Freedom Is Not Free.


 

aphiliprandolph212163America celebrated Independence yesterday. All around the city of Brooklyn, people came out with the familiar celebratory BBQ  get up; food and drinks to feed a small army, grills, loud music, and of course, family, friends, and loved ones, to mark the nation’s annual tradition. Amidst the flurry of activity, I couldn’t help but reflect on what makes us truly free. Can we be truly free of any and everything?

Rhetorical question, yes. There will always be a crisis to handle, problem to solve, and some part of our world to be put to right. Isn’t life a constant changing of the guards from one problem to another? If we are to grow and learn from experience, then these challenges are necessary, right? Isn’t this what those self-improvement guru’s want us to believe? I have also blogged about the need to remain steady and firm in the face of difficulties.

My thoughts then turned to the things I can control. My actions and how much they impact my future happiness. There is no personalized life book that comes with any of us at birth. We make what we think is the best decision, and hope for the right outcome.  I guess I can only look back now, at the battles the past few years, and ponder heavily on how one decision changed the course of my life. Forever.

Stay with me.

The year started out with major disappointments. Two days in, and the bad news opened like flood gates. Adding to the existing string of difficult issues already being tended to. They kept coming. Granted, I have to accept and appreciate all the good. The small and big moments of happiness, that have help me through the most difficult few years of my life. Some of which have been noted on my Earth strong post. You can’t have the great without the struggle. The only prayer I offer up these days is one of hope, for things to turn around.

I used to attend church regularly. Served the members of my congregation in every capacity possible. Did all the right things. For a very long time. Somewhere along the line, all that changed. As a result of one decision. Call it the consequences of veering off the path, or some type of karmic shift, I don’t know, but the ensuing years have been very harsh. I was free to make this decision, but not free of the consequences. No one ever is. Freedom does come at a cost. Always.

I’m writing my memoir. It is a project I’ve started and stopped many times. Why a memoir? I mean, everyone has a story, but not everyone is sharing it with the world. You WILL understand, once it’s published. I’ve abandoned all completion timelines. The story needs to be written and accurately. However, it is coming. Months or years from now, it will come.

When you get to a certain age, for all intents and purposes, it appears you must go through a few years of extreme hardship. I’m aware some people have more. Whether it’s the loss of an important relationship, financial downfall, home, or anything that means something. I remain grateful to the universe though, for the things, experiences, and good, wholesome people I’ve been blessed to cross paths with.

I hope this refiner’s fire I am going through leads to something glorious. Since I no longer hold many of the beliefs about Deity I used to, I only have to believe the universe is preparing me for an elevation of gigantic proportions. I also hope whatever karmic debt I owed in my previous life, will soon be repaid. Then there is the question of whether or not, I ever owed any “debts” to speak of.

I hope the struggles of the past few years continue to strengthen my battle weary shoulders. Among my friends, I’m always admired for qualities such as fortitude, resilience, and inspiration. Sometimes I get tired of the fight. Don’t you? Tired of having to keep a brave face all the time. A partner once told me : ‘You’re strong woman, you don’t need anyone’. Sadly, he failed to recognize underneath all the strength, is a woman who wished he would see the silent battles I fought. Another time and universe I guess.

I also know, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten (Tony Robbins). My heart and soul hungers to be free of so much. I’m working on it. I think it’s time to make life a whole lot simpler. Continue working on my bucket list….I hate that phrase, but it applies for now

I hope wherever you are, and however this post reaches you, life has been kind to you. I hope you and your family are well, and happy. I wish you enough. Of everything.

Until the next post,

 

Best,

 

Juan

Life Is A Party.


life_is_kind_of_like_a_party_There is a lot I could say, about the true beauty, simplicity, and meaning, of the words in the photo above. However, there are situations, where you just let the words speak for themselves.

I hope, however, if you’re reading this post, there is at least one person in your life, who helps you to clean up the mess.

You deserve it. We all do.

Until the next post,

Love and Light,

Juan.

I Rise. I Grind.


 

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Recently, I blogged about how good things were going for me. For the first time in a long time, this girl was content and happy. Well, as it always does, life happens. Two weeks ago tomorrow, I was brought to a place I’ve never been before. Never envisioned. I visited several dark places. There was no one there to welcome me, give directions, or show me the way out. It was just me. With my thoughts and fears. Off in the distance, very far away, I did catch glimpses of the dreams I have, and if it wasn’t for those glimpses, I would still be in the dark place.

I returned for the results of an MRI and CT. I had an aneurysm. As the Neurologist read the results and my options, I looked to my left. I was curious about how the receiver was taking the news. Unfortunately, it was just me, and the junior doctor in training. And the Neurologist certainly wasn’t facing him. I sat in stunned silence, staring at the man whose lips were moving. All I heard was, “You have an 8-9mm aneurysm. Because of your age and its size, you’ll be meeting with an MDT team to discuss surgery, which is risky and invasive”.

I mean, how could this be? I initially went to see the doctor for dizziness. At the worse, I thought medication would be prescribed, and at the very least, it would be controlled. I had prepared myself for some type of tumor, which can be removed. Even hearing early onset of some disease, was expected. Instead, I was told that the older I get, my risk of a stroke increases. The doctor must have seen the supersize struggle I was having, as I fought the urge to cry. He offered an apology for the news, and his voice grew softer, and more compassionate. He wasn’t just giving a result, he was talking to someone, who didn’t expect this news. It was big.

I never wanted to fall into my mother’s arms more than I did then. Unfortunately, she is on another continent. Was there any good news in all this? The aneurysm hadn’t grown between scans, which meant it was stable. In addition, he told me that if I ever felt I was having the worse headache of my life, it was a sign it had ruptured. Medical treatment must be sought immediately. I’m almost positive I had one of those headaches in the recent past. In addition, the condition was caught in time, so it can be dealt with.

I knew I needed prayers. I wasn’t convinced that mine would be enough. No, I needed a small army to offer up supplications to the Lord. On my behalf. So I did something, I’ve never done on social media. I asked for prayers. The outpouring of support was immediate, and overwhelming. Almost two weeks later, almost 100 people have reached out to me, through messages, phone calls, texts and offers to pray for me. I felt supported. I hope the big man is listening.

So now what? I don’t know. All I know is the what ifs are very scary. I also know that I am a very resilient person, and even if I am in uncharted territory, the only thing I can do is push on. To live and do the same things I had planned before I learned of this terrible news. To always have a powerful prayer in my soul asking for the God in Heaven to spare me. And if this is not his will, to give me strong shoulders.

There are many things I want to do. Adventures to have. People to meet and help. Volunteer projects to take part in. Dreams to come through. Clients to help overcome barriers. An aging mom to take care of. Reunions to attend. Books to write. Pretty Muddy events to run. Home to buy. A business to run. History to explore. Charities to start. Loves to discover. The wonders of the world to visit. Hot balloon rides to take. The list is far from exhaustive.

I don’t plan on hiding away, feeling sorry for myself. The first week was the hardest. I cried, and cried some more. I even questioned, why, at a time in my life, when I was doing so good, this should happen. Then I sobered up, put on my big girl panties and got on with it. I still have days when I wrestle with huge decisions. Days when the darkness comes knocking on the doors of my fears. Days when I wished it was something else. Anything other than this. Please.

Self pity will not destroy my spirit, eat away at my soul, and erode my dreams. I do need prayers. I’m not giving up on my dreams. Quite the opposite. If God brings me to it, he will bring me through it. Sometimes, things happen in our lives, because HE wants us to move in a certain direction.

I will do a lot of things differently. For every breath I take, another soul is taking their last. While this year has carried with it, the most challenging times of my life,  there have been some fantastic memories. I can’t and won’t forget them. Each day I rise. I will grind.

 

Until the next post,

 

Best,

 

Juan

It’s Always Darkest Before Dawn


Photo:liveluvcreate

I felt compelled to share the precious words of wisdom below. Its my hope, that someone has waited to hear them.

Your situation will get better. Things always seem far worse than they are, especially at night. But in the morning you will realize your imagination has blown it out of proportion. Always wait for morning to make decisions. If you feel full of worry or apprehension, remember that 99% of what you worry about never happens, and the 1% never is as bad as you thought.

There is a plan for you. There is a reason for what you have experienced and what you will experience, even if you cannot see it now. What you are going through is not without purpose. So trust in the promise that things will get better and that someday you will find a level of gratitude for the events, good and bad, that have shaped you and prepared you for a better future.

So that you will never return to dark places, it is very important that you teach your mind to gravitate to the good that can happen, and already exists around you, not the bad that might happen. Once you are able to do this, your world will change forever for the better.

You have carried this burden long enough. It is time for you to let go … let your mind carry you back to the true and good light”..Energy Artist Julia.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

June. Thank You.


177555282_640Photo courtesy Vimeo.com

Readers, I hope you are well. Have you ever had a month so wonderful, you’re not likely to forget it, for as long as you live? I hope so! For me, June was it. At first I thought it was a fluke, but when the incredible things just kept coming, I started to believe. The best month, I’ve had in a long time. Truth be told, my long-term memory is pretty good!

I didn’t forget to count my blessings and express gratitude. Just couldn’t. For, in recent times, I’ve been taken out to the watershed and back. I thrive on optimism, and would like to believe, the tide is finally starting to turn for me. I can only hope, June was the beginning of the exciting things I’ve waited for. Weeks later, I was still buzzing from all the wonderful gifts the universe brought my way.

So, what about June, that makes it so fantastic? Well, for starters, as the universe would have it, I made a significant change to an area of my life. From there on out, things just seem to come together. The fixed contract I was working on ended this month, which meant back into job hunting. During my first interview process, I interviewed for two jobs at the same company. I obviously made an impression, because I was given a choice as to which role, I should take! Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.

Professional accolades continued, as I helped to make history. Right before the contract ended, I attended the company’s AGM. My colleague and I were publicly recognized, for the work we’re doing in Bristol. Furthermore, we worked very hard, and no stone unturned, as we wanted to go out on a high.The result? When the numbers were tallied up, our manager found, that in comparison to the same quarter last year, and with more than twice the number of staff, sales increased by more than 50%.

Continuing with the good stuff, thanks to a government programme, I was finally able to sort out my student loans. This has always been a source of worry, one that would prevent me from accomplishing other goals. Imagine my relief! Onto the other dreams then! On the path to financial freedom, I enrolled on a course, that would help me set up and manage my own business. The fee I paid was a small fraction of the regular price. I also found a mobile phone plan for £13 pcm, in comparison to the £50-60 per month, I paid for the past two years. Increase credit offers also came my way.

I received free upgrades on my broadband and TV plan for six months. Discovered, that for me, metered electricity is the way to go. One day, I got a call from the NHS, offering to move my hospital appointment forward by months. A true godsend, as it takes ages to get one. Following on the heels of this, the appointment letter for the scan I needed, came in about two months later. All good things, when you depend on public health services.

I could go on and on! I must say, that I’m so chuffed with my decision to follow through with lookforthegood.  I honestly can’t wait for January 2016, God’s willing of course. I’m so very grateful and humbled. The rest of the year could go awry, but I will I will never forget June.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

Last Christmas.


christmas 3Decorated hall at the shelter (pic could be a year old)

Last Christmas, I was fortunate enough to be in a role, where I had the entire Christmas break off. I decided to do something different. I volunteered at Caring at Christmas; a local organization, which houses about 80 homeless people from December 24th – Jan 1st, on a 24/7 basis. They have access to free food all day, manicures, haircuts, board games, pool, clothing, television, massage, dentists, doctor visits, chiropodist, the works. During the year, a smaller numbers are offered a bed, and food for the night. Rules stipulate, they must leave the next morning. Caring at Christmas is also open to others during the day. Anyone is welcomed to stop in, and help themselves to anything on offer.

During induction, we were made aware, that anyone at anytime can be homeless. Some of the people who frequent the shelter, once served in the armed services, held good jobs. You might be talking to a former engineer, teacher, civil servant etc. Chances are, we might be the only ones who bothered to sit, and have a chat with them all year. The Christmas season is the only time the majority of guests had a warm place to sleep, and food all day.

As much as I wanted to, a recent back injury prevented me from being at the shelter every day. I went as often as I could though. What an AMAZING experience! I didn’t know what to expect, but realized very shortly, how grateful I was to be able to do this. Naturally, I wanted to commit the experience, and the people whose paths crossed mine, to memory. Permit me to introduce you to a few of the people I met (names have been changed).

On my first shift, I met John. A fellow islander, he eagerly entertained me with card tricks. He told me how he had spent time in prison. His mom was suffering from terminal cancer. In a matter of fact way, he recounted the struggles he faced. I was impressed with his commitment to just keep going. I also spent time with John and Richard, who invited me to play several rounds of table tennis. John was very matter of fact in giving me hints, and tips on ball movement, paddle handling. The fact that I hadn’t played since I was a teenager? None issue.

Terry moved to Bristol a few years ago from London. He was well dressed, and well spoken. By all accounts, life was good in London. What led to the move, I didn’t know, and didn’t ask. He wasn’t interested in participating in the games, or activities. Terry was content to sit, and observe. He complained about not getting enough sleep at night. Apparently, some of the other guests stayed up all night! He had no choice though, he needed to eat.

Sandra had just moved to Britain from Spain. She was staying in a rundown hotel. One of my duties was to keep the clothes table tidy, and assists the guests with any items they needed. She had one request; a towel. Apparently, the ones at the hotel were flimsy, and not always clean. I gave her two. Wished that I could give more. The look on her face when she received the one item she asked, for will always stay with me.

Graham, he lived in a small town outside Bristol. He was nursing a broken ankle. His monthly benefit money wouldn’t come in until January. Every single day, he walked 5 hours to the shelter, because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t eat. He didn’t have money for bus fare. I struck up a quick rapport with him. Graham is tenacious. Carrying on, doing what needs to be done.

Sam was only interested in putting puzzle pieces together. We spent hours chatting over a 1000 piece. He didn’t share much about himself. So we kept to neutral, everyday topics. Time, naturally flew by. His thing was puzzles. No games, no television. Nothing. Just puzzles. And the company, of anyone who wanted to help him put them together.

Keith was a total character. A man with more than 5 City & Guilds qualifications to his name. We shared a mutual interest in pottery. Keith was the resident scrabble champion. He continually boasted about this to anyone within ear shot. One day, I put the word out, that I would challenge him. The next day, another player joined us. Come to find out, Keith had a habit of making up his own words. I came in second. I won’t forget this fellow. Keith, you’ve made an impression. May God bless you!

I could go on and on. Sometimes, I think my life is hard. The struggles, too great. I want to give up. Just like you. Then I volunteered last Christmas. I will not forget this experience, for as long as I walk the earth. I realised, I have more than I can possibly need. Before hand, I had asked some of my friends to donate unwanted clothing, and other donations. The second I place them on the table, hands came out of nowhere and swiped them away. One man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure. Thank you to Leanne B and Sylvia K. for coming through in time, and those who promised to do so later.

I will be back this year.
Until the next post,

Juan