All posts by eddiemgarcia

Mark Your Calendar!

Book cover design and artwork by Erica García ~ proyectoxtra.com

***MARK YOUR CALENDAR***

June 7, 2022

The book will be available in paperback and on Kindle.

***

BOOK SYNOPSIS

My mind swirled with random thoughts that ranged from doom to confusion to relief. Could I be having a heart attack? We got to the elevator in the hospital and went down one floor. When the elevator doors opened, we raced across the lobby straight into the emergency room, where I arrived at 7:41 p.m. Three doctors wearing white smocks waited for us. Within seconds, I got my answer. One of the doctors said, in a calm and matter-of-fact voice, “Mr. García, you’re having a heart attack.” ~ June 7, 2010 (page 90)

***

Summer in the Waiting Room is Eddie García’s true story about youthful promise, unfulfilled potential, temporary success, catastrophic illness, and spiritual awakening. After flunking out of college, he goes on a frenetic quest to vanquish failure demons and achieves short-lived vindication through college graduation and career accomplishments. A sudden heart attack and rare lung complication lead to a hopeless summer clinging to life in the ICU. In the end, he goes on a spiritual journey that leads to a remarkable recovery and long-lasting redemption. 

Readers who face desperate situations will be inspired by Eddie’s story. Many families turn to prayer to help them endure devastating setbacks. Summer in the Waiting Room is a detailed and inspiring story about how a near death experience, modern medicine, and faith in God converge to nourish one family’s optimism in faith, hope, and love. 

Eddie’s experience as an ICU patient gives readers a firsthand account of what it takes to survive a life-threatening health crisis. He uses medical records and personal interviews to create a fast-paced narrative about how his life story led to a frightening and ultimately uplifting summer. Eddie brings to life his carefree youth, personal struggles, professional success, and courageous fight for life. Summer in the Waiting Room is sure to bring smiles and hope to those who feel hopeless.

***

Eddie García ~ 2022

Eddie García is a heart attack and heart transplant survivor. In 2010, a massive blockage in an artery referred to as the “widow maker” led to a decade of living with  congestive heart failure. A successful heart transplant in 2020 inspired him to tell his story. He is the author of ESEReport.com, a blog that shares his experiences as a working-class kid, public servant, corporate executive, and heart attack survivor to uplift readers with faith, hope, and love. Eddie lives in San Jose, California with his wife Sandra. They have two grown daughters, Marisa and Erica. (Photo by Buggsy Malone ~ @buggsy_malone_13)

Hail, Spartans, Hail!

Iconic Tower Hall ~ San Jose State University

Summer in the Waiting Room: Faith • Hope • Love

Chapter 5: Hail, Spartans, Hail!

Registration day at San Jose State was overwhelming. Thousands of people waited in long lines to sign up for classes at the tables spread out on the large lawn of the main quad. The university’s iconic ivy-covered tower stood guard over the entire scene. That first semester, I took a full load of courses that included science, math, history, English, and of course basketball for physical education.

At school, I was on my own. Professors didn’t constantly remind students to complete reading assignments, homework didn’t have to be submitted on a daily basis, and there were just a few midterm and final exams. Since I loved to read, this was going to be easier than I thought, so I paid more attention to developing a social life as a college student. After classes, I read a little bit at the library, then walked over to the student center looking to meet people. Unlike in high school, however, I was having a hard time making friends. SJSU was a commuter college, so the students were, on average, older than traditional college students. Everyone seemed busy, serious, and in a hurry to leave campus. I was still seventeen years old.

Fortunately, football season was in full swing. I went back to the comfort of the cocoon and used my status as a student to get cheap tickets for my friends. They were either working or trying to figure out what to do in their next phase of life. At Spartan Stadium, we crashed tailgate parties, checked out girls, and watched college football. In the stands, we acted like a bunch of drunken hooligans cheering the team onto victory. SJSU won the conference championship that year. With fists pumping in the air, we shouted in unison with the student section, “Hail, Spartans, hail!” Viewmont Avenue and the surrounding neighborhood had gone to college.

Soon I began to leave campus right after classes like the other commuter students, bypassing the library and student center. I went straight home to read before I went to work at the shoe store. On days off, I got together with the guys to drink beer and hang out. My academic performance was predictable. I earned a B in history and English, an A in PE, and dropped the math and science classes to avoid failing grades. I registered for a full load of five classes the next semester, adding a Spanish class to my schedule of general education courses. I took classes haphazardly rather than for a declared major or a specific road map toward graduation.

One night while drinking at a friend’s house, a former schoolmate, who I’m sure was envious of me, told everyone there that I was wasting my time going to college. I was meant to be a working stiff like everyone else from the neighborhood, he said. Drunk and depressed, I believed every word.

When the third semester of college came to an end, my academic career at San Jose State collapsed. The bright future that my parents, teachers, and many others had predicted had vanished. San Jose State University sent a certified letter to inform me that I had been academically disqualified from the university. I flunked out. There was no cocoon to protect me. I now had to find a way to protect myself from the cocoon. With my self-worth completely eroded, I dove deeper into the abyss of self-destruction.

Next time: My life continues to spiral in another excerpt from Chapter 5…

Leaving the Cocoon (Part 2)

Co-Captains, James Lick High School Varsity Baseball ~ 1981

Summer in the Waiting Room: Faith • Hope • Love

Chapter 4: Leaving the Cocoon

Outside the safe confines of Viewmont Avenue, I lived in two different worlds. While in class in high school, I was with the smart kids, learning about algebra, geometry, biology, and Shakespeare. After school, I was either working part time at Kinney Shoes or running around with my best friend Rudy and the guys. At first, this arrangement worked out just fine as I figured out how to straddle the different social circles. But, I began to feel like I didn’t fit into either. To avoid looking like such a geek to my neighborhood friends, I did homework less frequently and didn’t walk everywhere with my books under my arm. Fortunately, I was good at taking tests to keep my report card slightly better than average. To maintain my place with the popular quad dwellers, I focused on basketball and baseball so I could be one of the “big men on campus.”

My substandard performance in the classroom finally caught up to me when I met with the school guidance counselor during the spring of senior year to discuss options after graduation. His name was Russell Bailey. Mr. Bailey was a portly Irish man in his late fifties with piercing blue-green eyes, thinning black hair slicked back so it looked like it was stuck to his scalp, and a large head holding thick jowls that hung from his face. Sitting behind his desk and talking in a booming voice, he looked and sounded intimidating as he opened my file and began to lay out my options. He told me that my poor study skills, a mediocre 2.72 grade point average, and an average SAT score left me with few options other than trade school, work, or maybe community college. I sat in front of his desk stunned, scared, and confused. Everything had always worked out for me. I told Mr. Bailey that my parents, friends, siblings, everyone, expected me to attend college. I quietly listened as he bluntly told me that community college was the only option.

Later that evening at dinner, while sitting around the round kitchen table, I shared the results of the meeting with Mr. Bailey with my parents. Mom looked at me with a puzzled facial expression. Dad continued eating without looking up from his plate or saying a word. I went to bed that night with a huge lump in my stomach trying to figure out how I was going to avoid my parents in the morning.

The next day at school, during the midmorning break, I was at the table with the guys when a voice over the public address system directed me to go to the office immediately. As I nervously walked to the office, the boys at the table playfully teased me because it looked like the schoolboy had finally gotten into trouble. When I arrived, the secretary motioned toward Mr. Bailey’s office, where he was standing by the door waiting for me with a forced smile on those heavy jowls. Walking into the office, I found my dad sitting in the chair I had sat in the day before. His face beamed with the same smile that had attracted my mom so many years before. I was more confused and nervous than ever. Dad never took a day off work. I stood motionless, trying to figure out what was going on. Mr. Bailey explained to me that my grade point average and SAT scores met the minimum requirements to apply for acceptance to San Jose State University. He was prepared to help me with the application process. Once again, the cocoon saved me. I was on my way to college, but with major chinks in the armor that had protected me throughout my life.

Next Time: ~ Chapter 5: Hail, Spartans, Hail!

Leaving the Cocoon

Safely in the cocoon with my big sister Barbara – late 1960s

Summer in the Waiting Room: Faith • Hope • Love

Chapter 4: Leaving the Cocoon

 I was about four years old and playing in the front yard. Those were the days when parents didn’t seem worried that their kids were running around in front of the house. I remember playing on the grass and eyeing the old two-toned orange-and-white Ford Mercury sitting in the narrow one-car driveway, thinking about driving just like my dad. As the car sat majestically in the driveway, I thought about how strong and important I would look behind the wheel. When I noticed my mom had left the kitchen window, probably to go to the refrigerator to take food out for dinner, I darted to the car and struggled to open the heavy driver’s side door. I then jumped onto the bench seat behind the steering wheel and started off on my imaginary road trip.

As I spread my arms wide to maneuver the big round steering wheel, I strained my neck as high as I could so that my little head peeked over the dashboard to see the road ahead. Eyeing the gearshift on the steering column, I was ready to kick into high gear just like my dad would do to send this big hunk of metal roaring down the highway. There was just one problem. Our driveway sat on a slight incline. As I grabbed the gearshift to make my move, the car started moving—backward!

The car rolled back slowly off the driveway until it came to a complete stop in the middle of the street. I sat in the car, not sure what to do next. My mom screamed from the kitchen window and dashed out the front door to save her baby boy. My dad stood on the front lawn laughing. This may have been the first indication that I was willing to take a risk to get what I wanted. This was my life in the cocoon at 48 Viewmont Avenue. I was lucky to have others around to keep the neighborhood safe and secure. 

When I started junior high school in the sixth grade, I realized that the world outside Viewmont Avenue wasn’t very safe. I was the target of an eighth-grade bully who would hide behind a post or a wall at school and jump in front of me to keep me from getting to class on time. After being marked tardy a few times, I figured that I better do something about it, or I would be in trouble with the school and with my parents.

Preparing for my confrontation, I rallied the neighborhood kids to be at my side so my chances of surviving would be better off, especially if I ended up on the losing end of the battle. The next day at school, as expected, the bully jumped out from behind a wall and started toward me. I was scared and nervous but prepared myself for the first scuffle of my life outside the roughhousing I took from Stevie from time to time. When the bully saw that my defenses had suddenly multiplied, he backed off quickly and ran the other way. I learned from that adventure outside the cocoon. Walking to school and class with a few friends every day became a good habit. I dodged a bullet, but my days in the protective cocoon of Viewmont Avenue would come to an end sooner or later.

Next Time ~ Chapter 5: Hail Spartans Hail…

Growing Up García

Easter Sunday at 48 Viewmont Avenue – 1969

Summer in the Waiting Room: Faith • Hope • Love

Chapter 3: Growing Up García

My siblings and I were part of two families from the same parents. Let me explain what I mean. The first four were born in the early 1950s. My little sister and I came more than a decade later. David, the oldest, was the patriarch of the kids. Barbara turned twelve years old a couple of months after I was born. Patty was born eighteen months after Barbara. Steve, the youngest of my four older siblings and the baby of my parents “first” family, was born a year after Patty. He’s older than I am by nine years. My little sister Sisi and I make up my parents’ “second” family. According to our older siblings, she and I had it easy. Oh well. Lucky for me and Sisi. 

Dad gave us the lifelong love of reading, learning, and listening to music. The tight shelf space in my parents’ bedroom was stacked with paperbacks and periodicals. Every edition of National Geographic magazine published since the mid-1950s was displayed on a homemade shelf for all to see. In the dining room, he had the record player and cassette player in a place of prominence, surrounded by albums that included Tex-Mex, mariachi, other genres of Mexican music, and the standards—Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Nat King Cole. He came home from work every day shortly after 5:00 p.m. with the evening edition of the San Jose Mercury News tucked under his arm. We had to be prepared at dinner to be peppered with questions about the day’s world and local events. When we gathered around the kitchen table for the holidays as adults, he would sit at the counter looking into the kitchen with a highball of whiskey and water in hand. Without warning, Dad would make a controversial philosophical or political statement. He sat back with a mischievous grin and watched his educated kids flare up in heated debate.

Mom, on the other hand, was the epitome of the warm and loving maternal parent. She taught us about unconditional love, faith, compassion, and perseverance. Even during the last days before her death in 2003, she remained strong in her convictions and her belief that every day being alive is a good day. While any indiscretion on our part would be met with Dad’s scowls and rebukes, Mom reacted with gentle counsel and loving support, urging us to do better the next time. She was our biggest cheerleader, encouraging us to be the best we could be. After all those years of watching me play sports, I’m not sure if Mom really understood the complexities of the games, but I do know that she cheered every time it looked like I did something good. Every morning, she reminded us that the day would be good. As long as the sun came up and God gave us another day, all would be well. After each meal, she insisted that we say, “Thank you, God,” and she encouraged us to pray “Our Father” before bedtime.

Next time ~ Chapter 4: Leaving the Cocoon

48 Viewmont Avenue

Sitting on my big brother’s car on Viewmont Avenue – circa 1971

Summer in the Waiting Room: Faith • Hope • Love

Chapter 2: 48 Viewmont Avenue

The first 27 years of my life were marked and influenced by events in and around my parents’ modest house on 48 Viewmont Avenue in east San Jose. The neighborhood was a classic working-class community of small houses on small lots with neatly mowed lawns and little flower gardens. The development of houses was on the edge of the east side of town that once thrived with orchards. Just a short walk a few blocks away was the Alum Rock Village, a row of mom and pop markets, a liquor store, bakery, hair salon, barbershop, and assorted small businesses that included a feed and fuel that served the remnants of a bygone agricultural community. 

Like our family, our neighbors were also in pursuit of the American Dream. Breadwinners provided for their families by working as electricians, landscapers, construction workers, and machine shop operators. The women worked mostly at the canneries and supplemented the family’s income by cleaning houses, providing child care, or caring for seniors. The neighborhood around Viewmont Avenue was like a small town on the fringes of a growing city. For me, it had everything I needed and wanted. I felt happy, safe, and comfortable there. It was home.

My oldest sister Barbara said later in life that “we had an idyllic upbringing on Viewmont Avenue. Mom and dad created a cocoon that protected us from all of the bad things in the world.” My parents made sure that school was a priority and provided me and my siblings with the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities. The girls participated in swimming, cheerleading, color guard, and Girl Scouts. It was Little League, Boy Scouts, and Pop Warner football for the boys. That was the life of the 1950s and 1960s television genre that dad yearned for after listening to the stories about growing up American from his friends in the navy.

The protective shell my parents built kept the bad influences out by keeping us away from people or situations that could be harmful. When they hosted family parties, a long night of hard-drinking could lead to tense conditions that had the potential to end up in a fight. Mom quietly ushered us away from the party to our bedrooms to keep us sheltered from the unfolding drama. They also worked to protect us from the evils of the outside world. When I was in elementary school, I walked home past some older cool-looking kids hanging out under the trees at the back fence of campus. Sometimes they waved me over to join them. My parents warned that under no circumstance should I ever venture out to the fence. As I got older, I realized that the boys were sniffing glue and paint to get high. Many of those kids didn’t get through high school. A few of them joined gangs and either died violently or found a permanent home in prison.  

At 48 Viewmont Avenue, we had a clear code of conduct and value system from which we were expected to manage our lives. Dad was no nonsense and no frills. He taught us, through counsel and by way of example, to work hard, play by the rules, and have respect for ourselves and others. There was no variation from this formula. Any lack of respect and decorum, especially in public, would immediately lead to a non-verbal response. Dad stared at us with a stern look and furrowed brow followed by pursed lips, closed eyes, and a slow shake of the head in disapproval.

To be continued…

Baby García # 5

Baby García # 5

Summer in the Waiting Room: Faith • Hope • Love

Chapter 1: Baby García # 5 

The sky was clear and the weather was in the low 50s, a typical crisp November night in San Jose, California. That night and early the next morning wouldn’t be ordinary at all for my mom and dad. They raced through the night in their two-toned orange and white 1955 Mercury on northbound U.S. Highway 101. Not saying a word to each other, both wondered how they were going to make ends meet now that another mouth to feed would soon be added to the family. 

Mom and Dad  grew up in poor single-mother households. Now with a family of their own, they were just getting by. They lived check to check on dad’s postal worker salary and mom’s odd jobs cleaning houses and working in the canneries. The little creature in her belly causing her so much pain and discomfort would be their fifth child. The proud parents-to-be were excited and happy as the Mercury pulled into the hospital parking lot. 

Dad jumped out of the car to walk mom into the emergency room. Wearing a camel colored coat and carrying a small overnight bag, she waddled up the steps to the hospital and breathlessly slumped herself onto a waiting wheelchair. As was the custom in that era, nurses rushed my mom into the maternity room to await the doctor who would deliver the baby and told my dad to wait outside. Hospital volunteers showed him the way to the waiting room to join other nervous, expectant fathers who were smoking up a storm as they paced the floor.

In the delivery room all was going well. When the baby was finally born, the doctor gently gave the newborn the obligatory slap on the backside and waited for the familiar wails of a new life catching its breath for the first time. The doctor cut the umbilical cord and the nurses wiped the baby clean before swaddling it and allowing my tired, but happy, mom to cuddle her baby for the first time. As the doctor completed one last check of vital signs, the baby slipped out of his arms and banged its face against the metal railing of the bed. A nurse broke the baby’s fall and prevented a disastrous accident. The baby screamed in pain as the nurses and doctors worked to stop the bleeding that had emerged from the baby’s face. Luckily, that scary incident only resulted in a small scar at the tip of the newborn’s nose.

That baby with the cut on his nose was me, born on November 6, 1963, at 5:25 AM at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, California. I was the third García boy, 19 inches long, 7.2 pounds, with dark brown eyes, and lots of thick dark hair. My parents were excited and relieved, especially after the brief scare in the delivery room. That little scar at the tip of my nose would forever find a special place in my mom’s heart.

At home, my brothers and sisters, David 12, Barbara 11, Patty 10, and Steve 9, were still asleep unaware of what happened earlier that morning. When dad burst through the front door of his modest house on 48 Viewmont Avenue in east San Jose, his four older children suddenly woke up and rushed to meet him to hear the good news.  

He stood at the counter that separated the kitchen from the dining room and excitedly told his kids about “Eddie’s” chubby cheeks and thick black hair, and how he slipped, and cut his nose. After a few minutes of taking questions, my dad turned to the heavy black phone sitting on the counter and started dialing to call everyone he knew.

To be continued…

Faith

With Mom on her front porch – circa 2000

Summer in the Waiting Room: Faith • Hope • Love

Part 1: Faith – November 6, 1963 ~ June 6, 2010 

When I was a kid, mom taught us to say, “thank you God, and thank you mom” after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Of course, I understood why I was thanking mom. She cooked the meals. The reason for thanking God never really dawned on me. I thought it was a ritual like everything else about church: sitting and standing at the appropriate times, praying the “Our Father,” taking Communion, and reciting responses after the priest gave a blessing. For mom, the words had deep meaning. Through the course of any given day, you could hear her say, “si Dios quiere” (God willing), “gracias a Dios” (thank God), and “Dios te bendiga” (God bless you). These expressions of devotion were part of every discussion she had with someone. They weren’t mere clichés to her. She was patient, understanding, and thoughtful no matter the situation, good or bad. Mom was a woman who put herself in God’s hands. 

As I grew older and more financially secure, I started to notice the beautiful simplicity of her life. I found time to visit her in the morning on the way to work almost every Friday. I loved to see her eyes brighten and her smile broaden when she opened the door. A warm hug greeted me before she escorted me to the kitchen to fix a plate of papas (fried potatoes), two over-easy eggs, a cup of coffee, and warm tortillas. Mom loved to hear about my week and shared news about my brothers and sisters. Her children and grandchildren were her prized “possessions.” When my siblings and I bought “nice” homes and filled them with “nice things” (her words), she beamed with pride. When she passed away, she had the same round kitchen table, simple living room furniture, basic dinette, and plain bedroom set that I remember as a boy. She appreciated every bit of it. I never heard her yearn for more or complain about what she didn’t have. 

Mom genuinely believed that to live a happy and fulfilling life, one has to be truly thankful for all that God has provided. My guess is that she had a happy and fulfilling life. The struggles of living and the heartbreak of losing loved ones didn’t deter her from being grateful. She didn’t know her father. She grieved when she lost my grandma, dad, and older sister. She wasn’t surrounded with “nice things.” She never visited the places she dreamed about. Nevertheless, she was truly thankful for what she had and appreciated every day of life God gave to her. 

Faith is a powerful ride-or-die partner to have by your side, especially while riding the roller coaster we call life. I’ve been on quite a ride myself, most of it without the guardrails of faith and gratitude. The highs and lows and twists and turns of my story resemble a wild ride on the Giant Dipper, a whitewashed wooden 1920s era roller coaster with bright red tracks that dominates the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. When I was a kid, we used to simply call it “The Roller Coaster.” Getting on The Roller Coaster was my all-time favorite thing to do every time my family went to Santa Cruz, which is about a 45-minute drive from where I grew up.

On June 7, 2010, Sandra and I were approaching our 20th wedding anniversary, our two daughters were healthy and happy, and I had achieved success in my career. It felt like being on top of the world. Like the Giant Dipper’s next move after reaching its climactic peak, my life would soon make an abrupt and furious downward turn and plummet toward its lowest depths.  That summer, I embarked on a quest to understand faith the way my mom understood it.

Find Your Flow

Pre-Gaming Niners vs. Packers – December 22, 2022

“Of all the virtues we can learn, no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Hungarian-American Psychologist and Author

***

January 22, 2022 ~ Telling stories has always been part of my nature. English teachers at James Lick High School gave me a strong foundation. At San Jose State University, my historical research and methods professor hammered home the point that writing is a craft that requires hard work and dedication. With infectious enthusiasm, her lectures inspired me to understand that every word, every phrase, every punctuation mark can make a story come to life. I was hooked. 

Needless to say, I love to write. On Saturday, I was going through my ritual of preparing for the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Green Bay Packers playoff  game. A pair of old worn jeans, vintage Jeff Garcia jersey, snapback baseball cap, Niners socks: CHECK. Game day snack menu: CHECK. Watching CNN, and chatting with Sandra and Marisa as the hours and minutes slowly ticked by: CHECK. Then, out of nowhere, the writing bug hit me. 

Game preparations came to an abrupt end! When it’s time to write, I gotta write. Inspired by Professor Erma Eichhorn, I lovingly caress every word, every phrase, every punctuation mark in my effort to bring life to my thoughts. Sitting behind the laptop puts me in a Zen-like state. Nothing else seems to matter. Luckily, I finished before kickoff. I was fully present and excited when the Niners won with a last-second field goal!

Oak Grove High School – April 10, 2018

April 10, 2018 ~ The Oak Grove High School gym was packed. Seated in chairs placed on the floor were some 200 East Side Union High School District Latino and Latina students being honored for academic achievement. Another 1,000 or so parents, family members, and friends filled the cavernous space. Even though I no longer served on the school board, the event organizers invited me to be the keynote speaker.

Public speaking is something I enjoy doing. Like writing, I found my passion for making speeches in college. The oral communications professor was an amazing communicator himself. With clarity and precision, he taught the importance of organization and speaking without notes. Perhaps his best advice was to speak from the heart once a structured outline is in place. During senior year, I sharpened those skills by tutoring freshmen students in his public speaking course.

When I stepped up to the mic at the East Side awards ceremony, my prepared outline was seared into my mind. The purpose of my remarks was to inspire students to embrace their dreams and work hard to achieve them. Thinking back to when I was their age as an East Side student, I put myself in their shoes. With laser focus, I talked for about 15 minutes. It was as if no one else was in that gym but me and each student. All went quiet in my mind until applause signaled the end. 

Eye-to-eye with Steve Poizner – March 30, 2010

March 30, 2010 ~ A Republican multi-millionaire tech executive named Steve Poizner scheduled a campaign event at Mt. Pleasant High School to announce the publication of his book, Mount Pleasant: My Journey from Creating a Billion-Dollar Company to Teaching at a Struggling Public High School. The book is about his experience teaching one class for one semester at the school. It was a vehicle to launch his education reform campaign.

As president of the East Side Union High School District board, I sent a letter to Poizner prohibiting him from visiting Mt. Pleasant for campaign purposes, citing California law. The book was filled with negative stereotypes about Latino kids and students in general from the east side. The community was in an uproar and planned to protest the candidate’s scheduled book signing later in the evening.

There was a mix of tension and anticipation outside of Barnes & Noble bookstore in Eastridge Mall. About 100 students, staff, and community members gathered there to take a stand against the book and its author. As Poizner approached the side entrance to the store, I asked him to justify his critical portrayal of our students. Unimpressed by his meaningless campaign talking points, I listened intently anyway, unaware of  news reporters that crowded around us. 

***

Hungarian American psychologist and author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi could have described my state of mind in all three examples above as a “Flow State.” In his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, he introduces the theory that “flow” is a mental state in which a person is fully focused on an activity with “energy, full involvement, and enjoyment.” Athletes call this being in a zone. Forty Niners kicker Robbie Gould was in a zone when he made a high pressure field goal to win the game on Saturday.

Flow can be an antidote to anxiety and boredom. According to Csikszentmihalyi, it’s also a secret to happiness. He wrote, “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” It can be anything that you’re passionate about. That’s when we’re happiest, his research shows.

I’ve written extensively on this blog about my 10-year struggle with heart failure and my emotional challenges related to post-transplant life. I’m pretty sure I was in a zone throughout the heart failure years. I was hyper-focused on eating a low fat low salt diet, taking medication as prescribed, and exercising no matter how tired I was. Despite the all-consuming nature of living with heart failure, I can say that I was pretty content during that time.

Transplant recovery and Covid isolation have been especially hard for me. My state of mind thrives on social interaction and withers in seclusion. When doing activities like those shared above, I’m definitely in a zone and in good spirits. Finding my flow has been elusive for at least two years. That’s been frustrating and dispiriting. Doing research, jotting down stories, and thinking about this post just might be the inspiration I’m looking for.

I find joy in writing, public speaking, and fighting for causes that are important to me. What better way to find my flow again than to do just that? In the coming weeks, I plan to finish writing the manuscript of my memoir, Summer in the Waiting Room: Faith, Hope, Love. The story is about how a heart attack, modern medicine, and faith in God converge to nourish an amazing spiritual journey. I hope to speak to individuals, small gatherings, and large groups about causes that matter to me: heart disease, faith, hope, and love.

I’ll move forward on this project much wiser. I no longer have the insatiable hunger to be “successful.” I’ve learned that working myself to the brink of death isn’t noble. Writing my story has taken more than seven years. Each word, each phrase, each sentence has been massaged with love, patience, and care. My goal for the Summer in the Waiting Room project is simple. I hope to educate readers about heart failure and inspire them to give faith a chance. 

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi believed that anyone can achieve flow. He said that, “inducing flow is about the balance between the level of skill and the size of the challenge at hand.” It’s important to note that flow isn’t about work. It’s doing something that you’re passionate about. Go ahead, find your flow. It just might decrease your anxiety, free you from boredom, and help you discover happiness.

***

To read about the Steve Poizner incident, see the April 1, 2010 Los Angeles Times article below:

https://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2010/04/poizner-protested-at-book-signing-in-san-jose.html

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

COMING SOON! 

Summer in the Waiting Room: Faith, Hope, Love, by Eddie García

The Comeback Kid

Final anti-rejection treatment at Kaiser Infusion Center – December 31, 2021

We also glory in our sufferings, because we realize that suffering develops perseverance, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope. ~ Romans 5:3-4

Thus there are three things that endure: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13

***

Candidate Bill Clinton only received 2.8% of the vote in Iowa when he ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 1992. After polls showed that he was way behind in the New Hampshire primary election, he came back to win second place there. He confidently styled himself “The Comeback Kid.” He went on to win the nomination and the presidency in one of the biggest political comebacks in history.

By no stretch of anyone’s imagination am I like Bill Clinton. Nevertheless, I’ve had a few comebacks of my own. After flunking out of college in 1983, I returned to make the Dean’s List when I graduated in 1994. Following a school board election defeat in 2008, I was appointed as a school district trustee and elected board president in 2010. A severe health crisis that summer put me into the ICU and weakened my body so much that I couldn’t sit up, stand, or walk when I woke up from an induced coma. I triumphantly strolled into my house 106 days later.

As 2021 comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the challenges of the past two years. A successful heart transplant quickly morphed into a grueling contest of wills between self-confidence and self-doubt. Faith strengthened by my spiritual journey, and wisdom gained from reading philosophy and participating in therapy have taught me how to manage the uncertainty that lurks in the recesses of my mind.

As my psyche continues to wage war against itself, I’m comforted by the fact that I now have the tools to regulate the forces of doubt and rally the power of confidence. As 20th-century French philosopher Albert Camus put it, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” With that said, a question that keeps rolling through my mind is: Do I have another comeback left in me? 

Ongoing issues with organ rejection, Covid isolation caused by immunosuppressive meds, and continuous conflict in my mind could be barriers to a successful revival. Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius gave us a solution for that. He wisely advised, “What stands in the way becomes the way.” Despite his wise words, I haven’t given much thought to what another comeback looks like. Until now.

I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. They start off as lofty and mostly unattainable goals that end up in a pile of empty promises. Many years ago, I participated in a corporate executive leadership program and learned how to craft a personal vision and mission statement. Since its objectives are measurable and achievable, I update my personal vision and mission every New Year’s Eve. I have a plan and I’m ready to take on 2022 with gusto.

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2022 Personal Vision and Mission Statements

My vision is to live a full life as a post-heart transplant patient.

My mission is to nourish my soul, body, and mind on a daily basis.

Objectives

Read the Gospel and say prayers of gratitude every day

Practice mindfulness and meditate every morning

Communicate with family and friends on a regular basis

Maintain a heart healthy diet

Drink 4 liters of water per day

Exercise a minimum of 5 times per week

Publish my memoir Summer in the Waiting Room 

Write a post on ESEReport.com every month

Read something of substance every day

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To be sure, I’ve endured a whole bunch of pain during the past decade or so. Suffering became a way of life for me by mid- 2021. Trying to make sense of my new world continues to test me in every way possible. St. Paul the Apostle teaches that suffering ultimately leads to hope in Romans 5:3-4 and his words in 1 Corinthians 13:13 give me confidence that faith, hope, and love will carry the day.

My objectives might not look realistic on paper, but I’ve been doing many of the activities on the list haphazardly for the past few months. Perhaps publishing Summer in the Waiting Room will complete a comeback. Maybe that’s a superficial way to measure success. Maybe not. Who knows? I know this much. Heart rejection or no rejection, Covid isolation or no isolation, confidence or doubt, I’m committed to taking it one day at a time. I won’t let anything stand in the way of a meaningful year. Whatever does will become the way. With faith, hope, and love, I just may be the Comeback Kid in 2022.

On behalf of Sandra, Marisa, and Erica, Happy New Year!