My Life According to…

Good Monday all!

Since I have picked up my blog and actually kept up with it this time, all my posts have weighed in on the heavy side. So, I thought today’s post would be a little bit more fun.

A few years ago, my college roommate introduced me to a ‘Note’ on Facebook  titled “My Life According to…” where Facebookers would answer questions only using names of songs from a musical artist of their choosing. When they were finished, they would tag their friends in the note to do the same.

When I first heard about this, I had just dived head first into Yellowcard, so of course I used their discography.

I would like to do this exercise again and share it with you all, but this time using my most recent favorite artist:

Pick your artist.
Paramore

Are you male or female?
Franklin

Describe yourself.
For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic

How do you feel?
Here We Go Again

Describe where you currently live.
All I Wanted

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
Where the Lines Overlap

Your favorite form of transportation.
Fast In My Car

Your best friend is:
The Only Exception

You and your best friends are:
Misguided Ghosts

What’s the weather like?
Looking Up

Favorite time of day.
When It Rains

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called?
Conspiracy

What is life to you?
Born For This

Your last relationship.
Misery Business

Your fear.
My Heart

How I would like to die.
Careful

My soul’s present condition.
We Are Broken

My motto:
Ain’t It Fun

My favorite question to answer (that ends up being spot on, too) was “Describe yourself.” Nowadays, it seems being realistic can be misconstrued as pessimism. For the most part, I like to think I’m pretty grounded in reality; however, I try to lean toward a positive spin on reality. Hence, “For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic.”

A few of those answers took me a bit to figure out (“How do you feel?”, “If your life was a TV show…”, “My motto”). There a few choices to choose from on all of those answers but I feel the ones I ended up choosing fit my current state of being the best.

Other than that, all the other answers seem to explain themselves pretty well. I very much enjoy all of the songs I chose and I encourage you all to look up and listen to a few if you would like.

So there you have it! My life according to Paramore!

Until next Monday!

Keep Fighting, Keep Breathing, Live Today, Say Tomorrow

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A Time to Stop and Thank

Good Monday all!

Obviously, this is no ordinary week. We are approaching the fourth Thursday in November which Franklin D. Roosevelt deemed a national holiday: Thanksgiving.

Every Sunday, I volunteer as a leader for a youth group, Summit County Youth (SCY). Last night, we celebrated Thanksgiving with the high school students before they travel to or await to see family and friends as they plan to share their gratitude together.

I felt like I was 8 years old again as we broke into small groups with the students and made hand turkeys. After we traced the outline of our hands, we wrote in each finger, or feather, different things we are grateful for.

We named something we are grateful for in the first; someone we are grateful for in the second; third, something fun; and anything else in the fourth and I would like to share with you this fine Monday morning what I am grateful for.

Something—Freedom/Opportunities: Not many people in this world have the luxury of living “care-free.” Of course we all have our concerns and worries at times, but most of us find ourselves in very fortunate circumstances. Living in the United States of America, we are considered “free,” in my opinion meaning: most of us have the opportunity to make life what we want it to be. We have our basic needs (food, water, shelter, love) met and our concerns become what we want to do with our lives. I believe this is a privilege most of us, including me at times, take for granted, and I wanted to extend my gratitude to the fortunate life I was born into: a life full of freedom and opportunity.

Someone—Phil Gallagher & Eric Mamula: Of course, most of the high school students defaulted to, “I’m thankful for my parents who have loved and cared and been there for me my entire life.” Although I am very thankful for both of my parents and the path they paved for me to live a flourishing and fulfilling life, I wanted to acknowledge other people (because I couldn’t choose just one) that have been a significant part of my life.

Phil is the director of SCY and has always extended his thoughts, prayers and helping hand whenever I needed it. As of late, I have reached out to him more than anyone for wisdom and advice through some difficult times I have faced and I could not be more grateful to have someone in my life who will never judge and always love me, for better or worse.

Eric is the owner of Downstairs at Eric’s, the sports bar of which I am one of the managers. I don’t think I will ever enjoy working for someone more than I do Eric. He has known me since I could barely walk and is a long time family friend but under that, he has helped me tremendously and taken care of me as an employee through my hospital stays and financial woes. He truly cares about me not only as an employee but as a person and genuinely cares for my wellbeing and I am grateful and proud to have him as an employer and a friend.

Something fun—Technology: Where would we be without technology? Fifteen or so years ago now we barely knew what a cellular phone was. Now? We have to have it on us at all times or else we will go insane. Smart 3D TVs, smartphones, laptops, computers, tablets, the Cloud, you name it. If it’s technology, I enjoy having it around. A lot of good and convenience can come from technology and I strive to utilize mine in such ways. I am grateful for the added convenience, connectivity, and overall fun that technology can bring us (of course, we can all use a break from time to time).

Anything else?—Friendships: As I have heard Phil say numerous times, “If you find yourself at the end of this life with one good friend still by your side, that has followed you through this life for better or worse, then you have succeeded.” Friendships have become very important to me lately and I am starting to see the truth in this statement. Friends can come and go so easily; whether if it’s distance that separates you or an argument or disagreement, friends can vanish on a dime. At this moment in my life, I am very grateful for four people in my life that have stuck by my side through my triumphs, my defeats, my anger, and my stupidity. I know I can count on them to encourage me to my highest highs and pick me up from my lowest lows, even if I may be a bit stubborn about it sometimes.

So there you have it! Another glimpse into my life and what I am grateful for.

I would like to leave you with this thought as you go forth during this holiday season with close friends and relatives: Be grateful for the ability to be grateful.

Consider what you are grateful for and share with everyone around you, but don’t forget to be grateful for the greatest gift: the life you have been given. Wake up every morning this week and breathe two simple words , “Thank you,” for being alive.

Until next Monday! And Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for all of you reading, following, and sharing my blog. 😀

Keep Fighting, Keep Breathing, Live (and be thankful for) Today, Say Tomorrow

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“We are grateful for the time we have been given.”
          Edward Walker, The Village

Knowledge Today Brightens Tomorrow

Good Monday to you all! Did you greet every day as a fresh, new day this week?

Before I begin, I would like to thank you for all your good thoughts sent my way for my doctor’s appointment. I’ve recovered from my hospital stay a little more than a month ago and I have been able to maintain my stability that I have had for the last year or so. Doc said I’m doing well and to keep up my good work. 🙂

Now, onward!

I shall begin with one of the most commonly used phrases in today’s society: We all make mistakes.

This topic obviously ties very closely with (and, in a perfect world, would have been published before) my last post. Nevertheless, I will weigh in my two cents.

I moved home after graduating college in May 2012. For the majority of my last two years of college, I had lived on my own and been responsible for myself. Relocating to Breckenridge, however, meant moving back in with my mom. In moving back into the house I grew up in, I was taken care of; however, I quickly realized I need my space away from mommy dearest. As much as I love my mom, as a 22-year-old fresh out of college, I needed my independence. It’s expensive to live alone in Breckenridge so I sought out friends and peers to look into finding an affordable home away from home.

In two months, I found three roommates, scoped out a place to live, and signed a year lease for a very nice condo in town. In knowing the risks of what could happen, I was the only one to sign the lease. I took up the responsibility of trusting my roommates to pay their share of the rent every month and if they couldn’t, the burden would end up falling on me.

Most of you now cringe at my naive decision to take on that responsibility, and for good reason.

Halfway through our lease, two of my roommates ended up moving out, leaving me with having to figure out new roommates or a way to come up with their share of the rent. Luckily, some people I knew were moving back into town and needed a place to live and worked out fair prices for them to finish out the year lease with very minimal financial loss. Unfortunately, my former roommates and I are no longer acquainted.

Making a very naive decision that I had high hopes for ended up as a mistake that I will never forget.

We are told many things about the mistakes we make. We are told to learn from our mistakes so we don’t make the same one twice. We are told that in order to succeed, we must fail. We are told our mistakes make us who we are.

What did I learn? I learned to never be the only one to sign a lease unless I am the only one living there.

Because of this knowledge, will my other dwelling endeavors be successful? I think so, yes.

What has this experience told me about who I am? I think it tells that I am a very trusting person, sometimes too trusting, and that now I won’t be so quick to trust others with my financial fate. It also showed me that I can be a quick problem-solver, even in the heat of the moment, and I will do whatever it is necessary to solve the problem at hand.

I recently came across a passage in a book by Rob Bell called Love Wins that speaks about sin, but I believe speaks to more of the broad spectrum of mistakes:

When people pursue a destructive course of action and they can’t be convinced to change course, we say they’re “hell-bent” on it. Fixed, obsessed, unshakable in their pursuit, unwavering in their commitment to a destructive direction[…]The point of this turning loose, this letting go, this punishment, is to allow them to live with the full consequences of their choices, confident that the misery they find themselves in will have a way of getting their attention.

Although intense, I can compare these words to my mistake. “Hell-bent” might be a bit extreme, but I wanted more than anything to live on my own, even if it meant trusting my three peers wouldn’t abandon me if I took the responsibility of being the only one to sign a year-long lease.

I was “fixed, obsessed, unshakable” on moving out on my own again, that I didn’t care the risks or the warnings. Even though I acknowledged the risks and the warnings, I did not assess them properly. In that obsession, I was punished and had to “live with the full consequences of [my] choices.”

But in making a mistake, that is what happens. We take a leap of faith in hopes that the risks and the warnings won’t be true. When that leap leads to hitting rock at the bottom, we realize the misery in which we find ourselves and that hard landing “[has] a way of getting [our] attention.”

In making mistakes comes new beginnings. Hopefully that rock bottom did send us a wake-up call and we are able to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and move forward with new knowledge that can help us make better decisions in the future.

The few mistakes I have made in the past year stand out to me, and I have now looked at through this lens. In those mistakes, I was obsessed without heeding to risk or warning. In those mistakes, I received brutal wake-up calls that got my attention. From those mistakes, I have picked myself up, brushed myself off, and hope to retain the knowledge I learned and make better decisions moving forward.

Sometimes, we need to hit rock bottom to jolt our attention and listen to that voice that’s been in the back of our heads saying, “Hey! I told you this would be a mistake. Pick yourself up, take this knowledge, and move on.”

Not every mistake is as easy to move on from like knowing not to sign a lease by yourself and become responsible for tracking down three other people every month for their share of rent.

But whatever the mistake, we must not dwell on it. We must take what we can from it, become a stronger, smarter person, and look toward the future wherein lies one less mistake to be made.

We all make mistakes. But I want you to remember that through the actions we choose that end up being our mistakes, the knowledge we gain from these events can light the way to a brighter future.

Until next Monday!

Keep Fighting, Keep Breathing, Live Today, Say Tomorrow

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Collaboration with Nina Storey

As I am writing this, I’m reminiscing last night’s performance by Nina Storey at the Soiled Dove Underground in Denver by listening to the song that I was fortunate enough to sit in on the drums with her.

The song is called ‘Sing For Me’ originally by Yellowcard (yes, I got Nina to play one of my favorite songs from my favorite band with me).

Collaboration between bass player (Tim) and keyboardist (Adam).

Rehearsal: Collaboration between bass player (Tim) and keyboardist (Adam).

I showed up on Thursday night at the rehearsal not knowing what to expect. Of course, I expected to be in a room with some greatly underrated musicians that had a greater background with Nina than I. I also expected I would be working with these musicians not being too musically inclined myself.

Nina showing off her keyboard skills.

Rehearsal: Nina showing off her keyboard skills.

My first expectation was correct: the room was filled with great musicians; everyone better than anyone I have played or worked with before and reminiscing about past shows they had done with Nina. My second expectation came up true as well. As they talked about Fs and G-minors, B-sharps and As, I sat back hoping that I would just be able to do my thing safe behind the drums with little collaboration; I hoped they knew the song as well as I did so we could just pick up and play and I didn’t have to take the musical driver’s seat on the song I suggested playing.

One thing to know about me: I get nervous for damn near anything near the limelight. I was nervous for showing a video I had made for my youth group’s film festival. I always worry: “Will I be good enough? Will I mess up? What happens if I do in fact mess up?” and those butterflies continue whirling around my belly.

Tim on the bass and Ryan on the drums.

Rehearsal: Tim on the bass and Ryan on the drums.

Even at the rehearsal, with the stakes relatively low (no audience, no family and friends watching me drum under the lights of the stage), I still was worried. I think my biggest fear was these professional musicians saying to themselves, “Man, this cover might be a waste of time,” right after I played with them.

Funny thing about music though: it can cure and/or heighten any emotion. As it can heighten romance, it can ease anger. As it can bring tears of joy, it can equally bring tears of sorrow. As it can get you pumped up, it can chase away those butterflies in your stomach. Once my foot hit that first kick, those butterflies were gone. I knew how to play this song. I’ve played it hundreds of times and I know it like the back of my hand. What was I so nervous about?

"I'm a Fighter" poster at the merch stand.

“I’m a Fighter” poster at the merch stand.

After the vibrations of the last crash dissipated through the room, I felt confident in my performance which the other band members added to as if they were thinking, “Alright, this guy can play some drums. We’re in business here.” That never-late sigh of relief left my lungs…until the next day once the lights went down.

Nina up front with her guitarist (Tad), keyboardist (Adam) and horn section in the background.

Sound Check: Nina up front with her guitarist (Tad), keyboardist (Adam) and horn section in the background.

They gave me a setlist after sound checks so I knew when Nina was going to call me on stage. Lucky number 13…of course. And handing me a setlist was a horrible idea because what did I do?…I counted down the songs until it was finally time for me to face my uneasy stomach. And of course, it became more and more uneasy the closer she got to my debut. Once she called me on stage, my family and friends were in place, one of which with a video camera to record this wonderful opportunity, and it was showtime…

I was trying to get comfortable behind the less than familiar drumset I had only played behind once before while Nina told the audience a little bit about myself. But once I counted the band in, and that first kick boomed through the venue, I knew I was going to do great. The butterflies fluttered away and I just did my thing.

The band in full swing.

The band in full swing.

I wanted to do this song in particular because of the storey (see what I did there 😉) behind it. Ryan Key, the lead singer for Yellowcard, wrote this song for his aunt that had passed away from cancer and the music video shows images and people who still fight on and create and live their life despite their hardships. Of course, cancer and cystic fibrosis are two totally different diseases; however, the fight is the same, with any illness even. You have to stay positive and continue to create who you are and live your life despite whatever may hold you back and have that support system who will ‘sing for you’ in the hardest of times.

It’s a beautiful piece of music dedicated to a wonderful woman who helped shape an innovative and creative musician in Ryan that can be used to inspire and help drive on those who are experiencing the hard times in their lives. That’s why I have that short lyric at the end of my sign off, ‘say tomorrow.’ Live for today, fight for a tomorrow. There is a tomorrow, and you need to be there to experience more of life.

Overall, this experience was nothing short of extraordinary, spectacular, practically a dream come true. I got to play one of my favorite songs that is near and dear to my heart, for a cause with which I am directly associated, with an incredibly talented singer and musician Nina Storey (not to mention her band as well). What could be better?

Great musicians, great people and even better friends!

Great musicians, great people and even better friends!

Nina silently told me after the concert we will keep in touch and be sure to do something like this again. I am overjoyed to have had the opportunity to collaborate with her and her band members and I do hope it happens again.

Now the only thing to be nervous about is if Longineu Parsons III (drummer for Yellowcard) approves of my performance, because I’m sure Ryan will more than approve of Nina’s voice carrying his lyrics. If I hear anything from LP, I’ll report back (or Ryan for that matter).

Everyone…read these words:

Keep Fighting, Keep Breathing, SAY TOMORROW

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P.S. Below are some shots I took from the rehearsal and the concert.

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Special Thanks: Nina Storey and entire band (thank you!), Ellen Penrod of the Colorado Chapter of the CFF, Yellowcard, Cindy Madonna (mother), Nick Williams (friend), Danise Rea (friend), Spencer Krafchak (friend)
Thank you all so much for giving me this opportunity and supporting me through it! Couldn’t have done it without you and hope to do it again!
-Tony Madonna-

Hold On

Throughout my younger years all the way up through secondary school, I had my CF pretty well maintained. For me, my lungs were never the big issue as much as needing to gain weight. But, I was never hospitalized from when I was about five years old until I was eighteen.

I decided to attend the University of Hawaii at Hilo my senior year for two reasons: to get away from Colorado and to be closer to my dad. Little did I know that my lungs had grown accustomed to the dry mountain air and a humid tropical paradise would be detrimental. When I came back for Winter Break, I had a routine check-up that I thought wouldn’t be any different than any other time I went. Instead, my lung functions were down about 30%. My doctor told me he thought admitting me to the hospital immediately to start IV antibiotics had to be done.

For 13 years I had sat in that exam room hearing the same thing over again: “You’re doing great. Keep up the good work.” And now, my doctor was telling me I was ill beyond where either of us thought I would be. My heart sank and my world at that time came crashing down. I was going to have to transfer back from Hawaii; juggle going to school, having a job and becoming familiar with my new IV treatments; I was having to say goodbye to what I wanted my life to be.

A couple years later, I graduated from Colorado Mountain College with an Associates Degree and planned to attend Boise State University in Fall 2010. Because of the many rounds of antibiotics I was on, I had (and still have) a portacath that must be flushed every month. Two days after moving up to Boise and into my luxurious on-campus apartment, my portacath was due to be flushed. When I went to get it done, it didn’t draw back blood which could mean that it was clotted, and if it was clotted, it would be dangerous to still have it in my body. And, because my health insurance was based in Colorado, I wouldn’t have been able to have a procedure done in Idaho in order to fix the problem. Once again, the new world I had just moved into in order to get on with the life I wanted to live seemed to come crashing down. I thought that if the blood thinner doesn’t work, I would have to withdraw from BSU and move back to Colorado again.

There have been points in my life when I do stoop to a low morale. During both of those instances I have described, I felt like I wanted to roll over and let my CF run my life. Sometimes I felt I was more of a liability to my family and close friends rather than an asset. Even to some extent, I have asked myself, “Why is this life we have worth living?”

After I transferred back from Hawaii, I put myself in an environment that wasn’t damaging to my health, I could still go to school and work, as well as take care of the IV antibiotics I needed to take. Looking back now, I don’t regret going to Hawaii, but I also don’t regret coming back. It all worked itself out.

Luckily, after the blood thinner worked its magic, my portacath had blood drawback and I was able to have peace of mind that I could stay in Boise and pursue my education where I wanted to.

At the time, they didn’t seem like it, but these instances were only blips on my radar and because I kept fighting and breathing and waking up every morning continuing to live the life I have been given, I am able to put those blips behind me and move forward with open eyes and a clear mind, looking out for what is best for me as well as my health.

In the words of Good Charlotte:

Hold on if you feel like letting go

Hold on it gets better than you know

These words have been my mantra (along with “Here I am Alive”) during the difficult times I have been going through recently, and will continue to bring me strength and courage to wake up every morning and say, “Today’s a new day.”

Check out this music video I made all by myself during this last week to the song I mentioned above, Good Charlotte’s “Hold On.” It’s nothing special but you will see me being me, and also hear a song that helps keep my mind holding on to what good can come next.

Keep Fighting, Keep Breathing, Say Tomorrow

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Couldn’t this be the chorus of a song?

Hey, hey–keepbreathing65 here!

I know it has been a little while since I have posted. I have been dealing with some personal situations lately which have been taking up a lot of my time.

HOWEVER!

I’m back right now and I wanted to share something I came up with out of thin air, and I share it with you now:

I’m breathin’, takin’ one step at a time

I’m breathin’, I’m gonna live my life

I’m breathin’, because this is not the end

I’m breathin’, for me and for you my friend

It’s definitely my new motto! Hopefully it helps you cope with any hardships you are dealing with–just keep breathing!

Let me know what you think!

Keep Fighting, Keep Breathing, Say Tomorrow

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Here I Am Alive

It’s been a decision-making process for me to pick my first real post; one that gives a glimpse into my world.

I am an avid music lover. The music I listen to ranges from classical to techno to punk rock and metal. I tend to listen to the punk rock/metal genre, but I still enjoy other genres of music.

Music has always been by my side through any situation. As many people would agree, there is a song out there for anything, and it’s the melodies and beats, the lyrics and the harmonies which help us get lost in the music, allowing us to forget our hardships at hand.

In the famous words of Earth Wind and Fire, “When you feel down and out, sing a song.”

Music can be used to celebrate or can keep you in that hole in the ground. I steer away from the music that keeps me digging deeper and adhere to the songs that show me a way out.

Because of my vast variety of songs I have in my library (6215 to be exact), I was having trouble deciding which one to share first.

One thing that will continually pop up throughout the lifespan of this blog will be my everlasting love for the band Yellowcard. Because of my obsession, I decided it’s only fitting to pick one of their songs to share with you first: “Here I Am Alive.”

A few lyrics to note:

  • Someone’s gonna tell you, who you should wanna be, so you’ll forget the vision that they didn’t wanna see, and when they give up cause they will give up say, here I am alive.
  • Someone’s gonna tell you that you deserve the worst, they’ll say you’re never coming back, and tell you that you’re cursed. But when they give up, cause they always give up, say, here I am alive.
  • They say you don’t grow up you just grow old, it’s safe to say I haven’t done both, I’ve made mistakes, I know, I know, but here I am alive.
  • So many people close to me cut me down, this is supposed to be a bad luck town, I jumped, I fell, I hit the ground, but here I am alive.

Now why this song and why share these lyrics with you (when I might as well have shared the whole song)? To me, it’s pretty black and white: Here I Am Alive.

I am here in this world. I am living and loving in this world. Here I am, alive.

Let me phrase it differently: no matter what happens to you, for the better or worse, your heart will still be beating, which we consider the bare minimum of our life. We take our beating hearts for granted. We don’t realize during the majority of our lives that one day, our heartbeat will come to a halt. This song reminds me that no matter what goes on in my life, good or bad, if my heart continues to beat, it’s a good day because I’m still here and alive for tomorrow.

Think about this at the low points in your life. No matter what is going on–having problems in your relationship, family and friends don’t understand what you are struggling with, school or work issues–your heart continues to beat and you continue to breathe.

You can be on top of the world and here you are, alive.

You can hit rock bottom and here you are, alive.

Being here and alive in this moment is what is important.

Fight for today so you can breathe in tomorrow’s fresh air.

Keep Fighting, Keep Breathing, Say Tomorrow

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