Lessons of Life.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

Will U B The 1?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best,

Juan

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


Start of the London Event

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

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

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

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

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

Best,

Juan

Yes.It’s. About. Me!


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

I learnt how to cook at the age of 10.

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

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

I have moved 10 times in the past 8 years.

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

I am deathly afraid of snakes and frogs.

I sucked my thumb into my early twenties.

I love to dance in the rain.

I detest cooking.

Kissing is a hobby.

I hate high heels.

I was a cheerleader in high school.

I love listening to podcasts.

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

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

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

I made it through a category 3 hurricane by myself.

I get along better with men versus women.

Both parents have high blood pressure.

I lose interest in things very quickly.

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

Best,

Juan Williams

IF This Was My Last Blog Post..


We never forget defining moments. Where we were. And what we were doing. The Oklahoma City bombing. Sept 11th 2001. The capture of Hussein. And Bin Laden. The minute Obama became president. The death of Michael Jackson. And now Whitney Houston. When a famous personality departs this life, shock, and sadness are expected. The entire world mourns. Understandably so. However, the devil’s advocate in me must ask, are we sad and mournful when countless children die every day from lack of food, and clean water? No. Do their stories make headline news? No. Is there a world while outpouring of grief? No.

Let me hasten to add, I loved Whitney Houston. Loved her music. The woman was a superstar. She blessed us all with a voice that beckons the soul. And stirred hearts. I danced to her songs. Following the loss of my first love, I cried waterfalls every time I heard “I Will Always Love You”. When The Bodyguard was released, I sat like a sardine, in a cinema with temps rivaling the Sahara desert. Because it was the movie everyone had to see. The point is, let us spare a thought for the children dying every day. Can we? Let us remember them in our prayers. In acts of service. Mourn for the loss of young lives. Hopes. And dreams. That will never be. They were snuffed out by starvation. Hunger. Malnutrition. Yes. I know we cannot save them all. But we can save some. Anyway, my soap box has now been placed under my bed. For now.

When the world loses a well-loved figure, naturally, it engenders feelings of your own mortality. I mulled over what I would write about if this was my last blog post. What I would want people to remember? Here are a few the things I would want my readers to be aware of.

(1) I would want you to become aware of the work of Zainab Salbi. One of my heroes. And founder of WFWI . I have pledge my full support behind this organization. WFWI helps women in war torn countries. They have been used as weapons of war. They were raped. Tortured. Abused. Suffered loss of limbs. They have survived genocide. Civil wars. Loss of spouse. And many other atrocities.  Along these lines, I would encourage my readers to choose a passion. A cause. And fight for it. Leave it better than you found it. Make your contribution. In your own way. Don’t stand by. And do nothing. So many people can use your help. The great Muhammad Ali once said: “You lose nothing when fighting for a cause … In my mind the losers are those who don’t have a cause they care about.”

(2) I did what I could with the time and resources given to me. Yes, there were many false starts. Roadblocks. Harsh learning experiences. However, using the knowledge. Experiences. And skills I had, I did what I could to stay standing. I made the majority of my decisions on my own. I took forever + 1 day to figure out everything happens for a reason. People will disappoint you. Cause you grief. Hurt you over and over (if you let them). Break your heart. Let you down. Stab you in the back. But I kept going. TBH, I had no other choice in most cases. Many watched.  Some judged. Others accepted. The rest turned away. I am who I am today, because of where I came from. What I endured. And the choices I made.  One of my favorite songs is “I did it my way” by the man. The legend. Frank Sinatra. Who remembers this quote by Judy Garland? “Always is a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”

(3) Despite tremendously painful experiences in my love life. I chose not to give up on it. And the beautiful experience it could be. I still hope (d) to find someone who shares my passions. Drives. Hopes. Dreams. Love of laughter. The husband whose eyes I meet across a very crowded room, and the contact makes me breathless. My palms get sweaty. Heart rate increases. A man who still gives me butterflies 50 years later. He lets me make mistakes. Because he loves me enough to let me find my way. He is in it for the long haul. He makes all my ex’s look like backyard experiments. Because the search is over. It will not take an act of congress for me to love again. I was/am ready. You catch my drift. I love this quote: “When you ex says: you will never find anyone like me, reply with: that’s the point” Anonymous.

(4) Do not lose sight of your dreams. EVER. I recently published my first anthology of poems Have a Read On Me, two decades after being stung by the writing bug. As a teenager, I sat in a fifth form English class, and listened with pride as the teacher read my short story (along with a few others) to the entire class. This is how monsters are created! Is there is something you want? Go for it. No. Scrap that. Chase it. Pursue it. Relentlessly. Leave the naysayers in the dust. And proverbial wet blankets? Let the door hit them on their way out of your life. Do it. Do what makes you happy. Live your dreams. I love, love, yes love this quote: “Listen– are you breathing just a little, and calling it life?” -Mary Oliver

(5) It’s okay to apologize even though you did no wrong. Yes, you read right! “Apologizing doesn’t always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego”. Before I learnt this valuable lesson, I was there. Holding  the apology until I absolutely had to give it. That was until I saw what it was doing to my spirit. Hear me out. I am not saying to walk around apologizing to everyone. For everything. You will know when it’s needed.  It might be to settle an argument. Soothe hurt feelings. Or just be the bigger person. Try it soon. Sincerely apologize for something you did not do. Use it as a way of opening a dialogue. You will be surprised. I think it was Harriet Beecher Stowe (1865) who said “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone”

(6) You have the right to forgive yourself anytime you want. Seriously.We are too hard on ourselves. Somehow, we’ve become experts at self-fulfilling prophecies. And social aggrandization. Comparing ourselves to others. Dissecting our failures. Playing host to doubts. Being our own worst enemy. Holding onto things we have done wrong. On and on. And on. Let it go. Forgive yourself. Tomorrow is another day. To start fresh. To move on from this latest failure. The very public fall from grace. It’s the day to look in the mirror. Smile. And say to yourself: “Don’t worry, I got this”. Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.Anonymous

(7) If money was not an option: I would work only 6 months out of the year. Volunteer for three. And spend the other three travelling. Life is a rat race. I believe it should also be well-balanced. We work very hard. With very little time to enjoy the benefits. I would volunteer in Africa for a month. Spend another at a shelter for abused women, and the last at a local humane society. As for travelling, I would spend a month in my favorite place. Another in the places I have only seen in my dreams. The last would be determined by closing my eyes and blindly picking a spot on the world map. Dr Kathleen Hall said: “We have overstretched our personal boundaries and forgotten that true happiness comes from living an authentic life fueled with a sense of purpose and balance.”

In closing, the list above is far from exhaustive. However, these are the things I felt impressed to share. Live. Love. Laugh. Forgive. And while you are at it remember this saying: “Life is the ticket to the greatest show on earth!”

So, if you were writing a final epistle, what are some of the things you would include?

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

Take This…You Will Need It (ladies)


The one year anniversary of my return to the blogging world is fast approaching. I started this blog mainly to stay in touch with my nearest and dearest. Doing so led to a journey of self-expression, and discovery.

Valentine’s Day is upon us. Yet again. As it always does. No. This post is not about any of the sappiness generally associated it. Yes. It’s expected. Some type of declaration. Perspective on love. And the single life. A yearning for companionship. An update on your love life. I believe that if anyone. Be it a man. Or woman. Waits until Valentine’s Day to express extra love and appreciation, they are failing miserably.

This post is of a different nature. About a week ago, I received shocking news .My cousin’s long-term boyfriend (14+yrs) viciously attacked her, and another friend. The attack (a total of 18 stab wounds) was witnessed by their two children. Sadly, the last memory these kids will have of their father for a long time, is one in which he tried to kill their mother. And in the process rob them of a father too. However, it was not her time to go. If you believe in a God. Deity. Sculpture. Stature. Whatever. The powers that be have other plans for her life.

I was shell-shocked for days. The previous Christmas, I went home after being away for more than a decade. I spent time in their company. Lovely family I thought. The young man in question and I attended the same primary school. My cousin is a strong, beautiful woman. She did not deserve the emotional scars inflicted on her. Or the kids. She will get through this.

As I mulled over the incident, it was a struggle not to hate this man. I went through a series of emotions. Anger was the most recognizable. Finally, my thoughts rested on what attracts us to each other, and in particular how a relationship gets started. Generally, it all starts with a pick up line. An attraction. Yes.

Ever wonder how some guys always manage to say the right things? Listen up. A few months ago, I came across a television program, called the PUA~ The Pickup Artist. A show which taught men the techniques, body language, and words to use to score a date. Get a first kiss. Keep  women interested. Keep her wanting. To seduce her. Pretty much how to have women eating out of their hands.

I remembered SMH, and thinking how freakishly sad. I stared in disbelief as these men worked their “majic” on the unsuspecting women. I soon forgot about it however. Life went on. A few weeks ago, memories of the PUA flooded my subconscious. During a convo with someone, I learned there were places, websites, books, etc, where men can go and hone their skills.

My mind went into overdrive. So, I decided to investigate the matter. There is a book called Double-Your-Dating. With a corresponding website Double Your Dating. Users are invited to sign up for newsletter updates. I shook my head in awe. There is one company here in the UK, the  PUA which runs booth camps, complete with self-proclaimed instructors, who for a fee, will get guys into “shape” to attract women. Be sure to read the reviews! There are a lot more out there, such as This, which might be an US based sight.

I cannot keep this knowledge to myself. I have more than a few girlfriends who have been hurt so many times, I gave up counting. My own education on the matter continues. I leave it up to you, to decide how to use this knowledge. Hopefully, the women reading this will pass it onto the women in their life. Ladies, wouldn’t it be good to recognize a pick up line that is rarely used? When you are being taken for a ride? Some tactics are easily recognizable. Many are downright stupid. Others simply leave you speechless. Click on this link Top 10 Pick Up Lines  and get ready to ROFL.

However, some guys are so smooth. Their tongues are even slicker. They are clever. Charming. They are Master PUA’s. It’s harder to spot them. They are at the top of their game. It takes a while to figure them out. But eventually you do. And hopefully, it‘s not too late. You have not become another statistic.  I think it would be funny if a guy uses a one liner on a woman, and she turns to him and say ‘Double Your Dating, page 4 right?” or “The PUA episode 3”. Unfortunately, it’s happened to all of us. At one point or another. If we are indeed honest with ourselves, when we look back on certain relationships, we will wonder, what in the world?

I am well aware that not every man subscribes to this type of mentality. There are men with good souls. Warmth. Caring. Gentleness. Men who are genuine in their words and actions. I salute you. However, on the other side of the coin. Some are not. They are predators. They are unavailable. They were unavailable before you met them. During the dating process. And will be, long after you decide it’s time to move on. Read this article and see if you have ever dated a chap who fits this description of Unavailable Men. I know I have!

So, how do you separate the wheat from the tares? The wolves in sheep clothing? Practice. Learn your lessons. Pay rapt attention. A lot starts with the first meeting. How you two become so besotted with one another. Statistically, women start labeling relationships long before men. Carefully observe him. Listen to what he says and does to get your attention. See if the same words and actions continue. Or stops after a heartbeat. The majority of my followers are female. A word to the men; if you are reading this, and it does not apply to you, you will not be offended.

If you are a decent, hard-working fellow, who has never had to use any form of manipulation, to attract and keep the affections of a woman, you will not be offended. If you believe that a man should use his natural ability, be himself, and be confident in the fact that one day, he will find his companion, you will not be offended. If you are gentleman who has treated women honestly and fairly. Say what you mean, and mean what you say, then again, it bears repeating, you will not be offended. I won’t keep going. You catch my drift.  However, if this is not you. Get with it. I make no apologies for reminding you of your cowardice in using tactics to get and keep. Remember this quote: “The Karma of mistreating a good woman is the one you finally end up with”. I had to change the curse words!

Life is a risk. Loving someone is a risk. Expressing interest in someone, knowing it might not be returned. Is a risk. We cannot help who we are attracted to. This is a scientific fact. However, you can control how the relationship progresses. Sure, many of us have been forced to learn the same lessons over and over again. Until we get it. Until the brain and heart finally become synced. With love and relationships, they are generally not speaking the same language. Let alone living in the same body! I wish I had come across this information in my teens, twenties, and even in the recent past. I realize now that there are lessons I had to learn. Through some very painful, and emotionally draining experiences.

I hope this post enlightens my fellow sisters. And let the PUA know that at least the women reading has a better idea of what to look for. I hope women peruse the sites mentioned above.  Search for others. You will learn something new.  You will cringe, as I did, when you remember times when you fell for a particular line or tactic. Hook. Line. And sinker. Like a kid in a candy store.

At the risk of being repetitive; fantastic men still walk the planet. However, it’s the not so good which must be sifted. Like wheat. The ones who actually pay to be taught how to attract and seduce women. The ones who watch videos, and read books on how to manipulate you. And a situation for their benefit. So. Next time a guy walks up to us, uses body language, and lines which sound as though they were marinated with honey for weeks, you will recognize it. You will not fall for it, all over again.

You will be more cautious. And decipher whether he can be given the benefit of a doubt. You will be smarter than the average cookie. The lights will be on, and this time, someone will be home. YOU. You might actually be saving yourself from a lifetime of hurt. Pain. Disillusionment. Anger. Emotional scars that takes decades to heal. And the ones that never do. You will learn how to recognize your future ex-husband.

In the season of love, you might be lonely. Anxious. Even mildly depressed on the Valentine’s Day. Newspaper, store, and TV ads will cause you to wonder when you will get your turn. You will be reminded of a time when there was someone. This Valentine’s Day your arms are empty. There will be no flowers. No romantic dates. No passionate kisses.

I hope you spare a moment to reflect on this thought: think about the men you were saved from. You’ve had some really close calls. Afterwards, celebrate you .The wonderful. Loving. Intelligent. Caring. Gorgeous. Smart woman you are. The one your mother raised you to be. You will kiss a lot of frogs, before you find your prince. However, he will be worth it. He will look only upon your heart. He will complement your life together. All other men will be put to shame. He will love the person you are. Without reservations. And conditions. You will be happy. You have to believe that.

One final note; women play games too. I welcome a response(s) from any chap with his take on the games women play.

Here is a pick up line and a subsequent response; Guy:”What’s your sign?” Gal: “Do not enter…:)

In ending, choose well. And wisely.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

BeFoRe ThE NiGhT EnDs


I have a love affair with New Age music. Give me Yanni. And Enya. Over Hard Rock. Country. Ear-splitting heavy metal. Any day. My taste in music is rather eclectic. New Age ranks pretty highly. In Yanni’s 2009 album Yanni Voices, Leslie Mills sang a number called “Before the Night Ends”. A song which has strummed chords on the windows of my soul lately. My life is becoming full circle. Not a moment too soon. I will revisit this later.

I’ve had countless conversations with friends, family, even total strangers about dreams they have. Adventures they long to pursue. One of these days. “Before they kick it”. Predictably, the ending comes with a long drawn out sigh. Words to the effect of “One of these days, I will do ……. (Fill in the blanks). I just don’t have time. Nor the money. Maybe when circumstances change. And things get better”. These words have fallen from my lips. Until reality bit.

Tell me if the following does not reek with the curse of familiarity. Many attend college. Get a degree. Then a job. Work for decades. Save for retirement. Somewhere in between, start a family. Raise kids. Help pay for a wedding. If not all of it. A vacation or two is squeezed in somewhere. Maybe once per year. Or every few years. Retirement arrives. In all its glory. So are the days spent seeing one health specialist after another. Or perhaps playing bingo. Or bridge at the local community centre. Some are caught raising grandkids. Or babysitting them. Others volunteer. Before you know it. Your time is up. Death has dues which must be paid. An alarming number of people fit this mold. Don’t they? Scary.

Let’s put religion and philosophy aside. At least for this post. Humor me.Please. What do you want to make of life? What are the things you dream of doing? Let’s list some examples: travel. Run a marathon. Write a book. Find a cause and fight for it. Develop a new talent. Go kayaking. Or sky diving. Learn a new language. Or a new dance. Act on stage. Do a standup comedy act. Sing karaoke in public. Take part in a competition. Be homeless for a day. Organize a charity fundraiser. Attend the concert of your favorite artist. Start a business. Return to school. Offer your services pro bono. Truly the list is infinite. Hopes and dreams so far out of reach. One day. Is the vow.

I am not advocating irresponsibility. Nor reckless abandon. Let alone throw caution to the wind. Heck, I am not even suggesting you become an overnight adrenaline junkie. Just a nudge in the direction of pursuing your dreams. Perhaps with more vigor. More meaning. Intensity. As if you won’t ever get the chance again. How long will you live? What will happen to you between now and then? If only anyone knew. That’s just it. No one does. There are no do over’s. Just fresh starts.

Fear is a reason why we don’t pursue our dreams. It may not work. A train wreck in the making. We are afraid of failure. Before even trying. Don’t forget what others might think. Or say. Or do. We want it. Sure sounds nice. However, we don’t even want it bad enough. We have a changeable list. Depending on circumstances. We cross out and replace. It seems so silly now. An asinine childhood dream. Mature adults put away self-indulgent fantasies don’t they? But wait. Perchance there is another reason. One we are afraid to tell ourselves. The fact we just don’t have the gumption. The nerve. Get-up-and-go.

We can’t overlook the possibility of wasting precious time. And resources. On a venture which may never come to fruition. So why even bother? These are some of the things we tell ourselves. When we try to rationalize away our failure to try. When we look in the mirror. And stare at the only person standing in our way. The things we tell ourselves to sleep better at night. Things that give comfort when we are alone with our thoughts. When the silent, inner battle continues to rage. Fiercely within our souls. Battles which can easily be won with one resolve. Courage.

Sure, some things take time. Resources. Careful planning. Others do not. We have vivid memories of the time when a dream was within our grasp. With trepidation, we reached forward. Hands trembling. Fists closed. But Alas! Frayed nerves took over.  The smell of failure distorted our vision. Unable to see clearly. We stumbled. We saw a sign with the words “WHAT IF” in bold letters.

The immediate thought is to quit now. And try later. We pulled back. And retreated. Boy that was close!! Maybe some other time. Except of course that time never comes. Fast forward to old age. If we are lucky. Circumstances have drastically changed. Sure we have time. But what else? Empty nest syndrome has quietly let itself in. Taken up permanent residence. Resources might be limited. Good health depends on the weather. And other circumstances.

Some of my readers might think this post is too satirical. Downright disconcerting. No one is comfortable contemplating the possibility their life will mimic the scenes described above. No way. This post perfectly describes someone else. Think for a moment. Or more. If someone writes your autobiography, think how it will seem to readers. Will it be a struggle to get past the introduction? Or will they stay up all night to see what happens next? Yes, some of us want a quiet, peaceful existence. We simply want to work. Raise our kids. And be happy. Nothing wrong with that.

However, if you are anything like the rest of us. You want all the above and more. To grab life by the horns. And don’t let go. To live your dreams. Write your own life story. Instead of it being written for you. To live life with no regrets. You are fully aware of the things you want to do. You would rather regret the things you did do, instead of those you did not do. Then I am speaking to you. To the part of you that has been restrained for too long. The inner spirit which looks around and crave more. A lot more. You are restless. Fidgety. It’s like asking a two-year old to sit through an hour-long meeting with arms folded. Uh huh. You should be making things happen. You don’t care about resolutions. Things are either going to happen. Or they are not. You know who you are. Go on. Get out. Get yours.

Back to why I mentioned the song “Before the Night Ends”.  In summary, the songwriter hopes to find her love before the night comes to a close. No matter what. I have included a link below for your listening pleasure. I am taking a few years off before I return to school to pursue a doctorate. I have thought long and hard about what I want to do until then. I have even toyed with the idea of putting it off for a bit longer. Travel and teach. Pursue new interests. Volunteer. Etc.

I can see the ones who like comfort zones. And safety blankets. Shaking their heads. The wheels are churning. Furiously. The natural order of things after earning a graduate degree, would be to either get a well-paying job or return to school. Surely, this places me in a position to earn a six figure income in the next several years. Pad my bank account. Secure my retirement. Save for the European cruise. Add to the list of should. This is what the world says. True. What family expects. That is a given. What friends will advise. They are trying to help right?

This is how I see it. There will be time to make money. A lot of it. Whether or not I have money, I have chosen to be happy. To be at peace with my decisions. There will be time to enjoy the fruit of my labors. I refuse to say decades from now: “How I wish I had…”.Instead, I let work, things, and the ever popular wet blankets get in the way. Who is to say I am going to live to enjoy all the money I have stashed away for decades? Now I am not going to be careless, by not planning for a financially secure future. That is if it comes. A girl has to have her wits about her. Same for the guys. However. In the interim. I will do the things which make me happy. I will live my best life.

Finally, whether you are in your 20’s, 30’s like me, 40’s whatever….before the night ends…what do you hope for? How will this hope become a reality? Before “your teeth are in a cup, eyes on the shelf, and ears on the nightstand”, I hope we are chasing our dreams. Not someone else’s. Let alone what everyone expects you to do. That you are living your best life. Or doing something about it. If you were viewing scenes of your life years from now.  Let’s hope you enjoy what you see.

Enjoy this Leslie Mills number :

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

Cross…..sdaoR…..


It’s a New Year. New starts. Resolutions.Do’s. Don’ts.Decisions. Making them.Keeping them.Hoping you get it right. Let’s get this party started!

I was talking with a friend a few weeks ago. Our conversations are generally easy. Like a comfortable chat with someone you’ve known for a bit. I explained some of my growing frustrations. My friend thought I was in a “waiting room” of sorts. Yes. You know. The waiting room of life. Consider this analogy. You are waiting to see your GP/PCP.  You know. The interminable wait: to see the good doc for a few minutes. When the nurse assistant appears/the monitor beeps. Everything else fades. You hold your breath. Heart rate momentarily increases. Eyes and ears strain to hear/see your name. Unconsciously, you reach for your belongings. It has to be you. No one else has waited as long, have they? If only you could get through the first door. To the next waiting room. You will be one step closer to seeing the health magician. But alas. Joe Schmo gets called. You swallow the bitter taste of disappointment. Enter reality. Maybe next time. For now, it’s back to the waiting game. The cycle of it all.

Has your life ever felt that way? As if you are stuck in reverse? You arrive at a destination. Precious time and sacrifices got you there. The plan succeeded. But now what? What’s beyond this goal? You can’t shake the feeling that something is missing. Do you long to travel? Perhaps get a new job. Enter into the relationship you finally have time for. Mend another. Declutter your life. Move away. Whatever the situation. You can’t move on until you get past this. Whatever this happens to be. For us. If you’ve been there. Or you are here. Chances are you have arrived at a Crossroad in life. What happens next will change your life. For the better. Worse. Or maybe it wont. Once we find ourselves at a Crossroad, how should we proceed? How can we be certain we are making the right decisions? Decisions that will impact you. And future generations.

As 2011 drew to a close, I looked back on the things I accomplished this past year. A sudden realisation struck me : it’s as if my life is just beginning! As such, I feel as if I am waiting for the next big adventure. The next big conquest. Before I kick it, I want to teach in Africa. Sudan is on my mind. It will take 1-2 years before this goal is realized. For now, however, I am once again face-to-face with this incurable disease of wanderlust. It’s back. Never left. I applied a small band-aid to a gushing wound when I made the decision to study in the UK. But alas as it always does, time came knocking. The band-aid has been rendered useless. As I knew it would. The wound has been reopened. No band aid will fix it this time around. It’s time to apply firm pressure, and perhaps a visit to places, situations, and relationships which will soothe my soul and provide healing. Decisions that will cause me to choose a particular fork in the road, versus another. Questions should not be turned into a bunch of jumbled up musings. Where do I go from here?  I know one thing for certain. If and when I get to old age, I would rather regret the things I did do, instead of the things I did not do.

I know the typical answers. Pray. Done. Find a purpose and fight for it. Check. Develop new passions. Double-check.Yep. The whole lot. Having made up my mind on what I wanted to do, I thought my readers would like to hear another perspective. While at uni, I met a truly wonderful human being. Her name is Antje Goldner. She willingly agreed to contribute to this piece. I am grateful for her response. I am a regular reader of her blog, click on the link below to find out why.

Here is Antje’s take :

“Recently, while I was home in southern Germany, I went with my family on a walk organized by a local historian, who took us on a pretty hike and stopped at certain points along the way to give little talks on some historical events or facts connected to that area. Towards the end of the hike he stopped at a quiet little crossroad to tell us a local legend of how the people in the village nearby used to believe that the devil would manifest itself at this spot on New Year’s Eve, just at the stroke of midnight. He added that in medieval times, crossroads in general were considered unlucky and frightening. This made me think of all those legendary blues musicians from the southern states of the USA, who were said to have stayed out on an empty country crossroad over night to meet the devil, giving it their souls in exchange for the ability to play their instruments better than anyone else.

How come that crossroads are feared the same in different cultures and throughout different times? I guess it has something to do with insecurity. At a crossroad you have to make a choice and usually, you have to make it by yourself. Maybe you have to leave a well-travelled path and choose one that is only the merest outline on the ground. Or you are afraid of losing your own way by choosing one that a lot of people have gone already. Whichever way you choose, you don’t know where it will lead; you don’t know who you will meet along the way, who you will have to leave behind, how you will change by walking that road. Most importantly: you don’t know if your choice will be the right one.

I used to agonize over this. I think everyone does at some point in their lives. Some people never stop. If you are one of those people, I have a thought for you: how do you know if a direction you took was wrong or right? You will never know! You will never be able to go back and take that exact same decision at that exact same crossroad again. Even if you were able to go back to the crossroad, it would not be the same, because you would have a whole set of new experiences with you. So if you cannot know, there is no need to dither, or to agonize. Once I fully realized this, I stopped worrying about those frightening crossroads. Nowadays, I just take the one that feels or looks right at that point. It works for me. I travel lighter, and if I feel that my path is not perfect, I don’t think about going back and taking another road – I think about how I can improve the road I am on.

If you are still standing at your crossroad, unable to move on, insecure, unsure – remember that the only difference between the one road and the other is quite simply your choice. By choosing one road above another, you make it different. You make it yours. And once you are past that crossroad, don’t think about it again. Believe me, it’s not worth it. Instead, keep your energy and your attention to the path you are walking on now. Look out for the little surprises along the way – the unexpected vistas, the flowers growing in colourful clumps here and there, your fellow travellers who will make you laugh and cry. Keep your eyes open and appreciate the details and you will be surprised by what you see. And if you still find that you don’t like this path, don’t worry: there’s another crossroad coming up, right behind the next bend in the road”.

Antje (http://crestingthewords.wordpress.com)

Finally, if you are struggling with where to go. What to do. How to get there. Pray about what is best for you. Act upon the promptings you will receive. Once you have made the decision. Do it. Try not to waver. Or wonder about the “what if’s” in life. They will always be there. Whether or not you succeed. Or fail. Think about the choices that have brought you to this point. There is no do over. But there are fresh starts. Millions crave the opportunities that we have. We have freedom. Health. Hope. Opportunity. You name it. You know your blessings. You are the only person standing in your way.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

If I Could Have Twelve Wishes……yes twelve!


“It’s that time of year again”. An oft-repeated phrase. We all have wishes. Secret desires. Kept silent. Yet hope rages on.  Permit me to share my twelve wishes for this holiday season. If they could be granted of course. Yes, I believe in the “genie” story!

  • To  the women who have repeatedly suffered rape. Loss of spouses. And children. As a result of wars and genocide…I wish you peace. And hope your fellow countrymen would somehow grow a conscience. If possible.
  • To the parents of children who died because of starvation, lack of clean water, etc…I wish more world leaders viewed your problems as if it was happening “in their own backyard”.
  • To the countless young women who were sold into sexual slavery in just the past month …my wish is that one day, you will find a way to escape your sentence. And your captors.
  • To the more than 50,000 child beggars on the streets of Senegal…my wish is that one day, when you are old enough to make your own decisions; your children will not be subjected to this way of life.
  • To all the other children who are constantly mistreated. Especially by the ones who should be protecting them, (the Burundi children locked up without trial, in the same prisons as dangerous, adult criminals, the child miners in Bolivia, the tobacco workers in Malawi etc)…my wish is that one day, your faith in humanity will be somewhat restored.
  • To the activists battling to save so many worthwhile causes; the Amazon rainforest, the endangered species of orangutans in Indonesia, the elephants from poachers in East Africa etc…my wish is for the powers that be to take notice. And support you in your efforts.
  • To the approximately ten percent of the world’s population suffering from some form of disability… my wish is for you to realize that you are inspiration to many of us. And know that one day you will be free from pain and suffering.
  • To the soldiers who cannot make it home for Christmas…my wish is that next year will be different.
  • To those who have been wronged in some way. By a spouse. Partner. Significant other. Family member. A friend…my wish is that you do not let the offense rule your life. To forgive. And see them the way God sees them. This is one of the hardest things to do!
  • Finally, my own personal three wishes:  to those who have supported me in one way or another. Cried with me. Prayed for me. Laughed with me. Given me a hug~ just because. Cheered me on…my wish is that if you are reading this, you will be blessed with the things you stand in need of, for many years to come.
  • I also wish my family were all together. Under the same roof. In the same space. Not in 4 separate countries.
  • And my last wish? This time next year, I will have someone special to celebrate this holiday season with.

These are my twelve holiday wishes. What’s yours?

Until the next post,

Best!

Juan

Their Shoes


Their Shoes” is the name of a poem in my book, currently in publication. The excitement is building. It highlights the need to withhold judgments. Until we have the entire story. Why do we judge? This is my take. For some, it’s second nature. It’s simpler to assign labels. They often facilitate interaction with others. It’s also a form of laziness. Really, who has time to figure it out? It’s better than being wrong. Unquestionably so.  Furthermore, it defeats the purpose of what we are trying to sell. Who hasn’t labeled someone? Or something? I have. You too. We are scared of what we don’t know. Especially if it threatens how we see the world. How things should be. Or not. We’ve all felt the sting of being judged unfairly. A bitter taste in the mouth.

 At first glance, some people seem worthy of wrath. Judgment. Condescension.  Let’s be honest. We’ve all appointed ourselves as chief prosecutor, jury, and judge over a person. Situation. An opinion. A lot more. Some judgments have been swift. Harsh. Unforgiving. They came as fleeting thoughts. Non-verbal actions. Turning the head in another direction. An outright, thoughtless remark. Regretted later. Or given justification for thoughts. And actions. Let’s examine a few circumstances.

The homeless and indigent. Yes. Let’s go there. We’ve all done it. Avoided eye contact. Crossed swiftly to other side. Secretly hoped not to be noticed. Squirmed when discovered. We’ve judged them. Scowled. Eyed them in disdain. Chose your narrative. Logical arguments exist for helping. Or not. In comparison, some have given spare change. Or food.Clothing.Volunteered at a local shelter. Stopped to chat. If you have. Thanks for your example. Your giving heart. Kind nature. I would like to think no one would choose to be homeless. Furthermore, I can safely assume you’ve never been homeless. My apologies if you have.

Permit me to extend an invitation. To all of us. The next time we see someone sitting on the ground. Panhandling on the busy highway. Standing with outstretched hands. Think for a moment. It could be me. Refrain from categorizing them. I bet it’s safer to do so. Homelessness is not a disease. Nor a raging virus. A homeless person is someone’s son. Daughter. Brother. Sister. Parent. With real feelings. Character. Hopes.

A wife in an abusive relationship. Come next year, I hope to extend my volunteer interests to a local battered women shelter. Chances are we know someone who has been abused. Or worse, in our eyes, stays with an abuser.  I won’t sugarcoat the issue. Unless you have lived with an abuser. In any form. Physical. Mental. Emotional. Sexual. Verbal. Psychological. You have no clue what an abused person must endure. You hear stories. See the scars. The bruises. The distant, drawn, painful look on their faces. You can guess. Empathize. You still have no idea. Sure, she can just leave. Take the kids. Before something truly serious happens. Or worse. Do this: Google “power and control wheel” See what you discover. Or think you know about domestic violence.

Ever wonder how things got out of control? Why she seems to allow it? I often wonder the type of childhood an abused wife had. I wonder if she has anyone to turn to. Maybe she tried to leave. But he always finds her. Made threats on her life. She is broken. Spent. Empty. There is nothing left to give. Her eyes are distant. Hollow. A shadow of her old self. Why can’t she just get up and walk away from it? I mean who would stay? Stop. Wear her shoes for a minute. A day. The years she has endured.

We have all done it. Passed judgment. Committed victim blaming. Condemned her to remain in her rough life. After all she chose to stay. Here are some reasons why women stay. The kids. Famous reason. Typical answer. Learned behavior-it happened to their mothers. They don’t know any other way. Trauma also affects a victim’s way of thinking. They employ short term coping strategies. Eventually, a woman will empathize with her abuser. Forgive. Even pity him. Some are unable to step back and look at the situation. So. Next time, you meet a woman who stays in an abusive relationship. Do not be so quick to judge. You do not live her life. You don’t know why she chose to stay. Instead, try to offer support. Encouragement. A listening ear. It could be you. Or your daughter. Mother. Niece. Sister.

An addictive personality. We all have vices. Sometimes they transform into addictions. Food. Drugs. Sex. Exercising. Attention. Internet. Alcohol. Painkillers. People pleasing. Shopping. Gambling. Pornography. Too many to list! It’s not always easy to recognize an addiction. Many are adept at hiding it. There is no single cause to explain addiction. It can be biological. Social. And psychological. It starts with an exposure. Then shifts to dependence. Addiction is a broad, all encompassing topic. This post barely skims the topic. Furthermore, we might never know the reason(s) behind someone’s addiction. The battles they fight within the confines of their hearts. We don’t know what it feels like to put on their shoes every morning

In our shoes, it’s easier to point the finger.  Shake our heads in disbelief. Spew words of condemnation. Criticize. Adjudicate. In their shoes. It’s a constant daily struggle. One you and I will perhaps never experience. The dependence has taken over their lives. Held them hostage. Giving the appearance of failure. In their eyes. The eyes of their family. Friends. Anyone that matters. Perhaps you and I have never suffered from an addiction. Be thankful. Pray that it never happens. Because tomorrow, it could be you. Or me. Or someone we know. Likewise, if you have had to overcome an addiction. You have worn their shoes. You know what it felt like.

The purpose of this post is to highlight the battles others face. Battles which make it easier to judge. Get on soapboxes. Hold meetings. There are many evils in the world. Things of greater consequence. Do not add to the hate. The strife. It is very rare when we can do a lot, by doing nothing at all. In this case, by not judging. Yes behaviors can be frustrating. Hard to understand. Painful to watch. Cause sleepless nights. But, we can try to develop the ability, to see life through their eyes. To avoid arguments as much as possible. Try to understand what a day in their life is like. Perhaps write about it. Research. Continue to love them. Regardless of your feelings toward the addiction. Someone else might need to walk in your shoes. One day.

Love this:” Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that who cares?…He is a mile away and you’ve got his shoes” Bill Connolly.

This is my take, what’s yours?

Until the next post…

Best,

Juan Williams

Ron Tamir Nehr

Self Empowerment & Business Coaching

The Alchemist's Studio

Raku pottery, vases, and gifts

Love Travelling Blog

Travel diaries providing inspiration for planning the perfect trip

Cheche Winnie

Sustainable Living & Wildlife Conservation in Kenya Blog

Chin.Deep.In.Life.

Live Life on YOUR Terms!

%d bloggers like this: