Category Archives: #spirituality

What is Devotion?

Your religious body does not determine the degree to which you are devoted to God … not your history, not your traditions, not your ceremonies, and not your religious writings.

Your personal religious practices also do not determine the degree to which you are devoted to God. You can be at every meeting, know the words to every song, have all the ceremonies memorized, pray at all the correct times, dress the way you are supposed to dress, and do everything that is expected of you apart from the body … and in spite of all that, your heart can be far from God.

Similarly, your position in your religious body does not determine the degree to which you are devoted to God. Whether you’re the curate, or the rabbi, or the apostle, or the pope, or the shaman, or the minister, or the elder, or the mullah, or the vicar, or the prophet, or the teacher, your position does not define the condition of your soul.

And of course, your reputation does not determine the degree to which you are devoted to God. People may bow down and worship you, or on the other hand you may be hated and ridiculed by all around you. What people may think of you has nothing to do with how your innermost being is tuned.


Por muchos años yo decía que iba a escribir una novela, y por fin comencé a escribirla aproximadamente en 2002. Pero escribí solo un parte de la novela en 2002, paré de escribir despues de unos meses.

Creo que en 2004 cuando llegamos en Utah, comencé otra vez de escribir, pero otra vez paré este proyecto. La verdad es que yo comenzaría escribir de vez en cuando, y yo pararía de escribir cada vez.

Por fin en verano de 2012 mi esposa y yo decidimos a mudarnos a Arizona, y encontré trabajo en Arizona antes de que mi esposa pudiera mudarse; ella tuvo que quedarse en Utah un mes más que yo, por lo tanto yo estaba viviendo solo en Arizona y tenía mucho tiempo libre. A consecuencia decidí a dedicarme a escribir dos capítulos cada día por un mes para terminar mi novela – los capítulos son cortos – y la terminé y publicar el 22 de octubre de 2012.

Mi novela, que se llama “Sammy” es la historia de un hombre afroamericano (Sammy) junto con el policía blanco y corrupto que trató de destruir la esperanza de Sammy. Se puede comprarla aquí,


Fotopala Plan

Welcome to the Fotopala Plan for improving your personal wellness. There are no secrets here – eat well, exercise, meditate, and focus on inspirational words and concepts.


  • Eat six small meals a day for a total of 1500 calories per day.
  • Eliminate sugar.  In the early 1800’s the average person consumed 10 grams of sugar per day, and now it is 150 grams a day.  Lower your daily intake of sugar to about 30 grams.  (FYI, one banana has 15 grams of sugar).
  • Go gluten-free.  For many years I ate lots of wheat products. believing that I was eating healthfully.  Unfortunately, the Big Food industry has eliminated almost all wheat varieties by replacing them with their genetically modified wheat, with the result that many people have become gluten intolerant and actually gain weight by eating wheat.  Here are two books to consider reading:  Wheat Belly, and the other is called Wheat-Free Worry-Free.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  Period.
  • Protein.  Eat lean or non-fat protein items such as non-fat greek yogurt, non-fat cottage cheese, lean meats, and nuts such as almonds, pecans, etc.


  • Day 1 – 45 minutes of light exercise such as walking
  • Day 2 – 60 minutes of intense exercise such as an aerobics class
  • Day 3 – 45 minutes of light exercise such as walking
  • Day 4 – 60 minutes of intense exercise such as an aerobics class
  • Day 5 – 45 minutes of light exercise such as walking
  • Day 6 – 60 minutes of intense exercise such as an aerobics class
  • Day 7 – Rest


  • This is not so much about mantras as it is about attending to the breath.  Sit comfortably, close your eyes, be aware of the present moment, and start observing each breath in and each breath out.  Do this at least 15 minutes every day, and more is better.


  • Obviously, you cannot get wet from the word “water” because a word only points to something or someone beyond itself, a word is merely a collection of letters, or a symbol, or a sound that points to some reality beyond itself. With that in mind, below are at list 70 inspirational words for your enjoyment … I hope that you will experience the reality beyond each word.
  • Be, word, believe, wellbeing, breathe, water, communicate, vegetables, create, universe, dance, stillness, drink, spirituality, eat, sky, encourage, silence, exercise, rest, feel, recreation, flow, peace, give, now, gratitude, grow, nature, help, music, hug, mindfulness, imagine, meditation, kiss, love, know, light, laugh, life, learn, language, listen, joy, live, hope, love, happiness, manifest, God, share, gap, beauty, smile, fruits, teach, freedom, think, energy, touch, earth, travel, discipline, volunteer, detachment, truth, walk, being, watch, acceptance, write, abundance.


The following is a detailed explanation of how I used the Fotopala Plan a few years ago to lose 17 pounds in one month, dropping from about 199 pounds to 182 pounds.  After that I used the plan a few more times over several weeks to lose an additional 13 pounds in order get down to 169 pounds … thus, at the age of 53 I was able to get down to nearly the same weight I had when I was an 18 year old senior in high school who was playing basketball virtually every day. Here is the history of my past success using the Fotopala Plan:

After I completed an extensive health assessment, I was not surprised to hear that I would do well to lose at least 10 pounds.  As a result, I put myself through a mini boot camp last week to see if I could lose 7 pounds in 7 days.

Is that even possible?

Several weight loss programs promise that you will lose a pound a day if you follow their program and buy their products.  So when I put myself through my own self-imposed boot camp, not only was I losing a few pounds, but I was also able to evaluate the hype surrounding weight loss programs and their promise of … LOSE 1 POUND A DAY.

Each one of us consumes a certain amount of calories every day through food and drink.  If the number of calories consumed equals the number of calories burned, we stay at the exact same weight.  What exactly is the limit to how many calories I can consume daily if I want to stay at the same weight?  How about if I want to lose weight?

The daily calorie burn is different for each person, and the exact figure is calculated based on your gender, age, height, weight, and activity level.  Here is how you calculate your daily calorie burn:

Multiply your body weight by 10.  This figure is called your basic metabolic rate (BMR), and it is the number of calories you would burn if you stayed in bed all day.

For example, my weight at 190 pounds multiplied by 10 equals 1900.  Thus, my BMR is 1900 calories, which is the minimum amount of calories my body needs every day for basic functions such as breathing, keeping my heart beating, regulating my body temperature, etc.  Multiplying your weight by 10 gives you a fairly good estimate of your BMR, but at this online BMR Calculator you can add your gender, age, height, and weight … and thus, you can calculate a more accurate BMR.

Is that it?

No, because you are not likely to stay in bed all day, and thus you burn more calories every day than your BMR.

Now, multiply your BMR by your daily activity level, and then add that amount to your BMR.  Here are activity level factors:

Sedentary (sitting most of the day) – 20%
Lightly active (walking here and there; daily chores) – 35%
Moderately active (constantly moving around; daily exercise) – 40%
Very active (substantial exercise for a long time) – 50%
Extremely active (intense exercise for an extended period of time) – 60%

For example, if I was sedentary I would multiply my BMR of 1900 by the sedentary factor of 20% to get 380, and then add that amount of 380 to my BMR of 1900 to get 2280.

Woo hoo!  When I am sedentary I still burn 2280 calories a day!  1900 + (1900 x 0.20) = 2280.
If I am just lightly active one day, I burn 2565 calories.  1900 + (1900 x 0.35) = 2565.
When I am moderately active, I burn 2660 calories that day.  1900 + (1900 x 0.40) = 2660.
And if I exercise heavily on a given day, I burn 2850 calories.  1900 + (1900 x 0.50) = 2850.
Finally, when I really work it, I burn 3040 calories.  1900 + (1900 x 0.60) = 3040

But wait, there’s more!  Your body actually burns calories to digest food, and the number of calories burned is estimated to be 10% of your daily consumption according to your activity level.  Thus, take the sum shown above based on your activity level, and multiply that amount by 10% … and then add that extra to the total.  For example:

Sedentary, 2280 + (2280 x .10) = 2508 calories
Lightly active, 2565 + (2565 x .10) = 2821.5 calories
Moderately active, 2660 + (2660 x .10) = 2926 calories
Very active, 2850 + (2850 x .10) = 3135 calories
Extremely active, 3040 + (3040 x .10) = 3344 calories

This final figure is called your Total Daily Caloric Expenditure.  It is a measure of how many calories a day you burn based on your gender, age, height, weight, and activity level.

So what would it take to lose 1 pound in one day?

Since a pound of body fat is equal to 3500 calories, theoretically I would have to eat nothing or very little during the day, and also be extremely active that day to achieve a Total Daily Caloric Expenditure of 3500 calories.  Thus, for me to lose 1 pound a day for 7 days, I would have to eat little or nothing all week, and be extremely active through exercise every day.

Actually, I believe that I lost about 6 pounds during the week.  Granted, some of it was probably the “water weight” that everyone loses at the beginning of a diet, and the scale in my house may not be precise, and/or I may not have replicated exactly the starting and ending weigh-ins (i.e. clothes worn, time of day, etc.), but even if I only lost 3 or 4 pounds, I am pleased.  I can see the difference in the mirror, and I can feel the difference in the way my clothes fit.

So what’s the point?  My point is that I think people can lose weight fairly quickly, and lose it in a safe manner while eating well but without having to starve.  So how did I do it?

I burned a lot of calories exercising every day.  On at least 3 of the days I was extremely active for over an hour by bicycling up a canyon, starting at about 4700 feet above sea level at my house and rising to slightly over 6000 feet above sea level at the end of the trail (7 miles up, 7 miles back).   On every other day, my exercise was lighter … perhaps I only walked for an hour.  FYI, a person my size can burn 100 calories per mile walking, or as much as 200 calories per mile running or bicycling swiftly.

Also, I ate 6 small meals every day, about every 2.5 hours to avoid feeling hungry.  At each mini-meal I had a high quality low or non-fat protein source (such as non-fat yogurt, turkey jerky, non-fat cottage cheese, non-fat protein powder in a shake, etc.), some fruit, something whole-grain (whole-grain crackers, cereal, brown rice, or some healthy gluten-free item, etc.), and veggies.  With each meal I drank at least 16 ounces of water in order to feel full.  I had no cookies or deserts of any kind for the week, although after a long bike ride I may have had something like a 100-calorie Healthy Choice fudge bar (since protein after a good workout helps rebuild muscle).

I consumed about 250 calories at each mini-meal, so I estimate that my daily intake was no more than about 1500 calories.  Like I said, I never really felt hungry during the week, for if you eat something healthy about every 2.5 hours that includes protein you will stay satiated and keep your energy level constant.

Try out the Fotopala plan and let me know how it goes. You can do it!

Thoughts for Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond

We are all inspired in many ways, and since the spirit of God is always with us, the possibilities for inspiration in any given moment are endless. To be “in spirit” is to be inspired.

I often feel inspired to write … I could be anywhere, anytime, just navigating life as usual, and suddenly I’ll find myself scrambling for a piece of paper, or a napkin, or anything to write on and write with, and I’ll just stop what I was doing and let pour out of me what I feel inspired to write down. Whether anyone else finds my writing inspirational is not something I worry about because I have no control over that … inspiration is the domain of the Spirit.

So for whatever reason, I awoke this morning sometime after midnight thinking about sharing some thoughts with you … thoughts on how I hope to live today, and tomorrow, and during the new year and beyond (God willing I live). I contemplated writing a personal, hand-written, note to each of you (just like in the old days) … but then I realized that I can only communicate with some of you (particularly the younger folk) through some electronic cloud in the sky, so I’ll just go ahead and ping all of you right now, and rest assured that I am not trying to sell you anything. In any case, here are some of my thoughts … written both as intentions for myself, but also in the hope that you too might be inspired:

BE PRESENT. Since we do all of our living in the present moment, more and more I feel compelled to focus on the here and now. Our minds go off in so many directions (at least I know that my mind does), and our minds are constantly filled with chatter, and we waste entirely too much time ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. That doesn’t mean that we should not learn from the past, nor does it mean that we should not plan and save for the future. It only means that the present moment is the working unit of our lives, and that the Now is where we live right now. Turn off the mind. Smell the flowers. Enjoy. Give thanks. Breathe mindfully. Encourage. Be hopeful. Dear God, may I be present right now and savor this moment.

SPEAK LESS and LISTEN MORE. Does God do anything loudly? Does God stack word upon word in an endless stream of communication that deadens the senses and drowns each of us out? It seems to me that most everything God does is done in silence. God is the still, small, voice within. God is a quiet presence, and God loves silence. I know that my own tongue has been a flame of fire on too many occasions, and so as I move forward in life I hope to be better at taming the tongue. Dear God, may I be more like you and speak less and listen more.

BE KIND and NOT RIGHT. I really would like to let go of all judgment and let God handle the administration of the universe. It’s so easy to find fault in others, to ridicule others, to make ourselves appear superior to others … but what the hell good does that do? Sure, there are times when it is important to speak out against injustices in the world, but most of the time our bitching and moaning and arguing and criticizing and judging is nothing more than our need to be right in our own eyes instead of being kind. If God wanted to be right and catch us all doing something wrong, God could easily do that … but instead, God chooses to be kind. God’s penchant is for creating and sustaining and finding good in us. Each of us is given opportunities every day to choose between being kind and right, and it seems that choosing to be kind is always the better choice. Dear God, may I be more kind than right today.

GIVE. It could be a little, or it could be a lot … but anyway you look at it, giving is a good way to live. Give someone a smile. Give someone the benefit of the doubt. Give someone a flower. Give money to the poor. Give time in helping others. Give the gift of forgiveness. Dear God, may I live to give more readily, generously, and in various ways.

LIVE WITH PASSION. We only get one chance to live this life (as far as we can tell), so if there is anything in your bucket list that you have been putting off unnecessarily, I encourage you to stop putting it off … and instead, go for it! This is a tricky one because living with passion can appear selfish, especially to those who think that they earn favor with God by denying themselves any enjoyment. It’s also hard to imagine the poorest of the poor, those who are living in grinding poverty and seeking only to survive this day, as having any notion of a bucket list; for them, living with passion means passionately trying to stay alive. How can I justify having a bucket list and living with passion when there are so many needy people in the world? One way to do it is by arranging your bucket list in such a way as to benefit not only yourself but also humankind. Focus on earning a million dollars so that you can give half of it away to needy causes. Go on a cruise and while you are in each port focus on going off the beaten path in order to find the poor who sustain themselves by selling hand-made crafts, and buy their stuff. Learn a new language so that you can one day use it to help people learn English, which is the dominant language of world trade. (I want to do that some day with my Spanish, but I must confess that my learning Spanish has been mostly for my benefit so far – I love it). Learn to knit so that you can make warm hats that you give away to the poor. Complete a marathon as part of the process of glorifying God in your body temple, so that you will be healthier and less of a burden on your loved ones and on the health care system, and so that you will have more energy for helping others. Take a dance class so that you can learn more about another culture; take an art class so that you can paint a pretty picture to hang in the local homeless shelter. There are a myriad of ways that we can live with passion that benefit both us and our neighbors in the world. Dear God, may I embrace gratefully and passionately the life you have given me to live.

Catholics Galore

As a non-Mormon living in Salt Lake City, I must confess to being occasionally irritated with the extensive influence Mormonism has over the local community.  It has a church building on practically every corner, it has a seminary building next to every public school in the State of Utah, and it has its fingers in just about everything.

Personally, I don´t think like a Mormon, I don´t act like a Mormon, and I will never be a Mormon.  But having said that, I have many Mormon friends, and I will probably always have Mormon friends.  My chiropractor and dentist are both Mormon, my HVAC guy and Roto-Rooter guy are both Mormon, all of them have given me excellent service over the years, and I readily recommend them to other people.  I am non-Mormon, but not anti-Mormon.

So it´s interesting that I am not the least bit bothered by the extensive influence that the Catholic Church has over the local community here in Cuenca, in fact I´ve attended Mass at least two times, and also poked my head into several other Catholic Church buildings.  Here in Cuenca the Catholic Church has a building on every corner, it has a school near every public school, and it has its fingers in just about everything.

Why am I not bothered by the influence that the Catholic Church has over Cuenca?  Because I was raised Catholic, I went to Catholic schools for 12 years, and the majority of my family and relatives are still Catholic.

Yeah, conversions take place, and some people switch religions, but it seems that for the majority of the people in the world, their religion is determined by the family which raises them.  People stay with the familiar … most by choice, but unfortunately some by force.

I have believed for many years that it is not helpful to the soul of the world, not helpful to the spiritual well-being of the universe, to believe that my religion is the one, true, religion. Practice your religion and devote yourself to God, if that is how the Spirit within you is guiding you, but you wander away from the center of Love when you begin to think that your religion is better than the next, when you begin to think that your righteousness exceeds others.  I dare say that virtually every religion worth following that has ever existed has warned against judging others, has preached about the supreme power of unconditional love … the same love that does not and cannot include self-righteous judgment of others.  If you only ever love, friends and enemies alike will call you Holy, a Saint, an Avatar, a Shaman, a Good Person, Righteous Among the Nations, and any number of other superlatives.

God created a multi-religion, multi-cultural, multi-language, multi-color, multi-whatnot world.  Obviously, God loves diversity … and does not favor one stripe over another.