Donald Trump’s America


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So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, Donald Trump won the Presidential election of the USA. A shock to millions. So much has happened since then, many of it, unprecedented. I’ve made it a practice to stay away from discussing politics and religion with anyone, especially, if they stand on the opposite side. People are heavily entrenched in their beliefs. On many occasions, people were spewing so much hatred on Social Media; I had to un-follow them. We are still friends; I simply chose not to be exposed it on a regular basis.

Some of the best people I know voted for Trump, including many members of my church. I should point out I haven’t been actively attending for some time. In one of my few political posts during this election cycle, I wrote about the NC chapter of the KKK holding a victory rally for DT. One church member and “friend”came at me. Like a bull in a china shop. She said I should get down on my knees, pray for the spirit of discernment, and ask for forgiveness. She wrote a lot of other hateful and insulting things. Initially, I was taken off guard. I kept it together, by taking a deep breath before formulating my response. There are ways to tell people to go to hell, and have them look forward to the ride.

My post today is about DT’s rhetoric. Some claimed to have voted for him because they want a wall. Others say he is different, says it like it is, and not afraid of being “politically correct” or offending anyone. Personally, I don’t care what their reasons are. We can’t all bat for the same team! However, this is what I care about; DT thinks all Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers. Blacks live in poverty, and are uneducated. Muslims are terrorists. He has mocked the disabled, openly disrespected women, gays, LGBT etc. My friends, these are the issues I care about, and have a problem with.

Since the election, a great number of people think it’s open season to attack (physically and verbally) groups who are different and disadvantaged. I don’t mean the peaceful protests right after the election. No, I am talking about 7th graders in a Michigan school, chanting “Build that wall” in the cafeteria around their Latino classmates. In another school incident (outside Chicago), the words “Whites Only” were written on a bathroom wall. A former football player, awoke one morning to find racial slurs written on his car. Minorities being threatened by whites. People asking their Muslim neighbors to leave, or they will be deported. The Muslim woman shopping in Wal-Mart, who had her hijab ripped off, and was then told, they were no longer allowed. The list is endless.

Surprisingly, the same people who were so vocal about their support for DT, are now very silent. Right here, is where a small sore grows, fester, and turns into a virus.  I don’t see any of them saying this is wrong. Sure, they might briefly comment on another person’s post, if at all. However, no one have personally come out, and condemned the behaviors. I’ve seen them share photos and videos of the protests though. What a sad time in history.

I know the people who voted for DT don’t want to be associated with hate groups. The same people have gotten offended, when anyone remotely suggests they are racists, because of how they voted. Heck, they don’t want to be viewed as homophobic, racist, or anything close. I understand this. I do. You agree with DT’s political views, and that’s okay. However, when you turn a blind eye to the consequences of his campaign’s rhetoric, we all wonder if this is truly the way you feel, simply too afraid to speak out, or suffering from the typical “not-in-my-backyard-syndrome”.

Take a stand! It is frightening to step outside your cozy comfort zone. You might not belong to the groups he threatened to displace when he is elected. No. You might never have to worry about any of the injustices so many suffer daily. However, there are millions who do. Can we stand with them please? Can we assure them they are wanted here (legally of course)? We need help to bridge the divide. A little goes a long way. Speak up and speak out.  We need you. They need you. The world needs you.

The Electoral College meets in two days. Many of DT’s supporters, are now very dissatisfied with the people he has chosen for his cabinet. He isn’t draining any swamp. He has already gone back on a few promises he made. Some have already regretted casting their vote for him. Too late now. If DT is confirmed President of the USA, we will accept it. We hope and pray, he does what is best for the country. He is a self- preservationist after all. However, we can’t stand idly by, wringing our hands, and do nothing, when we see another human being in need. This is America, after all. Rise up.

 

Until the next post,

 

Best,

 

Juan

#dontfeedthenarcissist#


dont-feed-the-narcissistI have written about my relationship with a narc. Shared articles and personal insights into how they go about attracting their empaths; the ensuing devaluing, triangulation, gas lighting etc. There is a really good chance you have dated one, and never even knew it. You might have had an inkling something was off, but just couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Narcs are crazy makers! Red Flag Series takes you to previous articles I’ve shared on the subject.

If you have dated a narc, the end goal is to not fall victim to their charms. Ever again. It’s not uncommon people to fall for a narc multiple times. The pattern and toxic cycles will continue, until you figure out the reasons why you keep attracting them.

I found the article below on Narcnation. It lays out helpful strategies and advice to protect yourself. Apologies for the length, however, it contains situations you will recognize. So sit down, grab a cuppa, and take notes!

  1. Be slow in trusting. Trust is not something we should just give away, especially to people we have just met or began dating. However, this doesn’t mean to question everything your new partner says and/or does. It does mean to take your time and get to know the person. Do not rush into a relationship or declare your love for each other after a few weeks. Healthy love takes time to develop and should happen naturally and with ease. If your new partner is fast forwarding the relationship in any way, then you must proceed with caution. If you attempt to slow things down and your partner gets upset or tries to talk you out of your decision then you know this person isn’t completely healthy.
  1. Verify and investigate information. This doesn’t mean stalk their Facebook page, or run a background check on them (although at times this needs to be done), or interrogate them. It simply means to listen and listen well. Pay attention to what they tell you. Are there inconsistencies? Have you caught them in a few little white lies? Are they forthcoming with information or do you get the sense they are holding back? Ask questions. A lot of questions. Because how else are you supposed to get to know someone.

This is important and I know this from experience. I met my ex on an online dating site. His profile said he was divorced. We exchanged a few emails before agreeing to meet in person and in one of the emails I asked him how long he had been divorced. This was in January and he answered that he had officially been divorced since October. I inquired about this because I wasn’t interested in someone who had just gotten divorced or was almost divorced. I wanted to be sure that the person I was going out with was 100% available to be going on dates. We went out and we hit it off or so I thought. Six months later, after he love bombed me with ‘I love you” after two weeks and asked me to move in after a month, I found out he was still married (I found out by searching public records because I had a hunch something was off). Being the charming narcissist that he is, he convinced me to stay and claimed he lied because he didn’t think we would turn into anything so it didn’t matter. Stupidly, I accepted this lame excuse and a month later he was officially divorced.

  1. If it seems too good to be true it is! My ex and I had been dating for two weeks when he told me he loved me. I don’t know if I was intoxicated that night because we had went to a bar or I was simply naïve, but I said it back and at the time thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. I had met this seemingly wonderful guy who was attractive, funny, smart, and open with his feelings. I remember thinking our relationship was like a fairytale and that I was finally getting my happily ever after. Within 3 months of dating, the cracks began to show and my dream guy had turned into a nightmare.

Narcissists are con artists. They know exactly what to say and do to get us hooked and then they pull the rug out from under us. We are then left confused and desperate for things to go back to the way they used to be, the way they were in the beginning, but they never go back because the beginning wasn’t real. The narc played us. The narc used us. They abused us and left us with next to nothing because these types of men are always too good to be true.

  1. Don’t expose your weaknesses/vulnerabilities. If I have learned anything from dating abusive men it is to not share every single detail about my life and my past. I am selective with what I share with people. Some people get a lot and some get very little. It all depends on my level of trust and comfort with the person. Have they proven they are trustworthy? Have they shown that they value our relationship? Do they consistently respect me? How long have I known this person? Do they have a history of gossiping? Dating a narcissist will quickly show you that nothing you tell them is sacred. Narcs love to use our weaknesses against us to inflict pain. They can take a seemingly innocent detail about us and turn it into the most hurtful and degrading insult. Does your partner really need to know that every guy you’ve ever dated was an asshole? No. At least not on day one and maybe not even on day 365. A narcissist can take your love for chocolate cake and turn it around on you by calling you a fat pig that eats cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yes, they are that juvenile. I am not suggesting that you share nothing about yourself with people, but instead be smart about what you share and if someone uses something you told them against you, run!
  1. Take a break from dating. If you have recently ended a relationship, whether with a narcissist or not, it is imperative that you take time for yourself. Taking a break from dating is the only way to really heal. It is during this time that we should take stock of our lives and decipher the reasons why we ended up in an abusive relationship. What is at your core that attracts you to men who treat you poorly? Low self-esteem is typically to blame. We don’t love ourselves. We don’t believe we are good enough or deserving of healthy love, especially if we have never experienced it. Sadly, a lot of our parents failed to show us what healthy love is supposed to look like so we are on our own trying to figure out what we need to do or change about ourselves to attract healthy people. Attracting healthy people into our lives ultimately starts with us. It starts with us liking ourselves and saying no to people and things that are no good for us. To do this, we must take time and not jump from one bad relationship to the next without healing from the previous one. I suggest taking at least 90 days and committing to caring for yourself. Commit to having better boundaries. Commit to your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. Read books, listen to podcasts, exercise, go on a trip, organize your entire house, go to therapy, and learn to cook, or plan a party. Do anything, but do it without a partner or bringing a date. Solitude is so good for us. It is so good to sit with our feelings, especially our loneliness. Push through the bad feelings and eventually you will work them out and move forward.
  1. Do a boundary check. Do you know your limits? Do you know how to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty or offering a lengthy explanation? What are your dating deal breakers? Do you even know what you are looking for in a partner? Make a list. Get specific. What will you tolerate and what will you walk away from?
  1. How does your partner speak about their exes? If your partner talks poorly about his exes and blames their breakup solely on them, get out now. This is a huge red flag and should be taken very seriously. If your partner bad mouths their ex, you can guarantee they will bad mouth you as well. At first you might feel bad for your partner and what they went through with their supposedly “crazy” ex. However, if you have done the work on yourself and are stepping into the dating scene armed with information, education, and a good sense of what a healthy relationship is, you will realize that this person is no good for you. Healthy people are able to breakup with their partners and not talk badly about them. Healthy people do not blame the failure of an entire relationship on the other partner. Healthy people can experience the end of a relationship and walk away without seeking revenge or name-calling.

On our first date my ex told me his ex-wife was crazy and had cheated on him. He even went as far as calling her a borderline (meaning she has borderline personality disorder). Now, his ex may very well be disordered and she may have cheated on him. I don’t know for sure. But, what I do know is that my ex was horribly abusive in every way you can imagine and told me I was crazy and accused me almost daily of cheating on him when I never did.

  1. How do you feel when you are not with your partner? Are you calm and secure because your partner is consistent with their character and showing you care and respect? Or are you anxious and restless because you never know if your partner is going to call or stick to scheduled plans? Do you have mixed feelings about your relationship or have a strong feeling of uncertainty? Do you know where you stand with this person? Has the relationship been defined? Have you been open with what you want and what you are looking for in a partner? Our bodies can tell us a great deal about things, people, and situations. When we are around good company we feel calm, secure, and at ease. There is peacefulness when being around these types of people. When we are around bad company our bodies can feel tense and stressed. We can experience worry and anxiety, doubt and confusion. Being involved with a narcissist can make us feel on edge, keyed up and chaotic, which is exactly the type of response that gives them pleasure.

Trying to fall asleep with my ex next to me was nearly impossible. I would be anxious and restless lying next to him. My skin would itch all over and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I remember feeling like I couldn’t go to sleep because I didn’t know what he would do. He would badger me when we argued and everything I said was taken out of context or twisted around. He had an excuse for everything and normally I was to blame for why he lied or called me a cunt or choked me. These one sided arguments could last for days even without my participation. I eventually realized that it didn’t matter what I said because he would always find a way to make me the bad guy. I was always wrong. So, instead of fighting back, I shut down. I stopped talking or I would respond with one word answers or simply say ok. This infuriated him and thus kept it going. I know why I was anxious sleeping next to him. I didn’t feel safe and my body was telling me that.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you need a list of more resources, please feel free to get in touch!

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

 

 

#selflove#


MAIN-Lil-Kim-Then-and-Now(Lil Kim, then and now. Photo: google images)

Sadly, we live in a society where, as women, we’re constantly being barraged with suggestions on how we should look, dress, and act. New moms are often fielding questions about losing baby weight. The internet has become a hot bed for cyber bullying and fat shaming. Health problems are sometimes the root cause, but it makes very little difference.

Husbands often emotionally manipulate their wives, by comparing them to friends, strangers, exes, and everyone in between. Others are sexually harassed, stalked, threatened, and worse. The world as we know it, has changed. The restructuring started ages ago. Tragically, we’re just now beginning to pay attention.

I’m not a fan of Lil Kim’s music, but this radical change highlights the fact, that as women, we need to love ourselves. Body Dysmorphic Disorder is real. No amount of male companionship, closet full of shoes and clothes, nice home/car, money in the bank, etc, can replace self-love. All these things are “white noise”, and will eventually come through the back door.

Spend time with people who build you up, and appreciate you. We teach people how to treat us, by what we allow. No one will ever love you, more than you could love yourself. No one. Sad it’s come to this, for a person who was so beautiful to begin with! My heart aches for her. Despite  money, fame, and status in life, she is obviously not content with who she is.

Lil Kim has admitted to having low self-esteem. Her father, a person who should have been her champion and supporter, failed at his calling. The opportunity to develop self-love, sense of self, and nurture her spirit never stood a chance. It’s a well-known fact, women date men who remind them of their father.

Lil Kim’s romantic relationships suffered. The men didn’t appreciate her, or what she brought to the table. She stated partners eventually left for women who were “lighter” and prettier. She felt she couldn’t compete with them. The picture above has created a firestorm of ridicule and scorn, from fans and trolls alike. It’s sad and sickening.

Half of these keyboard warriors do not see a woman in pain. They do not see a woman who looks in the mirror and (probably) says to herself: “I’m not good enough. Never will be. Maybe if I change this, it might make a difference….” For someone to go to this length, the amount of emotional and mental anguish must be overwhelming.

I can’t imagine the battles she fights every day. Struggles which continually rage in her every waking moment. Instead of subjecting her to such derisive language, we can offer support, and prayers. She is a fellow human being struggling on her journey through life. We can and should do better.

The importance of loving ourselves cannot be stressed enough. Although the bullying is mainly directed at women, I know a small majority of men have faced similar issues. Nothing and no one will replace self-love. I recognize for some, learning to love themselves, is a lifetime struggle.

Keep going. Surround yourself with people who nourish your soul and spirit. If there is anyone in your life who treats you with the least bit of disrespect, move on. The damage is sometimes irreparable. The longer you wait, the harder it is to heal. You deserve to be loved, adored, cherished, and looked after, in a kind, caring, and tender manner.

You’ve got one life, body, soul, spirit. Start appreciating your talent, abilities, individuality, the goodness that is you. Dont ever let anyone, make you feel as if you’re not good enough. The world is filled with people who, no matter what you do, will not like you. But it is also filled with those who will love you fiercely. They are your people. Your are not for everyone, and that’s okay. More than okay.

Looking outside ourselves for things, people, or situations to validate who we are, is one of the biggest tragedies of life.

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

#winning#


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Medal Given To Me

With the exception of a few places, I’ve always been commended for a job well done. Sometimes we go from job to job, until we find one that accepts our perfect mix of talents. I find that Welfare to Work is where I have found my niche. Perfect place to go out. Before self employment. I wish to share a recent experience, which has added to a year, shaping up to be one of the best I’ve ever had. A year, where I’ve finally figured out, what I was sent on earth to do.

First, when I lived in the USA, I worked as a Medical Assistant for more than 5 years. I left to study in the UK. I enjoyed that role immensely. Helping people live optimal healthy lives is a rewarding. Patients often expressed gratitude for the smallest allowances. The Christmas gifts were amazing too. Today, more than 5 years later, I stay in regular contact, with people who accompanied me on the incredible journey.

Last month, at the end of our usual monthly office meeting, I was pleased to be recognized as the Gold Medal Performance Quarterly Winner for the programme/department. We have two ongoing Welfare to Work programmes at work. The award recognize that I met and exceeded my targets. I help people overcome barriers to employment; get them back into work, and off benefits. There is great joy in hearing the words:” I found work”.

I have only been at my new role since late July, so to receive the award in September was amazing! To see your name in a company wide email which covers more than 70 offices, was one of the highlights of a year that has gone from bad, to absolutely phenomenal. The next month I received another email inviting me to London to take part in a Gold Performers Highlight meeting. I wasn’t able to attend, but the invitation alone was more than enough.

For years, I moved from job to job, for a myriad of reasons; boredom, lack of opportunity for growth, office politics, you name it. I moved on. I never once regretted my decision. On rare occasions, I would wonder why I was so restless, why I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt for moving on, before giving things a real effort. I left jobs after only a few months. I now know, it was because it felt like work.

I genuinely rejoice in my clients’ success and victories’, regardless of how small. When a client tells me they haven’t had a drink in three weeks, or after 30 years of drinking all day long, they have finally entered rehab, it’s a victory. For some, it could be finally having a CV for the first time in their lives, or learning how to turn on a PC, get off drugs, find any job, even with a criminal record..The list goes on.

I work with people who have incredible struggles. I hear it all day, every day. However, it never gets me down, not one bit. If anything, each day I’m reminded my life isn’t so bad, and more than ever, I want to do all that I can to help them. It’s a rather incredible place to be. After years of thinking I wouldn’t find a place/sector that would catch and hold my interest. I’ve finally arrived. Not a moment too soon.

 

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

“I Never Loved You”


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Book excerpt…….

Her gaze collided with his. She must have misunderstood. She dared not ask him to repeat himself. He didn’t need to. No one can mishear :“I never loved you” They were the only two people in the room. The words didn’t come from her. She looked away quickly, hoping he would realize what he said. And offer an apology, or retract the statement. For long, interminable seconds, she mentally repeated the words. Suddenly, she felt like the main character in a movie. In this particular scene, she stepped into one of those old, run down establishments on the outskirts of town. The type of place where, no one asked questions, or knows your name. The place where you go to drown your sorrows. And figure out what to do next.

She looked around her, searching for the corner where the music was coming from. As her eyes adjusted to the dim interior, she spotted the shiny edges of the jukebox. There it was, old and familiar, playing a 60’s Ballard. She recognized the song immediately, because it was on repeat. The few patrons who remained, were either too lazy, or too drunk, to get up and change the song. No one turned to acknowledge her presence. Good.

She grabbed the first empty stool in sight, plopped down, and stared straight ahead. The bartender was nowhere to be seen. She turned to “look” at the man who had uttered the words, which culminated everything else. It all felt a bit surreal. She felt like a passerby, observing, off to the side. Transfixed, as she witnessed the exchange between the couple. It was rude to eavesdrop. She should turn away. Avert her gaze a little. Unfortunately, she just couldn’t. Not even if she tried. An inexplicable force kept her rooted to the spot.

The taste buds in the back of her mouth twitched, as the bitter taste of bile rose in her throat. Unwelcome, and repulsive. Very much like the experience she was having. She swallowed. And felt sick. Nauseated and trembling internally, she took a deep breath, hoping to trick her mind into blocking out the words, which continued to ring mercilessly in her ears. A battle of wills began raging within her. She knew she was fighting forces much bigger than she was.

Forces which only began to reveal themselves a year or two ago. The things she had lived through, turned her into a woman, she no longer recognized. The wheels had come off the bus, and in the process, she was destroying herself. It was like a train wreck you saw coming, but couldn’t stop.

Painful and traumatic memories flooded through her. Hot and smouldering. She locked eyes with the man she had given up so much for. Sacrifices which had rerouted her life in crucial ways. The second person to whom she had given her heart. An eternity passed. Not knowing what else to say, but knowing she had to say something, she said :“ So if you never loved me, why….”

Next up: open letters……

Intrigued?!

Be patient. Keep calm. I am writing my second and third book at the same time! I hope you enjoyed this taster.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

#lookforthegood#


#lookforthegood#

I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions. For a host of reasons. I figured, if there are improvements to be made; I can work on them, at any given time, throughout the year. While strolling through the park on New Year’s Day, I decided that 2015, will be the year, I start looking for the good. In people, and more so, in my own life. As often as I can. Every day. There are several projects, which, true to my nature, I am juggling at once. So, I hope I can keep at this, and turn it into a lifelong habit.

I have to remind myself to look for the good in everyone, often. I recognize this will be the most challenging bit of the exercise. Generally, (except for family, friends, and work) I dont look for anything. I mean, how often do we need to? We go about our daily lives, not a thought for the other person. We interact, and move on. Let me hasten to add, my friends and family, would tell you, I don’t automatically look for the bad. However, I know; I need to do a much better job, of seeking out the positive attributes in everyone, especially, when it would be so much easier to see otherwise.

As for the things in my own life; at the end of every day, I write short notes, about the things I experienced, the people who helped, etc, and place them in a jar. The photo above is the actual one I use. I started with white for January. Eventually, I will need to get a much larger, nicer model.

With so many grim images and stories, of terrible things happening in the world, I want to find another way to escape its brutality. One that is often very difficult to accept. The past few years have been rough. I am sure it is for the next person. This exercise, will offer peace and comfort, when I look around, and find dimness.

If I am blessed to be alive next year, I will open it on Jan 1st, and be reminded of all the wonderful things, and people, which made up 2015. It’s been a wonderful exercise, thus far. I find myself looking forward to writing the notes every day. WHY didn’t I do this sooner? I had to resist the temptation, to reread the slips of paper. Even though I just added them. I am sure, at some point I will, as the lure will be too great. It’s a good problem to have, isn’t it? 🙂

I will update you on this project throughout the year. Wish me well.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

Thank You Very Much.


thank-you-facebook-cover2014 is a year I will never forget. For a myriad of reasons. I am sure, if I sat down with each of you, we can spend hours, days even, swapping stories on the lessons we learned. When it comes to chindeepinlife however, I wanted to make this post brief, and to serve one purpose.

Thank you. For following. Commenting. Liking. Sharing. Visiting. Encouraging. Your loyalty. I write for so many reasons. One evening, a few short years ago, while I sat in my small university dormitory, I decided to start writing again. I never imagined where the journey would take me. And what a journey it has been.

Through it all, you keep returning. I know days, even months might go by, without a visit, but I find great hope in knowing the blog is here, when you need it. I will keep writing as long as I am physically able to do so.

I hope and pray the year ahead brings us every good thing. I ask the heavens for continued strength, and healing.

Once again, thank you very much. See you next year.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

This Christmas.


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Who knew? Another Christmas is upon us. Like a thief in the night. It has literally crept up on us. So many things to get done. The stress of finding the perfect gift. For your loved ones. Especially the ones who have everything. There isn’t enough time in the day. We are literally stretching ourselves thin. The pressure is on. To be ready. For the day when Christians celebrate the birth of the Saviour.

I have truly fond memories of Christmas. Everything seemed to happen on Christmas Eve. The house was scrubbed from top to bottom. Every family member stayed up until stupid-o clock the next morning. Cooking. Baking. Hanging curtains. Hopefully new ones. Arranging doilies on cushions. Hanging decorations in the windows. Every neighbour kept an eye on each other’s house. Waiting to see whose house would end up looking the best. I loved the energy surrounding this day. As a result, it has always been the only holiday, I get truly excited for!

Living in the USA took some of the joys out of the tradition. Christmas has been exploited. Become commercialized. In recent times, I have felt a longing to change this. It’s natural to turn inward and focus on loved ones. And easily forget everyone else. Because our lives are so wrapped up in parties, gift giving, and every other celebration. This post is not to invoke guilt. Nor detract from the reasons we gather together at this time of year. It’s as a gentle reminder, to do something different next year. What that means for you. Is different for me.

This Christmas. I hope we spare a thought and prayer for those without family. Especially the people who call the cold, cruel streets their home. Before I volunteered at a shelter, like many, I had a stereotypical view of homeless people. I was humbled. Fast. Every situation is personal and different. And except for the very small number with mental issues, NO ONE chooses to be homeless. And before we appoint ourselves as armchair judgemental moralists, and voice our reasons. Don’t. We haven’t walked in their shoes. We don’t know their lives. Don’t know their pain. I know for a fact, many of them long to be somewhere else.

This Christmas while our kids are opening presents. I want us to think about the young girl or boy placed in foster care for the first time. The child who, due to no fault of their own, was born into a family that cannot take care of them. I lived with a foster-mother for years. I remembered days. And nights. When I wondered if my mom was ever coming to pick me up. Luckily for me. She did. For Christmas. But so many aren’t as fortunate. I want us to pray for the ones most afraid. Who won’t be getting any gifts this year. Furthermore, the children displaced by famine. Hunger. Political uprisings. Keep them in our thoughts.

This Christmas. I want us to keep in our thoughts. The people newly single. Whose hearts are heavy because their relationships broke down. The people who once entered relationships, with so much hope, trust, and enthusiasm. Only to watch it all come apart. Fast. I want us to think about how hard this Christmas will be for them. They once envisioned what the first Christmas tree would look like. The presents waiting under the tree. Fickle things. Yes. But like everything else, their dreams of a happily ever after have been squashed. They must begin the painful process of rebuilding. Recovering.

This Christmas. I want us to give thanks, and keep in our hearts the soldiers deployed overseas. Many of whom will be spending their first Christmas away from home. These brave men and women have made huge sacrifices. Many fighting for causes, you and I might not agree with. These soldiers made a commitment. And they intend to honour it. I only can imagine. Their one wish, above anything else, is to return to their loved ones. I hope next Christmas, their wish is granted.

I can write about so many other groups. But you get the picture. I know the past year has had its share of phenomenally difficult trials. For so many of us. Friendships have been lost. Relationships estranged. Mistakes  plentiful. Grudges and resentments are probably eating away at our souls. The harshest judgments have come from the very same people who claim to love us. But for others. Not so.  They chose to stay. They love without boundaries. Unwavering in their love and support. I thank them. On my behalf. And yours.

I LOVE this quote by Will Smith: Don’t chase people. Be yourself, do your own thing, and work hard. The right people… the ones who really belong in your life, will come to you. And stay.”. Little did I know. This is the year. It would apply to my life. As 2014 dawns upon us. And it will. I hope we can reflect on this past year. Learn from the mistakes. Hold our head up. And keep fighting. But for now. Enjoy this Christmas.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

#growingupwithoutafatherfinalpost


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In April and May, I shared some experiences of what it was like. To grow up without a father. This is the last post focusing solely on the subject. In late 2009, we spoke for the first time. And finally met in April 2011. I don’t remember all the details of  the first conversation. But. I do remember the tumultuous emotions. The total. And utter. Loss for words. Disbelief. I thought for a moment, I was being pranked.

So. Why did it take so long? Simple. I was scared. Of the unknown. My own reaction. Or lack of it. What to expect. Finding out if we’d get along. Yes. A part of me was elated. Because my wish was finally being fulfilled. On the other hand. The fear. And trepidation I felt, far outweighed anything else. A few months before I left for the UK to pursue graduate studies. I decided the time was right. It was premature. Because I wasn’t. So. I backed off. Couldn’t do it. Didn’t have it in me. Whenever I thought about meeting him, fear unlike anything I’d never known, would seize me. It was asking too much.

When school let out for Easter break, I decided to do it. The flight was longest of my life. As I made it through security, and finally through the doors that would bring me face to face with him. I knew there was no turning back. I willed myself into being strong and brave. I reminded myself, one of my life’s wish was about to come true. That many people never get the opportunity. And I was one of the lucky ones. I walked over to him. We embraced. Officially introduced ourselves, and started chatting away.

As it turned out. The first meeting went better than I expected. I’m sure we both had expectations. The time flew by. In a blur. We got along great. I guess like any relationship. We floated around in the honeymoon stage. I finally learned the origins of certain physical and emotional characteristics. The highlight of the visit. Will stay with me forever: for the first time in my life. I got to spend a birthday with my father. I can’t describe the feelings. Even now. Words fail me.

Right now. There are huge learning curves. For both of us. Behaviours and mannerisms to get accustomed to. No relationship is easy. More so the one in which I find myself. How do you catch up on more than 30 years? I won’t get into the reasons why he wasn’t there. Never once inquired about my well-being. Or sought me out. I’ve listened to his explanations. And my mother’s. And I don’t accept either. IMO. Unless the parent is dead. There is NO excuse. None. For not being there for your children. But. It’s the way my life turned out. No more crying. I’ve done enough of it.

If you’re reading this. And you’ve had a similar experience. Or. You don’t know who your father is. I know your pain. I’ve lived it. I know what you’re going through. Have lived through. It doesn’t get any easier. As the days and years come and go. There is always a huge abyss. The hurt can be unbearable. I know. Like me. You have struggled with issues of abandonment. Feeling unwanted. Of not being good enough. Yet. It doesn’t have to control your life. You might never overcome it. But you can learn to live with it.

Men. If you’re a father. And there is a child somewhere. Wondering where you are. A child whose only wish for Christmas is to meet you. A child who prays every night for you to come. GET IT TOGETHER. If you grew up without a father. You could be the father you’ve never had. On a more personal note, if you’re a woman. I also know how it feels to choose the wrong men. Over and over. As if you’re searching for a “father” to replace the one you never had. To learn painful lessons in love. Partly because the critical father-daughter relationship foundation. Was never established. I also know. What it feels like to walk down the street. Make eye contact with someone. Look for some sign of recognition. And wonder : could that be him? My father?

But you carry on. Keep trying. Do whatever you can to heal. And forgive. In parting. I can finally say. I am free of this tremendous burden. Of putting a face to a name.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan