“The Struggle Ends When Gratitude Begins”


Yesterday was Thanksgiving in my adopted country of America. Millions of families sat around the dinner table.  In some homes, a prayer was offered. Everyone would be given the chance to share something they are grateful for. They will enjoy the simple act of being together as a family. Immediate. Extended. And borrowed. In other homes, a different scenario played out. In the next few days, any leftover turkey will be polished off. In soups. Sandwiches. Stews. What else? In essence, many will vow not to eat another bite of turkey until next year.

Feelings of nostalgia rushed to the surface. Memories flooded my thoughts. I remembered how I spent most of my Thanksgivings in the USA. The homes I was always invited to. The people who loved and cared for me during the holidays. Because my own family was thousands of miles away. Treated me like one of their own. Sent me off with an extra plate. The same families who had me over for Christmas. New Years. Sunday dinners. Today, I took some time to reflect on the things I am grateful for. However, before we can appreciate our blessings, there must be sacrifices. Tests of faith. Cleansing. An awakening. Realization that we have so much. Me. In the past few months.

One of my many weaknesses is not opening up to people. Yes, there is a select few. Really select. Very few. I am trying to be better. The past few months have been hellacious. One would never know by looking at me. Sometimes, I smiled when I want to cry. Say I am okay so people won’t worry. Pry. Ask questions. I employ many defense mechanisms to “get by”.  No one really wants to hear my problems. Do they? They have their own. Heavenly Father must know that I am strong enough to handle them. These are the conversations I have with myself.

It’s been a struggle against pessimism. Gloom. Doubt. Cynicism .TBH.  Let me explain. In the past 2-3 months, someone I stood by, when everyone else walked away, finally showed their true colors. Soon after, I learned the person who I looked up to as a father figure, does not deserve the honor. Never did. The news shattered my belief in role models. Shook my trust . For one month I lived with the landlady of all landladies. A horrid person. Next, unbelievable news came from SVG, that my cousin has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Given less than a year to live. A young man in his mid twenties. Full of life.  Moving on, my carefully laid plans are being threatened by unforeseen circumstances. More recently, and in matters of the heart, love appears elusive. I will always care for this person. Deeply. What’s next? How will I end the year? Should be interesting.

Yes. It has been hard not to let pessimism rule my thoughts. And actions. A reprieve came just days ago. A bright spot amidst the dark abyss. I earned my Master’s degree. A milestone . The feat helped to soothe some of the hardships experienced this year. I want to look at the adversity differently. I want to think it’s good  “my friend” showed their true colors in the nick of time. Not later. I want to think my father figure is only human. Imperfect. Flawed. Just like the rest of us. I was the one who thought he was the closest thing to perfection there is. To think the old landlady helped me to appreciate the one I have now. The difference is black and white. Literally. To think my cousin’s terminal illness is a reminder of how fragile life is. To think the plans that I made might not be in tandem God’s. This does not sit well at all.  Hard to accept. Tough to swallow. As for romance? Well, after 30+ years on the planet, realization hit me. Or rather it has come full circle. The time has come to face the reason behind my relationhsip patterns. Fact: our childhood shapes every aspect of our lives.

So. Despite everything. I am grateful for life. And what it represents. The ability to breathe-reminds me I am alive. Live-despite the odds. Eat-because I have food. Sleep-so I can be refreshed in the am. Laugh-at myself, and my silly mistakes. Walk-because I am not confined to a wheelchair. Talk-it means I can express myself. Feel-pain,so I can appreciate joy. Believe in love-one day it will find me.Think-about my actions. Clothes to wear-there is more than enough. A roof over my head- I am not homeless. The church I belong to-a sure foundation. Parents-who love. The publication of my first book-a journey which took years. The ability to write-helps me to handle my emotions. To hope-one day I will get mine. To live in a free country- enjoy so many liberties. To have an education- make a difference. Make my own decisions-not have them dictated by anyone else. To know I am loved by so many-they have my best interest at heart. The blessings are enormous-I must always  remember.

I am not sure what problems might be troubling you today. Many of us fight daily battles. Silently. Bravely.We struggle to keep going amidst the turmoil of life. We wrestle against the odds. Winning some. Losing others. Our burdens weigh heavily on slumped shoulders. But they keep coming. Our own personal, private “Gethsemanes”. Excruciatingly painful experiences. We must be polished, like gems. I don’t know what your individual struggle is. What I do know is that “Sunday will come”. For all of us. That we will always have more than we need. The old cliché “someone else has it harder” is true. I have seen it.

This quote was shared with me more than ten years ago. It’s etched in my memory. You may recognize it : “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself” CS Lewis. The man was a literary genius!

So. In closing. Long after family leaves. The last bite of turkey eaten. And life before Thanksgiving returns. May we remember that in our darkest days. And Nights. When the winds and waves of life starts knocking us about. Remember. He knows. He is there. May we never forget: “The struggle ends, when gratitude begins

Until the next post….

Best,

Juan

“A gem cannot be polished without friction,nor a man perfected without trials”


 

Recent events in life have propelled me to reflect on life and its many lessons. Occasionally, there is a need to remind myself of how precious life is. The need to cherish loved ones. Reach across the divide. To mend hearts. Homes. Lives. Again, writing is therapeutic for me. I write about things I struggle with. General observations. Experiences. And one day when I am brave enough, my “gethsemanes” .Writing provides perspective. Tutors me. Reminds me of my limitations. The need for change. And everyday learning.

Today’s post is about trials. Yep. Problems. Affliction. Adversity. Burden. Stumbling blocks. Add your own soubriquet. Question: what would we do differently if we got a “do over”? Would we avoid some friendships? Relationships? Job choices? Lifestyle? You name it. I wonder. Don’t you? But there is no “do over” is there? Nope. Just one chance. You will never see today’s date again. Think about it. Recently, my face book status read: “Sometimes life will slap you in the face, well today it punched me”. Some days are worse than others. Tugged in different directions. Feel battered and torn. No one is immune. Or exempted. Sorry. However, how we manage the trials might be the most telling story of all. Read on. See if you agree. Or disagree.

Some trials are more arduous than others. They pierce the soul much deeper. Some come as a result of another person’s agency. Others we bring on ourselves. There is no explanation for the rest. Whatever the cause, we should never lose perspective. Even when they sap our strength. Bring us to our knees. Force us to examine our life. To grow. Ponder our choices. And the choices of others. Are we supposed to learn from them? Depends on the nature of the trial. If the trial is a result of our own imprudent behavior, it goes without saying. Wait a minute. This path looks vaguely familiar. Different circumstances. Yes. But same lesson. What do you know?

Here is an example using procrastination. My own personal struggle. Let’s say I have a paper due in a few weeks. Yet I decide to play hide and seek with the time. As it always does, father time comes calling. The paper is due. Without fail, everything goes wrong. Everything. And no one can help. Pleadings fall on deaf ears. Here is one trial I could have avoided. Right? So I barely made the deadline. Am I still procrastinating? YES! Did I learn my lesson? Yes. No. Maybe. But I should. Until the next crisis that is.The point is, if the trail results from our own shortcomings. If everything is coming coming at us. We are doing something wrong. Time for a reality self check. Perhaps, there is no need to learn the same lessons over and over again.

If we are not learning anything from our trials, it is rather distressing. Trials should remind us of our severely limited capacities as human beings. Show us that we don’t have all the answers. Never have. Never will. They should stretch us. Mold us. Shape us. Make us better than we think we are. Perhaps another person caused the suffering. Maybe we did all we could. But we were blindsided. Careless. Lost sight of the goal. Whatever the situation. No one is perfect. People will disappoint us. Cause us grief. Pain. Worry. Stress. Anger. Sadness. Simply put, our faith in humanity will be tested. Hopefully, through it all, something good resulted. We learned a lesson. Applied it to our lives. And our future. Some trials are actually blessings in disguise. Huh! We just don’t realize it atm.

Being required to go endure multiple trials is not a reason to be bitter. Resentful. Hardhearted. Mean-spirited. Distrustful. Instead see the future for what it is. The future. It has hope. Promise. A life of its own. New beginnings. A word of caution though. When we suffer because of someone else, it seems reasonable to have trust issues. It might be difficult to open up. Building barriers appear inevitable. Defense mechanisms become appealing. But we can cope. We will. We have to. Consider the alternative. There is someone else with even greater struggles. The quadriplegic. The man or woman born blind. Deaf. Mute. Mentally retarded. The homeless. A tiny fraction of the problems you could have. But you don’t. We are truly blessed.We have more than we need. We are alive.

As I battle personal demons. Struggle through my own “Gethsemanes”. I am comforted by the fact that I am never, ever alone. Many people hold a special place in their hearts just for me. First and foremost: “The most powerful being in the universe is the father of my spirit!” Elder Utchdorf. Family. Friends. The quiet, unassuming ones in my corner. Rallying around me to succeed. To give it my best. My trials are my own. If I could not handle them, someone else would have them. Apply these same words to you. I pray that when trials do come. And they will. You and I can find the peace we desperately seek. Whatever our trials are this moment. Remember that we can be uplifted. Supported. Comforted. To know that we can do it. We have to. Giving up is not an option. “May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, and enough hope to make you happy”

Until the next post..
Best,
Juan

The little Things


Recently, a relationship was dissolved because the individual was bothered by a “lot of little things”, which was further compounded by yet another little thing. A gamut of emotions ensued. Bewilderment. Anger. Followed by acceptance. And sadness. One of the great blessings in my life is the ability to get over things very quickly and move on. A dear friend once told me: ‘Juan, you compartmentalize things”. She might be onto something.

Let me explain the last emotion. I was not sad because the relationship ended. Looking back, I ignored a few warning signs. I was sad because I realized bigger issues were driving this individual’s attitude. Not a judgment. Merely an observation. Four years of studying psychology have given me a better idea of behavior patterns. Despite all the ills in the world, people chose to let strife and hard feelings rule their decisions, and interactions with others.

As a result of this rather unpleasant experience. The “little things” in life grabbed my train of thought. I cringed at the memory of the little things which once infuriated me. Held me captive. Ruled my decisions. It is much easier to think about a happier time. The time when a lot of my “earthly cares” fell away. Giving life and living more room to grow. Flourish. Bear fruit. I have not arrived. No sir. The beat goes on.

In the grand scheme of things. There are little things that should not count. Getting rained on. A late bus. Missing a game. A crying baby. Delayed flight. Parking ticket. Bad customer service. Add to this list. Sometimes the bigger picture gets lost. We are alive to feel the rain drops. The bus probably had mechanical problems. A late driver had a family emergency. A delayed flight might save hundreds of lives. Bad customer service could mean the person just lost a family member. A myriad of possibilities.

We might be powerless to do anything about the world’s most urgent concerns. Starvation. Genocide. Mass rape of women. Situation in the Middle East. Clean water for everyone. Many of us are very fortunate. However, sometimes the little things count. Expressing gratitude. An apology. Making amends. Treatment of a spouse or partner. Saying I love you. Extending a hand of fellowship. An act of service. Non verbal communication. A small decision with lasting consequences. All too often, we mistakenly believe people don’t notice the small things in friendships. Relationships. Acts of service. Fellowship. That’s the issue. We are mistaken. Inevitably, the small things we do might not be acknowledged. Preoccupation with life’s problems. The act went unnoticed. A careless thought. More often than not, in these instances, the little things do matter. To the person who receives it. Will the little things matter a year from now? Perhaps five? Ten? If we truly believe they will, then the memories will be welcoming. Not tinged with regret at something we could have done. Or said.

On a more personal note, there are little things I am working on. Ironically, one of them is not being bothered by people who let little things bother them! Over the past few years I have seen a change come over me. Small. Subtle. A softening if you will. I am the furthest away from being the person I truly want to be. Yet the progress is exciting. I am grateful for all the people in my life. The ones who care. Love. Appreciate. The ones happy for me. I love each of you. I am truly blessed.

The loudest sound in the world is that of people whining. Don’t add to it” Adrian Salvage. This is my take, what’s yours?

Until the next post…..

Juan

So…


It’s been a while. Understatement of the year! Let’s get caught up. Passed all my course modules. No retakes. Yes! A trip to Italy was my reward. Attended a singles convention in Manchester. Another in Watford. Met amazing people. Master’s dissertation handed in. Moved out of university accommodation. Job hunting atm. We are here.

Almost a year ago, I packed up the most of the contents of my life. Shipped them in my car to Boston. Goodwill received the rest. Boarded a plane to the UK. And embarked on this amazing journey. Time has literally whizzed by. What a journey it has been! What would prompt someone to seek education in another country? New culture? Entirely different rules of education? Unpredictable weather patterns? Can’t speak for anyone else. Cannot explain it all here. Perhaps a few ideas would help. Experience. Learning. Great education. Money saver. The challenge. Excitement. I am sure you follow?

Today, I wish to share a few observations I have made this past year. First, we need to get out of our comfort zones. It is different for everyone. We all know our limitations. Boundaries. Fears. Insecurities. Worries. The voice in our heads. Limitations we have established for ourselves. Mindless thoughts. Worse case scenarios that never happen. Comfort zones are warm. Soothing. Always inviting. Never criticizes. A fallback when we fail. Our own personal world. We are loved there. We are understood. No need for explanations.

The past year has taught me more than I ever thought possible. Relying on the Lord. The power of prayer. Fasting. Waiting on the Lord. Patience in suffering. The meaning of sacrifice. Being prepared. Working hard. Learning to ask for help. Who your true friends are. Overcoming loneliness. Being satisfied. Family will always be important. Surviving my first blizzard. Huh. I fought. This time I won. I can do it. Anyone can do what they want to. Obstacles abound. Naysayers will foam at the mouth. Quitting never looked so good. But, what is it worth to you? Do you want to? Maybe. Maybe not. Is it an uncomfortable experience? You bet. Think about it, if you stayed where you are now, where would you be in ten years? Only you can answer that.

Second, I realize different strokes for different folks is not just a folklore. I like it here! Not everyone drives in a rage. Drivers actually stop to allow pedestrians to cross. People are friendly. Sometimes overwhelmingly so. They say Please. Thank you. You are welcome. What else can I get for you? The sweet part? They actually mean it. They are sincere. They have absolutely nothing to gain. People want your business. Spending 1 pound or 100 pounds? Doesn’t matter. People are not afraid of others. Or their motives. Do not misunderstand this observation. Exceptions exist. However, 8 out of 10 people fit this profile. At least in my experience. I am not anxious to leave. Not until I’ve had my fill. Unless circumstances dictate otherwise. Many have questioned my sanity for remaining. So be it.

Third, people will always disappoint you. Obey your intuition. Do not ignore it. People will lie. Cheat. Steal. Surprise you. Maybe they won’t. It’s just the next shoe dropping. It finally did. The truth always reveals itself. In the same breath, remain close to those who love you. People who support ALL your efforts. Encourage you. Restore your faith in humanity. In friendship. In life. In good things. In happy endings. I am very grateful for all these good things. And more.

More observations exist. They will manifest in future posts. A year has gone by. I am free. In a sense. No more books. At least for two years. The brain cells are on strike. Apologies to those who follow my blog and found nothing. Well…thank goodness for second chances :).

Until the next post.
Best,
Juan

Tomorrow is cancelled…. and so is the day after


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is my take, what’s yours?

Best,

Juan.

Help Wanted…


Friends,

My dream of becoming a published author has taken another step towards completion. You are invited to be a part of it. Several competing poetry book titles have surfaced. Alas, the problem is choosing one. So, I would like to enlist your help. The poems are based on real-life experiences and observations on topics ranging from life, love,friendship,self-image,gratitude,perspective, and heartbreak, to name a few.Simply click on the link below,cast your vote, and the title with the most votes will be chosen. It takes seconds to do so! One person will receive a free,autographed copy. The book should be available late September.Polling will close on July 15th. Thanks for your help! Live. Your. Best. Life!

Declutter Your Life


Exams are over. Three months to go. October 2010 is a distant memory .One step closer. What’s next? Well, a few thoughts are a good start. Looking around my room one night, all I saw was stuff. A lot of it. Some will go to charity. Or given away. Most people associate clutter with closets. An overflowing drawer. A garage full of yard sale items. However, there is another type of clutter. Mental clutter. The need we all have to “declutter” our life.Space.Time. Our mental closet. Of things, and sometimes people. The things which annoy us. Drain our mental energy. J-Lo starred in the movie “Enough”. Her husband was abusive. A liar. A cheat. One day, she had enough. She took matters into her own hands. If you have seen the movie, you know what happens next. If not, it’s a good watch.

Mental clutter is the equivalent of walking around with bag of “bricks”. Not the real, literal bricks. They are things or people who keep us from getting to where we want to go. In one form or another. It might be a friend. A family member. A dead-end job. A personal insecurity. A crammed schedule. A poisonous relationship. Whatever the situation, we all have at least one. We sometimes carry unnecessary burdens. We repeat mistakes. The comfort zone is warm.Soothing.Familiar. A change will be nice. Not now though. Later. Yep. “When my teeth is in a cup”. “Eyes on the shelf”. “And ears in a drawer”. If the time has come, read on. Declutter life!

The relationship we have with ourselves. A fitting start. Love yourself. Your strengths. Weaknesses. Shortcomings.Gifts.Talents. Personality. Physical characteristics. The power of you. Some people do not like themselves. The signs may be blatantly obvious. Or subtle. Time to start. You’ve convince yourself for a while. Maybe years. Nevertheless, the façade will slowly crumble. Followed by consequences. Build and strengthen this most important relationship. Look in the mirror, regardless of the circumstances, and love what you see. If not, change it. No one can do it for you. Compete only with yourself. No one else is exactly like you. “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely”-Carl Jung.

Forgive a grudge. Or ask for forgiveness. Sometimes, we hold onto grudges to justify actions. We feel entitled. Who is hurting the most? Pride and selfishness have taken precedence over humility. Life is not about keeping score. Your heart might be heavy either because you hold a grudge, or need forgiveness. Take the first step. It is always the hardest. You won’t regret it. If you did, it was done with resentment. At the end of the day, does it really matter? This is one piece of emotional baggage you will be happy to discard. “To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee”-William Walton.

The on and off again toxic relationship. It is like a drug. Really. An addiction. A Craving. A compulsion. An emotional tug-o-war. The person is in your system. And knows how to stay there. The buttons to push. One day, you keep telling yourself. You will get out. Not today. Things are not always bad. If they would get rid of the one bad habit. Or two. Or three. Excuses. You know it. Get real. Deal with it. Unless of course, you feel you don’t deserve better. Then stay. If you do, it’s time. Declutter your life of the relationships that no longer hold a purpose in your life.” Yearn for where you want to go, not for where you’ve already been. Your future will be better, your days will be brighter, and your nights will be filled with the glorious heavens”-Unknown.

A bad job is better than no job. Right? Bills will not pay themselves. A common sense approach would be to find a better job first. How so? Surely, not a half-hearted effort. Not when there is another office fiasco. If the job requires a monumental effort in the morning, you have your answer.The job offers no way forward or up. Yet you stay. Hoping for a break. A compromise. Years have passed. Nothing. Still waiting. Time to start. Search as though you are unemployed. With vigor.Intenisty.A hunger. Passion. Determination. You might get a hundred “no’s”. One yes will eclipse them all. Free up space. In your mental closet. “You have not had thirty years of experience. You have had one years’ of experience thirty times”-J.L Carr.

The one friend who takes. And takes. And continues taking. Emotionally. Spiritually. Mentally. Drains your physical energy. Keep going. You get the point .Things which causes you to scream inside. The air in the room evaporates when they enter. The benefit of a doubt option is tattered. True, no man can live without a friend. Yes you can. You can live without this one. I’ve had to do it. They were hard decisions. However, I lost some emotional baggage….decluttered. “False friends are like your shadow. Keeping close to us while we walk in the sunshine, but leaving us when we cross into the shade”- Christian Bovee.

Living in a “plugged in” society .If you have a Siamese twin-like relationship with your phone. Constantly checking messages. You have more electronic items than you need. You’ve become less-skilled at face-to-face communication. You collect face book friends like a hobby. Or maybe it is bad time management. Admittedly, some things are necessary. Face book serves a useful purpose. However, the extremes are a cause for concern. Technology is amazing, but it can also be a sinister force for a lot of bad habits. Imagine what we would accomplish if we spent less time being “plugged in”. “Technology is a queer thing…It brings you great things with one hand, and stabs you in the back with the other”- C.P.Snow.

The take away message here is to make time for you. Less time for relationships, things, and people who drain your energy. Make a list of all the goals you want to accomplish. Set a time to do so. Ditch the worry. Frustration. Self-hate. Dead-end job. Practice better self-love. Make time for your life to happen. Time for your dreams. Make the “one day” today. You get the idea.

Best,

Juan

Blog on a Break!


My dear friends,

I apologize for not posting any thoughts in a while. The last few weeks have been very time-consuming. I am in the midst of final exams, which will end on May 28th. My next post will be shortly after that time!

Be well, take care of yourself and your families.

Best,

Juan

Sunday will Come!


I just returned from a ten-day vacation in Boston, which included a weekend in NY, visiting family. There was one drawback. I did not get to see the friends I was hoping to see. I was sorely disappointed! In the weeks leading up to my departure, I found myself reliving my teenage years all over again. My gal pals and I were hanging out during lunch period. Talking. Laughing. Planning the next big social adventure. Yes, I was ready for the long-awaited mini-reunion. Reality inevitably returned. I learned one thing. People grow up. And grow apart. Ideals change. People are busy. Maybe 48 hours in the Big Apple was not enough time. Enough of the excuses. Some things are just not meant to be.

I celebrated my birthday during my trip. It was wonderful. Amazing. The English would call it brilliant. Fantastic. Emotional in more ways than one. One day I will find the strength and courage to explain why. I awoke to find some pretty neat gifts waiting for me downstairs, one of which was the entire series of Seinfeld~ my all-time favorite television show. The day was topped off with dinner with my father at Legal Seafood, followed by birthday cheers and cake at home with the family. This birthday is one I will never forget for as long as I live. I am eternally grateful for my family in Boston, who made it the truly remarkable day it was. I love you all.

Today’s blog is not a travel log of any sort. Coincidentally, as I struggled with choosing a proper theme, I was gently reminded it was Easter. The christian world is celebrating the resurrection of the Savior. It’s fitting to pen something along these lines. Christians view Good Friday as the darkest day in the world. Sometimes in life, every day is a “Friday”. We know that the Savior was resurrected on a Sunday. He triumphed over death. Sunday eventually came. For many of us, our “Sundays” are on the horizon. Maybe you’ve had more than a few.For others, it is Sunday somewhere.

Let me revisit a personal “Sunday” experience. At the tender age of 16, I graduated high school. However, there was no money for college. I had to find work. I faced many “Fridays”, as I realized that dreams of a college education were getting further and further away. Many moons later, as a working adult, I returned to school full-time. My “Sunday” would eventually come. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Psychology. I love learning. I also knew that in a matter of years, a BSc degree will be looked on in the same way as a HSD. I yearned for more. Moreover, I wanted to study abroad. Many shook their heads at the thought. I was the recipient of many thoughtless remarks. Others rallied around me in support. I never lost sight of my dream. The Lord placed many people along my path to help me. Yet another “Sunday” came when this dream was realized. In 4 years I would complete two degrees. I share this accomplishment for one reason only. To reinforce that whatever you want in life, you can have it. You are the only person standing in your way. Tony Robbins said it this way “If you do what you’ve always done. You will get what you’ve always gotten” My “Sunday” came. Yours will too. You and I have many more Sundays to look forward to. We have to want it bad enough.

Perhaps, you have had many “Sundays”. Unfortunately, they slid quietly by. Or did they? They came in the form of small achievements. You left a dead-end job. Finally took a vacation. A troubled family member took a step in the right direction. You bought your first car. Got out of a toxic relationship. The journey took forever. However, your “Sunday” finally came. Sometimes, it is much easier to focus on the “Fridays” in our lives. Why? Because “Sunday” seem so far away.

No one is exempt from experiencing “Fridays”. Our character will be tested. The next challenge is already waiting. Sometimes we give up. Lose hope. Perhaps your most immediate “Friday” experience involve problems which seem insurmountable .You struggle each day with decisions you should make. Returning to school. Starting a business. Staying afloat financially. Pursuing a childhood dream. One that has lain dormant for years. You’re a master of excuses as to why it’s not the right time. Remember, they are your dreams. Not your parents.Siblings.Friends.Coworkers.No one. Yours. Moving to a different state or neighborhood. Getting out of a dead-end relationship. Doing what makes you happy for a change. When will your “Sunday” come? When will you make it happen?

Maybe today will be the day we start working toward our “Sundays”. Accept “Fridays” for what they are. Family will let us down. Friends will stop caring. People will walk in and out of our lives. We will experience some of the darkest days yet. Illness and death will affect us. Finances will be meager. Fear will often consume us. You name it. We are not immune to trials. Nevertheless, “Sunday” will come. Relationships will be rebuilt. Illnesses will be cured. We will find joy in each new day. Each of us will have our own, personal, rewarding “Sundays”. Here’s hoping that we get through the “Fridays”, so that we can enjoy the “Sundays” that will certainly come. We deserve it.

Here is one of my original poems. Enjoy!

HE KNOWS, HE IS THERE

When it seems as if no one cares. He knows, He is there.
All you have is wing and a prayer? He knows, He is there.
Had the worst day of your life? He knows, He is there.
When the home is filled with anger and strife. He knows, He is there.

A child has gone down the wrong path. He knows, He is there.
A light banter was taken to heart. He knows, He is there.
You want to give up and throw the towel in. He knows, He is there.
Feel beaten, blown about by the whirlwind? He Knows, He is there.

It’s hard to look for the blessings. He knows, He is there.
You have too many irons going. He knows, He is there.
No one even tries to understand. He knows, He is there.
The days when you are an army of one. He knows, He is there.

You almost lost your job today. He knows, He is there.
You may have to find some other way. He knows, He is there.
It’s an effort to get up in the morning. He knows, He is there.
When will things start changing? He knows, He is there.

The long-waited goal? It didn’t work out! He knows, He is there.
You’ve been forced to walk away, find another way out. He knows, He is there.
You need to formulate a new game plan, He knows, He is there.
At times like these, it’s hard to trust anyone, He knows, He is there.

A lifelong friend has let you down? He knows, He is there.
How do you move on from this one? He knows, He is there.
The days when it’s easier to quit. He knows, He is there.
He’s aware of everything, every bit and He knows, He is there

Juan Williams (2009)

Best!

To the Women in My Life.


One of the drawbacks to country living, is finding fun things to do for for an entire month of school vacation. Luckily for me, in a matter of days, I’m heading to the USA. I will divide my time between Boston and New York. I am especially looking forward to reuniting with high school girl-friends. I have not seen them in more than a decade. They were an integral part of my formative years. I expect the visit be Remarkable. Wonderful. Amazing. Electrifying.

As I contemplated the experiences ahead of me, my thoughts were drawn to the remarkable women I have met along life’s path. I am in awe of their achievements. These women did not receive any educational, monetary or social accolades. These women are single parents. Friends. Caretakers. Confidants. Some of the most unassuming people you will ever meet. Quite a few are unknowingly auditioning for sainthood. One of my heroes is Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of women who are victims of war, genocide and rape. She works tirelessly to help thousands regain pride and rebuild lives.

Not all of us will be a Zainab Salbi. However, our accomplishments are nothing short of phenomenal. They may never appear in newspapers. Nor will they ever be the lead story on Headline News. To put it bluntly, most of our friends will never know just truly exceptional we are. We do not fish for compliments. Nor do we advertise our accomplishments. To the remarkable women I have met in my life, I dedicate today’s blog. Time does not permit an entry for all the women who fit this description. Their stories can fill novels. However, I hope these women get the picture. Hopefully, the next time they look in the mirror, they see a transformed woman. A courageous woman. A phenomenal woman. I hope they see light in their eyes.

To the woman who had the courage to take her kids and walk away from an abusive relationship. I salute you. I admire your strength. Your courage is commendable. The strength it took to make and act upon the decision was nothing short of heroic. The future was uncertain. You had no idea how you were going to sustain your family in the coming months. The most important thing was to leave while you still can. Finally, you did. It took another lifetime to rebuild your shattered lives. You are in a better place now. You made it. You are a hero to many. Especially your kids. A quote by Anais Nin sums this up:” There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”.

To the single mother struggling to raise her children. You make personal sacrifices your children will never know about. Your needs are always met last. You love your children more than life itself. Their life will be better than yours ever was. You have cried yourself to sleep many, many nights. The needs far outweigh the wants. Yet, somehow you find a way. You are both mom and dad.Chaffeur. Teacher. Sister. Friend. Comforter. Listener. Nurse. Provider. Disciplinarian. Add to this list. Your only wish is that your children will live up to their true potential. You are an exemplary human being. I applaud you. I like this quote by Irving Washington, it applies to you: “There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity”.

To the woman who is everything to everyone. Yep, the one auditioning for sainthood. A confidant. Friend. A “payday loan personal lender”. You say yes, when you meant to say no. The word no doesn’t exist in your vocabulary. You don’t want to be the cause of bruised feelings, so once again, you give in. You are tired of giving in to everyone one. However, your gentle, caring nature would not let you do otherwise. You give until it hurts. More often than not, it really does hurt. You listen to your girlfriend‘s never ending dating and marriage crises. You are a babysitter, with no kids of your own. You volunteer each week. Personal matters demand your attention. Your friends and family’s needs seem more pressing at the moment. You are an extraordinary woman. Your good works never cease to amaze others. Many secretly wish they could do half of what you do. You find joy in others happiness. There is no one else like you. No one can take your place in their hearts. Sarah Jessica Parker said this: As a woman, I have an inherent need to be all things to all people, to make certain everybody’s taken care of. I know I can’t sustain that level all the time, so I’m finding the proper balance and it’s made me infinitely happier.

To the woman bogged down by the deepest and most personal insecurities. No amount of words can revolutionize the opinion you have of yourself. It has to come from within. You must find the power to believe in yourself. To take charge. To believe that each day offers a new beginning. To stop allowing relationships to define you. To stop settling for less than you deserve. From friends. Men. The world. Sometimes even from family. To seek help if it’s needed. To let go of the past. Stop blaming yourself. Liberate yourself from burdens that weigh you down. To know you are beautiful. Talented. Smart. Intelligent. Amazing. To believe these words. Not just be comforted by them. Today is the day. To heed this counsel: “The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it: ~ Roseanne Barr.

To the grandmother raising another generation. Retirement is indeed for the birds. You’ve travelled this road before. The path is incredibly familiar. You have given up much. The sacrifices are innumerable. You are determined to see this through. Maybe you’ve been given a second chance. Whatever your circumstance. Your greatest reward is seeing your grandchildren succeed. The grandchildren love you. Because of you, the family is together. There was never any question or doubt. You are their angel. Their hero. You are the epitome of unselfishness. Love. Caring. Generosity. Courage. Kindness. The list is infinite. I have a high regard for you. Because of your efforts one more child will get a chance at life. This one’s for you:” Grandmothers and roses are much the same. Each are God’s masterpieces with different names” ~Author Unknown.

Finally, to the remarkable women who have loved and lost. You know the old adage: “Men are like parking spots. All the good ones are taken, and the rest are handicapped”. I am also guilty of using this epithet. I do know that good men exist. I have seen them in action. Had conversations with them. Yes,many are already taken. However, amazing men still walk the planet. Look deeper. Longer. Harder. Ask more questions. Take things slower. Take an intimate look at his familial relationships. Avoid repeating past mistakes. Realize that he will be perfect for you. No one else. He can handle you at your worst. Resolve residual trust issues. You may have to kiss many frogs before finding your prince charming. Consider this message: “The first time you buy a house you see how pretty the paint is and buy it. The second time, you look to see if the basement has termites. It’s the same with men. ~ Lupe Velez.

To all the other remarkable women I have met. The inner-city school teachers. Special education counselors. Underpaid social workers. Everyone who belongs on this list. I am grateful for your unwavering spirits. Your examples. The lessons you have taught me. Grateful it was the Lord’s design to have our paths cross. The world is a better place because you are in it. Continue to stand out. To outclass. To show the rest of us how it’s done. To love unconditionally. Thank you.

“What is better than wisdom? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing”. ~Geoffrey Chaucer”

Best,
Juan