Sticking out like a sore thumb

Yeah, I’m a nutjob. I tell people over and over that they will never meet anyone else like. Ever. I honestly think that I go out of my way to achieve this goal. Although I’m not doing these things because I’m lonely and need attention, there is a specific purpose in mind. I want to be happy. Yeah, that’s such a foreign concept.

IMG_7152Selfie taken on June 27, 2015 at Canyon Lake

For example, let’s look at the way I dress. On Sundays when I go to church, pretty much all the guys / boys wear white dress shirts to Sunday services.

Then… there’s… um… me.

IMG_5663_rotatedPhoto taken on January 26, 2014 by my friend Hollie Beatty

Many times I have preached my love for Brené Brown. Her TED Talks on Vulnerability and Shame have profoundly changed my life. After going through some major trials a few years ago, I allowed myself to be someone that wasn’t me. My intentions were for me to be wholehearted, but I wasn’t truly letting myself come out. I had reduced myself to being a fraction of who I could be. In recent times, I mixed a whole bunch of things together. I began with some philosophies about social dynamics I once learned years ago. Then I mixed in the teachings from Brené Brown. Wrapping things up, I have been adding a lot of my own recent leanings from my constant observations of life of what works and what doesn’t.

I don’t go out of my way to impress you, the guy down the street, or anyone else for that matter. I do everything because it makes me happy. If in the process I put a smile on the faces of a crapload of people, then I’m even happier. However, I don’t put any effort in impressing anyone; that’s called supplication. I learned the hard way to no longer chase people. The right people will go out of their way to be in your life. Don’t get me wrong. If you screw up and hurt someone’s feelings, you better humble yourself, apologize, and ask that person for forgiveness. However, if someone just doesn’t like you, well that’s okay. Move on. As soon as you can close yesterday’s door the sooner you can open tomorrow’s door.

When I drive around I got the windows down, the music cranked, and I’m jamming out to the songs that make me happy. I sing along to my favorite songs. I jam on the steering wheel to the drum parts (man I miss playing my drums). I bounce around to the music as if I were dancing. I have no shame. I don’t worry if the person next to me thinks I’m a weirdo. My best friend growing up, Mike Schoewe, taught me many invaluable lessons. I’ll never forget one memory in particular. I don’t remember where we were or what we were doing. He was being loud and obnoxious (or otherwise super-goofy). I remember saying something like, “Mike, people are going to think you are crazy.” I will never forget his response. He said, “F*** them! We’ll never see them again!” How true that is! I mean, don’t ever go out of your way to be rude or an annoyance to others

Stop for a moment and just think about that. Every single time you hold back and don’t do something that would make you happy, you are surrendering a little piece of your soul. In that moment you are giving your power to someone else. In that moment you would rather please someone else (and avoid judgement) instead of making yourself happy. It may sound completely irrational, but I promise you that this is entirely true. Why do we do this? What stops us from being happy? Why are we afraid of letting people see our screw-ups and other things that make us less cool than the guy down the street? Why are we so worried about what someone else thinks about us?

Acceptance. Let’s revisit my favorite researcher:

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” ―Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

We all crave connection. Without it we feel void. We don’t feel human. Life is not meant to be lived alone. Because of the way others may perceive our being different, it is just so easy to sit on the sidelines and be “safe.” Seriously, though. How exciting was your day when you last played it safe? It’s so easy, convenient, and almost romantic to just sit by and watch others live out their dreams, which should really be your dreams. We do it all the time. We sit at home watching reality television or SportsCenter. We cheer on our favorite celebrities and athletes. We search the world over looking for our heroes. Foolishly look past our  heroes in reality – our parents, our bosses, our best friends, and our spouses. This song by my favorite band, Metallica, is about this exact subject:

Again, sticking out like a sore thumb, I can proudly say that my heroes are those who surround me. My sisters, my best friends, my missionaries, and sometimes strangers that I meet only once can be those who most influence me. Each person teaches me a little something more. Each person teaches me what not to do. Each person, however, also introduces me to a little special secret every now and then. I compile all those little gems, in conjunction with the things that already make me awesome, and put it all into making me the best Jimmy possible.


While others are sitting on the sidelines, watching what I do, finding fault in my actions, using anything they can get their hands on to paint me a weirdo, fraud, jerk, insensitive, or whatever their favor of the day might be, I am out making myself happy. After all of this reading you may be convinced that I am a very self-centered jerk. On the other hand, there is a perfect reason for it all. The happier I am, the stronger I am. The stronger I am, the better I can help others.

I have been told hundreds of times that I touch the lives of others every day. I know I serve as an example to others. I give them hope. I show them that it can be done. I help others smile. I show them that they can overcome their trials. I show them that they too can be happy. I show them that they can use all their trials to bless the lives of others. Had I not stuck out like a sore thumb, none of this would be possible. Thank you for reading.


RAKs, “wasting” my time, and putting myself “last”

I have been very lazy with my writing. Not only have I not been writing much for my blog this year, I have barely touched the brand new journal that I bought to get that going again. Just now I watched this video. It totally woke me up. Gone were the “I’ll add that to my list of things to someday blog about” remarks I would tell myself. I knew right away I had to get typing, so here we go. First, let’s watch this video:

Our priorities are messed up! Seriously. Please don’t think that I am sitting on my throne up above with the right to judge others. I have many times stopped, reflected on life, and come to some pretty solid conclusions. Maybe you want to disagree with me that getting that awesome new car (paid with credit, of course), getting a ton of fancy new clothes, or getting some other material things mean more than finding peace and happiness and sharing it with others.  That’s okay. I am not here to change anyone; I just want to inspire all who read this post to find true peace and happiness.

What is a RAK? It stands for random acts of kindness. I first learned about RAKs when I first found The Chive Community. I could not think of anything better to do with my time. Yes, I have to take care of myself first before I can help anyone else. If you think I am being selfish, think back to the last time you traveled by airplane. The flight attendants tell you that should you travel with a child, the cabin pressure drops, the oxygen masks drop from the ceiling, and you put yours on first. Then you put a mask on your child. If you’re passed out from oxygen deprivation, you’re going to do a really poor job of saving your kid. True story.

Once you find strength inside, go out. Find someone to serve. You know, when I first started learning about my church, I thought that members were pressured into serving others. Then I learned it first-hand; there is nothing else in life that makes you feel better than doing good for others. Be sure to leave your selfish motives at the door. If you expect anything in return, then you’re making things worse. You create a false sense of love for the recipient. Then you feel let down when the recipient is not willing to or unable to reciprocate.

About a year ago I was dealing with loneliness and depression. I can tell you that the best cure for that is to go out and do good for others. Here’s a perfect example. Last night I was on the grounds of the Mesa Arizona Temple after closing. For some reason the gates were not yet locked. I saw this young lady sitting down by myself. Something inside said I needed to talk to her.


After she told me why she was there and what was troubling her, I right away shared with her my thoughts coming from a positive perspective. My ability to add comfort to the conversation got her opening up. Even though I am quite the talker, I just shut my mouth. I know from my past that sometimes I just need to get things off my chest, regardless who the listener is. It is how we process our thoughts. So much clarity can come just from talking to someone. I know that just being a total stranger, willing to listen to someone who was feeling down, can be one of the best blessings one can receive.

I do this because others have been there for me. Others have listened to me go on and on for hours about my problems. Others have taken me in when I needed a place to stay for a week. Others have helped me move. Others have loaned me money. Others have complimented me. Others have made me smile. Others have made me feel loved. Others have made me feel important. Others have, through their faith in me, given me the confidence to know I can do this. Others have held me when I needed to cry. Others have taught me what I need to know. Others have taught me what not to do. I could go on and on. You get the idea. Now what?


You have two choices. You can take, take, and take. You can also give. Early on in my growth process I tried to give back to those who helped me. All the time they would say no. They did these favors for me out of love or friendship, and they wanted nothing in return. Also, they were already doing well, which is why they were able to do good for me. They inspired me so much. One person who has been my greatest inspiration in empathy is my friend Jeff. He has done so much for me, and he has never wanted anything in return. What a great example!

Then I started doing nice things for others without being asked. I felt the same joy that my friends and family members must had felt. Then it hit me. When you are feeling grateful, pay it forward. Do good for those who need something. Giving to others means a few things. Yes, you might have a little less when all is done. However, the other person has something he / she didn’t have before. Most important, you will realize that you were able to give because you had an abundance! Because of your abundance, you are blessed. When you feel blessed, you should feel grateful. Gratitude is the source of happiness.


No one can take that happiness from you. Not me. Not your boss. Not your significant other. Not your parents. Not your children. Not the person picking on you. Not the person saying mean things to you. No one. It is your happiness to keep forever.

Get out there. Find something good to do. Visit an older relative. Say hi to that lonely person down the street. Ask that one coworker you never talk to how his / her day has been. I am not going to list every idea I can come up with. There are plenty of websites out there to get you started. Here are a few to get you started:

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope I was able to inspire you to do good in this world. It does not matter if not everyone is nice to you. In fact, the people who are the meanest to you are the ones who need the most love. Think about it. If you do good, tell the world about it. You can use the social media hashtag of #RAK. Maybe you’ll inspire someone else to do the same!


Happy 80th Birthday, Mom!

July 3, 2014 – Today I am grateful for the 15 years, 10 months, 19 days that I had to live on this Earth with the most important woman in my life. Therese Mary Paderta touched me in ways that no one else since has ever been able to. I pass on Her legacy each day that I live. I am the person I am because of Her. Mom’s mild temper, sweet spirit, and loving heart have influenced me in becoming the person that I am today and the person I am still becoming.

All too often people remind me of how wonderful She was. I am even told how She influenced them. I had the pleasure of knowing Her better than most people. I got to be influenced and taught in Her ways. She was not perfect, but She inspires me to someday be a parent just like Her.

Happy 80th birthday, Mom!!! I will honor You today by spreading Your love to all those that I touch. Thank You for everything You had done for me while on this Earth. More importantly, thank You for teaching me how to still see all the blessings You have given me in the past 21 years since our loving Heavenly Father called You home to share Your love with those on the other side of the Veil.

I love You, Mom.


My Purpose in Life

Today I am grateful for being confident in knowing my purpose in life. No, I am not trying to brag or harvest any pity. Just like all of you, I have gone through a lot of struggles in life. During those moments life was so hard. No one wants to live through the loss of loved ones, being unemployed, working bad jobs, or the end of relationships.

Those “hardships” were really blessings. The toughest of those, losing Mom and Dad, have been some of the best things to happen in my life. As I had to process those changes in life, I had to figure out how to make my way back to happiness. Even though I still have bad days and sometimes want to not deal with this stuff, I know that by now I got this all figured out.

The purpose of my life is to come to this Earth, be challenged with struggles, overcome them and make sense of *why* I had to go through them (and the lessons I was supposed to learn from each), and then to share my experiences with others. Everything up unto this point is preparation for the next person I talk to today. All too often I find myself listening to others. It goes like this. I recognize the struggles in them that I faced, share with them how it felt (so they don’t feel alone), and share with them how I found peace and happiness in the end. I am grateful to know that my purpose in life is to give others hope and direction. NOTHING else brings me more joy than to serve those that I meet! The best thing anyone can ever tell me is, “Jimmy, I needed to hear that!”


Happy Fathers’ Day and finding a whole new person through a different perspective

Today I am grateful for having such an amazing Father!!! Of course I would have never felt this way when I was younger; it all depends on your perspective. If you’re not grateful for the things you have and you’re asking for more, what makes you think you’ll be grateful if you get the things you are asking for? He didn’t love me the way I wanted to be loved; I was too young and immature to understand Dad’s way of loving me.

062787-Dad-and-MeComiskey Park – June 27, 1987

No, he wasn’t the warmest guy. This photo was from just under 27 years ago today – June 27, 1987. We didn’t always do a lot of things together, but at least we hit up seven White Sox games; those were probably my best memories with him. He had a short temper. He yelled and screamed like a two-year-old to get what he wanted at times. He gave me a hard time about using the car, even if it was going to otherwise  sit in the garage each night. He was sometimes controlling about the phone. Enough of the negativity; I am just as imperfect as him.

Dad-and-Me-Brookfield-ZooBrookfield Zoo – Summer, 1999


When you see things through a different set of eyes, you see so much love. The guy taught me everything I will ever need to know about being an unwavering husband. The guy did EVERYTHING to give us what we needed. Since he wasn’t a Harvard (or even a high school) graduate, he had to work a crappy job. Even in his old age, he did laborious work outside in weather from blizzards to humid summer days in the sun. He did the best he could given his existing circumstances. He raised us the best he could with barely knowing his own Father before he also passed. Dad taught me to be strong and persistent; for that, I am forever grateful!


I’m a Mormon. Wait, what’s a Mormon?

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my baptism. On that day I had chosen to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of this Church are typically referred to as Mormons by non-members. It’s kind of funny that I am a churchgoer; just a few years ago I was agnostic. I would be fine watching shows on The History Channel about various religions, but I did not want to hear anything about anyone’s church. There were some personal reasons that lead me to question the existence of any type of god, and I just did not want to even entertain the possibility.

Almost four years ago I met with the missionaries for the first time. The Church encourages young men and ladies to spend 24 months (men) or 18 months (ladies) serving those in distant lands. Elder Likes and Elder Adams had begun to come to my home to share their lessons. After a long journey, learning a totally different way of being, I was ready to make sacred covenants with my Father in Heaven. Through the final lessons from Sister Madsen and Sister Sanders, I was ready to be baptized.

Jimmy's Baptism

So many things in my life have changed over the past years. Going forward I would no longer drink alcohol, coffee, or tea. Doing business or work on Sundays is strongly discouraged; the mind should be focused on rest and service to others. Any sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage is forbidden. One of every ten dollars earned is to be donated to the Church to cover the cost of operations, creating / maintaining Church buildings, and furthering the Church’s worldwide welfare / relief efforts. One of the first things learned by investigators is that this is not a church you go to just on Christmas and Easter. Participation does not end after one hour of mass / service each Sunday; it begins with a three-hour block of the service and classes. Eventually positions of responsibility are added to the time spent as a member. Then there are other activities that happen each month. This is truly a new way of living!

I would like to pause to mention that I had envisioned this post to be some brief explanations to non-members what my Church is all about. It sounds like there is no easy way of doing this; there is just way too much to cover! Either I will miss a whole bunch of important stuff, or this will turn into a novel. This will just be the first post that will later be followed up upon.

One thing that would have been hard for me would have been giving up alcohol. Although the last time I got drunk was in January, 2007, I still loved beer. I did not want to have to give this up. Then in February, 2012 I came across Brene Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability. When I got to the 15-minute mark, she described numbing. That reminded me how even the slightest buzz I got from drinking beer changed the way my mind works. I cannot be as quick and witty as I am when I am sober. When challenging events occur, I don’t want to cheat and take the “easy” way out. In the end, numbing simply prolongs the pain. I have not had any alcohol in over two years, and I could not imagine my life with it again.

Being a Mormon has taught me a lot about life and what’s really important. Not even counting the blessings during the earlier three years that I attended the Latter-day Saint Church, there have been unimaginable amazing things that have happened this past year as a member; there are just way too many to count. Don’t get me wrong; so many things have also gotten harder! I joined the Church at a very pivotal time in my life; I happened to experience two very major changes in my life at once. Plus, things just get more challenging as more and more expectations were placed on me.

All these rules are not meant to make my life a pain. Instead, strict guidelines are set to help me on the path to true happiness. It’s just like going through training at work. You can start a job knowing little or nothing, only to have to fail a lot because of lack of knowledge / experience. Training is there to help us learn PROVEN methods for finding success. Why go through the same failures as others? If someone took the time to let you know what already works, then you don’t have to go through those otherwise necessary periods of trial and error. The whole idea is for us to become better people.

It’s easy to fall back onto bad habits; that’s where it really gets hard. We fear what we don’t understand. Plus, it’s just so much easier to go with the things that we’re familiar with. It’s hard to change and do things differently. Even though it can be so hard to do the right thing, I know very well how being disciplined and doing what I need to do brings so much happiness and success to my life. There’s just no reason to do things that are proven to bring with them failure and unhappiness.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to be patient. Throughout most of my life, most of my decisions were made with instant gratification in mind. Most of the time we can only see what’s right in front of our nose; looking towards our future sometimes seems like too much work. It’s easy to do what is going to make us happy the quickest. In the end, we sacrifice tomorrow’s greater happiness so that we may experience a lesser happiness today. Through discipline, I have learned to experience more and more intense moments of happiness.

That is what we are here for is to be happy, right? It’s fascinating that we still do stupid things that eventually lead to our lives becoming harder.

Another huge lesson I have leaned is to love others unconditionally. See them as people, just like you and me. Each one of us has needs, desires, and fears. Just like how you had a rough time the other day, the guy down the street that has been getting on your nerves may have had a bad day recently. No, that does not give him the right to mistreat you. However, maybe he’s just so stressed that he’s not able to think clearly and be conscious of others.

Just be a good person. Be nice to others. So many people have gotten you to where you are today; now is your chance to pay it forward. Nothing else in life brings greater happiness than serving your fellow men and women. Through service you learn something amazing – you’re so awesome that you have plenty of talents and love to share with others!

Although it has been four months since I last wrote here, I am certain that follow-ups to this post will come soon.

Be well. Do good. Make others smile.


My Testimony – January 26, 2014

I know that I feel amazing when I do certain things. Prayer has blessed my life in so many ways. I come to my Heavenly Father with my concerns, needs, and feelings of gratitude. Although I do not hear His voice speaking directly to me, He answers with soft yet profound promptings. Many of life’s questions are answered when I read the Scriptures. Serving others is such an amazing experience. When I serve, it feels like all my problems are erased, as I realize that what I consider “problems” are nothing in relation to the trials others are currently facing. Going to Church and otherwise being in the company of like-minded individuals helps me feel loved and supported, regardless how alone in this life I may feel at times.

Although the Church’s organization, created by Jesus Christ, is perfect, its members are imperfect beings, prone to making mistakes. However, one of main goals is to perfect the Saints. The whole idea is that our loving Heavenly Father wants us to be just like Him. He wants us to continue to improve to be better and better, just like we want to constantly improve our lives. He is there for us in every possible way.

Each day I am guided by the Spirit. Knowledge I would otherwise not have comes to me through these promptings. The Holy Ghost allows me to know many details about the people in my life and people that I meet. Although sometimes I am given warnings about certain people / situations, most of the time the Spirit allows me to see untapped strengths and wonderful qualities that most people otherwise would not see in themselves.

I testify to you that I am loved by my Father in Heaven. He knows everything about me. He has a plan for my happiness, and things always work out when I let go of my own desires and put my life in His hands. His Son, Jesus Christ, has experienced all of our pains during his Atonement. The Holy Ghost guides me towards true happiness, as long as I am following the example set by my Savior, Jesus Christ. Just like in the days of the Bible, we have Special Witnesses of Christ in the form of modern-day prophets. They, led by Thomas S. Monson, allow us to receive revelation directly from our Heavenly Father. I testify that all this is true, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Stop giving a crap about what other people think!

Wow. I guess I got your attention. Thank you for stopping in to see what all the commotion was about!

Please take a moment to read this post thoroughly so you can understand its message as it develops. Although the title may sound rather negative in nature, I have a wonderful message to share with you. I promise these words will touch you in one way or another. Please begin by watching this video, specifically from 2:45 until the end.

I will never forget the first time I saw this video. It’s like he took the words right out of my mouth. Ashton Kutcher said the very message that all parents should be sharing with their children. Sometimes we are just so wrapped up in getting after children to do their homework, eat healthier, clean up their rooms, and all the other parental stuff and just forget to take the time to say those things that really matter.

There is a reason we often feel like we are not good enough. These ideas in our head have to come from somewhere, after all. Sometimes they come from stuff we see on TV. Sometimes they come from that mean person at work or school. Unfortunately, most of the time they come from those that we trust the most, like our family members or closest friends. It’s time for me to get deep with you.

First let me tell you a recent little story from my life. One of the lowest points of my time on this Earth came when shame crept into my heart. Please don’t think that I am trying to play the role of the innocent angel; I have done stupid and hurtful things to others, including those I dearly love. After making some of those mistakes, as a way to try to make it up, I had given a lot of my power to that person. I tried to humble myself and beg for forgiveness. Rarely was that dearly needed forgiveness ever given, and eventually my kindness was taken advantage of. Eventually I became a victim of mental / verbal abuse.

Because I had given so much of my power to this other person, I simply began to think less of myself. I still loved myself, but I began to think to some degree that I deserved this treatment. I did little to try to stop it. This included me being criticized for so many things that I would do. This included little nuances, like quirky habits that just make me who I am, the way I said things, and even things that truly made me happy. When I tried to work things out with the other person, there was no improving. Here is the reason why.

We all have a love tank, just like how each our cars has a gas tank. If you don’t fill up that gas tank, your car eventually stops driving forward. Your heart and my heart is just like that gas tank. Every day we need to do something to fill up our love tank. This might include someone complimenting your new haircut, saying thank you for your kind deed, or best yet, telling you how you made him / her feel because of you being in that person’s life. Just stop for a moment. Think about how it feels when someone does something that truly touches you. Close your eyes. Do you feel it? Sadly, when you don’t fill up your love tank, you stop walking forward.


Those who hurt us, directly or indirectly, do not have their love tanks filled. After pondering this thought time and time again, I just could not come up with a rational reason that someone who is full of love and gratitude would ever make it a point to hurt another. Basically, this is an ongoing cycle of emptiness inside. Unfortunately, those who are missing they love they need end up passing on their emptiness to others. Because they don’t know how to deal with this emptiness or know how to get the proper love that their hearts need, they end up trying to impose their pains onto others.

Sadly, this is an almost guaranteed endless cycle. You really can find your own happiness. You can share your happiness with others in your life. You may be able to impact a great amount of people and lead them towards their own happiness, but it of course is impossible to touch every life that you come across in your journey.


Call it what you want. Chaos, drama, verbal / emotional abuse, and all other unhealthy behaviors come from feeling empty inside. You will become just like those you associate yourself with. If you want to find happiness, hang around others who have found happiness. If you want to be successful at your job, take some time to get to know the top performing coworkers. On the flipside, if you want to walk away from your own unhealthy habits in your life, you need to walk forward and away from those who are dragging you down.

Finding your own peace

Ashton Kutcher Teen Choice Awards

You are your own person. Even though many of you still have parents around to help you along and many of you have spouses to uplift you, at the end of the day, the only person who is going to take care of you is you! This is not just some overused clichéd phrase; there is so much truth to those words!

Stop everything you are doing right now. Think about who you are at this time. Where have you been? Who are you right now? Where are you going? Really think about who you are and where you are going. Think about the positive changes you want in your life. Make those decisions to get there and promise yourself to carry out each one of them. Figure out what you want, and don’t let anyone ever stop you from getting there. You will do this because you love yourself!

Forget about the people who have said mean things about you. Forget about the people / companies trying to make you jealous of what they have. Forget about all the people / companies trying to tell you that you are just not good enough to be accepted by others. You will know in your heart where the intentions of others lie. If you feel that their hearts are pure, then follow along. If there are selfish motives to be found, run away!

People will try to make you do the things they want you to do. They will try to sell you their products / services because they want your money. People will try to be your “friend” because they want you to do things for them or want you to give them what you have. People get what they want from you, because they do a good job of selling you the idea that your life is empty without what they “have to offer.” You have to figure out who truly has your best interests in mind.


Now that brings me to this quote:

being grateful

Gratitude truly is the path to happiness!!! I can stress that until I am blue in the face. Then I will find a way to keep on stressing it! Once I had found gratitude, my life has never been the same. I become more and more happy the more I make gratitude a part of my life. If you are grateful for what you have, you begin to desire less and less. People can try all they want to tell you how lame you are or how empty your life is without them or what they are selling. It is just a bunch of crap!

I have been putting off writing this post for a few days. I knew without a doubt that the time to get this going was right now when I came across this quote by Les Brown:

It doesn’t matter that some people are laughing behind your back…glad to see you fail, smiling in your face, while pretending to be your friend. You are not your mistakes, your failures, or your disappointments. Be aware things will happen that you are not prepared for.

Regroup, go back to the drawing board and come back with a different strategy. Every day you have the opportunity to relaunch, revive and to reinvigorate your dream. You are more powerful than you realize! Dig in, challenge yourself and hold the vision. You have GREATNESS within you!

So when it comes down to it, you have to take care of yourself first. I don’t care who else is in your life. Your first relationship is with your Creator. The next important relationship is the one you have with yourself. After that would be your spouse or significant other (or your parents if you are single). Then come your immediate family members. After your friends, you also have to maintain your relationship with your work.

If you do not stop at nothing to love and uplift yourself, you are not able to really help others in a meaningful manner. How can you give what you don’t have? That is why it is such a blessing to volunteer. When you have something to give to others, when you are expecting nothing in return, you realize how blessed you are; you realize you have something to give to others, and you are still left with an abundance of blessings.

Take care of yourself. Be happy with what you have. Be happy with those in your life. If there are those in your life who weigh you down or try to make you feel empty because of their own emptiness, you have to stop everything and fill up your love tank. Once you are strong, filled with an abundance of love, you can then finally try to complete that circle, become vulnerable, and pay it forward to those who once brought you down due to their emptiness. Until then, your heart craves love. Give it what it needs. Even if it means distancing yourself from those you love because they wear you down, you must do everything possible to fill your love tank.

Over time, love tank will become full. Your heart will be filled with love. You will have such an abundance, that you go out of your way to find opportunities to serve others. This includes those you don’t even know, those you haven’t talked to in years, and even those who have previously hurt you! Amazing things are just ahead in your life! I promise you that!

Always be sexy. I love you guys.

Therese Mary Paderta – Twenty-One Years

The following is a continuation of the collection of my thoughts about Mom, beginning with these past posts:

A new chapter of this journey occurred recently. On Sunday, October 6, 2013, I sat on my couch, watching the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Monson began to speak about the recent passing of his wife of 64 years, Frances Monson. Almost instantly I began to cry. One of the gifts I have recently been given is a deep sense of empathy. Just like my heart went out to Dad when Mom passed, I had given my heart to President Monson.

I had not watched that video since that October morning until the very early morning hours of today, after I had arrived home from the Holiday Party. I was in in great shape. I had just had an incredible evening with wonderful co-workers, great entertainment, and a very young lady. Understanding the significance of today’s date and what this talk meant to me the first time I watched it, I knew I had to view it again. Twice again this afternoon I pondered the words of President Monson.

Earlier today while at Church I brought my burdens to the Lord. This will be the first time in years that I have spent December 15th alone. This recent change in my life has brought with it much pain and despair. I have fought the recent chain of events. I would not stand for the idea that I was again single. I would not accept that all my hard work of saving my relationship was in vain. Two weeks ago I finally felt a warm fire in my heart telling me it is okay; it is alright to be single at this time. This is a time to work on preparing myself for my future wife instead of looking for her.


This is exactly what I was given today in Church. I felt a wonderful inspiration to move on with my life. This brought back one of the greatest memories of the passing of Mom.

In 1992 I was a sophomore in high school. I was more the quiet type. I was not a go-getter. I was picked on by others. After losing Mom, I knew this was not the life I wanted to live. I had chosen to become more of an outgoing person. I was no longer afraid to go out and meet new people. If anything, it has become a huge blessing that this change in my life had occurred; just think about how many people I have been able to touch in the years since!


I am now at another one of those crossroads. I am always so good at saying the right words to others. It is time to accept my own wisdom and follow it for once. Living in the past takes up our time obsessing about the things we cannot change and filling our lives with shame. Worrying about the future is just trying to control something that is not yet within our grasp. The only thing we can do is control our controllables. The only thing we can control is the present, the now.

The present can heal the past. The present can bring about a brighter tomorrow. The present is our gift that with which we are blessed each morning as we wake up here in this lifetime.

From December, 1992 until May, 2012 I spent my life in regret. I wished I had spent more time with Mom. I wished I was nicer to her. I wished I had used kinder words with her. I wished I had spent more time with her. I wished I could have influenced her to live a healthier lifestyle. I wished she would have never passed away. I wished I could bring her back!

This morning, as I was preparing myself for Church, I felt the warm feeling of the Spirit come over me. It had told me that Mom would do anything to spend another day with me. What a sweet message of hope, happiness, and peace! This is proof of something I have been saying for some time now.

Although most people might not be able to understand this, I have been blessed with a wonderful gift in recent times. I had spent 15 years, 10 months, and 19 days on this Earth with Mom. Although for over 19 years I had felt so empty, a major change has come over me. I truly feel closer to Mom than I ever did when she was here in this life! I also know that this is not the end; in due time I will be able to be with her forever, even after this life of mine on earth is through.


I used to spend so much time finding the faults in the ways I didn’t love her well enough. I used to search out her imperfections. It was so easy to just blame her for my problems. She left this life. It was easier for her instead of dealing with the life she created for herself. It was my heart that was cold. I had learned to have a heart of war.

Now I love her for everything she did for me. Mom blessed me with so many incredible qualities. My loving, caring, compassionate personality has always been there; it’s just so much stronger now! She never got rid of things; she never threw anything out. That taught me to cherish every memory that life has to offer. Although she was imperfect, she had a beautiful heart. I have since dedicated the rest of my life to honoring this wonderful woman.

Letting go of these pains has freed me. It was not easy. I do not have a play-by-play instructional manual on how I did it or what you might have to do to find this same peace that I so treasure. What I can tell you is that loving her for who she was, despite and even because of her imperfections, is what has brought me true peace in my heart.

I smile as I complete these writings. I love you, Mom! I love you more than ever! I am grateful for the closeness that I feel to you this very day. Twenty-one years is a long time without you, but I will continue to walk in love, thanks to the love you continue to show me!


Love always and forever,


This is how a very happy person can be depressed.

I have been wanting to write about this subject for quite some time. This may sound like a contradiction. Are you depressed or are you happy? Which one is it? That’s like talking about a speed skater with no legs. Well, maybe not.

My writings are simply me documenting the thoughts in my head. Usually I face problems in my life, I figure out how to solve them, and then I try to share my findings with those I love. The hope is others will see what I write and be able to take something from it. The best moments are when someone comes up to me and says, “Thank you for sharing that with me. I really needed to hear that!” Hopefully I will be able to touch you in such a way.


Throughout my life I have dealt with lot of loss. Even in my younger years I had gone to wakes and funerals of older family members and friends of my Parents. Probably the most profound losses were when I lost my Mother and Father in 1992 and 2006, respectively. At the time I did not believe in much of an afterlife; I simply thought that was it.

Finally in 2012 I was able to move on. I was able to let go of the pain I had been harboring, and then I was able to turn those feelings into love and happiness. I thought I had conquered the pain of loss. Early this summer I was to learn about a whole new chapter of loss in my life.

There was someone who was part of just about every major moment and decision in my life for many years. Almost overnight our contact was severed. In this situation, life on this Earth still goes on, but reconnection seems impossible. Unlike lying Mom and Dad to rest, where there was no coming back in this lifetime, this person and I could possibly reconnect. Unfortunately, the desire has not been mutual. In some aspects, this loss has been more profound; there was never a final goodbye as I was able to experience during the funerals of Mom and Dad.

My life was turned upside-down. I stopped being me. Those close to me saw a dramatic change in my demeanor. Gone was that constant bouncing-off-the-walls happy personality. It was still there, but some of that personality was replaced by something dark.

As I was recently baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was given the Gift of the Holy Ghost. That is best described as a constant companion, offering soft-spoken guidance. This inspiration is best received when doing what is right and listening for its messages. Additionally, I have been told by other members that I have the Gift of Discernment.

Within the past months, I have been able to help others in ways I never thought possible. I am able to feel the spirit or vibes people give off. When people talk to me about things that matter a lot to them, I am able to pick up on more than just the words they say. Usually I follow up by offering what most people consider advice. Instead, I simply believe I am just telling people what they already know. I simply just help them understand themselves better. Sometimes I am also inspired to share with them insight that I would not normally have.

Many people find “happiness” by scoring a bigger TV or a new car. In the big picture, people think they are finding happiness by being socially accepted. These are just imitations of true happiness. Ultimately, I have learned to find true happiness through serving others. Not only do I have a huge, loving heart, I love to use my gifts to touch the lives of others. Although I cannot control when and how these gifts will be used, I very much recognize when they are available. Because of this, I will forever be a happy person deep down inside.

Sometimes I feel these promptings and this inspiration in a very soft manner. Other times it is like someone is telling me over and over again: “Jimmy! Go and talk to this person. Say (this) or say (that) to him or her!” It is such a frustrating feeling to know the answers to someone’s challenge but to not be able to do anything about it. It is hard to just let go of things when you know there is something you can do to help.

In the end, I was no longer able to help this person who is so important to me. I had felt so helpless. I had gone through my own trials in life. I may not have the answers to everything. With a heaping dose of empathy, the willingness to listen, and a great talent of using analogies to help others with a sense of understanding, I can at least do enough to help someone feel empowered enough to begin being self-sufficient.

I had to find a way to just take care of myself. Without a consistent usage of my talents, I felt like I was keeping all of this to myself. This made me feel selfish. With that came guilt and eventually a little shame. To learn more, please check out Brené Brown’s talks on vulnerability and shame. I had became stuck.

To see how a relatively happy person can experience depression, please check out this recent TED Talk:

What is really bad, as Kevin Breel points out, is that we all are depressed to some degree. We all have issues. We all could use some counseling. I am proud to say that I have become an incredibly strong person, despite my recent struggles, through going to counseling through LDS Family Services. I could not imagine my life without this assistance. Years ago I could not believe it when the person I am referring to had suggested I seek counseling. I had felt insulted. That is just the way our culture works.

Just say you admit you have some issues that could be resolved through counseling. If you start talking about it to a friend, it is possible that friend may stop talking to you. Your friend may think you are weird. Your friend may think you’re too much to handle, may judge you, and possibly stop being there for you. All I can think of is this person also needs help. This person is afraid of the shame that may come upon him / her for needing help, too. We need to stop being afraid. If we all are in need of help to some degree, then there is no shame in seeking counseling. If anything, be proud that you were strong enough to seek out help!

For me, I stopped doing many things. I was stuck. It was so easy to no longer cook, clean, do dishes, etc. I did not know how to move on. Since I did not have the closure I was hoping for, it seems as if I was unable to create closure in other areas of my life. Doing dishes meant the previous meal had come to a close. Picking up after myself meant I was done with the recent project at hand.

I even stopped doing many things I enjoyed doing! In addition to cooking, I have almost never been reading my books, writing in my journal / blog, or reading my Scriptures. For a while I even stopped going hiking or reaching out to friends to hang out or talk.

The more depressed I felt, the less likely I was to reach out to friends for companionship. Just like Brené Brown’s explanation of shame, I had that devilish voice inside saying, “Don’t bother calling her. She’s sick of hearing your sob stories!” “Don’t waste your time calling him. He has a life. He is married, has kids, has a job, other friends, and in no way hastime to listen to you feeling sorry for yourself!”

It is all a lie. My life is filled with so many wonderful people. I am just a phone call or text away from some amazing souls who would give anything for me. I have a second family living two buildings away. I am even considered an uncle to their children. If I can fool myself into thinking they don’t care about me, then I can sell Eskimo Pies to Eskimos! I have other family members and friends who love me dearly. I know I have added so much value to their lives with my time, talents, and love. It’s illogical that I could ever feel alone in this world I have created for myself.

To get another perspective on things, I invite you to watch this talk, quite similar to that of Kevin Breel. It was recently delivered during the October, 2013 General Conference of the LDS Church. Although there are some stuff that is LDS-specific, the majority of the message could be related to by anyone.

“Trust [in] happier days ahead.” -Elder Jeffrey R Holland

No matter what you are going through, there is someone else out there with a similar story. I know through experience that when I get down, I start playing the victim role. I begin to feel sorry for myself. “No one else out there feels the way I do.” “Nobody would ever believe me.” “No one else could understand.” Again, these are all lies. These lies just push us farther from the healing process. We are a lot more similar to each other than we would normally accept or want to believe.

If at times you feel down, just know that you are not the only one. I am here with you. I sometimes become depressed, too. What I can tell you is that I am almost in a good mood. That comes from this inextinguishable fire inside that keeps me going. No matter what, I am imperfect. I will make mistakes that I will regret. This usually is followed by guilt (and sometimes shame).

The first thing you need to do is to talk to someone about things. That’s what I do. People love to help others. There is someone out there who wants to listen to you. I know I surely would! You may be apprehensive, thinking you may scare some people away. This is going to come across as harsh, but that’s okay if you lose some friends. This is not only a test in life for you, but it is also a great test to find out who your real friends are. The best friends will listen to you over and over and over.


If I come to someone for help / companionship because I am down, I am not looking for a lecture. I am hurt. I need someone to listen to me. I need someone to let me know that although what I am going through is not desirable, the way I feel is normal and okay. Cutting me down or otherwise judging me for my mistakes will never assist me in improving my situation. You should be looking for that same kind of support when needed as I am describing.


Sometimes all we need is a warm embrace. Before you are quick to judge, take a moment to discover your sense of empathy. Listen to that person in need; you might be that person sometime soon needing help yourself.

This became much bigger than I had anticipated. Although I have had so many wonderful experiences in life to bring me happiness for a whole lifetime, sometimes life does get me down. Sometimes I don’t know what to do in certain situations. Sometimes, I get stuck altogether. The thing is, my story is the same as yours. The only difference between you and me is we have different chapter titles and character names in our stories.

Thank you for listening.