Dream Catcher.


Photo: Prexels

In the past several weeks, on my way to work, I’ve made it a habit to listen to a randomly chosen Mindshift/Inspiration series on YouTube. I noticed within a short time of doing so, I’m more prepared for the day ahead. Social Services can be hard and draining. Many people suffer burnout, several times in their careers. I absolutely love what I do; it’s rewarding to see people go from the lowest points in their lives to independence. However, I don’t see myself doing it into retirement. There are other mountains to climb, projects to complete, and dreams to seize.

I once dreamt of collaborating with other authors. Recently the opportunity presented itself, and I had to grab it! I’m happy to announce, come February 2018, we will be releasing a book together. We held an online meeting this past week, and I couldn’t be more thrilled! There will be photo shoots, radio interviews, launch parties, book signings etc. We are working with an International Best Selling Author, and the hope is this project will land us on this list too. As the project gets ready to launch, I will keep my followers updated.

This project was a dream years ago. One I could have pursued, but didn’t. I wasn’t ready. Was it a coincidence, the moment my thinking started to shift, that this opportunity should fall into my hands? It’s a possibility. However, I’m at a wonderful place in life. I’m ready, and not afraid or ashamed to speak my truth. My dear friends and well wishers, your dreams are not dead unless you bury them. It’s hard, BUT go get yours! Above all, remain thankful for all the small victories. Except for one incident, this month has been incredibly kind to me. The things I envisioned for myself are being granted. I couldn’t be more grateful, for the decision I made to get out of my own way.

I hope you find some gems from the video below.

I wish you joy, peace, and a type of love that encompasses all your understanding!

Until the next post,

 

Best,

 

Juan

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Last Christmas.


christmas 3Decorated hall at the shelter (pic could be a year old)

Last Christmas, I was fortunate enough to be in a role, where I had the entire Christmas break off. I decided to do something different. I volunteered at Caring at Christmas; a local organization, which houses about 80 homeless people from December 24th – Jan 1st, on a 24/7 basis. They have access to free food all day, manicures, haircuts, board games, pool, clothing, television, massage, dentists, doctor visits, chiropodist, the works. During the year, a smaller numbers are offered a bed, and food for the night. Rules stipulate, they must leave the next morning. Caring at Christmas is also open to others during the day. Anyone is welcomed to stop in, and help themselves to anything on offer.

During induction, we were made aware, that anyone at anytime can be homeless. Some of the people who frequent the shelter, once served in the armed services, held good jobs. You might be talking to a former engineer, teacher, civil servant etc. Chances are, we might be the only ones who bothered to sit, and have a chat with them all year. The Christmas season is the only time the majority of guests had a warm place to sleep, and food all day.

As much as I wanted to, a recent back injury prevented me from being at the shelter every day. I went as often as I could though. What an AMAZING experience! I didn’t know what to expect, but realized very shortly, how grateful I was to be able to do this. Naturally, I wanted to commit the experience, and the people whose paths crossed mine, to memory. Permit me to introduce you to a few of the people I met (names have been changed).

On my first shift, I met John. A fellow islander, he eagerly entertained me with card tricks. He told me how he had spent time in prison. His mom was suffering from terminal cancer. In a matter of fact way, he recounted the struggles he faced. I was impressed with his commitment to just keep going. I also spent time with John and Richard, who invited me to play several rounds of table tennis. John was very matter of fact in giving me hints, and tips on ball movement, paddle handling. The fact that I hadn’t played since I was a teenager? None issue.

Terry moved to Bristol a few years ago from London. He was well dressed, and well spoken. By all accounts, life was good in London. What led to the move, I didn’t know, and didn’t ask. He wasn’t interested in participating in the games, or activities. Terry was content to sit, and observe. He complained about not getting enough sleep at night. Apparently, some of the other guests stayed up all night! He had no choice though, he needed to eat.

Sandra had just moved to Britain from Spain. She was staying in a rundown hotel. One of my duties was to keep the clothes table tidy, and assists the guests with any items they needed. She had one request; a towel. Apparently, the ones at the hotel were flimsy, and not always clean. I gave her two. Wished that I could give more. The look on her face when she received the one item she asked, for will always stay with me.

Graham, he lived in a small town outside Bristol. He was nursing a broken ankle. His monthly benefit money wouldn’t come in until January. Every single day, he walked 5 hours to the shelter, because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t eat. He didn’t have money for bus fare. I struck up a quick rapport with him. Graham is tenacious. Carrying on, doing what needs to be done.

Sam was only interested in putting puzzle pieces together. We spent hours chatting over a 1000 piece. He didn’t share much about himself. So we kept to neutral, everyday topics. Time, naturally flew by. His thing was puzzles. No games, no television. Nothing. Just puzzles. And the company, of anyone who wanted to help him put them together.

Keith was a total character. A man with more than 5 City & Guilds qualifications to his name. We shared a mutual interest in pottery. Keith was the resident scrabble champion. He continually boasted about this to anyone within ear shot. One day, I put the word out, that I would challenge him. The next day, another player joined us. Come to find out, Keith had a habit of making up his own words. I came in second. I won’t forget this fellow. Keith, you’ve made an impression. May God bless you!

I could go on and on. Sometimes, I think my life is hard. The struggles, too great. I want to give up. Just like you. Then I volunteered last Christmas. I will not forget this experience, for as long as I walk the earth. I realised, I have more than I can possibly need. Before hand, I had asked some of my friends to donate unwanted clothing, and other donations. The second I place them on the table, hands came out of nowhere and swiped them away. One man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure. Thank you to Leanne B and Sylvia K. for coming through in time, and those who promised to do so later.

I will be back this year.
Until the next post,

Juan

#lookforthegood#


#lookforthegood#

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

Paid In Full.


groMore than a decade ago, I came across the poem below. I can’t tell you how often, I turned to these precious words. They provided hope and comfort in times when the storms came. The wind blew. And raged all around me. I had completely forgotten about it, until a friend recently posted it on their Facebook page. I have only recently realized the importance of collecting memories. Not things.

HEAVEN’S GROCERY STORE

I was walking down life’s highway a long time ago.
One day I saw a sign that read, “Heaven’s Grocery Store”.
As I got a little closer the door came open wide.
When I came to myself, I was standing inside.

I saw a host of Angels, they were standing everywhere.
One handed me a blanket and said, “My Child shop with care”.
Everything a Christian needs is in that grocery store.
And all you can’t carry, you came back the next day for more.

First, I got some Patience, love was in the same row.
Further down was Understanding, needed everywhere you go.
I got a box or two of Wisdom, a bag or two of Faith.
I just couldn’t miss the Holy Ghost, it was all over the place.

I stopped to get some Strength and Courage to help me run this race.
My basket was getting full, but I remembered I needed Grace.
I didn’t forget Salvation, which like the others was free.
So I tried to get enough of that to save both you and me.

Then I started to the counter to pay my grocery bill.
I thought I had everything to do my master’s will.
As I went up the aisle, I saw Prayer, and had to put it in.
For I knew when I stepped outside, I would run right into sin.

Peace and Joy were plentiful; they were on the last shelf.
Song and Praises were hanging near, so I just helped myself.
Then I said to the Angel, “How much do I owe”?
The Angel smiled and said, “Just take them everywhere you go.”
Again, I politely asked “How much do I really owe?”
The Angel smiled again and said, “My Child, Jesus Paid Your Bill A Long Time Ago.”

I LOVE this piece. I find it beautiful. Cathartic. Comforting. Hopeful. I hope you will either take a copy, or come back to this post again. As often as needed. So often in my life, words are the only things that provide hope and succor.
Until the next post,
Best,

Juan

You’re Welcome!


I found the pin below on Pinterest today. I thought I would share an answer per day on Facebook, but then, life inevitably gets in the way. It will be tackled in the near future. But fir now, I will use it for my journal entries. I hope to revisit this page in a few years. See how my outlook, and perspective have changed. The topics can also be used for journal entries. Enjoy. Some ideas are too good not to share. 85189bc557b63b856d043eebd450872c Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

The Train


train_17_edited1

A friend, very dear to my heart, forwarded me this sweet, beautiful caveat of inspiration recently. I had to post it on my blog. Thank you Anne. Love you dearly!

At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel on our side. However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone. As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of your life. Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum.

Others will go so unnoticed that we don’t realize they vacated their seats. This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells. Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers requiring that we give the best of ourselves.

The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. So, we must live in the best way, love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are. It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.

I wish you a joyful journey on the train of life. Reap success and give lots of love. More importantly, thank God for the journey.

Lastly, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

 

Dont Judge Me…..


……Because I sin differently than you!

Recently, a woman I was paired to work with on a volunteer project, fired off a lengthy email to the co-ordinator. She claimed, among other things “I wasn’t tough or independent enough” for  the rigorous work ahead. This after 3-4 phone conversations. And two hours in each other’s company.

Too bad. For her. Especially when I received a copy of the email hours after a transatlantic flight from Britain.  There was no sleeping on this one. I wouldn’t feel differently the next day. I had to set her straight. Immediately. I was taken aback  by the fact that someone who barely knew anything besides my name. And the city I lived in. Could make such quick, unfounded judgements.

I directly addressed each of her points. And specifically asked her “not to judge me because of a few  minor, petty, inconsequential incidents. Or because I sin differently than you”. Needless to say, we wont be working together. The project is rather important. Her revelations? A blessing in disguise. Her timing? Spot on. We were due to start within a month.

This experience solidifies how remarkably easy it is to judge others. In my opinion, we judge, stereotype, etc, because we are too lazy. To find out otherwise. When we label. And place people in groups. We have something to work with. We don’t have to look any further than the box we’ve placed them in. We overlook the fact that in the majority of instances, we know their names. Not their story.

We’ve become a society of judgemental moralists. Making decisions which affect the lives of others. Sometimes, with no earthly idea. Yet, based on personal experiences, we forge ahead. Judging spouses. Children. Coworkers. Complete strangers. Anyone with a pulse. There in lies the great danger.

Obviously, some situations require us to act on the information available to us. Simple, every day things. Others more complex. To help. Or remain a bystander. To allow a person to learn lessons. When the person has repeatedly brought woe upon themselves. Etc. In these instances, we should use our intelligence. As a way of figuring out what’s happening.

Expressing an opinion is not judging. Making an observation is not judging. But. When we chose to pass sentences on any person. And act upon those sentences. That is judging. Especially with insufficient knowledge. Perhaps, the next time we are tempted to dismiss someone. Because of course, we cannot be wrong. We might want to take a step back. Better yet, try to live their lives for a day. See if you still feel the same way.

Mother Teresa once said: “If we judge people, we have no time to love them“.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

“Today Is The Yesterday You Worried About”


Worrywart. Neurotic. Anxious. OAD. Hypochondriac. Apprehensive. Uneasy. A bundle of nerves. Nebbish. Mess. Fusspot. Basket case. Chances are you and I have worn one or more of these labels. With the utmost familiarity. Helpless to ditch any, some of us still wear them. They hang like an albatross around our necks. Slowly cutting off our air supply. It’s a way of life really. We don’t know how to let things go. We have never known a life without worry. And have driven family and friends to distraction. Yes, this is a long-winded way of describing the art of worrying. Yep. An art. Because we are so good at it. What do we worry about? Everything. Whether our children will turn out alright. Money. How we appear to others. Achieving our goals. The works. Each label might not apply. At least one does.

How our kids will turn out. I don’t have kids. My limited experience with kids involves taking care of a black doll I owned as a child. And that ended badly. Well, not really. I was eight years old when my sister made her entrance. A working mother meant I was in charge of her care; changing diapers, cooking, cleaning, and babysitting. I have also dabbled in babysitting other people’s children. Does that count? I have offered a shoulder to cry on. Sat and listened as parents shared their worries and fears for their children. Will my “wayward” child attend college? Resist the cycle of drugs and violence? Hold a job? Overcome mental illness? They plead daily for miracles. And rightfully so. Any type of counsel goes unheeded. Feelings of helplessness turn into despair. And ulcers. Many interpret a child’s failure as a reflection of their parenting skills. I love this quote by Robert Fulghum, and hope parents will remember it: “Don’t worry that your children never listen to you, worry that they are always watching you”

Meeting your financial obligations. There is never enough is there? For single parents with no support, it’s a double whammy. You constantly chase one bill after another. You shudder to think of the consequences of losing your job. The nights are sleepless. Peter gets robbed monthly. Otherwise Paul would not get paid. People often say you are doing the best you can. Alas, it falls on deaf ears. Think for a moment; if circumstances dictated we live on $10,000 per year, instead of the usual $30,000, wouldn’t we find way?.  Yep, we would make sacrifices. Adjust. Do without. Find ways to cut cost. And survive. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Can anybody remember when the times were not hard and money not scarce?”

Being alone. For years we have lived life on our terms.Had our share of relationships. Broken a few hearts. Had the favor returned. One day, we look around. The golden years are slowly making their way up hill. They have you in their sights.Well maybe that is a stretch. You’ve done it all. But you are alone. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Being single has immense benefits. However, can you ignore the pink elephant in the room?.

You work hard. Play harder. At the end of the day, you arrive home  to an empty house. And it’s ever present reminders. There are no weak-in-the-knees kisses. Passionate embraces. No companion to share your hopes and dreams, and passion for living. No physical, intimate, soulful connections shared by two people in love. Carry on. It’s difficult not to think about the ones who got away. Missed chances at happiness. Time will decide the wisdom behind those decisions. It might take an act of congress/parliament for us to find the person who compliments us. Not to complete us, because we already have that covered.

I have witnessed friends and family members settle. Because they don’t want to be alone. They are afraid in the twinkling of an eye; they will be the woman with more than 2 cats. Or the reformed player/bad boy, whose dose of karma, is being married to a woman who makes his life miserable. A word of caution, don’t settle. I have settled in the past. The result was torment. And years of misery. I honestly believe this quote:“What’s meant to be will always find its way.”

What others think about you. The social disease called people pleasing. We’ve all had it. No one is immune. The diagnosis is simple. Medicine will not cure it. Prognosis can be good. Depending on the severity of the symptoms. And willingness to get better. This particular disease can be touch and go. However, if it stays for the long-term, all bets are off. Especially, if it holds us hostage. And transforms us into something or someone else. Some of us worry incessantly about pleasing others. Saying and doing the right thing. At the right time. How we appear to them. We out do ourselves trying to bring happiness. So, they will like us. They have to.

We spend squander money, time, and precious resources trying to win approval and acceptance. It took me a long time to understand I will not get along with everyone. Not everyone will like me. Regardless of what I do, someone will be unhappy. There are situations where you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. This is a worry you can be free of. People will either accept you, or they can move on. At the end of the day:”Be yourself, everyone else is taken” Oscar Wilde.

Mistakes of the past. No one can change the past. However, we have the power to influence the future. With the decisions we make. Or the ones we avoid making. I am sure you and I have repeatedly “opened mouth, and inserted foot”. Changed our behaviors to suit a spouse. Love interest. Friend. Situation. Gotten into the same pattern with relationships. Hurt someone. Intentionally or unintentionally. Looked the other way instead of helping. We’ve made mistakes. Rather than letting it go and learning from the past, we let the past continue to haunt us. We simmer and stew. We have not forgiven ourselves. Stop it. Really. Stop letting blunders ruin special moments. Experience and mistakes teach us. Molds character. And refines personalities. Provided amends have been made, attempt now to move on, because “mistakes are the portals of discovery” Unknown.

In closing, sometimes we are powerless to stop the worry. We are humans after all. Emotions signify we are alive. We care. About ourselves and others. The trick is to maintain a healthy balance. To know when worrying about something will not improve the situation. To know when to let go. We might never be completely free of every worry. However, we can choose not to worry about the things we have no control over. Death. The actions of others. Disease. Etc. We can learn to simply accept things as they are.

Worry is an incapacitating emotion. It drains our mental and emotional resources. Precious emotional capital often needed, in other areas of our lives. Some of them in disrepair. Areas which have suffered neglect, because we are busy cultivating another worry. We have to know when to draw the line. To change only the things we can. Sometimes that means our responses to people and situations. Here is a list of things to Beat Stress. If you are worried you might need more, here is another Fifty Ways to Calm Your Anxiety

Enjoy this song by a true legend. One I grew up with. Danced to. And simply loved. Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. Cheeky, but fitting.

Until the next post, ” today is the yesterday you worried about”

Best,

Juan