I could not have said it better,
I don’t know about you, but when tragedy strikes, I find it hard to post to social media, or do anything other than bend my heart towards those who are and have been affected. I know, I know…I understand that life goes on, and we cannot allow those things to dictate the way that we live or allow it to create a fear in our lives that impedes our own sanity.
But I am torn because of the virtual disconnect we demonstrate as we “go about our lives.” I think that a person who has any real sense of apathy contemplates those things when stuff like this happens.
But what about those that don’t?
Maybe it’s that as Americans, we are just so far detached from reality, that we cannot comprehend the turmoil that exists daily in homes where domestic violence occurs, in disadvantaged neighborhoods across this nation, or in war torn countries—because if it does not make the media headlines—we do not think about it.
Do we have our heads so far up our own posteriors that we just carry on, as long as those tragedies do not affect us directly?
Are we so far removed from real suffering that we can choose to not acknowledge what is happening, because we are comfortable with a government infrastructure that sustains our personal safety, political liberty, a stable economy, or freedom of expression and religion?
I appreciate the words of Malcom Mudderidge; he says “we have educated ourselves into imbecility.”
I have personally come to a place where I have stopped arguing with people about political views. I’ve stopped debating people about religion, and I have stopped posting about anything remotely political because people are so convinced of themselves—that even in a time where we are taught to tolerate people’s views, opinions, and lifestyle—NO ONE is tolerant to an opposing view, opinion, or lifestyle.
Instead, we continue to post about what we eat, or where we go—or post ridiculous selfies—and then search for the perfect inspirational quote or bible verse to give some meaning or significance to what or how we are living.
BUT—the things that occur around us should move us to be different or to live differently. It should cause us to be a better parent, spouse, or citizen. Those things should cause us to think differently and hold fast to life principles that create positivity and growth. It should cause us to build up our families and communities and reinforce social supports to endure these kinds of difficulties together.
But most importantly, it should cause us to strive to be better people. Because it’s not about religion. It’s not about promoting a political agenda.
It’s about humanity.
Because real change starts with you.
And it starts with me.
If not, then sadly, you are part of the problem.
Be the difference you want to see.
Press play and read.
Many of you may or may not know that in September 2013, I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma Cancer. And let me tell you, that it was a shock to me—because I only found out after falling from my bike during a 17 mile bike ride. Subsequently, after having xrays of my ribs done, a tumor was discovered in my chest. Over the course of a year, I underwent a regiment of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Thankfully, after a year of treatment, I was given a clean bill of health and have been cancer free since 2014. When I share my story, I do not exactly disclose every detail; but the tumor never completely dissipated—and what was left was small residual tissue that needed to be monitored regularly.
Unfortunately, in November 2018, during a routine check-up, my oncologist noticed something peculiar in the Exam. Apparently, the residual tissue that was left in my chest appeared to be growing again.
I do not think that a day passes, when I do not contemplate the possibility of the cancer returning. I have spent a lot of time educating myself on secondary cancers, in order to make the correct life decisions as it pertains to my diet, as well as any on-going treatment. (That really is not the point though) The point that I am trying to make is that once you have experienced something like cancer, you do not view the world the same.
There is not a day that goes by that I do not appreciate waking up to the sound of the annoying alarm clock—because I have the privilege to go to work daily. You will never hear me grumbling about bills, because I have the privilege to still be alive to pay them. Nor will I ever complain that I don’t have the latest iPhone, drive a Mercedes Benz, own a two story house, or have the latest and greatest material possession—because I learned to see and value the beauty of the simple things in life—such as the radiance of a glorious sunrise or sunset. Why? Because I’m alive.
Recently, I have mediated on those things—given the possibility of having cancer again. So over the course of the past few months since having discovered that my tumor was growing, my oncologist ordered many blood tests, scans, and finally a PET scan to determine if in fact the cancer returned. Alone. Silently. I waited. I didn’t disclose this information to anyone. You want to know why?
Because it’s a difficult position to be in—because when you are faced with uncertainty about life—you immediately become vulnerable. And moments that bring instant sobriety and clarity, should cause us to evaluate the things in life that are important. It should compel you to re-evaluate how you are using your personal energy and efforts, and how much emphasis you are putting on things, people, problems, and general situations that have zero value in your life. Because in the end, we must maintain a sobering mindset that life is short and precious.
Today, at approximately 5pm, I sat in the room of the oncologist’s office anxiously waiting for my result. With my heart pounding and my hands perspiring, I sat quietly, just hoping…and with the small faint voice in my head I talked to God. Maybe I was pouring out my heart. Perhaps I was clearing my conscious. Maybe it was my way of coping with the insurmountable pressure of looking cancer in the eyes again. Whatever it was, it made me feel small and weak.
You see, I am writing this today, to remind you that it’s going to be okay.
Not because things are okay, but because it’s life.
And whether or not my cancer returned or not, I know that I need to learn to let things go. I need to develop a discipline in my life to love and forgive. I need to learn to accept failure and allow the process of life to shape me. I need to recognize that we aren’t perfect, and that life is a mixture of failures and victories. It is just part of the process. Today I learned that I do not have cancer and I do not think I have ever had more of an appreciation for life.
I am grateful for the gift of emotional and spiritual sobriety.
I am thankful for friends and family who are ever so present in my life—willing to share my burdens.
I am thankful for new opportunities.
I am thankful for new beginnings.
And I am thankful that I have experienced these lessons—because it has saved my life.
Honestly, I believe that in some way, I experienced death today.
I may not have died of cancer,
but I died today of humility.
Love and peace family.
Holidays are important for many because it is a time stamp for significant events in people’s lives; especially New Year’s Eve. This day represents a figurative opportunity to start afresh and anew. Personally, I struggle a bit with the concept of the New Year. I have sat down time and time again, trying to figure out why?
Thinking back, I remember that every year growing up, my family and I had the tradition of going to the Annual New Year’s Eve Party at the Luera’s house. I have great memories playing with the other kids, laughing, and running around–while the adults enjoyed the festivities. One particular year was different though. My parents had no intention of taking me. Unbeknownst to me, they had invited my friend Fernando over to spend the night, leaving me at home, while they partied the night away. I was probably 11 years old, but I remember being so sad…I was “abandoned on New Year.” Frustrated, I had no intention of ringing in the New Year sitting at home. Nevertheless, there I was staring at the television, as the clock counted down the last minutes of the year. I regrettably watched the Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve Special, as I imagined my parents and siblings having a great time at the party. Then my friend Fernando suggests, “when the clock strikes midnight, we should do a jumping hi-five for the New Year!”
And so it was…one of the most uneventful New Year’s Eve I had ever experienced.
Don’t misinterpret the idea that you can’t be snuggled up on your couch on New Year’s Eve doing nothing? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all.
I only shared that story because I have developed a certain expectation (at a young age) that the New Year is attached to GREAT expectations.
As I thumb through social media this morning, I realize how much it represents to others as well. In fact, we are on virtual overload with inspirational quotes of knowledge and philosophical wisdom. Pages and pages of encouraging thoughts and videos of “year in reviews” and “memories.”
And I sense a sort of whirlwind of “optimism” and “eccentricity” that is a bit overwhelming to the point that I am beginning to question its value and validity.
Consider this for a moment. We as a society have access to a plethora of knowledge and endless philosophies. Everywhere we turn, there are inspirations for self-improvement and personal growth. We have access to travel to exotic locations, and resources to visit elaborate restaurants, try new foods, go to boujee coffee houses, and take pictures at far away destinations with colorful landscapes. We can buy the best clothing, flashy jewelry, name brand purses, and have a countless amount of shoes. We have the best technology, the latest laptops, new cars, and expensive cell phones—and on and on the list goes.
But ask yourself this: Does any of it impress you anymore?
Then I realized that the child that used to get excited to open gifts on Christmas day and that kid who enjoyed celebrating the New Year is not the same person anymore.
While I believe that the excitement of great expectations for the New Year has not changed, what has changed is the expectation that I have for my life.
Some might even suggest that I am overthinking the New Year. But I don’t think so. The goal should simply be to avoid senselessly celebrating new beginnings or to start 2019 intoxicated with emotion.
We should want to step forward in life with a sober mind, thoughtful actions, and purposeful intentions.
We should want everything we do to be thought out. And while we can embrace the adventure of spontaneity—we must not depend on the winds of chance or wishful thinking.
I want to plants seeds of success in my life.
I want to think through the emotions for which I express.
I want to choose the words for which fall from my lips.
Life is too short to just to take emotional risks and chances, simply because “you only have one life to live.”
Yes that is true. But we should not live with no regret, because then we do things that leave us living in regret.
I say make “calculated risks” in your life.
Think through your decisions.
Care for your loved ones now—take them flowers, while their alive and not dead.
Take on that new job.
Go back to school.
Travel to new places.
Eat new foods.
Play with your children.
Laugh when you can.
Cry when you need too.
Ask for forgiveness.
Say “I love you,” if that’s what you feel.
But most importantly,
Own everything you do.
Be in control of your decisions.
Don’t worry about yesterday.
With that being said, I take a deep breath, gently kiss 2018 on the forehead, and with all my heart,
I say goodbye.
Happy New Year.
2019. Ready, Set, Go.
Wouldn’t it be nice if sometimes we could just turn off our feelings whenever we wanted?
It would keep us from experiencing sadness, anger, worry, or frustration. Then we could always live in a state of euphoria, always living happy and carefree; never having to deal with emotions.
Have you ever been so mad that you did something you regretted? Maybe you felt so sad that you had depressing thoughts? It’s easy to be driven by emotion and to let these feelings dictate our actions, and often times it can get us into trouble.
I wish we could turn off our feelings at will, but that just is not reality.
The reality is, we are complex beings with a complex nature. And in order to KNOW what happiness is, we have to understand sadness. In order to KNOW peace, We must at some point experience anxiety.
I know that people have a tendency to operate as if they had no feelings. So they medicate themselves by getting drunk, or going out, they develop inappropriate relationship, or get tattoos (they’ll regret it later). We try everything to erase the emotion we have by finding consolation in these actions. Maybe it will make you feel better—but the relief is temporary.
A lot of us have grown up and never have developed the appropriate mechanisms to cope with emotion.
But I want to tell you today—to NOT turn to things that you will regret later.
Instead, learn to embrace the feelings you have, and allow each emotion to be like different colors to a canvas. Let your life, be a picture full of different colors that will eventually create a masterpiece in the end—with both good and bad experiences.
It’s who you are called to be.
It’s what you are called to experience.
Don’t let it change you for the worse.
Let your emotion teach you.
Develop HEALTHY coping skills with HEALTHY responses.
The word says to “be not anxious or worried about anything, but in everything by prayer with thanksgiving…and the peace of God…will guard over your hearts and your mind…” (Philippians 4:6-7 )
I’ll just leave this right here.
I recently met a man at a Skilled Nursing Facility, after having suffered a massive stroke while exercising at his local gym. I sat and talked to his grieving spouse who stated that he was a millionaire whose family had owned many businesses. In that single moment, she had come to the realization that not a single penny could buy her husband’s health back.
I grieved with her and later took a moment to self-assess my own life in relation to their experience. I wondered, why are we as humans often only grateful for something—when it has been removed?
Recently, my brother was nearly killed riding his bike— when a car failed to see him and as a result, he flipped multiple times, breaking both arms. In a moment of assessment, he stated that he didn’t realize how fortunate he was to have functioning arms until the moment came that they didn’t work. He currently is in recovery, but has no range of motion in his arms or movement in his hands.
It saddens my heart because it is common to not carry gratitude on a daily basis because we are so busy in life. We often grow numb to the simple gratitude for the things that make life so beautiful.
That’s because the experience of hardships have a way of distracting us from what is important. Sometimes the hard times can make us bitter and move us to have every emotion except gratitude.
But today, I find myself recalibrating my heart. Today I want my heart to be overflowing with gratitude for each experience life has given to me as lessons to be better not bitter.
In a season such as Thanksgiving, be encouraged to take time to assess what is, was, and what will be good and bad in our lives—and just…
Be thankful today, tomorrow, and the next day too.
Health. Family. Love. Peace.
Keep it simple my friends.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” Psalms 100:4 ESV
the smell of fresh coffee brewing
the color green in an avocado
And the crisp blue hue of
a clean morning sky
Mesmerizing long drives in pursuit of adventure
the sounds of ocean waves
and the silence of a forest creek
the stillness in the sheets of a cozy bed
the soft rhythm of winds flying a kite
the smell of freshly baked cookies
or the feeling of melting inside the cozy nook of a couch watching a movie
singing a melody to the song of the heart and the echo of guitar strings vibrating it’s meaning
the taste of warm spicy marsala
or the smell of random rose pedals
to the deep rush of an airplane take off
running in the rain or the laughter from a silly joke
the tears from a movie that moved your soul
it’s randomness that makes life beautiful.
If I could tell just tell you…
It’s the little things. That’s life.
A few weeks ago, people all across the country were scrambling to buy lottery tickets. The jackpot was the largest it has ever been in the history of the Lotto–over 1 billion dollars. People jokingly talked about what they would do with the money if they were to ever win; imagining how great their lives would be with unlimited resources.
“What do you have to lose by spending $5–it only takes one ticket to win?”
To be honest, it is not much of a gamble when the stakes are so low.
If you lose, you don’t lose a lot. Right?
But what if I were to tell you that based on the statistics–it was more probable for you to lose, than to win. Some people say that “it is worth the gamble” because the risk is minimal.
But what if you always gambled knowing that you had a losing ticket?
That would be stupid.
But people do it all the time with their lives.
It’s the same thing when people get into relationships. Perhaps a person has a history of behaviors or a pattern of decisions; yet we ignore all the red flags because we enter the commitment thinking it is going to be different this time, somehow. Yet their character and predictable behavior is kind of like playing the lottery with the same losing numbers every time.
I am not really the kind of person that takes gambles on many things, but I have gambled with life decisions in the past.
I don’t really play the lottery. And whether you do or not, is your prerogative.
But if you take anything away from this read—it should be this:
Stop gambling with your life.
The Bible says that “…for whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
In other words, according to the scriptures, there is a payoff when we are willing to “lose our life” (metaphorically speaking).
I think it is testament to the need to change the way we approach life. We must make calculated decisions and own them. We should be encouraged to think through choices and not let emotion dictate our options.
Sometimes we can get disillusioned about life decisions (just like the thought of winning the lottery), with thoughts of grandeur. But the reality is—if you have losing numbers—you’re going to lose.
The only consolation that I have in knowing that I have taken life risks is that I did not commit to continuing to lose.
Those risks, while they have hurt me— have also helped me become who I am today.
I realize now that I did not gamble then because I KNEW that I was playing with losing numbers. But now, those losing numbers have been crumbled up and thrown in the trash.
Come to find that all along, “I won the lotto.”
Maybe not in the way you think. My winning lottery numbers are:
Family. Love. Loyalty. Respect. Peace. Forgiveness. Faith.
All the things that can’t be purchased.
I’ve been addicted to the gym, shopping, shoes, sports, working, money and even, See’s candy. LOL
But according to MentalHelp.net, an addiction is classified as negative when it is “a repeated involvement with a substance or activity…despite a substantial harm…”
In other words, an addiction in the most negative form is a repeated behavior that negatively impacts themselves and everyone around them.
All humor aside, if you have ever known someone addicted to something, there is a great deal of denial and lack of recognition simply because an addict can learn to function despite the adverse affects it causes—and negativity becomes normal. And when a person learns to live with an addiction, one of the hardest things for an addict to do, is come to the realization that they are an “addict.”
While studying in college, one of my assignments was to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. If you have ever attended an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting, the participants will say, hi my name is (insert name), and I am an alcoholic.“
This is an example of an affirmation statement that is said during these types of meetings with the intent to take power and control of one’s addiction.
An addict learns that the pursuit to understand their addiction begins with acknowledgment and the acceptance of who they are.
But we live in an age when people often disconnect themselves from their problem instead of considering that maybe THEY are the problem.
People say “I don’t need drama” or “I’m going to avoid negativity, flee bad relationships, and get rid of toxic people and situations.“
The problem with these kinds of statements—is no where in these statements is an acknowledgment to their contribution to the problem. There is a removal of ownership and avoidance of responsibility by externalizing the causality. There is never an acceptance of a need to change one’s self, but rather a pursuit to change their surroundings. .
Imagine if you have a weed in your garden; no matter how many flower gardens you transplant the weed—It still remains a weed and not a flower.
Let me put into a different context. Maybe you have experienced some turmoil in the workplace. You decide to leave that job, and go to another job where surprisingly you’re experiencing the same problems. Then you leave that job, to find other employment, only to find that you have the same problems. So, despite having changed your environment, nothing is changing, because perhaps YOU are the problem.
The Bible says “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away” (Matthew 5:30). In other words, there is an acknowledgement—and then an action to CUT OFF or remove whatever causes the problem even if it’s CONNECTED TO YOU.
I have made many mistakes in my life.
And I will never blame anyone for my choices. I’ve just learned to CUT OFF the things in my life that have an adverse affect on me—even if it’s my own hand.
I recently celebrated a birthday and my sister jokingly posted a bunch of baby pictures of me on Facebook. It’s hard to describe the feeling I get looking at old baby photos. The funny thing is I was recently scrolling through the photo album on my phone with the intent to erase old pictures and delete unnecessary ones—and I got the same feeling.
Sometimes I do that on purpose because I WANT to ERASE certain things specifically.
And I’m not talking about erasing those blurry photos or the pictures of you with your eyes half closed (LOL). I’m talking about erasing the pictures that possess a memory of who you were with or where you were at; or deleting the pictures that in one snapshot could remind you about what you were doing and how you felt.
I’m talking about erasing memories not pictures. (Insert asterisk here *) Memories are good for the most part—they should serve a purpose. Like family photos. They remind you how fast life moves.
But erasing memories is intentional.
Allow me to put it into a different context. The Bible says that “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing;” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
In other words, when we choose to serve God—it requires an act of relinquishment. Relinquish means “to voluntarily give up.”
When we “give up” certain things—there is always an assurance by God to replace those things for which were sacrificed for the greater good. God knows our heart—and he knows that while we can’t completely wipe away the pain from our past (like abuse, horrible relationships, or childhood trauma), God promises to replenish, renew, and replace those things with “a new thing.”
Recently social media sites like Facebook and Snapchat, have started sending reminders in the form of a “memory” of a post you created or a picture you took in the past.
Sometimes It brings a smile and other times, it brings relief knowing that I am not the same person I was.
One thing is for sure…
The only time I ever want to look back—is to remember where I’ve come from—so I know, where I’m going.
Be blessed. Stay woke.