A Check Up from the Neck Up: Counseling

I always thought that I could face my problems alone; name what’s wrong and work out a plan towards a winning solution. That is the way I am used to deal with problems. I am a self-proclaimed problem solver.  However when external circumstances clashed with my internal self my world, as I knew it, came crumbling down. No matter how much I tried to anticipate and prevent problems to happen by doing what I thought was right based on my experiences, they presented themselves unexpectedly and with no reservations. One after another, my troubles kept adding up. I lost several business contracts due to the troubled economy so my finances took a turn for the worse over time and even my marriage was starting to struggle. Despite my positive attitude towards life and being pro-active to whatever life throws at me, I was taken completely off guard. I must confess that even though I knew times were hard as they are now, I’ve never saw it coming, not so bad like this.   I felt frustrated and helpless to the point of hopelessness.  I went out seeking the help of others. I talked with family members and friends. They gave me a fresh perspective based on their own experiences and points of view. Yet, things were not getting better and I, overwhelmed with everything happening all at once was starting to feel depressed.

One night though I came to realize that  It was time for me to accept that I cannot deal with my problems alone and have to ask for professional help.  I have done counseling in the past but my intentions were not so clear like they are now.  I knew that if I want things to get better and consistent with my thinking and the things that I want in my life, I need to do a different kind of “check up from the neck up” for good.  I needed to find a person, one that can help find underlying issues that I don’t see or acknowledge myself.  A trained therapist that can help me to face my fears, express my feelings better, ease my anxiety and depression. One that can  give me the tools to deal with my emotions, my behavior and my thinking more effectively so I can achieve my goals and create the life that I want. More important is getting the help I need to improve the relationship with my wife. I didn’t have any trouble finding  my counselor and started therapy right away without missing a beat. I am so glad that I did and I am so coming back for more.

When things don’t do the way you want or expect in your life and don’t know why or how to deal with it, it’s o.k. to ask for help and there is no need to feel ashamed. Not asking for help and pretend that life will change for you…now that’s a shame.

C.A.T. = LOVE

You probably thought of the love for a cat, which for some it’s  as strong and powerful as any relationship with a human being.  However, I am not talking about cats ,  I am a dog lover myself, but I am not talking about dogs either. I am talking about relationships, human relationships and what I think it takes to have a successful relationship between two people.  In a relationship there are key ingredients to really  love that person, to care for his/her needs and be loved and cared back the same way. In my experience, though there are many qualities that makes a successful relationship last for years to come, I find three essential ingredients that are most important for a successful relationship: Communication, Affection and Trust .

Communication: means to me the interaction with that significant person in your life. The exchange of words and feelings between two people who made a committment whether in marriage or in a friendship to  communicate words and feelings to understand each other,  growing fond to each other over time.  Communication can be verbal, expressing thoughts and feelings openly, sharing ideas and beliefs that strengthens the relationship as time passes by. Communication  can be also non-verbal and it is usually the non-verbal communication, the body language and gestures that its taken into consideration after many years in a relationship. It is not only what it’s being said but how its being said that matters most after many years in relationship with a person and if the communication is affected, the message from sender to receiver never arrives as intended or is gravely distorted. People want to grow old with someone they can communicate, understand, listen and be listen to in a relationship. Can you imagine living with someone you can’t communicate with?
Affection: include all its meanings that is love, liking, fondness, friendliness, care and regard for that person. Name one person who doesn’t like affection; everybody likes to be loved, feel the energy between two people, feel respected, cared for, and listen to. The person receiving the affection will or should treat the other person with the same affection as these feelings are rooted deep into the subconsciousness and even in our souls. If the affection is strong and well rooted, it may never be affected by any external circumstances. People who love each other will stick together in good times as well as in bad times. However, if you don’t feel the affection from the other person, problems will soon arise from this relationship. People need affection and when it is not there or declining in quality, it is one’s duty in that relationship to bring it forth to the attention of the other person in that relationship. Timing is critical!
Trust: the most important to me. It means that you can rely, have the confidence or belief in the other person’s words and feelings.  It means that you can depend on that  person no matter what and the relationship between each other feels protected after expressing such words and feelings of trust. Without trust , a relationship cannot thrive successfully because without trust the communication is greatly affected and eventually the affection towards that person is affected thus killing  the once solid roots of the relationship.  There is nothing else to hold on in a relationship if trust is affected and it is the hardest to re-establish.
If you relationship is ever challenged by the lacking or poor quality of these three, Communication, Affection and Trust, you must take charge to make the other person aware of it.  I believe LOVE cannot flourish, cannot grow if these ingredients are not present in any relationship.
  • Don’t wait too long: If you wait too long, the damages may be harder to repair and most important the essence of the relationship is affected so bad that it has no value. If it has no value to at least one person in that relationship, the relationship will stop growing, communication will be even harder as both parties will be voicing and expressing reasons why it is not working, finding blame and creating resentment. Happiness will fade away as any attempt to make a workable solution will be subject to objection. As resentment and differences in opinion sets in, the affection will wither up over time and eventually the relationship will die. All this could have been avoided by expressing your concerns as soon as you notice them.
  • Be tactful yet firm: You must be tactful yet firm communicating your concerns and make sure that the other person is really  LISTENING to your feelings and understands your concerns. Also you must be willing to listen to that person’s point of view and make your best effort to understand that person. It works both ways and never one way!
  • Be patient, but don’t die in the process: if you really want the relationship to work, you have to be patient, willing to compromise and be consistent in your efforts. However, you must watch for a mutual reciprocity of your efforts or otherwise you will die alone trying to make the relationship work.  As I stated before, it goes both ways or none at all. You may try as you might but if both in the relationship are not committed 100% in to making it work, might as well kiss the relationship goodbye!
In a relationship, it is all as one or none at all. Love is unconditional”

Maintaining Relationship Bridges

My job as an inspector gives me the insight of building structures and how the elements affect its integrity and function. When I look at a building foundation, I can see if it has been affected by erosion, moisture, whether it has cracks or deterioration that can have an impact on the structure, creating potential adverse effects to the integrity of the building. Foundations support the weight of the building or structure and it is important that it is properly constructed and maintained to prevent premature failure and a potential collapse of the building or structure. Bridges and building foundations run deep into the ground; the higher the building or bridge the deeper that foundation has to be. Poor construction or lack of maintenance can result in premature structural failure, exposing the footings, cracks and gaps that over time contribute to the overall deterioration of the structure. A bridge whose footing is unstable due to an undermined foundation will surely fail over time, giving in to the weight of the top of the structure and eventually collapsing. No matter how fancy the bridge or building looks on the outside, if its foundation is not well grounded, it will be at the mercy of time and the elements to do their work.

Relationships are much like bridges and structures. A relationship between two people who care for each other, they communicate effectively and work together towards a common goal are like a strong foundation that runs deep into the ground. They are more adapting to withstand the elements and remain stable for years to come. However, relationships that are not well maintained, neglected with little or no effort from both sides, are like a weak foundation, unable to withstand the elements and threatening to collapse. Lack of communication, poor effort, lack of gratitude and dedication undermines the relationship foundation and surely over time will crumble to the ground. The bridge whose side is more unstable will be the first to collapse. In a relationship, both sides have to maintain the relationship to good standing, otherwise, the deferred side will deteriorate and that side of the bridge will collapse first. The other side, despite of been properly maintain, cannot hold the weight of the entire structure and though it remains standing it is rendered impassable because it missing the other half of the bridge. Relationship cannot be one sided. Both sides have to bear the weight of the relationship equally or balanced in a manner that is beneficial to both ends. Maintaining solid relationships will ensure that the friendship bridges will remain up and open and never burn or destroyed.

Holding a grudge: living with resentment

A feeling of resentment is like walking with a ball and a chain shackled to your ankle. You can walk as far as the chain will let you until the heavy ball stops you and holds you back unable to move forward. Some people make their chain longer and as it gets longer so it gets heavier, making it difficult to carry on in life. Indeed the worst thing about holding a grudge without truly forgiving and not letting go is that no matter how far you go, you always be attached to the weight of the ball, the grudge, by the heavy chain, that is your emotions that holds you to that bitterness and you will always return back to those negative thoughts and feelings preventing you to move ahead in your life. However when you truly forgive another and decide to move on by letting go of the ill feelings and replace those feelings with kindness, optimism and good intentions, then you will really forgive and able to move forward because you finally let it go.  You have learned from that experience and now your improved attitude will allow you to really forgive that person, let go of the negative feelings so both can move on with your lives. You and only you can cut your own chain that will free you from hatred and allow you to move forward without having to re-live the past leaving it right where it belongs, in the past, never to be re-visited not with the same feelings you once had but you will notice that now you may look at the same  experience with a new set of eyes and so it will be remembered in a different way.

My women: a mother, a wife, a sister and a mother-in law

To the women who are important in my life, I want to express my gratitude to you. To my mother, for unconditional love; a good face through adversity, going forward no matter what might be troubling her when she is not at her best, regardless of what condition she may be suffering, she never complains, always keeping her good spirits with a smile and strong will. I salute you mom, I love you. To my wife, the mother of my children, thank you for bearing our offspring. Our house is filled with the love and happiness only children and good family values can bring. I appreciate what you put through, your support and your ever improving compassion. I love you my dear wife in good times and bad times. To my sister, an exceptional mother of my niece and godson, I congratulate you and admire you for your motherly instinct, always prepared for any situation, how you have faced adversity in the past and your newfound attitude towards life. My lending ear, my resting shoulder and impartial counselor, I love you dear sister. To my mother in law, yes, you are very important to me and I love you. I thank you for always being there when we needed you in good time and bad times, day or night, always our support, caring for our children wherever we go. You are endowed with the seed of caring and that is what you do best. I appreciate you, thank you for what you do for us, for your daughter and for your grandchildren. Finally, but equally important to all the mothers that are considered our friends, I salute you on your day. You have brought happiness in our lives in some way and I appreciate it.  May God brings you closer to whatever goals you propose, the strength and will to follow through and good health to enjoy it all. Happy Mother’s day to you!

Paying it forward, experiencing and manifesting abundance

“What goes around comes around” we all know how it goes. I do believe it is true; the output we get is based on the input we give, whether is positive or negative and to me this is how the law of attraction works. A while back I was feeling frustrated with how my life was unfolding, not to what I wanted it to be. Over time I and through education and personal experiences I started to understand a concept that it is being talked about and manifested by many people and organizations since history can remember: charity.  The concept is simple: to experience abundance in my life, I share what I have and even give it away to others who will benefit from it and are in great need of it. I was blocked in the beginning thinking that I didn’t have any money to donate because I thought I didn’t have enough money to make ends meet. The latter proved to be false in every way. Just when I thought I was at the end of my rope, something happened and the problem was no more. Believe it or not this happened when I made a promise to practice abundance to share what I have even if I think I didn’t have anything to offer. What happened later over time is part of the law of attraction and it is inevitable whether you believe in it or not. Whatever good comes my way I like it to turn it around giving back to the people in need and the community.  Money needs to be circulated and letting it go is as important as not expecting anything in return, just know that my money going to serve something greater and noble cause and I gave it away because I care about others. I do it as a sign of gratitude for what I have received in my life and make sure I donate to the organizations that have been influential to me and my family.  The golden rule is:  That I must give without ever asking for anything in return before I can receive.

Every quarter on my wife’s account, we donate a lot of clothing to the Salvation Army. We give away things that not only we don’t need any more or have in excess, but what we think others might benefit from it. I always make sure that every Sunday, I share my wealth with my church because I know that what I give is going to help the people in need and our own community so it is money that I invest in my community. A while back I promised myself that I was going to step up this cause and automate my donations on a monthly basis. Looking for legitimate charity organizations was no easy task. I didn’t want to be swindled by so many shady organizations and not knowing where my donations were going to end.  I started to donate to reputable entities who solicited my donations through the mail. It was not long until more of those entities started asking me for donations for every single cause you can imagine. I started to doubt on some of the causes because I didn’t think it exist, but since I made a promise I continue to select the one I felt more connected with. I have a backlog since late last year and I continue to receive more and more. I told myself I won’t throw away the ones I don’t select out of my monthly budget, but they do roll over to the next month. What I get in return is thank you letters from the organizations, directors and even patients. I get elated every time I receive a letter from a child who is a patient and whom my donation is helping him or children like him to battle whatever illness or disease they are up against.  That alone is priceless.

One of the most satisfying charity organizations that I participate in is Donorchoose.org. Donorschoose.org is an online charity connecting people with schools all over the states to help fund classroom projects to benefit their students.  First time I logged in, I looked for projects that met my budget criteria and were close to be funded. I then completed funding the project. The feeling of knowing that thanks to me and others these students will be able to purchase whatever they had planned to continue their education, even enhance it. What I didn’t know and surprised me was that several weeks later, I received a folder from a place I didn’t recognized. When I opened and saw the contents an immeasurable number of emotions filled me and brought tears to my eyes. In it was a thank you note from the school teacher who weeks ago I helped fund their classroom project. Along with that letter were drawings and art work with my name on it made by the classroom students thanking me for helping them fund their project. There were also pictures, real pictures of the children next to the equipment they were able to purchase and now enjoy with my help. I cannot measure the appreciation and gratitude I felt at that moment. I was so excited for this that went online and funded another project and it continues on today. Every month I log on to Donorchoose.org and find a classroom project. I fund the project, make a note in my journal and forget about it knowing that for that classroom in that school, their project is completed or close to becoming real for the students. As a way of repayment, the universe revolves around that deed and whenever I least expected and it just so happens when I needed the most, I go to my mail box, my mind elsewhere in other things, then I see the yellow envelope and as I open it, my heart leaps out of happiness. In it are the letters, pictures and art work of the children thanking me for helping them realize their goals.   I experience all this by pay in it forward and practicing abundance and you should too if you want good things to manifest in your life.

When dealing with family, it’s all about how to respond

Having a family is wonderful thing. It makes me complete, grateful, humble and makes the kind of person I am today. I wouldn’t change it for anything…though I wish I could have, should have, would have done some things differently. Without dwelling into what I cannot change in time, I do with what I have at this very moment. That is the ability to choose how I react to the circumstances I face daily. When creating and sticking with schedules or routines, it is the “sticking” what I have most of trouble. Nothing seems to go “according to the plan”. Case in point, my daughter Karymar woke up last night feeling for I don’t know what reason. She sleeps in a loft bed so at that time time in the AM, I was in no ability to take her to her bed. So I let it cuddle up with us in our bed. If you have children, you can imagine what happened later. Karymar took the center of the bed and spread eagle around me and my wife. At many times, I felt her hand in my face and other times her foot. Now, we have a king size bed which is a pretty good size, but when you combine Karymar’s sleep rotations and sleeping with a 7 month pregnant wife who has a cache of pillows barricading her sleeping perimeter, I didn’t get a good night sleep.

I woke up with an intense pain in my shoulder and lower back, the latter probably because I slept on top of one of Karymar’s toys. Numbness was slowly going away as my circulation started flowing in my body which was clinging to the edge of the bed ready to fall. I moaned and cursed under my breath, surely this was going to be a really bad day I thought. For an instance I let that feeling run through my mind, feeling my mood turning sour, negative thoughts arising as I regained full of my senses. Then it happened! A voice, which was mine,asked: Am I gonna let this ruin my day? and I let go at once. I took a series of deep breaths to release the tension in my sore muscles, said a few positive affirmations to myself, rolled over, did a small routine to release my energy and I was gone to seize the day.

I could have let the circumstance of a bad night’s sleep ruin my day, but I choose to be proactive and make the best of what I got at that time. The sun rose, the aroma of coffee filled the air and a while later the sleeping beauty woke up like nothing ever happened.

When creating a schedule it is important to have a good range of flexibility to deal with the “unexpected” in life. For a single person, unexpected events can be adjusted way different that one with a family to look over. Priorities change, mood and energy varies, so having a positive mental attitude and the ability to react accordingly with the circumstances thrown at us are important keys that have helped me “sticking” with my schedule.