No Wonder You Were Afraid to Ask #45 – Antonio Fernandez – Founder of Inspirational Souls on his 7th Sobriety Birthday, 2 Year marriage Anniv, and Living with an Aortic Aneurysm

I was born in 1973 in San Francisco, CA. My parents moved us to Wheatland, WY- a town of about 5,000 people, in 1979.In 1991, when I turned 18 I left as quickly as I could and moved to Palo Alto, CA to lived with my sister, Dorothy who was attending Stanford. I worked on campus for about three years at a deli in the Electrical Engineering building. It was a lot of fun since I was a very curious mind. I asked all the scientists, physicists, and engineers that came through a lot of questions. I remember I befriended a lot of them, even though they were 10 years+ old than I was at the time. I left that work and ended up performing odds-and-end jobs, sometimes four at a time, to make ends meet. I ended up with just one job, in 1994, at the Men’s Wearhouse. I started with the company in the Bay Area and moved with my first wife to Santa Barbara- my favorite place in the world.

My son, Felipe was born in 1995. I was 22. Now my amazing son is 21 years old!

We lived in Santa Barbara a little while longer and then moved up the Central Coast to Santa Maria. I worked at Circuit City in Santa Maria for a couple of years. It was after my best friend, Jacob, was hit and killed by a drunk driver, that I spun out of control into drugs and alcohol. His death shot me into a black hole of sadness and self-pity. I ended up derailing my marriage and divorced my son’s mom shortly thereafter. I ran back to the Bay Area.

In 2003, and by some act of a kind universe, I completed my junior college credits at Foothill College in the Los Altos, CA and was accepted to study English at San Diego State (SDSU). I finished San Diego State in 2005 and was accepted to grad school for Creative Writing in the Fall of 2005 at San Francisco State. When I returned to the Bay Area for grad school I lived with my brother. Completing grad school in 2007 with a Master’s in Creative Writing.

While in grad school I worked as a proposal writer with a company, until January 29th, 2010. That day, I hit rock bottom with my alcoholism. The night before, I had done some stupid stuff online and really offended a few people. I have not drunk or done a lick of drugs since. And, I’ve gone back and cleaned up most of the wreckage from my past.

Since that day, I’ve had seven of the most productive and fun years of my life.

Since I got sober, I’ve been to India

and volunteered on Long Island after Superstorm Sandy and in Costa Rica and Peru with Courts for Kids.

I’ve run a 1/2 marathon among many races and climbed to the highest point in the United States.

Today, I work as an Innovations Consultant at a major health plan in Los Angeles, CA. I also run the website www.inspirationalsouls.com (Please Subscribe) in my free time.

The website was born out of my frustration with the recent election campaign cycle. Social media was inundated with so much hatred and anger. Towards the end of the election cycle, I decided I wanted no part of it, and rebuilt my personal website, took down anything that wasn’t positive, and re-branded it, Inspirational Souls.

I began last January to ask people I knew on Facebook to do written Interviews for me. I would send them the questions and they would send back the answers and I would post them and promote them. I LOVE stories. It’s amazing the stories people have when you just give them a chance to share. I have met people from all over the world!

The site has grown organically over the past year and now has a featured series on several days of the week. Mondays is a Vegan Being spotlight. Tuesdays are the long form interview- No Wonder You Were Afraid to Ask. Wednesdays are Inspirational Educators- featuring public school teachers from around the US. Thursday is Inspirational Artists- SO MANY awesome artists out there. Friday I feature a non-profit or other organization which is doing amazing things. Sunday I feature Inspirational Moments- 3 minute reads about peoples’ hardships, passions, and inspirations. If you would like to be featured in any of these, please email us at inspirationalsouls33@gmail.com. You can click on the tabs above to get to these sections on the site.

You can also catch Inspirational Souls Stories here online:

Twitter: Inspirational Souls
Instagram: @inspirationalsouls_
Facebook: Inspirational Souls
Medium: Inspirationalsouls33

A recent podcast here I did for Apt 20.

One of my past poetry readings here.

I will be on the Dash Eye Reggae and Vegan podcast this next week. You can catch it here.

The thing I am most passionate is connecting people. I love learning about people and when I meet really cool people, I want to share them with everyone. Now I have my site I can do that. But, my site is also a way to be of service to people. I always wanted to be a promoter and now I can use my site to promote people, animals, and organizations that are changing the world and inspiring others.

In my free time I volunteer a lot and now I am spending my time in activism to make sure minorities, like myself and others, don’t lose the civil rights our forefathers fought so hard to get. I am also passionate about self-growth. I listen to Gary Vaynerchuk on a daily basis for motivation. I also listen to many other great speakers, Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins, Chase Jarvis, the Dalai Lama, and many more. I recommend all creatives to check out this awesome Youtube series called, 30 Days of Genius with Chase Jarvis. In this series, he interviews creatives, entrepreneurs, and really inspirational people. There are always awesome takeaways from this podcast.

I try to meditate daily, listen to mantras, read inspirational meditations and stories, and create daily habits that inspire positivity. This site helps me do that on a daily basis almost when I get peoples’ stories every day.

In August, I was found out I had a heart murmur right before I was to hike up Mt. Whitney- the highest point in the lower 48. On my birthday, August 16, 2016, I stood on the summit with my brother and 5 other friends. Less than a month later I found out my heart murmur was caused by the condition known as an Aortic Aneurysm. That hike is one of the things I am most proud of besides getting my Master’s degree. But, the diagnosis changed my life. I am still coming to terms with the lifestyle changes I am going through. I will get my heart checked again in March. If the aneurysm continues to grow, which it naturally will, I will have to have open-heart surgery. Alan Thicke just passed away from the same condition. Many people each year go undiagnosed with this condition. If you have unexplainable deaths in your family due to heart conditions, please consider getting tested. Who knows how close I was to my own death. I thank the universe for sparing me for whatever reason it did. This past year while training to climb Whitney, I pushed myself to the limit a lot. Hiking mountains with 30 lb packs on my back climbing up over 12,000 ft. Now, I cannot partake in high-intensity exercise or lift over 30 lbs.

I’m also proud of my second wedding anniversary, which is today! I never thought I would marry again, and now I have found the woman of my dreams. We are very spiritually aligned and we even went vegan together about a year and a half ago. Also, my wife is a badass activist and ex-punk rocker! We have a beautiful 2-year-old daughter together.

I really want people to get along. There is not one reason why every man and women cannot be at peace with one another. I hope to spread stories of peace and inspiration with this site in hopes that one day there will be world peace. Will you help me?

In my long form interviews, I always send the interviewee a list of about 200 questions. I let them pick out the ones they like the most to answer. Here are my answers to a few of my favorite questions.

Do you think war is necessary?

What is war doing that sitting down and talking out our problems couldn’t do, except for taking lots of innocent lives?

Two sentences to describe what the world would be like without Facebook?

At one point in the near future, we will probably ask, “What’s more important, the bible or Facebook? And at that point, it might be a tie. That’s how important it is. You’re reading this because of Facebook, right.”

Have you ever thought of killing yourself?

I’ve actually made several attempts. It was a really dark time in my life. A lot of these attempts I contribute to drinking and drugs. I was in a car once with the motor running in a garage (the thing that saved me was the thought of my son not having a father), I took a bunch of pills once (Funny thing is they were not lethal at all), I also had a knife once – instead I started to stab my couch. Now, that I am sober, the thought rarely crosses my mind. Only recovering addicts will probably relate to this, but sometimes it feels like it would be easier to be dead than to do a simple task, like driving in L.A. traffic or paying bills. Not sure if anyone else will relate to that feeling. My heart truly goes out to all people suffering from depression who are considering this now. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Just know people care! We’re sorry if we are too egocentric to notice. We are also lost most of the time. I hope I take the time to acknowledge someone who is feeling down on the day they are thinking about doing this and that is enough to make them change their minds. Not sure how of that thought is narcissistic or hopeful. I am thinking the latter.

What is the scariest thing about growing old?

I think it is best summed up in the David Lynch movie, The Straight Story, when the main character is asked this question and he replies, “Remembering when you are young.” I think I will struggle with the physical aging part of growing old. But, plastic surgery will not be an option. I will rely on my kindness to survive.

Do you think we can achieve world peace?

Yes. We are on our way. I love the Internet because it almost immediately shows us everything that is happening in the world. The more that people are exposed to bad things, the more they feel icky and will hopefully not want to perpetuate those things. Right now, the U.S. is really testing this theory. I think we will get to a point where people are so sick of hate and divisiveness, they will want it all to stop. Unfortunately, it might get uglier before it gets better.

Do you believe in God?

How can you know if a God exists? I know people like to think they know. But, really all we know is that there are amazing and wonderful things going on outside of our ability to understand or explain. God is a creation of mankind. I think most people think God looks like some human. It’s because our mind is too small to comprehend the unknown. We make things up to make us feel better. I know there is a force outside me that is doing some pretty awesome things. But, the cool thing is, that same force is inside of me. I am God-like too.

What is the scariest natural disaster? Why?

I’m secretly in love with natural disasters. Not so secret anymore. There is just something amazing and crazy about how alive Mother Earth is. She is a beautiful, dirty and wet organism. I would have to say, flash floods because I don’t know how to swim. I don’t like the idea of drowning at all.

What would you like to be remembered for?
This is tough. I think I just don’t want to be forgotten. Still figuring out why that’s so important. So I challenge everyone to continue to pass on memories of their lost loved ones. That is how they will live forever. The following is a poem I wrote about this.

“On the Morning of My Death”

It hovered (indistinctly)
in the dimension
between
now
and,
what just happened
The stillness
that proceeds wind
the anticipation of force
In a space
the size
of the area
that connects
an ant’s head
to the middle
section
of its body-
a neck of sorts
keeping thoughts
six feet
above
ground
Underneath what’s
underneath
it all
Deciphered
using
cats meows
Morse code
cricket leg
concertos
the liquid sound
of water
sliding against
fish skin- (ocean deep)
and,
the fire of
falling stars
The pattern
that stitches
the shape of sound
together
somewhere
at a source
inside
Poets understand —
words
bend
minds,
Give momentum
to wars,
pull tears
down
faces
on invisible strings,
spread
legs,
create awe,
turn thoughts
into
head scratching
Right now
could prelude
the morning
of my death,
or
the morning after
But,
one thing
is certain–
Mornings will
come and go
way beyond
my comings
and goings
and
for just
this moment
(which becomes your (the reader’s) moment) —
I’m alive
or am I–
And,
will only
exist
until
the last person
(has forgotten)
forgets
me.

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