Seems like everywhere you look today, there is reason to feel scared. Listening to the daily press conferences by our elected officials, followed by the second guessing that happens afterwards, it is easy to feel frightened and depressed. But you don’t have to project your expectation of worse things to come into this fear-full situation when the potential of good things happening is just as likely.
There are so many people who are petrified of the confinement our city, state and federal leaders have mandated to contain the outbreak of coronavirus. The thought of living without the daily hustle and bustle is intimidating. This is not unexpected. We have grown so accustomed to filling our time with an endless bevy of activity that we lost our ability to differentiate between what we need and the superfluous.
We spend our lives chasing after money, power, fame, status and power thinking this will make us happy. A few achieve a certain amount of these things and discover they didn’t make them happy at all. It took me a while to learn this about life, but now I know I understand the concept that lasting happiness comes from within. While material gains may give you a temporary high, they don’t make life better in the long run.
With the threat of the Coronavirus hovering over our heads, I am reminded of how life’s turning points come without warning. Whether an individual, community, organization or, as it is happening today, for nations and the world, turning points offer the opportunity to become better, more enlightened. They can also turn us to our dark side. That fate depends on the choices we make. I am not trying to minimize the pain and suffering that life’s turning points can bring. Undoubtedly, the Coronavirus is a threat many of us have not seen in our lifetimes. There will be a great loss of people, businesses and financial stability, However, our best bet to deal with this situation is to remain as positive and optimistic as we can.
It is easy to find fear on the faces of people now that the Coronavirus occupies every headline and lead story. All one has to do is go to the grocery and you will know what I am talking about.
I don’t understand what it is in me that causes me to want to solve other people’s problems. This is a bad habit because so often I am giving advice without listening to the pain within the person. I am not alone in this, for it is common for people to blurt out their solution to another’s travails.
Doing the right thing is not a default position for great leaders, it is their only option. While it is important to pay attention to a person’s behavior and words, comportment alone is not enough to determine the level of his/her leadership ability. The quality of their decisions must also be part of this evaluation.
In the heat of our many discussions, a friend of mine would often scold me with these words, “Guillermo, opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.” This was his good-natured way of pointing out my tendency to share an opinion on everything under the sun, whether or not I know anything about the subject.
We have grown accustomed to have stress rule our lives. Many mistakenly believe stress is natural. Some think being under stress is a sign of an active, productive life. i was taught that, if you are not feeling stressed or struggling to accomplish something, then you are wasting time. Actor Robert De Niro depicted this thought when he said,
“You will have time to rest when you are dead.”
Educated as a civil engineer, I have relied on the hard and fast rules of force, physics, math and mechanics of materials to guide my view of the Universe. Yet, no amount of scientific facts and mathematical equations could ever explain the inner movements of my soul. It took the times of painful endings to open the door to my spiritual world.
Aging is a natural part of life. Whether a newborn or a sexagenarian, you are growing older by the second. But aging does not have to be passive or unconscious, you can determine the quality of the way you age. It is a matter of mastering what life gives you in a way that fulfills you and simultaneously helps create a greater good.
Ask anyone how they define love and they will give you their version of romantic love. This is not surprising, as our culture bombards us with a plethora of stories by which to base our definition for love.
Everyone needs someone to inspire them now and again. It is a fact of life that sometimes it takes more than coffee to lift us out of our doldrums. I often rely on inspirational authors to give my soul spiritual CPR when I am feeling low. Fortunately, there are many wonderful writer who blog and publish books that provide the inspiration many of us need. Sometimes a good friend or family member can provide this kind of stimulus and it is important to determine who they are.
Even with the best intentions not to do it, I often pass judgement on people, situations and myself. This is an old habit that has been hard to break and whose net result often leads me to self-loathing and discouragement.
There was a time when I didn’t believe in anything except my willpower to succeed, but all that came tumbling down five years ago and I felt disoriented and disenchanted. Things are different for me now. I am living the best years of my life and I am the most comfortable I have ever been inside my skin. It took a while, but I finally learned there are times when you have to be shaken away from everything you rely on so you can be set free to go to the place you were meant to be. Seeing this for the first time helped me realize there is a Higher Power at work in my life.
Unless you have been living in isolation in some monastery hidden deep in Nepal, you know there are people in this world we don’t belong with. Nobody warned us about this when we were young. In fact, we were taught the opposite. My parents, for example, taught me as a child to respect and obey all adults and I relied on this value indiscriminately throughout the years. I didn’t take into account that not all of them behaved honorably, in fact, some were toxic and I should have avoided.
Growing older is a fact of life. We see it in our children as they change from babies to adulthood. Our face wrinkles and greying hair become the signs that the years are traveling past us, yet few of us give thought to the aging process while our lives fly by. If you remain unconscious to how you are aging, you may wake up someday and begrudge being older. But, if you stick to these five key things, you will discover that aging well is within your power.
We are not even at the end of January and I have already lost my third sock in the laundry. Now, every time I open the sock drawer, I am reminded of this mishap by the three lone sock soldiers sitting idly waiting to hear news about their missing mates.
Nothing stirs up your fears more than taking a risk. Any option challenging you to leave your zone of comfort and security can seem like a threat to your survival. Although I know this reluctance to change comes from the ego, that is not enough to keep me from freezing up from making life decisions that call for new beginnings. I can easily talk myself out of new and necessary course corrections by my what-iffing them to death.
There is a lot of confusion about what it means to let Universe be in your life’s driver’s seat. Unbeknownst to you, the Universe has always been there, but we mucked up our lives by relying on and following the advice of our ego instead. It took the failure of these willful efforts to open my eyes to the Universe in my life.
We make it hard to let go of situations that are bad for us. This is particularly true when it comes to love relationships. Even when the evidence is in front of us, we analyze and rationalize another’s behavior in a way that postpones our responsibility to take action and allows us to stay in an unhealthy setting.
For some strange reason, I always tried to scare the crap out of my children when I wanted them to stop doing something. “You will get sick if you eat all of that candy.” Funny advice coming from me considering I am the one who got them the candy in the first place. “Get down from that tree before you get hurt.” Nonsensical advice I gave them after lifting them up to a branch. But I realize I am not alone giving children this kind of advice. Some might consider this good parenting, but now I am not so sure.
Ringing in the New Year with a plethora of resolutions is a well-known aspect of this annual celebration. The will to adhere to them is always strong in the new year’s first days, but come the second week in January, the desire to change has gone as if they were visiting family members.
Nothing is permanent in life. Yet, we assign permanency to many situations, like having good health, or being with one partner in a long term romantic union. When these things diminish or go away, we find ourselves caught in a quagmire of negative emotions.
The other day, I was driving late on my way to meet friends and play tennis. There was no one else to blame for my belatedness but me, as I had over-scheduled myself with too many activities. This is something I often do. But I took no responsibility. From the moment I got in my car, I was already demanding from the sea of traffic I would encounter to clear a path along the way.
One predictable thing about life is that all roads lead to our individual development. There will be lessons for us no matter what path we chose. Therefore, it is so important not to judge the decisions we make as proper or improper, correct or incorrect.
How to prepare for the future was a big part of what my parents taught me. I adhered to their advice for decades on the assumption I could create a future I could plan for today. Little did I stop to reflect on the fact that I could never predict what will happen in the next fifteen minutes, except maybe that I will eat my next meal.
Life is a journey we take alone. This is not a complaint; it is a fact. There is no one else in there with you, so you might as well work to be comfortable while your finite body houses your spirit. The great news is that you are in command and you can choose any direction you want.
Have you ever reached a point in your life when you wondered what on earth you were doing here? I have, several times in fact. Loss and failure have usually ushered this questioning into my wounded thoughts.
Everything I have ever done rooted in self-seeking has never amounted to much. The same goes for the things I longed for in the material world. Having a bigger home, a new car, latest styles and most modern gadgets filled my inner emptiness for just a little while. It didn’t take long after to place my sights on new desires.
I loved the series Mad Men. It was a crazy and entertaining reminder of how we are suckers for glib and flashy ads. While this show was enjoyable TV watching, it also reminded me that the premise of sales is to make us believe we are lacking joy, comfort or ease because we don’t own what they are selling.
No matter how you slice it, everything we do is for our personal benefit. We love someone because we get something from them; we do a job because we profit from the rewards, we buy showy things to be seen as cool. Even our play is done for our pleasure. This is how we are wired, it is natural and it makes us selfish.
It is very normal for relationships, even those that started with great joy and optimism, to wither and die. No one can promise to love another forever, for we cannot foresee the future. But it is necessary to understand what a relationship’s dynamics are when one partner wants out of the union and the other does not.
How many nights have you spent whining and whimpering about the things that didn’t work out, like the promotion you didn’t get or the lover who got away? How many hours have you wasted afraid of making an important decision or worrying that the decision you made may be the wrong one? I wasted a good part of my life doing these stupid things.
Jim Nolan, my best friend from college died in his early fifties from cancer of the esophagus. Jim was a dear friend and the two of us shared many experiences that brought us closer. We graduated from the same civil Engineering Class at the University of Colorado and moved together to Los Angeles to work for the same engineering company. Within a year, we returned to Colorado to work for another. After several years, Jim left the company to work for the Colorado Department of Transportation. I followed him there six months later. We even moved to the same neighborhood and carpooled to work.
Historians credit author Thomas Wolfe for coming up with the expression, “You can’t go home again”. Although this was the title of his book, many people have used this idiom to describe the notion that you cannot return to the way things were.
Our society teaches us that family always comes first. This is so ingrained in us we are shocked when some of the people next to us behave like scumbags. Unfortunately, this is a fact of life, for we didn’t get to choose our family members. As author Harper Lee aptly stated in To Kill a Mockingbird,
“You can choose your friends, but you sho’ can’t choose your family”
It is very difficult for people pleasers, like me, to accept the concept we were not meant for everyone nor was everyone meant for us. The reason for this is that people pleasers get our sense of worth from the approval of others. I learned, however, that, no matter how hard I try, there are people who dislike me simply for taking my share of oxygen from the planet.
Even if you assume we are just one of countless microcosms in the Universe, nature shows you daily that even the smallest organism has a purpose. Let’s take the human body as an example. Scientist have proven that your body replaces every cell roughly every seven years.
One of my all-time favorite characters on Saturday Night Live was Debbie Downer. Comedian Rachel Dratch played this fictional character in several SNL skits and she was hilarious.
Not too long ago, a movie came out based on a book by Garth Stein titled, The Art of Racing in the Rain. The story’s main character, a dog named Enzo, narrates the story. According to Enzo, the canine existence is an apprenticeship to becoming human. If the dog finishes their years having evolved enough, they will return to a new life as humans.
It is rare to find a person who does not wish to go back in time and change events that happened. They must already know what has taken me a lifetime to learn; it would not do much good, for if we changed our experiences, we would not be the persons we are today.
Hurricane season in Florida is always nervy, especially when the expected development of a mounting storm becomes the centerpiece of media reports. Make no mistake, hurricanes need to be taken seriously. The devastation they leave in their wake is often beyond human understanding. Puerto Rico and the Bahamas are recent examples of the kind of horrible devastation a hurricane leaves behind. These areas deserve our help and attention, for it will take decades for these wonderful places to fully recover. However, hurricanes can teach us a lot about life.
It is common to believe we were all wired to be something special, but is it just one thing for every lifetime? Is this special something connected to career or accumulating worth? These two questions are worth pondering, especially since as parents, teachers and mentors, we will teach new minds who come after us about how to find their life’s meaning.
Ok, maybe my headline is a little over the top, but I know we all have love hate relationship with our doctors. They are the bearers of bad news, for we all know they will deliver the news we are going to die someday. My real purpose was to get to divert your attention to this important message; we should focus our lives on living, not on dying.
Until a few years ago, I believed being patient was for losers; winners made their own way. The proverb, “where there is a will, there is a way” had me convinced that—if I wanted something bad enough—I had to rely on my willpower to make things happen exactly as I wanted and in my timing. From my vantage point, this is what successful people did, they made things happen, obstacles be damned.
It is a sign of the times that divorce continues to be at the highest rates ever. Some perceive this as a bad thing, as the end of a long-term relationship can leave a person feeling alone and discouraged. But, like every life challenge that crosses each path, the end of one love can lead to the beginning of an even fuller and more fulfilling relationship.
Life transitions are hard because they cause us to tumble from a perch that took us years to build. Having lost our foundation, we try to deny what...
Sleepwalking through life makes us old. Once we stop doing what makes us happy, bring us fun, fill us with a sense of purpose (no matter what it...
We hear a lot about how everyone being angry about something these days. This is hard to disagree with when you consider all the instances of violence, fear-mongering and destructive political discord manifesting themselves in our society.
Every decision we make in life has its own consequences. Every action we take or avoid taking brings its own challenges and struggles. If you deem procrastinating has no consequences, you are mistaken. The best step on the road to achieving your goals is to take action, no matter how small, to make them come true.
We use the phrase “you are perfect just as you are” as a way to express appreciation for others. But it is wrong to think we are perfect. Perfection is an illusion, it has no definition, it is not an image fixed in time. The fact is we are always changing and evolving. Telling someone they are perfect just as they are belittles the self-reflection they need to continue seeking their most authentic self.
There was a time when propagating our species was the highest priority. To do so, one needed a mate to create families, which made having a love partner very important. That may not be the case today, for we can all see we have bred humans to beat the band. Although some would argue this, I believe our human species today must adopt a new priority; that of self-actualization. This has been coming since enlightened humans (Christ, Buddha, Muhammed, to name a few) opened our minds to life’s spiritual realm and changed the world as much as science and technology.
In his book, An Audience of One: Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake, Srinivas Rao states,“Work for an audience of one. When the only person you are trying to please is yourself, judgements vanish, and in that process we become more present.”
We misunderstand the power of the mind to create our reality. This is apparent from the way people use affirmations as though they were wishes someone out there can fulfill. I think the use of affirmations is important, but I don’t trust repeating them daily can get you a million dollars or a date with Halle Berry. Mind you, believing you can get these things is better than not, but I don’t think just wishing for them provides any guarantee.
There is a myriad of sayings about age that are frequently used in American culture. Their seeming purpose is to make us feel better about growing older. Here is a small sampling;
“You are only as old as you feel.”
“Age is just a number.”
“Wrinkles are traces of where our smiles have been.”
“Old age is a lot better than the alternative.”
“He/she is —– years young.”
A few days ago, a friend and I were reminiscing about our lives when our conversation turned to our dating adventures. After some heartfelt belly laughs, we both delineated the many mistakes we have made in search for a romantic partner. I wanted to share them with you. Although I present my perspective from the male point of view, I think this advice is good for women, at least it will help shed some light on the pressures we all face.
A news show I was listening to proposed the idea that the nation needs a particular candidate as president because he knows loss and pain. Perhaps I misunderstood what they meant, but I don’t think this is correct. By all means, we need leaders who struggled in life and have suffered, but that is not enough. While we all suffer different degrees of stress and anxiety in life, we don’t need a consoler-in chief; we need someone who can help bring us together. This cannot be achieved by someone reminding us of what pain and suffering is like, leaders who envision what the triumph over suffering will be like for all of us are the ones who can unite us.
Another mass shooting, missile launched, high profile controversy, along with all the assorted bad news we hear so often and it is easy to believe we are spiraling the world into oblivion. As an immigrant child who was separated from my parents by Castro”s Revolution when I was ten, news about raids on immigrants, the crisis in the southern border and the separation of children from their families leave me feeling depressed. My heart aches every time I see pictures and videos of the empty and sad faces of children in American internment camps. This experience of family separation that saw me start life over in an orphanage in a country where I didn’t know the language is by far the greatest trauma I have ever survived.
A few weeks have gone by since two of my greatest childhood idols, John Havlicek and Bart Starr, passed away. I mourn their losses and thank them both for the thrills they brought into my life. Who can ever forget Bart Starr leading his Green Bay Packers to victory against Dallas in the “Ice Bowl”, one of the greatest football games of all times? John Havlicek won eight NBA championships during his sixteen-year career with the Boston Celtics.
My parents were batshit crazy. It wasn’t so much that they had faults, every human has them, it was that their marital union blended their failings into a cocktail of emotional and psychological poison. As you read this article, make no mistake, I am grateful for them and how they helped shape the person I am today, but it was no picnic.
Game of Thrones and human history have one thing in common; life is just one damn thing after another. But there is one other thing that may not seem so obvious; they both contain a lot of episodes about family members betraying one another. The fact is that “blood is not thicker than water” as the adage proclaims. Being related by blood is not the strongest human bond there is.
Although you may not know of it, you are being influenced by many negative forces. This is more prevalent than you think. It is in books, TV Programs, the workplace, church, your favorite sporting venue, etc. It is even there when you engage in gossip about others.
Nothing in life is guaranteed, especially when it comes to being loved by someone else. This can apply to anyone who surrounds you, be it mother, father, sibling or lover, their love for you is not automatic. For that matter, it may never be.
The day we stop having dreams is the day we stop living. Dreams can motivate us to become better people or to accomplish greater things. Having a vision for the future separates the human species from the rest of the animal kingdom. Dreaming, therefore, is an essential gift a Higher Consciousness gave us as part of our creation.
Hard to pinpoint where it all began, but somewhere in human history people began comparing ourselves to one another. To make matters worse, society assigned hierarchical values to these comparisons. They invented terms, like “upper or ruling class, working class and lower class”, to designate a person’s importance in society.
Some of the best salseros (salsa dancers) in the world come from the Caribbean Island I call home, Cuba. During my two return visits to Cuba—in 2001 and 2016, forty years after my parents sent me fleeing Castro’s Revolution to the United States—this joyful and sensuous type of dancing was still front and center in Cuban culture. Like baseball (beisbol), salsa rhythms are part of every Cuban’s DNA (or so I am told).
Major losses spare no one in this world. I am reminded of this by my children who lost their mother to Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease a few days ago.
Most people believe we can always do better. This may seem like an honorable and humble attitude to have, but it is a pronouncement that is too open-ended by which to judge our efforts. We can be better according to whom, or based on what standard? Unfortunately, there are many people willing to define better for us, and we make the mistake of letting them affect our actions.
Perhaps you are not old enough to remember when every young family had to have an Encyclopedia Britannica (or a version thereof) in their home. Long before computers became an integral part of our lives, an encyclopedia adorned most houses in the United States.
When I reflect on my life, the proof is irrefutable; even the most painful events introduced a benefit that helped shape me into who I truly am. I will not experience again the same level of emotional pain I suffered the day I saw my parents disappear into the horizon as the plane I was on sped towards Miami from Havana, Cuba. Starting my American life as an orphan in a Colorado orphanage was rough. Yet, this event catapulted my life into the miracle of hope and opportunity it is today.
I’ve seen enough to have lost my fear of death. This wasn’t always the case. During my twenties and thirties, I thought I would live forever, but losing loved ones along the way changed all of that. I began realizing my mortality then, but not embracing it. That has taken me till now to do.
It did not take me long to find inspirational topics to write about during my recent visit to Spain. The first thing that caught my eye was a sign in the corner of a small tapas restaurant in Madrid. It contained this quote from Mexican painter Frida Kahlo,
Former Pennsylvania congressman Joe Sestak just became the 24th candidate in the crowded field of those seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. This large number of candidates has become the fodder for ridicule, especially by late night show comedians, but this is a serious matter. Deciding to run a national campaign for president is no easy task, and you can bet all 24 candidates will put all of their heart, soul and sweat into this effort.
There is probably no single person alive in America today (and perhaps the world) who has not heard the advice, “whatever you do, always give it your best.” I grew up convinced of this. It sounded like good advice, even noble and admirable. We should always give our best effort, I figured, but this was easier said than done, for there is no real definition for “best effort”.
We hear from many sources (myself included) that we were not created by accident, for we came into this world with a purpose the world needs. So, does this mean you have some special job or assignment someone gave you to fulfill? Are your life circumstances and fate aligning to get you to that incredible mission that will save the world? Or, is your life purpose the ability to find your find and pursue your passions and do good with them, whatever they may be?
Society encourages to use caution at the expense of curiosity. Our teachers, parents and mentors were not trying to do us harm with these instructions, this is what someone taught them. But these directives convinced us it is bad to make a mistake or to get lost wondering what to do next. Yet, this is a necessary aspect of the human condition. It is through facing challenges we grow.
If you have been around the block a few times, like I have, then you have experienced some form of spiritual restlessness. I remember how scared I got the first time I experienced this kind of anxiety because it came so unexpectedly. For years I had been tailoring my life to the expectations of my mentors, but the emptiness began to feel inside slowly overtook my consciousness.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs has kept me glued to the television these past few weeks. While watching my Denver Nuggets lose to Portland in a seventh game of a seven-game series, I witnessed an interesting commercial with Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors which offered the inspiration for this blog.
I believe life is a series of lessons we are to learn before we leave our earthly existence. We repeat them until they enlighten us with a new wisdom that allows us to move to the next level.
The dove pictured here showed up on the deck outside my office and lingered for such a long time I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a spiritual message involved with his/her appearance. Dutifully, I googled the symbolism for this creature. The consensus among various authors was that they equated doves with heavenly visitations.
Some friends challenged my spiritual beliefs at a recent get-together. Their point was this; if every experience has purpose—as I claim—then it is implied a Higher Power justifies evil with his/her desire to use it to develop our species.
The presence of bullies in our culture has become an epidemic. No matter where you look, whether in government, business, schools, religion, social media and even in families, there are examples of someone who feels powerful by habitually seeking to harm or intimidate those he/she perceives as vulnerable.
It sucks to have to wait for an outcome you desire to materialize. No amount of belief in the Law of Attraction can make something appear in your preferred timing. When things don’t happen for me in the timing I desire, I waver on my belief we connected with the Higher Consciousness/God/Universe that is a part of all creation.
Making a bucket list is a popular and necessary thing to do. It is important to have goals and dreams in life for, no matter your age, there is a limit to our time on earth. Many put these lists together, but the items don’t get done. The usual excuses for postponing action are, being too busy, waiting for a better time, needing more money. But the real excuse is fear. It petrifies us to live boldly, to operate in the present moment because we might disappoint those we want to impress.
Have you ever wondered what the life lesson the Universe/God/Higher Power expects you to learn while you exist on earth in this current form? I am sure I know mine; it is to develop trust and patience.
It is important in life to take risks and explore new ways of thinking and feeling. This is especially true when you are beginning on a new leg of your life journey. During these kinds of periods in my life, I adopted a policy of saying “yes” to all invitations. I call accepting all invitations as doing the Desperado, a name I confiscated from my friend Suzanne who uses it to describe saying yes to everything.
I enjoy playing tennis. Not only does the sport provide me with the physical need I have for exercise, it also teaches me valuable life lessons.
There is a story about a man who—for twenty years and counting—prayed daily to win the lottery. He asked God on his hands and knees before every...
As I was going over some old papers, I came across an old Chinese story I heard long ago, and it filled me with hope about our future. I want to share it with you; it goes like this,
Men seem afraid of their female side. We seem to have a cultural aversion to being seen as wimpy or gay if you embrace the side that has traits associated with women. My good friend expresses this apprehension in the way he jokes about being in touch with his feminine side. He likes to say;“I embrace the woman inside of me and, thankfully, she is a lesbian.”
I was reading an article the other day about how 51% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 do not have a steady romantic partner. This is up from 45% since 2016 and the trend continues to rise. There is no sign this pattern is reversing.
I have been pondering this question ever since an old memory of a warning my father had given me long ago came up during my meditation time. His words of caution were thus;“Never reveal who you are to others for they will use that information against you.”
One of the most difficult concepts to understand is that people—no matter how evil or unethical you think they are—are doing the best they can. Yet, it is factually true, because, just like us, they have been shaped by the environment they were born into and the people and experiences that have come into their lives.
A muscular young man at my gym the other day gave me the inspiration for this blog. He was wearing a muscle shirt that allowed him to display the carpet tattoos covering both arms. They were beautiful, intricate and colorful. The combination of good looks and tattoos elicited the attention of most gym rats in the place.
What is your favorite label to put on people? Epithets like redneck, communist, socialist, asshole, lowlife, uneducated, high-maintenance and loudmouthed are common ones I hear. There are others that don’t seem so offensive but put boundaries around the targeted person’s character; blue collar, conservative, liberal, progressive or overly religious. When we label others, we unfairly restrict them to this description.
To seek advice from experts is a necessary part of learning new skills or information. It would not be very prudent to ignore the advice of a doctor, carpenter, architect, nutritionist, etc. if you need to get something done in any of these areas. But it is a different story altogether when you are seeking life advice for, depending on who you ask, you may not get something useful.
The worst day of my life happened on September 29, 1961. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. This was the day my parents put my brothers and I on an airplane from Havana, Cuba to Miami, Florida as part of a program called Operation Peter Pan.
Have you lost hope we can bridge our country’s divide that is pitting political ideologies with one another? I have not, but I believe we need to do something different to create unity; we must listen and understand what those who differ have to say.
Just like negative thinking can create undesirable outcomes, positive thinking can create optimistic ones. Our thoughts do matter, and we can use them to create the reality we want. However, we were not taught to believe we could make the life we wanted. We were told instead that our talents limited us or that we belonged in some world pecking order. We were taught to conform to the norms of society and limit ourselves to what our five senses perceive. But that is too restrictive for there is a real world of thought, spirit and of creation.
The most important aspect of building a solid house is how you construct the foundation. Educated as a structural engineer, I learned that a house...
Of all the great Indiana Jones movies made, my favorite one is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The plot has Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) racing to rescue his father, Doctor Henry Jones (Sean Connery) from the Nazis to find the Holy Grail, the cup Christ used during the Last Supper.
Our efforts to make money and become financially independent correspond to the most important societal value of American society. We often conclude that efforts that don’t make money belong to adolescents or retired people. If doesn’t pay, then it must be play!
There is a new scientific theory claiming our thoughts create our reality. This has certainly been my experience. The self-beliefs I threw out into the Universe come back like a boomerang.
While walking on the boardwalk that connects my townhome with nine others, I stopped to watch a spider busily building a magnificent web. Then the wind picked up and blew the web back and forth like it was a trampoline. A few minutes later, I saw the web blown into oblivion and I was sure the spider had flown with it. The next day, I was amazed me to see the spider reconstructing a new masterpiece.
There was a time when I was certain I had it all together. My old self, or ego, ruled my life with what appeared to be a reliable set of rules and beliefs forged out of my many experiences. My life worked pretty well then, and I loved and revered my ego’s beliefs. They were welcoming, reassuring and reliable, until one day when they were not.
Serving as manager of public works for the City of Denver was one of the most challenging jobs I ever held. Among the myriad of responsibilities, I was in charge of the Waste Management Branch. These are the folks who picked up the trash and recycling citywide.
When recovering from a major loss, it is not surprising to long for a return to the way things were. But for as tempting as it is to pass the time wishing for things to return to “normal”, the fact is you are just wasting important energy needed to facilitate your healing.
Setting and enforcing boundaries is a necessary skill one must learn if you want to maintain healthy relationships. Many of us, however,...
People who provide wisdom about getting through life’s challenges focus on how to endure the pain of loss and change. This is valuable advice, but there is not much out there about reaching the end of a difficult life transition. Knowing you are near the end is important because it gives you hope life is not only normalizing, but actually getting better.
Whenever people around me talk to each other as though I wasn’t there, I usually crack a line I learned from watching television.
“What am I? A Potted Plant?”
Anyone who has survived a breakup, divorce or lost a loved one has wondered if they will ever again have a romantic partner. The confusion, self-doubt and lack of clarity for the future experienced during these times generates a lot of anxiety about our ability to attract a partner.
I learned throughout my thirty-seven-year stint in government service there are people walking around with pent up rage ready to explode at any moment. They sling their verbal arrows at any target. You catch these words and stick them into yourself when you take them personally and react. If you can detach, you can see these words were never meant for you.
I could have titled this piece “How to forgive your abusers”, but I think surviving a troubled childhood is about a lot more than forgiving those who made you suffer. It is about understanding how a troubled childhood has affected your life and kept you from becoming the best you were meant to be.
Sexual attraction is about the most exciting human experience I can think of. If you are like me, then you know it is difficult to think objectively about a person when you are sexually attracted to them.
We know where to get our problems fixed. You take a toothache to a dentist, cold to a doctor, sore back to a chiropractor. We get a massage to help us loosen up and relax. Dieticians give us advice on what to eat. Many have ready lists ranging from plumbers to mechanics to deal with the myriad of external problems that can be present in our lives. It is interesting to see how decidedly we act to fix a leaky faucet yet ignore the spiritual signs we lost ourselves.
Light and darkness struggle with each other throughout our lives. We can see this battle played out in family relationships, romantic partnerships, the workplace, community, nation and the world. Sometimes this fight can be so fierce that it can leave you feeling powerless and overwhelmed. But, even in the difficulty of living through oppressive and abusive times, we must choose the path of light so that the darkness does not crush our spirit.
Neuroscientists have discovered that your thoughts create your reality. This is easy to understand when you realize that you created your current life based on what you believe about yourself and the world.
We often think of an addiction as an illness related to substance dependency, but it is much more than that. A type of behavior can also be an addictive, like a sexual addiction or being a workaholic. In simple terms, an addiction is a coping mechanism your ego helped you establish so you could feel better or to handle stress or suffering.
I love the stories about genies and magic lamps. Imagine having the ability to rub a magic lamp and have a genie appear to grant all of your wishes. This great fantasy has a ring of truth to it, except there are no magic lamps to rub; you are the genie with the power to grant your wishes.
These are the words of the fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg who has been protesting on the steps of the Swedish parliament building for the past month. She is demanding a radical change of government policy to help reverse the trends of climate change.
Although it is no secret that the sand in the hourglass of our lives has been draining since the day we were born, we avoid talking about death.
Although we have been getting heart messages from the time we were born, it is difficult for most of us to understand it means to follow your heart. We are so accustomed to getting our cues to happiness from external sources we have lost touch with our inner urgings.
You Were not Meant to Live Without Purpose, so Get Off Your Ass and Find Something Meaningful to Do.
In whatever form it is that you know the creative source of all things (God, Higher Power, Allah, etc.), one thing is certain, this is Higher Being is growing, creating and evolving. Created in his/her image and likeness, we were meant to live every minute in the same way so that we may help enlarge the greater good.
This phrase is a boxing term used to explain how a fighter can angle themselves in a way that takes the sting out of the opponent’s blow. In...
Botox and cosmetic fillers are all the rage these days to get rid of wrinkles. This is the inevitable outcome of our societal definition of beauty. Youth is beautiful and showing your age is not. Middle-aged people spend billions to fight back the ravages of growing old.
Your Connection to the Creative Force of the Universe is Proof there is a Higher Power at Work in Your Life
Dr. Wayne Dyer tells the story about an agnostic surgeon friend who was bragging about never finding evidence of God. “I have cut people open...
From the moment you were born, the surrounding people—parents, siblings, teachers, extended family—have been helping to mold you into a member of society. This is not a bad thing, for had our ancestors from the Stone Age not formed societies, our species would not have survived. These early efforts proved that the good of the whole was greater than the sum of the good of individual parts.
I have tried every scheme known to humans on how to avoid taking responsibility for my life. All of my failures were somebody else’s fault, or they stacked the odds against me. My list is long on excuses and short on accountability.
Early in my thirty-six plus years career in government, my bosses sent an intensive training class on how to deal with the media. One lesson from this course still resonates with me today because it is so relevant to the state of media affairs. The instructors presented this lesson in the form of a metaphor to help illustrate how news outlets decide whether to report on a story.
No, you say! Your life has not turned out the way you planned. You believe they left you out because you don’t possess the right job, partner, car, looks, money and the list go on. Time has left you feeling isolated, ridiculed, and unloved. Why would this be so great?
With the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade kicking off the official Christmas Season, I am reminded of the things that have helped me transcend them over the years.
The two failed marriages on my ledger may detract from my credibility when writing about love, but the lessons in them are important ones to share.
Not all relationships are healthy for you. This applies to anyone around whether they be family members, friends you grew up with, coworkers, religious leaders and so on.
I used to get stressed out when the things I wanted to materialize where not happening in my desired timing. I wasted a lot of years pushing, striving and trying to break down the barriers that were keeping me from that next promotion, having more money, finding a romantic partner, forming a family, etc.
We have all grown up with certain negative beliefs about ourselves. Some of us think we are flawed, unworthy of love and never good enough. Life has reinforced these opinions until they convinced us they are true, but they are not. They are self lies we mindlessly repeat, and they became the foundational pillars where we base our current lives. Although they are not real, these lies have taken you away from your true center and they are sabotaging the joy right out of your life.
I used to get really upset after missing a critical shot during a tennis match. It was not unusual for people to hear me drop an f-bomb or two...
I am all set to move to from my current home to another town all the way across Florida. For as far back as I can remember, I have dreaded moving, for it can resurface the feelings of fear and abandonment I experienced on the day my parents put me on a plane bound for the USA seeking political asylum. I was a ten-years-old then, but the memories still linger as though this happened an hour ago.
Life is full of important lessons. I remember how proud I was when I learned to drive a car, balance a checkbook, change my babies’ diapers. But these pale in comparison to the importance that the following seven lessons have meant to my life.
When Death Takes Someone Close to You, a Part of You Dies with Them. That Doesn’t Have to be a Bad Thing
No one will survive their journey on this earth, yet that knowledge does nothing to ease the pain of losing someone close to us. Dealing with the heartache of such a loss can be one of life’s most difficult challenges.
Nothing damages our psyche more profoundly than the betrayal, abuse, humiliation, larceny and abandonment from the people in our lives. These can be life changing traumas that can affect us for years. The unbearable pain you feel can lead you to anger and to want to get even with those who hurt you, but I have found that it is not wise to pursue revenge.
Are you living your best life today or are you waiting for some miracle to make that happen? Chances are you are reading this because you are traveling on a life path you never picked. This is not uncommon, for most people are living an unconscious life where they don’t know what they want.
Life Changes are Inevitable. Here are Five Ways to Help the Accompanying Fear and Pain Transform You
I am a sucker for scary shows. I’m not talking about the gore fest like in The Saw movies, I am referring to the mind-bending stories you think imitate real life. One of these movies is Silence of the Lambs. Actor Anthony Hopkins is terrifying as Hannibal Lecter. I have watched this movie more than a dozen times and every viewing has given me the same chills as the first time (I have no explanation as to why I continue to frighten myself watching this movie).
They credit Albert Einstein for saying,
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Although perhaps this is too simple a definition for such a serious mental illness, it describes the irrational trap we humans fall into when confronted with life challenges.
I can still recall the old cartoon image of the two angels who stand on our shoulders giving us advice. The good angel stands on the right shoulder and whispers in one ear while the bad one sits on the left murmuring in the other.
From the day we entered this earth, we have all been taking part in our life’s cycle of death and rebirth. Several weeks ago, Dr. Christine Bradstreet, a blogging friend, showed this universal phenomenon when she wrote about how she rose from the ashes of a difficult childhood to discover God, true love and a life purpose of giving others the love and support missed out on as a child. She challenged a few of us to do the same so that our readers might see how the loss of our old lives plants the seeds of our resurrection. It is true, you can survive an ending and live to tell the story.
all the attention given recently to the life of Senator John McCain leaves no doubt that he was a great influence to many. The wonderful stories about how he touched the lives of those around him reminded me of the people who have been my great mentors.
Apocalyptic stories are all the rage again in our culture. The popularity of shows like The Walking Dead and The Handmaid’s Tale provide ample proof. There have always been stories about the world’s end. I grew up in the sixties with novels like On the Beach and Fail Safe that were popular when the fear of nuclear annihilation was at its zenith. A few years ago, movies 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow projected what could happen if humans do nothing about global warming. The Terminator movies (my favorites! Home of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s immortal line, “come with me if you want to live!”) take a fatal bent on our reliance on technology.
Having spent these past three years living alone, I have come to terms with the difference between being alone and being lonely. Although they can be related, they are not the same. While we are unable to control or change the factors that led to us being alone, we don’t have to choose feeling lonely when people are not around. This is an important distinction to make if you want to live a fulfilling life even when you find yourself alone.
After three years in the making, my new book, Catch and Release; One Man’s Improbable Search for True Love and the Meaning of Life, is now available. You can order it on Amazon and in the Kindle version. For those of you who would like an autograph copy, you can order from my website, guillermovidal.me, and purchase the book in hard-copy or paperback.
Life is a school. While I can’t be certain if death is part of our graduation ceremony or if our efforts become another point on some kind of learning curve, one thing is certain, no one can skate through life without experiencing failure and disappointment.
Every parent dreams of giving their children a better life. This desire is not just based on love for our offspring, if you have experienced setbacks—who hasn’t—you know life can bring you to your knees, so you want to spare your children from experiencing a similar fate. Yet, no matter how hard we try, we cannot protect our kids from the pain that comes from trauma.
No matter how much we wish it, power, fame, money, status or an important title do not make leaders. Since I have never heard of an instance where god descended from heaven to anoint a leader, at least not in my lifetime, then we must have a way we can use to identify them ourselves. Looking for these four characteristics do that for me.
My mother was the last remaining member of my family from her generation. Her death a year ago Christmas Eve was another reminder that my turn is coming. I know no one will survive this journey, but that doesn’t bother me anymore, for I made peace long ago with the fact that my days will end (hopefully not for quite a while yet).
The Older I Get, the Stronger the Desire to Find My Tribe. Here Are Eleven Signs to Help You Discover Yours
Unless you have been living in isolation from people in some monastery hidden in Nepal, the rest of us know there are people in this world we don’t belong with. Nobody warned us about this when we were young. In fact, someone taught us the opposite. My parents taught me as a child to respect and obey adults and I took this value with me throughout the years.
I have lost count of how many versions of “do what you love, and the money will follow” I have seen. Many modern self-help gurus make this promise to convince us to do what we love to do. Some insist that we take daily steps in that direction, like writing your goals on a journal, repeating affirmations and praying to god to grant our desires.
Love is the most overused word in our language. We use love with the same reckless abandon we reserve for other four-letter words. Because love has been used to describe how we feel about everything, we lessened its meaning; to sense a strong or constant affection for another person or group. Here are some examples, we love a television show, or tacos or our hometown football team. We love our home, our car, and our office. We love sunsets, the mountains and the beach. We even love beer and hotdogs.
One thing is sure about life transitions, especially those that include the loss of a job, a home or a spouse, they can leave you feeling like you have been body slammed.
One of the great myths in our society is that the older we get, the more set in our ways we become. We have been convinced that, as people grow older, they become more closed minded and stop learning and growing. This is implied by the old axiom:
You can’t teach an old dog a new trick
The rising popularity of superheroes in our culture caused me to wonder if every individual possesses a super power of their own. Although Batman and Wonder Woman will only recruit a handful to join the Justice League, the rest of us possess a powerful talent that is worth noting.
One of the greatest qualities we possess as human beings is our concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. They call this compassion and it motivates us to help those who are experiencing physical, mental or emotional pains. Compassion is the fuel for generosity, kindness and love of our neighbor. It has also kept us from destroying one another (so far, anyway).
There is a lot of talk these days about the tribalism and political polarization that has taken over our public discourse. Nothing seems possible with such hatred for the other side. America is suffering an identity crisis. We seem to have lost focus on the values we once held dear and we struggle to common ground with one another.
In view of the high-profile suicides of high profile celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I wanted to write about my past struggle with depression.
My headline comes from Senator Bobby Kennedy’s speech in Indianapolis, Indiana announcing to the gathered crowd that the Reverend Martin Luther King...
It is very difficult to ignore the feelings of helplessness that percolate inside when we look at what is happening in our world. Democracy seems to be waning under the boots of tyrants who seem to control all power and can destroy millions at the snap of their fingers. The bad guys seem to be winning and, any day now, we may become pawns at their mercy.
I am sure you have experienced the pain of disappointment. An unexpected circumstance threw a wrench into your well-laid plans and caused you to fail. If you are willing to look beyond your sorrow, you will find that disappointments can be the key to greater rewards.
Are you wondering if you are living the life you wanted? More than likely, you stopped being the leader of your life somewhere along the line and...
I remember my time as a member of my high school debate team. The premise for the competitions was simple. Officials choose yearly the topic for discussion. It usually involved a current international policy. Schools submitted several two-person teams to debate the topic with each other in sponsored tournaments. Teams were required to research both sides of the issue to be ready to argue its pros and cons in front of a tournament judge who would decide the winner. By random selection, one team was assigned the pro position and the other team the con. The judge would determine the winner.
I read a bumper sticker the other day that said, “Aging is not for sissies”, and I wondered why we look at aging with such a jaundiced eye. Growing old is a natural and necessary part of life. Since the day we were born, we have been participating in the slow death march all human beings have taken since time began. It doesn’t take toughness to age, it happens automatically and we should embrace it and gather the fruits that are available at every stage of life.life makes available to us at every stage.
If you are reading this article, chances are you have discovered that the things you were sure would make you happy are not enough to give your life the meaning you want. You are not alone; millions of people the world over are looking for better ways to find joy and fulfillment in their lives. Meditation can give you what you seek.
If You Are Not Doing These Five Things to Overcome Your Negative Self Beliefs, They Will Smother the Joy Out of Your Life
The older I get, the more I come to terms knowing that my manifested life is ending. This is not a morbid thought at all as it should not come as a surprise to any human the age of reason that life is a journey no one survives. I still believe I have decades to go, but it is time for me to help prepare those who come after me to live more fulfilling lives. This cannot be done if you live guarding those things you fear you will lose.
Finding a suitable romantic partner, especially after a breakup or divorce, can leave you confused, exhausted and feeling hopeless.
It is by mid-February that many of us realize we will not adopt our New Year Resolutions. This realization opens the door to frustration because we seem incapable of doing things that would be for our benefit, like loosing weight, starting an exercise routine or reduce our consumption of alcohol.
Everyone wants to live out his or her dreams. Yet, most of us spend our lives unconsciously doing things we don’t want to do. One day we wake up and realize we wasted our lives following outdated social mores and other people’s advice that have taken us away from fulfilling our greatest potential and desires.
The Most Difficult Challenge for Leaders is Not Choosing Right over Wrong, it is Choosing Right over Right
As a matter of background, I like to describe myself as a having been a “government mule”. For thirty-six years I worked for the public sector in the wonderful state of Colorado. So much of government work demands that you address daily an overburdened load of citizen’s concerns and problems. During these years, I ran a city, a department of public works and a state department of transportation. My experience in these very challenging positions taught me something I didn’t expect. The most difficult choices I had to make did not involve picking right over wrong. On the contrary, the most arduous decisions centered on choosing between two options that were inherently correct.
It is important to recognize live’s stormy periods so you can grow from them. That is easier said than done because our tendency to sulk about what we perceive to have lost. I know this firsthand after having faced a bevy of challenges throughout my sixty-six years of life.
Life transitions often catch us by surprise. When they happen we can become unnerved and disoriented, especially if we thought we were doing all the right things in our lives. They make it difficult to explain why that dream job you got five years ago has become empty and lackluster. Or, perhaps, the ideal mate that you married has inexplicably become aloof and distant and you fear a divorce is in the offing. At times like these, we become so afraid of the changes we may have to make, that we often chose the road of denial as a way to sidestep the feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction. But no amount of disavowing will allow you to escape the inevitable change that is coming into your life.
My daughter Molly, along with her husband, Nelson, and two boys, Quintin and Bauer, love all animals. They have always made room in their home as foster parents to abandoned dogs and cats. Last year they rescued a young dog that had lost one of his hind legs after having been ran over by a car. They named him Falcore after the magic dragon in the movie Never Ending Story, Molly’s favorite movie growing up.
I have never understood why the myths about finding the “one” were initiated, but they promote the idea we were born deficient in some way and must find the corresponding missing half in another. There are many popular expressions to describe that “special someone” waiting to be found. We call them soul mate, better half, kindred spirit, true love, or second self.
Here we go again, another mass shooting and the habitual cycle of madness is off and running. When is this ever going to end? My heart goes out to the victims and families of the senseless massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I cannot fathom the grief and hopelessness this inexplicable event has promulgated on these innocent people.
Last week I wrote about the illusionary phase of romantic love that I called the “bliss bubble”. Mentioned in my blog were the scientific explanations of how natural hormones and chemicals flood the bodies of two attracted mates to create a sense of wellbeing and compatibility. Today’s topic deals with how the bliss bubble can be prolonged or heightened when the lovers add sex into the mix.
Our culture is filled with literary works proclaiming the virtues of finding that one true love. Many exalt the virtues of love at first sight as the way of knowing you have found the one. Shakespeare’s tragic play, Romeo and Juliet, come to mind. Their forbidden love began when they cast their eyes on each other. Their passions so strong that they defied all rules and sacrificed everything for each other. Yet, for as romantic the idea of love at first sight might be, the truth is more likely a reflection of the chemical/biological and emotional changes that occur in all of us when we are attracted to someone and they repay our interest with like attention.
There is good reason why we take time in the middle of February to celebrate love. Being in Love with someone is an important aspect of the human condition because it allows us to connect to the deepest and most meaningful parts of our lives. Romantic unions give us our greatest chance to evolve into authentic human beings even when we fail miserably.
Until I reached my sixties, I was always a pretty good basketball player. My greatest asset was my jump shot, the result of countless hours spent alone shooting hoops on nearby playgrounds and imagining i played for the Boston Celtics (Denver didn’t have an NBA team yet). I can still remember the drills I conducted; dribble, sprint, stop, jump, raise the ball above my head, launch it with a soft arch towards the rim and……swish! Then repeat; to the left, the right, down the middle…..swish, swish, swish! Every made shot always eliciting a roar from my imaginary crowd.
Regardless of where you stand on immigration policy, the comments and actions made about the young immigrants known as Dreamers, Haitians, Salvadorans and those who come from African nations reminded us of our national rancor and division. These events are alarming and upsetting, but if we can put aside our hatred and name calling for the other side, we can learn a valuable lesson that can help push our world forward.
It is virtually impossible for anyone to get through life without struggling through a myriad of negative or irrational feelings about ourselves. We were exposed to these negative beliefs early in life. In most cases, these harmful “self truths” have been buried so deep in our unconscious mind we don’t even know our actions are driven by them. After successfully weathering the miasma of the holiday season, I was reminded of how our family connections can help regenerate these overwhelming feelings we carry about ourselves. This is why psychologists have contended for decades that our earliest experiences and traumas must be examined and healed to make progress on the road to our highest selves.
Every human was given a valuable life purpose, but it is up to each individual to find it in themselves. A great purpose involves working in symphony others to create a better world. It is greater than the self and that is why it transcends all the elements and forms of self-seeking. It does not demand fame, power or wealth, helping one person is enough. However, it requires an open heart, respect and acceptance for all regardless of who they are and what they do. A divinely given purpose also treasures the planet and understands the need for ecological balance among all living things.
I have always envied the Biblical heroes like Moses, Jacob or Abraham. They seemed so lucky as compared to me. God appeared to them and told what to do next. That hasn’t happened for me. In fact, if I ever saw a burning bush, I would take a fire extinguisher and put it out.
Sometimes life is running so smoothly that you are sure you can’t do anything wrong. No matter what direction you take, the wind easily fills your sails and off you go traversing an ocean of calm waters. Other times the wind is so violent and the waves so tall that you are sure your ship will split in two and you will drown.
In the heat of our many discussion, a friend of mined would make fun of me by saying, “Guillermo, opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.” This was his good-natured way of pointing out my tendency to share an opinion on everything under the sun whether I knew anything about the subject or not.
I had a terrible outing playing tennis the other day. By the end of my play I stood completely frustrated with my effort, As I can be prone to do, I eagerly distributed the blame for all that happened. My partner was at fault; the courts were too slippery, the other team made terrible line calls, the sun was in my eyes, and the net was too high. I had a hang nail also, but I don’t think it affected anything, although I am not sure.
I spent many years creating a plan for retirement. Without thinking much about what retirement meant, I followed the counsel of financial advisors like a mouse running in their maze. I was conviced I was being prudent following their directions, as many commercials seconded their retirement advice.
One of my favorite musical groups of all-time is The Eagles. Their music spellbinding and their lyrics always seem to speak to my heart and soul. One of their most popular songs, Lying Eyes, provides a great metaphor for how our inner guide speaks to us and how we choose (or not) to follow its guidance.
I have been an agnostic and a great skeptic of any mystical beliefs for most of my life. I considered people who believed in things, like the existence of an inner intelligence guiding us, not to be sane. One day a friend described for me how he deciphered a dream where God spoke to him. Having eaten more than my fill from the banquet of my father’s cynicism, I countered with my own “special” dream. I told him how I had spent the night dreaming I had eaten a giant marshmallow. I professed I didn’t know the dream’s meaning but, after waking, I discovered my pillow was missing.
As a young child, I had no choice but to rely on those more powerful than me to decide my fate. My parents, of course, played that role in Cuba until I was ten. When mom and dad sent my brothers and I to the United States to escape from Castro’s Cuba, that role was handed over to the authorities running Operation Peter Pan, an American government program that assigned unaccompanied Cuban children to orphanages in all fifty states. When we were sent to Sacred Heart Home In Colorado, I had to rely on the priest and staff in charge of the orphanage. Four years later, the role returned to my parents when we were reunited and moved to Denver.
I have written before about our human tendency to see ourselves as inferior, not good enough, not worthy. Having spent the past few years confronting this negative self-belief, I stumbled across something important, this damaging concept is rooted in something we hide about ourselves. Perhaps it is a terrible event that happened in childhood, or one that caused a painful loss. Perhaps it is something about you that is judged negatively by religious dogma. Whatever it is, this hidden part of yourself keeps you living a limited life and keeps you away from your authenticity. I will illustrate this point by sharing a personal story.
It Is Not About Whether One Sees the Glass as Half Full or Half Empty, It Is About How One Chooses to Evolve
There is a lot to learn about a person from the way they handle trying times. The old saying about the way we describe a partially filled glass of water might predict optimism or pessimism in the observer, but it does nothing to speak of how a person handles themselves during tough times. I believe I am positive person, but I was mediocre in the way I dealt with difficult life events in the past. Ultimately, I get through them, but not without a lot of kicking and screaming along the way. In my twenties and thirties, an old joke went around that seemed to speak to my situation. Here is how it goes.
Life transitions really, really suck! They are always there waiting in every corner of your life to bite you in the ass. Neither age nor wisdom grants you immunity from them. Transitions are some of the most frustrating times in life and every individual will go through them sooner or later. Yet, regardless of the upheaval they cause, transitions are an integral part of our human evolution. Without them we would remain in our own comfort zone and rot
I never met Tom Petty, but his music was transformative for me. Some of my favorites were Free Fallin’, Refugee, Learning to Fly, You Don’t Know How it Feels, to name a few. But the one that moved me the most
was I Won’t Back Down. The song became my recalcitrant anthem that was a retroactive middle finger to anyone who ever made my life more difficult. Every time I heard the song I could take myself back in time to flip Fidel Castro off for taking everything my family owned. I flipped off my high school counselor too for insisting I didn’t have the smarts to become an engineer. Even my old boss who laid me off got a well deserved f-bomb. The song also worked in this manner for all kinds of future situations. It made me the hero battling the dragons of my own making.