Sunday will Come!


I just returned from a ten-day vacation in Boston, which included a weekend in NY, visiting family. There was one drawback. I did not get to see the friends I was hoping to see. I was sorely disappointed! In the weeks leading up to my departure, I found myself reliving my teenage years all over again. My gal pals and I were hanging out during lunch period. Talking. Laughing. Planning the next big social adventure. Yes, I was ready for the long-awaited mini-reunion. Reality inevitably returned. I learned one thing. People grow up. And grow apart. Ideals change. People are busy. Maybe 48 hours in the Big Apple was not enough time. Enough of the excuses. Some things are just not meant to be.

I celebrated my birthday during my trip. It was wonderful. Amazing. The English would call it brilliant. Fantastic. Emotional in more ways than one. One day I will find the strength and courage to explain why. I awoke to find some pretty neat gifts waiting for me downstairs, one of which was the entire series of Seinfeld~ my all-time favorite television show. The day was topped off with dinner with my father at Legal Seafood, followed by birthday cheers and cake at home with the family. This birthday is one I will never forget for as long as I live. I am eternally grateful for my family in Boston, who made it the truly remarkable day it was. I love you all.

Today’s blog is not a travel log of any sort. Coincidentally, as I struggled with choosing a proper theme, I was gently reminded it was Easter. The christian world is celebrating the resurrection of the Savior. It’s fitting to pen something along these lines. Christians view Good Friday as the darkest day in the world. Sometimes in life, every day is a “Friday”. We know that the Savior was resurrected on a Sunday. He triumphed over death. Sunday eventually came. For many of us, our “Sundays” are on the horizon. Maybe you’ve had more than a few.For others, it is Sunday somewhere.

Let me revisit a personal “Sunday” experience. At the tender age of 16, I graduated high school. However, there was no money for college. I had to find work. I faced many “Fridays”, as I realized that dreams of a college education were getting further and further away. Many moons later, as a working adult, I returned to school full-time. My “Sunday” would eventually come. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Psychology. I love learning. I also knew that in a matter of years, a BSc degree will be looked on in the same way as a HSD. I yearned for more. Moreover, I wanted to study abroad. Many shook their heads at the thought. I was the recipient of many thoughtless remarks. Others rallied around me in support. I never lost sight of my dream. The Lord placed many people along my path to help me. Yet another “Sunday” came when this dream was realized. In 4 years I would complete two degrees. I share this accomplishment for one reason only. To reinforce that whatever you want in life, you can have it. You are the only person standing in your way. Tony Robbins said it this way “If you do what you’ve always done. You will get what you’ve always gotten” My “Sunday” came. Yours will too. You and I have many more Sundays to look forward to. We have to want it bad enough.

Perhaps, you have had many “Sundays”. Unfortunately, they slid quietly by. Or did they? They came in the form of small achievements. You left a dead-end job. Finally took a vacation. A troubled family member took a step in the right direction. You bought your first car. Got out of a toxic relationship. The journey took forever. However, your “Sunday” finally came. Sometimes, it is much easier to focus on the “Fridays” in our lives. Why? Because “Sunday” seem so far away.

No one is exempt from experiencing “Fridays”. Our character will be tested. The next challenge is already waiting. Sometimes we give up. Lose hope. Perhaps your most immediate “Friday” experience involve problems which seem insurmountable .You struggle each day with decisions you should make. Returning to school. Starting a business. Staying afloat financially. Pursuing a childhood dream. One that has lain dormant for years. You’re a master of excuses as to why it’s not the right time. Remember, they are your dreams. Not your parents.Siblings.Friends.Coworkers.No one. Yours. Moving to a different state or neighborhood. Getting out of a dead-end relationship. Doing what makes you happy for a change. When will your “Sunday” come? When will you make it happen?

Maybe today will be the day we start working toward our “Sundays”. Accept “Fridays” for what they are. Family will let us down. Friends will stop caring. People will walk in and out of our lives. We will experience some of the darkest days yet. Illness and death will affect us. Finances will be meager. Fear will often consume us. You name it. We are not immune to trials. Nevertheless, “Sunday” will come. Relationships will be rebuilt. Illnesses will be cured. We will find joy in each new day. Each of us will have our own, personal, rewarding “Sundays”. Here’s hoping that we get through the “Fridays”, so that we can enjoy the “Sundays” that will certainly come. We deserve it.

Here is one of my original poems. Enjoy!

HE KNOWS, HE IS THERE

When it seems as if no one cares. He knows, He is there.
All you have is wing and a prayer? He knows, He is there.
Had the worst day of your life? He knows, He is there.
When the home is filled with anger and strife. He knows, He is there.

A child has gone down the wrong path. He knows, He is there.
A light banter was taken to heart. He knows, He is there.
You want to give up and throw the towel in. He knows, He is there.
Feel beaten, blown about by the whirlwind? He Knows, He is there.

It’s hard to look for the blessings. He knows, He is there.
You have too many irons going. He knows, He is there.
No one even tries to understand. He knows, He is there.
The days when you are an army of one. He knows, He is there.

You almost lost your job today. He knows, He is there.
You may have to find some other way. He knows, He is there.
It’s an effort to get up in the morning. He knows, He is there.
When will things start changing? He knows, He is there.

The long-waited goal? It didn’t work out! He knows, He is there.
You’ve been forced to walk away, find another way out. He knows, He is there.
You need to formulate a new game plan, He knows, He is there.
At times like these, it’s hard to trust anyone, He knows, He is there.

A lifelong friend has let you down? He knows, He is there.
How do you move on from this one? He knows, He is there.
The days when it’s easier to quit. He knows, He is there.
He’s aware of everything, every bit and He knows, He is there

Juan Williams (2009)

Best!

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To the Women in My Life.


One of the drawbacks to country living, is finding fun things to do for for an entire month of school vacation. Luckily for me, in a matter of days, I’m heading to the USA. I will divide my time between Boston and New York. I am especially looking forward to reuniting with high school girl-friends. I have not seen them in more than a decade. They were an integral part of my formative years. I expect the visit be Remarkable. Wonderful. Amazing. Electrifying.

As I contemplated the experiences ahead of me, my thoughts were drawn to the remarkable women I have met along life’s path. I am in awe of their achievements. These women did not receive any educational, monetary or social accolades. These women are single parents. Friends. Caretakers. Confidants. Some of the most unassuming people you will ever meet. Quite a few are unknowingly auditioning for sainthood. One of my heroes is Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of women who are victims of war, genocide and rape. She works tirelessly to help thousands regain pride and rebuild lives.

Not all of us will be a Zainab Salbi. However, our accomplishments are nothing short of phenomenal. They may never appear in newspapers. Nor will they ever be the lead story on Headline News. To put it bluntly, most of our friends will never know just truly exceptional we are. We do not fish for compliments. Nor do we advertise our accomplishments. To the remarkable women I have met in my life, I dedicate today’s blog. Time does not permit an entry for all the women who fit this description. Their stories can fill novels. However, I hope these women get the picture. Hopefully, the next time they look in the mirror, they see a transformed woman. A courageous woman. A phenomenal woman. I hope they see light in their eyes.

To the woman who had the courage to take her kids and walk away from an abusive relationship. I salute you. I admire your strength. Your courage is commendable. The strength it took to make and act upon the decision was nothing short of heroic. The future was uncertain. You had no idea how you were going to sustain your family in the coming months. The most important thing was to leave while you still can. Finally, you did. It took another lifetime to rebuild your shattered lives. You are in a better place now. You made it. You are a hero to many. Especially your kids. A quote by Anais Nin sums this up:” There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”.

To the single mother struggling to raise her children. You make personal sacrifices your children will never know about. Your needs are always met last. You love your children more than life itself. Their life will be better than yours ever was. You have cried yourself to sleep many, many nights. The needs far outweigh the wants. Yet, somehow you find a way. You are both mom and dad.Chaffeur. Teacher. Sister. Friend. Comforter. Listener. Nurse. Provider. Disciplinarian. Add to this list. Your only wish is that your children will live up to their true potential. You are an exemplary human being. I applaud you. I like this quote by Irving Washington, it applies to you: “There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity”.

To the woman who is everything to everyone. Yep, the one auditioning for sainthood. A confidant. Friend. A “payday loan personal lender”. You say yes, when you meant to say no. The word no doesn’t exist in your vocabulary. You don’t want to be the cause of bruised feelings, so once again, you give in. You are tired of giving in to everyone one. However, your gentle, caring nature would not let you do otherwise. You give until it hurts. More often than not, it really does hurt. You listen to your girlfriend‘s never ending dating and marriage crises. You are a babysitter, with no kids of your own. You volunteer each week. Personal matters demand your attention. Your friends and family’s needs seem more pressing at the moment. You are an extraordinary woman. Your good works never cease to amaze others. Many secretly wish they could do half of what you do. You find joy in others happiness. There is no one else like you. No one can take your place in their hearts. Sarah Jessica Parker said this: As a woman, I have an inherent need to be all things to all people, to make certain everybody’s taken care of. I know I can’t sustain that level all the time, so I’m finding the proper balance and it’s made me infinitely happier.

To the woman bogged down by the deepest and most personal insecurities. No amount of words can revolutionize the opinion you have of yourself. It has to come from within. You must find the power to believe in yourself. To take charge. To believe that each day offers a new beginning. To stop allowing relationships to define you. To stop settling for less than you deserve. From friends. Men. The world. Sometimes even from family. To seek help if it’s needed. To let go of the past. Stop blaming yourself. Liberate yourself from burdens that weigh you down. To know you are beautiful. Talented. Smart. Intelligent. Amazing. To believe these words. Not just be comforted by them. Today is the day. To heed this counsel: “The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it: ~ Roseanne Barr.

To the grandmother raising another generation. Retirement is indeed for the birds. You’ve travelled this road before. The path is incredibly familiar. You have given up much. The sacrifices are innumerable. You are determined to see this through. Maybe you’ve been given a second chance. Whatever your circumstance. Your greatest reward is seeing your grandchildren succeed. The grandchildren love you. Because of you, the family is together. There was never any question or doubt. You are their angel. Their hero. You are the epitome of unselfishness. Love. Caring. Generosity. Courage. Kindness. The list is infinite. I have a high regard for you. Because of your efforts one more child will get a chance at life. This one’s for you:” Grandmothers and roses are much the same. Each are God’s masterpieces with different names” ~Author Unknown.

Finally, to the remarkable women who have loved and lost. You know the old adage: “Men are like parking spots. All the good ones are taken, and the rest are handicapped”. I am also guilty of using this epithet. I do know that good men exist. I have seen them in action. Had conversations with them. Yes,many are already taken. However, amazing men still walk the planet. Look deeper. Longer. Harder. Ask more questions. Take things slower. Take an intimate look at his familial relationships. Avoid repeating past mistakes. Realize that he will be perfect for you. No one else. He can handle you at your worst. Resolve residual trust issues. You may have to kiss many frogs before finding your prince charming. Consider this message: “The first time you buy a house you see how pretty the paint is and buy it. The second time, you look to see if the basement has termites. It’s the same with men. ~ Lupe Velez.

To all the other remarkable women I have met. The inner-city school teachers. Special education counselors. Underpaid social workers. Everyone who belongs on this list. I am grateful for your unwavering spirits. Your examples. The lessons you have taught me. Grateful it was the Lord’s design to have our paths cross. The world is a better place because you are in it. Continue to stand out. To outclass. To show the rest of us how it’s done. To love unconditionally. Thank you.

“What is better than wisdom? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing”. ~Geoffrey Chaucer”

Best,
Juan

Find The Good and Praise It.


More than a decade ago, a dear friend introduced me to the concept of a gratitude journal. Initially, I did not see the need. Time passed before I became converted to the idea.The ensuing years saw sporadic entries. However, this year has fared better than any other. A perfect record exists. Some days it’s easier than others to express gratitude. Why a gratitude journal? Who has the time? Our days are consumed with one hustle after another. Errands are not going to run themselves. Assignment fairies do not write papers. Lecture notes do not magically compile themselves.The kids are not going to drive themselves to school. On and on and on. A million and one little excuses. I will admit a gratitude journal is not for everyone. Some might find it silly. Inconsequential. A waste of time. For me, it’s a way of recognizing immeasurable blessings. The days can be arduous. It could be the day I got an unsatisfactory grade on an assignment. A long-awaited phone call never came. I had a fight with a dear friend. A family member fell ill. The car broke down. A relationship fell apart before it got off the ground. Affection was not returned. It is difficult to express gratitude on days like this. Especially when you are alone with your thoughts.

Let me share a few reasons why I keep a gratitude journal. Life is a gift. It is wonderful. Amazing. Rewarding. It is ours for the taking. Consider these alternatives. At this very minute, an alarming number of people just took their last breath. Others were hospitalized. Many received news of a terminal illness. Families said goodbye to their loved ones being deployed for military service. It’s commonplace to be greeted with news of unimaginable tragedies. Natural disasters. Wars. Human rights abuses. Genocides. Mass rape. Honor Killings. Child miners working for long hours under inhumane conditions. Baby elephants and even pregnant mothers are being hunted and killed so one nation can feed its hunger for ivory. Stories abound of beatings, rape, and killing are connected to one of the world’s biggest diamond fields in Zimbabwe. Human trafficking. Child marriages and pregnancies. The atrocities are unthinkable. We shrug our shoulders and turn away, because it’s not in “our backyard”. The majority of us reading this will never suffer these or any other unconscionable acts of brutality. We are some of the luckiest people in the world. This post is not meant to invoke guilt nor highlight the injustices of the world. We know they exist. It is a way to help us realize that we have more than we need and we ought to be grateful.

With so much going on, it’s hard to remain optimistic about the state of the world. However, I am grateful that I am alive. I have food to eat. Clothes to wear. A roof over my head. Friends that love and care for me. A family I can call my own. My parents are still alive. I have the opportunity to get an education. I can marry whoever I please. My health is fairly stable. Eyes to see. Ears to hear. Feet to walk. A mind that works. My family is doing well. I live in a free country. I will never have to worry about my children working instead of going to school. The blessings are infinite. When I look at the injustices of the world, I realize that I am blessed to be born in a country that allows me countless liberties. It could have been a lot different. I could have been born somewhere else. Under different circumstances.

Are there days when I want to give up and throw in the towel? Days when I doubt myself? My abilities? My strengths? My problems seem insurmountable? Of course! This is the time I like to read my gratitude journal. It gives a new perspective. Clarity. Hope. We have a lot to be grateful for. Whether we believe in God. Buddha. A higher power. A statue. Maybe we have no beliefs. It has no bearing on being able to recognize when you are blessed and being grateful for it. There is no need to keep a journal like some do. Recognition will do. So next time, you are asked to give more than you have. Someone let you down. Your world is crashing down around you. All hope is lost. Remember, it could be a hundred times worse. There are people who would trade places with you in a heartbeat. They would give anything to live the life you are living. What are you grateful for today?

“If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get”. ~Frank A. Clark

Best,

Juan.