Answering His Call

I have always been a sensitive soul – (I know, many of you would recommend that I don’t share something like that in such a public way) easily hurt, idealistic and passionate about the entire human experience. Longing to feel connected, valued and understood. Often feeling far from all of these.

Feeling ALIVE has really been the only goal I have known.  Most of the advice I was given growing up was to “toughen up” “stop worrying about what other people think” and “your skin is too thin, the world will eat you alive.”

At times, I felt like I wasn’t meant for this world. If I was going to succeed, I would need to change who I was – and that seemed like selling out and, well, pretty impossible.  So, I have continued to fight the good fight – claiming my space in the world and continuing to do everything I can to be human, in spite of the vulnerability and risk that brings.

Ironically, as I have become more comfortable with my thin skin, and by claiming and accepting my vulnerability, I have become stronger and more confident. I have also learned to use it as my shield against negativity and cynicism, I have discovered along the way, that there are many other people like me, who appreciate humanness. We are a growing army, and I love feeling the energy of all of you who shine your light on me with your kindness, and acceptance, love and appreciation of who I am.

This has been the greatest reward of being myself. To be met with the opportunity to connect and grow with you, my fellow journeyers – and that was why, initially, I embarked on my quest. To find you, and, if you existed, to connect with you in a very real, meaningful way. Because these connections make me feel alive, which is the only thing I have ever truly wanted!

This is exciting!  And yet, the most unexpected result of all has been to achieve success. To become a leader of a company, was never something I would have been able to envision. And yet, here I am. And doing a darn good job! 🙂

My journey has been – and continues to be – filled with challenges, which is to be expected. But I’m often struck at moments like this with amazement and awe of the person I have become.  And each time I allow myself an indulgent moment to pause and reflect, as I am doing today, sharing this message, I realize that God is here, shining His light and encouraging me to answer His call. He’s been doing this all along. My resistance to the idea that I must change who I was in order to succeed, has been Him. The voice in my head has been Him whispering; encouraging me to be myself and to lead with courage, confidence and openness. To listen and learn. To always love, in spite of the ugliness, and hate that fills the world, He has been nodding and smiling, encouraging me to keep being me. And today, I humbly and happily accept His request.

If there’s anything I can offer to you, the reader, it is this.  By shining your light, and sharing your love with the world, you welcome and embrace people like me. Love is magnetic. It pulls out others who love, and gives them permission to be themselves; to give their best; to forgive; to accept; to be human, and to embrace all that it means to be a child of God. So, please be that person.  Even when it seems like it’s not “right.” Even when it seems like you should care less.  Care more. Because that is what we need today.  It’s what we have always needed. We can’t give in. We are ONE.

Is it a Change-up or a Spit Ball? My Personal Response to the US in Cuba

I’m leaving the courthouse in Bartow, “relieved” of jury duty, thinking about the fact that I live in a country, the “greatest country in the world,” blessed beyond words that my Cuban grandparents believed in freedom so strongly that they gave up everything (everything except love, faith and each other) to come to this country because it would provide opportunities – even an opportunity to be “inconvenienced” as some consider Jury Duty to be – for a life they would have not had in Cuba, and I receive a text message from my mother with a link to this article by Dan LeBatard  – Obama in Cuba brings the pain of loss to a Miami exile family

And I sit in the parking lot, writing this post, filled with a mixture of emotions: Anger, sadness, frustration, loss – my mother’s loss, my aunt, uncle, grandmother and grandfather’s loss and our country’s loss, the loss of Cuban lives, real people desperate enough to put together rafts made of NOTHING and attempt to cross an ocean, instead of live a life of suffocating suffering, of controlled thought, of the absolute removal of the most human of all human rights – the ability to enjoy free will. Something I have never had to think about.  Something No American citizen has ever had to think about, but something Cubans, living in Cuba today know nothing about, and likely will not as a result of the 56 year old Embargo between the US and Cuba being lifted.

We are the greatest country in the world. And yet, we create this faux celebration to honor a president who has just made a statement: The USA, this great nation – a nation based on principles and ideals not shared by this communist nation – has chosen to become “friends” with the dictatorial self-appointed ruler of Cuba, because our president wanted to make history. To me, to my family, this is comparable to the US making friends with Adolf Hitler – if that seems extreme, so be it.

I cannot forget the fact that so many people seem to be ignoring, that this is a symbolic move toward accepting socialism. It’s not just a selfish statement suggesting that President Obama broke down the barriers, ended the embargo and brought the US and Cuba together. I have heard this compared to Reagan, tearing down the Berlin wall. This is not even close. This is Obama tearing our great nation even further apart. And our people don’t even see it.

So, as I feel the pain, shared with my mother’s family, and understand all that has been lost, I hope someone who reads this article and my post, will understand how much has been lost. And maybe look at this baseball game a little differently. Like the families of Cuban exiles see it – our country is in trouble. This is a big red flag and we, as a nation, the people of the greatest country on Earth are the only ones who can do anything about it.

I encourage you to read Dan’s post.  If you aren’t interested enough to click the link to his post, here’s what I hope you’ll read from his perspective:

So much happy coverage on the television this week. Historic visit! America and Baseball celebrating themselves. Obama and Jeter and ESPN head toward communism like it is another cruise port, so many symbols of Americana descending on a rotting island stuck in the 1950s, and it doesn’t feel quite right back in Miami, like watching a funeral morph into a party. The history of my own people feels like it is either being ignored or trampled here, and I’m not quite sure which of those feels worse.

 

The ocean between our countries is filled with the Cuban bodies that tell the story, lives literally thrown to the wind in desperation, hoping to reach America’s possibility-soaked shores on boats made of old tires and wood and poverty’s debris. No free press. No elections. No freedom. That’s the Cuba that still surrounds the baseball diamond where we play this game. That’s the Cuba people still get on makeshift boats to flee today.

 

Understand something please: My parents are exiles, not immigrants. It is an enormous difference. They didn’t come to this country looking for money. They left money behind and came here to risk poverty. They did so because they were exiled from a land they didn’t want to leave and still miss, a land they will not visit until this regime is ousted or they see real change that can be trusted.

Fidel Castro outlived my grandparents. His regime continues to haunt my old-exile parents. My pain might be borrowed. But, damn, as that sting returns to my eyes, I can assure you that it is real.

 

 

Shooting Video is Like Learning to Kayak!

When I was a junior in college at Florida State University, I took a leave from my classes to live in Costa Rica.  While I was there, I became a white water rafting guide. Since I was fluent in Spanish and English, I quickly found a job and was able to learn from the guides how to read the water, find the lines and I eventually was able to take my own rafts down the Pacuare River.  As I was learning to be a guide, I became an avid “Kayak Watcher”.  On each trip there was a safety kayak that accompanied the rafts, in case anyone fell out of the rafts.  It was awesome to watch how effortlessly these guides performed eskimo rolls, surfed in the waves, and navigated all over the place! I watched these guides for about 8 months, and then I bought my own kayak and was amazed at how easy it was!  I learned how to kayak after watching and listening to the experts. I don’t think it would have been so easy if I had just decided I wanted to learn, without having studied it before.

I have been watching video experts for a while now.  I am by no means an expert, but I am surprised at how easy it is.  In this video, I explain why I do what I do as an Internet marketing consultant for offline businesses. The audio is not perfect, there are some elements missing, but I am proud of this production and I wanted to share it with you today.   As I create more, I will feel more confident, the camera work will become more professional, the lighting, the audio, everything will improve.  But for now, I am thrilled to know that I have been watching the experts long enough to emerge and share my message with you.

Happy Birthday, to my Mother, Ana Maria!!!

 

My Family | Mi Familia

My Cuban Heritage | Photos of My Mother’s Family in Holguin, Cuba