Be Grateful While You Still Have The Time To Be

Where else to start but from the beginning. Here goes.

I’m S.E. and I’m a husband, a father, a brother, an uncle, a writer, and a veteran among other roles I’ve taken up.

I grew up on a small island country in the Pacific called the Republic of Palau, population just over 18,000. It’s a great place to grow up for many reasons, including year-round tropical weather and a tight-knit community.

Photo by Pixabay on

However, like most places, it’s not all sunsets and palm trees like you see in the photo. There are social and economic classes, and rules and norms that we either abide by or get treated as outsiders.

High School Years

Ironically, “Outsiders” was my name of my high school’s basketball and volleyball team. Also, in junior varsity, the word “Shasta” was printed on the back of our basketball shorts—across the buttocks area. I’m not exactly sure why, but the soft drink Shasta was pretty popular back then. My favorite flavor was Dr. Shasta. What’s yours?

Along with basketball, I played volleyball and tennis during my youth. I was pretty good at all three. During junior year I was selected to play for the junior national basketball team; unfortunately, the games were canceled because of a typhoon. I also represented my country in tennis from 7th grade until sophomore year.

I attended a private Christian academy from kindergarten until my junior year. In 2004, I transferred to the local public high school where I finished up my last year. I had literally grown up with many of my classmates from the Christian academy and I was very sad when I realized I had to change schools. The reason I transferred is a whole ‘nother story in itself.

After High School Years

After graduation, I impregnated my future wife, lost my mother to an illness she’d been battling for many years, and moved in with my grandma. I had actually been moving back and forth from my dad’s and my grandma’s during senior year.

I washed and vacuumed rental cars for money, worked as an assistant tour guide for money, sold fish for money, hunted for money. I pretty much tried to hustle my way through life, unsuccessfully.

I was becoming a drain on my father’s bank account and was taking advantage of my grandma’s maternal instincts. Basically, I was a grown-a** child with a baby on the way. He, my baby, was born 5 months after my mom passed.

Photo via Good Free Photos

Uncle Sam Comes A-Knocking

Enter Uncle Sam and the U.S. Army. I was the perfect target for the Army recruiters. Jobless. Broke. And desperate. The $1,000 signing bonus was all it took for me to put my signature on the enlistment contract. Yes. $1,000!

I felt like an idiot when I arrived at basic combat training and realized that some of my fellow soldiers got up to $10,000 and got to choose their duty stations after completing training—but I digress.

I made it through basic combat training and advance individual training and ended up stationed at Fort Lewis, WA (now called Joint Base Lewis-McChord or JBLM). My wife and son joined me here in the Pacific Northwest in 2007, followed by my little sister in 2008. My beautiful daughters joined our family in 2008 and 2011.

I was medically discharged from the Army in 2009. I spent the following 10+ years raising a family, making memories (both good and bad), learning from mistakes after making them multiple times, fighting past demons (I’m still fighting by the way), on top of dealing with an illness of my own.

Photo by Kim Stiver on

Time is the Ultimate Present

Just over a year ago, I received the gift of life from a generous stranger. The ultimate “Good Samaritan” who made the ultimate sacrifice to give the ultimate gift. I keep this gift in my lower right abdomen and it reminds me everyday to be grateful.

I face the ultimate dilemma, however. I’m sure you would agree that it’s quite rude to not thank someone who has given you a gift, especially one that has saved your life. So, how do I go about doing this?

Well, that’s one of the main reasons I’ve decided to do this blog. I’ve come to realize that (cliche warning) life is short and the most valuable currency is time. I will honor my benefactor by honoring the time I’ve been gifted.

I feel like the movie “In Time” starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, encapsulates my life almost perfectly. For many years, while struggling with my illness, I would fall in and out of depression and self loathing while I watched the countdown clock of my life tick down. Believe me, it’s no way to live. Then one day a perfect stranger gifted me all this extra time before they “timed out.”

This is my second chance and I’m determined not to waste it. Some people have asked me what I plan to do post-transplant. Some have suggested getting a job or going back to college to pursue a career. Job? No thank you. College? Why not, but not in pursuit of a career though.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on

Writing My Next Chapter

I’ve decided to pursue what I loved as a child—art, writing, music. Pretty much all the creative things that fascinated my much younger self. After a bunch of college classes, online classes, and YouTube videos, I’ve discovered that writing is what makes me excited to get out of bed every morning. No more snoozing that alarm.

Sometimes we spend too much time longing for the past or looking to the future when we should be focused on the present. Steps we take right now will determine our #future. #BeGrateful

If it leads to a career, great! But I prefer to look at it as my calling. Think about it. Now I may be wrong, but, doesn’t it seem at times like most of our happiest memories are behind us. Sometimes we spend too much time longing for the past or looking to the future when we should be focused on the present. Steps we take right now will determine our future.

Somewhere along the way many of us decided that our childhood dreams are just fantasies, so we have to be realistic because this is the “real world.”

Featured Image by Pexels

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