"You don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking."
~ Maya Angelou

December 30, 2011

Just Added

I just added Shelfari to the site (located to the right under The History).  For those not familiar with Shelfari (by amazon.com) http://www.shelfari.com/canyouhearme?WidgetId=201379/ it introduces readers to a global community of book lovers and encourages them to share their literary preferences and passions with peers, friends, and total strangers.  Many of the books that I have discussed in my posts, ones that I have gained much knowledge and insight from are now listed for you to view and possibly learn from.  If you double click where it says Shelfari it will pull up my entire book list and expose you to what the site has to offer. I will be updating this list as I continue to embrace the many opportunities to learn through the eyes of others, all of which will continue to help me help myself, while I strive to help others change for the better!

December 23, 2011

Always Learning

Isn't that we all strive for?  To learn so we can become all we deserve to be.  I am constantly learning, and like much of this process it comes when we find ourselves challenged, not defeated, but determined.  So, yesterday I had a meeting with a business consultant who is going to help and support me in my new business opportunity.  I came across this service after attending a career seminar at my Alma mater designed to help and leverage one' skills as they enter in to their own start up business.  One of the panel members at this seminar was the director of a local small business and development nonprofit geared towards providing services for those like myself. As I was exposed to the services offered and how they could assist me, I moved forward with it.  I know I can't do this alone and thus I welcome needed guidance and support as I see beneficial to what I am trying to accomplish.  With that being said, after my meeting last night something stuck with me that the gentleman (my consultant) helping me said.  It went like this "you have to always be thinking about money and how much you can make if you are going to be successful in business."  

Yeah, that's what I heard, in fact I had to explain to him that this statement was the complete opposite of the mindset I bring into the field of helping others change for the better.  You see as a social worker I don't do what I do with the idea of thinking about or making large amounts of money.  I do need to be compensated fairly for my time, expertise, and service, but the money is not the most important or constant on my mind and in my heart. A part of my identity as a helping professional was attacked and it made me feel uncomfortable.  However, I had to be objective in this matter as the person sharing this idea with me comes from a totally different school of thought, training, approach, etc.  Therefore, his ideology as it pertains to business may in fact be driven by dollars and cents and I need to understand such.  One thing I have come to understand in this process is their is much to be learned.  I am constantly being educated about a world (business) that I quite honestly didn't imagine seeing myself a part of.  I have a service and passion that I want to share and provide to others.  I couldn't find it or I didn't see it in the field I was a part of, and therefore I was motivated to go out on my own and do what I truly believe I can.  What I now know is that whether I like it or not I have to learn about the business side (to some extent) in order to achieve and sustain.  Another lesson learned, challenged but not defeated, determined.

Always learning...  I had to sort through this conflict I was facing as a result of being immersed into a culture and ideology that were as opposite to me as hot and cold. A culture that is often about $ and all that brings into this world of ours.  I have to check myself and not lose sight of my goals, realizing that I can choose to utilize certain parts of this business world, while still maintaining my own ideology as it pertains to providing service.  I am not going to be greedy in this venture, that is not and will not be happening.  So, I ask myself and anyone out there who has to follow a path that does not always look like a good one, is it worth the risk?  I want to wish all a very healthy and safe holiday season.  Take time to breathe amongst the visiting and giving,  and as always take special note to the quality of life that is of value.  The one that always has your back no matter where you may be, respect it and it will give you what you need!

December 20, 2011

3 Breaths And A Pause

What you say?  I hope you are well as we move into this time of the year, a period where giving hopefully comes from that place that is true, honest, and from the heart.  I am writing today with intention and clarity, my path is open and I find myself moving forward after being stuck for a few.  This is the beauty of being stuck, there is always the other side waiting, and as along as you continue to trust the process there is no reason you can not get there.

I just finished reading A Game Plan for Life- The Power of Mentoring by John Wooden, many lessons to be learned and shared.  His words reminded me very much so of one of my favorite mentors, my late grandfather.  There are several similarities in how they both approached life, treated others, and always modeled the right way without thinking.  The recipe is not too complex, in fact that is something that is continually reinforced in the book, don't try and make it to difficult, keep it simple and to the point and you will learn.  The greatest mentors are great teachers as well, they lead by example and always make themselves available to whomever crosses their path.  The learning that can be gained in life by our ability to mentor someone, as well as be mentored ourselves is truly one of life's greatest opportunities.  I know it is something that I highly value and much of the learning that I gravitate towards enhances this opportunity for myself.  For example, I have gained so much from reading many books about others life stories, their ability to overcome challenges, wisdom gained from experience, and much more. The learning and growth as a result has been so rewarding and insightful for me that in times of uncertainty and challenge I know I have the lessons and guidance to fall back on.  Mentoring is something that will be a strong influence in my writings, it is something that I will always practice in my professional role, and carry into my personal world as well.  Helping others help themselves is the gift that keeps on giving, and it is available for all, whether we see it or not, it is out there.

I had to remind myself of this over the last couple of weeks.  I believe this also influenced why I sought out John Wooden's book.  I needed to reinforce the many lessons I have gained along the way, while embracing some new and valuable ones learned through the eyes of one of the best.  A work in progress is what I am, and I will continually embrace the learning that awaits.  As much as we have the answers to many of our roadblocks in life, we can't do it on our own.  So, recognize where to turn, who to trust, and keep moving forward because nothing will work unless you do. Until we meet again, keep your head up, embrace where you are at, and love life so you can live it!

Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
John Wooden

December 15, 2011

It Is What It Is

It Is What It Is.  Ever heard that one before?  If so how would you interpret this statement?  Would it be a negative or positive statement?  The way I see it, often those words define the acceptance we have attached to a situation that may not change the way we expect it to.  Whether the situation is viewed as a negative or positive, one that caused one towards this action, the meaning is not always the same, but the outcome can be.  Confused or are you following me?  I am going somewhere with this one just grab my hand and I will explain.  The outcome is the fact that the situation has been accepted for what it is, whether you agree with it or not, it is what it is. I am speaking to this today because often we find ourselves trying to figure out something that just can't be.  This can be very frustrating for those who need an answer for every question asked, easier for those who embrace yet another learning opportunity. I know for myself I can accept much.  I strive to be objective in life, and see challenging moments as an opportunity to learn and understand (not only of myself) but of those I cross paths with. This mindset does make it easier to accept those moments that only cause an increase in one's pain and suffering, if you allow such.

As mentioned (in the last few posts) I have encountered a period of challenge and uncertainty.  The feelings associated with this came out of nowhere, I didn't expect it and I surely did not welcome it.   It has been frustrating to say the least because I have been working extremely hard for quite some time to be well, and have gained tremendous benefits as a result, and then...  It's been frustrating because I have been doing all the right things one needs to implement in order to move forward in a healthy way.  I know this is the way it goes and life does not always afford us what we expect or desire.  So, what do you do?  Where do you go from here?  It's very easy to fall back and accept defeat, or resort to unhealthy and negative coping mechanisms isn't it?  YES it is but I am not going to do that!  We can not expect the outcomes one needs to live a healthy existence if you succumb to a way that has only produced more negative than positive.  We must stay patient while trusting the process, this is the way has to be.  Why?  Because it is what it is and I accept that, can you?  I will get there and so will you.  Stay with me on this one, no matter how low you may feel it will get better, and it just may happen when you least expect it!  Until we meet again may this find you well.

December 12, 2011

A Work In Progress

This is a work in progress, a process of uncovering our natural openness, uncovering out natural intelligence and warmth.  I have discovered, just as my teachers always told me, that we already have what we need.  The wisdom, the strength, the confidence, the awakened heart and mind are always accessible, here, now, always.  We are just uncovering them.  We are rediscovering them.  We're not inventing them or importing them from somewhere else.  They're here.  That's why when we feel caught in darkness, suddenly the clouds can part.  Out of nowhere we cheer up or relax or experience the vastness of our minds.  No one else gives this to you.  People will support you and help you with teachings and practices, as they have supported and helped me, but you yourself experience your unlimited potential. 

 Pema Chodron
Taking The Leap

I am a work in progress, how about you?  When you embrace this intention, the opportunity to grow and move  forward is endless.  Life is the ultimate learning opportunity and challenges are gifts, always opportunities to learn.  May the beginning of this week start you on the right path, one that will move you forward!

December 8, 2011

When You Know You Just...

Hey...  For sometime now I have used writing as an opportunity to express and share with others, this is true.  However, I have also used this opportunity to help myself breathe easier along the way.   Writing is a wonderful tool to unlock and release what often just can't get out through the spoken word.  For the last several days I have found myself in a low state, something I know quite well.  I have my thoughts as to what is producing this state, and its not something that I am running from.  I am doing what is expected (exercise, counsel, reading, and writing ) and yet I can't seem to shake myself out of it.  So, what am to do?  Keep doing what I know is healthy for me?  Shutting down and reverting back to that way that is not healthy for me?  You see I can keep asking myself over and over what to do?  Maybe that's just it, stop asking!  It is very easy to get caught up in the process of trying to figure something out, when quite honestly you may not be able to...

I have written much about how I have been able to get through challenges and moments of uncertainty, and by doing so it has helped me in so many positive ways.  In turn I have used all these lessons and opportunities as a vehicle to help those who can hear me?  I'm not running from this state that I am in, I'm still fighting and doing all I can to stay present in the moment.  So, with that being said stay with me on this one and when you find yourself experiencing those moments that make you feel empty and void, remind yourself that this too shall pass.  When it does I am confident to say that another door will present itself and once again allow us to see that life is alright, its all good.  Thanks as always for allowing me to breathe, it helps, sure does.  Until we meet again be well!

December 5, 2011

Two Different Worlds

Hey out there, it is the beginning of another week and you know what that means?  An opportunity to learn from yesterday so that you can live today.  With that being said this is what has influenced my writing for today.  This past weekend provided me joy amongst challenge, all the while supporting that bond and commitment of what we know as friendship.  I had the wonderful opportunity to support and celebrate a dear friend this past weekend.  Someone who I admire and appreciate.  Someone who has been a positive addition to my circle over the last several years.  The escape and time away with this friend was a great thing, one that allowed the mind to slow down, the breath was easy, it was nice until...  As I was immersed into this world I received a call from another friend, it was not good news.

Isn't that the way it works sometimes, when you are up and feeling well, challenge can easily produce itself.  My other friend was minding his way outside of his home, early in the morning taking in the moment when he was approached.  It has happened many times in many at-risk environments that are susceptible to a pain and suffering that takes not gives, ultimately creating more suffering.  It was that quick for my friend, someone who I also hold close to my heart, someone who has supported me in times of need, someone who I try my best to be available and present for.  As I tried to sort out what had just transpired, I was caught with an opportunity.  I say opportunity because challenges are gifts, opportunities to learn.  You see, I was in one world celebrating a dear friend who I care for deeply, and then I get a call from another friend (who I care for deeply) living in a different world on the other side of the spectrum, in need.  It was a crazy instance, one that I had not experienced before.  I felt a variety of emotions all the while trying to keep cool, and not ruin or cause the moment to negatively change for the world that was celebrating. It was one of those moments where I had been informed something really troubling, at the same time I was in an environment that was in a positive and joyous state.  Two different worlds!

There was much to process and learn over the last few days...  I can say that no matter the specifics of what went down, the moment allowed me to move forward.  My availability to both parties did not once take me to a place of despair, if anything my strength and well being were front and center.  This is very meaningful for me and anyone out there who can relate.  These are the moments where you embrace that you can and are able to survive, while being available for those you hold close to your heart.  Life does not always give stability and predictability, and when the complete opposite transpires this is when you must be strong and stable.  I feel inspired by the ability to recognize and embrace this lesson.  This is the way it must be, no questions asked whatever you need.  I take pride that I was able to practice just this.  No matter how different these two worlds and friendships may appear, they are similar in many ways and I will do my best to be there for each one in times of celebration and challenge.  This is how it will go down if you have not recognized, life is made up by much, and the influences are many, and we can't often choose when those different worlds will collide.  Be strong out there, stand up and stay up!!!

December 2, 2011

Taking Notice

December here we are... As often it is hard to believe that we are ending another year, time goes no matter where we may be, it moves.  I have taken notice of this over the last several years.  I do what I can to make sure that my time is spent with purpose and action.  It may not always work out the way it was suppose to, but hey that's when some of the greatest learning opportunities come our way.  I recently was turned on to an author who I had not read in the past.  In fact he writes fiction works which is not a genre that I have spent much time with.  I am a nonfiction guy, memoirs, autobiographies, sociological studies, and the such.  I love to learn through the eyes of others through challenge, sacrifice, and ultimately the lessons learned when one overcomes.  You know how the saying  goes "if you don't like to read its because you haven't found the right books to read."  That would be very true in my experience.  I didn't find the right books well into my adulthood when I was immersed into my undergraduate studies in Sociology. Of course I read prior to this time but not to the point of digesting, understanding, and the true learning that comes through the written word and experience.

Let me get back to the author I mentioned above.  His name is Andy Andrews, some may know of him as he has many books out there.  I finished reading The Noticer over the Thanksgiving holiday and am now half way through another of his books The Traveler's Gift.  I recommend both of these books to anyone who sees themselves as a work in progress, embracing the lessons yet be learned, and the necessary reminder when we are just caught up and have lost sight of what is important in life.  They are both easy reads (think Mitch Albom' style and length of pages) but more importantly they will affect/effect you, short term or long term you will gain something. That is one of the wonderful gifts that reading can afford, and there is an abundance of it out there, whatever your choice may be.  I am much more prepared in life and understanding from the works that I have read.  I am thankful that I found the right books to read (for me),what I have learned as result gives me strength and hope, something I value.  I am averaging a book a month and since mid 2009 I have read 30 books, something I am proud of.

I have an update from my November 16 posting regarding my mentee.  Last night I met my mentee for the first time, and so our relationship has begun.  It was a great start and we were both able to get to know one another in a very informative and enlightening way.  I am confident to say that she will be a positive addition to the field of Social Work.  I could see it in her eyes, the passion in her words, and her availability to be supported and guided.  On that note it is time for me to leave, off to the Desert to celebrate a birthday for a dear friend (my brother from another mother). It should be a great weekend and I only wish the same for those that can hear me, no matter where you are or where you want to go, it's all good, embrace it!

About Author

Daniel Jacob, MSW  Email
Founder of Can You Hear Me?  External Field Instructor at University of Southern California School of Social Work MSW@USC.  Daniel has a Masters in Social Work (Families and Children Practice/School Social Work).  He is currently nearing the completion of the LCSW testing process.  More about the man behind the mission ⇢

November 29, 2011

Sharing The Love...

I hope that we are all well after the holiday that just passed.  I know it can be hard to kick start the engine after going back in time and experience(s) with family and friends.  After disconnecting from the rigors and responsibilities of life and the endeavors that require our attention and focus, it can be a challenge to regroup and move forward.  However, it is necessary to move forward and I only hope that you can and are.  For myself  I had an experience this past week that I can honestly say was a first and I want to share it because I believe there is something to be learned from and heard.  Thanksgiving this year was spent in Ohio with my wife's father, his wife, and my wife's grandmother.  Did I mention that my wife had not seen her father since she was eight years old.  Therefore, you could say that this was not the normal holiday trip.  The communication between my wife and her father begun nearly two years prior, and through the written word, photos sent, and mail received the reconciliation and reunion began to unfold.  Like many the separation and distance was initiated by a divorce, custody and abandonment, years apart, and a void that only grows in time. 

As a husband I always want the best for my wife.  I strive to make sure that she is safe and protected, supported and loved, and respected and heard no matter what comes my way.   I was on board from day one when the trip (and what it meant) was discussed, eventually becoming a reality.  I knew in my heart that the reunion and reconciliation would give all parties a wonderful beginning and ability to move forward, while releasing what pain and suffering had remained many years later.  I knew that forgiveness was present and there was no blame to be had.  I knew from my own experience that when you reconcile and forgive, you begin to live in a manner that gives you strength in your heart, while allowing you to breathe that much easier.  The time that was spent in Ohio could not of been determined, and what transpired was truly wonderful and all that a husband could be witness to and supportive for.  There was laughter, tears, stories told, gaps filled in, and quality time spent.   There was no itinerary other than spending time with one another.  I have had many thanksgiving holidays as we all have...  This one was special for many reasons.  I will always hold a special place in my heart for what I was able to witness and be a part of.  I am thankful for much, and what transpired over the past week truly gave me a jolt of thanks that I know will and has led to an opening for all those involved.

So, as I was able to share the love with the woman I love, and the family I had yet to meet, let me say to all of those that can hear me...  Life is here, there is no dress rehearsal, the voids are not going anywhere, and what you do with them is up to you.  All I can share with you is that what I was witness to this past week was wonderful, it will stay with me for a lifetime, and I know it has only effected my world in a positive manner.  That's all I could ask for, and all that I would want you to experience.  Be strong out there, don't think too much, just follow your heart and you will see the path that has been waiting for you!

November 21, 2011

A Little Lift!

I know how Mondays can be so I just wanted to send out a little lift for all that are hearing me.  It's the beginning of a wonderful week, one in which we will come together with family and friends.  One in which we will give and share.  One in which we should all take some time and reflect on the gifts that life does and can afford.  Until our minds connect again you be well to your day, and your day shall be well to you!

November 18, 2011

Can You See It?

The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Indeed this is where I am at.  Can I just say that I have had a truly rewarding week, one that has provided me with a renewed excitement and direction to what is to come.  I immersed myself into several opportunities to learn, network, and move forward with purpose, direction, and ambition.  I know you can relate.  That feeling that you are living in a positive moment, one that has only good intentions.  My moment included meeting several individuals that truly wanted to help and support my current opportunity.  It was so refreshing to be able to connect with this group, knowing that they were giving me guidance, wisdom, and support from no other place then their choice and willingness to help.  I am not one to be pessimistic or skeptical, but I have seen the difference between someone who helps for their own benefit, versus someone who does it from their heart because they want to help others succeed.  I appreciate this and practice this approach as well.  There are many gifts that life affords, but giving to others is one of the best.  Because when you give, you receive right back in many wonderful ways.  This is what I felt this week in the opportunities that I was exposed to.  I know that this in itself helped lift me up and move me towards a good place in person and profession...

Where ever your direction is at, in life or career.  If you are stuck, conflicted, or uncertain there really are so many opportunities to receive the support and the guidance one needs to change for the better.  I have said before, when you are present and available to see it, you can not miss it.  So, follow my lead and look at the path you are on, is it a good one? Or is there a need for change?  Whatever the answer is for you, when you do the work, the world you are living in will change for the better.  This is what is possible and through the relationships you develop, opportunities you participate in, and action you take you will see progress.  It's right there, go get it, and I guarantee that when you arrive you will feel these words in a way that will need no explanation.  The quality of life that I dreamed of for so long is happening, and no matter what the interpretation of is, or expectation for is, I am in it with one direction FORWARD!

So, as we approach that time in the year that asks us to reflect on what we are thankful for, ask yourself what that truly is? Allow that to inspire you to make your goals and dreams come into your world.  After all, most are thankful for the same things: family, health, love, opportunity, etc.  All of which we need to help and support us along the way.  We can not do it alone and that is the truth.  You may not see it (like myself at one point in time) and you may be thinking you are on your own.  Oh no, so far from the truth and once you can embrace this you will see.  I'm here for you when and if, and I look forward to be witness in your joy when you get there!  As always, be strong out there, stand up and stay up!

November 16, 2011

Let One Guide

Today is a good day!  It began with the support and nurturing one needs to enhance our physical and mental well being.  This is the recipe for a healthy way.  However, one must be disciplined and determined to make it happen.  When this is accomplished the path will present itself in a truly wonderful way.  This is exactly where I needed to be today as I look forward to an opportunity that awaits me this evening.  I signed up to be a mentor for an up and coming social worker and could not be in a better place as our relationship will begin.  The mentee is in the final phase of their MSW program, looking towards the transition from the classroom to the professional world.   I look forward to being available to listen, support, and guide my mentee in a manner that is positive and helpful.  I truly appreciate and embrace the process of being a mentor.  Whether it is with my little brother (think BBBS) or in the capacity of the experience I will be a part of this evening, the rewards of this relationship are plentiful for all parties involved.

I am humbled and honored that I have the desire to, and the heart for this endeavor.  Not all can be in the position of guiding others.  It truly is a specialty that some struggle with.  My take is that the best mentors are those that are willing to learn from the process as much as they are able to give.  Furthermore, you have to live a little in the classroom of life before you can be ready.   I have seen some fail, particularly those that try to hard, want to be friends first, are not in a healthy place, and all and everything that can negatively influence and impact this relationship.  All of the mentors that have influenced my life in so many wonderful ways have embodied the qualities and strengths that exposed me to the right way.  My mentors were able to model more than words alone.   This is an important point because often you will see the overload of words and action in a mentoring relationship that honestly can contaminate the process of.  If you are not following me, think of any relationship you have had where you don't feel heard, or when you speak you are interrupted, or that connection of support and understanding is just missing.  This happens in many relationships in and out of  being a mentor.  So, I can not lose sight of the lessons given, modeled, and taught as they will further support me in my ability to give and receive.

I look forward to the process of returning back to my time and place as a last year MSW student.  So much has transpired since those days, in and out of my professional title.  Challenges and struggles amongst positive opportunities and accomplishments.  I look forward to learning more about myself while I learn through the eyes of my mentee.  This relationship is reciprocal and if you don't understand that then you would be missing a vital outcome of being a mentor.  I will keep you informed as I move into this new relationship.  Until we meet again stay present and available out there.  When you do, you will see that the quality of your world can change for the better!

*To my disappointment when I arrived at the event this evening my name was not on the list.  So, what that meant was that my information was not received and/or it was lost.  Therefore, I did not get to meet my mentee.  Another lesson to be learned and as always adversity has many.  I resubmitted my application and will be matched shortly, perhaps a blessing in disguise!

 The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.
Bertrand Russell

November 14, 2011

This Is Where I Am At

Good day!  If you have been following my writings I am hoping that you have acknowledged that I don't write just to.  I write when I am inspired to share, express, and thus communicate.  When you hear me you are being spoken to, with an open mind and heart.  My intention is not to fill pages with words, but with meaning and support.  If I have learned anything along the way, it is that the ability and opportunity to give/share will open your world in a very positive manner.  The last week has been good to me, and I hope the same for all of you.  I had the wonderful opportunity to connect with those closest to my world.  Some that I haven't seen in a few, and others who are a constant.  This is such a beautiful part of my life, one where I can be witness to the gifts and support that I receive from those I truly care for.  This is indeed a part of life that matters to me.  A part of our existence that is shaped and influenced by those we trust, learn from, and who always have our back, when at times we feel that there is not much to hold us up.  I know for myself that I don't get to the healthy place I find myself in today without just that.  It doesn't even have to be a daily occurrence, meaning that I don't need to talk with or see my people all of the time, its when I do connect with and see them that we are able to continue forward. 

Often, many seek that constant interaction with others in a manner that I believe helps others feel they are not vulnerable or susceptible to a perception that just may not be the truth.  For many years now I have maintained an approach that when me and my people connect we go from there. Therefore, I don't allow myself to get caught up in the guilt, frustration, etc. one may feel if they are not constantly in contact with those closest to them.  I know that my people are in my world, even when they may be struggling to function in their own.  I hold on to the moments together that have influenced and supported our relationship, and this allows me to trust that we are still connected.  I won't allow myself to suffer based on an expectation that is not mine.  So, for all of you out there that have not talked with, visited with, and connected with those you hold closest to your world its your call.  How you see it, or perceive it, if the relationship is meant to last it will, if not then you move on and forward.  As I have said before "life is not a dress rehearsal, you have one shot."  So, its up to you and how you want to walk through it.  I know for myself that I will walk through this world with a clear understanding of how I will treat others, and how I will treat myself.  As long as I follow a decent path all else will fall where it should. 

Life is what you make it, and without those to share it with and live it with, it can be a void in a unfulfilled world.  Please see this and take advantage of that quality of life that you deserve to have.  This is where I am at.  I am excited about the possibilities that await, and as they unfold I will reflect on the support and love that I have received along the way.  Until the next time be well out there, stay present and always remember what you have, not what you don't!

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting 
that a new world is born.
Anais Nin

November 9, 2011

Good & Bad

What you say!  I hope everyone is embracing the change in time and season.  It's funny how the change can give us an easy opportunity to excuse.  I'm tired because of.  I'm sick because of.  I can't seem to because of.  I'm not really sure its because of the change in time and season, but who am I to judge, it is what you want it to be.

Today I was posed with an idea that has given me some thought.  The dichotomy of walking through life, in a manner that is mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory.  The battle of understanding life through the lens of good and bad.  Honestly, I had a hard time figuring out where this one was going.  Don't we all walk through life with an understanding that there are two parts, good and bad?  I know the difference don't you?  It turns out that it wasn't about the difference of, but the action that determines how we may justify or rationalize our progress, or lack of.  It wasn't as simple as I thought, and once again I found myself confused, uncertain as to what exactly was being asked?  What I do know is that I have learned a tremendous amount about myself in the years I have been around.  With that being said sometimes you learn more than you need to, somehow getting lost in trying to figure it out.  I know for myself that I don't walk through life trying to figure it all out.  However, I am curious as to the what and how that has influenced my development, socialization, behavior, and many other factors that have determined my choices and actions along the way...  With that being said there are always going to variables that make no sense, its like books falling off the bookshelf, sometimes they fall and we have no idea as to the why or how.

Whether understood or not, the unknown is not something that I run from.  I will continue to be open to the learning, challenge, and growth that happens when the onion has been peeled back.  I welcome the opportunity to be a work in progress, never perfect, but always present.  So, with that being what it is may we all just embrace the day as it is.  Whether change is due to us falling back, or the daily grind we find ourselves immersed into. The life we live doesn't always come with an understanding that makes sense, and when it looks like it does there are always going to be those that will say its not.  Until we meet again keep your head up, with the mindset that life is OK, no matter where you may be at!

November 7, 2011

When You Fall Back

For too long I was trying to do everything alone.  I was selfish and weak.  Full of pain and full of pride.  Holding on to so much anger.  Never knowing what I was truly angry at.  
That's all over with.
Ramiro Rodriguez

Today I begin with a quote.  I just finished reading It Calls You Back, the memoir of Luis J. Rodriguez. http://www.luisjrodriguez.com/  Some might remember one of Luis' first (nonfiction) works the bestseller Always Running La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.  The quote above are the words of his first born child Ramiro, who is a central figure in his current book.  Luis is a really great writer, cultivated from much experience and determination, and this shines in his words and storytelling.  I really connected with Ramiro' words, and if any of us have ever been in a place that is deeply rooted with pain and suffering, then perhaps you can as well.  It's interesting how life can shape and influence us when we stop fighting ourselves.  Often, we do not see it like this because we are so ingrained in just trying to survive and do what we think is the best, at that particular moment.  It's only when we continue to struggle with our own behavior, one that can limit positive direction and outcomes, that we are able to see an opening.  Like Ramiro (no, I didn't join a gang or go to prison, but what if my environment was different?) I had to self-destruct and go through some challenging times before I was able to accept help from others, and thus move forward and into a healthy way.  When we are hurting it is very easy to project our pain and suffering on to anyone and anything that is available, whether or not we can see that its in place to help and support us.

It's almost like a rite of passage for some.  Often you have to fall down many times before you can make a conscious decision to stand up and stay up for yourself.  I had a moment like this as I approached my 25th birthday.  Believe it or not I was not always a social worker.  In fact quite the opposite.  After getting fired for the first and last time (from the factory job I wrote of earlier) a friend of mine turned me on to a job in construction.  I was hired by a general contractor who had a pretty successful construction business.  I was right around the age of 19.  I had no experience or exposure to this world.  I didn't grow up with tools in my hands.  However, what I did have was a strong work ethic and a sense of responsibility that conveyed that I could be trusted.  Even during the most challenging periods in my life I had something inside of me that wanted to be liked, cared for, and trusted.  I wanted to show others that I could do right, just give me a chance.  I learned much during this period.  However, the work is only good when it is there, when it is not you struggle to pay the bills and survive and ultimately I was laid off.  The friend who initially turned me on to this gig still had my back, and thus opened another door in the construction field.  He had recently been employed as a union carpenter starting out as an apprentice (a four year training period that included classroom and field work, and at the completion you were deemed a journeyman carpenter) and they were looking for suitable candidates.  So, I filled out the application, waited,  and sure enough I was offered an opportunity.

I was a union carpenter for nearly seven years.  I made pretty decent money, and was able to learn a trade.  I met some hard working people along the way, and was exposed to experiences that had a very influential effect on me.  I wish I could say that there were more positive influences than not.  It turns out that those years were challenging beyond what I thought I would be signing up for.  I experienced many days of unemployment (due to the weather, lack of work, and the union politics that are always present), tough and rough hazing, and role models that used and abused and always made sure that your voice didn't even matter.  Now, this was not all but in my interpretation and memory of these ones stood out.  I often felt that I was in the wrong professional world, I was a so so carpenter and it wasn't because I didn't work hard.  My heart was just not in it, even back then I felt that I had something more to offer others.  I knew my destiny was not to ride out a 30 year career in this business and retire.  This came to me one day on the job, in a manner that some call an "epiphany" and my direction changed from that moment on.

I was about to finish a long term job and knew that a period of unemployment was waiting for me.  I had time and so I enrolled myself in a local community college taking two classes (English and Sociology).  It was through higher education that I saw an opening and the rest is as they say history.  After completing those classes I made the decision to resign from the carpenters union and move forward into the transition from carpenter to social worker.  I enrolled full time and got a job as waiter, a job that would accommodate my new schedule while still providing me with an income to support myself.  There were many challenges, sacrifice, and struggles within this period of  my life, all of which I have learned and grown from tremendously.  I reflect often and am amazed with all that happened during this time in my life.  Achieving a BA (Sociology) and Masters in Social Work (MSW) truly changed the quality of my life.  These accomplishments were never about increasing my earning potential.  No, that was not it.  I have much more to share, and will fill in the gaps along the way, but for now we will end.  But before I do let me just say that I would of never been able to enter this new chapter (in life and profession) if I did not begin the process of identifying, understanding, and working through my own pain and pride.  It's a wonderful thing when you can see it, feel it, and embrace it!  As always may you be well to your day, and your day will do the same.

November 2, 2011

You Gotta Learn Sometime

I found myself frustrated a bit today, when really I had no control of the situation that was producing this.  It didn't take me long to find that place that tells me "it's going to be OK, this is only temporary."  I was able to get to this place and find a source of strength and inspiration based on a story I was exposed to last night on ESPN through their film series 30 for 30. http://espn.go.com/espn/espnfilms/story/_/id/6961212/unguarded .  The story is about a gentleman named Chris Herren, a high school basketball phenom in the 90's who went on to college ball at the Division 1 level, and then on to play in the NBA and overseas.  However, the legend of Chris Herren concealed a darker side, and his dream soon became a nightmare of drug addiction—first alcohol, then cocaine, finally heroin.  It's a story that I have been exposed to before through the interactions in the field, my practice, books I have read and the stories I have heard.  It is a plight that I have come to learn though the eyes of others so clearly.  I have found strength and inspiration from these stories in a manner that has always shown me how easily one can fall, and fall hard.  Chris grew up in a blue collar, east coast town that as he and his friends said "you played hard on the court, but you played even harder once you left the court."  I understood that from my own time on the east coast, socialized by very similar forces, ones that force you to make a decision, do you want to fit in and belong, or do you want to be left by yourself, all the while you are primarily coping with the forces inside that no one (including yourself at the time) understands, or can truly see.

My story is no where as severe as Chris' that is for sure.  However, I have had my own battles with alcohol and drugs over the years, and it all began in a place, and at a time very much similar to what Chris was exposed to.  I remember it quite clearly.  The year was 1985, I was a teenager in pain, and I was angry. When you combine those two forces, alcohol and drugs can easily become a way to cope.  Then you add the fact that I was really never exposed to heavy usage or influence from others before this time in my life. I dabbled a little, but it was real minor.  That changed real soon, and shortly after I arrived I was exposed to and immersed into the small town mentality of playing real hard off the court.  I remember one of my first experiences when I was hanging out at some remote pull off, away from the heat and others who would of caused trouble.  I got drunk real quick, like a couple of beers, and my new friends made fun of me and laughed about how easily I got drunk, I was definitely a rookie in their minds.  It didn't take me long to advance into the world of heavy/binge drinking, the world that said "if you weren't drunk, then you weren't having fun or their was something wrong with you." Yup, at 15 I was socialized into a way that took me years and many battles to recognize that this way was not OK, it wasn't having fun, and if anything it led to many problems over the years.

I remember the first day of my senior year in high school, the plan was to meet an hour before school started at one of our spots so we could drink, and drink heavily.  I guess the idea was to be smashed and start the year off the right way.  My senior breakfast was a pint of liquor, 3 beers, and then some in the matter of 45 minutes or so, and then it was off to school.  An hour into school I couldn't even function, and got sick right on my desk in the middle of math class.  As I was escorted out heading to the nurses office, I couldn't even stand and I literally had someone holding me up as I walked away.  It was legendary at the time, talked about for years, but for me it was just another example of a troubled kid trying to find where he fit in.  You would of thought I would of learned a lesson or two from that experience. Not exactly as there were many instances that surrounded alcohol and drugs during that year.  The ending of which almost cost me my life.

I just finished up with my last final exam as a senior, one in which I needed to pass, if I didn't I was not graduating from high school.  To celebrate the end of our high school days a bunch of us went out and did what we did.  First stop was the liquor store and since I was the designated driver that evening I would have the usual, a six pack of beer versus the standard 12 pack for the non drivers.  As the night moved forward we found ourselves caught up with some fools racing and chasing each other in our cars high above the Hudson River.  The road (route 218) was a narrow, windy route that rested several thousand feet above the river.  In most spots the speed limit was 20-30 mph, I was going 60 mph when I crashed into the mountain side of the road.  My face literally crashed into the hard plastic steering wheel, crushing the top row of  my teeth and gums into my nasal cavity, blood profusely coming out of my mouth.  Believe it or not none of the passengers were injured.  The harsh reality was that if we would of crashed into the river side of the road we would of most likely died on that day, no doubt about it.  Once again I was the talk of the town, all stitched up with gauze in my mouth as I sat in my cap and gown (I barely passed that chemistry exam and was able to graduate). I have a reminder of that moment that has been with me for nearly 25 years now, my top row of teeth is a bridge (fake), truly lucky to walk away with just that. I am not proud of any of those moments that happened many years ago.  However, they are clearly a reminder to me that I could of easily went the other way, a place that who knows where I would be today.  I chose not to, and I have fought hard over the years to better myself, never forgetting where I have been.

Unguarded is a story about a man who had to get to that place in his own world, one that included much pain and suffering.  To learn more about Chris Herren check out his memoir "Basketball Junkie" (along with Bill Reynolds) that tells the whole story. http://www.basketballjunkie.net/   It's on my list but will have to wait as I have a few books that I am currently vested in.  There is so much that goes into battling and overcoming the madness that addiction and dependency can produce.  It takes a lot of everything, and each individuals plight is different.  However, when you finally surrender and commit to changing for the better, you are one step closer to the quality of life you deserve to have, can have, and need to have in order to move forward in a healthy and positive manner.  Once you get to this place a little frustration is the easiest part of the day, it's all good.  Thank you for hearing another part of my story. I know you can hear me, and with that there will be much more to come when the time presents itself.  Until our next meeting of the minds be strong, stand up, and stay up!
How sublime a thing it is to suffer and be strong.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

October 31, 2011

It's Right There

There won't be many words today.  I wanted to share another life lesson, an opportunity that will allow all of us to embrace what is right there, always present just not always...  I hope the day treated you all well as you move forward into November!

October 30, 2011

The Mentor

Today I visited with and remembered one of the most positive influences in my life. I embraced the reality of the lessons learned, guidance, and support that truly has kept me up during the good times, and the not so.  It made me realize that this influence is still present to this day, even though the person behind this is no longer physically with me. There have been many challenges and experiences along the way...  Ones that made me stop, turn left, and then right, and even turn around and go back.  The one thing that has remained, and been constant are the lessons and direction that I embraced from all and everything that was spoken and modeled.  The mentor can be a wonderful thing, I know it has been for me!

At this current time I am faced with an uncertainty that has no end in sight.  This has me in a place that can cause some level of stress and distress.  However, I know I will move with it and through it.  I know this time in my life will not bring me to my knees, I won't allow that.  I am in tune with the natural process that goes with the uncertain, a time that can produce a lack of substance that one needs to survive.  I am aware enough to know that it is at these moments where you grow, learn, and thus move forward with the wisdom that one needs to get through the challenges that life affords.  I know all of this because I have gone through moments such as these for many years now, and I have always moved forward, no matter how difficult it may have been.  Nearly 30 years ago is when I was able to begin to understand and become aware of just this.  It was a time when I was young, vulnerable, weak, and susceptible.  However, I always had the mentor close by to help me breathe easier through all of it.  As a matter of fact he was only blocks away, although at times it felt that my world and his world were as far away as one could dream....

I reflected on this today...  No matter where I have been in life, the lessons that the mentor provided were within me.  It has taken many years and moments to fully digest, appreciate, and now model the lessons and guidance I was given.  It is a powerful moment when you can truly understand how you are able to practice what you have been shown, or taught.  Particularly when you need these lessons the most, at times that find one questioning "how am I going to move forward?"  I am thankful and so appreciative that I have learned some good things along the way.  I am thankful that I was available and willing to embrace what was given.  I am thankful that no matter how difficult or painful life may be, I will and can always meet it face to face.  I am thankful for everything that the mentor was willing to give me.  He gave me so much, and with that I was able to combine his lessons with the self work, sacrifice, and determination that I have been immersed into for the majority of my days.  What can this produce one might ask?  Well for me, it made me wealthy in a manner that opened up doors and opportunity that has led me to a wonderful quality of life.  I may not be rich in the terms of $, but I am rich in ways that many never get to.  I know this because I see it every day.  This is what the mentor showed me, and I absorbed it like a sponge.  I may not know how this is going to play out, but I do know that I will be fine, everything is going to be OK!  Don't ever lose sight of what has been taught or given.  If you do you may just not be able to get through it.  If that happens, you weren't available or present when the hand was right there, waiting for you to grab it.  No matter how difficult the days may be, it will get better, it always does.  Until we meet again keep your head up!

October 27, 2011

The Ohana

The Ohana (family) is on my mind today.  I am in the midst of reading and reflecting, and I find myself thinking about those in my life who are currently on difficult paths.  In my world my family is not only the one I was born in to, but those in my circle who I hold close to my heart.  Those that I wish no suffering for, but wholeheartedly know that it is inevitable in their own lives at some point in time.  When I find myself thinking about those in my Ohana who are struggling, I reflect on my own times of challenge... How I embraced it, struggled with it, and ultimately was able to get through it.  This helps me not only be available and present, but I am truly able to empathize in a manner that does not bring me down, but only brings me up to be strong for those in need.  It's a really unique trait as I have come to understand.  It has been a asset for me in my professional endeavors as someone in a position to help others change for the better, and in my personal experiences with my own pain and suffering.  I don't run away or hide from challenge.  I have come to understand (through much learning and experience) that when you work with challenge, versus working against challenge, you often have a better chance at resolving it, and moving closer to a positive outcome.

Often, when we are challenged beyond anything we may feel we can get out of, we spiral into a negative mindset and way that reinforces to us that the world is coming down and there is no way out.  We often focus on the worst case scenario and everything and anything that will prevent us from moving forward.  We often make the situation at hand much more difficult than it has to be.  I see this within my Ohana and its hard to be witness to.  None of us want to see those close to us in pain.   As much as we want to shake them out of it, or tell them the what and how to get through it, we often can not.  There is a reason for this.  You see, we as those who are suffering and in pain hold the answers to the solution, often it is right in front of us.  We just have to ask ourselves "are we able and available to see it?"  I know those in my Ohana that are in this place will get through it, and one day will be in a better place.  I know it will take a tremendous amount of effort, risk, challenge, and all that goes into changing for the better.  I know that they all deserve to have a life filled with the wonderful gifts that life can afford.  The ones they dream of, the moments that keep them up, bring tears to their eyes, and question them on a constant basis. I know they can get there, I believe in them, and I am available for them...  Stay present my Ohana.  Believe in yourself.  Trust that your headed in the right direction. You do it without thinking!!!

There is a solution to every problem as long as you don't fear the path to the solution.
Alonzo Mourning

October 21, 2011

The Day When It All Began

Today has been a good day...  I am moving into another year today and so (as I do) I reflect on the path(s) that I have taken before, the one I am on today, I stay present.  I want to thank all of those who sent love and wishes my way, it meant a lot and as always I appreciate it.  I hope those that didn't know or remember are not taking it personal.  Please do not as I don't roll like that, and quite honestly I have come to embrace a way that is low key with less attention brought my way.  I thought about just that today...  When I was a young boy, like most I anticipated this day.  I wanted the gifts and party, it was just the thing to do and most of my friends and family members made it feel that it was an important occasion to celebrate.  I lost that energy and feeling along the way.  I remember a time when I was just trying to get through the day, and this day was just another one of them.  I believe that my independence and uncertainty in life, and the direction I was headed (or not) also played a role over the years.  As an adult I became much more of a private man, enjoying others joy far more than my own.  I know that this was taught to me by certain experiences, relationships, true learning, and many other factors that influenced me to pull back, observe, watch from afar, and quite honestly not be the center of attention.  However, this does not mean that when I want to, am able to, and others are available to listen and digest I won't speak or engage.  I will and have no problem with opening up my heart...

I don't see it as a fault or a negative thing.  I am quite comfortable being the man I am today.  I have grown tremendously over the years, and will continue to as my days move me forward.  Over the last several years I have made some truly life changing steps towards a healthy, peaceful, and happy existence.  I am so pleased with what I have, and I do not spend much effort or time on what I don't have.  I dreamed of a life filled with unconditional love, respect, and support.  I am happy to say that I have that life!  This in itself allows me to embrace the true gifts that one can receive in life.  I guess that has some direct relationship with why I don't get too involved or caught up in celebrations for myself.  I am celebrating on an often basis, something that took much to obtain and achieve.  I am thankful for that.  As they say on the block "I am too blessed to be stressed." Yes indeed its a good day.  I began it with a hike with my favorite furry companion Blackooh.  She has brought so much joy into my life and truly has given me years back.  I have included a picture of our moment together this morning, celebrating each other and the life we have!  Until we meet again may you all be well to your day, and your day will be well to you...

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.  Anyone who keeps learning stays young.  The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
Henry Ford

October 18, 2011

The License

I am going to put this out there in the most objective, positive, and honest way I can.  Furthermore, this is not an attack or any form of disrespect to those in my field that are licensed, or use it in a beneficial way to help others change for the better.  We are all adults who can make our own decisions and choices regarding our careers, and I respect that for others, and myself as well  The writing that follows is from my heart and I am fully content with expressing it. 

For some time now I have struggled with the process and purpose of the LCSW, exam, and what it represents.  In my field (as I have come to know) often you are influenced or expected (based on opportunities available and requirements from employers) to obtain an LCSW.  It seems in the recent years the license is required much more than years before for many opportunities in the field.  You can look at the LCSW as a consumer liability, meaning it is required by the state in order to protect the consumer.  For example, if you are a social worker who chooses to practice “therapeutic” social work where you have clients that pay for your service then you must be licensed in order to provide this type of service.  It is your responsibility as a provider, and you are liable for the service you are providing per state regulations.  I don’t have a problem with that if you choose to go into private practice and/or are providing clinical/psychiatric therapeutic services (i.e. community based agencies, in/out patient psychiatric care, etc.) for those in need.  In  other capacities employers/systems now want their social workers (i.e. in roles of supervision, education, administration) to have their license as well.  My issue at hand is that the license does not really validate competency or effectiveness as a social worker.  Based on my experience and observation, I have crossed paths with many licensed social workers who honestly are not really good social workers and do not represent the LCSW in a positive manner.  It is almost as if they strive to accomplish getting their license, and then once they get it, often they don’t really apply it to what it is meant to represent, or they have stopped evolving, growing, learning, and all and everything that goes into being a competent and effective social worker.  Please note this is not a generalization.

So, where do I fit in?  Let me explain, and hopefully I can help those who continue to challenge me with “you have to get your license” understand that I am not being oppositional, negative, or difficult by not choosing to get my license.  For someone like myself who chose a career in social work because of their  exposure to, and experience of challenge, pain,and suffering I was not motivated by the expectation(s) of the career and others in the helping field. The reality that has influenced my decision to pursue a career in social work, that in itself truly shaped my lens and provided me with the insight and understanding that allows me to see and feel the true root of Social Work (helping others change for the better). Therefore, the desire to become a social worker and get into the field begins from within, a very deep personal place.  The formal training that includes the classroom to the community, and every other amazing learning experience that comes from true learning and understanding is needed as well, something that I embraced and truly digested.  I understand you need all of this not only to learn the practice, but if you decide to get licensed, you have to get through the hoops to complete the requirements to even be eligible to take the exam.  I have met all of these requirements (MSW, supervision hours, required pre-requisite classes and filing with the Board of Behavioral Sciences) and am eligible to take the exam.

The way I see the LCSW exam is that it is not an experiential or objective exam, it’s not and if you don't understand that, or you struggle to accept that, then you struggle, and that means not passing. The exam is designed in a manner of deduction and ruling out the least correct to get to the correct, but the correct often isn't correct in your mind based on one’s own experience (personal and in the field) and that is often the conflict.  The "what if style questions or multiple guess" can get one frustrated, and if you become frustrated during an exam well then...  I know this because I have had this experience.  I chose not to study for the exam and only take it to stay eligible (something that will expire after a one year period, meaning you would have to start all over with the requirements post completing your MSW).  Per the Board of Behavioral Sciences you can take the exam as many times as you want until you pass it, so what does that mean?  I missed passing by less than 12 points and remember I didn't study for it.  Most of the content is understood if you have been practicing in the field, and the information that is not its just studying and memorization.  Really your biggest learning objective is to learn and know how to take the exam.  This is not true learning.  Furthermore, once you pass the exam and become licensed you are not responsible to diagnose, that's for the Medical Doctors, and if you are a social worker who is responsible for diagnostic explanation (i.e. for client insurance purposes) often you are reaching out for your DSM IV to consult.  As social workers providing service(s) to those in need, we are responsible to identify their stressors, negative behavior, and dysfunction, understand it, and then treat it.  The way I see it the MSW carries more weight then getting licensed...

I understand that many feel that an LCSW equates to a social workers competency, expertise, and success.  Hopefully I have provided a different understanding that many social workers embrace.  I can't say that I will never be licensed, but I can tell you that I am more than likely to get my license when I believe in it.  I am the LCSW in every way.  I am Listening Compassion Sensitivity Wisdom!  If I am unable to gain opportunities based on not being licensed then I can accept that.  However, it will not be because of my competency, expertise, skill set, or abilities as a social worker.  I got this, I know it, and those that have seen me practice can validate it as well.  With that being said, I am (fully aware of and) excited to continue to learn and grow as a social worker!  I guess there is no mystery behind the fact that I have been a lifelong Raiders football fan, a team run by the late Al Davis who often was interpreted as a Rebel, but honestly a man with high integrity and great respect who did it his way.  Thanks for letting me digress and explain my take.  It’s all good!

 Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing.
Oscar Wilde

October 17, 2011


Can you relate to that feeling when you have pushed your body to a point of...  Let me explain.  This past weekend I hiked up to Mt. Wilson http://tchester.org/sgm/places/mt_wilson.html  with some friends, a wonderful opportunity to disconnect from the city limits, and breathe in the beauty and calmness of nature.  It was a 14 mile hike (round trip) up to the top of Mt. Wilson, with the first 7 miles taking you up up and away.  Hiking over the years has become a very healthy part of my existence.  Fortunately, I live in a state and region where the weather and accessibility is conducive to, something I embrace.  When I venture into a hike it allows me to slow down, breathe, and really connect with nature.  This has not always been the case for me.  I didn't grow up being exposed to hiking.  In fact, I really didn't engage until well into my adult years.  However, once I found this opportunity I have gained so much from.  Whether I am in my homeland (or abroad), exploring on the trails, so far removed from the responsibilities of life, or the challenges that often slow us down from moving forward, I found an escape.  A healthy opportunity for my body, mind, and inner peace.  I have gained so much from hiking, in a manner I feel has allowed me to heal, cope, process, and all and everything that an act as such can provide...

I remember the early days when life didn't seem so right.  I would often escape to the courts, me and my ball, a time that also allowed me to cope, process, and in my heart move forward.  There is a reason that physical activity/exercise is promoted heavily for one's physical and emotional well being.  It has many benefits as we have come to understand.  As a young boy/adolescent I really couldn't fully embrace this.  You go out there and compete, play, try to fit in and be included.  I never really thought "this is good for me?"  If anything it was "man what am I doing, what am I going to do, where do I go from here?"  Years later I may still have that conversation, but now I have the tools and skills to figure it out, and so I do.  I encourage everyone to find that escape (healthy) that will allow you time to release, disconnect, and as I often say "Breathe and Exhale."  Our environment (living) has many opportunities available to be healthy, ones that are not financially consuming.  They are out there right in front of us, you just have to be available and willing to engage.  Today I shared two of them that have helped me much over the years, at two different points in my life and world.  Without these activities I really don't know how I would have been able to move forward, and for that I am always thankful.  Until we meet again be strong, stand up and stay up!

We Must Always Change, Renew, Rejuvenate Ourselves; Otherwise We Harden.
Johann von Goethe

October 14, 2011

Putting It In Place

It is a great feeling when the mind is in sync with the direction and focus of your opportunity.  I truly understand that just because you create something, it does not mean that business all of the sudden falls into your lap. That is just the way it is.  However, this is the time where you prepare, you focus on your objective(s) and goals.  So, this is what I have been doing for the last few and I am pleased with my progress.  Furthermore, when you are able to put it down on paper, defining what it is you are trying to accomplish and share with others, you really have to be clear and concise in a manner that lets others see your mission.  You can have all the passion in the world about something dear to you, but if you can not explain or demonstrate to others "what it is"well then...

I have worked hard over the years to develop skills and abilities that now seem so natural.  That in itself makes the process I am currently in so wonderful.  I reflect back to a time when I was told " you have no options, you can't even get into a community college, what are you going to do with your life?" Or to the one and only time I was fired from a job, a turning point in my life for sure.  It was my first job (not my first first job) after I barely graduated from high school.  I was working in a factory (shipping & receiving) unloading tractor trailers and whatever else I was told.  A bunch of us went out for lunch to a Chinese restaurant that we knew would serve us alcohol (we were all under age) and I was driving.  We were having such a good time at lunch that we figured "lets forget about going back to work and continue this party."  Well, that's what we did... Instead of going back to our responsibility at work (one that we all were not so vested in at the time) we came up with a plan that included more alcohol, and now some drugs, and a house that was safe and available.  I made it home safe after that little adventure (one of my many "nine lives" during those years) but  the next day at work, the first thing upon arrival was a trip to the bosses office.  There weren't many words spoken and I really had nothing to say in my defense, I knew what I did and I deserved the consequence.  That was the first and only time I have ever been fired from a job.  I have had many jobs since those days and I have never forgot that lesson, nearly 24 years ago...

Life experiences (good or not) can really teach you much.  I know for myself that the life experiences that I have encountered and embraced along the way have all taught me, whether I acknowledged it (at the time) or not.  I say this because the learning that I have gained has given me the ability to really break it down, to really help others not only see it through my eyes, but theirs as well.  This is such a wonderful thing that will allow me to really help others in the positions of helping others, the only thing that remains to be seen is if they can hear me?

If You Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail.
John Wooden

October 12, 2011

Can You Stand The Rain?

What it B!  So, as expected their is much to focus on, think about, prepare for, and all that one would expect as they embark into a new arena of opportunity.  I wanted to to say thank you to those that I have heard from.  I truly appreciate the love and support, and yes I understand their will be some challenges, risk, and uncertainty on this path, its all good!  Speaking of it being all good I want to share a part of me that goes back to the 1980's, a time when I felt and saw things in my life that I honestly did not know how I was going to overcome.  It was during it all that I connected real hard with a music group out of Boston that was coming into the scene in a wonderful way.  In 1984 this group released an album that had several songs on it that I just fell in love with, and I have carried (the group) those songs with me for almost 30 years now!  This one song in particular touched me in a way that truly helped me feel the emotion and pain of my experiences at that time, and also allowed me to have another coping tool/mechanism to get through it...

I identified with the emotions of the song in such a manner that I have used this song to cope, breathe, and exhale ever since the first day I heard it.  If you focus on the lyrics of this song you may say " this song is about an intimate relationship" how could it possibly help some one cope with life's most difficult moments.  Well, that's the beauty of the connection to a song.  The song is about a relationship, the search for unconditional love, someone who can handle not only the sunny days, but can you stand the rain?  That in itself will help you understand the message and my connection behind this song.  You see, all I ever wanted was an unconditional love that would hold my hand along the way, and I had to learn how to handle the rainy/stormy days in order to embrace the sunny ones!  I have listened to this song at some of my most challenging moments,whether it was after a death, during a difficult relationship, driving to a job that challenged me to the core, or when I escaped far away from my reality (in the states) through lands that I dreamed about exploring.  After all these years I still listen and escape into this song when times are tough.  As I write today I am listening to this song, but today is different.  I am reflecting on how I was able to move forward all these years, never surrendering to where I chose not to go, I listen with strength in my heart, and a mind that once again says " Can You Stand The Rain?"  Yes I can, I always have...

The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.
Oliver Wendell Holmes