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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Sense of Serenity

By Enrique Franco

April 7, 2010

Having this HIV in my body sometimes disheartens me. This HIV reminds me of what my limitations are. It can discourage me from running that extra mile. It can also soften my spirit at times. But these thoughts are all brief and insignificant. They do not carry as much weight as does my serenity. When they filter in my mind, I turn to the Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The Courage to change the things I can. And the Wisdom to know the difference.

How simple, honest and bold this prayer is to me. I focus often on the first part. Where do I find my serenity? Now, I fully understand that everyone has their own interpretations of serenity. I fully respect that. In fact, I am encouraging you all to share with me where you go for your serenity. At this time, I would like to share mine with you.

When I think of serenity, I imagine what it brings. Peace of mind is one thought. Another is a complete state of grace. My state of grace is where I learned to grow up back in 1993 when I left California. It is where I found myself when I left the U.S. Army. It is where I found true love in my spouse, Devin. That place is Arizona.

Sedona, Arizona.

Sedona, Arizona.

I can be serene here in the desert. There are different places I travel to so that I can forget about having HIV. Certain places here have a warm feeling for me. There is one in particular that I can truthfully say brings me to that state of grace. Its name is Sedona. The scenery in Sedona is so peaceful and full of color. Its very soil, the dirt and rock, is made of red clay. The mountains and peaks are all picturesque.

I surprised Devin on his 28th birthday by bringing him up there for a few days. We had such a blast. I have sent some of our pictures from that trip for you all to enjoy. Believe me, these pictures are excellent but do not give Sedona justice. You really have to visit there to get the real feel of the place. We went on a couple desert trails and ate at some fine Mexican restaurants. Ah yes, Sedona is my serenity in full view. While we were there, I can honestly say that I totally forgot about having HIV. Of course I came back to reality at night when I had to take my Atripla, but that's beside the point. The point I want to make is, Sedona helps me feel at peace. Arizona, in general, helps me feel at peace.

Saguaros (cacti) in Tucson, where Enrique lives.

Saguaros (cacti) in Tucson, where Enrique lives.

To this day, you cannot get a bad comment about this place from me. Our home here in Tucson is another example. I am so grateful to live in a place that has vivid sunsets. When I drive home, I can catch one out in the distance. The sunsets here are full of colors. You can see blue and light red meshing with the yellow and orange. Then, add a mountain in the far distance. Splash that with a few giant cactus heads. Ah, sweet sweet serenity.

Yes, serenity has been granted to me in the form of Arizona. I am very grateful to God for this. So, with that in mind, I will impose some questions on you all.

I want to ask you, what is YOUR serenity? When you start feeling down and out, like nothing seems to make any sense or matter, what do YOU do? Do you find yourself saying a prayer like the one I do? What brings you to a state of grace? Do you have one?

I am asking for you all to take some time and reflect on this. I am urging you to come to a place in your minds, in your bodies, that brings you peace. The cool part of all of this is, your serenity can be ANYTHING you want it to be! Anything, or any place, that you think puts you in your state of grace. When you think of this, I urge you to annotate it. By all means, I would also love for you to share it with us.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Believe it or not, in doing so, this will give your spirit some satisfaction. Just by writing your passions down on paper alone can bring you serenity. You are enabling your mind to enter a more relaxed, peaceful state.

I am asking for you all that read my blog to share your serenity with us. Your words may inspire those who have forgotten to dream. They may ease the many pains of some of our beloved who are seriously hurting right now. They need to glow.

Remember, my brothers and sisters, we all shine together. So please, write down and share these thoughts. This is simply another way of keeping the little HIV/AIDS monster in his cage. In sharing, we all grow and build what I believe we are striving to achieve. Peace at the center. A state of grace. A sense of serenity.

Send Enrique an e-mail.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Shon (Atlanta) Wed., Apr. 14, 2010 at 9:02 pm UTC
I love your blog Enrique. My sense of peace is definitely "spiritually" based. I can't describe it...its indescribable, if that makes sense. But I feel "peace" to the depths of my soul. Life certainly has its share of challenges...and I wouldn't change a minute of it. For me, being alive is the biggest blessing. I just put my utmost faith, belief, the love of God. His Presence is everywhere. He watches over me and protects me. Just knowing He's there makes me feel better. It also makes me feel as if I can accomplish anything.
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Comment by: (Melbourne, AUS) Wed., Apr. 14, 2010 at 8:02 am UTC
My place is inside ...the place where you go when you focus on your breathing and let the thoughts come and go like clouds across the expanse of your mind. Eckhart Tolle has been an in the "now" enjoy the present moment and try not to worry about hte future....the only happiness is in this moment now.
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Comment by: Bren (Melbourne, Australia) Mon., Apr. 12, 2010 at 1:17 am UTC
One need not necessarily take a faith-based approach to finding serenity. The Serenity prayer fits in well with the basic philosophical approach that goes all the way back to Socrates who questioned how one should go about living a "good life", i.e. a way to approach life that is healthy for mind and body and avoids, wherever possible, harm to others.

Philosophy is useful because it helps us to seek out those internal beliefs, prejudices and habits that make life harder for us and other people. Challenging our own deeply-held and rarely-questioned beliefs can result in peace of mind as we realise that, sometimes, letting go is enormously liberating and strangely comforting.

Beyond challenging my own beliefs, like Enrique, I find no greater solace and head-clearer that communing with nature. But music is also helpful, not to mention a really good love-making session every once in a while.

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Comment by: odie (youngstown,oh) Fri., Apr. 9, 2010 at 11:22 pm UTC
there are two things i like to do:
1) weather permiting, i walk through our local park (Mill Creek), its beautiful there walking thru the trails and just listening to nature sing peace and listening to GOD speak HIS peace. there is a waterfall in the park i sit at one of the ledges close to the fall and close my eyes and just listen as my world as i know it fades away temporarily. water is so peaceful.
2 i love just getting a hotel room in anywhere USA and treating myself like im the king of the world. i take this time to myself cut off my cell phone and let whatever comes to my mind happen (room service,massages,being naked,etc.). i just be free and to myself and GOD.
there is a third i love to just get in my car and drive some times for hours to destination nowhere just drive and "Let JESUS Lead Me"
there is nothing like just find to moments peace
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Comment by: ndungu (Nairobi, Kenya) Fri., Apr. 9, 2010 at 3:06 am UTC
Great article Enrique. I concur with your faith about the serenity prayer. It's a powerful prayer indeed and if one really meditates on the words they have a redeeming effect on the soul. I find my serenity by spending some time all alone by myself and also by taking leisure walks especially in quiet areas. Nature has so much to offer especially to the healing mind. Contemplation and meditation play a key role if one is to achieve a healthy state of mind. However in the hustle and bustle of our every day's activities we do not seem to have time for reflection and meditation. Silence is golden.
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Comment by: Bryan Hraban (Milwaukee, WI) Thu., Apr. 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm UTC
serenity--peace. this has been the goal for my life journey for about the last 15 years. with regard to: "everyone has their own interpretations of serenity," serenity/peace comes to me in many different ways. after the death of my son, it has been yet another "test/challenge" for me to find peace.

the first step: acknowledge that there IS peace. acknowledge that it exists, look for it & then claim it! my flimsy blog is: if you comment, i may improve my "regular" blogging...needing
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A Brighter Vision

The U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy got Enrique Franco kicked out of the Army. It also, oddly, was the reason he found out he was HIV positive.

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