Who Am I?

Who Am I?

As I sit here writing this, I am asking the question "Who am I"? I know that I am a broken man, I have weaknesses, I fall short a lot and I am a work in progress, but do those things define me? Do they determine my success or failures or are they just a part of life and need to work through them? I believe its the latter.

These are issue we all have to deal with. I for one know that God has a lot of work to do in me; however I am not who I once was and thank God for that. Even with all the progress I have made in my life the old man still creeps up and attempts to take over, which causes me to stumble and revert back to my old ways. Does that sound familiar? Of course it does, because it happens to the best of us. It's during those times that we begin to question who we are, what we are doing or why are we doing it? I have realized that the question is not who am I instead its what do I need to do? You see the answer of who am I has already been answered, we are a work in progress. We don't just arrive one day, we continue to press for improvement and we will fall flat on our faces along the way, but our failures are not who we are. Our accomplishments are not who we are. I question myself all the time; Who am I to start a company to help others push through their obstacles when I have so many of my own? Who am I to talk about accomplishments when I have failed at so many of my own goals? How many of you are asking those very questions?

Life is a process and no matter where you are in that cycle you always have something to give. We need to stop focusing on our failures and accomplishments; instead focus on the process. Don't get me wrong we should evaluate our failures so that we may learn from them and celebrate our success so we draw strength from them, but never allow those to be the focus. I am reminded of the story about Moses in Exodus 3. When God revealed himself to Moses and called him to action Moses immediately questioned "Who am I God?". Moses focused on himself rather than who he was with God and the process Moses had to go through to accomplish the very thing he was called to do. That is you and I. We will never be 100% ready to execute on the next big task, but learning from our failures and the confidence from our successes we do have the courage to press forward.

Part of the process is preparation. We can pretend to be prepared, but when the time comes for us to step up we will continue to fail and stay there until we actually put in the work. As a veteran I remember many times preparing to execute on my tasks and I never questioned it. I new the risks I had to take yet I had the confidence to go through with it, because of my preparation and, just as important, the brave men and women around me. Surrounding ourselves with the right people is extremely important for our progress. I decided not too long ago that my purpose was too important to me to allow anything or anyone to stand in my way. So, I no longer waste my time with those that deter my focus and only allow those who help build me up close to me. Life is too short to waste time on people that suck the life from you or bring you down. Instead consider being an example from a distance. Honestly, by keeping those people around you end up deflecting those you want to be close to you. 

It's time to focus and enjoy the process more than the destination. Questioning who you are opens the door to confusion, so focus on what actions you need to take to become who you are called to be.

Omar Fuentes - USM Veteran - Semper Fi Project

 

Leading our Kids Towards Success

Leading our Kids Towards Success

We talk a lot here about goals, about persevering and never giving up. Today I want to
touch on what that looks like in parenting and I’m going to do that by sharing a story
from an interaction I had with one of my kids.
For some time now, my younger son has been saying he’s scared at bedtime. He wants
me to lie down with him while he falls asleep, he wants to sleep with his light on, and he
wants to have music playing.
Thinking this was just a phase, I allowed it for a while. There came a point, though,
when I recognized this as a problem. I began putting my foot down about not having me
in his bed to go to sleep. I reminded him that none of the things he was afraid of were
real threats, that I was always around. I even gave him a flashlight so he could be in
control of checking things out for himself. Sometimes he managed to go to sleep on his
own, but he was still afraid and his light was still on all night. There was still a problem.
It was only a few weeks ago when I started taking the “extreme ownership” view, trying
to look at this from the perspective of what I could be doing to keep this issues from
being resolved, how I could be part of the problem. Something finally clicked and I
recognized that I was failing in two extremes. I was either coddling my son, giving in to
his fears and allowing him to remain afraid, or I was trying to push him out of the
proverbial nest on his own without helping him get to the point of being ready for that. I
decided that we needed a plan and that he should come up with it himself.
I sat my son down and explained to him that it was time to start working towards going
to sleep on his own with the lights out. He hesitated at first, but when I explained that he
would create the steps and that there would be a reward for reaching his goal, he ran off
to get a piece of paper and a pencil. So we sat down together and mapped out a
strategy to wean him off of the light. From the very first step, the light would be off at
bedtime, but for the first night I would be with him for 10 minutes, 5 minutes the second
night, then out of the room, until finally he was going to sleep completely on his own and
with no light. I’m proud to report that he achieved his goal and he’ll be getting a new pair
of basketball shoes as a reward.
So often in parenting we fail to guide our children towards success. We either do
everything for them or we expect them to start doing something on their own with no
discernible plan, no steps, and no guidance. Dads are meant to lead and leading means
empowering our kids for success. Let’s help our children set goals and then allow them
to reach them with a little bit of coaching and encouragement. Give praise for effort and
reassurance in failures. This is one of the greatest parts of being a dad.

Matt Cochran - USMC Veteran - The Tactical Dads

I'm Dying

I'm Dying

Yes, you read that right, I am dying. We all are, which is why life is so precious. We are not immortals and will one day leave this life behind. I know this is a harsh start, but hear me out. If we could live life forever here on earth then life would not be so precious and no need to live without regrets. It is because our time on earth is limited that our life has value. 

Lately I've been reading and listening to content that has ingrained this into my head. I'm learning more and more that I need to focus on what I do have not what I lack. We are surrounded by by so much beauty yet we focus on all the negative in our life. I get it, believe me, the negative is sometimes so loud that it masks all that's good and in some cases eliminates it. I believed that for a long time, but I couldn't live like that any more. I knew deep down in me that there was more to life than just getting through the day. I began to hold on to that little glimmer of hope and it began to grow. The problem for me still was all the negative going on in my life. I saw no end in sight and everyday was a battle of hope versus reality! I came to the end of myself and surrendered to God, truthfully because I had no where else to go. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them". When I read that scripture it hit me that it never says everything will be good. No, it says God causes everything to work together. Life is hard and there are many obstacles that come our way. I don't know why certain things happen or why circumstances can be so unfair, but what I do know is that we cannot waste our time dwelling on the negative.

Its time to rise up and begin to hope again, dream again and take action! Even if its just acknowledging you are breathing. Whether you believe it now or not, you were made for more. You do have gifts and talents and they were given to you so you could touch someone else's life. The obstacles you have gone through or are going through now are only here for a season and we cannot allow them to dictate the rest of our life. Our time on earth is limited, its precious and more valuable, so do something with it and don't waste it away on what you don't have, wish you could have or comparing your life to your neighbor's. We are given one chance in this world, so ask yourself "what am I going to do with it"?

Vision

Vision

"Where there is no vision, there is no hope." - George Washington

Right before I started Semper Fi Project I was in a hopeless state of monotony. I was a guy who always dreamed of big things. I felt I had vision and high hopes for myself, but then life got the best of me. I fell into a trap of hopelessness. I truly believed I just needed to be grateful for what I had, because I was lucky to have that, and I did not deserve more. So, I set all my dreams and aspirations aside, embraced my undeserving attitude and slowly began to die from the inside out.

Honestly, I was shut off. I did not want to experience any pain and because of all that I had gone through I began to think that any good in my life was just luck. So, I acted as if I didn't belong, which had a negative impact on my confidence and the vibrant, ambitious U.S. Marine went AWOL. I lost my vision and my hope that pushed me to become better was gone. I began to operate in a just survive mentality. That is no way to live. After living in this world I created for myself the real me began to fight its way out. Little by little thoughts starting creeping up and and I began to have glimpses of hope again, until one day I woke up and realized that I was my own worst enemy! Yes, even with all the attacks on my life and my future it was my negative view, my ability to close off from the world and me accepting my undeserving attitude.

I had to face the truth about my actions. I felt defeated and decided to stay in that defeat for too long. When I awoke it was like breathing new air and I was no longer satisfied with what I had. I realized I was meant for more. Let me be clear, yes, I should be grateful for what I have and count them blessings; however I was made for more and the hunger that's inside of me was uncomfortable with complacency. The first thing I had to do was reject my old thoughts of negativity and despair, adopt a new thought process and begin to fight back! You see, I could no longer go back to my old self, because that part of my life had past. I needed to embrace my experiences, learn from them and create new beliefs. So, many of us say "I wish it could be like it was before" or "I need to go back to who I used to be." that thought process is false. Once I began to move forward and only look back to learn, I freed my mind to create new visions for me and my family. As I replaced my thoughts and fed my mind, body, and spirit with wisdom, health, and God's word I was able to see clearly. I had visions of prosperity, but not just with money. I saw myself making a positive impact to those around me and my purpose had finally surfaced.

Life is a process and finding your purpose, I believe, is the most important process. There is where vision leads you to and through your path. Vision is not just a one and done deal, it happens in phases. Jonathan Swift said, "Vision is the art of seeing the invisible". Man, does that bring joy to my heart! Just imagine being able to see what others cannot, pursuing a dream that others feel are impossible and even oppose! This idea used to reap fear in my heart and that's because I sowed fear, but now I sow faith and love. Hebrews 11:1 says "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." But, it doesn't stop there. We need to act on our faith, "Show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works" James 2:18. Faith without putting in the work is dead and the light of your vision will grow dim. So put in the work, continue to believe you are more and never allow your mind to trick you into defeat. Failure is an opportunity to learn, so rise up, find and fulfill your purpose to be better than you were yesterday!

Omar F. - Semper Fi Project

The Process

The Process

There are no quick paths to success in any part of your life. We need to enjoy the process of improving ourselves and preparing for the blessings to come in our life. Learn to love the process more than the goal!

Monday Rant - No Pain No Gain!

Monday Rant - No Pain No Gain!

I honestly think that my posts are meant more for me than anyone reading or listening, but this is a good one to share. I have had more than my fair share of pain and still going through some of it today. I have learned that pain is part of the process and is an unfortunate necessity to grow. I have tried everything from ignoring it to completely shutting down, but in doing so I have missed out on all the good in my life as well. Let's not allow pain to deter us from our purpose or paralyze us from life. It's time to rise up and persevere! 

Status Quo

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Status Quo

"If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be." - Maya Angelou

If your attitude is I just want to be average, then this may not be for you. Normal is defined as conforming to the standard. This doesn't require a lot from us, as a matter of fact it enables us to be mediocre. I think Maya's point is exactly what we need to embrace. We live in a world that tries its best to get you to conform. Conform to the same look, conform to the same beliefs, conform to the same thoughts. Normalcy is what brings mediocre behavior, which doesn't require effort and enables us to continuously lower our standard of life. Its time that we break away from the norm and go to a much higher-level of thinking.

I've been reading the book Shaken by Tim Tebow and it sparked something in me to evaluate my beliefs about being normal. I've realized that it is our differences combined with the right perspective that births innovation, progress and community. Many believe that they are setting themselves apart from the crowd; however all they are doing is becoming part of the crowd. This is done because they are seeking their uniqueness outside of themselves, instead we should be looking within ourselves. When we look outwards we end up following the crowd and don't even realize it. God made us the way we are because He has a purpose for our life. Let's examine a few points about the status quo.

  • Breaking away from the norm allows you to change your perspective. I realize it may be difficult to get out of yourself and identify your uniqueness. I deal with the same issue, so to help me with this I stopped my normal routine of focusing on the issues in my life and I worked on changing my perspective. What ever your routine is, stop doing it and make a conscious effort to look at things from a different angle. You will be surprised at what you are able to identify when you apply mental fortitude and focus on the right things. 
  • We miss the opportunity to be special. If we are constantly seeking approval or just trying to fit in we will devalue our worth and miss the opportunity to shine in our own way. We find beauty in those things that are unique not normal. Many times as I drive home from the office I notice the sky as the sun sets. I notice every evening the sky looks different and that no sunset is the same. If they were all the same I know that my mind would eventually fail to notice how majestic sunsets truly are. I do believe that we all share a similar calling, which is to be unique. By breaking away from the status quo we are able to have the right perspective, embrace who we are and clearly see our value.
  • Embrace your uniqueness to accomplish the extraordinary. As I stated earlier, many of us have an issue with looking outward to identify our uniqueness, when its inside of us. When we look inside of us, identify, and embrace our uniqueness we are then able to accomplish so much more. I believe that God created us for a purpose and provided us certain gifts and abilities to fulfill our purpose. When we tap into that we are able to accomplish so much more, and if we dare, we can change the world! It starts with you.
  • Leverage how you were created to explore and execute possibilities instead of conforming. When we apply our uniqueness and have the right perspective, whatever it may be, then we are able to identify new opportunities, opportunities that others would not have been able to see. Just imagine having a different perspective that allows you to identify new opportunities, which leads to executing in a way others cannot. That's when true change occurs and it doesn't have to be on a massive scale. You can apply this at your home, work, your kids soccer team etc. 
  • Remember, your differences, experience, and obstacles can be used to help someone else, but its a choice. You have to choose to take all of that learn and ultimately use it to make a positive impact on those around you. We need to realize that what we go through, what we are blessed with and our uniqueness is not for our benefit, but for the benefit of others. The secret is that when we benefit others it ultimately helps us.

Omar Fuentes - Semper Fi Project

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The Discipline of Consistency 2 - Rant

The Discipline of Consistency 2 - Rant

After being on The Tactical Dads Podcast this topic continued to run through my mind. After the next few days and week a couple of things triggered a rant. It's only about 15 mins, but well worth the listen. Enjoy and remember feed your purpose not your fear!

The Discipline of Consistency - Podcast

The Discipline of Consistency - Podcast

Omar Fuentes, founder of the Semper Fi Project, joins The Tactical Dads podcast to talk about intentionality, getting after your goals even when you don’t feel like it, and being emotionally intelligent when it comes to parenting.

Choose Life!

Choose Life!

I'm writing this from a personal perspective as a man a veteran who once suffered at my own hands from and my own head, from addiction. Finding my only refuge in a bottle. Ultimately in choosing life,I found ways to take charge and better prepare myself for the battle in  overcoming my demons. I Also write this from a professional standpoint, as a specialist of fitness and nutrition for well over a decade. 

 Whatever we went through as Marines, what we suffered, survived, and lost. The  trauma left behind, is for each of us unique. For me it was guilt, what if's, regret, living in my head in the past over there, and a feeling of being without purpose or self-worth. Stuck, weak and unable to sleep. 

I had been active my whole life, before enlisting an athlete in high school, I had always trained and of course I got out of the service in great shape. I was lost, at the bottom of a bottle, my absolutely lowest point. Inside I knew all along what I needed to do - stop destroying and  numbing myself, eat healthy train consistently not sporadically, stick to it - stay the course. Yes, I knew, but you see the thing was. . .  I didn't  care. I  didn't believe I was worthy of feeling better didn't deserve to be better. I was lost. 

Then one night something very sobering happened, and the next day I decided - I chose life.

 And this began my journey of healing, building and recovery.  I reached out to someone I knew who was a coach a trainer and very successful athlete. I knew I needed to answer to someone higher then myself. I needed accountability, I needed a chain of command. 

He told me he'd only work with me if I was sober, I looked up to him and respected him greatly, so I stopped cold. It sucked for about a week. Then Immediately when the after effects of the booze cleared,I was hooked. Not only was I exhausted by the days end, and I actually got  some form of sleep, but I had structure. I had a regimen again. I knew this, it was exactly what my mind and body needed. Already in school I pursued this as a career at the same time as working my ass of to train eat breath and bleed the exacting regiments he assigned me. 

I believe,we thrive on challenge, we need a mission. What better mission then to work on ourselves to be at our fittest and healthiest to our last breath. 

To be our best we must try to keep our body toxin free. We must fuel our body with quality nutrition. Whole foods that are essential to not only our health and body's muscles, but to our mind. By just adding in essential fatty acids our neurochemistry starts to work the way it was always meant to. The fog lifts and our energy becomes regulated, our head is clear. We think and feel better. Omega 3s DHA EPA have been shown to have a huge impact improving depression and depressive disorders. We don't produce this nutrient - we must get it from food or supplemental resource. Complete protein is also essential, we are a protein feeding machine and require it not only for recovery and building but but also for numerous biological functions. We do not store it like fat or carbs for later, so we must eat it frequently. Complex carbohydrates keep our training performance maximized, our muscles full and muscle in recovery and gain. To top all this off, drink water!! Notsoda juice or energy drinks. Water is essential and keep all the above mentioned in working performance benefit. Nothing out there on the shelves or on the web can replace real food and H2O.

Making this choice the choice of health over sickness, of happiness over despair, of worth over self-doubt all began with basics. Basic food, basic activity, basic priorities.

So make YOUR choice. Choose life! Choose a healthy active and progressive you! 

Advantage Fitness Ltd. 

Jed Wightman SPN CSCS 

www.advantagefitness.us 

Empowerment - Independence - Success  

Purpose

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Purpose

Many of us go through life wondering whether we made a difference or not and we ask ourselves what's my purpose? During my service as a U.S. Marine I had a purpose and believed I was making a difference in this world. I never joined for the money or recognition. I joined because I wanted to serve and once I did I realized that I was part of something much great than myself. My chest stuck out a little more more, I had a strut in my step and was proud to tell people who I was. My life was fulfilled because I was serving my country and the needs of others rather than just for myself. I was surrounded by like minded men and women who strived to be better than they were yesterday. We supported and sharpened one another and more importantly we set our differences aside in order to work together and accomplish our objectives. 

Once my contract was up I was ready to take on the world and had so much ambition and optimism. I did not think about my purpose, surrounding myself with the right people or feeding my mind with the right knowledge. As any stubborn Marine thought, I would just get out and do! Well as many of you may be aware life grabs a hold of you and doesn't care were you come from, who you are or where you are going. For some of us life can be full of despair and my life was no different. It seemed that the farther away I was from my time as an active duty Marine the more I lost my way. My optimism began to dwindle away and I became angry. My ambition and zeal turned into a drive just to survive. The standards of my life began to lower and I was making excuses to live the way I thought I should live. I truly felt like my world was crumbling, but because of what was in me, the character and leadership traits that were forged in me during my service to my country I fought to survive.

There is a difference between being alive and living. Clearly, I was just alive and I needed to change that.  In my journey I have realized that my purpose is not what I do but what I live. What I do on daily basis should feed my purpose. When I realized this things began to change for me. I felt like I woke up from a monotonous dream and was able to see clearer. Identifying your purpose is a process in of itself. It's about feeding your mind, body and spirit with those things that build  you up, which requires you to remove distractions. I decided that anything in my life that would hinder my growth in any way would be cut out. I quickly learned that time management wasn't about making time for more things, instead it was about making time for what was important to me. Prioritizing become efficient because I was able to identify those things that wasted my time and quickly removed them from my day. But, the biggest change in my life was my perspective.

As I fed my mind with purposeful information I began to discover that while I may not be able to change my circumstances I can change my perspective of them. John Assaraf said "If you want to change your results don't focus on changing your behaviors instead focus on changing your beliefs that drive your behavior." This statement spoke to me on multiple levels, because I realized that my destructive behavior that I felt entitled to was a belief. I believed that I needed an outlet for my frustration, anger and disappointment. More specifically I was entitled to whatever outlet would help me numb the pain in my life, which led me to being destructive. You see, I never dealt with the real issues in my life instead I acted out and shut everyone and everything out. What I thought I was doing was persevering, instead I was in survival mode and it prevented me from experiencing life. Perseverance is defined as continued effort or steadfastness to achieve something despite opposition. How can I persevere when my actions were causing destruction? The mind is very complicated and when we attempt to shut off from the pain we actually shut off from everything else and miss out on the wonderful things God has placed in our life. It goes back to perspective and we need to focus on the blessings in our life instead of all the negative, even when we think the negative out weights the positive.

 In order to identify our purpose we need to experience the good and the bad. I truly believe that God gave us emotion to experience life and to learn. Our perspective determines the path we take and we need to have the perspective that in the midst of our obstacles lives opportunity and that is how we grow. This opens our hearts and minds to identify what we are made for. What I experienced through my obstacles, and frankly still experience, can be summed up in one word, fear. I feared the unknown, fear of failure, fear God wound't answer my prayers, fear of (fill in the blank). We need to face our fear, overcome it, and not give into it. Instead we need to feed our purpose and surround ourselves with positive reinforcements. "Fear blinds you from the very thing that can save you." - Willie George.

Omar Fuentes - Semper Fi Project

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