Sit Down!


gabbydouglascover-696x392Photo Credit: NBC Olympics

Despite Gabby Douglas’s phenomenal history making performance at the London 2012 Olympic Games, her accomplishments since then, and now with the Final Five US Women Gymnastics’ team  in Rio, trolls still managed to find ways to bully her. First they attacked her hair (in this case, her edges), then vilified her, for not placing hand over heart, during the medal ceremony.

I find it incredibly troubling to note, the vicious and demeaning “nappy hair” comments started within the black community. One that Gabby and I belong to. As a side note, the majority of black women, are known for being overly concerned, intensely preoccupied, and incredibly vain, when it comes to their hair. Upkeep is expensive, but sometimes other responsibilities take a back seat to the beauty shop. Hair must always slay! By any means necessary. It is not uncommon for some women to sacrifice health (cut exercise), to keep up a certain look.

I also think it’s incredibly distressing, that the same people who have been marginalized, oppressed, and discriminated against, would take it upon themselves to initiate the attacks. I expected only the loudest cheers of support and praise. Nothing  less. The Olympics is a sporting event, NOT a hair show.  I was, however, encouraged by celebrities who used their star power, to publicly offer encouragement and support, at a time when she desperately needed it.

Next, other groups started attacking Gabby for her supposed lack of patriotism. The ignorance was loud and deafening. Not every athlete at Rio (or any other Olympics) placed hand over heart during the American anthem. Some did, others laughed, cried, smiled, stared into the unknown. It’s common for hands to be either in front, or at the sides. As a litmus test example, one American soldier, Sam Kendricks, stopped in the middle of his Pole Vault performance, and stood at attention, when the anthem started playing. No hand was placed over heart. He didn’t have to.

I’m inclined to think medaling in any event as big as the Olympics, often elicits a paramount of emotions. No one should be judged, by how they respond while the anthem is being played. Now, total disrespect, is a horse of a different color. There is NO law or practice to dictate what to do during this time. My heart went out to her, as she fought back tears during an interview, where she was asked to address the trolling.

I’m also at a loss as to why everyone cannot simply enjoy THIS moment in history. The Final Five is now the most successful, and decorated female gymnastics team ever. A truly amazing feat. One that deserves the highest levels of respect, appreciation, and admiration. Sadly, there is always the “special attention seeking few” who choose to cloud an accomplishment.

To the ones who participated in this inexcusable behavior, I hope you’re all proud of yourselves! No one will remember you, BUT, they will remember the achievements of these fabulous young women, Gabby included! I am sure Gabby doesn’t need me to defend her. No. I think she is quite capable of standing up for herself. One doesn’t get to where she is, and not have a few life affirming experiences, with which to battle the storms.

For all the haters, detractors, trolls, negative Nancy’s; have a seat! As a matter of fact, have several. Stay in your own lane. The fact that you would publicly attack someone you’ve never met,  who worked so hard to help her country win, became a role model to millions of girls in the process, and focus on something so trivial like her hair style, says more about you, than it could ever do about her. You are a troll. Plain and simple. So, how many medals have you won for your country? My guess is NONE.

Let’s say for argument’s sake, Gabby, or anyone else, decides to wear their hair curly, straight, kinky, braided etc. What exactly did she do wrong? Her hair didn’t get in the way of winning. Consider for a moment, if that was your daughter on the world’s biggest sporting stage. The pressure to do well is not for the fainthearted. She won. However, people who don’t know her personally, have begun attacking her for no reason. Doesn’t feel good with the shoe on the other foot, now does it? Society is constantly telling us, we’re not good enough. On the contrary, we are. Always have been. Always will.

Furthermore, the next time you decide to write negative and offensive statements, whether it’s about Gabby or someone else, PLEASE, have a long look in the mirror, and figure out how you got to this point. The rest of us, don’t want any part of what you’re selling. You might get attention for fifteen minutes, but very soon, you’ll be seen for what you are.  Remember, you’ll catch a lot more flies with honey, than vinegar.

Gabby has accomplished MORE than half of you put together, in your lifetimes. Besides being a three-time gold medal Olympic champion, she has released a memoir.  Landed a reality show. Created her own leotard clothing line. This year, Barbie launched The Gabby Douglas doll.  On a side note, when this post was published, news broke that Gabby has been tapped as a judge, on the Miss America 2017 pageant. I’m willing to bet the accolades and accomplishments doesn’t end there.

Gabby is a role model for every young girl, sat at home, watched the Olympics, and dreamt of representing her country (not necessarily in gymnastics). Millions of us are immensely proud of her efforts. In 2012, she was th BEST in the world! This time around she still managed to help Team USA win gold, again. Little girls who most likely turned to their mothers, with sparkling, wide-eyed innocence, and asked “Mom, can I do that?”, to which came the response “Of course you can baby. And one day you will!”

Gabby, I hope you’re too busy writing the next phase of your life, to bother giving a spearing thought to any of these detractors. Continue to show the world just how great you are.  And long after you’ve retired from gymnastics, you’ll still be blazing trails. I know being in the public eye, and having your every move scrutinized, can’t be easy. Sadly, people think its open season to hide behind their keyboards, and become instant experts on every and anything.

You’re a BADASS. Entrepreneur. Author. Role Model. Olympic Champion. You will ALWAYS have these things to look back on. No one can take them away from you. Happily, it’s not the only label that defines you. We think you’re strong, capable, gracious, and resilient.

So carry on. Get up and own it. We are all cheering for you. Because..”Still You Rise”

Until the next post,

Best,

 

Juan

No. You Cant.


Following up on my promise at the end of This Post, the need to Let Go of Trying to Change Others is a lesson I’ve learnt these past few years. Why has it taken years? Because some of us need to be taught the same things, over and over. Until we get it. We need to go through cleansing processes. To purify the soul, and open new paths to self fulfilment.The path to this place, has been one of tremendous trial, and sometimes suffering. Heavenly Father brought me to, and through it.

At my age, you would think I have been there. Done it. Got my sticker. Moved on. Not so. You fall into the habit of trying to fix people. Depending on the nature of the relationship, your entire life can easily be consumed with it. You plod on, totally oblivious to the pitfalls and dangers. The result? A bucket load of emotional angst and heartache, of unimaginable proportions. We waste precious time, only to us, in the moment, it isn’t wasted. We con ourselves into thinking, and believing, there is light at the end of the tunnel. In some instances, there is, but not the one you might think of.

Next year, I will be celebrating a huge milestone in my life. As this one slowly draws to a close. I can honestly say, with the utmost conviction, that you and I, cannot change people. We can’t, and we won’t. Sure, we can waste years, even lifetimes, deceiving ourselves into thinking we can. Perhaps,  if we show them more love, change ourselves, sacrifice, work tirelessly, pray harder, and every conceivable act, change will come. While, some progress might be visible, it won’t be the effectual and significant change we hoped for.

“People often change for two reasons: either you’ve learned enough that you want to change, or you’ve been hurt enough that you need to”. – Nishan Panwar. So what to do? Change yourself. Love yourself. Move on. Realise you deserve more. Accept the fact that, we teach people how to treat us. And what you put up with, is what will continue. The only person you can change is yourself, and once you realise this, you will be liberated.

Please know, when people show you who they really are, believe them. While you can’t change people, you must either accept them or let them go. Friends, if you haven’t gotten to this stage in life yet, be patient, you will. It simply means, there are more lessons for you to learn. You will have an epiphany. I promise you, it will be one of the most self actualising moments of your entire life.

Until then, go in love and light. Try your best to enjoy the journey. We only have one.

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

30 Sumthin’


At the ripe age of 30 sumthin’, life has taught me valuable lessons. Some were harsh and unforgiving. While others were beautiful and lasting. Yea, I know what you are thinking; did she say 30 sumthin? Yep. Sure did. I know. Don’t look it. Thank heavens for good genes. Lmao. Through it all, like anyone else, I have laughed. Cried. Been driven to anger. And desperation.Denied some were happening. Loved. Lost. Begged for forgiveness. Persevered. Overcame. The entire lot. I can’t imagine what the next few decades will bring my way. Permit me to share some bits with you.

1) No one can take the place of family, but some people come pretty close.

2) You can’t change people. And some people will never change.

3) Sometimes, you have to stop waiting for the perfect moment(s) and take the risk.

4) People will let you down. They are only human.

5) Things always look better the next morning.

6) The only person you should compare yourself to, is the person you used to be.

7) You cannot please everyone. Don’t bother trying.

8) Sometimes you have to lose to win.

9) Crying is NOT a sign of weakness. It actually cleanses the soul.

10) If you are stuck in one place, perhaps there is trouble ahead.

11) Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.

12) Everyone makes mistakes. If it happens again, it’s a choice

13) Don’t judge, everyone is fighting a different battle.

14) We teach people how to treat us.

15) Sometimes good things fall apart, so better things can come together

16) Today will never come again.

17) You know their name. Not their story.

18) In every heart, there is sorrow the eye can’t see

19)” When someone has a problem with you. It’s their problem. Not yours”.

20) Don’t change to impress anyone.

21) Tomorrow is not promised to us.

22) “Don’t take people for granted. No matter how much they love you, people get tired”

23) No matter how much you guard and protect your heart, you are still going to get hurt.

24) You cannot love another, until you love yourself.

25) You are fabulous! Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

26) Try to live each day as if it was your last.

27) No matter how bad things look now, they will get better.

28) “No matter how much you revisit the past; there is nothing new to see”.

29) Everyone has skeletons in their closet.

30) It’s okay to ask for help.

31) No one can take your place in this universe.

32) If something is meant to be, it will always find a way.

33) Treat people how they could be.

34) If you walk away from a relationship and he/she does not chase you, keep walking.

35) “Everyone comes with baggage; find someone who loves you enough to help you unpack”

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

“If Only:Two Of The Saddest Words In The World”


According to the dictionary, the word regret means “To feel sorry, disappointed, or distressed about. To remember with a feeling of loss or sorrow; mourn”. Recently, I made a spate of bad decisions. Bordering dangerously close to regret. And “If Onlys”. A few blogs ago, I also made a promise to myself to live without them. Working on it. After much thought and deliberation, I came to a conclusion. I would not have known the outcome, had I acted differently. If you are frantically scanning the post for those decisions, I have to disappoint. They will not be divulged here. Or anywhere else. For that matter. Things come back to haunt us. One less “If Only”.

The situations are done and dusted (a British slang for it’s over and done with). There is no turning back. No return to sender. No RIP’s (return if possible) Nada. Likewise, the Brits would say : just get on with it. And so it will be. I don’t follow horoscopes religiously. I am going somewhere with this. Promise. I mentioned this because, ironically, a few days before the biggest ill-fated decision, my horoscope specifically stated: “Think carefully, before making a big decision this week. You might have to live with the consequences for a very long time” WTH? The “stars” were right. Dead right. Say what?

I made these decisions because “You cannot always wait for the perfect moment. Sometimes, you just have to jump”.  And jump is what yours truly did. Had to. Underneath it all, the doubt lingered. Yet, I steamrolled straight ahead.Why? Because my life has been littered with “safe decisions”. Some worked. The rest? Runaway train wrecks. Admittedly, sometimes, it’s not a good idea to tempt fate. Not to ignore the small voice which clearly whispers “Don’t do it. Please don’t”. You might not be able to handle the consequences. Some of which lasts a lifetime.

Well life goes on, doesn’t it? “The sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar”. Life has two certainties: Death. And Taxes. Everything else is pretty much up for grabs. I have made my bed. I must lie in it. Maybe I am in this place because I couldn’t learn these lessons any other way. For instance, to know that sometimes it is better to wait on the Lord. And trust his promises. Pray harder. Realise a leopard doesn’t change it’s spots.The whole kit and caboodle.

I’m not alone in wondering why we need to learn the same lessons over and over again. Is it because we have emotional baggage to empty?Weaknesses to overcome? Maybe, it’s because good things fall apart so better things can come together? Or perhaps, it’s because we must finally learn to stop kicking against the pricks. Add to the list.

I’ll tell you what I wont regret. Decades from now. Not taking a chance the outcome might be different. Being afraid to try because the odds were stacked against me. Not giving people the opportunity to prove themselves. At the end of the day, I did it my way. I was happy. For a bit. Then reality knocked. And I woke up smack in the middle of it.

One last note; decades from now, I dont want to look back on these decisions and say “If Only”. Simply because “No matter how much you revisit the past, there is nothing new to see!” However. If that happens. It won’t matter then.Will it? I will remember at one point in my life, it was exactly what I wanted. I thought it would make me happy. And I went for it!

Until the next post…

Best,

Juan

When Death Collects It’s Dues…..


The past month and a half has been tremendously difficult. False starts. Stops. Losses. And second thoughts. All of which has left me questioning my ability to find lasting happiness. Once upon a long while ago, I just tossed things aside. Compartmentalized them. And move on. However, it’s becoming more difficult to do so. Perhaps I am getting old. And soft. This post will deal with one issue. Death. In one week, I received word my 25 yr old cousin had finally succumbed to the effects of cancer. Next, an accomplished and well-respected friend, who I absolutely adored, passed away in Utah. Then, my younger sister also lost her father to cancer.

Everyone has been, or will be touched by the death of a loved one. Or friend. Many times over. When someone we love dies, inevitably we look at our own mortality. It’s hard to avoid knee jerk reactions. To make promises to ourselves. And to others. Some we keep. Others are forgotten. And after time passes, the rest is no longer important. For some unexplained reason, these recent deaths have affected me, more than most. In light of recent weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on life. Regrets. And the need for personal housekeeping.

My cousin, and my sisters’ dad knew the approximate rest of their days. They had time to prepare. To accomplish last-minute goals. Say  final goodbyes. Get stuff in order. Many of us wont. On a personal note,  if I knew when my number would be up, I would go out with guns blazing! But alas, I don’t. I wondered how many couldas, shouldas, and wouldas I am likely to have. It’s impossible not to have regrets. However, I can try to minimize them.

I pondered what I would do, if I knew how much time I had remaining. How would I handle relationships which do not make me happy. Make amends. Or finally get something “off my chest”. How I would live out the rest of it. Below is a list of things which immediately flooded my thoughts. The ones beneath my subconscious. I hope to slowly, and methodically, check them off my list in the coming months.

Here is a sample of things I plan on changing:

  • Finally getting on that terrifying roller coaster ride which catapults more than 5 feet in the air.
  • Make amends for things I knew I did wrong.
  • Do not accept scraps of attention and affection from a partner who is either unwilling or unable to give more.
  • Diligently seeking a partner who “gets me”. Patient with my faults. Willing to try hard to make things work.
  • Get over the fear of sky diving. And just do it.
  • Visit the places on my “List of places to visit before I die”.
  • Make it clear what I want in a relationship and in the same vein refusing to settle.
  • Going solo to a club or activities.
  • Doing what everyone expects of me.
  • Being the one to ask a chap out on a date, instead of waiting for them to ask me.

There is a bit more! However,these should keep me busy for a few months. You get the idea. In closing, the dawning of a new day represents  another opportunity to make use of the time allotted to us. Untold numbers did not see the sun rise this morning. There is no time left for them carry out their plans. They won’t get to apologize for a harsh word. Hold their loved ones close. Whisper words of love and encouragement. They won’t get to see their children grow up. Nor will they attend another wedding. Graduation. Etc. But we did. We have today.

We’ve been given one more chance. What will we do with it? If there is someone in your life that you need to reach out to. Do it. Do you need to settle a misunderstanding. Do it. Perhaps the need to express love and appreciation to. Do it. Say goodby to someone in order to make room for someone or something better. Do it. Don’t wait for tomorrow. There are no more tomorrows for my cousin. Respected friend. My sisters’ father. None. Tomorrow is not ours. We live on borrowed time. One day, it will run out. As it always does. This has never been clearer to me than in the past few weeks.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

I’m Losing It!


I follow Dr Kelly Flanagan’s blog Untangled. Good stuff. Apart from sharing the same career interests, he speaks with frankness. And honesty. I read Marriage Is For Losers with avid interest. Divorcées will recognize past mistakes. Married? Take mental notes. Single? Ponder habits and behaviors. After reading his post twice, I reflected on how we can lose in other situations. And still end up winning. More on that later.

We live in a viciously competitive world. Hundreds compete for the same job. Neighbors are trying desperately to keep up with the Jones’s. Before they refinance. In neighborhoods across America, people spend thousands trying to outshine each other with holiday decorations. Parents are entering toddlers (under 3) in beauty pageants. In the workplace the best and brightest (in most cases) get promoted. Sports injuries escalate during national championship games. Why? No one remembers second place. Or so we are led to believe. We live in a culture with an insatiable appetite for the best and brightest.  Helpless to satisfy this hunger for success, society literally chews up and spits out the weakest among us.

Marriage is for Losers made sense. Too much, TBH. Personally, I want to lose in a marriage. I also want someone who puts my needs first. And vice versa. Think about it. If two people stop caring about winning. And place their spouse/partner’s happiness above their own, can you imagine the outcome? Can you even begin to fathom the level of happiness, fulfillment, and joy the couple will experience? Let’s expand this to other close relationships. And to a lesser extent, to other people, and situations.

Back to losing it. The media is notorious for sensationalizing acts of kindness. Honesty. Pure human decency. Often with good reason. We care less and less about others, and more and more about ourselves. About winning. Being first. We can change this. We can be winners, while losing. How so? Simple acts of kindness when we have nothing to gain. Swallowing our pride. Admitting fault, no matter how painful. Stop caring so much about how we appear to others. Apologize even when we are right. Forgive quickly. Putting another person first. For once. But wait, these are “loser” scenarios! That’s just my point. Losing to win.

Yes, we will lose. Time. Resources. And energies needed improve our own lives. Pride. Or the last vestiges of it. Selfish tendencies and desires. The temptation to look the other way. The need to win all the time. On the flip side, in losing these things, we will gain a lot more. A greater sense of self. Inner peace and fulfillment. The satisfaction of knowing we put someone else first. Often, it’s in the process of losing ourselves, where we find ourselves.

Pay no attention to snickering wet blankets who tease us for “losing all the time”. Heck, we might even be accused of being a “goody two shoes”!When we sacrifice to enable the growth of another, we don’t lose, we win. When we forgive readily and easily. We win. When we stop caring about looking foolish in the presence of others. We don’t lose, we win. When we compete and lose, yet cheer the winners. We win. When you and I rebel against the notion that winning is everything. We don’t lose. We win. That no one remembers second place. We win. In our selfless efforts to make the world a better place. We don’t lose. We win.

I know this post will not resonate with everyone. We’re all on different levels of spiritual growth and maturity. What’s natural for one,is painful for others. Be patient. Take small steps. Sometimes the destination is more important than the journey. Imagine for a minute, how the small corner of our universe would change if we lost more than we gained. But we ended up winning anyway.

Until the next post, what are we ready to lose today?

Best,

Juan