Kindness has no Season
SEASONS GREETINGS to All!! During these Times we should all take a few moments to reflect on how our lives have unfolded, then let it all go; the good, the bad and the ugly. Of course, memories are what they are and we cannot forget. Still, from Time to Time, it is always nice to reminisce about the good Times. For now, and from Now on, we can and should focus on making new memories with the belief and expectation that Life can always be better in Times to come; That we can "be" better.
What we “do” with our lives from Now on is where the focus should be. It may help that we “be” mindful of the reality that,“Now”is that constant instant between the Past and the Future, and that it is the only Time we live and the only Time we can do something about almost anything”. Yes. Life is a “doing” proposition fueled by our thoughts and beliefs giving us a great degree of control in terms of what we choose to “do”. Yes. Life can always be better, and so can we, be better humans. On the other hand, we do not have any control of Time and, as obvious as this may be, too often we are not mindful of it. Perhaps this is so because we do not "get" Time. We are born in it.
Now, what do we do with this Life we are living during Time that elapses as it does? This is the season of giving and sharing and helping, and being kind to everyone. Most of us are like this all year long and we “do” what we do for goodness sake, and nothing more. We don’t question the people we are kind to. When we donate blood, we do not ask or are concerned who the recipient will be. What they believe, their faith, their race or their color does not factor into our act of kindness to give. It is the same when we donate to our favorite charities. We only know that they are humans like us, and it is all that matters. So, why should these Times be different? We are still "being" human being kind to humans. It should not matter what anyone believes these Times mean, what they name it, and why they celebrate. We should accept each other’s truth and behave with respect, consideration, and without judgment. "Being" human, we can all "be" happy together this season and beyond.
Acts of kindness are ways by which we celebrate Life all year long ; Human Life. So, in this spirit, let us continue to love and care and be kind for goodness sake. Let’ us do those things that make a positive difference in our lives and in the lives of our fellow humans. Doing anything positive for someone else makes a positive difference all around. It is like spreading a contagious “Ease”. It does not have to be anything spectacular. Of course, gift-giving during these Times is traditional and spreads good-will and harmony in the world, and that's a good thing. Still, telling someone, “I love you” or “I’m here if you need to talk", bringing them a drink of water, a chair to sit on or a pillow to lay on, are gifts nonetheless that only require being alive and "being" kind. "Be" mindful that any Time is the best Time, all the time, to “be” kind.
During this season, and in this same spirit, let us remember and extend good will, care and help to the victims of 2017 hurricanes. They are all in need of kindness even while they are being kind to each other as they survive as best they can. I have family in the U.S. Virgin Islands and in Puerto Rico and I am sure some of you reading this do to.
Remember, “Now” is that constant instant that never stops and we can’t know when we will have another opportunity to be kind and spread "good” throughout the world. I say this because, “Too many of us take tomorrow for granted, not realizing there is no guarantee, that the Sun again will rise, or that we may awake from sleep”.
We don’t have to wait for a new year to start a new resolution to "be" kind. “Now” is the only Time there is to “be” the best human you can be. It's Now O' Clock. Why not start Now?
The reality “is”, that we do not run out of the inexhaustible element that is Time, and because we are born in it, we simply run out of Life. Furthermore, Time does not care what you call or name it, because it is just a canvas. It is why we should focus more on reasons to celebrate Life; Human life. Who I am, is not my name. Who I am, is what I believe and how I behave toward my fellow humans. Our behavior is reflected and, at the same time, displayed on the canvas of Time for the world to see and be terrified or inspired by. The contagious "Ease" of "being" kind is easily spread by our behavior. It stamps out diseases like Apathy, Hate, Fear and Distrust.
Whether you have faith in the unknowable or you don’t, there is no good reason to judge. Your belief belongs to you and to those who share it. The same consideration should be granted to each and every human regardless of their belief. After all, we're talking about the unknowable to which any answer as to whose belief is right or wrong may only be revealed on the other side of Time. Meanwhile, and on this side, as we have life, the least we should do is behave with Kindness, Respect and Consideration, if only for goodness sake. Celebrate your own life and share in the celebration with others celebrating theirs. We all know that “being" kind brings Peace, Joy, Harmony and Love; streams that all lead to Happiness. Now, isn’t this what we all are searching for? “Of course it is”. The beauty of it though, is that Happiness has no gender, no race, no color and no creed. It is always available for all to experience and enjoy. “Being” happy is what Life is ultimately about. Look no further and pay attention to the season greetings we extend to each other, irrespective of name. They are acts of kindness and have one very special and beautiful thing in common:THEY ALL WISH HAPPINESS. This gives me hope and, I'm sure, makes God smile.
Merry Christmas. Feliz Navidad, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Life in Time.
Mindfulness; A Human Approach
Copyright © William Garcia
Living on the Edge of Time
“The ultimate Balance"
I have read several articles about “Finding Balance” in our lives. The articles are interesting and well-intended, and there are those for whom the information is helpful. I find no wrong or right approach in any of the articles. However, I appreciate the information as being valuable contributions to the total body of knowledge and discussion on the subject and that’s a good thing.
I believe that when considering changes in life or life style as a way to make life better, it is a good idea to bring into focus “Being” in Time. Let’s start with the reality that the present moment lasts but an instant, which is PRECISELY the duration of Life itself. In other words, we are “Always” at a point in Time we have NEVER been alive before. That point is the constant instant between the past and the future; we know as the Present. At best, a search for balance is a “moving “proposition since the Present moment is constantly advancing. Questions about what are a simultaneous experience (life in time), involve the thoughts we entertain as we remember the Past or imagine the Future while being in the Present. I call this this “Thought-Surfing” and it may be what is suggestive about a concept of balance we should have during our lives.
Today, more than ever before, we’re constantly distracted and moving so fast, we keep missing the Present; we keep missing the Now. Have you ever felt dizzy as in being spun around and around then losing your balance? Well, we are similarly affected by Modernity, but in an insidious way. It is not easy to live a “balanced life” with all the distractions in a modern world that is seemingly spinning out of control and at speeds that only continue to increase.
Nevertheless and whether you realize it or not, you have control. You don’t have to keep up with anybody or anything. Still, chances are that because of the strong influences of modernity, trying to live at your own pace only adds to the stress. Nevertheless, the reality is that you can live at your own pace. The question is, “do you really want to”? Make the commitment to choose your own pace and where you are not in total control, pace yourself as best you can. I use the word “choose” because more times than not a choice is available to us. You don’t have to go with the flow. Preferably, you can flow with your own “Go”. This is just another way of saying, “live at your own pace”.
Remember, we live our “Entire” life in the “Present” which always equals the total sum of all our experiences lived up until this moment. There is only one Time (Now O’ Clock) and only one Life, making us “Whole” in the Now. Only you live in your skin and only you see your life through your eyes and what matters is that your life makes sense to you; not to someone else. Life is not a “One view fits all” experience”.
I am of the mind that the only true “Balance” there is, is in the simultaneous occurrence of Life in Time; It is on this razor thin edge that we live “All” the time. I believe that it would be helpful if we were more mindful of this truth; this reality. We should pay attention to our present reality as we pause for a moment from time to time, stop Thought-Surfing, select channel “Now” and be fully aware of our “Being” in our own presence. A lot of people select and watch The Life Time channel, sports and movies about other people we don’t even know. Take some time to watch your own Life channel. At the least, here you are “Always” the producer, director and the star.
Modern life is a constant torrent of distractions and trying to keep up is impossible. This is not an accident. This is so by design and it may be why it would seem that we cannot help ourselves when it comes to “Thought-Surfing”. But, this is a consequence of living a hurried and distracted life. It is no wonder why, at the end of the day, we’re so stressed, exhausted and feeling like our bodies just log off instead of shutting down. Ask yourself, “to what end and at what expense”? Trying to keep up can only be at the expense of the Present; your ENTIRE life. I remind you that we are always living our entire lives in the Present; not parts or phases of it. By the way, we also die in the Present.
I define what balance is in my own life and I just live accordingly. I know that there is not, there never was and there never will be anyone better than me at being “Me”. I do not have to use someone else’s formula. I have my own and it is unique to me. When they were small, I gave my children the following advice, “You don’t have to be one of “Them”. There is nothing wrong with being one of “You”. I know what I must to do to make sense of my own life and that’s simply doing what I need to do. Alternatively, I put off what I can, realizing that I will not be able to do all I want or need to do even if I lived a thousand years. There will ALWAYS be things left undone regardless of how much I do or how long I live. This is what the ultimate balance means to me; always living on the edge of Time and moving forward from this moment on. Still, I try to remain mindful that in the end, the reality is that we do not run out of Time; we simply run out of Life.
I leave you with a couple of quotes.
Purpose and Passion:
Life and Time are two parallel lines on a single page, where stories of Life have endings; where Time does not. Let your story be told as one live with Purpose and Passion”.
Yes. We live one moment at a time, in “Time”. But we do so, in one continuous “Now”. Realize and appreciate that you are living your “Entire” life in the Now and that Life lasts but an instant”.
A NEW YEAR CONVERSATION
As it is customary, many entertain the idea of starting a new year resolution, and that is fine. Change is usually a good thing. However, when talking about “New” and “Time” there is something I would like you to think about as you set upon starting your resolution. Think about how you decided on which resolution to make and you will see that it started with a conversation in your head about that idea; that thought.
We “are” because, as humans, we have “Thought,” we think. Yet, at times I wonder if this ability to think is a blessing or a curse. It could be a curse, if we dwell upon a negative past or if we fear the future; Times that exist only in our minds. It can be an inspiration if we imagine a future with hope and positive expectations and remember our experiences in the past as lessons learned. It can be an inspiration if we think of our future from the present positive tense (Thinking now. Thinking positive). After all, just “Being” in the Present is in itself the ultimate Positive State. It is a point in Time when the past, the present, and the future become the straight line we live on. This line is where there are three moving points that comprise the duration of our existence: point number one, we’re born; point number two, we live life, and point number three, we die—or, as I describe it in my book, we simply run out of Life.
Yes, like you, I learned and became accustomed to thinking about Time and Life as a cyclical occurrence. I found that this way of thinking is no different from thoughts about the Earth as being flat.
Life in “Time” is a straight line simply because there is never a precise repetition of any Thing or any Time. Time is an indefinite straight line through our lives and through nature. We age, nature ages, the planet ages, and that’s just how it is. There is no old Time and there is no new Time. Enigmatically, Time allows us the opportunity to experience a fresh sense of Presence in the Now. It allows us to always be new even as we grow old. This is so simply because we have never lived Now before.
There is no past Time or future Time; there is only the Present; the only Time when we can remember life experiences lived in a Time past and imagine life yet to be lived and which promise will only have value to those of us who awake in the morning. Still, keep in mind that the idea of Tomorrow—and it is just an idea—is only a penciled-in promise of an imaginary Time to come. “Now” is as real as it gets.
There is no “fast” Time and no “slow” Time. There are only our perceptions that Time flies, travels slow, or stands still.
Before I move on, I want to address a common misconception we hear all the time, “Perception is reality.” This sounds good, but “reality” is in fact independent of “perception.” They’re not the same thing. Same and “very similar” are not the same things. As far as Time is concerned, a minute is still sixty seconds long. Nevertheless, “perception” is real in whose mind it resides and may serve as a coping mechanism that allows one a way to deal with reality, its effects, and how we make sense of it. Because it is experiential, however, there is no right or wrong perception. There is just yours and there is mine. Perhaps you may find that our ability to have a meeting of the minds is best when we have very similar perceptions about a present reality.
I digress. Sometimes I wonder if this human ability to think is a trick played upon us by God or is it simply intelligent design? I do not know the answer or even if there is a definitive one that would satisfy everybody.
From the Present, we can remember a Time in the past or imagine ourselves at a Time in the future. We can actually contemplate Times when life does not exist from a Time when it does, the Present. Please do not simply dismiss this as obvious, be mindful of it. If it is impossible to have two thoughts in our minds at the same time, and I believe it is, then we spend most of our lives ignoring the reality that we are “Being” in the Now. We are either thinking about what was or what is to be. Thinking about what “is” is not something we do a lot of and this lapse may be attributable to being constantly distracted and moving too fast in a world that is seemingly spinning out of control. Being mindful of this gives me a more positive appreciation for Life with respect to Time, with respect to “Being” in the Present Positive Tense, and not just being alive, but mindfully living with hope, purpose, and passion. In other words, I am mindful that I have the power to control distractions and the speed with which I choose to live. I have since slowed down and when I awake in the morning it is not just to smell the coffee but to taste Life one sip at a time. Cheers!!
There is a new conversation in my head about my life in Time. It is about always being mindful of my own presence in the Now as I am and as everything and everyone “Is.” After you read my book, you too will have your own new conversation. This new conversation may inform you regardless what resolution you may contemplate.
It's Now O' Clock. Have a great Life!
Being and Doing Now.
I was about nine years old when one summer day I overheard my uncle saying to Mom that the peppers she used to cook were really hot and would sell in his Bar. Right there and then, the ‘idea’ of starting a hot pepper garden occurred to me. “I could use few dollars”, I thought.
It may have been the same day or the next when I collected pepper seeds mom had thrown into the garbage. Unsure about not having enough seeds and unbeknownst to Mom, I took a few peppers from the refrigerator. Yes, I know it was stealing and I felt a little guilty. But the excitement of starting a garden was too much to contain. I wanted to have as many seeds as I could get.
At the time, I was just starting a pepper garden. However, in retrospect, I was actually starting a business; a business based on a single and simple idea; start a pepper garden, sell hot peppers; make money.
But, as with all business ventures there are steps to follow if the business is to get off the ground. Still, the idea was not a “business venture” to me and I did not have “steps” in mind. I just did one thing after another to get my pepper garden growing.
As I started, it never crossed my mind if the idea was a good one or not and this may have been a good thing. Because, had I given the idea a lot of thought I may not have started at all. But this is the focus of a child’s mind and there is a lot we, as adults, can still learn from our inner child.
Nevertheless, the moment I gave the idea some thought, I realized that the work would be hard. But here is where the desire for making a few dollars and having to work hard to get it, clashed. But I was already in deep. I had made up my mind. This is where the meat of success (hard work, dedication and passion) between two slices of bread (Idea and result/reward) would make the sandwich I hoped to have to eat and enjoy sometime into the future.
Anyway, it took more than an idea to get my business off the ground, literally. First, I needed a “business license” (permission from Mom). Then, I needed to “buy” or “lease” farm land; Well, not really. I had the land I needed right there in my own back yard. Still I had to get a “permit” from the “zoning department” (Mom again). She had to OK the spot. Then I needed “equipment” to be able to clear and prepare the land for planting. I would need a pick axe, a hoe and a shovel; none of which came in ‘child size’, but I had them. Then I needed “factor inputs” (seeds) which I also had. Finally and most importantly, my new business called for “capital” in the form of time, muscle, energy, hard work, sweat, dedication and follow through. By the way, I also had to comply with “regulations” (Mom’s admonishment that I still had to do my homework and daily chores).
My business model was simple enough. Start a hot pepper garden, pick the peppers and take them to “market” (my uncle’s Bar) on Saturdays. I already knew that the going price was three hot peppers for a quarter. That’s $1.00 for 12 hot peppers.
Two days wielding man-sized equipment to clear and prepare the land and planting pepper seeds; sweating bullets, baring the burn of blisters in my hands, a sore back and little sleep was what it took start to my business. It took another couple of months to produce “inventory” and one Saturday morning to make my first few dollars. I had become a “Business Boy”.
Starting a business is really that simple. It all starts with the occurrence of a single thought/idea that you can visualize; an idea that ignites the passion of success to see it through.
You would think that today, with all the sophistication, education and technology available, that starting a business would be simple enough, and it is. People start businesses all the time.
However, in spite of statistics showing that most startups fail within five years, I strongly encourage you to believe in yourself, your idea and be patient. It is in your belief that the passion you need, will rise. Let your inner child have a seat at the table and a voice in your mind. “Be” mindful that success is first a story of life lived, not money made.
"Trust God, and as you do your best, believe in yourself, be patient and Trust your destiny".
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When I think about success I think about it as a sequence of experiences lived over time and on a course towards a specific goal. Those experiences involve thought, emotion and action or, TEA. Of course, it all begins with a ‘single thought’, an idea that must first occur to us before we begin the journey. This ‘single thought’ is what incites the kinds of emotions that moves us to take the action steps we believe are necessary to achieve our goal. However, success is the story about the experiences lived in pursuit of achieving a goal and not the goal. Opening day of a new business, being published, graduating, that new car or new house for example, are all the result of success; status, so to speak. Success is a story of passion, drive, dedication, hope, sweat, tears, disappointment, happiness, satisfaction... It is the story of what life is mostly about; a journey of pure emotions.
On this journey, failure is not necessarily a dead end and should be treated as simply a detour or a temporary interruption. This is to say that, even if you do not achieve your goal, you will have lived the experiences of the journey up until that point and this is something worth owning and embracing. After all, it is your life lived. You may as well treat the story as a positive, especially, if in this moment, you are in a good place. Because the reality is that every breath you have taken and all experiences lived so far, equals to who you actually are in this instant. Fortunately, most of the time, we are in a good place with or without having achieved a goal.
Just be mindful that “Now" is that constant instant between the past and the future and that it is the only time we live, and the only time we can do something about almost anything.” Embracing these thoughts and living by them make for the kind of mental attitude that moves us to try again.
For those overly concerned about failure, think about this. “Failure is nothing more than a temporary experience. It is not a permanent condition or a terminal disease. Experience it, and then let it go. Survive it, and try again. Nothing scares away failure more than another try. Nothing is more attractive to success, than courage; the courage to try again".
Again, success is all about the story of life lived, regardless what goal you are trying to achieve. Meanwhile, live in the Present Positive Tense. Live in the Now and think positive thoughts even if you decide not to try again; even if another idea does not occur to you; Even if you run out of TEA for the time being.
I find that any venture, business or otherwise, is a story about TEA. My stories about starting Arttextry.com and publishing Now O’ Clock were very similar.
We all have our own stories about one pursuit or another. Still, it is all about the story of our lives; a sequence of emotional experiences.
You see, as we set out to achieve a goal, business or otherwise, we’re moved by possibility, passion, hope and positive expectation that the goal can be achieved. We are moved by pure emotions. They are what we experience as we are pursuing our goals. It is life as we have it while not being able to know if we will achieve our goal. So, until we get there, we are here and even when we do get there it will still be ‘here’. This is simply because “everything” happens in the ‘present’ regardless of outcome, and as I said before, most of the time we’re in a good place.
Try to be mindful that the quality of the life you now live, as you pursue your goals should nonetheless be meaningful and satisfying. Because, at any given moment, there is much more going on in your life, than pursuing a goal. It is a matter of paying attention to being as you are and as everything is without judgment. It is a matter of paying attention to everything else. After all, it is all going on in the present. Our goals exist only in our imagination and those thoughts are about the future.
Still, I encourage anyone who has an idea to pursue it. It can be an exciting and satisfying journey.
“The thrill lives in the hunt but dies with the kill.” The thrill is about making the most of your life as you have it now. The hunt is the pursuit of a worthy goal, and the kill is the goal achieved and the reset of another goal.”
Last year, law enforcement in general got a lot of negative publicity because of the actions of just a few. The reality is that there will always be a few bad police officers and a few good ones that will, having just a split second, make a wrong call; which in some cases may cost him/her their life or the life of another. Some of the incidences are sometimes tragically unfortunate and others are out right criminal. However, what are also unfortunate are media reports that sensationalize more than analyze lending to, perhaps, the unintended consequence of casting all police officers as Thugs with a badge. Right behind those reports some politicians follow by casting police officers as Mindless Robots requiring the installation of a new body part (body camera). This shooting from the hip approach is a politician’s way of feeding the Beast (public) as a way to quiet outcry without having to make an honest effort to address a problem; a human problem.
Do you know any police officer who was drafted by force to take an oath to put his/her life on the line to serve and protect everyone, neither do I? Do you know any police officer that came from a “Police farm” or another planet, neither do I? I did not have to go there, did I? Still, I did it to be reminded of the obvious, that police officers are people too. They are brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. They have families for whom they have concerns of safety and security. They have dreams and aspirations of health and happiness for themselves and their loved ones. Does any of this sound familiar? Of course it does. Police officers only do a different job; putting their lives on the line for you is what they do every day. They come from and live in our neighborhoods and though it is not our job to protect them, it is theirs to protect yours. Nevertheless, police officers are not without need. They can always benefit from your support especially when it has to do with helping them become better and healthier human beings on duty and off duty at home with their families. The kind of help I’m advocating is beneficial to everyone.
The reports of recent killing of civilians by police officers is a human tragedy best treated with a human approach; not a technological one that may only add stress and distraction. This is where Mindfulness Meditation may be the best approach to addressing police/civilian relations. There are few jobs wherein one can lose or take the life of another in a split second and in many cases that’s the amount of time available in making a difference. We can all agree that there is no stress greater than having to make a life or death decision in a split second. It can make the difference whether he/she gets to walk through his/her front door at the end of a shift.
I am fed up of politicians who hide behind the skirt of “I’m not a scientist” as a way out of doing what they were elected to do. I never hear them say ‘I’m not a doctor” therefore I am not going to be led by some diagnosis requiring the use of prescription medications or even surgery”. I have never asked a doctor to show me his/her medical training credentials; have you? I’m sure they haven’t either.
In an article titled The Mindful Police Officer, my co-author, Gus Castellanos, MD contributed the following.
“Based on Neuro Science, Mindfulness is quickly becoming popular because of the benefits that are directly experienced by those who practice it regularly. Mindfulness programs such as UMASS’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses are taught in hundreds of medical centers worldwide because of its effectiveness in a wide array of physical and psychological disorders, in addition to stress reduction. Also, programs have been adapted to specific populations such as the US Military, Police Departments, Corrections departments, Government agencies and even sports teams (including the Seattle Seahawks, NY Knicks and Boston Red Sox) because of the effectiveness in a variety of skills and competencies including focused attention & reduced distractions, working memory, emotional regulation, empathy and compassion, critical thinking and problem solving, and more recently in overriding implicit racial and age related biases”.
I will continue to advocate, promote and educate those who would most benefit from Mindfulness Meditation as an effective approach. Recently, I started a campaign to promote Mindfulness Meditation here in Miami. I specifically targeted the Miami Dade Police Department and the Dade County Department of Corrections. I’ve sent preliminary information to the Directors of both Departments and also to the Dade County Police Benevolent Association. My hope is that Miami becomes the national leader in adapting Mindfulness Meditation as the human approach that it is. Please help me spread the word. Thanx.
“Are you going to keep your daughters or give them to the family to raise? A single man raising two girls (twins) is a great responsibility requiring sacrifice and discipline. Are you ready for that?” I couldn’t believe I was being asked those kinds of questions. "There is nothing to be ready for. They are my daughters and I’m going to continue to love them as I always have”, I said to her. She sighed with relief saying that when her mother died, her father gave her to his family to raise and it always bothered her. She said she felt like he did not want her.
I told her that the idea of giving my daughters to anyone never once occurred to me. They had just turned 11 years old and had recently lost their mother. They were not going to lose their father to.
We were just about to get into the elevator when the conversation shifted to shop talk. We got off and went our separate ways.
On my way home, I thought about the conversation and I could not help but wonder how she must have felt when her father left her. It would probably be worse than I could ever imagine.
Nevertheless, the question was a very intrusive and sensitive one coming from someone who, even though we got along nicely, was not a friend. Still, I was glad she asked it, because it made me reflect on my daughter’s future without Mom or me without them. I got the sense that my co-worker was being maternally protective about my girls because of her own experience. At the time, I could not appreciate her concern. But, soon after I did and told her as much when I thanked her for caring.
I did not get the sense that her concern was about a man raising a girl. I think it was about a man loving his daughter enough to be with her going forward in her mother's absence. At the same time, I believe it was her father’s concern that he, being a man, would not be able to raise a girl, the daughter he loved.
Not long after Mom had slipped into the other side of Time, it was my girls and I alone. Mom’s family was a big one, but they also became absent. I had to go it alone. Fortunately, for us, my sister and her husband would visit for two weeks out of the year and believe me it made a big difference. You see, they lived two thousand miles away. Their aunt, Mom’s sister, lived just ten minutes away. There is a story here and perhaps one day I will write about it. But not here and not now. I say this much. It is a sad, ugly and hurtful story.
Anyway, I was able to attended to all my daughters’ needs. There were the routine visits with their primary doctor, cardiologist, dentist and their yearly visit with their optometrist. Then there was the rest of their daily lives and ours as a family. I always told my girls that I would provide them with everything they would need and give them most of what they wanted, and so it was. They were and are still good girls in every respect and deserve the world.
They never stopped being good students making good grades. In high school, they enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Academy, graduated Summa Cum Laude and were awarded free rides at F.I.U. They are seniors now and continue doing well and are usually on the Dean’s List.
Mom’s family were also absent for their Honors graduation, proms and birthdays. Still, aunt Dahlia traveled 2000 miles to be here for them and the celebrations were nonetheless loving, funny, happy and memorable ones.
Otherwise, most of the time ours was a world of three. But we were more than enough for each other. We lived in a home where when you walked in, you could tell that Love lived there. We were at best happy or, at worst, content. Either way, most of the time we were good.
By the way, it never dawned on me that what I was doing was difficult or that it required great responsibility. It was comments made to and about me by my best friend and by friends of Mom that gave me reason to reflect. The comments were more about doubts they might have had with respect to my willingness and ability to raise my girls on my own and their surprise that my daughters were doing exceedingly well in every respect. It was as though no one thought I could raise two 11-year-old girls, my daughters. Then again, there were those, who with their sad, ugly and hurtful ways, bet that I couldn’t. Obviously, they lost and in more ways than one.
So gentlemen, the bottom line is that the love you have for your daughters will be the driving force needed to endure and overcome obstacles that surely will pop up. You just have to trust. It will allow your daughters to say, “Daddy wanted me and kept me and I am happy for that. Thank you Dad.” In turn it will allow you to say, “I’m happy I did. Thank you daughter.”
A Wish for all Seasons
I wish all of you, the timeless and beautiful feelings of joy and happiness, especially during these Times when so many celebrate their respectively named holiday and what they mean. Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa come to mind. However, it is to me, to be “aware” that regardless of name and meaning, the wish for feelings of joy and happiness come true because simple acts of Love are universal to all humans. To me, it matters that these feelings emanate from the good will and kindness one human being bestows upon another; humans, regardless of race, color or creed.
If only for this season, let’s treat the little things as gifts that don’t need to be wrapped in pretty paper and cute bows. I open a door for a stranger. You listen to someone who needs to talk. Someone brings you a drink of water. Another gives someone a pillow to lay on. She visits with the sick. He makes a child laugh. I give you one of the biggest little things; a Hug.
In the continuum, let’s “Be” always mindful that we don’t have to be friends to be friendly.
As you can see, simple acts of Love and kindness abound, and are always there for anyone to commit, just for goodness sake. If it would help, think of these simple acts of Love and kindness as spreading a contagious “Ease”. We all can use some ease if only for a moment from Time to Time; a precious Living Moment.
It matters to me, to be aware that I do not know what awaits me on the other side of Time. Yet, it matters to me that, in spite of that unknown, when talking about “Being” and Life and Living, the unknowable determine how I live a faith-based Life. Furthermore, the reality is that not one of us know what awaits us on the other side of Time, regardless what we believe. Still, my faith is fueled by the hope that what I believe will be manifest when I slip out of my spent body and into the other side of Time when and “where” my “eyes” are unveiled as the walls of thoughts in my mind fall, and the unknown becomes known to me. My hope is that it is revealed to me that, yes, Time may have been my master while I lived here on Earth, but that in Heaven, God is my king. Alternatively, and within what I understand to be the realm of possibility, there may only be “nothingness”; that which is neither known or unknown.
But we are here now, on this side of Time, in the realm of humans, when and where our condition and relations with each other is mostly based on things known, real or perceived to be real. This being my present reality, it matters more to me to share my present living moments with those I love and care about. Nevertheless, it is for me to do no harm, but to be warm even toward those whose holiday has a different name or meaning. It is for me to celebrate simply “Being” alive. It is to me, about “Being” as I am and as everything and everyone “Is” without judgment. It is to me to, “in-joy”, live the moments as they unfold before me and those, who in love and harmony, I share them with.
It is to me, to “Be” aware that the reality is that I do not run out of Time; that I simply run out of Life. It is to me, that there is Life only because there is Time and that we name periods of Time based on our cultures, customs and beliefs. But Time is irrespective to whatever name we assign to it or to whatever season we voice those names in celebration. It is to me, to “Be” mindful, and as often as I can, remind myself that the little and simple things in Life make a big, real, and special difference in the life of others. It is to me, to slow down so that I may notice those little things; those little nameless things that are just as worthy of great celebration, and as I do, taste Life one sip at a time any Time.
It is to me, to extend wishes of Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Times, Happy “Being”. One Life; One Human; One act of Love at a time. To all; Have a great Life. CHEERS!
Articles by Title
A NEW YEAR CONVERSATION
Kindness has no season(2017)
Success: My Definition
Living on the Edge of Time
The Master Habit(2016)
Mindfulness; A Human Approach
Forget Time Management.
A Wish for all Season(2016)
Being A Dad
The Master Habit
What crosses your mind when you hear someone say, “Thank God it’s Friday” (TGIF)? First, the odds are six to one that today is not Friday. If it is, did you thank God? If it is not, will you be giving thanks when Friday comes around?
To those who subscribe to TGIF as I once did, I especially want to talk to you. I pause when I hear people say, “Thank God it’s Friday.” It makes me wonder if those who TGIF also thank God for any other day of the week. If you don’t thank God for any other day, ask yourself why not. I asked a friend this same question and he accused me of being too literal. “It’s just something I say when Friday comes around. It is a way of expressing a sigh of relief that the workweek is almost over and that the weekend is here. It is about Happy Hour! It is Time to party!”
“That’s all well and good,” I replied. “But is it just something you say that has no meaning, or do you mean what you say”?
In other words, are the thanks you give God a sincere expression of gratitude or just something to say? I believe that words matter. When you say “Thank God it’s Friday,” are you giving thanks that it’s Friday, or are you giving thanks that you are alive on Friday? “Both,” you say?
OK, that makes sense because Friday would have no meaning if you were not alive to experience “Being.” Then, let me ask you: What about Mondays? How do you feel “Being” alive on Mondays? “I hate Mondays.” “Oh God, not another Monday!” Do these laments sound familiar to you? You may have uttered them yourself. I have. Other laments are censurable, outright indecent, and not suitable for print. You too probably know what they are.
Think about it for a moment. Just two days prior, you may have given thanks to God that it was Friday. So what is wrong with this picture? TGIF has become a national chant, just as “I hate Mondays” has become a national lament.
Sadly, I run into people who actually have bad Mondays for no reason other than it is Monday. I am reasonably sure that these same people have had bad Fridays too. The truth is, just as bad things happen to good people, so do bad things happen on days we celebrate, like birthdays, holidays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and yes, on Fridays.
In other words, any Time is the perfect time for good things or bad things to happen. It is just Life and it happens all the time any Time.
Fortunately, the so-called Ordinary days vastly outnumber the days we celebrate, and so more times than not, good things and bad things will happen on ordinary days. I say “so-called” Ordinary days because I do not believe there is actually such a thing. A day is a reference to a period of time, and Time just is. Time is attributable to nothing.
So, don’t just wait around for a particular day or numerical Time to celebrate Life. Celebrate life as you live it—right here, right now. “Be” mindful that if something good has happened or is going on in your life right now, let that be the icing on your cake.
What about Tuesday? Well, Tuesday for many is just one of those ordinary days. Its dawning does not incite emotions one way or the other. Tuesday is typically silent and almost anonymous. It tiptoes quietly by as it sneaks up on Wednesday. So, what is it with Wednesday? For most of us, it is the middle of the workweek. We like Wednesday so much we have given it a nickname: “Hump Day.” It signals you have reached the summit of the workweek and that you’re on the descent to Friday. For me, I can only imagine sitting atop a Camel’s back and looking out into the horizon and hoping that what I am seeing is not a mirage but, in reality, Friday. Think about it: Wednesday is the only day of the week with a nickname. Perhaps it is fitting that we also thank God it is Wednesday (TGIW), what do you think? By the way, Latinos like Wednesdays too and have their own nickname. It’s called “El Ombligo de la semana”: The Navel or “Bellybutton” of the week.
Then, over the Hump and upon our descent, we step into Thursday. Thursday is like Tuesday except it is a day of anticipation and we like it more. So much more that I think Thursday should get a nickname too. What do you think about this one: “One more day”? I hear it almost every Thursday in the office. Yes, Thursday is the “One more day” day. Do you like this nickname? It is what you hear on Thursday mornings at the work place or at the office. “One more day. I can’t wait.” It is the fourth day into the Camel ride toward Friday. It is the “mental rubbernecking” of people trying to get a glimpse of Friday. Thursday is the eve of the “working holiday” that is Friday. Then at first light, the nation chants, “Thank God it’s Friday!” Most of us show up at the office in a relatively good mood, especially if it’s payday, and saying what else? TGIF.
I have never heard anyone complain about having to work on Fridays. Perhaps it is because most of us take it easy while our Minds shift gears and as Time elapses toward five o’clock. Then it is off to “Happy hour” or home for two days of rest and relaxation; at least that is usually the plan.
Most of you know about the famous TGI Fridays restaurants; it was one of our favorites. My daughters and I used to like to go there for the fun and food. By the way, now that I think about it, I do not recall ever going there on a Friday.
All in all, I think it is a good thing to get together to share in the good Times. Most importantly though, I believe that we should use the Life we have, whether it is on Friday or any other day of the week, to celebrate Life as we have it and as we are. Otherwise, I think it is sad to focus on the days of the week ahead of us or even the past, whether positively or negatively, because when we do, we miss the Present Living Moment and all that is going on. It is so easy to miss this Moment, this Now. It goes by instantaneously.
Now O'Clock; Being Mindful .. it Always is
Forget Time Management
The Encarta English dictionary defines “Management” as the organizing, directing, handling or controlling of. The same dictionary defines “Time” as a period or moment. Knowing this, perhaps the meaning of “Time management” (TM) is not to be taken literally. But for many years I behaved like I could manage Time and the clock and the calendar only stressed me out. It wasn’t until it occurred to me that what actually wore me down, were “Numbers”. It was a sober awakening from the illusion that I could actually manage time.
Before numbers (BN) there were only two times; light time and dark time and what mattered was what could get done in order to survive while those times lasted. BN it was always NowO’ Clock and man was only as old as he/she was able to do what was necessary to live.
Today, survival has little to do with day time or night time. We now live in a 24/7 era wherein we are categorized according to the stage of life we’re in. For example, the following corresponding numbers are assigned: At 13, we are called teen agers; at 16, we can legally drive; at 18, we can vote and at 21, we can drink (legally!). However, these numbers are simply “Markers” and to reach them, we need only to be alive at the time.
There are also corresponding numbers for certain times we celebrate. Here are a few you know. January 1, New Year’s Day, February 14, Valentine’s Day, July 4, Independence Day, December 25, Christmas and, of course, Birthdays. What are left are so-called “ordinary” days; days that are not marked for a special occasion. Even so, I am willing to bet that most of the good times you’ve ever had were on “ordinary” days. Tuesdays are my favorite “ordinary” days. They tiptoe by quietly on the heels of Wednesday (Hump Day); the only day with a nickname.
Then, it is on to building a career and a life. It is the 9 to 5, 40 hour work week; the long hours, days, weeks and years pursuing goals and chasing dollars while we’re still “young”. “If you haven’t achieved your goal before the age of 40, you may as well forget it”. Whoever said that had to ignore the countless stories of people achieving success way beyond 40; proof, again, that 40 is just a ‘marker’ and that success does not have an expiration date; it never arrives too late.
I lived until 55, and was qualified for senior discounts. Yea!! However, life continued to happen and more often, I could hear the defiance of numbers by people saying things like, “age is just a number”,” it is not how old you are but how young you feel”, “I do not look my age”, and on and on. At this stage, birthdays are celebrated with some degree of anxiety. There is no brake we can step on to slow down Time. The idea of Time management is now in the rearview mirror and Health management becomes the preoccupation dujour. For most of us this is called “retirement age” and this to have a corresponding number somewhere between 62 and 67.
It is a time when we are more mindful of our mortality; a time when we start doing what we should have been doing all along; managing our energy (health); something we always had more control over but had relinquished it to Time Management; keeping track of Numerical Time.
Now, don’t get me wrong, numbers have utility in our lives and in many cases save lives. For example, it is one thing to say that hurricane “Wind Blow” will make landfall soon, as opposed to saying that it will land in 72 hours or taking prescription medication every 4 hours for maximum efficacy. I’m sure you can think of other examples.
In my awareness of it all, I have shifted my focus more on managing my energy and less on marking Time. Of course, I do not disregard the numbers. I get things done by a time they need to be done. However, I am not so concerned with the inevitable passage of Numerical Time. I pace myself as I live in Time doing what I have to do while being mindful of the reality that my life energy has always increased at a decreasing rate and that Time is a constant I have absolutely no control over.
It is never too early or too late to start shifting your focus from time management to energy management. I used to tell my children that when doing homework, they should start with the most difficult to the easiest, because by the end of the school day they’re mentally and physically fatigued. They are weakened; concentrating becomes difficult and it is hard to stay awake. I use the same approach when working out. On different days I alter my regimen. One day I would I start from heavy to light; on another, I would go light to heavy. Managing my energy accordingly has been beneficial for me in all aspects of my life. Now I work, play and sleep better. I still have to deal with that darn alarm clock. But, what am I going to do?
But why would I want to do the impossible (manage Time). It does not matter what has to get done. I will always run out of energy before I run out of time. By the way, have you ever heard a meteorologist talk about “Weather management”? If you had, you would think the meteorologist was crazy, wouldn’t you. Well, we can no more manage Time, than we can manage the weather.
The clock and the calendar, (markers of time), can be instruments of stress if you let it. Listen, we were born in Time and when we die it will simply be because we ran out of life, not time. Shifting my focus from TM to Energy management (EM) and having my own EM formula, has made my life so much less stressful.
What would this be like for you? Perhaps you may want to try EM. At least give it some thought. Then create your own formula; Find your own balance and pace yourself. It is something you can actually do in real time. However, be mindful that Time just is, and it elapses as it does and there is nothing anyone can do to stop, pause, rewind or fast forward it. There is just no organizing, directing, handling or controlling Time.
Life is a “doing” proposition and doing requires Energy. Time on the other hand, just is, priorities notwithstanding. Then, when we talk about “spending time”, we ignore the reality that it is Time that spends us all into “Nothingness”. We commonly refer to this expenditure as Death. As I mentioned before, we do not run out of Time, we simply run out of Life.
Time is a constant; period. Energy on the other hand, is something we can try to preserve, at least temporarily. Managing Energy in terms of how and for what we use it may vary in intensity; just as important, is conserving and replenishing energy through rest, exercise and nutrition.
If you do not have the energy you would like or need to have, then it is a matter of starting an Energy plan or regimen. Of course, if your lack of energy is due to a real physical inability, then a modified regimen could be followed in a manner that does not result in worsening your condition, but enhances your energy moderately or within reasonable levels. I strongly recommend the advice and guidance of a nutritionist and or a fitness coach. For those who are now enjoying the highest energy level ever, there will always be limitations; limitations that are simply attributable to that which is impossible to manage; Time.
Humans are not machines and even machines need down-time in order to manage wear and tear as a way to maximize their useful life. Then they are replaced. Humans eventually run out of life. It’s that simple.
I continue to live according to my own balance and I pace myself accordingly. I use my Energy as Time elapses and while being mindful that the amount of energy I have continues to increase at a decreasing rate and that this basic economic postulate does not apply to Time; numerical or otherwise.
As it is customary, the New Year starts with resolutions for the betterment of one’s self. Some declare to pursue a change in health, financial or relationship habits. However, a declaration means nothing unless there is a commitment to “Do” and to do, we must first “Be” and “Being” requires full awareness of the Self in the ‘present’; in the Now.
I believe that this is the best state within which to start your pursuit of the kind of change that is likely to last. For many, lasting change is very difficult to achieve and I believe it is because attaining many things in life is much easier than making the commitment to actually attain them.
Fear can be a powerful negative factor interfering with the mind’s ability to commit. That being so, perhaps we should think of the Mind as being the originator and exterminator of habits without considering what particular external expression of a habit we may wish to start, continue or quit. As simple as it may be, this is not easy to do because it, too, requires the forming of a new habit or “practice of awareness”.
For the purpose of this article, I call this new practice, “The Master Habit”. This, though not a habit per se, is simply, “the being mindful and fully aware as we are and as everything is, without judgment”.
Over time, this practice empowers us with the ease to start, continue or quit whatever behavior we choose to change. It matters not when the resolution is made. So, you don’t have to wait until the beginning of a New Year. The Master Habit is a ‘one-time' any time 'fits-all-mind' proposition.
To start the Master Habit, the first thing you will need to do, is to learn to Slow Down to a pace that allows you, from time to time, for moments at a time, to be still and alone; just you, your breath and your thoughts. This is when you are most in control and best able to focus on your own “Being”. This is the essence of the Master Habit, and having practiced regularly for some time now, today I am less distracted, more mindful about “Being” in the ‘present’ and I am more in control and able to pace myself better. What would this be like for you? My experience has been that making changes in my life is now easier than it otherwise would be.
It is almost impossible to change your life in any significant or lasting way when your mind is, too often, in a hurry shifting back and forth from thoughts of the past, present and future, and racing on a mindless track paved with constant distractions. It is impossible to start or quit, much less maintain any change when you keep missing the “Present”. This is what speed and distraction does.
The way of the Master Habit is the quieting and slowing down of the Mind so that you may be able to better focus on thoughts that may help you to refrain from the external expression of the habit you want to change. Being “Present Minded” and as you are…Now, is key.
Realize that “Now”, is that constant instant between the past and the future, and that it is the only ‘time’ we live and the only ‘time’ we can do something about almost anything. Now, is always a good time to start the Master Habit.
I recently talked at the Phoenix Center for healing, here in Miami. In my Talk I do not refer to the idea as the Master Habit. I refer to it as, “Mindfulness” or “Being Mindful”.
Especially to those who ‘believe’ they do not have the time, I invite you to watch and listen to the Talk. I believe you will find that it is an idea worth trying and sharing. Here is the link to the Talk:Youtu.be/PNpaGUu2VQs.
SUCCESS: My Definition
Success means different things to different people and most define it as, “the achievement of a goal”. However, my view is that I could not have achieved my goals without experiencing Success. On the other hand, I could experience Success without having achieved my goal. Of course, I would prefer to achieve my goal: who wouldn’t, and if I didn’t, surely I would feel disappointed, but not defeated. To feel defeated or that I had failed, I would have to disregard the “journey” which was necessary to achieve my goal in the first place.
It’s about “Results” they say; the embodiment of things tangible like a new car, house, a trophy or maybe even a plane. Then, there is the new job, technique, being published, an advanced degree or peak awareness through Mindfulness.
Tangible or not, the world identifies us as being successful because of these embodiments or statuses and the recognition is without the need to know what was involved in the commitment to endure the journey; a journey paved with hard work, sweat, tears, sacrifice, intermittent wins and temporary setbacks, stress, frustration, anxieties, disappointments and expectations on our way towards the goal.
One thing all successes have in common however, is that they all began with a single thought; an idea. Mindful of this idea, we’re animated and passionate about doing those things we believe would make the idea a present reality some “Now” into the future.
Before I continue, I would like to share my definition of Success as I “Feel” it. Success, to me, is a series of emotional experiences lived while in the pursuit of a worthy goal. It is living with intention, passion and purpose. This is what the “journey” is all about. Paradoxically enough, it matters not whether the goal is achieved. The experience of Success is still a necessary precondition and for me it is deeply personal and only I can feel it. No one can experience it for me. The same is true about feelings of disappointment.
Here I am suggesting that one can be successful even if the goal is not achieved. Having said so, I am mindful that, for many, failure to achieve a goal means one is less than successful. I disagree. It doesn’t change the reality and the importance of the life you’ve lived while in pursuit of the goal. With this in mind, my meaning of Success also suggests that one cannot fail in terms of life lived while in the pursuit of a worthy goal. This life lived should never be thought of as a waste of life; a waste of time; a waste of lifetime. It is all life; life best lived; win, lose or draw.
For those who believe that not achieving a goal makes you less than successful, see if you find meaning in this a quote. “Think of Failure as nothing more than a temporary experience. It is not a permanent condition or a terminal disease. Experience it, and then let it go. Survive it and try again. Nothing scares away Failure, more than another try. Nothing is more attractive to Success, than courage; the courage to try again”.
When I set upon the achievement of a goal, it is with the belief that the goal can be achieved; otherwise I would not act. Then when I decide to act, there often seems to be a lurking feeling of the fear of failure. Now, imagine pursuing that same goal, but with “anxious anticipation” as opposed to fear. Anxious anticipation is my own perception about outcomes and this mindset seems less stressful. For me, it’s all about perspective and this perspective is what makes it easier for me to pursue goals; to achieve goals.
When I commit to the pursuit of a goal I do not shut down or disregard all other facets of my life. I still live my entire life as I go on about pursuing my goals and I do so mindful of “Being” in the present, when leaving anything out is impossible. Of course I could “Thought Surf”. However, it does not change the reality that my life is always whole in the Now.
Furthermore, it is vital to me that the quality of the life I now live, as I pursue my goal, be nonetheless meaningful and satisfying. It may as well be. I’m headed in that direction anyway.
I believe life is a Journey mostly fueled by emotional experiences that as best I can, I try to regulate through thoughts and perceptions. I also believe that life’s pursuits, however sophisticated or simple, are temporary episodes (mini-series) experienced during the Journey that is, my entire life.
Here is another quote to ponder. “The Thrill lives in the Hunt, but dies with the Kill. The Thrill is about making the most of your life while in the Now. You may as well. We are all “Traveling Hostages” of the Present as we journey through life in Time. Then there is the Hunt; the intentional pursuit of a worthy goal; an episode interwoven into our lives as a whole and culminating with the Kill; the goal achieved and the reset of a new goal.
S.U.C.C.E.S.S.; an Acronym
S. Serious. The pursuit of a worthy goal should be taken seriously.
U. Unstoppable. You should be passion-driven as you pursue your goal. Don’t beat yourself up if you encounter setbacks. Press on with anxious anticipation.
C. Commitment. A high degree of commitment is required if you are to achieve your goal. Realize that “Attaining many things in life is much easier than making the commitment to actually attain them”.
C. Confidence is what keeps us moving toward our goal. It is where positive expectation comes from. It is what gets us out of bed in the morning. It is what pulls us into the future.
E. Eager. Of course, you will need to have the (get-up-and-go) to get to where you want to be. Keep your Emotional tank filled with Enthusiasm gas.
S. Smart. Know what to do, what steps to take, follow directions, figure things out, seek advice, research, etc.?
S. Satisfied. You should be satisfied as you actually achieve your goal. You should nonetheless be satisfied if you have done all that was required and did not; its life. The Universe do not always conspire with us, and it may be why we don’t always get what we want even having done all that was required or expected. Still, the time and the experiences lived, will never have been in vain. It is your life lived. It is one of the many episodes of your life, and being qualified to say, “I gave it my best”, talks to the Journey, your Journey, and the series of emotional experiences lived. A worthwhile time, of life lived.