Doing God’s will

Drove Karymar to school today. On my way back home I saw a homeless man resting on a corner, reading.  God told me at that moment to turn around a pay a visit to this man. Two traffic lights later I made a U-turn and parked by where the man was seated. He was a white man in his 50’s and he was reading the bible seating on top of his belongings. His bicycle was couple feet away, holding a sign that read “need $3.00 for shelter, God Bless”.  I said good morning and he replied back with enthusiasm. I asked him how he is doing. He said that he is improving, that now he realizes that it is his fault and he is paying for his sins to be saved by the grace of God.  I mention that God wanted me to stop by and talk to you and he told me that that is God’s will. I asked him to read a passage of the bible and he did. He read John 3:16 to 20 explaining in his own words the meaning of God’s word. I never had anyone that I remember read the bible directly to me and I smiled in appreciation for this moment. We talked for a little while and then I departed. I offered him the $3.00 dollars he needed for the shelter and a little more. He explained to me what he will do with the money and what he used to do with it. I am glad that he is using it well and that he is, despite of his current situation, at peace with life and with God.  What a morning blessing! I was filled with emotion on my way back home, filled with happiness because God employed me to do his bidding and I responded to his will. Nothing can ruin this day for it started on a much higher note and I will reflect this joy I am feeling back to the people I meet and interact with  today because that is what God wants me to do. So thy will be done…

How to Free Yourself from an Argument

  1. Desist from judging others: you can follow this golden rule and be done with it. However it easier to say it than see it done. I see myself in this pitfall every day. Wherever I go, I am surrounded by situations and people challenging my convictions and my perspective in life. Passing judgment is nothing more than filtering the way you see others through your own prejudices or beliefs. What you see “wrong” or disapprove in others it may be a reflection of your internal makeup based on previous experiences. Sometimes, more often than not, we criticize others because we just don’t understand or won’t allow considering other points of view and use our own experiences or worst someone else’s experience to judge others. Thus we label others as different even inferior because it doesn’t go in line with what we believe being a fact or not. Instead see yourself in others and allow yourself to be open to a different perspective. What is ok for me it is a sin for others and vice-versa so strive to be neutral and replace any thoughts or feelings of judging others with positive thoughts. It could be as simple as saying: “I don’t have any facts, reason or proof to be thinking in that way towards this person” or “I am not in his/her shoes so I won’t allow opportunity for criticism”. Even if you have gone through a similar experience the circumstances are never the same for everyone and so are the results. Silence is the best choice when feeling the urge of being opinionated. Turn your volume down and listen to the other person rather than waiting for your turn to talk and make your point. To win an argument may cause temporary victory, but is a longtime defeat on your personal relations. Allowing listening to others builds compassion, humility and gain true understanding of the other person’s position. It really put things to consider on a balance and what’s best it allows you to appreciate yourself and others. This is an attitude shift that must be in check at all times. Do not be discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away as it takes practice to leave behind old habits and false beliefs. Just the fact that you’re catching yourself up in the act; about to pass judgment onto others is telling you that your sub-conscious is aware of it and you’re allowing the opportunity to see things from a different perspective. With daily practice and the ever present awareness of the moment, you will shift towards accepting others as they are.
  2. Be the first to say I’m sorry: another golden rule to enrich relationships and difficult for many to adopt because it involves dealing with our egos. In an argument the tendency for each party is to win, victory over defeat. Nobody likes being defeated; it has been embedded in our consciousness since childhood, to be the winner vs. the looser. Winning over an argument in a relationship is a temporary victory and more than likely will bring repercussions on the long run because the loser, your partner, friend, co-worker’s ego is being left defeated with no consolation. If you care about others and want to maintain a good harmonious relationship, go for a truce as soon as the argument arises. Instead of stating your argument, say “I AM SORRY” immediately and openly. Regardless of who is at fault saying these magical words will disarm the other person’s reason to argue and the argument will become null. You’re not giving in or being weak by doing this but you both become winners by allowing the opportunity to honor your relationship instead of letting inflated egos ruin a relationship for nothing. Saying “I am sorry for what is happening” will make you a stronger person because you value your relationship more than your ego and if the other person respects the relationship will also drop any intention to argue. Then both can work together for a friendly solution, saving and perhaps making the relationship stronger.
  3. Ask for advice: If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain. This proverbial idiom suggest that when things don’t change the way we want them to, then we must adjust to the way they are. When in the middle of a losing argument, one that it seems it will never end, if no solution is presented then go for rule # 2 and then ask for advice to find a solution and finish the argument. If you’re asking for advice with true honesty and good intentions, you will free from self and look in others for a solution that would benefit both parties. You are allowing the other person to be the first to offer closure to the argument by showing that you care and respect the relationship. This is one way to turn an argument to a friendly discussion. Forget self and seek help from others even if you think you have the best solution. Allow cooperation rather than telling what needs to happen.
  4. Ask the right questions instead of criticizing: Instead of “why you did that?” which allows room for an argument, say “I like to understand what make you to do that, can you explain?” this opens up for discussion rather than argument. Obviously if the person is not receptive you may want to wait until things cool off and suggest a better time to discuss or leave it where it is. Bowing out and leaving the mat instead of fighting a lost cause will only hurt feelings and will distance you from others. Timing is critical when conserving relationship. There is a time for action and a time of inaction. Being a good listener without uttering a word may be the best remedy to finish an argument. Try instead of suggest questions to allow the other person to find his/her own resolution to the problem or argument. See things from the other person perspective and use non-incriminating questions to find an amicable solution. If in doubt follow rule # 1 always!
  5. Detach yourself from the argument: It takes two to quarrel; see you as an outsider, the impartial mediator. Help the other person to save face by refraining any direct criticism or opinion to the subject. Abstain to offer your opinion unless is requested and even so be careful not to pass any judgment or go overboard expressing your views on the topic. Refer to rule # 1, remain silent and practice active listening, being compassionate with others.

    The Chronicles of Ian Karlo: through the eyes of my children

     

    My Son just turned six months of age. Six months, eighteen pounds of chunky folds to eat to kisses later. He is a happy boy; never seem to fuzz about anything, adjusting to any type of environment even during his sleeping time. He is a trooper, like his big Sister able to “survive” in any situation. His sleep is never interrupted by outside noises, let alone being distress by anything that might occur to him unexpectedly. If he wakes up, he then joins you in whatever you’re doing blending with the environment so effortlessly that you won’t notice he is in the room until he starts with his now famous “cantatas” or singing. Ian Karlo is a morning person, the first one to wake up around 5:30 AM. Our natural “alarm clock”, he starts by cooing and grunting gradually escalating his babbling to a higher pitch like a wave sounding like a tenor preparing his vocals for a “cantata”. To me he sounds like the ebb and flow of the wave from a distance and then closer. Invariable Marie and I check on him and when I look at him on his crib, he is wide awake looking straight at me, recognizing me under the dim light and giving me the smile that I so love to see every morning when I wake up. Is a smile like no other; a noble smile and kind eyes that expresses what love is all about, pure, innocent love without judgment. He used to wake up much earlier than we like so we don’t mind at all his new wake up time. Soon after this morning greeting, a diaper change and his morning java follows on his schedule. While feeding him, rocking back and forth lazily on the rocking chair, I cuddle my boy very close to me and still drowsy with sleep, I enjoy his lovely baby scent. I wish I could bottle up his baby aroma forever. It is such a unique and wonderful experience. His muscles are undeveloped yet his grip is firm, his kicks hard and alive wanting to bounce up. I appreciate this wakefulness despite of being tired and sleepy watching Ian Karlo lazily sucking on his bottle, gazing everything around the room and then back at me with a smile, trickles of milk running down his cheeks. I see no worries not a despair or malice in his eyes but goodness and graciousness. I thank God for this. He never stop to show me how much he loves me and he sends his very best Angels to aid me when I seek his guidance. I see this truth thru the eyes of my children.

    The early morning commotion soon gives way to Karymar to wake up with a “Buenos Dias” in her cheering voice. Marie and I know that It is already a good day. Life at the Guzman’s has been anything but ordinary during these past months. Karymar is five now and it seems that she grows larger by the second. When I look at her, I always see a twinkle in her eyes. God’s smiling again at me, saying “this is my message to you…don’t worry about a thing” just like the classic Bob Marley’s song. Don’t worry about a thing because what is important is standing right in front of me.

    It’s amazing to watch my children grow. They go to bed and grow overnight blooming the next morning like a flower. Just this past six months I have seen my children specially my daughter becoming natural teachers and her little brother is following suit with the kindness best expressed in children. They don’t have to do anything or even think what to say when things happen. No, they just look at me right in the eye and let me know without saying a word that no matter the circumstances, they are my priority. God Bless them!

    Standing tall and looking proud

    Drove downtown early morning to get my fingerprints done for the Orlando Diocese volunteer program. I had an appointment and was already late finding the office. I parked my car on a rush and walked to the office but no one was there, I looked around and the place seemed empty. After about 40 minutes I followed a person to an adjacent building and there I found the place I was looking for so long. I was out in less than 10 minutes. When I reached my car I found an unpleasant surprise on the windshield, a parking ticket. I was furious in fact I lost it for a minute ranting and yelling but nobody was there listening. I blamed the person who gave me the ticket; I even tried to find him or her so that person can hear what I have to say. Oh yes I did! I was mad for not being able to find the place, the lack of proper signs, I even blamed God. After all, I was doing a good deed volunteering for my church community and I get a parking ticket? Come on, give me a break! I lost it and really thought it was going to ruin my day. Less than 10 minutes later I was calmed, in silent and at peace. I took a series of deep breaths and calmed down. This unfortunate event was not going to ruin my day, I won’t let it happened. After my mind was calmed, I realize that I contributed to what happened to me from the beginning. The zone I parked had parking meters which I completely overlooked and misunderstood the parking sign that read “2 Hour maximum”. So there I have it, in plain proof that I triggered this whole thing. Then I reflected on the outcome of my behavior. Shame on me again; I let myself be the victim of the circumstances. It was my entire fault after all; the meter guy was doing his job, that’s all. Of course I rather not have to pay the fine but there it was a lesson learned, rant closed and back to my old self.

    I had another stop at the VA office for my regular check- up. As I walked to the building, my throat still sore from all the yelling earlier, I experienced a sense of stillness, tranquility and awareness of my surroundings that stopped me dead on my track. The sun was rising up painting the landscape of beautiful colors; birds were chirping, cool breeze on my face. What a beautiful morning! And I am glad that I can live it in the now!  Inside of the clinic it was full swing as usual, occupied by veterans of every branch. Everyone in the waiting room has a story to tell. Pride and honor is all I saw around me. Contrary to popular opinion, I was lucky to be where I was at that moment. For some the clinic can be a depressing place to be with people needing care from left to right. However, being surrounded by people made me feel appreciative of life and people. I stood up at the back of the room like a sentinel overlooking the veterans, battle worn but with pride in their bearing. To my right I heard a grunt and I saw an old veteran trying to stand up to his walker. He tried and grunted but his knees couldn’t hold his weight. After a few minutes he mumbled something and I looked to help him. It took two of us to get him on his feet but he thank us and kept on walking slowly, standing taller and looking proud.

    What a lesson I thought. Here I was complaining about petty things happening to me and here is this veteran who can barely walk yet he continues on, moving forward despite of his physical problems. He chose to move on and not be a victim of his own circumstances. Thank you God for this lesson! I certainly would have missed this lesson if I had let the unfortunate event that happened earlier in the morning to control me. I appreciated every minute from that point forward. To my surprise people reacted accordingly to my behavior greeting me and being cordial on my way out of the clinic. I walked out with a different spring on my stride, standing tall with a smile and looking proud of myself and all that surrounded me.

    The Taiko Drumming Experience

    I rode La Potra on a beautiful, cool night to check out a local place that teaches Japanese Taiko drumming. My friend David spoke highly of it and invited me to stop by and check it out myself.  The word “Taiko” means drum in Japanese. The history of Taiko, Japanese Drumming, goes back centuries. It began in religious ceremonies, in the Shrines and changed throughout the years. The cultural value of Taiko among Japanese people is about spirit, technique, body, and etiquette that come through the fundamentals of Bushido, the code of the Samurai. This is the most important message for Japanese*. I arrived late trying to find the dojo or school near an industrial area in Orlando. I came in with high expectations, multitude of people beating rows of drums to the same beat and things like that. Instead I found silence as I entered the dojo and saw three women sitting on the floor talking to each other. After formal Japanese greetings, I was given Taiko sticks (bachi) and a Taiko (drum). No basic instructions, no theory, it was hands on from the beginning. I mirrored the women beating the drums to a rhythm and surprisingly to me I followed without missing a beat. They were practicing for an upcoming event in Disney’s Epcot and I helped them keeping the basic beat or “Ji-uchi”. I got  into the Taiko stance, one leg straight and the other one bent,  feeling the rhythm and beating the drum for about 90 minutes. It was an awesome experience that I would like to share with my family and bring them along next time for more exploring of  the Japanese culture.

    *ref: http://www.matsuriza.com/html/about.html

    Don’t Worry Be Grateful

    Are you having one of those days that just

    got started off the front foot?

    Don’t worry, it happens to everyone.  The most

    important question is what are you going to do

    now?  Are you going to let yourself get into

    a funk or are you going to turn it around?

    Be grateful! When you are grateful, it is impossible to focus

    on the negative and you instantly start shifting

    towards a positive point of view with will automatically

    start to make you feel good (1).

    An altruistic sense of giving today may find you being generous with your time and energy. You may find yourself involved in charity work, or perhaps there is someone in your life who could benefit from your desire to help. We may feel selfless when we give our time, talent, energy, or finances. We also gain the good feeling that glows within us from the joy of giving, as well as the resultant increase in the good in our lives. This selflessness may be found in the intent, however, for when we give without thought to what we will gain, we are more likely to benefit than if we give with ulterior motives. Sincerity is meaningful between people as well as energetically, so follow your desire to give and let the giving be its own reward.

    We are all called to give differently using our unique talents and abilities. Some organizations or causes may move us more than others, and we should follow that feeling. The universe is urging us to the place where we can make the most difference. It is also important to balance giving with allowing yourself to be nurtured. If you give all you have, you may not be able to keep giving. Energetically, giving and receiving are two aspects of the same energy. By following your inspiration to help today, you place yourself in the cycle of giving and receiving and will be nourished (2).

    (1)   Go to www.gratitudelog.com and start being grateful  about everything because there is a lot to be grateful about. When I read this message for the first time , I immediately thought about you.

    (2)   Sign up for your DailyOM messages at www.dailyom.com. These are thought  provoking and inspiring to get you going and soon you will find, just like I did,  that it is talking straight at you.

    These messages are just a small fraction of the treasure chest  full of good things to make you a better person. They are worth reading, emulating and sharing with others. I find myself smiling when I read them, knowing that it is making wonders to my thinking and being. Gratitude is everything, so be appreciative of  the people  surrounding you and treat them just as you would like to be treated. Be thankful for what you have right now, which was once among the things you wish you had and do good, pay it forward without expecting anything in return. You will feel the shift inside you, just like I did and how satisfying it is indeed.