Category Archives: Self Acceptance

Your Relationship With Food


While I don’t think there is anything wrong with occasional over eating, after all, many things propel us to gorge ourselves into a food coma. Relationship ending, failing an exam, being let down by others, etc.  However, you cannot ignore there is a problem, when you hide the habit from others, feel ashamed, and tried to stop on your own.

Overeating can have many causes, but they all produce the same result. You gain weight and feel like you’re out of control. While you may  blame yourself for lacking willpower or not trying hard enough, there could be something else at work. The real reasons (besides the mental and psychological aspects) why you eat more than you intend, may surprise you, and some are relatively easy to fix. 

There are many common lifestyle habits that tend to undermine a healthy diet. Take a look at this list to find out which things you’ll want to do differently.

Dealing with Eating Habits That Make You Overindulge:

  1. Be flexible. You may think you’re being virtuous for starting a super-strict diet, but being too rigid can backfire. Allowing yourself a few treats can keep you from feeling so deprived, that you wind up eating an entire pizza.
  2. Shrink your menu. On the other hand, planning your meals and snacks around a limited number of healthy foods can help you eat less. The lack of variety dampens your appetite.
  3. Eat mindfully. A lot of overeating happens when you’re busy with something else. Sit down and pay attention to your food instead of watching TV. Beware of nibbling while you’re preparing meals or lingering at the table after dinner.
  4. Slow down. A leisurely pace gives your brain time to tell your stomach that you’re full. Chew thoroughly and pause between bites.
  5. Listen to cravings. Intense urges are usually trying to tell you something important. Eating light snacks can keep you from getting so hungry that you long for junk food.
  6. Avoid low fat foods. Did you know that low fat foods are usually only about 10% lower in calories? Plus, they’re often higher in sugar and sodium, which can make you want to eat more.
  7. Limit artificial sweeteners. Sweetness is one of the signs your brain uses to try to determine how much to eat based on how many calories a food has. Artificial sweeteners make those calculations difficult. Over time, your brain loses the ability to make correct judgements.

Dealing with Other Lifestyle Habits That Make You Overindulge:

  1. Sleep well. A lack of sleep can make you want to eat more and make it difficult for your body to digest food efficiently. Go to bed early on a consistent basis so you can get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
  2. Socialize wisely. We tend to eat more when we have company. Be especially vigilant when you’re enjoying holiday dinners and office parties. Try to find a lunch mate who eats healthy, so you can support each other.
  3. Exercise more. Physical activity burns calories and helps to fight depression and anxiety, which can lead to overeating. Aim to work out at least 30 minutes a day 3 times a week.
  4. Deal with your feelings. While it’s natural to associate food with celebrations and comfort, it’s important to have other ways of managing your emotions. Call a friend or write in your journal.
  5. Talk with your doctor. A slice of cake rarely does much harm, but sometimes there are deeper issues at work. If you binge frequently or feel guilty and ashamed about your eating, talk with your doctor. Effective treatments are available.

Understanding the reason why you overindulge is the first step in finding solutions that enable you to stick to a balanced diet, and maintain a healthy weight. Use these tips to take control of your eating, so you can stay fit and enjoy your food more.

To Your Success,
Juan

 

How To Avoid Losing Yourself In a Relationship


Does the rest of your life suffer when you fall in love? Do you have a tendency to lose yourself in a relationship? I certainly have! Looking back, it’s rather terrifying, how easily and completely depended on another for “life support”?

It’s natural to be swept away when you first start dating someone new. The trouble starts when you no longer recognize who you are. It can happen in healthy relationships, especially if you have unrealistic expectations about romance. In less healthy relationships, it’s not too difficult if your partner tries to pressure or manipulate you into becoming dependent on them. Research Narcissist Personality Disorder. It’s a real thing. 

Learn how to balance love with the rest of your life. Try these tips for having a more fulfilling relationship with yourself and your partner. You can tell that you’re sacrificing too much if you know where to look.

Spotting the Warning Signs

  1. Maintain other connections. Neglecting your family and friends is one of the most common and obvious signs. Make time for them in your schedule. When you’re with them, be sure to talk about more than your new love interest.
  2. Do your job. Are you too distracted to meet deadlines and participate in meetings? Keep your mind on work when you’re at the office. Save personal calls and texts for lunchtime if necessary.
  3. Watch your spending. Maybe you’re celebrating a little too much with shopping sprees, overeating, or other indulgences. The sooner you slow down, the easier it will be to fix the damage.
  4. Enjoy your hobbies. It’s great if your partner introduces you to new interests but beware of giving up the things you love just to please them. For example, you can take a class while they go to a hockey game.
  5. Voice your opinions. Speak up for yourself. Let your partner know you like jazz more than hip hop. It’s natural to disagree sometimes.

Being Proactive

You may have noticed that even when you start a new relationship, you soon fall into the same patterns you established with your last partner. If you want things to turn out differently, you’ll need to address your personal issues. Albert Einstein said: “Doing the same things over and over, and expecting the same results is insanity”

Keep these tips in mind:

  1. Boost your self-esteem. Make yourself a priority. Remember that you are worthy of love and respect just as you are. Treat yourself with compassion and repeat positive affirmations.
  2. Create boundaries. In a healthy relationship, partners encourage each other to set their own ground rules. Explain what you need and what you find unacceptable.
  3. Set goals. You’re less likely to lose yourself if you’re excited about other aspects of your life. Develop passion projects that motivate you to learn and grow. As a bonus, you’ll probably make yourself more interesting.
  4. Practice self-care. Treating yourself well makes you stronger and more resilient. It also reminds you of your worth. Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Sleep well and deal with stress constructively.
  5. Spend time alone. Do you enjoy your own company? It’s important to have a healthy relationship with yourself in order to bond with others. Solitude gives you an opportunity to increase your self-awareness and center yourself.
  6. Take a break. If you’re dissatisfied with your love life, you might benefit from giving up dating for a while. Use the time to examine your dating criteria and form new habits.
  7. Consider counseling. Working with a therapist might help too. That’s especially true if you’re trying to recover from an abusive relationship or think that childhood issues are affecting your adult behavior.

Hold onto your identity when you’re in a relationship. Losing yourself is too high a price to pay for wanting to be a couple. You and your partner deserve to feel secure and loved for who you are. 

Wishing You Well,

Juan

 

Get Clear on Why You Care So Much


One way to learn to stop caring so much about irrelevant issues and thoughts of others is to dig in deep and study yourself in a new way to get to the bottom of the reasons you care so much. Three ways help you get clear on why you care so much that you can use.

Journaling 

You can use your computer, buy a specialized journal, or you can simply use a notebook you have created to journal. It’s up to you what type of system you use and whether it’s modern or analog. The important part is that you try to use your journal to express your thoughts, emotions, and stream of consciousness about a problem you’re trying to solve or a feeling you’re trying to explore without judgment or censoring.  Write in your journal every day when you’re trying to understand why you care so much. You may end up discovering your life purpose or a new reason for getting up each day, one you had not realized before. 

Meditation 

Before you use your journal, it can help to clear your mind using meditation. Meditation practice is all about not thinking and not judging your thoughts or feelings even as they still happen during the meditation.  Each time you meditate, you can have a purpose of self-discovery, or goal to clear your mind and relax.  To practice this type of meditation, you’ll want to find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lay down. Concentrate on your goals for the meditation, close your eyes, and start focusing on your breathing.  Think about the situation you’re trying to understand for a moment, then clear your mind. If any intrusive thoughts come in, brush them aside by refocusing on your breathing. You mustn’t allow any outside information or sensation to distract you during this time.  Many You Tube videos offer instructions and help.

Therapy 

Today, we are fortunate to be able to access psychological therapy from the comfort of our homes using your computer or smartphone. Numerous companies offer this service and varying price points. In addition, many insurance companies include several sessions as part of your benefits.  If you seek therapy, make sure you find someone experienced working with you on overcoming people-pleasing and putting yourself last in life. Remember, your wants and needs matter too. Most therapists can guide you through the self-discovery process, to finally know what you want, regardless of what others think

Any or all three of these methods, help you become crystal clear regarding your motivations to seek approval from others and even help you stop doing it. Remember, what you want from life is important too, and following someone else’s dreams will never get you what you want and, more importantly, content in your life. 

Wishing You Well,
Juan

Strategies For Putting Yourself First


Below are some healthy ways to help you develop the habit, without burning bridges or negatively affecting your energy, enthusiasm, and motivation. These tips will help you achieve your goals, protect your mental and physical wellbeing, and overcome even your biggest challenges. Bear in mind, if you do have to burn some bridges, don’t dally, just get on with life, and know you are doing what is best for your future self.

Choose Your Purpose: Having a clear purpose is essential. It is the simplest, most basic thing every person needs to live a fulfilling and satisfying life. Without a purpose, you will end up living your life haphazardly. Your purpose also makes it easier for you to say ‘No’ to people and things that do not align with your highest good. Living it helps you identify what you need to do and when. Consciously reaffirming your purpose regularly multiplies your efforts of taking action.

Live by a Vision: Putting yourself first also requires that you develop a clear vision of the life you want to lead. A vision keeps you focused on the journey, and will allow you to effectively prioritize your tasks and projects as the important things will align with your purpose and vision of your ultimate life. To get clear about your vision, start by reflecting on these three questions: Who do I want to be? What do I want to do? How do you want to feel? If you are unsure about your vision, ruminating on these questions will assist you in getting clear. 

 Set Personal Goals and Plan: wise way to ensure your vision becomes a reality. Goals make the realization of your vision much more achievable, will keep you motivated and focused on what you want out of life. After taking the time to set your goals, set aside regular time to plan how you will achieve them.

 Learn New Skills: As you draw up your goals and develop your vision, you may find you need to learn new skills to make your ideal life a reality. Take some time to identify those areas that you may be lacking. Then take proactive steps to bridge the gap between your present level and your desired level.

Set Personal Boundaries: skill you need to master when learning how to put yourself first, because you will need it a lot on every step of your journey. That is especially true if you tend to be a people-pleaser. Others are used to you backing down and giving them what you want, so you’ll need to stay strong. Look them in the eye and kindly say, “No, thank you.” Even when they try to convince you to think otherwise, practice sticking to your decision by not get pressured into consenting. Setting personal boundaries is a vital skill because it enables you to defend your time and your rights which is an essential component of putting yourself first.

Get Active: Putting yourself first isn’t only about goal setting and getting ahead. It’s also about taking the time for self-care. After all, if you don’t take care of your health, you’ll be unable to live your purpose or fulfill your life’s vision. Put yourself and your health first by starting a program of regular exercise as soon as possible if you aren’t already doing so. Engaging in a brisk daily walk is all that’s needed to improve and maintain your health.

Eat Healthy: A healthy diet is equally as important as your body’s need to exercise. Eating a nutritious diet is a huge part of taking care of your health and putting yourself first. If your diet needs a major overhaul, take it one step at a time and work your way up to your ideal diet. Remember, putting yourself first is about being kind to yourself.

Get enough rest: Getting sufficient sleep is another essential component of putting yourself first. It is also necessary for boosting your performance and replenishing your energy. By getting enough sleep, you will be better equipped to face the hurdles of the new day with greater confidence, energy, and enthusiasm. Never allow anyone or anything come between you and the need to get enough sleep.

Schedule Relaxation: Sometimes you may be lacking the energy you need to live your ultimate life. Rather than trying to push through such times, it is better to maximize your relaxation and recovery. You can engage in activities that will help reduce fatigue and replenish your energy, such as meditation, yoga, massage, or a quick nap. If you find you run low on energy and motivation on a regular basis, start scheduling relaxation or downtime into your day. A consistent relaxation routine will keep you on more of an even-keel, so you don’t burn out.

Journal : Apparently, you have 60,000 or more thoughts per day. When you feel you have a lot to do and you are overwhelmed with too many ideas, journaling will help clear your head, can lead to better self-awareness, which is the foundation of putting yourself first. You can journal any way you wish—with paper and pen or by using an app. You might choose to journal every day or only when you feel overwhelmed or unsettled. Whatever works for you is perfect.

Practice Gratitude: Take some time each day to reflect on the positives in your life. It’s easy to focus on the things we’d like to change and neglect to be appreciative for all we have. It is very important to have a realistic perspective on your life and identify the positives for the sake of your health and wellbeing. As you find the time to write down and reflect on all the things you are grateful for each day, you will reduce your stress levels and naturally find more and more to be grateful for in your life.

Putting yourself first is something you must make a conscious effort to do. You must fill your cup first, or you will end up with nothing left to give.  Be prepared for pushback, as this new way of living might not sit well with those in your circle, who take, take, and take. Stand your ground, in a few months, you won’t recognize the person staring back at you in the mirror!

To Your Success,
Juan

 

5 Tips for Keeping Self-Sabotage at Bay


Like most people, I want to be productive, but have struggled with self sabotage in the past. It is relatively easy to fall back into old habits. In fact, sometimes I wake up in the morning, with all kinds of enthusiasm for the projects I am determined to going to get done during the day.  Now fast forward a few hours, and suddenly I’m dragging myself home at nightfall wondering where the day went, feeling like I never accomplished anything at all. 

How to get past this? Simple! Here are some things that I have had success with:
Listen to Music
It’s hard to get yourself going if your mood is what’s dragging. Thankfully this is a quick fix. I generally put on some music I love, something fast-paced and catchy for a quick pick-me-up and watch your productivity soar. 
Get up and Move
Like listening to music, putting your body in motion will build your energy levels (so long as you’re not trying to run a marathon). Dance around the room, take a brisk walk or try a few jumping jacks to get the blood flowing. Then tackle your task again, wide-awake and energized.
Look Inward
Conversely, sometimes what I need is some quiet time. During the times I find my mind racing, and unable to concentrate on what I’m doing, meditation tends to slow things down. I find a quiet place, close my eyes, and focus on my breathing. Take deep breaths, nice and slow, and focus yourself on the present until you feel calm again.
Reassess What’s Important
It might be you’re not getting things done because you no longer find the value in your goal. If this seems to be the case, take some time to ask yourself some very crucial questions about why you’re on this journey. It might be you either need to shift your goal to something else entirely or, at the very least, adjust the outcome to serve your present needs.
Contribute
When all else fails, if you do not feel your work has value, offer to help someone else. Mentoring is one of those win-win situations where you bring your life skills and experience to help someone else in need. At the same time, you rediscover your passion through the act of teaching others what you know.

Do all this, and it’s good-bye self-sabotage, hello accomplishment. Soon you’ll be more productive than ever! Have you tried any of these suggestions, and if so which one worked, or didn’t? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

In Honor of Black History Month


Cape Coast Today: Slaves Departure Point

Dear Readers,

Yes, I am fully aware that BHM is relatively an American tradition. And yes, I meant to post the article below a few days ago. It’s been a busy month. Getting ready pursue a different path,  more in line with my life’s calling.

I will never forget my trip to the Motherland. Having spent two weeks among some of the most beautiful and kind-hearted people I have ever met. The visit to the slave castles, left an indelible impression on my soul. How I wished that I had more time to return again, and again. I plan on returning to Africa, until then I have memories.  So, there was no doubt in my mind, when I found this piece below, what I would share to honor this month, and what it represents to me, as a black woman.

Read on.

“Soooo you mean to tell me that someone down your ancestry line survived being chained to other human bodies for several months in the bottom of a disease-infested ship during the Middle Passage, lost their language, customs and traditions, picked up the English language as best they could while working free of charge from sunup to sundown as they watched babies sold from out of their arms and women raped by ruthless slave owners.

Took names with no last names, no birth certificates, no heritage of any kind, braved the Underground Railroad, survived the Civil War to enter into sharecropping…

Learned to read and write out of sheer will and determination, faced the burning crosses of the KKK, everted their eyes at the black bodies swinging from ropes hung on trees…

Fought in World Wars as soldiers to return to America as boys, marched in Birmingham, hosed in Selma, jailed in Wilmington, assassinated in Memphis, segregated in the South, ghettoed in the North, ignored in history books, sterotyped in Hollywood…

and in spite of it all someone in your family line endured every era to make sure you would get here and you receive one rejection, face one obstacle, lose one friend, get overlooked, and you want to quit? How dare you entertain the very thought of quitting. People you will never know survived from generation to generation so you could succeed. Don’t you dare let them down!!

Give this to your young people who don’t know their history and want to get weak!

It is NOT in our DNA to quit!” – Author Unknown

 Until the next post, take care of yourselves and your families.

Best,

 Juan

 

 

 

Who Is Pulling Your Strings?!


Photo: Google Images

 

The Disease To Please

Do you say yes to people and things, when you really wanted to say no? Do you have an irrepressible need to be loved and accepted by everyone? When you are in a conversation, are you bothered and worried about how you are being perceived? Do you agree with actions, opinions, and activities, just to be able to fit in? Do you say “I’m sorry” even when it’s not necessary? Do you go to great lengths to keep the peace and avoid conflicts? Women, in your relationships, do you often find yourself getting the same results from different men? Finally, have you abandoned your truth, and no longer recognize the person in the mirror? My friend, in all likelihood you are a people pleaser!

People pleasers go above and beyond to make everyone happy. You are not alone, there are millions like you, wearing the same ill fitted shoes. You are often anxious, depressed, and overly burdened by the stressful expectations, you have placed on yourself. The problem is very common. Of course, it starts out harmlessly enough in childhood. We are rewarded and complimented when we behave in the manner that is expected of us. Unfortunately, for many, this unquenchable thirst for approval continues into adulthood. Friends, putting others before our own happiness, comes at great costs to our well-being.

There is no one type of people pleaser, they come in all forms. You refuse to end relationships, even remaining friends with an ex, you have no ties to, out of pure guilt. You are that one colleague who always says yes, because you crave the acceptance of everyone in the office. You are single woman who always seems to be baby-sitting her friends’ children. The person who loans money, knowing that you might be short, when rent comes due. Shall I go on? In almost all instances, you find yourself bogged down by guilt, depression, and in the coming years, resentment.

If you are a woman reading this, you are hard-wired, and raised to take care of others. Seeking for approval and love by our deeds. Soon enough, we are known as the “yes woman”, literally killing ourselves, to be everything for everyone.  Women are continually putting the needs of others, well above their own. The reality? We want what no one could give: unconditional love and acceptance. What we fail to realize, is this rarely possible, if at all.

So, how do you take your power back, and free yourself from the “disease to please”?

Consider these five steps:

  1. Is it time to have a genuine, honest, discussion with those in your circle who take, take, take and give nothing in return? Let them know that you are have decided to make changes in your life, and the way you relate to those around you. The people who truly love and care for you, will not take offense, and if they do, it’s time to examine their role and purpose in your life.
  2. The next time someone asks you to do something for them, consider this response “Can I think about it and get back to you?” Give them a time when you will respond their request. Doing so not only gives us space to think about the next step, but to truly evaluate if this is what we want to do.
  3. Let go of the need to be liked by everyone! Remember, not everyone you meet will like you. Your tribe will know you. Stop wasting precious time trying to hold onto relationships that do not serve any purpose in your life. Love, affection, and attention should be freely given. The old saying “You can be the juiciest, ripest peach in the world, and there will still be someone who doesn’t like peaches” applies here. A word of advice, take this a step further and figure out why the need to be liked, is important to you.
  4. Please, let go of the need of having to always explain your actions to someone. For instance, let’s say you’ve come back to the person who made the request, and your answer is no. Keep it simple “Sorry, I’m busy that day” NOT “I would really like to, but I have to be at this thing, that was scheduled months ago…” etc. The word “No” can become a complete sentence, free from explanations and justifications.
  5. Each time you say no to someone, you are saying yes to other activities, opportunities, goals, passions, and dreams, you’ve buried, because you were busy taking care of everyone else. Your life will start to look different. Better yet, you will begin to attract the right type of relationships . Establish boundaries and keep them in place. You will always be enough. If you are too much for them, then they are not enough for you.

Stop sabotaging yourself just to meet the expectations of other. We teach people how to treat us, and what we allow is what will continue. You are not responsible for healing every problem that comes your way!

Make today the day, you begin to live an authentic life.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

 

 

 

Mama Africa. Thank You!


A week ago yesterday, I was in Turkey, waiting for the last leg of my flight back to the US. As I sat in the lounge wafting for the flight to begin boarding, I took time to look at the hundreds of photos I had taken over the past two weeks. You see, I was returning from a multi dimensional trip to the Motherland. My time in Ghana is indescribable. I had no expectations going in, but by the time I left, a new, bolder, and very ambitious vision had taken shape. One that is set to change the course of my life!

One post cannot deliver a suitable narrative for all the things I did, the experiences I reveled in, people I met and formed instant, long-lasting bonds with, and the emotions which overtook me every day.  I spent the first week volunteering at a village orphanage, and would wrap up my two-week stay exploring the sights and sounds of Ghana! What an incredible life-changing and affirming experience.

The overcrowded village orphanage houses more than 140 children and young adults, ranging in ages from 0 to 26 years.  Frequent medical care is needed. At least 2-3 children share a single bunk bed. Children sleep outside on the veranda. School is also held outside and under a mango tree. Many orphans have experienced bullying, when they tried to attend regular schools. Basic toilet/bathroom facilities are nonexistent.  Malaria is prevalent, and some of the children have HIV. The orphanage is in dire straits in many ways, but thriving in some areas. A new facility is being built, but progress has been slow. More on that later.

First I wanted to tell you a bit about some of the children I met, and have now become my adopted 6.  As soon as we pulled up to the volunteer house, six-year-old *Shelly * (names have been changed) and three other girls ran out to meet us. She and I bonded instantly! Shelly has called the orphanage home for the past two years. You see, her mother has sickle-cell anemia, and is often hospitalized for weeks, as she battles the life threatening disease.  The father had long since abandoned her mother. Unable to care for Shelly any longer, she was handed over to the orphanage. Apparently, African men often abandon their families without a second thought.

*Jenny* is smart, beautiful, talkative, and very intelligent. She enjoyed the crossword puzzles I bought, and often asked for help finding difficult words. On my birthday, a celebration was held for me; they sang, some danced, and performed, while I sat at a table looking on. They asked for blessings on my life, health, and everything else. Good thing I had it recorded. Jenny, wrote me a beautiful letter, and by some miracle, gave me a pair of earrings. I don’t know how she did so, but that night as I read the sweet, beautifully penned words, the tears were free-flowing. I don’t know much more about her story (I did ask). Her parents are still alive, however, they don’t visit as often as they use to.

*Erika*, is from a family of 6 siblings, however, she was the only one who ended up at the Orphanage. Apparently, the house they were living in fell down on her mother, killing her. The father left, and she ended up there. The older siblings visit when they could. Erika always has a smile on her face. She is one of 5 girls who were chosen to help out at the volunteer house. Erika works tirelessly, and not once did I hear a complaint. One day, she will become a respected Dentist.

*Deborah*, is one of four siblings at the orphanage. After her father died, her mother was suspected of having a role in the death (this is unfounded). His family shunned her, and she was no longer able to take care of them. She was left to make the heart breaking decision, to turn them over to the Orphanage. *Deborah’s* dream is to one day become a banker.

Deborah’s sister *Hannah* is more quiet and reserved. She reminds me a lot of myself at her age. Still trying to figure out the world around her. I could tell she misses her family being together. I think if I had more than a week there, we would have developed a stronger bond. I could tell something was very much troubling her, and tried to get her to open up, but she held back. The sadness in her eyes broke my heart in so many pieces. She wasn’t interested in much of the activities;however, she did want to skip. So on my last day, I gifted her a pink skipping rope.

*Suzy* was one of the older girls who fixed us delicious meals, and took charge in Auntie B’s absence. She spoke with a smile, and just brought so much joy to the experience of us being there. She is in senior high school, and does a great job of keeping things running smoothly. On our last night, I wrote her and the other girl’s letters of encouragement and support. I could tell they were surprised by the gesture. They all happily returned the favor.

I decided to spend a lot of time with as many kids at the orphanage as I could; their dreams are so much bigger than I had at that time in my life! If you met them on the outside, you would never guess their plight. The stories will break your heart, BUT, the smiles, playfulness, and all around good nature, is beyond anything I have ever seen, from a people who have absolutely nothing. I bought puzzles, games, play doh, stickers etc. You CANNOT imagine how joyful they were to take part in these activities. Once they completed an activity, they were rewarded with stickers. Such a small reward, but to them, it meant so much more. I made sure that on my last day, I would have nothing left over.

As mentioned above, my birthday was spent at the orphanage, and a celebration was held for me. There was music dancing, singing and well wishing. I sat a table, and looked on as the children and adults wished me well. It’s not often I will have the opportunity to spend my birthday in this most special way! I was asked to say a few words, and could only manage just that much, as the tears were free-flowing. As I looked over the faces of so many young ones, I tried very hard to memorize them all. It was incredibly important for me to immortalize this moment. According to tradition, the birthday person supplies the drinks and snacks, and a friend gets the cake. The guide I had been talking to for more than a year, before my trip, did just that. The pure delight at being treated to something so simple and abundant in the West, brought me to tears. We gave out seconds and thirds. My heart was heavy, and bursting with so much love for people, I had only known for a few days.

It was very difficult to say goodbye, especially to *Shelly*. As we piled into the SUV to leave for the last time, she and I started crying. We hugged for a long time, but it wasn’t enough, could never be enough. I hoped she knew how much I had come to love her, and just how much I plan on helping her for as long, as I walk this earth. I left a donation to the orphanage, and two of the girls for simple things they needed. I knew then, what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. I will always have more than I will ever need. I made a choice to help change the generations that will come from these loving and gentle souls.

My British bestie, Maggie, joined me for the second part of the trip. It was a perfect way to wrap up my first visit to the motherland. We journeyed to Cape Coast; the main attraction is the slave castle, which once housed thousands of slaves, before they were shipped off to the Americas and Caribbean, bound for a life, they were certainly afraid of. We saw the room and conditions the rebellious slaves were kept in. After being publicly flogged, they were left to die in a windowless room. No food or water was given. A soldier would occasionally check in, to see if they had passed on. Once this was the case, the bodies were dumped in the ocean. For effect, the guide closed the door for less than a minute, while we were inside. Chilling.

We toured the male dungeons, where coincidentally, church services were held just above. Female slaves and children were housed together. We saw the observation rooms, where soldiers stood guard and kept on eye out for any planned rebellions. To overcome the language barrier, spies were planted among real slaves. Their sole purpose was to bring back word to the Governors.  The Door of No Return symbolized the end of one nightmare, and the beginning of another. Once the slaves passed through, they were loaded onto ships, bound for their new homes. I now understand fully, the meaning of the phrase “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, for they knew that death was better than bondage”

It was also in Cape Coast, where I was blessed with a beautiful African Naming and Welcome Home Ceremony. The proceedings were watched over, and performed by the third Queen of the one of the tribes, and a village Father. The love, warmth, welcome, and total acceptance directed at me, was indescribable. I honestly felt that I was HOME. The Queen invited me to visit her home, the next time I’m in Ghana. For now, she welcomed me back, and expressed gratitude for the visit. It was a proud moment.

Back in Accra, we got involved in so many activities; survived the infamous, and nerve-racking canopy walk at Kakum National Park, toured the magnificent Aburi Botanical Gardens, visited the Mausoleum of the country’s first prime minister, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, learned how to play drums, ate too much delicious, freshly prepared dishes. Shopping is quite the experience, as we left it up to our guide to haggle for us. We had to spend the last night at the DC 10 Restaurant. It’s housed in an old airplane, formerly belonging to Ghana Airlines. We got dressed up in matching outfits. While waiting in the lobby for our guide/driver, we attracted the attention of the male hotel guests, who began taking our photos:). The front desk clerk asked if it was okay, to place the photo on the website.  How cool is that?!

I’m back in the US now, and trying to catch up on my projects, business, and platforms. I had the most amazing time in Ghana. There is work for me to do, and a lot of newly adopted kids who to help. Working in Social Services, I know the difference it makes in the lives of my clients. However, the work I’m about to embark on, is so much bigger than anything I have ever done. I’m asking for prayers to guide my steps. My heart is full, my eyes are wet, so help me Lord, lest I forget.

A myriad of life choices led me to a small village in Ghana, where I am convinced; they were waiting to change my life, instead of the other way around. I have been given much, and now I must share with those who have nothing, in ways I’ve never dreamed of. Thank you Mama Africa, and especially to the wonderfully kind people of Ghana…till we meet again.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

Distracted or Captivated?


Photo: Google Images

Rrecently, I was blessed with the opportunity to speak at my first Virtual Summit. An exciting experience! I based my topic around this quote:”We will not be distracted by comparison, if we are captivate with purpose“. Today, I wish to share some tidy tidbits from my talk. It’s normal to wonder how we measure up to other people; this is part of our basic desire to understand our place in this world. Social media is primarily responsible for every reminder of our various inadequacies. Open any app or page, and you will be immediately greeted with snapshots of work promotions, busy social lives, family outings, new cars, idyllic vacations, remodeled kitchens, etc. It becomes increasingly difficult to ignore our own frustrations and struggles.

Social comparison is wrong for many reasons; it’s mostly based on others so-called “perfection of illusion”. How many of us are privy to the whole truth? We might not feel so inadequate, if we knew how carefully they crafted the public images of perfection. We must also remember life isn’t fair; some are born with more advantages than others. Comparing ourselves with others can turn friends into rivals, which in turn, can cripple our ability to share in the joys of those around us.

My dear friends, find purpose in your life! Is there some type of injustice you can help make right? Find a cause. Do more of what sets your soul on fire. What are you willing to sacrifice for? Use your inner GPS and rely on it more often than you do now. Continually ask yourself questions such as “Am I where I want to be?” “Have I accomplished all I thought I would by now?” “Am I fulfilled in my career or business?”. While you are still searching for your purpose, support the innovators game changers around you. Comparison is the thief of joy. Focus on your blessings, count your blessings, and learn to be happy with enough.  If we are captivated with purpose, we will not be distracted by comparison!

Enjoy the video below!

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan