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!

Success Redefined

As the year quickly draws to an end, it’s only nat­ural to look back and reflect on what went right, what went wrong, and what would we like to see come out of the new year.

As I was reflect­ing on these top­ics over my cup-o-joe this morn­ing, I thought back to a con­ver­sa­tion I had with a psy­chic friend of mine about 12 years ago. He told me that my life would be a series of ups and downs, but by the time I reached 43 years old that I would finally have set­tled into what it was I was meant to do with my life, that I’d be extremely suc­cess­ful and happy.

Those words helped carry me through some pretty dark times over the last 12 years. I would think to myself, “though I may be suf­fer­ing now, there are much bet­ter times to come.”

As these last three years have been pass­ing, I’ve watched my life pass, detached as though watch­ing myself from out­side my own body. Each year worse and worse. Each time think­ing, “Damn, things can’t get any worse than they already are,” only to find that things kept get­ting worse.

Three years ago I was in a lov­ing, long-term rela­tion­ship and doing pretty darn well in all aspects of my life; own­ing a cou­ple of nice cars, a farm with 2 houses and run­ning four busi­nesses in Costa Rica to liv­ing alone and in severe poverty. By severe poverty I mean not hav­ing any money to buy food, pay rent or util­ity bills, etc.

The obvi­ous ques­tions I’ve been con­stantly ask­ing myself are, “Why did this hap­pen to me?” and “Is there a way out of this mess?” While study­ing for my mas­ters degree in Spir­i­tual Psy­chol­ogy I learned that the “why” doesn’t mat­ter. It’s all about how we treat our­selves and oth­ers as we’re going through painful and tough times. But let me tell ya, it ain’t easy!

So this morn­ing I found myself get­ting a lit­tle angry at my friend who told me that by now I would be on the right path, suc­cess­ful and happy. But as I reflected deeper on the sub­ject I had an “Ah ha!” moment. What is the def­i­n­i­tion of happy and successful?

I real­ized that instead of hav­ing tons of employ­ees and headaches and stress and a work­load with no end, that I am liv­ing a stress-free life now. I’m con­nect­ing with the peo­ple around me on a much deeper level. I’m expe­ri­enc­ing the gen­eros­ity of oth­ers instead of feel­ing I need to be the one “tak­ing care” of other people.

Instead of run­ning around stressed out all the time I’m actu­ally enjoy­ing being “in the moment.” I laugh a lot. And when I cry, it’s not because of what I don’t have or what I lost. When I cry it’s because I’m over­whelmed with the beauty of the peo­ple and the world around me.

So per­haps I don’t need to feel dis­ap­pointed because the des­tiny I was wait­ing for didn’t come to fruition. Instead I’m going to embrace the gifts that life has brought me and do my best to be kind to myself and others.