To Give or Not to Give?

Scott and Miquel talking to homeless elderly man

Espe­cially because I work with home­less youth and adults, I’m approached con­stantly by peo­ple who are ask­ing for help. Some peo­ple would say they are “begging.”

Back many years ago, I used to do every­thing I could ener­get­i­cally to pre­tend these “beg­gars” were not there. I’d cer­tainly never make eye con­tact with them. And it was the rare occa­sion that I’d give them any help or money.

Then as I matured, I learned that these folks — all of them — are just other Divine Beings hav­ing a Human Expe­ri­ence. Their worth and value are no less, nor more than my own.

Once I came to that real­iza­tion, I had to ask myself what my role and respon­si­bil­ity I have as a fel­low human being to lend a hand.

Do I help everyone?

Do I screen them first, to see if they “deserve” my help?

What if they are going to just buy drugs or alcohol?

Or if I give them clothes, what if they sell them to buy drugs or alcohol?

Here is a quote from Pope Fran­cis as it appeared in America:The Jesuit Review magazine:

Peo­ple who worry about how the money might be spent should ask them­selves what guilty plea­sures they are secretly spend­ing money on, Pope Fran­cis said.

There are many excuses” to jus­tify why one does not lend a hand when asked by a per­son beg­ging on the street, he said. Some may think, “‘I give money and he just spends it on a glass of wine!’” Fran­cis said.

But, he joked, a “glass of wine is his only hap­pi­ness in life!”

Giv­ing some­thing to some­one in need “is always right,” the pope said, adding that it should be done with respect and com­pas­sion because “toss­ing money and not look­ing in [their] eyes is not a Chris­t­ian” way of behav­ing, he said.

Scott talking to homeless youthOf course, I don’t have all the answers. We all have to fig­ure out the answers to these ques­tions ourselves.

When I go on the streets to deliver food, cloth­ing, blan­kets and toi­letries to home­less youth, I don’t bring much money. When I’m asked on those occa­sions, inevitably by sev­eral youth and adults, I apol­o­gize and offer them what I have. I take time to lis­ten, smile, and share with them. And to give them a hug.

I don’t eat out very often, but when I do, if I have left­overs, I take them and give them to some­one on the street whom I know is hungry.

Some­times we as a non­profit have paid for the hotel costs for one night for some of the youth. Just so they can get a hot shower and rest with­out fear of hav­ing their few per­sonal belong­ings stolen.

Homeless Man San Jose Costa RicaAnd yes, I do give cash to some peo­ple some­times. And I don’t worry about how they spend it. I give it with all my heart and all my love and with the best of inten­tions. What they do with it after that, is their own business.

One thing is really clear. I’m damn lucky. There aren’t any of the kids or even adults I meet who really want to be liv­ing on the street, always depen­dent on other peo­ple to be able to eat and get by. Shit hap­pens. Today I have a place to sleep. I have food. But what about tomorrow?

Bot­tom line is this. I want to rec­og­nize them and see them and treat them as I want to be treated and seen by other peo­ple. Life is good. The abun­dance of the Uni­verse is infi­nite. I know if I share what I have, that it comes back to me multi-fold.

Lots of peo­ple I know think that is crap. They feel they have to hold onto every­thing they have and not share, for fear that what they have will dry up and they’ll be “suf­fer­ing.” That to me is sad. It implies that those in need are not worthy.

What are your thoughts, feel­ings and actions when it comes to help­ing oth­ers in need? Do you feel that they “deserve” your help?

 

Crossroad — AGAIN!?

groundhogAll of us go through major tran­si­tions at least a few times in our lives. We find our­selves at a cross­road, hav­ing to make life-altering deci­sions. These kinds of deci­sions are pretty tough. There can be a lot of pres­sure try­ing to make the “right” deci­sion, along with fear about what could hap­pen if the “wrong” deci­sion is made.

I’ve found myself at this <bleep­ing> cross­road so many times over the last few years that I’m begin­ning to feel my life is like the ‘93 movie Ground­hog Day with Bill Mur­ray. When I was recently laid off from my last job, I thought, “Holy crap. Not again!” My ini­tial reac­tion brought to sur­face all kinds of yucky emo­tions and neg­a­tive self-talk, such as “You’re such a loser! How old are you — and you still can’t fig­ure things out for yourself?”

The extra pres­sure I’m putting on myself doesn’t help. You see, I was using my job to fund my “real” work, help­ing miss­ing, home­less & exploited chil­dren on the streets of Costa Rica with the Casa Mila­gro Foun­da­tion. It’s an over­whelm­ing expe­ri­ence, and has taken years of work for us to get where we are. My biggest fear, there­fore, has been that things would crum­ble and chil­dren would suf­fer — all because of me. (Note the mar­tyr attitude!)

Of course that’s not the truth. Noth­ing is “my fault.” We all do the best we can, and things are just the way they are. No amount of self-loathing will help any­one. And life goes on.

Instead, I’m look­ing at this sit­u­a­tion as an oppor­tu­nity. That’s why I’m shar­ing it with you. In case you, too, find your­self at a cross­road, per­haps we can look at things from a dif­fer­ent perspective:

Take time to get back on track. After time, in our busy lives, we get “off track” with so much. Have you been exer­cis­ing, eat­ing well and tak­ing good care of your­self? What is out of bal­ance in your life at this moment? Per­haps this is a good time to make course corrections.

Con­grat­u­late your­self for your suc­cesses! Instead of feel­ing sorry for your­self, take time to reflect on all your suc­cesses and wins from the past. How have you grown? What skills have you devel­oped? And what did you learn about your­self that you can apply toward mak­ing the best next move forward?

Think BIG! Could a dras­tic change be pos­si­ble and pos­i­tive in your life right now? Depend­ing on your per­sonal and fam­ily sit­u­a­tion, that may not be appro­pri­ate. But if it’s within the realm of possibility…why not allow your­self to dream and come up with mind-blowing and excit­ing options? What would get you really excited about life and help you spread your wings?

Remem­ber you are not alone. We often for­get that help is at our fin­ger­tips. If you can’t afford, or don’t want to con­sider a life coach (such as myself!), then there are groups of peo­ple around the world who are will­ing to lend a hand. Con­sider the inno­v­a­tive com­mu­nity group, Live Your Leg­end. Who knows? Maybe in addi­tion to meet­ing some new friends, and get­ting some great (free) sup­port and advice, you might make a great busi­ness connection!

Point being — change can be good. And it all depends on your atti­tude and the way you treat your­self (and oth­ers) while you move through these changes. Best of luck and many wishes for a bril­liant 2017!

Getting Unstuck

unstuckJust Do It!” is such great advice. Thank you, Nike. But why isn’t it easy to “just do it?”

I recently made a big change. I thought about it and almost did it many times over the last few years. But I just couldn’t get myself all  the way there, until recently. What was hold­ing me back?

What is it that ever holds us back? Some­times I just felt “stuck” in limbo: Not really being con­nected to what I was doing, yet not capa­ble of mov­ing for­ward into what I really wanted to be doing.

I finally made that change and have real­ized that it was much eas­ier than I ever thought imag­in­able. Duh. Isn’t that almost always the case?

The answer is not all that sim­ple, nor is it the same answer for every­one. For some, it’s a lack of con­fi­dence or just fear that things won’t work out. For oth­ers it’s more prag­matic: per­haps not being able to orga­nize oneself.

Here are a few tips you might find help­ful if you’re try­ing to get unstuck:

  1. Be clear about what you really want: It’s hard to really make a change if you’re not sure exactly how you want things to turn out. It’s always a good thing to write down the details of what you want your end result to look and feel like. Don’t hold back. Dream big! Just make the out­come some­thing plau­si­ble. You can make it even more clear by find­ing some pic­tures to go with your writ­ten words. Per­haps print and post your descrip­tion some­where you’ll see it daily, right along­side the pic­tures. The more you see it and ground your­self in this new real­ity, the more “real” it will seem to you and the more you’ll nat­u­rally be drawn into it.

  2. Take one step at a time: What are some easy steps you can take to get the ball rolling? Per­haps you can’t make the change overnight, but what is some­thing you can you do today to move for­ward with your plan?

  3. Build in some sup­port: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Are there peo­ple who might be sup­port­ive? Why not sur­round your­self with peo­ple who can be help­ful and sup­port­ive of your process?

  4. Be gen­tle with your­self: Life’s all about the jour­ney, not the des­ti­na­tion! Enjoy the process and be kind to your­self as you move for­ward. Build in lit­tle “rewards” for your­self as you meet cer­tain steps along the way. Have fun with it!

Some peo­ple find it use­ful to have a lit­tle help along the way. If you are inter­ested in find­ing out what coach­ing can do for you, please con­tact me today. I’d be happy to give you a free ses­sion and to talk about how I might be able to sup­port you in your journey!

What Inspires You?

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 12.51.46 PMI hon­estly don’t know why I am not work­ing in the enter­tain­ment indus­try. I can’t tell you how much I love music, dance, and per­for­mances. I’m one of those clos­eted “America’s Got Tal­ent” and “The Voice” watch­ers. I think it’s kind of embar­rass­ing and wouldn’t really talk about it with any­one, yet I just go crazy for those kinds of shows.

Even more embar­rass­ing is the fact that I always find myself cry­ing while watch­ing! What the heck is that all about? After a lot of time ana­lyz­ing this nutty phe­nom­e­non, I’ve come to the con­clu­sion that I feel incred­i­bly inspired by peo­ple who have found such beau­ti­ful ways of express­ing themselves.

So I’ve decided to use this inspi­ra­tion to help myself out. After work­ing sev­eral hours this morn­ing, I found myself a bit ‘stuck’ and frus­trated. I decided to take a break and watch a few audi­tions of the most recent “The Voice” episode.

I found it very help­ful to unplug from my work and to watch some­one else’s cre­ativ­ity and beauty. A cou­ple of con­tes­tants in par­tic­u­lar, John Mar­tin and Jessie Pitts, blew me away.

I was then able to return to work feel­ing much more pos­i­tive and inspired. Though I’m not much of a singer, I rec­og­nize that I am great at what I do, and I can see my own beauty being reflected back to me from oth­ers who inspire me.

If you are also feel­ing a bit frus­trated or stuck, per­haps spend­ing some time watch­ing or meet­ing with some­one inspi­ra­tional would help you too. And obvi­ously, it doesn’t have to be a con­tes­tant on a cheesy TV show!

If that doesn’t work for you, feel free to con­tact me for some one-on-one help!

Gratitude

gratitude3

Not that I have any solu­tions to the world’s prob­lems, but I hon­estly feel that Grat­i­tude is under appre­ci­ated. If peo­ple were more grate­ful for what they have, they’d be less wor­ried about what other peo­ple have and not be think­ing so much how “unfair” it is that they don’t have these things as well.

What’s really at the heart of most fights, bad feel­ings, bro­ken rela­tion­ships and wars? Think about it. A seri­ous lack of gratitude!

I’ve had the amaz­ing oppor­tu­nity to wel­come and get to know thou­sands of vis­i­tors to Costa Rica over the last decade. It’s hard to put into words how I see peo­ple grow from their expe­ri­ences. One thing I can say for sure though is that most peo­ple seem to move into a very appre­cia­tive space for what they have in their lives after see­ing how much more they have than many oth­ers around the world.

And hav­ing lived in a devel­op­ing nation for a decade and not hav­ing had all the crea­ture com­forts one comes to expect in other parts of the word, I’ve learned a lot about just being con­tent and thank­ful for the beauty around me and the few things I have.

There is a viral video going back around these days again by Ted.com. It’s part of a talk about grat­i­tude given by pho­tog­ra­pher Louie Schwartzberg. If you’ve not seen it, trust me, it’s worth your ten min­utes. It’s a great reminder of how pre­cious life is.

gratitudeI’m not exag­ger­at­ing when I say that every day I take a few moments to close my eyes, get quiet, smile and to feel my grat­i­tude through­out my body. I think, “Wow. I’m here today. I’m alive. I’m not suf­fer­ing. My fam­ily is okay. I have food to eat. I don’t know what tomor­row will bring. But for now, I’m grate­ful for everything!”

I hope you’ll take a moment to con­sider what you have to be grate­ful for today. Life is short. Enjoy the hell out of it!

 

Cuddling

cuddly kittenI think I chose today’s sub­ject because I’m in a cold part of the world and can’t seem to keep warm. Even inside. I guess my body is just way too used to the Tropics.

But some­how being cold made me think about cud­dling. Hav­ing been sin­gle now for a few years, cud­dling is some­thing I’ve not done for a long time. And I miss it!

Accord­ing to  WikiHow:

Cud­dling is one of the best means of phys­i­cal affec­tion; it gar­ners close­ness, shows affec­tion, and increases hap­pi­ness. Cud­dling releases a hor­mone which reduces stress and anx­i­ety, mean­ing that it increases your men­tal well being as well. If you’ve strayed away from cud­dling or aren’t sure what the best moves to use are, worry no more! Cud­dling is easy and fun with a lit­tle know-how.”

And for those per­fec­tion­ists among us, you can even read about the best posi­tions and see them ranked from best to worst!

I even learned about some­thing new myself when research­ing the sub­ject this morn­ing. There are such things as Cud­dle Par­ties. That could be fun!

gay cuddlersNo mat­ter what your take is on cud­dling — or what fla­vor of cud­dling you like the best, I think you’d have to admit that it helps to make us feel com­fort­able, loved, pro­tected, and warm. And fur­ther­more, accord­ing to Shape, it’s good for your health!

I hope this inspires you to have a cud­dly week!

Seeing the Light

lightThe phrase, “See­ing the light,” has been used in many ways. I often hear it used in ref­er­ence to a per­son mov­ing from being “in the dark” about some­thing, to a place of understanding.

Today I’d like to have you think about those words in a dif­fer­ent way. Instead of “see­ing the light” about a par­tic­u­lar sub­ject, I’d like to talk about it in terms of “See­ing the Light” which all of us carry within ourselves.

Though all of us come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds, expe­ri­ences and per­haps have very dif­fer­ent beliefs, I’m will­ing to bet that most of us can agree that there is some­thing spe­cial about every human being. Some, of course, call it a “Soul” or oth­ers per­haps a “Spirit,” an “Essence” or merely a “Light.”

I sup­pose I’ve always know that to be true. How­ever, that doesn’t mean I con­sciously knew it. One of the best exam­ples I can think to give you is how I would treat cer­tain peo­ple with­out even know­ing what I was doing.

Espe­cially when I lived in places such as NYC, San Fran­cisco or other large cities, I used to pass home­less peo­ple and peo­ple with major dis­abil­i­ties or defor­ma­tions all the time. I found myself basi­cally shut­ting down, look­ing away, hold­ing my breath, and hop­ing that I wouldn’t have any inter­ac­tion with them.

But after tak­ing some time to con­sciously remind myself that all of us are equally amaz­ing and that all of us have that “Light” inside of us, I started to pur­posely look for that light. So instead of hold­ing my breath and look­ing away, I found myself look­ing into the eyes of other peo­ple and pur­posely SEEING them and their light. Oth­ers refer to it as their “Lov­ing Essence.”

BJckNbJCcAE-lHYBy doing this, I found that I was also tak­ing time to rec­og­nize and appre­ci­ate the Light inside myself. The act of doing this also brought me to a place of com­pas­sion as well. It’s truly a pow­er­ful exercise.

I encour­age you to try this for your­self today. It doesn’t have to be with a home­less per­son or some­one with a dis­abil­ity. It could be any­one. Or you might choose to do this with every­one you run into today. I find it espe­cially hum­bling when I look for that Light in the eyes and being of a per­son who has a ten­dency to irri­tate me or push my buttons.

You might even find it dif­fi­cult to do at first. But I bet you’ll that if you really set the inten­tion to see and honor that Light in oth­ers, you’ll have some inter­est­ing feel­ings come up. Maybe even a warm and fuzzy feeling!

Remem­ber, com­mu­ni­ca­tion does not always require that words are exchanged. Best of luck!

Silence

self-solitude-II-900x1800-1024x512

Silence is one of the most absolutely pow­er­ful things I’ve expe­ri­enced in my life. So then what is it about silence that is so dif­fi­cult for us to handle?

I’ve had a lot of expe­ri­ence with silence, yet even I have a hard time with it quite often. If I sit down, close my eyes and get quiet, it’s not long before I have the desire to jump up out of my chair to “do” something.

When I quiet myself down, thoughts come flood­ing into my mind. Review­ing what I did right or wrong. Plan­ning what I’m going to do later. Real­iz­ing things I for­got to do. Per­haps hear­ing the “ding” of my phone, let­ting me know I have a new email to check.

I have to lit­er­ally stop myself as thoughts are enter­ing to say to myself, “No. You can deal with that later. For now, just relax.” And as I say that to myself, I imag­ine that thought as a book that I’m stack­ing up beside my chair. I give myself per­mis­sion to let go of it for now.

I love to feel the energy in my body as I get quiet. I can lit­er­ally feel phys­i­cal changes in my body. My mus­cles relax. I feel a slight tin­gling through­out my body. I some­how feel much lighter. If I find it hard to start relax­ing, I breath in through my mouth and out through my nose, at an increas­ingly slower and more shal­low rate.

Even when I truly am “busy” and can’t find time, I attempt to fit in at least 10 min­utes of silence. If I do it in the morn­ing, I find myself approach­ing my entire day with a much more calm and grounded man­ner. It lit­er­ally sets the tone for my day.

On the very few occa­sions I’m cre­ate for myself to go, I love to attend the wor­ship ser­vice of the Quak­ers. At least when I’ve gone, their “ser­vice” was com­prised of an hour of silence. If you think 10 min­utes is a chal­lenge to remain silent, try an hour!

Though it’s “just” an hour out of my day, it’s one of the most heal­ing expe­ri­ences I can give myself. The effects are pro­found and long-lasting.

I encour­age you to at least give silence a try. Do it now. Why wait? Just shut your com­puter and phone off. The world won’t end in 10 min­utes. Get your­self in a place with­out dis­trac­tions and give your­self this gift of silence.

We have a lot going on in our lives. Too much, really. See what silence might do to help keep things in balance!

Creating the Future you Want

futureSome­times it takes me a while to learn some­thing. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a lit­tle thick-headed, or if it’s because I’m stub­born — or per­haps both!

It’s sort of like the dif­fer­ence between know­ing that eat­ing healthy and exer­cise will help me feel and look great — and actu­ally DOING IT.

One of the most pow­er­ful tools I’ve learned to use is goal-setting. We all know its impor­tance; we all know it works. But how many of us actu­ally sit down and DO IT?

To make it more excit­ing and to encour­age myself to do it this week, I decided to take a dif­fer­ent approach. Instead of “set­ting goals,” I decided to “sculpt my per­fect life.”

I didn’t actu­ally use a lot of spe­cific detail. Instead I closed my eyes and got really clear about how I want to FEEL and how I want to EXPERIENCE my life.

I used first per­son, present tense lan­guag­ing to help train my mind (and soul). Instead of say­ing, “I would like to earn more money” I said, “I am grate­ful for the steady stream of income that I receive, which takes care of my needs and gives me plenty more for sav­ings and for fun!”

Writ­ing in this man­ner to me is like scream­ing out to the Uni­verse and let­ting it be known that this is what I want. Not only is it what I want, it’s some­thing SO impor­tant and real to me that I can close my eyes and FEEL it.

It’s a proven fact. Our brains do not know the dif­fer­ence between fic­tion and real­ity. For instance, if you sit back, close your eyes and think back to a time you were incred­i­bly happy, I’m sure you’ll be filled with euphoric and amaz­ing feel­ings of happiness.

When some peo­ple watch scary movies, they find their bod­ies filled with ten­sion, ner­vous­ness and get scared to even go into their dark bed­rooms after­ward. Some­thing in their brain doesn’t real­ize that the movie was not reality.

I take advan­tage of this lit­tle “fault” of our brain to train it to see MY real­ity. In this way I can sculpt out what it is I want to expe­ri­ence. I don’t know exactly how or why, but it seems that when this process is put into place, the Uni­verse con­spires with me to make it happen.

So why do I pro­cras­ti­nate in begin­ning this process? I guess I’m just human! (Or is it that deep down I don’t believe I deserve what I want? — Stay tuned for more on this sub­ject another day!)

Here below I have shared with you a copy of what I wrote today (http://tinyurl.com/ml55xc3). I have taped it by my mir­ror and intend to review it (and feel it) every day. If there are some things you would like to expe­ri­ence dif­fer­ently in your life, I encour­age you to cre­ate your own list.

If you think you would like some assis­tance in sculpt­ing out your own per­fect life, please don’t hes­i­tate to con­tact me. I’d be hon­ored to help!

I Never Promised You a Rosegarden

no fairThe two most mem­o­rable lines I can remem­ber from my mother grow­ing up were, “Life’s not fair” and “I never promised you a rose gar­den.” It would infu­ri­ate me to no end when she would recite either to me. I hon­estly felt that jus­tice must pre­vail in our demo­c­ra­tic soci­ety. 

I remem­ber a spe­cific instance in Junior High when I pissed off a teacher. (Admit­tedly, I was a bit of a wiseguy.) I don’t remem­ber exactly what I said to her on this par­tic­u­lar occa­sion, but she really blew her top. She was so angry with me that she came up behind me while I was at my locker, put her scrag­gly hands around my neck and squeezed. Hard. Then she brought me to the headmaster’s office and had me sus­pended. I just couldn’t believe it! I might have made her angry, but how is it that I get pun­ished when she is the one who phys­i­cally attacked me?

Or take the inci­dent with the per­vert gym teacher in the same catholic school. I had just changed out of my gym clothes and was lined up out­side the locker room, wait­ing for the rest of the group so we could be dis­missed to our next class. The teacher lit­er­ally grabbed me and pushed me into the girls locker room, as he laughs his ass off. Sus­pended again. I did noth­ing wrong, yet I get sus­pended — and this guy can get his rocks off check­ing out the girls chang­ing at my expense. Not fair!

These, of course, are just juve­nile exam­ples. Our lives are full of these types of exam­ples. As we grow older, often these injus­tices are much harder to swallow.

Let’s say, for example’s sake, you are wronged by some­one. Say it’s more than obvi­ous you are right and the other per­son is wrong. Say you have lots of evi­dence and you bring them to court. Then let’s say that the judge finds them inno­cent, and you get stuck not only los­ing the case — but also pay­ing legal fees. Not fair, right? Well, this kind of thing hap­pens every day.

Or worse yet. You lose your child to can­cer. Your spouse is mur­dered. The list is endless.

The ques­tion is, “What can we do about it?

I’ve had a lot of prac­tice with this one. I’ve tried out many types of responses. In the end, there is usu­ally noth­ing that can be done. After all, “Life’s not fair!”

Instead what I have found to work for me is to let it go and to move on. Easy to do? HELL NO! But what’s the alter­na­tive? To fes­ter in our own misery?

As incred­i­bly painful as these sit­u­a­tions can be, they are also, unde­ni­ably, oppor­tu­ni­ties for us to grow and to learn. Each time we are con­fronted with an “injus­tice,” we are given the chance to accept full respon­si­bil­ity for how we respond emo­tion­ally. The act of accept­ing respon­si­bil­ity is a lov­ing action we take toward ourselves.

When we don’t accept respon­si­bil­ity, we put all the blame on oth­ers and we make our­selves the “vic­tim.” Con­versely, accept­ing respon­si­bil­ity is a way to empower ourselves.

I’ve learned to replace my mom’s line, “Life’s not fair” with my own line, “It’s not good; it’s not bad; it’s just the way it is.”

In grad school we would hear all the time,“This — or some­thing greater — for the high­est good of all con­cerned.” I found it to be a use­ful phrase to help pull me back out of self-victimization and back into tak­ing per­sonal responsibility.

I know my mom didn’t ever promise me a rose gar­den. But at least I know that I have the abil­ity to make my own.