.  Talk about hitting the nail on the head.

The book is written in an extremely straight forward style, suitable to those who respond to that and perhaps, most any man.  It’s a really witty book, includes fun visual art and a lot of aesthetic appeal (with exception of some white font on yellow background-well at least it’s large white font).  This comes as no surprise since Chuck Eichten is Nike’s creative director.  In fact, Nike’s timeless “Just Do It” slogan totally relates to this book, which admittedly delighted me to no end.

I have to say, I felt like boxing with the author a couple times.  He says insulin pumps are “the Best Available Treatment”.  I agree on the condition that it is actually what works best for someone.  And someone isn’t equivalent to everyone.  I haven’t had an A1c over 6.0% in over 5 years and I’ve never had a seizure or passed out from a low and I don’t use a pump.  I did for seven years and it did not work for me.  In Eichten’s opinion, you’re crazy if you have access to a pump but don’t have one.  He talks about how pumps allow a person the flexibility to sleep in late, to skip meals or snack in between them, and to be more sexy on dates because it’s probably more of a turn on to be on a first date and hit some buttons on a gadget that’s mysteriously connected to you by tubing than to inject a needle at the table.  I use Lantus and Humalog insulin and between the two I can sleep in and skip meals and frankly, I feel sexier when I’m not connected to the pump.  It’s just easier to move around and wear dresses and door knobs don’t yank me back by two feet of tubing.  And also, Chuck, how do you test your blood sugar?  Because the only way I can do it is by bleeding.  And I don’t know anyone who finds bleeding sexy.  But I know of someone, who find me sexy whether I’m connected to a pump or injecting a shot or pricking my finger.  So for me, the human element is the key.  Though, many might agree with you and that’s the beauty of it I suppose.  It would just be nice to have the other option properly acknowledged because it can and does work for some people.

I can’t help but wonder if this hailing of the pump is partly one person’s way of supporting technology to continue advancing for our benefit.  If that’s the case, then great and thank you.  But I worry about those who can’t get access to a pump, who hear that they are the best thing, and then lose all hope in their MDI.  And we all know how important it is that people have hope, right?  In all essence it’s like we’re in the same league, playing on different teams, but with the same end goal of winning in mind.

Enough about pumps!  The book, for me, is an awesome dose of perspective.  At least once every chapter I exclaimed, “YES!” out loud, prompting my husband to ask me what the commotion was all about.  The author does a fantastic job of confronting the root issues that people have with certain aspects of life with diabetes and then he explains them in a way that makes a person realize he is right and our excuses are absolutely useless.

For example, I have long been in an internal battle over the “Yes I can eat that” campaign.  I feel like “yes…I can…but, I want to be healthy so often, no I can’t…”  You know what I mean?  Well, the author reminds us that there are two conditions to the “yes I can eat that”.  We’re empowered patients, after all.  People with type 1 can eat anything but if they’re smart, they are going to be picky about when and how much they eat, not because they are strict and deny themselves pleasure, but because they know they deserve to take care of themselves.  This is a really powerful message and there are many like this in the book regarding diet and exercise and one’s attitude.  By the way, Chuck eats a totally unhealthy breakfast every day and impressively balances it out in real life way you will want to read about.

This book does another fine thing by reasoning with our emotions and appealing to our genuine worries.  For example he says, “You are not boring, you are consistent”.  People think it’s fun and attractive to be spontaneous and diabetes tries to challenge us on that.  And the author is reminding us that the fact of the matter is diabetes likes consistency and if we try to keep some things consistent, we’ll be better off.

He also heavily promotes that all people with diabetes move each day.  Instead of sounding like a doctor “you’ll be healthier, your risk for heart disease will be lower”, the author actually goes to the true places in all of us and mentions how, for example, if we move more, we’ll spark a chain of events that will ultimately get us more of what we want and less of what we don’t want.  Finally, someone who knows how to motivate.

I have been gathering information regarding lifestyle habits of long time type 1 diabetics who are very healthy and this book just so happens to discuss many of those consistencies.  If you want to live a long and healthy life with diabetes, this book won’t steer you wrong. You might actually go for a pump after reading the book. And that’s ok because it may work for you.  Winking smile

You want an excellent dose of reality, perspective, hope, and humor?  Read this book.

You can buy it here.

Fabulous Friday: The Star of Your Own Movie

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A wise person once told me they have always thought of themselves as “the star of their own movie”.  I will keep their name a secret.  But think about that for a moment: the star of your own movie.  Sounds nice doesn’t it?

I think it’s a rich way to view life.  After all, why do we want loved ones with which to share time?  People to communicate with?  Because we want a witness in our lives.  Someone to know what we’re doing, feeling, and thinking.  Someone to see us, care about us, feel for us, cheer for us.  We feel accountable and meaningful in life when we know people are paying attention to us.

There are times when we feel either alone or in a rut with those around us, or both, and as a result we may settle into mediocrity.  We are no longer trying so hard to sparkle for those around us because we don’t feel like doing so for ourselves.  We don’t give 100%.  We think, “what’s the point?”  I’d venture out to say that most people go through this sometimes.  And that’s when I think it’s a cool thought to live like we’re the star of our own movie.  Because if this is true (and it is, right?) then we do care, we do try, we do give 100%.  We try to look our best, to work hard, to do the right thing, to give priority to that which deserves priority.  Ok, so that’s more or less what happens in a movie where you, the protagonist is a good person.  But, you are!  Everyone is, deep down.

Just for kicks, try imagining yourself as the star of your own movie for one day.  Your peers, family, and friends are all watching you.  They are getting inspired and enthralled and deeply affected by what you do.  They are cheering you on.  They are hoping, praying things will go your way.  They want you to succeed.  They cry with you.  They laugh with you.  They feel your pain.  You are open, honest, caring, gutsy, and you get up every time you fall.  And people forgive you when you mess up because they’re aware of your painful journey, your obstacles, your past, and the will you have to reach your goals.

Some might try this idea and out of personal belief, focus on how God is watching them.  Others feel a closeness with all of the other searching souls out there in the Universe.  Or you might just try to impress yourself with your fearlessness, your guts, your strength, and the goodness that is innately a part of you.  You are the star of your own movie.  And you can be whatever you want to be and achieve whatever outcome you dream of.  Each of our lives is a best picture and each one of us is a star.  If only we thought of ourselves as highly as we think of our favorite celebrity.  If only we realized our potential.

Welcome to Fabulous Fridays

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We women are something else.  We often try to do it all and be it all.  We often put our partners and children first, our families and friends and jobs first, and worry a lot over a billion different things each day.  And it’s no wonder.  I think today more than ever, we’re expected to work, raise children, keep a house, be a great host, be interesting, stay fit, do what we love, cook a knock-out meal, and look glamorous all the while.  It’s not realistic, it’s too much, and I don’t know about you but even before I had kids, I found myself cracking a little underneath the pressure to be so many things.

I felt a lot of relief when I put more focus on self love.  For many, the concept of self love seems quite selfish.  The idea however, is that we appreciate ourselves for who we are.  This includes embracing the good and the bad-yes even the bad, because that’s the only way to take care of the dark parts of ourselves and allow the light to triumph.  This means we can be honest about who we are and who we are not and become more aligned with our true selves.  And that means we can stop feeling so much pressure to be everything.

Personally, I’m on a journey to come to terms with who I am and am not and so far it’s been liberating.  Doing this reveals our authentic self and the more I do that, the more people are accepting of me.  They’re like, “Oh yeah, this is YOU!”  Because our authentic self shines through whereas our fake or undiscovered self always seems a little off or a little lost.

Ana and I will be supporting your path to self love each Friday by posting a short story, a picture, a quote, a fun tip, a question, a product we can’t live without, or an interview, etc.  But it will all focus on you and your path, or rather, our journey, to fully loving and accepting the fabulous women we already are.  I think that’s ultimately our key to the health, happiness, and joy we seek.

So thanks for reading and stay tuned!

XOXO

3 Years

The sacrament is taking place and as the Priest holds up the wine goblet she daydreams. Of all places and times this is where she finds she thinks best. Not without guilt, however because this is a place where she knows she should really be paying attention. Its just that she felt exposed in church. Sometimes comfortably so, and she would ponder, relive, and dream up things in the middle of Mass. After all, no one could interrupt her there, and she was easily distracted. Yet, there were other times she felt scared to go, as if God would reveal to her, her latest sins. This was a place where she stripped down and self-examined and criticized.  Today she thought of how her disease was out of control, loneliness clutched her, but hope filled her heart.

Today, just as on many other Sundays, he glances across the room at her. “Amen.” She looks back, shamelessly, until her cheeks flush and a giggle squirms up out of her. Once he notices her reaction his confidence increases and the quiet boy with the dark hair and large, honest brown eyes looks over at her again. There is an expression on his face that to her says “I’m curious about you”- and nothing more. She does know as much: she is safe as long as he remains there. In her mid-teens that fact seemed extremely inexplicable.  The girl looks away again, giving her heart rate a chance to recover and then she focuses her gaze at the cross in front of her.

Three years pass.

In the same crowded room, the girl is standing next to her fiancé.  She feels confused, sorrowful, and nervous.  She doesn’t even know why.  Then, the same boy from before, from always, walks into the room.  As he walks by she feels like someone has ripped her heart from her chest.  She feels lightheaded and sways slightly.  Her breathing is labored and she looks down at the floor which seems to be spinning.  Why can’t she figure out what these symptoms mean?  What do these feelings mean?  They’re not clear and she isn’t able to make sense of anything.  The boy with the brown eyes glances at her and she glances back.  An overwhelming feeling takes over and a realization hits her.  One that would have been helpful to have had years ago.  She literally has to stop herself from running to him.  The girl would later describe this seemingly insignificant moment as one of the happiest in her entire life.  She finally knew.

A few more years pass.

The Priest holds up the wine goblet and the girl nods.  She is wrapped in layers of white satin and tulle, red Italian beads hanging from her neck.  She daydreams again about the quiet but noble boy she has known for so long.  She thinks it so very odd that the only longstanding logic she could apply to her decision to marry him was the simple yet overwhelming feeling that ever since they were kids, whenever she stood next to him, she felt at home.

 

Three years pass.

Happy Anniversary, Alex.

Earthquake or Low Blood Sugar?

Courtesy of Salvatore Vuono

So can we talk about it?

By “it” I mean the baby tremor that we had in Virginia which as you all know was felt over much of the East.  First off, I would like to point out that millions of people have bug phobias and fear of heights and so fear is fear is fear.  (So don’t judge my panic over this incident)  Also, according to CNN this was a long tremor.  My apartment shook for a good 15 seconds and trembled for a total of about 35 seconds.  AND the last time Virginia felt something like this, we were all industrial workers and dress wearing housewives (is that what we did in 1897?).  So, for most of us this was a new sensation.

I felt a short tremor about 5 years ago at work.  It lasted 3 or 4 seconds and was very subtle.  I thought it was fascinating.  Yesterday was different.  We live on the top floor of our brick apartment building and when it started I was sitting in the corner where the computer is stationed.  I was writing an email to someone about Vitamin D when suddenly my keyboard began trembling and without realizing it I typed “ahhh!” into the email.  I quickly hit “send” figuring that if I died, someone would have an account of my last words on this planet.  Sadly, I would have gone out a little less dignified than I would like.

Anyway, the trembling got stronger and stronger and then my jewelry box fell off the dresser.  At the wall to my right I heard these large snapping noises that sounded like planks of wood snapping in half.  I ran to the living room to open the door to the balcony to see if it was the wind (I don’t know, I was in an “anything’s apparently possible” state of mind).  There was a gentle breeze and the balcony felt like it was swaying.  “Am I low?”  I ran back inside and started to pick up a few books from the book shelf when two others fell on my head.  Then I looked over to the mantle and saw a few dvd’s tumble down.  Then I glanced at “killer” our fish whose small plastic container was dancing towards the edge of the counter.  I ran and pushed it back from the edge and then ran back to my bedroom and like a total ditz spun around in place about 3 times.  It finally dawned on me what was going on.  And then it was over.  All I could think about for the rest of the day was how the earth shook.  The earth, ya’ll.

My most pitiful thought in the middle of this was: “And I thought diabetes was going to be the one to do me in”.

It was kind of nice thinking otherwise for a few moments.  So, thank you, earthquake.

28 Things I’ve Learned in My 28 Years

 

 

 

 

 

Moi

Moi

 

 

 

Today I turn 28.  Wow.  Last year 27 still seemed quite far from 30 but 28?  I have this thing for even numbers and especially two…and in my mind I’m basically 30 now.  Ha ha.  It’s alright.  I actually thought I’d focus on what living 28 years has given me-and that is, lot’s to learn!

1.  I was pulled out of the birth canal via tongs or whatever that harsh metal tool is called.  Even then I was a little timid, but you can’t let that stop you from getting out there!

2.  My brother was born and for the next 20 years or so I would be bugged every. single. day.  What a lesson in patience. 

3.  My mom accidentally cut my hair into a mullet.  For real.  But that didn’t stop me from happiness.  It probably would today.

4.  My family was still new in the US and I realized that my parents did a big thing bringing me here.

5.  I travelled to Venezuela to visit for the first time since I was a year old and learned that the world is HUGE.  I also went to Disney World that year and when Mickey Mouse blew me a kiss, I learned I was a hopeless romantic.  Sigh.

6.  Riding a bike is awesome fun and also counts as exercise, how great is that?

7.  I moved from an apartment to a house and learned that having a big back yard helps make friends.

8.  I realized that the best way to spend a long, hot summer day was reading a good book.

9  At this point I learned my mom was super woman because when I turned 9, my brother was 7, my sister 2, my other sister 1.  It was little kid crazy town and yet mom still went outside to play tag with us. 

10.  It was around this age when I realized my dad was super man because after my brother leapt for a football on the neighborhood street and busted some part of his face on the asphalt, my dad surprised me by sprinting while carrying my brother who was gushing blood, all the way down the street and to the car like he was a baby.  Off to get stitches.  That same year I fell asleep on the couch while sick and magically awoke on the top of my bunk bed.  How did my parents do it?

11.  I was diagnosed with diabetes and found more strength than I thought I had.

12.  I realized I could make honor roll at school and play three sports year round, despite diabetes.

13.  I went to Miami, where my parents almost moved us and thought, “Wow, look at what I’m missing!  There must be a good reason we ended up where we did instead..”

14.  Note to new parent self:  14 is a confusing time.

15.  When friends and I at school randomly danced around the library during study hall, I learned that loving life is all about the small things.

16.  Note to new parent self:  16 is even worse.

17.  My little brother was two and brought a house full of arguing kids a lot of joy.  I learned that joy comes in interesting packages.

18.  When three friends died, I realized I was not a kid anymore.

19.  I realized college was still like High School and that many adults are like big kids.

20.  I made myself work jobs I was bad at to see if I could push myself.  I learned it’s just best to do what you love when possible.

21.  Going to a club with friends was strangely thrilling.  Something about going out at night instead of getting home.  Hey this getting old thing is fun!

22.  I looked at my longtime friend Alex one day and suddenly it hit me that I was in love with him.  Hey! Maybe this is why I didn’t end up in Miami.

23.  Note to new parent self:  23 can be just as confusing as 14 and 16!

24.  Planning a wedding is what I call hell and I will never do it again.  Alex is ok with that.

25.  But getting married is fun!  I learned I didn’t have to be a princess all the time.  I bought my wedding dress on Ebay for $35 and it was gorgeous.

26.  I learned once again, when my twins were born, that I had much more strength than I ever imagined.  Also, life can surprise you at any moment.

27.  I found the DOC and felt a ton of weight lift off my shoulders.  I learned I don’t have to carry this burden alone.

28.  Overall I look better now than I did at 18.  How cool is that?  Onward with the aging!

Thank you for all the email and facebook birthday wishes, everyone.  It really brightens up my day.  Thank goodness for you all!

XOXO

Sysy

Mornings at the Muñoz Household

Wait, Muñoz?  You didn’t change your last name when you married?  Nope.  Social security never listed my status correctly when I moved over here at the ripe old age of one so even though I’ve always been an American citizen, my social security status doesn’t have me listed as one.  So to change my name I have to have that status changed and that takes a 300-some dollar form that I don’t have the money for considering the name thing is not a priority on the expense list.     

Anyway, mornings have always been sort of “blah” for me.  Maybe it’s because I’m not a morning person.  I feel sleepy until 10am every day.  I also have allergies so I wake up with scratchy, dry eyes that hurt to open.  Then my morning consists of changing diapers, making breakfast for the kids, and the knowledge I won’t be speaking to an adult for 8 more hours which makes me feel sort of loony.  I wonder how many stay at home moms have felt this strain of imbalance?   I mean I LOVE being with my kids as does any mom but being with them all the time is completely different than seeing them only a few hours each day. 

It is nice to witness all their shenanigans, though.  It’s also a fun social experiment for me to see two of the same age, raised in the same environment and yet be so different.  It’s quite fascinating.  Aurora waltzes around doing karate kicks and dance moves in between yoga poses.  Alex and I are seriously thinking of putting her in karate, gymnastics, or dance lessons, especially considering how much she likes to eat.  She may or may not pay attention to you if you talk to her because she may be too “busy” daydreaming or something.  She is as hard-headed as me (ugh!)  Henri incessantly bugs his sister for his own amusement (hmm…reminds me of my brother).  He learns awfully quick.  He likes neatness and has initiative.  He picks up after his sister and when we’re leaving the house he starts dragging the baby bag out the door before my husband picks it up.  Soon he’ll be changing his own diaper.  Ok I’m dreaming.  Maybe he’ll get into gymnastics, too.  I just got the pleasure of seeing how he manages to get out of the crib.  Using total upper body strength he raises his body up over the railing smoothly and then very slowly uses that same upper body strength to gently lower himself to the ground.  His little arms tremble under the strain of all his body weight as his feet dangle.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Then again he did move around and flip over in his crib at 8 days old-something that preemies don’t supposedly do.  Ok enough baby bragging. 

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The past few days I’ve had this for breakfast right after my yoga and honestly, I can’t help but notice the pick me up I feel after drinking it.  It’s got one cup of romaine lettuce, one cup of spinach, one cup of kale, one lemon, a bit of ginger root, and some mint and basil.  This doesn’t make a lot of juice so I mix this with water and get a glass of what looks like bright swamp water.  It’s not the most heavenly tasting juice but it feels so good!  The kids drink it, too, so it can’t be that awful.  When they’re older I’ll introduce them to my old favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoons and tell them this is the “Turtle Drink”.  Probably won’t work…but oh and I don’t have to give insulin for it since my yoga puts me around 70-80 when I’m done and this is super low carb.  It’s helpful if I can have steady blood sugars during the night and then throughout the morning before I possibly ruin them at lunch time.

It’s not easy staying motivated enough to do yoga and eat healthy but…one day at a time right?  As much as I feel mornings will never be my thing, I have to admit, knocking out a day’s worth of veggie intake and exercise first thing each day is a bit of a relief :)

Gabe “The Kid” Morales

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Have you heard of him?  He picked up an electric guitar not too long ago and began playing without formal lessons.  His father’s own ability to play more than one instrument and expert musical ear guided young Gabriel and inspired him to do what most his age, cannot .  Gabriel has been “gigging” all over town, making a name for himself in the rock, jazz and blues scenes.  He is 12 years old.  And he is my little brother.

It Starts Early

From a young age he was exposed to all types of musical influences.  Our parents played a wide range of adult contemporary music in the house, including folk, blues, classic rock, and classical music.  When I was 18, my brother was only three.  I can still see him standing on my bed, shaking his head and playing air guitar to the Nirvana, U2, and Eric Clapton I played for him.  He is too young to remember this.  He is too young to know that at age three he was already practicing his comfortable stage presence for future performances to come.  Once in the midst of a guitar solo, he leapt off my bed and landed on the floor on his knees, swinging his head side to side, eyes shut, as if the music made him do it.

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When he was three and four, I know that he loved the Beatles.  He knew all of the words to Hello, Goodbye, Hey Jude, and Love Me Do and sang along when I played them.  We’d listen to Metallica and Alice in Chains in the car when I took him to the mall because I was sure our parents would not have liked their three year old singing along to such mature content.  Don’t worry mom and dad, I turned the volume down anytime a lyric was too harsh and Gabriel would say, “Hey?  Why do you keep interrupting the music?”  I just said, “listen to this part, Gabriel, the guitar here is amazing!”  And he would go back to  bopping his head to the music and concentrating on what he heard as if it were his job.

I remember thinking that it would be good if my little brother was introduced to different music and talked to about it, although I don’t know why I felt that way.  I know that I’m really passionate about music and perhaps just wanted to share my enthusiasm with someone who would listen.  He spoke in complete sentences since age two and was both my younger sibling and a pal.  Besides, our other siblings were old enough to know I talked too much.

There was something different about him, though.  He displayed a strange sort of talent from early on.  He could remember things.  He met someone once and instantly remembered their name the next time he saw them a month later.  When I argued with our other brother in a “he said, she said” fashion, Gabriel would remind us what each of us had said and help justly settle the score.  Of course, our family will never forget how he watched The Master of Disguise and immediately memorized the entire script of the movie which he recited to my sisters and I one night with spot on detail and precision, including the accents and dialogues of every character in the movie.  We looked at him like any concerned sisters would-like he was weird.  I don’t understand how he convinced us to stand in the kitchen for this nearly two hour performance but he did.  Now that he has found a passion in music, he devours guitar stats and artist info like he does food and spits it out like Wikipedia.  

Catalysts and Culminations

It seems a love for music, a perhaps, genetically acquired and well rehearsed musical ear, and a freakishly powerful memory have now converged to create his present circumstances.  I was not keenly aware of his talents even recently because of his friendly, charming, and chatty demeanor.  He is indeed the quintessential annoying younger brother anyone would be lucky to have.  Do not be fooled by this.  Underneath the silly and energetic cover is a deep and caring boy, wise beyond his years, picking up the electric guitar with a sense of ownership and intuition that has pleasantly surprised us all. 

He has had the luxury of learning from so many generous people.  Several artists have given my brother a lot of attention and encouragement which is perhaps just honesty and kindness to them but means the world to him.  To him it serves as a huge nod and push to keep moving forward in the face of enormous uncertainty and possibility that awaits him.  I want to extend a personal thank you to those who have been so generous with their words, time, and talent with my little brother.  You’re a gift to the arts and humanity.

People have asked our parents if he is a “prodigy”.  The answer is no.  Passion, hard work and dedication are the driving forces here.  Our father guides and pushes him to continue learning and improving.  Our mother who has a flexible full-time job, homeschools him and makes sure he practices his playing.  Homeschooling allows Gabriel the opportunity to work long hours at a Music Lab for children located at The Jefferson Center where he has met valuable contacts and teachers.  Homeschooling also lets him sleep in after a 11pm show on a school night.  He knows he still has a long way to go but at 12, I’d say he is making good time.  I’m so proud of my brother and our parents for working together towards a fascinating and exciting goal.  If only all children had parents who recognized their interests and sacrificed this much to support them towards their destinies. 

A little history about Gabriel

Gabriel started his musical interests wanting to play the violin when he was 7 and 8 years old. Our dad says he only coached him and this experience helped Gabriel learn how to read music. When he was in 3rd grade he submitted himself into his school’s talent show to sing and he grabbed the microphone with an ease and confidence not in sync with his claim to be utterly nervous. At age 10 he learned Santana’s Black Magic Woman. A few weeks later he composed his own song-lyrics and all. He sung it and played it on his first electric guitar at that year’s school talent show. His young peers cheered wildly. In September 2009 he received a combined birthday and early Christmas present which turned out to be a Gibson SG standard guitar. In July 2010 representing the Music Lab, he was featured on the TV show, Our Blue Ridge at the WSLS10 studio. In October 2010, he met the guys from the Jazz band called Snarky Puppy at the Jefferson Center’s Music Lab. They invited him to perform at Martin’s that very night-a performance that got the attention of Tad Dickens, a musician in his own right, who wrote about him in his Cut ‘n Scratch section in the Roanoke Times and was the one to dub him, Gabe “The Kid” Morales.

Hey, Bro, when you’re famous, don’t forget your sister and the time she blogged about you!

If You’re attending Virginia’s Down by the River Festival or Festival in the Park, Gabriel will be playing there, check him out and give him a hand!

Here he is, online friends:  Enjoy, Gabe “The Kid” Morales front and center along with the awesome Snarky Puppy accompanied by world renowned jazz drummer, Ari Hoenig playing Red House by Jimi Hendrix!

 

Many thanks to:

Mom and Dad

Gabriel’s Roanoke College Children’s Choir director, Mrs. Kimberly R. Davidson

The people at the Music Lab/ Jefferson Center:

Dylan Locke
Jake Dempsey
Ryan Keith Browning
Greg Ayers
Cyrus Pace
Ian Fortier

Musicians and Bands:

Snarky Puppy (in 2010, in 2011 also with Ari Hoenig)
Bobby Thompson (Bobby Tproject)
Jake Dempsey
George Grooves
James Pace
Elmer Coles Funktet
Dr. Lonnie Smith (jam session/ master class)
Zack Wiley
Brooks Robertson (master class)

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