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

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Till We Meet….


2532988Mere days ago (19.03.14) we lost our beloved cousin Elroy Cornelius Morris. Elroy was in the second year of his theology studies at Bethel Bible College in Jamaica. My sister’s Alma Mater. He was excelling academically. A  favourite among his peers. Deeply loved by those who knew him. Everyone was in a state of shock. Still is. Many were praying for his return. Pleading with God for a miracle. For him to be a modern day Lazarus.

Elroy’s death affected me. And of course, more so, his immediate family. I still remember his first day home from the hospital. In the months and years to follow, I baby sat and fed him, changed his diaper, watched him grow up. In Christmas of 2010, I made my first visit back home in many years.  Totally delighted to see how he had blossomed into such a great young man. My cousin’s firstborn.

I had a chance to speak to his mom the day after his passing. Captivated as I  listened to her recount his final moments on earth. We laughed and cried, as we reminisced about his childhood. I can’t fathom her pain. Although devastated, she kept repeating she was comforted by the fact, he died in Christ. His life was an example to everyone. We spoke of his last moments, and I felt as if I was a bystander, as she described the events to me.

Death reminds us of our own mortality. The preciousness of life. And things we need to do. Today, I came across a quote from the Happier Face book group, in simple, beautiful words: “Life is short. Collect experiences”.  Indeed, we are too busy collecting other things. Better jobs. More money. Nice houses. Expensive Clothes. Fake friends. Things we cannot take with us. Things that no longer matter to my sweet and precious cousin. Never did. If I am honest.

On March 20th, I posted these words on his Facebook page : RIP cousin. Having a terrible time grasping the fact you’re no longer with us. Just spoke with your mom. Learned of your final moments. So many have been touched by you, and your example. You are free from all pain and suffering. The work God has for you couldn’t be done by anyone else. Rest safe in his arms. Till we meet again.

No one dies in vain. There is always a lesson behind losing someone so young. With so much more to offer. I love you. Will miss your spirit. Wont ever forget your influence. Thank you for the time you spent with us. The memories we collected. The hearts you touched.Till we meet again. Rest in Peace.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

The Now.


how-to-live-in-the-moment-plitvice-waterfallWe live in a fascinating age. Have access to unprecedented methods of technology. So, its incomprehensible to watch reports indicating Boeing 777- 200 ER, carrying 200+ passengers and crew, has vanished. Literally. On March 8th, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 departed from Malaysia bound for China. However, shortly after take-off, air traffic controllers lost contact with the jet. It’s been more than 48hrs and counting. The barrage of conspiracy theories is in full swing.

For history purposes, read the story here. I won’t dwell on this too much. Too disturbing. I’m not a good flyer. Between take off, and cruising, I am a bundle of nerves. So, I can’t begin to imagine the pain of family members and loved ones. Not knowing. Waiting. Hoping. Praying. But as time goes on. You begin to lose hope.

Once again, I’m reminded, not to procrastinate. It’s incredibly easy, but counterproductive to look back on mistakes. Spend time berating yourself, with the what if’s. Recently, I have made my fair share. However, I am painfully aware the past has nothing new to say. Does it? In the face of incredible difficulties, it’s even harder to press on. Oh, you can get lost in the judgements being meted out. But, we have to move on. Enjoy life. Even with the knowledge we might have to learn the same lessons. Time and again. Until we get it.

Today, I intend to live. Grab the moments. As Gandhi once said: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever”. I reaffirm my commitment to do just that. Because tomorrow. Is not promised to anyone.  I tend to worry. A lot . Perhaps a bit too much. My younger sister recently told me: “You’re worried about something that is so far away. Live in the NOW”. Thank you Hannah.

Today, right now. In light of everything that’s happening around us. I hope we realise what a blessing it is to be alive. To be here at this time. Live. Love. Laugh. Forgive. Move on. Be happy.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

When Death Collects It’s Dues…..


The past month and a half has been tremendously difficult. False starts. Stops. Losses. And second thoughts. All of which has left me questioning my ability to find lasting happiness. Once upon a long while ago, I just tossed things aside. Compartmentalized them. And move on. However, it’s becoming more difficult to do so. Perhaps I am getting old. And soft. This post will deal with one issue. Death. In one week, I received word my 25 yr old cousin had finally succumbed to the effects of cancer. Next, an accomplished and well-respected friend, who I absolutely adored, passed away in Utah. Then, my younger sister also lost her father to cancer.

Everyone has been, or will be touched by the death of a loved one. Or friend. Many times over. When someone we love dies, inevitably we look at our own mortality. It’s hard to avoid knee jerk reactions. To make promises to ourselves. And to others. Some we keep. Others are forgotten. And after time passes, the rest is no longer important. For some unexplained reason, these recent deaths have affected me, more than most. In light of recent weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on life. Regrets. And the need for personal housekeeping.

My cousin, and my sisters’ dad knew the approximate rest of their days. They had time to prepare. To accomplish last-minute goals. Say  final goodbyes. Get stuff in order. Many of us wont. On a personal note,  if I knew when my number would be up, I would go out with guns blazing! But alas, I don’t. I wondered how many couldas, shouldas, and wouldas I am likely to have. It’s impossible not to have regrets. However, I can try to minimize them.

I pondered what I would do, if I knew how much time I had remaining. How would I handle relationships which do not make me happy. Make amends. Or finally get something “off my chest”. How I would live out the rest of it. Below is a list of things which immediately flooded my thoughts. The ones beneath my subconscious. I hope to slowly, and methodically, check them off my list in the coming months.

Here is a sample of things I plan on changing:

  • Finally getting on that terrifying roller coaster ride which catapults more than 5 feet in the air.
  • Make amends for things I knew I did wrong.
  • Do not accept scraps of attention and affection from a partner who is either unwilling or unable to give more.
  • Diligently seeking a partner who “gets me”. Patient with my faults. Willing to try hard to make things work.
  • Get over the fear of sky diving. And just do it.
  • Visit the places on my “List of places to visit before I die”.
  • Make it clear what I want in a relationship and in the same vein refusing to settle.
  • Going solo to a club or activities.
  • Doing what everyone expects of me.
  • Being the one to ask a chap out on a date, instead of waiting for them to ask me.

There is a bit more! However,these should keep me busy for a few months. You get the idea. In closing, the dawning of a new day represents  another opportunity to make use of the time allotted to us. Untold numbers did not see the sun rise this morning. There is no time left for them carry out their plans. They won’t get to apologize for a harsh word. Hold their loved ones close. Whisper words of love and encouragement. They won’t get to see their children grow up. Nor will they attend another wedding. Graduation. Etc. But we did. We have today.

We’ve been given one more chance. What will we do with it? If there is someone in your life that you need to reach out to. Do it. Do you need to settle a misunderstanding. Do it. Perhaps the need to express love and appreciation to. Do it. Say goodby to someone in order to make room for someone or something better. Do it. Don’t wait for tomorrow. There are no more tomorrows for my cousin. Respected friend. My sisters’ father. None. Tomorrow is not ours. We live on borrowed time. One day, it will run out. As it always does. This has never been clearer to me than in the past few weeks.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

Tomorrow is cancelled…. and so is the day after


We’ve all felt the frustration and disappointment of putting off things we could have done today for tomorrow. A life-changing decision. Going the extra mile. Saying sorry. Visiting someone. Repairing a broken relationship. Expressing love. Asking for forgiveness. And yes, forgiving someone ~ the topic of today’s blog entry. Each new day presents yet another opportunity. Again, it’s wasted. We are not ready. Too hectic. It’s rather difficult. Sometimes, we simply don’t want to.

What happens when we are offended or hurt by someone? Actions that result in deep wounds. Emotional scars. Feelings of disenchantment. It’s happened to all of us. Be it real or imagined. A criticism from a family member or friend. We were deserted in an hour of need. A coworker or classmate tried to sabotage our efforts on a project. A betrayal of trust. A spouse, partner, or boyfriend cheated. A relationship was abusive. A careless driver totaled the car. A thief broke into our home, and stole our life’s work. A loan was never repaid. The list is infinite. We’ve felt the pain. Heartache. Anguish. The sting. The throbbing.

It is relatively simple to hold a grudge. Not as easy to let go. When someone hurts us, feelings of anger, perplexity, and despondency swiftly settle in. We dwell on them. They fester. We feel entitled. Justified. Anger is validated. The feelings gave way to grudges. Hostility. Thoughts of revenge. Negative feelings overshadow positive ones. We become swaddled by our own acrimony, and sense of evenhandedness. Grudge enters. Makes itself at home. Slowly stewing. Simmering. Waiting. Do we find a way for this unwelcomed guest to leave? Or do we treat it like water in the middle of a desert?

What does holding a grudge do for us? Has anyone ever benefitted by holding onto them? Let me know. Please. Instead, it invites bitterness into every new relationship and experience. Preventing us from enjoying the here and now. New relationships are shunned. It is a breeding ground for melancholy. Angst is cultivated. Bitterness, revenge, and justice receive continual nourishment.

If our tomorrow was cancelled, would we still be carrying a grudge? Refuse to forgive? Words such as pardon, end of blame, absolution, have been used to describe the act of forgiveness. It’s also the choice to let go of thoughts of vengeance, and feelings of animosity. Easier said than done. Incredibly difficult for some. Not all of us are ready to forgive. Others are downright unwilling to do so.

Forgiveness is power, not a weakness. It empowers both the giver and the receiver. Make the decision to not let anger, resentment, and misery rule your life. Yes, some things are much harder to forgive than others. But how long have you been holding onto that grudge? The bitterness? How much longer will the person, situation, or event control your life? Grudges hold us hostage. Limits our friendships and relationships. Opportunities. Being able to grow. To Learn. To trust.

Forgiving someone does not excuse or diminish the offense. Nor does it justify the act. Forgiveness is not easy. It is not an assurance of a reunion .Compromise. Ceasefire. Nor does it mean the offender will change. Or admit to wrong doing. Nevertheless, it does mean freedom. From a tortured soul. Anger. Pain. Resentment. Bitterness. The power to control your life and relationships.

We might be the one requiring forgiveness. It means recognizing our blunders and inadequacies as human beings. Owning up to our mistakes. Swallowing our pride. Asking someone to forgive us. Talk to someone about it. Write about it in your journal. Pray about it. Actively chose to forgive. It’s tempting to feel a sense of entitlement. Refuse to see yourself as a victim. Think about the time when you hurt someone. Was it easy for them to forgive you?

Peter came to Jesus and asked him how often he should forgive his brother who offended him. Was it seven times? In essence, the Lord responded “No, seventy times seven”. That is quite the tallying task if you ask me! Let’s hope that if tomorrow is cancelled, we are not carrying a grudge. I am not advocating burying our heads in the sand. Nor leaving ourselves vulnerable to hurt and pain. Know this; things have a way of taking care of themselves.

Writing is therapeutic for me. Many of the topics I blog about, are things I have either triumphed over, or still struggling with. In this way, I am responsible for changing my own life. Are there people that I need to forgive? A few. Am I working on it? Yes! How is the process? Difficult. Rewarding. Am I happy with the changes? Immensely!

If your tomorrow was cancelled, what would you do today? As for forgiveness, Paul Boese sums it up this way: “Forgiveness does not change the past, it enlarges the future”

This is my take, what’s yours?

Best,

Juan.