finding purpose

I lost my vision when I was 16 and my dream at that time was to pursue professional hockey. At the time I did not have the best skills, but I had the passion and I believe my passion would have bled off in to my development. My passion came from watching my sister get through the restart of her life at age 8 after going through a major stroke that occurred during a surgery to remove a brain tumor. She had plenty of struggles and many long stays in the hospitals and many close calls, but still came out living and loving life and people with a sense of vibrancy that I had never seen before.
I lost my vision and my dream, my passion, my purpose was wiped clean. Who am I, what do I do, what defines me, how do I adapt to this new way of life? I guess you can say I lost my vision. I lost my capacity to be a leader because I let my strife be my life and hung on to it with all my might like I would lose my life.
when I lost my vision I lost my capacity to live for something bigger than me because all I could focus on was my own struggle looking for a snuggle like it was a drug to make myself feel better. This destroyed me, but, but I was being put back together like a mosaic a piece at a time, I just had to lay it.

All roads lead to El Dorado

I connected with my history teacher in high school and spent many lunches in his room after losing my vision; I put being a history teacher on the map as a possible goal, but still clung to hockey by rejecting the offer to move away to school. I dated a girl that went to school in southern California, so schools that were a priority to transfer too were down south, this led me to choose Santa Barbara as my destination. I got connected with a Christian community and was able to dive head first into this thing called faith. I tried again to cling to the hockey dream by joining the rowing team to stay in shape for hockey with the hope of getting my vision back. I quit the team down the road and found that was not where I should be dedicating my time and effort. This opened up time to pursue black studies as a second major. My heart was opened up and was able to connect with something again. A spark was flickering into something. I connected with what I was learning because my extended time spent in Oakland as a youth playing hockey and visiting my sister in the hospital. I connected with so many attributes of black culture and racial injustice that I observed growing up. It challenged me to see how I was a part of a bigger system, a system of hurt people that hurt people, sometimes based on race sometimes based on gender and sexuality, but it was something that we were all collectively a part of no matter the good or the bad. Before graduating I was introduced to a truth and reconciliation commission, the one at brown university that was seeking reparations for slavery.
The summer after graduation I specifically decided to choose not to pursue work right away. One reason was to rest and reset after 18 years of education and the other was to not fall into the status quo of the college, work, career, family order. It was during this time where I realized that a theme to my life is restoration. It dawned on me while sitting behind my restored 1970 barracuda at a car show. I learned about restorative justice through the truth and reconciliation research that I did on brown university. All of a sudden I started getting my vision back. 6 months down the road, I went to a justice conference and connected deeper with this idea of restorative justice and it was expanded for me from the individual case to international restoration. The following week my friend Phil would take me to the storyline conference and I would be given the tools to find a redemptive perspective on my suffering. A speaker would talk about how this redemptive perspective was being used in South Africa and Rwanda. The power it had to restore communities, societies and people. This is what would I would come to know as the truth and reconciliation commission of Apartheid, which I came to see as a deeply restorative practice. This redemptive perspective on suffering had the power to transform a person from victim to empowered and empowered into change maker. Within 3 months I was on a plane to South Africa to get hands on experience with the people near Cape Town.

It’s becoming clearer

I connected profoundly with this idea of restoration and is what the roots of restoring my vision is founded in. I found that restoration is the journey and the vision is the power. As Arch Bishop of South Africa and Nobel Lorient, Desmond Tootoo says, “there is no future without forgiveness”. forgiveness is what makes redemption possible, redemption is what makes reconciliation possible, and reconciliation is what makes restoration possible. Each step of my journey has been a stepping stone that has led me to this point. Our vision comes from our belief, so the power of vision is the belief that you can be the change you want to see.
I know there is a great purpose for the things that happen in my life. I have been able to find purpose in the trials my sister has gone through, the trials I have gone through, the collapse of my dream. like the phoenix powerful life comes from the ashes. This connection from my sister to hockey to history to black studies to South Africa and to restoration is not for me. It is me, but it is not for me. It is for others. What I want you to see is that you have a story just like I have a story and there is great purpose in your story just as there is in mine. I believe there is something more for you and there is something more for me. You and I have to just be willing to step into it.
If you would be willing, share In the comments what has led you to where you are
I find this exercise to be so powerful, if you would like to write your own story like the one above and send it to me I would love to post it and share it.

what i learned from my break from blogging… Rebranding, Reshaping, and Restoring

I am back for the first time.
While I did not anticipate taking a leave of absence from posting; some tough life circumstances and clarity of my vision for this blog drew me to stop posting for a while. It is the later one that really did it for me because I never really knew what direction I wanted to take the blog
Do I want to use it to journal life experiences, focus on personal and emotional restoration, did I want to focus on justice related topics, and did I want to post social commentary. I tried to make it so broad that I could do all of the above while sticking in the theme of restoring my vision.
What I did not get was that I was doing it for myself instead of doing it for the reader. Essentially I wanted to be heard. I felt I had poignant things to say and they needed to be said, but it was all for me.
I had always wanted to be a servant and serve the people I was writing too, but I ended up trying to serve too many people by making my topic to encompassing
It’s not that it was broad; it was that I was just trying to be everything to everyone instead of something to someone.
I wanted people to know I was there to serve them and that I could be anything to anyone by helping them have clarity through restoring their vision. This became self-fulfilling instead of other fulfilling and this is where things got messy, as they do in most cases of mixing self-fulfillment with acts of service.

Making new roots

So what did I do? I took a break, stepped away and figured out what I wanted, what my vision is, and then asked what I need to change to get there. The culmination of this brought upon some intense periods of self-analysis and self-discovery in adding to the foundation of the big question of who am I becoming. for me that is the big question that I want to continually make my returning point, so that my identity proceeds my work instead of my work proceeding my identity.
The other question that I asked that helped me start to move forward, was what can I offer right where I am. There were things that I aspired too and I was making those the place I was living from. I was living in the clouds dreaming instead of staying grounded with what I have. The skills and experiences from my past are very purposeful for the work I can do in the present. I know I am good at coaching, I ask good questions, I am a good listener, my heart for restoration and my inner desire to serve others showed me that I can be a life coach, a counselor, a journey helper, or an empowering servant.
In the spirit of the Alchemist, I knew these things of my past have led me to this place for me to take the next step. I had to come to believe that I could take action where I am at to see change though. It is said that if we are not growing then we are complacent and this leads to slow death. (Robert Quinn, Deep change) the thing that got in the way for me was trying to figure out a plan, but Quinn says that a leader does not always have a plan just a vision. I always had a vision, but felt I needed a plan. To be honest this was just fear, resistance, procrastination. It is said that the biggest contributor to procrastination is planning. I was afraid to take action, no matter how big of a bias I had. This is because I was living with my work preceding my identity. there is so much to go into on this topic and I will go in on it in a different post, but what I want us to know is that pursuing our vision, our desires, our dreams is much harder when we are defined by what we do and what we have done instead of by who we are.

Where do we go from here?

The same questions that I asked myself I will ask you; what do you want and who do you want to become. Those that have a special impact on the world have a bias towards action and their action is embedded in serving others. Connecting purpose and identity is easier for others and acting out of purpose and identity is even more rare. A question I wonder about is that if world changers study goal setting, vision making, action taking, and servant leadership, or do they just do it.
I would like us to be able to just take action. What change would you like to see in the world? What inspires you, what hurts you in your heart, what brings you life? This is what I want to help us figure out and take action towards. This is what restoring my vision is about. I want to lead you to the place for you to say I am restoring my vision because this journey is not just about me.
It is about the restoration of your passion to pursue your vision.

There is an email sign up area to subscribe if you would like to join with me in this journey of learning what it is like to restore your vision and be the change you want to see.

Resources:
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
https://www.amazon.com/Alchemist-Paulo-Coelho/dp/0061122416

Deep Change by Robert E Quinn
https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Change-Discovering-Jossey-Bass-Management/dp/0787902446/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466467918&sr=8-1&keywords=deep+change

change will come: breaking down the wall that change is not possible

there is this idea out there that change is not possible. some might call this a lie and some might just label it apathy. the sad part about this idea is that people find it to be true and they live their lives as if they can not do anything about it. I often hear the phrase, “they are just stuck in their ways” or “they are who they are”. I have been able to observe when these comments are made and they often come in the midst or near the end of a conflict. the person’s back is up against the wall and they are not sure what to do because there seems to be a dead lock between the two people. the worst way that I hear these types of phrases used is when a conflict has gone on so long that the conflict is just a normal way of life and the idea of change is like a dream.

The damage

as somebody that study’s conflict, I find this idea to be so damaging. I say damaging because essentially each person is asking for compromise and that is what the relationship is built off of and so you have two people that give 50 percent or however much of themselves so that the conflict can be resolved. this resolution is not so much of a resolution, but a way to digress the situation. this is where we get terms like sweeping things under the rug and let it go. these can tend to do more harm than good because essentially what happens is one of two things. either one person is left feeling like they did not get enough or a person is left feeling like they did not receive enough. each side if held in their stance without compassion is left to the strength of their own stability of what they believe to be true. this is why politics and religion are so divisive and cunning. granted there are things that can change and things that can not change, but humans are not one of them. humans are a transformative being.

What happens

if we refuse to love then we will not change and if we ask for change without love then there will be pain. asking somebody to change is like trying to shove a quarter in the penny slot. you want a large return, but you are putting it where there is not much power to produce the change. this is what they formally call forcing it. this essentially leads to if you do not do what I want you to do then I will stop doing my part. the most popular form of this is done through guilt and manipulation and it says if you love me you would do it for me, whatever the action may be. this may work for a young child because a parent wants to prove their love to their child, but it does not work for much more than that. this is why every nonviolent protest has come out with more positive outcomes than forceful and violent actions. this is why asking your significant other for change does not work. It turns the human in to an object for your pleasure and benefit instead of somebody to love and value. this is what I would say is at the core of Jesus saying to love your neighbor as yourself.

Stepping into change

we have made sacrifice and courage to be macho manifestations, but what we really need is humility to ask how can I love you better. the sacrifice and courage , still makes the central point on the action instead of the person. if you look at either of the two famous musicians talking about change, whether it be Sam Cooke or Tupac, both will tell you that change is coming, but it starts with ourselves. we have the most power to change ourselves and no other people, so not only outwardly ask others how can I love you better, but inwardly ask yourself how can I love better. Change will come, I promise and it will not be because of somebody doing something differently to appease, but it will be because of love.

this is heavy and much of it sounding critical and negative. , but it does not have to be that way.

we can not love others if we are love them the way we think they should be love, but real love happens when we can put ourselves aside and say how can I serve you and what ways are you loved

so when people say no they won’t change in that apathetic voice, or they are who they are, reply to them that it is not true, change is possible.

tell me in the comments how have you seen change happen?

Beauty in the mess: take it all in

the other night I went out to Pete’s coffee with a friend to do a little work and I had a sobering moment. before telling this story I need to confess something… I ease drop and when I say I ease drop I ease drop. it’s probably some FOMO thing. if you do not know what that is google it. anyways I was ease dropping and this idea came over me and gently asked me “do you realize where you are at?”

there were two people working at Pete’s I think one was a new hire and the other was a contractor doing tile. the tile contractor was talking to his partner and he said something about how he has traveled quite a bit and he listed off Santa Barbara as one of the places he had visited and his partner said wow I guess you have been able to get around and see some places. right after he said that I said to my friend Andrew, whom also lived in Santa Barbara with me, I didn’t realize Santa Barbara was such an highly acclaimed travel location, I guess I have been taking it for granted”. within a minute or two later one of the other people working was talking with a customer about a Park that was not to well known. it caught my ear to listen because I like knowing about unheard of things, but she went on explaining this park and how she got there and she said you kind of had to hike to it, but once you go there the view was amazing the trees were all around and there were places to play and set up picnics. the way she was describing it made it sound so majestic and special. just as before a thought came over me again, do I see places special like this?

with these two thoughts combined I started to think about where I am at and if I would describe it in the same way. where I am at may seem ordinary to another person and they might just go on with life without any recognition of the unique place I am at. if I were to describe to somebody where I was at, it would sound like a place out of the ordinary and most likely would gain the response how did you get there.

each location that we go to is a journey and each journey looks different for each person, but what I can gather is that the most ordinary places are special and the most special places are ordinary. it is not about how far you travel to get to the place, but it is what you are willing to see when you get there. the things worth finding take perseverance to get too. the ability to see beauty in the ordinary will provide hope, but finding beauty in the mess will bring gratitude.

this conversation I had with myself brought me to the point of making me realize there is beauty where I am at. I can actually put myself in the future, look back at myself in the present and see that there is beauty. this is not a feel good message that is trying to diminish the present. By no means do I discount the dreadful work, the painful waiting, continual bewilderment, the anxiety that lack of direction causes, or even the scary but ever presence of loneliness. this is real and we may not like to relate to this as ordinary, but I think for many of us it is. so I sit here finishing this article on the campus of Stanford right down the street from the Pete’s coffee that is in one of the most acclaimed neighborhoods in California. a few doors down from here are a McLaren and Porsche dealership.

so I asked myself, where am I? I am at Stanford where most people would go and be astonished by the architecture and landscape. where tourist come to take pictures or the prestige that surrounds them. For me this was a friendly reminder by god that beauty is around me and I am in a beautiful place. I may not be able to see it, but it is beautiful. I am not sure when, but I believe my vision will be restored.( metaphorically)this was just a glimpse of something I was able to realize in the midst of a storm, but these are the things that we are to cling too because if it were not for these quaint visions and messages of hope then how would we know we are loved by something bigger than ourselves and our circumstances. So I encourage you to take it in, take it all in. as difficult as it is take in the mess, the crap and embrace it because it is real, but it is also beautiful.

Tell me in the comment section, what have you found beauty in?

why the desire to be heard is good

is there something wrong with wanting to be heard?
I hear this sentiment tossed around our culture a little too frequently for my liking. most often it goes a little something like oh you just want to be heard or something along those lines. like there is something wrong with speaking up or sharing your voice. after listening to this sentiment for a while I got to thinking that the real message behind this is “ do not speak up unless it is something that can be universally agreed upon”. I get it, at least I think I do… folks want to express themselves and not be ridiculed or excluded. thus we get this culture of expression from people like hipsters, emo, queer folk, artsy , and the indie crowd.

if you are anything like me a question mark went up when it became cool to wear Toto’s in public, accentuate make up, make your teeth into vampire fangs, or have a man bun. what I have learned is that it is ok to have question marks go up. I understand I may have picked some stereotypes to pick on, but what I see in each of these expressions is look I am different and I can be different. , do you see me, do you hear me? these question marks that went up for me and the questions that are being asked by the people expressing themselves are all good and we should appreciate them and hear them. if we do not hear them then both sides will build a foundation on ignorance and prejudice. this is what I think MLK was referring to when he said “ the riot is the voice of the unheard”. the greater the ignorance the greater the unrest and desire for expression. when we try to express ourselves and we do not get heard then we take bolder steps to being heard. this is why affirmation is so important and this goes beyond telling somebody they look nice and into the realm of telling somebody their voice matters.

so do I want to be heard? yes I want to be heard, do I want it to look like I am on a soap box or creating my own separate colony, absolutely not. I want to share, so that others see that it is possible, important, necessary, and powerful. Is there a bit of desire for affirmation, of course, I would be lying if there wasn’t. the dominate desire, though, is to create a place for others to be heard. story is important and my story is just a subliminal part of this world and I recognize that and I want to bring others in to share their story because it is important. what got you to where you are, why do you express yourself the way you do, what do you want people to know?
I have found a common theme in our voice and when I say voice I do not just mean the verbiage that comes out of our mouth, but how you display yourself, what you say and how you say it and how you walk through this thing called life. what I have realized is that many of the voices I hear come from a place of pain and hurt. that those are the thing that define us and that we cling to. hurt and pain are real things and they mean a great deal to us because they impact us so much the scary thing is that I think we have created a culture where it is not acceptable to be real with our pain because it shows weakness. it is not only the weakness that holds us back, but it is the inability for most of us to receive somebody’s hurt and pain with compassion and understanding. a dig part of this is making sure the person is heard. what I have found is if the person is heard then the longing for acceptance goes down. once somebody hears those words “I hear you” or experiences that sentiment then they have this momentary feeling of connection and the peace that comes along with knowing that somebody is with you.

I may be trying to fetch something far away, but when I think of this scenario of not being heard and wanting to express yourself to be heard, I think of Jesus. not so much of the Jesus image on the cross, but when Jesus said my yoke is upon you it is easy and my burden is light. what I hear in this is somebody that is ready to hear you and walking along side you, there is not judgement, no pressure, and no standards. You can come freely express yourself as you are. Under this yoke there is no riot because you are heard and in that place there is peace and acceptance for god is Emanuel and he is with us and he hears your voice, your cry for life, your cry to be seen.

this does not diminish the reality of life and the hurt and pain that accompanies it, but it says that I am with you. since there is somebody with us, we can share, we can be in silence, we can be angry, and we can ask for help and tell them what we want. It does not mean you are going to get all that you want, but you will be heard and there will be somebody else that says I needed to hear that or I am going through the same thing. So when somebody says I just want to be heard I want them to now I do not just want to be heard, but I want them to know I am sharing an experience, providing an opportunity to connect, and teaching so that we might see a bit deeper into this thing called life. thank you for hearing me and I look forward to hearing you

searching for Freedom: the Bob Goff kind of Freedom

have you ever met or even just seen somebody that has so much life and joy and freedom, and excitement, and peace, and love, and understanding, and compassion, and, courage. they are out there. I am not just rattling off all kinds of great characteristics that the super human could have. my first encounter with somebody like this was in Santa Barbara where I went to college. his name was Matt and no I am not secretly talking about myself. he was a year above me and one of the first few people I met when entering a community that I would soon know as real life. for me this guy Matt epitomized what I thought real life could look like. it would not be too far to say that I put him on a pedestal. I got to know him a bit more and soon realized he was just a normal dude, but had this vibrancy to his life. in the community you could tell he was looked up too, but he definitely did not act like it because he just radiated humility. everything was always so exciting with him and things were so awesome and cool all while maintaining a clear focus on reality and be present with the tough things.

the next time I came across somebody like this that totally shocked me was when I read this book called Love does. some of you know of it. it is by Bob Goff and chapter by chapter Bob tells a story how he lived by love and did crazy amazing things because love is able to do everything. if you do not know Bob, a little bit of his story contains him sitting on the bench outside the doors of the dean of USC’s law school for 3 consecutive days so he could get admitted to the law school or him confronting a room full of Ugandan witch doctors and just smacked them all upside the head and told them to stop killing people, gave them a copy of love does and the bible and then provided education for them as a way to empower them. when you see Bob in person it is like Santa Clause in the way people line up to receive hugs from him. he is as jolly as he sounds and he is also as joyful as he sounds, and the freedom just emits from him internally and also how he lives his life externally. When you meet him , you are assured that it is not just a show he is putting on.

for me these types of people seem far and few between. they are something that has always been attractive to me. I often wondered to myself why there weren’t more people like this around. why are these people so rare and how do we find, make and become like them. so in a moment of delightful friendship I asked my friend Philippe why there were not more people like Bob Goff around. what he said did not really catch me off guard, but was what I had been leaning towards but unable to confirm. my friend Philippe said there are probably more of those types of people around, but we do not see them. I think the reason I had a hard time confirming it was because I did not think I had that type of freedom and I did not think I was capable of it, so I was envious. this envy did not allow me to see what was already around me. when Philippe answered my question it allowed me to think about the people that do a good job of living freely.
the question that quickly became our discussion was who around us that we know lives this way. if we know they are there and around us, then who are they?
I have not found a universal trait that characterizes this type of person. I think one thing that was leading me down a false path in finding these people was looking for somebody that displayed their lively freedom extrovertly. these guys Bob and Matt were noticed because they were loud, outgoing, ecstatic, passionate and they came alive when around people. the list that I thoughtfully put together at this table with Philippe was not so much of the people that were outgoing and extroverted, but one’s that were not defined by what they did or their circumstances.
so I think if I were to go on a look for these kind of people I would look for the people that are not shaken when they receive a bad grade, let down when they get told they can’t do something, rushed to fit everything in, or become so consumed by things that they forget the world around them.
from what I have come up with these people are special because they view reality for what it is and they embrace it knowing nothing they worry about in the moment will change the moment, so they embrace the moment and the people in it. this embrace is not taken lightly by them either , after all people practically and metaphorically line up behind these people to get close to them. it often gets me to wonder if this is what the modern day Jesus looks like. the even bigger question that it gets me thinking about is did Jesus really just come to give us something to believe in and have hope for or was it so that we can be with him, at peace and free. there is a part of me that thinks we make this much harder than it has to be, but then I wonder why am I not there, is there even a there?
when I finished my conversation with Philippe I was left with a feeling that I needed to look around a bit more. after sitting there naming off some of the people that I knew, I realized that I did not see freedom when it was right in front of me. I was looking for the ideal Bob Goff act a like. I guess I learned that we all can not wait for that person to show up that people are lining up around to get hugs from.
most often these types of people are out doing crazy things like taking their sons on a sailing voyage across the ocean, providing education to witch doctors, or hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro. ( read love does then you will know what I am talking about)I guess what I am trying to say is that this can not be an ideal that we strive for and work towards because it looks different for different people. the best way that I can summarize this way of living is that it is a lifestyle that takes you over because it is something that you believe at your core, so it is something that just comes out of you. maybe you can say this freedom is like a religion. freedom is something that is followed and not something that is strive for.
remember to look around because this freedom looks different and can come in all different kinds of ways.
where do you see freedom being lived out and what is it?

working differently: idea’s on how to work on yourself and not just the 9-5

this season of life has been difficult to say the least. whether it has been battling depression, dealing with rejection, or the inability to find an open door to move forward in something; it has made taking a step forward in life very difficult. I have spent much time agonizing over things that I could or should be doing. I have been at war with standards and expectations. climbing through the mud of low self-worth and self-rejection. I have literally climbed mountains to try to feel something other than a storm.
***
there is this critique of my generation being the most entitled generation or group right now in American culture. I hear and see where the critique is coming from and I empathize with those that feel things are not fair. I do not want to be left out to dry and left out to scrape by without any wise foreseeable movement; nor do I want to be entitled. the line between making a wise decision and entitlement seems to be getting narrower and when things get narrower like a river they get pressured and move much faster. I am not saying I am not entitled because that is something that society has taught me in my upbringing and I am trying to not allow to be a part of me, but also at the same time I do not want to fall victim to the entitlement label.
***
what am I doing about it?
I am working. isn’t that what we are supposed to do. isn’t that the status quo once you graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree. Go apply for internships, work up from the bottom. guess what tried to come up from the bottom and I am still here. as easy as Bid Sean makes it sound to get to the top, it is not easy in today’s world.
I am satisfied with what I studied while I was at university and would not change my area of study. I do not want to follow the cultural norm of studying for something to be utilized by the business complex. I may not live as one that is counter cultural, yet, but I have made a counter cultural choice. as somebody with a degree that society does not have high regard for I have found it essential and beneficial to use my time while not in a 9-5 to work on myself.
***
admittedly I do have a hesitancy of going into the 9-5 prison. I say that figuratively, but also literally because for the majority of us the 9-5 restrains us from knowing ourselves, seeking what makes us come alive, spending time how we want too, and seeking the abundant life. I am not anti-work or anti 9-5, but for many of us it sucks in and does not spit out. Days pass, weeks pass, and years pass without even knowing who you really are, what makes you come alive, and having life giving relationships. Here are 12 things that we can incorporate in our lives to work on ourselves
1 go through your past and come up with the positive and negative turns in your life
2 know how and why you do things the way you do
3 ask yourself who am I and who do I want to be
4 come up with a list of things that have hurt the most in your life
5 find a cause that you are passionate about
6 take time to recognize your flaws
7 invest in meaningful and deep relationships
8 step outside of your comfort zone to learn something knew
9 find somebody that you relate to that can speak truth into your life and open yourself up for the truth
10 define what you want and see how your past has brought you to a place to do it
11 find a counselor to talk through your crap with
12 invest in something to slowly start working towards your dream

Not sure if you hear this enough, but time passes while you work the 9-5 and those 8 hours add up to 40 and then 160 hours pretty quickly. How are you spending your life. life gets difficult and sometimes you have to do what you need to do to make ends meet. Work does help to build character, but there comes a point where the work that in common in our culture becomes regressive. All I am saying is that if we want life is to be meaningful and purposeful then we have to act in such a way and work on where the change and transformation needs to start and that is with you. this work will take work and will not be easy even though it has to do with yourself. It will take commitment and perseverance because most often it will be uncomfortable work. the hope that comes from this work is much greater than the hope that comes from the 9-5, so think about how you can work differently.

Reader question: how have you worked on yourself?

Sharing a story of the Valley:: A helpful guide for those not in depression

I find it interesting how often we do not want to talk about the things that suck. , the things that are difficult, the things that are uncomfortable, or the things that are tough to make sense of. Right now there are two enormously demanding scenario’s playing out on two different sides of the world, one being the tragedy of the earthquake in Nepal and the other being the uprising in Baltimore in reaction to the death of Freddie grey. Both situations are in need of enormous amounts of compassion exemplified by walking with the people impacted and inserting yourself into where they are. These things suck, they are taxing, they are demoralizing, they are paralyzing, and disappointing. whether it be a death of a kid in Baltimore or a death of a child in Nepal they are both injustices, I have things I want to say about this injustices and how they should be addressed, but they are not my story to tell. I do not know Nepal and I do not know what it is like to be a person of color in Baltimore. I can support them and bring awareness , but I question is that what we really need. awareness was needed last week because now the fire is burning and damage is done and I do not mean this in a pun like manner but in a metaphorical manner that brings light to the problem that has persisted before these tragedies struck. We need to tell these stories, but more importantly we need to go ahead and tell other stories before they become an issue. We can not just speak about suicide when it becomes an issue we can not just speak about Ebola when it is in America we can not just speak about Haiti when an earthquake hits, but we need to speak. So those with a story, with pain, with inspiration, with tragedy, with no light at the end of the tunnel. So here is to sharing a story. It is not eh story that is predominate right now, but is still a story that needs to be shared. We need something for people to relate to, to bring the humanity back into struggles and into injustice. To start that I share this. It does not relate to the issue’s dominating the news waves, but it is a narrative that dominates many of our hearts in big and small ways.so take a listen here is the story I need to tell right now.
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depression is a funny thing because you go through life in a way that you know you do not want to, but there is also knowledge that there is a reality out there we are not living in. there is something more and you keep stretching for it. we stretch and stretch and when something does not work or it feels like we have failed then it feels like our world has come to an end. we don’t have energy, joy, hope, motivation. some say we are like a rubber band and sometimes we just get stretched until we can not stretch anymore and we break, but I do not find that completely true because that breaking point is based on a set of feelings over particular circumstances and the effort that you put into moving forward. work is frail, efforts are dire and our motives waiver. experiences are positive and negative feelings go up and down and truth is difficult to cling too.
I think there is a difference between life sucking and fighting depression. circumstances build how we feel about life but it is difficult to shape our view of life by these experiences. for me personally when I have moved away from the feelings that these experiences provide I come to the reality of how I view myself, life and god. this is also what I have come to know as reality. for me depression is coming to the place that you do not view reality in a positive way and you view your reality as a deep valley that you are stuck in.
it just takes one punch to get knocked out, but takes a miracle to take a step forward. The hope level is at what feels like an all-time low and most of the time I believe that most things work against me. this is not a foundational belief, but something that is concluded from life’s circumstances. don’t get me wrong I believe, but I have a whole bunch of unbelief and any issue big or small that gets piled on makes me feel like my world is going to cave in because I do not have enough belief.

being real is the hardest thing. saying ok or alright to the proverbial how are you question is about the extent of the desire to let others into your life. not only do you not want to hash out your problems again because it is exhausting and makes you feel worse, but the taxation that you are experiencing is something that you do not want to put onto others. then there is the ego that tells you that nothing will get better by talking and you can talk somebody’s ear off and nothing will change because if you remember this is a heart issue not a circumstantial issue.

no money, no sex, no trip to the movies, no cartons of ice cream, no promotion, no child, no vacation will make things better. they are just cover ups. they are just positive experiences that allow us to live in a momentary alternate reality that does not last. escapism is so often convenient. most often it takes form in menial things like TV shows, video games books, and work. feelings do not want to be talked about because we are so tired of addressing our feelings. in fact I have noticed an apathy towards feelings because the only recollection of feelings are the negative ones. I would say there is even a feeling of wanting to do away with feelings all together. there is much more comfort found in being the numb blob state. I would say I am tired of having life be built on feelings. To conquer depression will take a reformation of foundation that will not be built on sand, but a sturdy rock. the one feeling that is not hard to describe and express is the one of being stuck or trapped.

there is a way, there is hope; oh really I have not heard that before. pardon my sarcasm it comes from a place of frustration of being told I hope you feel better or you will figure it out just give it time. I don’t want time and I don’t want your convenient dose of hope. If you find yourself about to say this the best thing you can do is enter in with questions, take time, remind the person that you care and that you would like to stay involved. that will be important and meaningful. it will take enormous amount of strength for the depressed person to let you in and if you let them off easy with a “nice” reply it will be received as rejection. that is the cold hard truth. words of truth are not meaningful enough, but truth that comes in the form of action will be the most crucial. The most meaningful thing to a depressed person is sacrifice. yes this may be important to anybody, but it means the most because it shows they are accepted for who the person is as a whole.

a joyful song is painful to a heavy heart. depression literally feels like you are in a valley and when the joys of life are celebrated in front of you it brings out the hardness of your heart. yes it may not be shown, but to you inside you despise it. you want emotions and feelings to cling to that are familiar and the joyful celebratory feelings are not them. they almost act like a taunt of this is where you are not. the energetic feel good music is something that does not vibe with you and you just want to get away from it when it is around you. it reminds you of everything you are not and when you are trying to return back to a healthy balance this reminds you of the shame and guilt that still lies beneath the harden skin.

despising niceness seems to be a common occurrence because you want to find meaning in your suffering and the nice fluffy stuff does not cut it. it seems so fake and not worth anything that you would rather it not be there than to endure it. you long for genuine connection and when others have it you become jealous. It is so hard to open because each time you open up a bit you are making yourself vulnerable. To give that nice response seems so difficult because life does not seem nice and saying any of the standard reply’s to how are you which are alright, ok, and good; does not feel adequate or even correct. Being honest while depressed is like trying to balance a ball on your nose while standing a ball. You have to balance two different ends; the weight of the world and the weight you put onto others. the last thing you feel is right as somebody that is depressed is to impose on somebody. Finding the balance of being able to ask for help and dealing with the reality is paralyzing. Like I said sacrifice is going to be what allows us to move forward out of the depression because it will allow us to have the comfort to cry out for help. If you get one thing out of this remember that sacrifice displays acceptance.

This was extremely hard for me to post, I have had it written for a while, but had not posted it. there are important things going on in the world and in each one of us, so please listen, please try to understand, each of us just wants to be accepted so give us an opportunity to explain ourselves.
Please share your story, write it and display it. if you do not have a place to display it, come here and I will provide space for you. I do not want this to take place of any other important issue’s going on, but I want this to be an invitation. The experience you live in is the experience that others see and sharing that story will happen one way or another, so come share your story. It Is important.
It may be difficult, but it is important.

What do you need to share: a poetic encouragement

come share your story
nobody can tell you what to feel or what your experience is. you are equal just as I am. we are made of the same skin cells, we all fell and searching for the same well. my heart beyond writing the last post about being authentic was to get us to be in touch with how we feel. I want us to be real. the way we have been created is in mind, body, spirit and heart and if we leave one of them out it is not the whole deal., kind of like an off shade of teal I am afraid we hold back. the desire for authenticity does not lack. the freedom and opportunity to share our experience are note there , so they pile up like a big stack.

you are equal , so I put myself on the same plane of equal rights. ignorance and lack of education of you impair my sight. I think you have a story worth sharing , just like each star in the night. there may be pain , anger, frustration or rejection; with a crying heart I plead come share with all your might. I know it feels awful , I can’t take another topple , but your bravery will be beautiful. we need it, we miss it, it’s a secret that we want it.
so come share your story observe how you feel, come be real, I got your back , we all need a protector as we heal. layers get peeled away with our prayers because you know you have somebody that care’s. pain it sticks like distain, the feeling lingers swims through your vain until it becomes crippling like a cane. wash me clean, forgive me don’t make me mean, the past delivers us to the present and we do not want to be seen
I know the vulnerability , but I ask for you to come share your story
rain can wash away the stain, your existence does not have to be its Bain. look at the them, the problem, the blem the ish of society, but remember your propriety. it starts with you for there is no us without you. the innovation of this nation begins with your own restoration
we all have reservation, but your voice has beauty, your voice has power, your voice can build a tower
what do you need to share, , do you have a tare, will you take a dare? All these questions to sort through, all for what a lonely stare.
I am calling you out. Lori, tori, Cory, everyone in-between come share your story
what do you need to share about?
I am going to share about depression next time. what would you like to share? come share on this space i want to open up for you to share.

If not for Second Chance’s by Philippe Lazaro book launch promo

hey friends,
so my dear friend Philippe wrote a book that is magnificent. I had the honor and pleasure to be a part of this journey and write the forward for the book, which i will put below so you can get a taste of what it is about. if you know you want to buy it before even reading the forward the link is right here. enjoy the epilog and the book. i am confident you will enjoy it and have a few laughs.

http://www.amazon.com/If-Not-Second-Chances-Forgiveness/dp/0692389563/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429225435&sr=8-1&keywords=second+chance+philippe

Forward:
So I went on a road trip with this guy name Philippe. It was the tail end of our trip and we had just visited Multnomah falls in northern Oregon, which was really pretty and majestic and all those things that falls are. We hit the road after that for a long trek to make it all the way to Sacramento, ca, so Phil is settled in driving after just seeing the water falls relaxed and happy that he was able to get his camera off for the last big thing of our trip. About an hour and a half later Phil sees some flashing lights behind him. I am as well relaxed just enjoying the drive and he starts to slow down, so I ask what’s going on. Well I would have my answer about 30 seconds later when a highway 5 patrol officer comes to our window and explains to Philippe that he was speeding and he was going to receive a ticket. Now I am not here to spoil the story you are about to read, so I am telling a story he did not share, whether he likes it or not( if it makes the print version then that means he did not mind). I am also not trying to tell on my friend, but I am using this as an example of when I have seen and experience Philippe process his second chance. He truly was bummed and he had not intent in speeding and was an honest mistake, but he was able to take this negative experience and not let it affect him because he believed he had a second chance. To borrow a term from Victor Frankel, Philippe has a redemptive perspective on his suffering. After asking Phil if he was bummed and letting him process what happened I realized he had accepted his second chance when he got his camera back out to take a few more pictures while driving. Well I think that is all I can add to this story as the co-pilot, so now let me tell you what you are getting yourself into.
Second chances… I wonder about all those times if I would have done that differently or if I would be different if I would not have done that. Earlier in my life I often would catch myself asking why does this have to happen to me or what is next, as ways of expressing frustration and hopelessness with the way I viewed my life. it kept me on the edge of my seat, but not in the good way. it was the worrying kind, you know the kind that drains life. so this story of second chances is something that I can really resonate with and not just because of my hopeless stories from my past, but because this second chance life is something that takes effort every day of my life. I would have no other person explain second chances than Philippe. He himself is a unique individual, but his story is even more unique and resemblent of what happens when you take a chance.
as a dear friend of Philippe and a partner in this adventure I can say that you will find nothing short of authenticity and genuine thoughtfulness. I do not say that to give my friend a boost or to make myself sound good since you will probably learn a great deal about me as well as Phil, but I say it because his words display a desire of connection. connection with you as the reader, connection with god, and connection with himself. Phil allows you to walk with him, but I think his goal is more for him to walk with you. this is a story about his journey, but more importantly it is an invitation for you to take a journey, so put on your reading boots and get ready to discover life as a second chance.

Behind these pages you will find this book has the exquisite illustrative resemblance of Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller, but the delightful eloquence of Walter Mitty. this book by no means is just for hipsters, but those that see life as a second chance an want to live it to the fullest. the search for a second chance is something that we all search for and we all long for. you will get taken through the joys and the burdens of second chances, but if it were not for those journey’s where would we find hope. the experiences of living with 7 other guys and a dang cute dog will allow you to see that there is always something to persevere through. this was so cleverly done that it seemed like you were traveling alongside Philippe the whole time. the collaboration of the two experiences will allow you to see the character that has been built and shaped through this redemptive process.

For me restoration is a big theme of my life, which is essentially making the old new or bringing hope and life back to something that did not have it. in our day to day lives we can get caught in fog’s or desert’s where life just does not seem to make sense and you feel lost, but once you make it to the other side of that fog bank or desert then we are able to look back and make a choice of wanting things to be different or accepting the tough journey you just went on as it is. it is said hindsight is often the clearest sight, but looking forward is the most joyful. the last part I added but I think it is fitting for us to realize the gratitude and appreciation for life that comes from seeing life as a second chance. a second chance is something that we have to grasp because if we do not it will just pass us by and the only way we will be able to grasp redemption is by grace, so without giving out anymore idea’s about second chances I will allow you to enter into the adventure that Phil is about to take you on. Do not forget your reading boots.

and now if you want to buy it here is the link again
http://www.amazon.com/If-Not-Second-Chances-Forgiveness/dp/0692389563/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429225435&sr=8-1&keywords=second+chance+philippe