"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

January 27, 2011

Being Available And Present

Sounds pretty easy huh?  Perhaps not...  If I can say that I have always known how to be available and present to others it would not be an accurate statement.  What I do know is that through much experience and learning I have embraced the opportunity to be available and present for those I cross paths with.  Furthermore, these opportunities have provided me with so much to be thankful for, and in turn I believe I have provided the same.  Let me explain one example of  being available and present that has provided me with more than I could of  asked for, and all it took was opening up my heart in a manner that was right without thinking...

Several years ago I was volunteering for a nonprofit prevention and intervention program for at-risk youth.  This program did not have much financial backing, but what it did have were many volunteers with much to give coming straight from the heart.  One in particular was a man that I instantly connected with, it was just right from the start and I honestly felt that we were meant to be friends.  What we didn't know about one another from our personal and life experiences, in time we would get to know each other (like no other person outside of my wife and closest family members) in a way that would lift our heads up while putting strength in our hearts.  You see this man was exposed to a way of life that limited his ability to live free and exercise his liberty.  This way of life kept him away for more than half his life in environments that took much just to survive. Shortly after we met he had to return to this place and we lost contact.  I tried on many occasions to locate his whereabouts, but time after time I wasn't able to.  Until one day when I was at work (at that place discussed in "At The Crossroads") at a time when I was tested beyond desire, he called.  It was by far the highlight of my day and from that point on we have never lost contact.  We began to write and talk by phone on a regular basis and what transpired for both of us was a relationship and support system that allowed each of us to move forward.  One of us was imprisoned in the literal sense, the other in his mind and we helped each other get back on that path of well being, one that we knew would help us reach that life that we always wanted, but were sometimes challenged to grasp.

It gives me great joy to share with you that both of us are moving forward in the right direction.  My friend is now back in our community and is doing wonderful things to help others change for the better.  There are still some challenging days for us both, but something that has not changed is being available and present.  I talk with my friend often, and visit him at his home almost weekly (a place that most would never think about going) and never I have felt more comfortable and connected.  So, in closing let me just say that there are many wonderful life opportunities out there.  They are present, perhaps not always seen or felt but they are out there.  You just have to ask yourself, are you available and present to see them?

January 20, 2011

At The Crossroads

Many of us reach a point in our lives when we are asked " Are you willing to take that risk?"  "Are you willing to move forward with the courage and determination that have always inspired you, but at the same time challenged you to the core?"  Let me explain.  Roughly two years ago I was working for a very large complex system, one that has many goals and objectives in order to get their mission accomplished.  However, as this system is very complex, by nature it has created many obstacles and barriers that can really change the ability and reality in accomplishing these goals and objectives.

At the time of my departure from this workplace I felt it was broken, toxic, and one with a very apathetic culture.  It was hard to be a part of it as I have always been a positive soul, a hard worker with a dedicated and strong work ethic.  This has been given to me by the influence of wonderful role models, mentors, work experiences, learning through the eyes of others, volunteering, higher education, etc.  So, I  have always carried myself with the mindset of not settling for the bare minimum, the status quo, the survival mode when a job is just too hard to bare.  I have always maintained a professional approach that my work mattered, it may not always have been right (another learning opportunity) but I have always tried to give a quality of service that made a difference, and was all about doing the right thing!  What I realized along the way is that I would never be able to meet my goals and expectations (ones that I did not believe were too high or unrealistic) and the environments and culture I was exposed to were killing my spirit, and in turn it was killing me.  So, I walked away from a job that paid me quite well, one that also gave me roughly 2 1/2 months vacation a year and didn't look back.  I had no other employment waiting  for me.  I just needed to breathe and exhale.  I needed to stop running from what I ultimately knew would never change.  I just couldn't be a part of something that I didn't believe in, something that I felt was creating more negative than positive.  I was tired of convincing myself that there would be a better day when as far as I could tell there wasn't going to be.  I left with a positive work history and on my own terms.  I took the high road not making excuses or pointing fingers, and with the idea that I would eventually find another opportunity, one that I could take all of what I had learned (through difficult and challenging  times) and use this in a beneficial way.

I sit here writing away with no regrets of the decision I made.  The hardest part was the guilt I felt of letting down the many individuals who needed my help.  However, what I realized is that if I was not healthy I would be a disservice to those who needed my service.  This was a very difficult predicament to be in, but after much thought, counsel, and what I was witnessing as the effects and affects on my physical and mental well being there was no other choice, no other choice.  So, nearly two years later I have reclaimed a quality of life that has me back on the right path, one that has allowed me again to be present and mindful of the opportunities that await.

If I can give you any words of encouragement may I say that changing for the better is the hardest work that you will ever face.  It takes a tremendous level of commitment, sacrifice, risk, discipline, trust, and many other factors that are so needed in accomplishing this goal.  Furthermore, you can not put a time frame on when this change will happen.  To be well you must commit to every day for the rest of your days. There is no other option.  So, if you want to, you believe you can, and you are ready to commit than guess what?  What are you waiting for?  These words may seem foreign to you at this moment, but when you reach what I have just explained you will understand that that the rewards and opportunities that present themselves are wonderful, truly inspiring!!!

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 processMore about the man behind the mission ⇢

January 17, 2011

Inspired But Tired

You know sometimes the mind runs without consulting the rest of the machine.  I often find myself being inspired by the lessons of life that I have traveled through, complimented by the many learning opportunities that are always around me in this thing we call life.  However, this inspiration can be so intense that the mind just keeps running, reliving the stories that have shaped you, taught you, and ultimately made you so aware of the world and its surroundings.  Although its emotionally powerful to relive it, as a result often wonderful growth and awareness are produced.  If you can relate than perhaps you understand these moments and how they can keep you up at night, and not in a detrimental damaging way (other than not sleeping), but a way that motivates, inspires, and peaks the dreams and goals that you have been holding on to for years.  I have these moments and now having the opportunity to put my words down and out for others to see, feel, and hear I now believe that intensity has a healthy outlet.   An outlet that I hope will lead to an opportunity for myself to really utilize the passion, skills, and true desire that I have to help others help themselves change for the better.

The many work opportunities and life experiences that I have been fortunate to have experienced over many years have taught me well.  However, like many I have felt that my full potential has not been seen in the many stops I have made in the workforce, and if anything I really haven't even started.  I understand that you just don't arrive after a college degree, training program, years in the field, etc.  Sometimes and often you can't put a time frame on opportunity even when you know you have much to give.  You must be patient and trust the process with the understanding that you will get there, you just have to be patient.  So take my example.

Many of us know the stressors associated with working in work environments that don't always encourage the employee to see the human spirit and help others help themselves.  Often, no matter how they spin it, the bottom line is what is important.  The competitiveness associated with chasing success doesn't always take in to account the negative outcomes it produces.  I understand that many see success in a way that benefits themselves.  Unfortunately, often this path is met with ill intention or influenced by outside variables that are disconnected, versus the compassion and love within by doing the right thing.  I get it...  However, it is not something that I have enjoyed being a part of, or I have felt will lead to positive outcomes, ones that can inspire others to change for the better.  Perhaps you may feel that I am living in a false world of hope. I don't see it that way as often the opposite of hopeful is helpless, and no matter how you see the world we are living in as of today their are many that are helpless, and not because they don't have a job you dig? I will leave you with that one to ponder, until we meet again breathe well...

January 16, 2011

The Joy In Others Success

I had the wonderful opportunity last night to witness a friend that I have known for almost 30 years reach his dream.  After many years of the learning opportunities and experiences that one must go through to see their passion become a reality this friend was in that moment.  His passion has been in the food service profession and after 20 years of grinding and finding his way he has opened his own restaurant. Having the opportunity to witness someone (that you have known for many years) reach their ultimate goal is truly inspiring and uplifting.  So, for a moment reflect on this...  It is not always about chasing that paycheck, that fancy car, or the many toys in life that one may feel validate their existence.  Now I am not saying you shouldn't reward yourself and enjoy the hard work and efforts that have allowed you to accumulate.  What I'm saying is that what I witnessed last night was years of sacrifice, risk, determination, and never giving up, and to witness that was more rewarding for myself then all the rest.  Furthermore, my friend is now in a position to employ 65 people and in the times of today when a job is not a guarantee, that in itself is wonderful.  By fulfilling his dream he has now provided an opportunity for others to provide for themselves and families!  http://howiesgrillandbar.com/

As I leave this post may you embrace the opportunities that are right there waiting.  As difficult as life may be at this time it is always a learning opportunity to inspire and empower us to move forward and breathe.  So, if your day is not going well and your taxed beyond what you may feel you can handle, remember tomorrow is a brand new one and embrace that opportunity to learn from yesterday... so that you can live today!

January 15, 2011

Happy Birthday To You!

Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It is hard to believe that it has been over forty years since this great leader left us.  May we all take time to reflect and embrace how better off we are as a nation and people.  Of course it is not a perfect world and we are definitely at a crossroads in our nation in many ways.  However, if you stop for a minute and realize how influential Dr. King's message still is today, some forty years later then perhaps maybe, just maybe for a minute many can stop sweating the small stuff, and appreciate how we have grown as a whole, never perfect but better. 

I often reflect on the courage and strength it took for Dr. King to deliver his message and stand up for what was right as he was immersed into environments and experiences that he knew put his life and well being at risk.  You can talk about it, you can read about it, but that is not something that most could ever imagine doing, and for that I have always admired and respected the man we remember today, he was all about doing the right thing without thinking.  Yes, he had his stuff and was not always straight in the eyes of many, but who is?  If you claim to be perfect and pure in an imperfect world you may just be living in a false world and you know it.  I was fortunate to visit the King Center a few years back in Atlanta, Georgia http://www.thekingcenter.org/  and it was by far the highlight of my trip to Atlanta.  The center was established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King and is the living memorial dedicated to the legacy of the man we reflect on today.  It was a truly insightful and uplifting moment for me, and anyone who has learned from and been inspired by Dr. King's message you must go.  The center is in the heart of Atlanta  and spans several blocks that include the shotgun houses directly across from the childhood home of Dr. King, the original Ebenezer Baptist Church, and many other sites that will always carry on Dr. King's spirit and life's work!

As we remember a man that changed the quality of life for many, may we celebrate progress and opportunity, while we continue to move forward with the kind of intention, purpose, and action that Dr.King would be proud of!

January 14, 2011

Here We Go...

I ask you to be patient with me as I navigate through this process and I assure you that my posts will grow over time.  I am rather new to putting it out there in this forum, but at this stage in my life I feel I have something to give and I truly embrace the opportunity to share this with others. Stay tuned I shall return but before I go I will leave you with this... Life is full of wonderful opportunities, not always seen or felt but always present. It is what you do we these opportunities that will shape your way.