Yesterday while driving a lady on NPR (National Public Radio) used the word ‘convivence’ and as a Spanish speaker I immediately understood the meaning… in Spanish, ‘convivencia’ is the ability to live together, to live in the same place.
This made me think about the origin of this word, where did it come from…
The word ‘convivencia’ was coined in the 8th century after the Moslem’s conquered Hispania, (Cordova, Andalusia, Spain), and allowed the Christians and Jews to practice their religion. Convivencia comes from a Latin word convivere, con- ("together") + vivere ("to live").
Wow, a time where all people lived together in an age of tolerance, in an age of relative peace and despite the different ideologies or interests. What a great word!
So what happened with connivence?
Religion is a particular system of faith to worship God. However, humans are capable of translating that method to greed and hate; humans are capable to create divisions, to build walls using as an excuse the distinct manner that people were taught to pray and to show respect to God.
Avarice, the greed for wealth, for material gain, for power is what destroyed mutual tolerance.
___ Convivence is tolerance, coexistence, understanding and most importantly respect. We may not necessarily agree on everything but we respect each other’s differences and therefore we co-exist.
Religion is in the heart; religion is how you live your life everyday.
The last US Presidential debate made me think about me:
I am the guy, that loves to argue and when the argument becomes hot, I tend to lose my temperament and always at the end I will raise my voice and say something stupid.
A President should be somebody that does not get triggered, somebody that keeps his/her cool and makes thoughtful decisions before reacting.
So, why would I give my vote to a time bomb, a person that would be in charge of the nuclear trigger?
As a common-sense person, how can I give my to vote to a mad man?
So it is decided, I won’t run for President.
This week we were interviewing people for job openings in our company and this made me think about the US immigration issue.
I do believe in vetting people before giving them a job and this is how we vet candidates:
Candidates are not rejected because they are white and may be racist, because they were police officers and may shoot black men, or because they are Latinos or black who may belong to a gang and definitely no Muslims because they may be terrorists.
So, yes, we must go through a vetting process for immigration but not a discriminatory elimination process. Instead, we should go through the proper security checks for anyone seeking to live in the US. We should not discriminate against religion, race or color.
We just need to do a better job and have better controls in screening people!
By Daniela Fraga-Abaza
I had never gone to a funeral but based on movies I had seen, I knew what to expect. Everyone wears black, people wear big dark shades to cover their puffy eyes, there is a lot of crying and a lot of consoling, you always need to carry tissues, and they are never fun.
I woke up to the news that my Abuelito, my grandfather, had passed away and the funeral was the same day. I put on the only black dress I owned, grabbed a handful of tissues, and left to the church.
As to my expectations, everyone was wearing black, women were wearing big movie star sunglasses, and tissues were all over the place. People I didn't know would come up to me, hug me, and expressed regret for my loss. It was hard to control myself from crying when so many people around me were crying.
Not helping the situation, the priest called my dad and told him he was going to be late. A truck carrying thousands of beer bottles had turned over and all the beer spilled all over the highway causing the traffic to be stand still. It would take him at least another hour to get to the church and his way of transportation would be a motorcycle so he would be able to zigzag through the traffic.
When my dad heard this he cracked a smile. This was the first time I’d seen him smile all day. I asked him why he looked so happy about the priest being late, and he said: "Abuelito had something to do with that beer spillage," and he was right. My Abuelito was quite the party animal; he loved to tell cheesy jokes, and was always jolly. His funeral wasn't going to be much different than his personality.
Somehow once we found out the reason why the priest was going to be late, the vibe at the funeral completely changed. It wasn’t gloomy anymore, instead the guests began to celebrate his life the way my Abuelito would have wanted us to. The transition of emotions didn't feel weird; it felt natural. Everyone had a slight grin; all were joyful. Instead of remembering his last days in the hospital, we remembered all our funny times and silly situations with him.
I got up and told the story of when Abuelito built a pond full of fish in his backyard. He wanted to teach my siblings and I how to fish, but there was one problem, he didn't buy any fishing gear. When we met him outside he came out wearing jeans, big black rain boots, a tucked in polo shirt, and blue goggles that were way too small for his face. He asked us, “are you guys ready to catch some fish?” We had no idea what he was about to do until he jumped right into the pond. He stood in the middle of the pond and tried to catch the fast, agile fish swimming around him. His plan was to just grab one that swam by him. My brother, sister, and I couldn't stop laughing. We all knew his plan wasn't going to work out, but he kept at it for 30 minutes.Abuelito loved making people laugh and he would go pretty far just to make us crack a smile.
Later on my cousins got up and sang a song we wrote for him while he was in the hospital. It was a funny little song about him and I never thought I would ever sing a song at a funeral. All my pre notions of funerals changed.
While waiting for the priest to arrive to the funeral my dad pulled out bottles of wine for all the guests. It wasn't a sob fest anymore. We turned the sad funeral into a celebration of Abuelito’s life. Music played and people sang and laughed. We didn't remember the days he lost; instead we remembered all the amazing days he lived.
I’m very grateful that the priest was late; the energy inside the church turned 180 degrees from the start of the funeral to the end of it. The beer incident made all reminisce about why we were there in the first place. We were all gathered there together to celebrate my Abuelito’s life. I stopped thinking about what I lost, and instead thought about what I had. Knowing my Abuelito he would have wanted us to turn his funeral into one big party.
The funeral was a perfect reflection of my Abuelito and how he loved to live life to the fullest. He was quiet the character, and was always very festive. Going to his funeral completely changed my original thoughts on what funerals were supposed to be like. What I expected and what most people expect is that they are dark, gloomy, sad, and are not supposed to be fun. To my surprise it wasn't a rainy, cloudy day, instead it was sunny and actually some of the best weather we had in a while. It was silly for me to expect a certain type of weather but that’s what I had seen in every movie scene. I don’t remember that day for all the sad moments but instead the positive moments take over.
When looking back I don't think about how hard it was to hear my father say Abuelito didn't make it, I think about how my Grandpa’s energy was present throughout the whole day. Everything from the priest to the singing, were all things my grandpa would have done and would have wanted.
After the funeral, I was melancholy, I had lost a good friend but also, I was untroubled; I understood that a funeral should be a celebration of life, a day to remember the moments, a day to commemorate the best of a person. A funeral should not be a silent black and white movie, but a jubilant, bright and colorful one, just like how Abuelito’s funeral turned out to be.
On Monday, I got home and realized that I did not accomplish anything for that day; it was a wasted day.
I felt a little irritated at myself.
My wife asked “why are you in such a bad mood?”
“Nada (nothing),” I replied.
Yes I was irritated; my self-assertiveness was a little low. At night, I tried to recover some of my wasted day by writing and reading something...
Anyway, I do have a thought:
Sometimes it is really hard to focus, to get motivated. Our self-confidence feels misplaced; we lack motivation we feel lost and we do not know how to get back on track… It happens to all of us!
Then is when I ask myself: How can I come out of the hole, how can I get my confidence back?
Well, we need to begin slowly, to get back in track we need to get back gradually... self-confidence works like a muscle, and, like any muscle, in order to make it stronger, and increase endurance it must be constantly trained. The best training method is by getting of your butt and by taking action. Continual action, not only one time, but by being willing to take action on a daily basis, by taking 'every day action'.
‘Every-day action stands for daily-action.’ Day-to-day we must come up with a small action plan, a plan that we know that with enough effort we will be able to accomplish it. A simple plan, something that we will be able to accomplish with a little extra effort: using the stairs all day instead of the elevator if we want to get in better shape or reading the chapter of a book if we want to learn a new subject. A simple goal, a small enough and big enough accomplishment that we will able to achieve on a daily basis.
The next day we come up with another action plan, and we achieve it, and the third day, we achieve it again! By acting on our small daily-action plans, we will be moving forward step by step.
In time, these actions will build a positive momentum; our mind will envision successful results and these will re-enforce our confidence for good!
By taking daily-action, we feel accomplished and our self-confidence begins to shape; just like a muscle. We train everyday and we get stronger; confidence and self-esteem work the same, they are trainable!
_On Monday, after writing and reading for a while it felt that I did achieve something but not enough. On Tuesday, I got up early with an action plan: meditated for 15 minutes, had breakfast with the kids, went to the gym, business meetings, had dinner with the kids and watched a movie. At night, before going to sleep, it felt that I had a ‘productive day'; My confidence was back!
Belleza, today you are 15… Happy birthday to you!!!
A few years ago I asked you: “Gorgeous, I am writing something about you, help me, what do you think is your best quality?"
You paused for a minute and replied very confidently: “Well I think that I am tough; I play sports and get hurt, yet, I never cry or complain… I have strength.”
You were so right! You are tough like your brother and sister, a great trait inherited from your mother. You have physical and mental strength, but most importantly, you have a unique strength, the strength of kindness. The way that you care about your family, your friends and your 5 dogs shows how special your heart is. Toughness is proven by how you execute your kindness!
Now that you are 15 years old, a young adult and going through new experiences, I will give you the same advice that I gave your brother and sister on their birthdays:
“A birthday gives you the chance to begin again. Learning from your mistakes and accomplishments allows you to embark on your next year with great enthusiasm!
Follow your dreams and be willing to accomplish them. Do not be afraid of trying, risking and failing. Errors are part of life and growing up, they are your experiences! If you are not failing it is because you are not risking enough! If you are not risking, you are not living!”
Although you are a young adult, don’t hurry in growing up, enjoy the moment and be blessed with your youth; you have plenty of time to reach adulthood. Stay responsible and focused, at the same time keep in mind that adolescence is where childhood merges into adulthood, and it is a unique time in your life; value and cherish it, and be not in a hurry to grow, slow down!
Isabela you are ‘daring and caring, strong and kind', which are the keys to a successful life. NEVER change!
One more thought: Keep in mind that kindness is a gift, a gift that some people will try to take advantage of; always stay alert. 'To be kind is completely different than to be naïve!'
Recently, I was invited to give a talk to a group of young motivated designers. There, I chose to talk about the attributes that a designer should have. After giving the lecture, I realized that these are the traits that all of us should have for life.
All these are great qualities to have, but most importantly: Find your passion, and then, you will always have the strength to always carry on, to persevere!
Last week I met Mark.
Mark was sitting on the sidewalk, had his arm extended and an empty plastic cup, hoping that people will donate some change. I approached him and put a couple of dollars in his cup and asked him: “what is your story, why are you here?”
“Well, I have a part time job, I work 16 to 24 hours a week, I began at $7 and now I make $14, yet it is not enough for me to subsist. So I come here to get some extra cash before going to work,” he responded.
We built a great understanding, and sat together for 30 minutes. As a young man he made plenty of wrong decisions, had kids too early in his life, was jailed several times for stealing cars and drugs. Today at 59, he has 2 grown up kids and 4 grandchildren, for the past 7 years he has held the same job and stayed away from trouble with the police and drugs for even a longer time.
“I pay rent and also help my daughter with her kids, so my income is too little to survive,” he commented.
I asked him: “can you stand on your feet for 8 hours, can I trust you, can I count on you, should I risk it with you?”
He immediately replied: “yes, yes and yes; I am a strong man and if you give me the chance, you would not be disappointed… I just need another chance”
Before I left, I took out a little more money and put it in his cup, he looked at it got up and said: “I am done, I made enough for lunch and the bus to go to work.”
This dialogue kept me awake thinking:
How many times have I messed up, how many times I have been in a similar or a closer situation that Mark is in today; how many times I have been in a situation where I had woken up in the morning hoping that I could stay in bed all day wishing for an ‘undo’ key to erase it all.
So, here is my thought:
We all have messed up, we all have made wrong decisions and we all have regrets, and not one of us has an undo key.
First, we need to understand where we went wrong, how did we manage to screw up and then have the courage to admit that what we did was wrong. Forgive yourself, learn from it and focus on repairing the situation. Then, make the commitment to do better in the future, and let that guilt walk away. If we cannot forgive ourselves we will be paralyzed in our current state of being and never have the second chance.
At the same time, if you feel ashamed hold on to that, next time when temptation comes knocking, and it will; remember who we were and why we don't want to be that person again.
Now, when you are ready, don’t be afraid to reach out and say I am ready for change, help me get there; sometimes we cannot move from our frozen state with out help.
Mark has made plenty of wrong decisions and has paid dearly for it. Yet, for over 7 seven years he has managed to turn his life and now he only needs one more push, a little help.
This morning he got the little push that he hoped for, he met with our director of operations and he is ready to begin training in our company. From now on he must understand that this is the most that I can do for him; the door is open and it is his job to keep it open. He got the rope, he can run with it or he can hang himself with it; it is his decision only!
We all have made wrong decisions, we all have screwed up, even so, we all deserve a second chance, another opportunity like the one that I had!
Daniela, our oldest daughter, is leaving tomorrow to attend college.
So I am thinking, what advise can I give her before she begins her journey?
Beautiful, you have been getting ready for this day for the past 18 years and you have done a great job; you always managed to come up to the top. Now, I want to give you one more thought.
Life is simple… do not make it complicated. Life becomes complicated because we decide to make it that way. We worry about everything: the way we look and how others perceive us, our friends, our social relationships, our school grades, our future and much more.
Yet, in reality with most of the concerns, there is really nothing with in our power that we can do to change, so why should we get so anxious about it? We just have to learn to live with it. On the other hand, concerns that we have 100% control of we should work hard towards a solution and conquer them.
The majority of us think that the more complicated we make things the better we become. Not true!
So gorgeous, here are some rules to keep your life uncomplicated; follow them!
Keep in mind: Life should be easy to understand, do not make it complicated! The real talent is to find simple solutions!
One more thing gorgeous: You will always be our little girl and home is one call away.
We love you and just go for it, break a leg! Life is great!!!
If you like people to listen to you, then share your knowledge.
If you like friends and family to care about you, treasure them.
If you like to grow your career, help those around you to grow theirs.
If you like to build your dream, follow your passion.
If you like a happy life, stop over analyzing.
This is your life, so like it!
Who I am today as a person is largely due to my failures!