Keep Shining Dear Ones


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Photo Credit : Instagram

Hello Friends,

I wanted to reach out to anyone struggling with self-doubt. The kind either created by our own minds, or the people we surround ourselves with. I don’t know what your circumstances are, I could never know. However, I can tell you, what others think about you, is none of your business.

Keep doing good. Keep working on yourself. Keep striving. Only you truly know your journey, and what it took to get there.  No one can write your story, and even if they did, how will it turn out?

Do your thing, and do it unapologetically. People will criticize, but you probably know what they are going to say. The same thing that makes your pulse beat faster, your eyes sparkle, when talking about it, do it. As often as you can, for as long as you can.

It has taken a lot of resolve and persistence to get where you are. You didn’t come this far to quit. In the words of R Scott Fitzgerald: “For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be whosoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. And if you find that you’re not, I hope you find the strength to start over”

Live. Love. Laugh.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

 

No Man Is Free….


A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Yesterday, in a city I called home for more than a decade, news outlets showed footage of a black man, lying on his back in the street, hands in the air. He was trying to explain to police, the situation unfolding around him. Police showed up, to investigate reports of a suicidal person with a “gun”, and saw a black Behavioral Therapist with his white autistic patient, who was holding a toy truck. He was out walking with his client. Despite the volatile situation, the therapist can be heard trying to calm his patient, to prevent the situation from becoming even more dangerous.

The autistic man is sitting on the ground, a few inches away from the black man. One cop discharged his firearm, and shot the black man in his leg, multiple times. Coincidentally, the one who “posed” a threat by holding the toy truck / which looked like a “gun” wasn’t harmed. The therapist was then handcuffed, and left bleeding on the sidewalk for more than 20 minutes, before being taken to the hospital. When the victim asked why he was shot, the cop allegedly responded “I don’t know”. Current mantra states; do as you’re told, keep your hands up, obey police orders, and you won’t get shot. The cop and his superior’s excuse? He was aiming for the “armed” autistic man, but missed. Mind you, the cop is a SWAT member. Laughable!

I cannot begin to write about the number of incidents of racial profiling in America. I’ve also watched reports of a few brave cops in NY, who have spoken out about the pressure to make arrests. All in the name of quotas.  It’s not uncommon for them to go into the vulnerable communities, and literally hunt for people to arrest. Cops know they can easily pull over a minority for a license plate infarction etc. It wouldn’t be right for me to write this post, without mentioning that Hispanics are also facing this issue, although, to much lesser extent.

Here are the FACTS: African Americans are 30% more likely to be pulled over than whites. After being pulled over, African Americans and Hispanics are three time more likely to be searched. In 2015, African Americans were shot by police at more than twice the rates of whites. They are also arrested at more than twice the rates of whites. They are 75% more likely to be charged with offenses, and sentences are 10% longer when arrested for the same crime. The list goes on.

In stark contrast, people have shared their experiences, and videos of what is considered white privilege. I’m equally astounded by the restraint showed by law enforcement when arresting a white person, in comparison to people of color. In one incident, a police pulled over a white motorist, and saw he had a shot-gun in his car. Nothing came of it. The police and the motorist, ended up having a long chat. He was sent on his way. No ticket, no arrest, no checking to see if he had a permit to carry his gun.

In the past few weeks, the televised brutal and horrific murder of Alton Sterling and Philande Castile, brought about huge demonstrations, and clashes with police. There have also been instances of multiple police officers getting shot and killed, by men who reportedly got tired of police killing black men. Using violence to fight violence never solves any problems. I also know not every police officer is crooked. There are good men with integrity risking their lives each day, for our safety.

I’m beyond horrified at the state the country is in. Men, women, children have fallen at the hands of police. I started sharing my feelings on Facebook, showing my support to end racism in the police force. I tend to stay away from political posts on social media.  I don’t waste time arguing about religion and politics. There is no need. I’m not sure if it was the culture shock of being absent from the country for more than six years, or being exposed to the graphic images of men dying, but I made my feelings known.

For the most part, some folks have been supportive. Others have stayed silent. Very silent. The same silent types have voiced their opinions on the killings of the police officers. Is one life more important or precious than the other? I can’t tell you how much this worries me. Maybe it shouldn’t. I mentally filed this observation away. If I dwell on it too much, it can develop into unwanted feelings. One uninformed and uneducated person, in another country, with no links or experience to the situation in America, decided she was offended by my status, and took to airing her views. A few have also stated that it isn’t happening in their country, so why protest. I need to take a closer look at my friends list! Obviously, they’re suffering from the #notinmybackyardsyndrome#

Race relations in America is a very emotive issue. Tensions have never been higher. Police have always killed black men. The only difference now, is that cameras are rolling. Anyone who denies that racism exists in America, and especially in the police force, is part of the problem, not the solution. Closet racists perhaps. It’s easy to recognize them, and their thinly disguised racist remarks, “Well, he should comply with orders”, “He had lengthy criminal record”. “Let’s wait for all the facts to come out”..

I’m in NY at this time. I’m not keen on driving (besides public transport isn’t too bad). I simply don’t want to give the police any opportunity to meet their quotas, or become another “driving while black” statistic. Multiple black women have died in police custody. I’m not saying this will happen to me, but the people who died didn’t think it would happen to them either. I’ve never really felt at home/settled in America, if I am honest. The current situation just adds to my growing unease. However, I find myself here now, and I will make the best of it.

I simply want to state here, as I’ve done on social media, that the world is watching. Racism has no place in the police force. It’s time for law enforcement to be held to a higher standard, and stop killing black and other minorities. We need a more thorough vetting and training process for policemen, including rigorous psychological assessments. The most powerful nation in the world, and this is the example we set.

I’ve been encouraged by people peacefully exercising their right to demonstrate against the obvious injustices facing minorities in America. Back in my beloved city of Bristol, crowds marched to show their support. I say thank you. For taking a stand and showing the rest of the world that you won’t stay silent. For doing more than lip service, as minorities are being slaughtered on America’s streets. I too, will find a march in my local area, and take part. If we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything.

I’m not saying everyone should be out marching, or doing what they can to end racism in any form. I would never ask that of anyone. I often wonder though, if black cops were out systematically killing Caucasians, how would society handle this? Would we just stand by shake our heads, and helplessly mutter:” This isn’t right…Something needs to be done..Blah blah..”. I don’t think so.

MLK’s words ring through now, more than ever: “No man is free, until all men are free everywhere”.

Until the next post,

 

Best,

 

Juan.


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In a few days, I’ll celebrate another Earth Strong Day! As I look back on the past year, my thoughts are very much dominated by the types of fires I’ve had to put out. Fires, I never thought would come to my door. While most have been smothered, a few are still smouldering. I’m used to it, just another day, on the wild ride, that is my life.

Another year in life’s journey has come upon me. I wonder what adventures, trials, and ridiculously happy moments will come my way. How will the next year play out for me?

While the struggles are being slowly filed away in the recesses of my mind,  the idea came about to record the happy, wholesome, and fabulous memories of the previous year.

Ten, twenty, forty years from now, if I’m still walking  the earth, I will look over these posts,  laugh, shake my head and say “What a bloody amazing ride that was”! It’s been a year of many firsts, and there is so much more waiting for me.

In no particular order, below are some of the notable highlights of the past year:

I got trusted with my first credit card with a sizeable limit, which have been increased twice.

First time being asked to help represent my company at an Employment Assessment Day!

Interviewed for two roles at a company, got offered both, and had to choose!

First retreat in Devon.

Met Ann Lewin, and got an autographed copy of “Watching for the Kingfisher”

Helped to man a stall, and raise funds for a charity at Bristol’s Nature Festival.

The unknown strangers who took care of me, the morning of my collision.

Helped to make history, while working on a four month contract. My colleague and I brought in more revenue, over the same time period, when compared to the previous five  employees! Our efforts were recognized in the annual AGM.

Became the first employee to bring in a total of six job outcomes for the same company above.

New car insurer accepted my no claims certificate from the USA, saving me a bundle.

The sweet flat in Fishponds.

Three different summer festivals in one year.

Plug and Drive Gold Standard driver…which led to insurance discount.

Shaun’s Trail.

Arcadia Spectacular with Jenny (show of year).

First contents insurance policy.

A year of BOGO cinema tickets.

Attended a Dreamboys show (no apologies here).

First epic Three Cities /6 days holiday, and all the famous landmarks (Geneva, Berlin, and Paris).

First cable car ride 1100m up Mt Saleve.

During my epic holiday, I got off the bus in Geneva, crossed the street, and entered France.

Secured a permanent role in July 2015, and within three months, I achieved Gold Medal Performance Winner for meeting and exceeding my targets.

Saw Boys II Men in concert (and secured tickets to Nelly and Jeremih)

Finally found a sector I LOVE.

I’ve read over 25 books in the past year (including E books, and the reading frenzy started in Jan this year)

Finally, sorted a Will!

Student Loan sorted

First Vintage Fair.

Clubbing, twice in one month.

When a Manager says: “I hope you never leave”

First Masquerade ball NYE party!

First professional photo shoot, and registration with a modelling agency!

Visited Alice’s (Alice in Wonderland) Sweet Shop.

My cousin has begun illustrating the cover of my next book.

Became Reiki Level II Certified.

Completed Life Coach Training.

Naturally, the good has outweighed the bad. Bring on the next year. I hope your year is even more amazing!

Until the next post,

Love and Light,

Juan

 

 

Happy New Year!


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What did the dawn of 2016 find you doing? Partying hard, or a quiet night at home? I know my US family spent it in church. For so many, it’s a time of reflection, resolutions, and planning. I wanted something different. A few months ago, I went in search of, and found it.

I got all dolled up in a stunning, red evening gown, dotted with silver and white stones, matched with a silver clutch purse, red pumps, and the silver mask above. I attended my first NYE Masquerade Ball. At £80 per person, we were expecting a lot. The hotel didn’t disappoint. On arrival, we were offered a glass of champagne, and had a photographer take pictures. At 8pm, we were served an absolutely delectable five course meal. The night also offered free photo booth, a fabulous DJ, and a live band.

You never know what you get with live bands, but this one was buzzing! The band had so many jumping,dancing, and singing all night. Two hundred people strong; in ball gowns, and black ties. Right after the countdown, we joined arms and danced in circles to sing Auld Lang Syne. There was enough hugs and kisses to go around. My party danced from 10:30pm to 1:45 am. You do get what you pay for, and I was glad we decided to pay more. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to enter the New Year.

Thank you for your support through all these years. I hope 2016 is your best year ever. “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today”

Until the next post,
Best,

 

Juan

#winning#


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Medal Given To Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

June. Thank You.


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Readers, I hope you are well. Have you ever had a month so wonderful, you’re not likely to forget it, for as long as you live? I hope so! For me, June was it. At first I thought it was a fluke, but when the incredible things just kept coming, I started to believe. The best month, I’ve had in a long time. Truth be told, my long-term memory is pretty good!

I didn’t forget to count my blessings and express gratitude. Just couldn’t. For, in recent times, I’ve been taken out to the watershed and back. I thrive on optimism, and would like to believe, the tide is finally starting to turn for me. I can only hope, June was the beginning of the exciting things I’ve waited for. Weeks later, I was still buzzing from all the wonderful gifts the universe brought my way.

So, what about June, that makes it so fantastic? Well, for starters, as the universe would have it, I made a significant change to an area of my life. From there on out, things just seem to come together. The fixed contract I was working on ended this month, which meant back into job hunting. During my first interview process, I interviewed for two jobs at the same company. I obviously made an impression, because I was given a choice as to which role, I should take! Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.

Professional accolades continued, as I helped to make history. Right before the contract ended, I attended the company’s AGM. My colleague and I were publicly recognized, for the work we’re doing in Bristol. Furthermore, we worked very hard, and no stone unturned, as we wanted to go out on a high.The result? When the numbers were tallied up, our manager found, that in comparison to the same quarter last year, and with more than twice the number of staff, sales increased by more than 50%.

Continuing with the good stuff, thanks to a government programme, I was finally able to sort out my student loans. This has always been a source of worry, one that would prevent me from accomplishing other goals. Imagine my relief! Onto the other dreams then! On the path to financial freedom, I enrolled on a course, that would help me set up and manage my own business. The fee I paid was a small fraction of the regular price. I also found a mobile phone plan for £13 pcm, in comparison to the £50-60 per month, I paid for the past two years. Increase credit offers also came my way.

I received free upgrades on my broadband and TV plan for six months. Discovered, that for me, metered electricity is the way to go. One day, I got a call from the NHS, offering to move my hospital appointment forward by months. A true godsend, as it takes ages to get one. Following on the heels of this, the appointment letter for the scan I needed, came in about two months later. All good things, when you depend on public health services.

I could go on and on! I must say, that I’m so chuffed with my decision to follow through with lookforthegood.  I honestly can’t wait for January 2016, God’s willing of course. I’m so very grateful and humbled. The rest of the year could go awry, but I will I will never forget June.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

STOP


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Stop Waiting For:

Friday. Summer. Until you have enough money. For someone to fall in love with you. For things to happen.The perfect time……..Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it, and make the most of the moment you are in now.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan