1 yr l8tr


A year ago today, I returned to the blogging world. What a literary adventure!We are here. First, some housekeeping. As of today, chindeepinlife have been viewed 912 times. I blogged 24 times.There are 29 comments. Not too shabby. Roll on next year. The freedom of self expression continues. Please know your views and comments are welcomed. And encouraged. Always. Furthermore, do you have a topic/issue you would like me to address? Want to write a guest post? In box me at jstarr2600@aol.co.uk. Come along for the ride.

So, here is my year. In a paragraph. Since March, I travelled back to the USA. Returned to my homeland (SVG), after more than a decade. Visited New York, Boston, Ireland, Italy,Tenerife, and other parts of the UK for the first time. I filed for and received USA permanent residency for my mother. I visited the birthplace of JFK. I was awarded my MSc in Psychology degree. Published my first anthology of poems. You can read a sample, purchase, or win a free copy here Bookbuzzr. One of my pieces,”Too Little Too Late was selected and included in Outskirtspress Fandemoniun Volume 1. For the first time in my life, I lost my wallet. Fortunately, everything was returned. I marched in a worldwide event to celebrate International Women’s Day. I was humbled to write a piece in celebration of it, aptly titled Meet Us on the Bridge. Received my UK residency permit. And oh yeah, I dated. After more than 8 yrs. One day it will happen for me. This mysterious, and elusive enigma. Called love.

Back to finding my voice.I started this blog to keep in touch with friends and family.It has evolved.Taken on a life of its own.Really.Being able to share some of my experiences, has enabled me to see the bigger picture.I am eternally grateful. I wish to thank those who return faithfully. Time after time. The ones following by email. The kind comments. The friends who mentioned me in their blogs. I appreciate every contribution. Every acknowledgement. Word of encouragement. Act of kindness. Help. And thought.

For my next post, I will share something of a very personal nature. A lifetime burden. One I can no longer carry. I have to get rid of it. If I hope to be truly free. To find any real happiness in this life. It’s the beginning of a healing process, that is decades late. A revelation which will surprise those who know me best. I am ready. Of course I could give a hint.But I prefer you to conjure up your own ideas. Some will never guess. However, I can no longer hide behind smiles. Or the stiff upper lip. Not when it comes to this.

Until the next post, let me finish with the quote from my first post: “Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth”

Best,

Juan

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Lessons of Life.


I had an entirely different subject written. Edited. And proofread. Before circumstances changed .What a difference a week makes. I prefer to listen to people’s problems and not share my own. In this way, I don’t think about mine. Too much that is. Recent experiences have left me feeling trapped in an emotional wind tunnel. I am still processing everything. Trying to figure out how I arrived where I am. Life can truly be cruel at times. I also know time is the emotional healer.

The nature of what happened is irrelevant. I realize this might lead to speculation. It’s okay. This post is very cathartic for me. The hope here is that readers will recognize a part of themselves. Perhaps realize what has been lost. Find the clarity that was always there. Hiding in plain sight. Akin to the white elephant in the room. Clarity brings transparency. Awareness. Forces us to own up. Remove the scales covering our eyes. And in the process learn painful lessons. It is possible that we were already taught these lessons. But needed the reminder. A refresher course. Following are some of the lessons I have learned over time, but were recently reinforced.

Lesson one: “When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future” ~ Bernard Meltzer. From 1998 to 2000, a US television network ran a show called Forgive or Forget. I watched it religiously. It lived up to its name. Guests talked about things they did wrong. To a family member or friend. The offended person had to make the choice on whether to forgive or forget. Initially, it was a highly rated show. Millions related to the emotional complexities of every story. At the end of each episode, if the offense was forgiven, the person would be waiting behind a door. If not, the room would be empty. It was good TV.

We make mistakes daily. Blunders which hurt. Abominably. Some are easy to forgive. Others take time. People forgive and move on. Others own the hurt. Clutching it like a lifeline. They feel justified in doing so. It is easier to forgive an enemy than a friend. Actions and words cannot be taken back. But we can lay the foundation for a better future. Forgiveness does not change what happened. It is not saying what happened is okay. It means not allowing the other person to control your happiness. And how you feel about yourself. It should change us. And how we respond to situations in the future. We must give and take. People are not perfect. We must not forget when the shoe was on the other foot. Doing so enables us to move on. To heal. To prevent irreparable damage to our most important relationships.

Lesson two: “The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than what you settled for” ~ Maureen Dowd. No truer words have ever been spoken! It’s imperative that you love yourself. If you do, you will not accept anything less than what you deserve. Throughout my life I have learned that if something, is not freely given to me, it’s not worth having. I speak in terms of our relationship with others. You don’t have to take this piece of advice. Go on. Settle. I can guarantee you the time will come. As it always does. When it will no longer be enough. You will feel a yearning. For better. Complete fulfillment. More. Whether it is a better, loving relationship. Attention from a spouse or loved one. A better job. A change of pace. You will be unhappy. Unless you make the change. And stop settling.

Lesson three: “We teach people how to treat us”~ Dr Phil. In words and actions.  The situation develops gradually. Sneakily. Like a thief in the night. An inch here. A mile there. Complacency sets in. You keep forgiving. Behaviors become established. And change is hard to come by. We should establish and maintain boundaries early. Regardless of the nature of the relationship. Don’t assume everyone knows and follows the rules of social etiquette. Once a pattern is in place, good luck trying to change it.

A word of advice. Take each of the relationships in your life, and ask yourself: “How does …..treat me?” Furthermore, do some self-examination. Yes, we should expect to be treated with kindnes, love, and respect by those who profess to care about us. Caring about someone should not hurt. Nevertheless, self-examination requires us to consider the extent to which we have contributed to their behaviors. Have we put them on the edge because of our own behaviors? Are they reacting to the situation or the person? Molehill are easily transformed into mountains. The mole hills were always there. However, the last one was the mother of all mole hills. It got misconstrued. We cannot will people to change their behaviors. But, we can establish boundaries early. Or regret later.

Lesson four: “Change always comes bearing gifts” ~ Price Pritchett. We’ve all wished that we could bottle an emotion. A hug. A kiss. A tender moment. An unusually great day. Etc. Save them for later. When the going gets rough. When we need to seek peace. Why? Because people change. And so should we. Let me hasten to add a word of caution. I do not mean that you should change who you are. Your values. Beliefs. Personality. The essence of you. No. Never. However, if a behavior changes. And that behavior affects your life. How you feel about yourself. Then it’s time to put the gears in motion.

Something to consider, in all likelihood, the person might not have changed, we just know them better. Sometimes we need to change actions, attitudes, and ways of thinking to overcome a difficult situation. To stamp out vicious cycles. This is the type of change I am advocating. Sometimes it becomes necessary to do the necessary. One day I will look back on this past week, and be reminded that “good things fall apart, so better things can come together”.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

Will U B The 1?


Jack Kerouac once said: “I don’t know, I don’t care, and it does not make any difference”. This quote appears counterproductive to the point I am trying to make in today’s blog. We’ve all uttered these words. Perhaps, in a futile attempt get someone to stop hounding us about an insurmountable problem. The title of this post might lead some to believe it is about finding the love of their lives. Knowing the signs. And person. To avoid. Etc. Sorry to disappoint.

Today’s post is a horse of a different color. Cliche. It’s about making a difference. In the life of one. Amidst the ills and strife in the world. The Ponzi schemers. Dodgy politicians. Stories of death.Hunger.Starvation.Natural disasters.Animal cruelty.Child slave labor. Civil wars and the resulting death toll. Dictators defying the UN.Human trafficking. Add to this list. Is it any wonder many are disconcerted?Weighed down by heavy burdens of helplessness? Guilt for not knowing what to do. Surely someone else with more prestige, and power,would do a better job. My small, sometimes insignificant efforts don’t really matter. Do they? A band-aid is ineffectual against a gushing wound.

Here is an invitation to consider a different perspective.We are familiar with the Starfish Story. Motivational speakers have used it to energize crowds. And light fires in hearts. Read it here  The Star Thrower. Whether we do a random act of kindness.Volunteer. Or go the extra mile. One simple act can change lives. And restore faith. To the one who received it. And perchance, to the person who saw our selfless example.

Every day the media greets us with one crisis after another. At the forefront is the major humanitarian crisis in East Africa. The unthinkable crimes in the Syrian cities, such as Homs. Let’s not forget the genocides of the early 1990’s. I have often wondered, how can these things be allowed to happen? How can millions starve to death on one continent, while food is being discarded everyday on another? How can one dictator be allowed wreak havoc on people’s lives? We all have questions. And watered down philosophies with which to answer. Not forgetting eloquently spoken rhetorics. It does nothing for the those who are suffering. In the eyes of world. Or the neighbor next door.

Maybe you and I cannot do much for the hunger crisis in East Africa. Maybe we are powerless to go into Syria. And confront the cowards who ruthlessly and methodically take lives to scare. And control. Maybe we can’t bring the men without souls from the Congo, and other areas of the world, in front of the ICC. Try them for kidnapping boys and girls under 15, and force them to take part in hostilities. Justice or karma does prevail, as it did in this case; Well Done . However, we simply can’t stand by. And wait around.

We may not have the money and star power of well-known philanthropists. Or rock stars. The great Muhammad Ali once stated: “You lose nothing when fighting for a cause. In my mind the losers are those who don’t have a cause they care about”. However, we can raise awareness. We can infect our communities with our passion. And enthusiasm. And pray the infection spreads. Like a virus. And contaminate thousands more. We can hold a garage sale. And give the proceeds to charity. We can host a dinner party for friends, present information, and brainstorm ideas of how you can band together. And do something. Most people will help if asked. We don’t have to feel helpless. We don’t have do it alone.We can dedicate a day’s pay or more if you can afford it, to a cause. This site www.onedayswages.org shows you how to do this. Do you draw? Paint? Are you good with your hands? Perhaps you can sell crafts at a fair. And give away all the proceeds.

Here are more ideas by Karen Chaffe. We can help. In our own backyard. Volunteer to read to the elderly or to tutor the young or illiterate. Organize the planting of a community garden in a vacant lot where those on low or fixed incomes can give to putting more food on the table. Donate at or to a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, or a shelter for abused women and children. Start a neighborhood watch group to help lower crime. Adopt an impoverished family for the holidays, or any day, through your church or place of business. Help them with food and clothing. Start a book drive and make them available to the disabled or to children who have none at home. Cook a meal or run an errand for an elderly, ill, or person with a disability, or a veteran. Involve your children when you can. They will learn by your example.

Permit me to revisit the starfish story before concluding. It is possible the youngster did not save the life of every starfish he threw back into the water. Maybe some of them died. However, for the one (s) that made it? It made a difference.We will not solve all the problems in the world. Truthfully, the problems will remain. Long after you and I have fallen asleep for the last time. Nevertheless while we are here, we have life. And hope. The hope of making a difference in the life of one. Remember how you felt as the recipient of a kind act. You did not ask. Nor hinted you needed help. The person somehow knew.

Who needs our help today? The homeless. The lonely, elderly neighbor. The mother with a mentally disabled child. The person you served his only meal for the day, at the soup kitchen. The animal left for dead, but whom you nursed back to health. The child you sponsored in Africa. And the generations you helped to save. The seat you gave up on public transport. The pro bono work you did for the one who could not pay. The run/walk you completed to raise awareness for a global cause. Shall I continue? No. You get it. Someone benefitted. The one whose faith in humanity you helped to restore. The one who now has more hope for tomorrow.The prayer you just answered.

Time does not allow me to cover all the issues I wanted to get across. I hope we feel a renewed sense of purpose. Remember,we might never see the results of our actions. Perhaps no one will thank us. The situation won’t change much. Perhaps people will question our ability to take matters into our own hands. Then again, we may see small changes.Our actions can spur a movement. A revolution.The march you took part in could result in legislative changes.Or help to create new laws. You can help someone see a better way. After so many have tried. And failed. Someone could be waiting on you to call on them today. This minute. Regardless of how things turn out, the greatest mistake you and I can ever make is to do nothing.

I must thank my fellow blogger and friend Paul, for “planting” the idea in my head to write about this topic. I’m a follower of his blog for a reason. You can check it out here www.mazunguman.com . Our conversation has led me to make a more concentrated effort in learning how to recognize the one who needs my help.

Enjoy one of my favorite songs of all time; Circle of Life

Until the next post, can one person make a difference? You bet.

Best,

Juan

On Women..and Giving Credit Where It’s Due.


Start of the London Event

On Thursday 8th, I attended my first Women for Women International Meet Me on the Bridge event in London. Marchers met on the south side of the Millennium Bridge. Faces got painted. Banners and sashes made. Balloons inflated. Flyers and chant sheets handed out. Messages of peace collected. The atmosphere?Electrifying. An emergency prevented me from arriving on time.However, I was happy I got to help. I support WFWI because their work centers around helping women in war-torn countries rebuild their lives.The women are survivors of genocides. Civil war. Rape. Torture. And other injustices. Snapshots of the event can be viewed on my fb page here London March.  I was asked to write a blog or poem in support of the London event.You can find it here: Meet Us on the Bridge. The experience left me energized.Exhilarated.Firm in my commitment to do what I can to help. I am humbled to be a part of this cause. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the enormity of need. However, if we stay focus on helping the one, we will inevitably change the lives of generations. For centuries to come.

In a reflective mood after a long day, my thoughts lingered on the women, past and present, who I have admired along life’s pathway. All heroines. And trailblazers. In their own right. They defied opposition. And conventionalism. They fought. And won. Women such as my mother. Oprah Winfrey. Zanaib Salbi. Dr Maya Angelou. Helen Keller. Hillary Clinton. Amelia Earhart. Eleanor Roosevelt. Anne Frank. Ellen Johnson Sir leaf. Fay Clayton. Harriet Tubman. Madam CJ Walker. My late high school principal, Sister Patricia Ann Douglas. And Nujood Ali. The list is not exhaustive. A post I made almost a year ago, The Women in My Life highlights the quiet, unassuming women in our midst. The graceful, patient heroines. The women who show us how it’s done. With such a refined elegance, you cannot help but be awed by their achievements.

You are fortunate if you have a remarkable woman in your life. One who has profoundly influenced you. In countless ways.In the way only she can. Who continually place the needs of others before her own. A woman whose quiet, genteel spirit has sustained you in your darkest hours. One whose absence will leave a gaping hole in your life. She is one of the kindest people you have ever met. You are blessed. It’s my hope this woman (or women) in your life know that she is loved. And appreciated. That her selfless efforts have not gone unnoticed. That she is not invisible. No extra resources are necessary. No outlandish or impressive gestures. Just simple acts of gratitude. And appreciation. We all have at least one such woman in our lives. Many are blessed with more than one. If you don’t know a woman who meets this description, your life is empty. Get out there. Or better yet, be that kind of woman or person for someone else.

The world-wide celebrations continue to celebrate women, and their remarkable achievements. We are very privileged. We just don’t realize the full extent. Let us keep hope alive in our hearts for the women in Afghanistan. Iraq. The Congo. Sudan. Nigeria. Libya. And all the other regions of the world where women continue suffer to unimaginable injustices.

Until the next post, here is a quote by one of my favorite poets, Dr.Maya Angelou : “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women”.

Best,

Juan

Yes.It’s. About. Me!


Chindeepinlife is almost a year old. I intend to do something to mark the event. Staying power. Time in the blogging world. You know. It’s also time to share a bit more about myself. Through random facts. Twenty of them. Some won’t surprise my friends. No one knew them all. Until today. Of course.

I learnt how to cook at the age of 10.

Unless it is dark and quiet, I cannot fall asleep.

I can eat a pint of Hagen Daas Vanilla ice-cream in one sitting.

I have moved 10 times in the past 8 years.

I have a tendency to change my plans at the last-minute.

I am deathly afraid of snakes and frogs.

I sucked my thumb into my early twenties.

I love to dance in the rain.

I detest cooking.

Kissing is a hobby.

I hate high heels.

I was a cheerleader in high school.

I love listening to podcasts.

I like to eat hot, just-out-of-the-oven-bread, with melted butter.

My second ear-piercing was done by a high school friend during lunch period.

I was terminated from a job once: for helping someone.

I made it through a category 3 hurricane by myself.

I get along better with men versus women.

Both parents have high blood pressure.

I lose interest in things very quickly.

Until the next post, let me remind you of my favorite quote by Robert Frost: “Education is the ability to listen to anything without losing your temper or self-confidence”.

Best,

Juan Williams