Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Haiti 2014

September 3, 2014

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
​I thank God for giving me the opportunity to travel to Haiti.  All that God allowed me to do in Haiti is due to the blessing of your support; either through financing, volunteering, donating, or prayer.  I write this letter in an attempt to tell you about the strong people I have grown to love in a fourth world country.  I can’t begin to tell you about their faith in our Lord, or, in some cases, lack of.  I know that this letter will not do our Lord justice in telling of all His works in Haiti, but I will try.
During my recent trip in Haiti, I was given the opportunity to see more closely into the lives of the people.  It is easy for one to watch a circumstance from afar and feel disconnected.  I was blessed to become further connected to the hard lives that these children of God have.



Marie, Kim and I sponsor children and their families, in Vania’s house.
Marie Nash, Kim Rausch and I spent the first week of our trip in Port-au-Prince with our sponsor children.  We were welcomed into a cement block, two room house by Vania, the mother of two sponsor children, Stephanie and Joane.  This house, which few Americans would live in, had eight people staying in it when we visited.  It was tucked between other houses with maybe 3 feet between them.  We walked down a bumpy, crowded, dirt alley to get to the house.  Vania does her cooking and laundry in the small area between her house and the next.  God has blessed Vania’s family with a home and all children have sponsorship to be in school.  Yet, while with them, we saw needs that were not filled.  One can see the sun shining through their roof.  Vania has high blood pressure and few resources to help her.  The girls needed simple things like bras and food!  While meeting Samuel, another sponsor child, I saw his need for a dentist and shoes.  Samuel had great pain in his mouth and was wearing girl shoes that were too small for him.
I give you these examples to help you understand how many Haitians just live without many of their needs.  Some live without a proper home, without clothes, without food, without school, or without parents.  Yet many believe God has blessed them with hope and they are thankful for what they do have, life in Him.
The second week of our journey was spent in Ti-Goave with the addition of two more people to our team, Jake Houck and Tiffany Holder.  This is the same village that I have been at the past two years.  We were able to have a teacher in-service with 48 teachers and directors from the area.  We were seeing some of these individuals for the third year in a row and others we were meeting for the first time.  We educated the teachers on the different functions of the left and right side of the brain.  We also gave them ideas for how they can rejuvenate students who are hungry and fatigued.  The activities we gave them used both sides of the brain causing the two circumferences to work together.
We visited Jean and his family while traveling the mountains.  He does not yet call himself Christian, but was still happy to have us come.  We shared the Gospel with him, prayed over him and his family, and sang praise to God.  He wished for a Bible before we left him.
My desire since 2010 has been to hike to the tallest point of the mountains in the Ti-Goave area.  Well, I was finally blessed to make this difficult trek up to that part of Ti-Goave and all over the area’s mountains.  Our team traveled to several schools in the area.  We looked at the conditions that they were teaching in, with hopes of having a better handle on the conditions they teach in and how we may serve them in the future.  We also traveled to some of the teachers houses and prayed with their families.  The teachers, directors, and families need to know that we care about them.  They work hard and make due in rough conditions.  I met a teacher and a student that hike 60-80 minutes a day to get to school.  They do not complain, they are happy for the opportunity.  There are no water fountains along the way or paved walk ways.  They simply have our Lord and the determination to keep their job or receive an education.
Many people have asked me if I noticed progress while in Haiti.  I noticed some paved roads that were not constructed in 2013. There are less people living among rubble and more people living in a simple shack or tent. 
However, the progress that I see most is in the relationships that are being built.  I see youth that have grown over the last 3 years into men that take care of me as I climb mountains.  I see their character developing as they come to youth group or help those younger than they are.
I see my sponsor children and the children of others growing with the knowledge that someone cares enough to make sure they receive an education.  Those of you who have a sponsor child, I wish you could see their parents eyes when they thank you.  One feels undeserving of the gratitude that God has allowed you to receive from their family.  Please remember that only 30% of Haitians graduate from high school, even less go to college, and there is slim to no free public education offered in Haiti.
Jon
One of the most profound examples of relationships helping God’s people flourish, is a young boy/man named Jon.  Jon was found wandering in the mountains with no place to call home.  His parents are dead, his siblings are nowhere to be found, and his elderly grandparents have no claim to him.  Jon is deaf.  Before Jon came in contact with me, he slept on the side of the road, in a bush, wherever he thought was best.  Jon’s age, how he was fed, how he has survived are all a mystery.  Meaningful mission has taken Jon in.  They have given him a place to sleep, food to eat, attempted to share the Gospel with him, and we love him.  Jon is one of the happiest people I have ever seen.  He loves to participate in daily routines like putting his cot away, brushing his teeth, and helping clean up after meals.   He understands almost everything you tell him through actions.  He looks out for those around him and has instinct to care for those that are younger than he. Jon wants to learn and sucks up every bit of information he observes.  How God will use Jon in the future is a mystery to me, but He has already taught me what a blessing it is to reach out and love the unloved.
Thank you for allowing me to go and love the unloved.  Your support means more than you will ever know.  God grant you thankfulness for your blessings and continued use of them.
 
In Christ,
Michael 
 

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Visiting our sponsor kids

Today was a day of family! Thank you lord for answered prayers! It was a great blessing to meet vania, Stephanie and Joanne's mom. We even got to meet their old sister, Valanta. Tania and dania are Samuel's mom and little sister. Vania is a caring momma that gave us honest answers to our questions, smiled at us during our conversations, tease me and was firm guide to her children. She either coaxed Stephanie to fan me with a lid or did it herself. Valanta was introduced to us after marie, kim and I covered Joanne in hugs. They surprise us by walking into our hotel room. Valanta seems calm and her and Joanne look at each other marie and kim do. They giggled together and it made me wonder what sisterly inside joke they had. Joanne had the same kind smile and sincere hugs. She was wearing the same shirt as last year. Stephanie is taller and reserved around her mama. She sat by me for a long time and would fan me or play with my hair. Vania said that Stephanie and Joanne were social in school, which sometimes gets in the way of their studies. She also said they don't always understand the easiest. Still, Joanne passed the government test. Stephanie and jerry took theirs this year. Samuel seems so fragile & innocent. He says what his mama, vania,  plus all the other older girls and jerry tell him too. He said his favorite color is green. He like cars and reading. He stutter, despite me making fun of him. He walked up to me and I lifted him like a feather and hugged his little body. He sat on someone's lap almost the entire time we visited. Samuel's mom name is Tania. She seems very young, but has lots of responsibility. She used to live in port-au-prince but moved three hours away where it is less expensive to live. She seems very willing to let vania guide her children. She is even leaving Dania her sweet daughter with vania for an unset amount of time. She did all that because she can't afford to take care of her. 
Dania seems shy at first, but by the end of our time together, she was being scolded for asking to keep my Haiti necklace. She would mutter to me or anyone else that was holding her. 
Our time in vania he was pleasant as it could be. We learned about each other. We talked about our experiences with each other and she send us our way with a prayer.

Michael V. Reynold


Being grateful

We are all in control of our emotions whether they are positive or negative. Every situation we encounter through life can conjure up a host of emotions some of which at first appear to require negative thoughts. 

For example, let's say that you really are sick and tired of what you do for a living, and, your boss is a complete jerk showing no appreciation whatsoever for your hard and dedicated work. 

Obviously, when you think about this work environment your emotional language says negative. The strong message you should be receiving, then, is that it's time for you to make a change. But, this emotion doesn't mean quitting instantly. What it means is that you should change your negative to a positive by looking at your dissatisfaction as the fuel to propel you to search for a new job. 

So how does this dissatisfaction with work have to do with being grateful? First, you should be giving thanks that you have a job. The old saying is true - it's easier to find a new job when you already have one. Be grateful that you have the ability and confidence to search for a new job or career. Be thankful that you have the ability to move beyond moaning and complaining to one of action. Be grateful that you can see a future much rosier rather than most who seem to be content with suffering as if it is something to be proud of. 

Being grateful puts your energy to good use rather than letting negative energy occupy your thoughts, your leisure time, and hating the dreaded Monday morning and the return to a job you despise. Let gratefulness move you to look forward with excited expectation that Monday morning gives you another opportunity to direct your energy to look forward to finding a new and more satisfying opportunity. Be grateful that you've seen the light to move beyond self-pity that strangles countless individuals condemning them to a life of misery. 

Without failure, there is no success. Without gratefulness there is no energy left to move forward. Moaning and complaining attracts more moaning and complaining. Release yourself from this vicious circle by being thankful that you can direct your energy to greater things. 

To be thankful also means that you are willing to share your thoughts, feelings, good times, bad times, and energy with all those who have need of your caring, kindness and affection. To have the opportunity to give also means that over time you will also receive. 

The emotional energy that it takes to be negative is also the same energy that it takes to be positive. You choose everyday how you will react to events that cross your path just like those frustrations that you allow yourself to react to. 

The most important point to consider is that there are no events that happen that are emotionally charged – the events do not have power, will, or influence unless you give power to them. You are always in control of your complete being – it is not given to anyone, or anything unless you give it. 

There are many, many things in life to be grateful for and one of those most prized possessions is your own ability to cast your own net, to sail where you want to, to set a destination that will provide you with all those attributes that contribute to the well-being of your own soul and that of others. You have the total power to be anything, to provide for life, to help others when they are down, to influence a person who in turn can influence another and start a snowball effect of good. 

Michael V. Reynold. 


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Moving forward


“Even your worst times have value and can become, in retrospect, your best times.”
- Andy Andrews, The Noticer
I remember a year ago, the pounding, the darkness, the pain that I was feeling. I felt like I was about to rupture. I had it all locked up tight within me, the feelings, the stubbornness, pride, ego, humility; my truth.
I got to a point when it felt like my heart was beating and pumping outside of my chest. The stress and anxiety were taking a toll on me physically, all stemming from my emotional baggage.
The pain was damaging not only myself, but the relationships and connections around me. I thought the longer I could hold it off and keep pushing it down the more likely it would go away. As I suppressed it only festered.

 
This point in my life was the lowest and I knew I had to do something about it. I knew slowly but surely I had to crack the exterior of my being to be able to fix what was brewing inside.
How?
How would be the journey of intentional self growth. It was a commitment I made, to me, to take care of myself first. I was the priority. I realized that if I am not my best self, I can’t give my best self to others, to those that need me most;
I committed to the process.
Though, I couldn’t tell you the process in detail, but I think it’s a level of intent with a mixture of deep desire to want to change that sheds light on the opportunities to take action on. The most important, though, is taking action.
I knew I wasn’t going to be given this key to turn and all of a sudden I would change. I knew it was going to take work, discipline and trust in the process; the journey.
This combination began to shape the lens in which I saw things; the opportunities. An opportunity presented itself when reading a book and listening to a podcast that would forever change my perspective and mindset I had on the source of all of this darkness.
It was discovering the in-between moments, slowing down and embracing the mundane.
See, up until that point I was in constant motion. I was always working and rushing towards the next big thing without noticing that my life was essentially becoming a blur.
I discovered how this very moment is a narrative to my story; my life. And at that point I realized how out of tune I was with both myself and the present moment. I realized how I was simply going through the motions.
This was ultimately the discovery that would open the door and nudge me towards self growth.
The transformation in which occurred had simply changed my life. The lens in which I saw things had shifted.
I now see the external circumstances, the failures and mistakes, that were causing such pain and stress differently. I am grateful for them. Without them I wouldn’t have had this opportunity to change, to reinvent. In fact, those exact circumstances are still in my life today, the only change, however, is how I choose to see them.
Part of this journey is instilling intentional actions that support self growth. Actions that act as a spring board in becoming a better version of yourself than you were the day before.
Committing to this journey I was slowly able to crack open the vulnerability vault; to dust off the deep and dark pockets of who I was. The things that have been suppressed and festering for so many years.
I began to quietly expose those things, through self reflection, journal writing and meditating. As this part of the journey unfolded, seeing my failures differently, being vulnerable, focusing on the present moment, the weight was gradually lifting off of my shoulders.
The more I exposed my vulnerabilities, the more pockets I began to discover within me, the freer I felt.
The pain in my chest has subsided. The stress I was used to carrying has vanished. It’s all because of the way I chose to view things. It’s all because I tossed my ego aside and started owning my mistakes and accepting my flaws.
It’s all because of the in-between moments, the present moment, the moments that are ultimately defining our lives. The very moments that are writing our story.
Committing to a journey of intentional self growth is trusting in the process and God.  It’s trusting that the pain you expose will lead you to growth; to a better version of yourself than you were the day before.
It’s trusting that the work you put in on your best days, will be your compass for your worst days. It’s understanding that this is a journey, a journey that travels through both mountaintops and low valley’s.
Take care of yourself first; spiritually, emotionally and physically.
Choose, and want, to connect with yourself on a daily and consistent basis; through reading, reflection, writing. It comes from within, from the soul, from the heart.
Take care of yourself first so you can truly give to others later, the best way you can and know how. To make a difference in, and be part of, something much
larger than yourself.
Looking back at your life, is there a failure or mistake that has changed because you now see.? 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Expectations from others..

Michael Vilien Reynold
June 1st 2014.

“When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.” – Stephen Hawking
I used to live in a world crowded with expectation.
I had expectations of others, expectations of society, and expectations of myself. Then there were also the expectations others had of me.
Gone are those days! Well almost… let’s just say things have changed drastically.

 
I describe myself as an optimistic person. I like to be happy, I like to see others happy and I always strive to focus on the brighter side of life. Some might describe that as being a bit of an idealist, but personally I don’t see the point of going through life focusing on the doom and gloom.
So when people share good news with me, I am always happy for them and I always visually or verbally express that happiness for them.
If someone is having a rough time, I’ll always do my best to be empathetic. I’ll look for some practical solutions to help them with their challenges and do my best to cheer them up.
This is my default way of operating in life and so for years I expected other people to be the same. If I achieved something, I expected friends and family to congratulate me. When I was excited about a new opportunity, I expected those closest to me to be excited for me. If I was feeling low, I would expect people in my life to offer me support and empathy. However, as I have grown older, I’ve realised that life doesn’t work that way and that not everyone acts the same way I do.
For years I would feel let down, disappointed and sometimes hurt when someone close to me did not share the joy of my achievements. People I thought would be happy for me expressed little or no reaction to accomplishments that I was proud of. I just didn’t get it. I would think, if the shoe was on the other foot, I would be ecstatic for you, so why do you not feel the same for me?
One day it dawned on me, people have the right to feel and react anyway they choose. If I don’t like it or it upsets me, I too have a choice. I can choose who I share my achievements with. I can choose who I spend my time with and I can choose how I react to their response. In fact, their response is probably not even personal to me.
I have learned that people don’t disappoint you, your expectations of people do.
When you expect something and you don’t get it, of course you are going to feel let down. Expectations set you up for disappointment; however it is human nature to have them. The trick is to avoid becoming attached to your desired outcome.
I now accept that not everyone reacts or behaves in the same way as I do. Instead of investing my energy into working out why they do not appear happy for me, I focus on maintaining my own positive and optimistic outlook on life. Don’t get me wrong, it would still be great if all the people in my life are happy for me when I achieve a meaningful goal, however I no longer expect it of them.
I also recognise how important it is to surround yourself with positive, supportive people. I used to believe those people would be my family and friends, by default, but I now know that is not necessarily the case. Don’t get me wrong, I do have some supportive and encouraging people in my life; however I also had some that were not.
I realise that it is best not to expect a reaction from a person, which is different to their default. Instead, I find that it is better for me to spend more time with people who instinctively express joy for others.
Changing my expectations of others means I can truly enjoy my achievements as I no longer fear a negative response from others.
What expectations do you have that are having a negative effect on your life?

The devastating news..

On a Saturday night, my father called and left a message for me.  It was late, so I decided to call him the next day.  I listened to the message and he sounded better than he had in months, having battling radiation and chemo for such a long time. 

Fast forward to Sunday morning.  I was asleep when I heard the phone ring.  It was my mother and she was frantic.  “Your father is dying. I’m on my way to the hospital.” My father had been taken by ambulance to the hospital.  It was Memorial Day weekend and I was two and a half hours away in another city.  My brain shut down for a few seconds, unable to truly comprehend what was going on.  I repeated my mother’s words to my friends and went into a panic.  “Just go,” he said.  “I’ll be right behind you in ten minutes.”  I threw on some clothes, grabbed my car keys and sped down the highway. About twenty minutes later, my mom called again.  “Daddy died.  They tried working on him for an hour but they couldn’t save him.”

When your father passes away, there is a tremendous amount of sadness that is associated with his death.  It is indescribable.  As a little boy, I always imagined my father playing soccer with me,  the idea that my father would not be to play with me was overwhelming. It was a thought that I had never before contemplated.

Death is a part of life but nothing prepares you for the death of a parent.  You are suddenly planning a funeral, writing an obituary, and existing in a space between living and remembering that seems so foreign.  It took me a month before I truly grieved for my father and to grasp the fact that he was no longer here.  It was sparked by me trying to call him.  I scrolled through my cell phone for his number.  I had forgotten that he was gone.


My grandma was amazing during the entire grieving process.  Funerals are so similar to weddings because everyone comes out to celebrate a new life…without their loved one.  My grandma was there for me, and my entire family.  On Memorial Day, after spending two full days around my family, my aunt whispered in my ear, “He’s watching you" 

How your significant other supports you through a tragedy is extremely telling.  It is something that you cannot test out before it happens.  But my grandma made sure that she supported me in the way that I needed and my family was there to support me as well.  She acted without being asked. "the loss of my father was terrible, but my aunt was right, he is watching and I will never never forget how much I miss him."

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Life Story (With a Moral) June 20, 2014 | Michael V. Reynold

A Life Story (With a Moral)
June 20, 2014 | Michael V. Reynold

It’s funny how people sitting next to you on airplanes sometimes open up and like to talk. This happened to me last week with a gentleman who looked at me and decided I was a good person to talk to, or maybe I’m just a good listener.

He told me his whole financial life history. Don’t ask me why. I didn’t know him, and he didn’t know me, but I listened.

Identity stolen twice, divorced twice, both times expensive, and just remarried at age 66 to a somewhat younger woman who has significant debt.

Life’s twists and turns sometimes takes us in directions we would rather not go in, but still have to deal with.

His career has been varied. Fireman, CPA, boat captain, electrical engineer and now talking about retirement. He will be going from a high-income earner to a low-income retiree.

During our one sided conversation, one thing became very clear. He had been dealt some financial hurdles and had worked very hard to correct these issues, but these experiences had left him financially apprehensive.

Here are his concerns. Can he afford to retire? Can he manage on a substantially reduced income? Should he continue to work? Will his employer allow him to work, and if so, for how long? Should he become a consultant to permit supplementing his income? Will he need to sell his house? Will he need to sell his boat, which, next to his wife, he loves dearly?

Many questions with perhaps not the answers he wants to hear. Life’s twists and turns sometimes takes us in directions we would rather not go in, but still have to deal with.

The moral of the story is to plan for the future, protect your assets and work with skilled financial advisors. Life happens, so be prepared.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~Winston Churchill



I am constantly striving to see the positive in every aspect of my life. But it’s not always easy.

My grandma is currently suffering from a disease from which she will may never recover. My mind is still trying to adjust to my relatively new schedule of running Positively Present full time. My wallet is thinning out as I march forward on my eventful ventures. And, as I get older, I find myself moving in different directions from some of the people I’ve spent a great deal of time with.

My life—and all of our lives—is filled with challenges that make it very difficult to be positive sometimes.

However, I know that choosing to be positive has helped me the most in terms of becoming the person I want to be. Even when things are difficult, I know that being positive—and striving to make the best of whatever situation I’m in—really does make even the most challenging situations easier to bear.

More often than not, I find myself  falling apart seeing friends I care for and love doubting themselves so deeply. Veering toward a positive attitude, (It’s something I never would have done years ago!) I firmly believe that this is because I’ve trained myself to be positive.

It doesn’t always come naturally for me—sometimes it’s a lot of work—but I’ve taken five steps that make it so much easier for me to see the good in life.

Step One: Believe a Positive Attitude is a Choice

This step was hard to take at first. I thought that people were either positive or negative (and I was in the latter category). I used to blame my negativity on all kinds of outside forces—fate, experiences, parents, -friends-but never really stopped to think that I could choose to be positive.

Teaching myself that positivity is a choice has been one of the greatest things I’ve ever done for myself.

Now when I find myself in a bad situation, I know that it’s up to me to find the good, to be positive regardless of what’s happening around me. I no longer point fingers and place blame. I realize that everything happens how it happens, and it’s up to me to choose how I want to feel about it. I am in control of my attitude, and no one can take that away from me.

Step Two: Rid Your Life of Negativity

If you want to live a positive, joyful life, you cannot be surrounded by negative people who don’t encourage your happiness.

As a negative person, I attracted negative people. When I decided to make the change to live a more positive life, I had to rid my life of the most negative influences in it. No one is perfect—and perfection isn’t the goal when it comes to positivity—but there were people in my life who were consistently negative, who constantly brought me down, and I had to stop spending so much time with them.

This, as you can imagine, wasn’t easy. It can hurt to distance yourself from people—even when you know they aren’t good for you or your current lifestyle.

In addition to removing negative influences from me, I also had to get rid of some of my own negative behaviors. I had to take a step back and examine which behaviors were good for me and which were not.

I learned to focus on the positive things I was doing—such as working on my blog and cultivating new, positive relationships—and let go of the negative ones. This process was not easy and, to be honest, is still ongoing, but I know this: It’s hard to live a positive life when negative people and behaviors continually pull you down.

Step Three: Look For the Positive in Life

In every person, in every situation, there is something good. Most of the time it’s not obvious. We have to look. And sometimes we have to look hard.

The old me was content to sit back and just glance around. If I saw negative, I went with that feeling. I didn’t want to look harder or think too much about the good. I found it much, much easier to sit back and just accept what I saw (which was usually the bad).

Now, when I’m faced with a difficult or challenging situation, I think to myself, “What is good about this?” No matter how terrible the situation might seem, I always can find something good if I take the time to think about it.

Everything—good and bad—is a learning experience so, at the very least, you can learn from bad experiences. However, there’s usually even more to it than that. If you really take the time to look, you will usually find something good, something genuinely positive, about every person or situation.

Step Four: Reinforce Positivity in Yourself

Once I started thinking more positively, I realized I had to reinforce these thoughts and behaviors in myself so they would stick. As with any sort of training, the more you practice, the better you get—and, yes, you can practice being positive.

The best and easiest way to do this is to be positive when it comes to who you are. Tell yourself you’re awesome. Tell yourself you look good. Tell yourself you did a great job at work or raising your kids or whatever it is you do.

Be honest with yourself, but do your best to look for the good. And, whatever you do, don’t focus on the negative. It’s okay to not like everything about yourself, but don’t focus on what you don’t like. We all have positive attributes, and it’s up to you to remind yourself of them every day.

Step Five: Share Positivity with Others

Not only do you need to be positive with yourself for this training to really take effect, but you need to be positive with others. You have to share your wealth of positivity with the world.

The best way I’ve found to do this is quite simple and basic: Be nice to other people, no matter what. Tell someone s/he looks nice today. Tell someone s/he did a great job on that presentation. Tell someone s/he was a good example on the mission team. 

Tell your parents or friends (or both!) how much you love them and how great they are. When someone is feeling down, do what you can to cheer him or her up. Send an encouragement text. Don’t gossip. Be kind to all living things.

All of these things sound basic enough, but for someone like me, they didn’t come easily.

I never wanted to see the good in myself and, therefore, didn’t want to see it in others either. I used to be critical and condescending. Now I strive to be encouraging and supportive.

I try not only to treat others as I would like to be treated, but I also try to consider how they would like to be treated. People appreciate positivity, and the more you share it with others, the more you are practicing it your own life.

When you start feeling like the idea of being a positive person is daunting, remind yourself that all it takes is one small step in the right direction to move yourself toward a more positive attitude.

Believe in yourself and remember the most important lesson of all: A positive outlook is a choice that you can always make.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.”



I used to spend an awful lot of time worrying about people liking me. Or what people thought of me. Or what they thought of the clothes I was wearing. Or whatever.

It’s taken me a long time to realize two things:

1. Most people really aren’t even taking notice of us. (They’re too worried about what other people think of them.)

2. Of the few who are noticing us, the people who are judging us harshly are not the people we want around us anyway.

Makes sense, right?

It’s actually something I’d heard a hundred times before, but it never really sunk in.

So why had it not sunk in? What made it so hard to believe this is actually the case, and that I should give up caring what people think once and for all?

I think, in simple terms, it’s built into our human nature. We’re social creatures, therefore we want to be sociable; and we think that in order to be sociable, everyone has to like us.

Otherwise we would become (gasp) social outcasts.

I recently moved from my small town to Ann Arbor.  The big smoke (for the  Michiganders ). Scary.

I decided, in my quest to try new things and get healthier, to join the gym at the end of my road.

Unfortunately, I’ve never felt quite at home in a gym. For me, it’s almost like that scene in Pretty Woman when she walks in to the designer store for the first time, and all the shop assistants look down their noses at her.

I have to admit, that doesn’t actually happen—at all. But it’s happening in my head, because in my head I also hear “You’re not as good as them,” “They’ll think you’re stupid,” and “You don’t fit in here.”

You may have had an experience like this at some point in your life. Maybe you were just starting a new job, or meeting your partner’s parents for the first time, or walking into your first day of school.

The problem is, it’s not other people with the problem. It’s us.

When I think about everything I assume everyone else is thinking, I see side glances and sniggers where none really exist. The gym, for me, becomes hard work, not because of the people who go to my gym, but because of how I perceive them to be.

I am currently working on developing a positive attitude. It underlies my whole philosophy on life:

Your thoughts create your reality.

My natural disposition was always a bit negative. I suspect I developed that attitude partially because I was raised and taught that it was important to consider all the options and “be realistic.”

That, in itself, is not a bad thing, but I ended up focusing on the negative side of things instead of realizing I had a choice to perceive things differently.

After my experience with the gym, I decided to turn my negative thoughts about other people into positive ones. Instead of dwelling on all the bad things I thought people were thinking, I told myself, “I belong here,” “I’m happy here,” and “Everyone here likes me.”

Everything started to change.

I suddenly realized that no one was looking at me strangely. No one cared what I was doing or take words to literally. (There are super attractive people at my gym!) They were quite happy minding their own business, doing their own thing, and working on themselves—and suddenly I was able to do the same.

We are sociable animals and want that approval from other people, which for generations has meant conforming to the social norms of our society. But we live in a time when people are far more tolerant of individual differences than ever before.

If we can start to accept and be who we are, we just may realize not only that it’s okay, but that most other people think it’s okay, too.

We really can be ourselves if we can remember that it’s our perception that matters—and it’s a waste of energy to try to see ourselves through other people’s eyes. Odds are, they’re paying far less attention than we think.
 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Growing wisdom ..2

Ouch! It sounds like you feel like you’re a pariah. It’s impossible to guess why your friendships don’t “stick” and there’s no uptake by others but the problem seems to be a pattern rather than a one-time occurrence—and something you want to change.

Can you self-identify your specific problem (s)? Here are some of the possibilities why people don’t have close reciprocal relationships with friends. I’m sure other readers will add to the list.

Temperament – Are you shy and uncomfortable around people? This can make people around you feel uncomfortable too.

Insecurity - Do you feel like you can’t measure up to the people you want as friends? Are you able to trust other people? These may be barriers that create distance between you and your friends.

Preference – Are you introverted? When push comes to shove, do you actually prefer being alone rather than spending time with friends? Do you think people know this when they’re around you? Or, are you extraordinarily social—so preoccupied with making lots of acquaintances that you lose out on making close friendships?

Psychological Issues – Do you have a history of difficulty establishing intimate relationships with others? Are you uncomfortable with people knowing the real you?

Lack of Experience – Regardless of age, some people lack the skills needed to make and maintain friendships. Do you think you have what it takes to be a good friend?

Situational Obstacles – Do you live in a geographical area where it is particularly difficult to connect with people? This might include living someplace rural where there are few people or because of a history of frequent moves, being someplace where you feel like an outsider.

Disabilities – Do you have a mental or physical disability? Unfortunately, because of stigma, people shun individuals with mental or physical disabilities. In addition, being homebound can limit the opportunity to make friends.

Personality – Is there something about you that others find grating? Are you too needy? Too pushy? Too talkative? Too controlling? Are you fiercely independent—wanting to call all the shots regarding what, when and where? Sometimes, there is something off-putting about a person’s behavior and the individual lacks awareness of the problem.

Communication Style - Do you respond to your friend’s overtures as well as initiate contact? Are you available on line or by phone, depending on your friend’s preferred mode of communication.

Time Management Problems – Do you have a hard time juggling all the responsibilities and demands placed on you? Do you consider making time for friends selfish or frivolous?

Unrealistic expectations – Have you led your friends to believe that you will always do the organizing? Do you have an unrealistic, romanticized notion of friendship? Do you expect all friendships to be perfect and last forever?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Growing Wisdoms.

 Growing up I was taught by my respected elders and superiors that if I wanted or needed anything in life, all I needed to do was have patience ask God (Exalted be He) and He will give. It wasn’t until I was in my 10 - 12 years of age when I actually understand what that meant. 
Up until then, I had wrongly created my own interpretation which had no resemblance to the meaning I was taught as a child. I made myself believe it to mean that you had to put on a brave face and that any sign of hardship was a sign of ungratefulness. Don’t tell anyone how frustrated, angry and upset you truly are because the last thing you want is for your secret to come out…
This carried on for around 2years  until one day I woke up and decided “This can’t be right,” and I made a conscious decision of find out for myself what patience really meant.  I began to reflect on why it is that God (the Majestic) creates each individual in a particular and unique image.
Every Person is Unique 
In the past few years my false fa├žade of contentment has become real contentment. This doesn’t mean that I’ve somehow come to the end of my journey to God or that my faith is somehow ‘perfect’, because there is simply no such thing. Of course I still face days that are harder than others. However, the truth of the matter actually lies in the very realisation that the journey is ongoing. 
I spent so much time thinking that if I prayed hard enough I would wake up and miraculously see my father again, thinking that this is what I needed in order to carry myself in this temporary world with complete certainty, gratitude and comfort in my own skin. I could not have been more wrong. 
With time and after a lot of sleepless, tearful nights I realised that there is no such thing as coincidence, and that this is where my patience  thankfulness, certainty  in God plan for me, and comfort come from. 
The people we encounter, the conversations we have and the sights that we see – good and bad – all happen for a reason and are blessings, just as any opportunity to reflect and turn to The Most High is a blessing.
To me, the crucial step is to look inwards and ask myself whether my outlook on life is that of a victim, or of someone who was created by God (Exalted is He) in the way that He intended and is the Benefactor of, through His countless blessings.

Michael V. Reynold. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Life decision

I learned some time ago that whenever I was feeling worried, sad or hopeless I could change my attitude my pausing and counting my blessings. Prior to that I felt I was grateful and always told myself and others that I was. Looking back, that feels like an easy and complacent way out of truly being grateful and understanding just how much I have to appreciate.

Sometimes life can be daunting and it requires that I go beyond the basic gratitude; I’m grateful for a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food to eat. Though those things are pretty standard to most of us (even if we struggle financially and so on) there were times when that just didn’t seem ‘enough’. When I was at my darkest moments, I not only had to remind myself how much I have that others don’t, but also how many others are suffering far more than I.

I realized that writing down or repeating in my prayer time the many things I am grateful for helps me have a fresh perspective in life and a renewed senses of hope too. Going beyond the basics of my gratitude helped me to realize how very blessed I am. My biggest sense of joy and what I am most grateful for is that I am surrounded, always, by many people who love and care for me. The second greatest blessing is that I am alive, more healthy then many, and able to do things and live my life in ways that many cannot.

Realizing that gratitude is a necessary daily habit (yes- like brushing your teeth!) and practicing it has helped me to worry less, be more compassionate and giving towards those with a different life then mine, feel less anxious and worried about what I don’t have and renewed my sense of hope. I realize as I look back on the blessings in my life, somehow it always gets better and there seem to be new things to be grateful for when I least expect it!

Gratitude as a Daily Habit

Make a gratitude list (daily) adding things that happened that you should recognize the blessing in
Say thank you (and mean it!) to everyone who helps you, blesses you, feeds your soul
Create a gratitude board with images and words that remind you of the things you are grateful for
Take inventory of all that you have (not just the material items) and realize your abundance
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”


People in our lives.

Again and again I hear from friends, colleagues and others about how they feel hopeless, helpless or just completely frustrated with life and people. There are often life challenges and some are worse then others. Sometimes there are people around us (family, co-workers) that we do not have an option to distance ourselves from that are negative and demanding. It’s part of life — life can be good but it will never be perfect.

Once you accept that, you can come to the realization that you choose how to react and respond to life happening and people around you in the way that best suits you!

We have a choice. I don’t think most people want to respond or react negatively. I think most people want to feel good and want life to be good. I think most people want to make a difference in the world and the lives of those around them in a positive way. We are only limited in doing so by our own choices.

You have a choice, each moment, to be your best self. Even when you have been hurt, angered or frustrated you can decide if you want to be peaceful, loving and joyful or be mean, hateful, angry. It is not always easy, because sometimes life circumstances or certain people REALLY affect us. But they only have the power of you that you ALLOW.

When you practice responding and reacting in positive, healthy and even loving ways, you are in control of YOU. Here are some of the things I practice when life gets me down, when people drive me nuts or when circumstances leave me shaking my head and asking whaaaat??

Before you react or respond…

pause and take a few deep breaths
count your blessings
think about how you want to be perceived (loving, respectful, patient etc. or out of control angry, unfair, mean etc.)
consider what the outcome of your reaction & response will be (hurting others, losing opportunities, saying/doing things you regret etc.)
 remember that you cannot change others and sometimes circumstances either-(what will it get you by reacting/responding in a way that is not being your best self?)

"We have control over how we react and respond. When we do not let others or circumstances put us in victim mode, we are free!”

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mistakes are the Seeds of Ever Growing Opportunities

The more mistakes I make the more I change… the more I change the more I learn… the more I learn the more I grow… the more I grow the more opportunities appear and the more I am able to achieve in life.

This is a very simple formula, yet it has very profound implications for those who are able to understand and grasp it’s intrinsic meaning. Basically speaking, mistakes are simply a form of change that we must learn and grow from on a daily basis in order to attract the necessary opportunities that will allow us to flourish in our field of endeavor.

In our society today mistakes are frowned upon. If one makes a mistake, one is seen as incompetent and unworthy of success. Little do many people realize that mistakes are simply stepping stones to higher levels of understanding about one’s life and predicament.

Just imagine you are about to cross a river, and the only way across to the other side are a dozen stepping stones that you must walk upon. As you step onto the first stone you may be a little unsure or uncertain of yourself. You are thinking that the stone may be wobbly or that your foot may slip off, and as a result you will fall feet first into the water below. Sure, these are very uncertain times where 1 mistake could result in very wet socks. And as you progress along these stepping stones, more times than not (especially in the beginning stages of your journey), you may slip into the water. However, you have a goal, you have an objective to reach. And so you pick yourself out of the water and move forward across the stepping stones wiser than ever before for having fallen into the water below. Upon reaching the other side, you look back at your journey and realize just how much you have learnt from the mistakes you made.

Life is very much like a journey along these stepping stones. We make mistakes… We are changed or transformed by our mistakes… We learn from these changes… We grow as a result… and as we grow we make progress and attract new opportunities along our journeys. This is why it is so important never to get disheartened by the pitfalls which are there to help us gain the necessary experience we need to reach the other side of the river successfully.

The next time you feel as though the mistakes in your life are getting the better of you, try asking yourself the following questions:

How have I changed as a result of this experience?
What is life trying to teach me at this very moment?
How have I grown from the lessons that I have learnt?
What is intrinsically good about this that I hadn’t noticed before?
Where is the hidden opportunity that this experience has blessed me with?
What must I do next that will allow me to move forward towards my objective?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

God Does Not Grant Wishes but rather Opportunities to make Wishes Come True

Life doesn’t give you what you ask for, it rather provides you with the opportunities to potentially receive these things.

No matter what your religious or spiritual beliefs are, one thing is certain; God / The Universe does not play favorites. Why should God give one man a life of luxury, health and success while another suffers from poverty and illness? The bottom line is that we are what we are based on how and what we think about throughout our daily lives. The hard fact is that what we ask or wish for on a daily basis will not come to fruition if we do nothing about it.

There are so many of us out there who rely on God or an Infinite Power to heal them, to make them rich, and to make their dreams come true. What these people fail to understand is that God will not fulfill their desires. It is rather up to the person asking for these things to keep an eye out for opportunities coming their way that may possibly enable them to fulfill their needs and wants.

There is an old tale about a man caught in a flood asking God for help.

A nearby river’s banks overflow and an old man finds himself caught in a flood. In order to avoid the water he climbs up to the roof of his home and prays for God to rescue him in his time of need. Shortly after his prayer, a lady in a row boat comes across the man sitting on his roof. She asks him to come aboard so that she can take him to safety. However, the old man insists that he will be fine, and that God will save him and keep him from harm.

Less than an hour later the rising water has almost reached the rooftop of the old man’s home. At this time a rescue boat approaches the old man and asks him to come on board so that they can take him to safety. The stubborn old man reassures the life rescue team that he will be fine as God will surely save him. The boat leaves, leaving the old man sitting and praying on his rooftop once again.

Less than a half hour later the old man’s feet are now standing in a stream of water that continues to rise rapidly. All of a sudden a helicopter comes out of nowhere and hurtles down a folding ladder to the old man below. However, the old man rejects this final rescue attempt saying that God will save him. The rescue team doesn’t have time to argue with the stubborn old man and politely inform him bluntly that if he doesn’t grab hold of the rescue ladder that he will be swept away by the rising current and will likely drown. The old man looks up at the helicopter, thanks them for their help and kneels down to pray.

Moments later the old man is swept away by the current and meets his untimely death.

The old man is brought to the pearly gates of heaven where God welcomes him with open arms. Although glad to be in heaven, the old man is perplexed and confused as to why God did not help him in his time of need. And so he approaches and asks God for an explanation.

“Why did you not save me in my greatest time of need?” says the old man.

God looks down upon him with kind eyes and says, “My dear child, whatever you have asked for have I not given to you? You asked to be taken to safety and so I obliged by sending you 2 boats and a helicopter. What you do with what I provide is not in my hands. I can only provide you with the opportunities to fulfill your wants and desires. What you do with those opportunities when they come your way is completely up to you.”

The old man looked down upon his feet, a little ashamed of these hasty decisions. However, he finally understood the true and real power of prayer.

It is also important to consider that opportunities can and do at times come disguised as problems. And it is because we perceive them as being problems that we fail to take advantage of the good things that come our way everyday. In fact problems are there to help us grow, and to assist us to expand our awareness allowing for the fulfillment of our ever growing and expanding potential.

When it comes to so called problems; what you see isn’t always what you get.

There is an old saying which reminds us that we don’t get what we ask for but rather what we deserve. It simply guides us to an understanding that no matter what problems or opportunities we are faced with, we will end up getting what we deserve based on the decisions made in the moment.

Finally, opportunities / problems are like boomerangs that will tend to come back again and again in different ways, shapes and forms up until the moment we learn, grow and make use of them, thusly allowing us to fulfill the deepest wants and desires we have been longing for all this time.

The next time you are faced with a problem (disguised as an opportunity), you might find it helpful to ask yourself the following sets of questions:

How can I see this problem as an opportunity that will move me forward and past my current predicament?
What does this problem have to teach me about my life, myself and others?
How can I best take advantage of this problem and turn it into an opportunity to move me forward?
What is it exactly that this problem is hinting at? What is it revealing to me that I initially did not see?
If all my problems suddenly became opportunities, what new empowering decisions would I make today?                    
Michael V. Reynold. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Change is a Process of Transformation

My Wisdom today… “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Another thought provoking James Dean quote that shows us how important it is to be flexible in our daily undertakings.


So many times throughout our day we try and fight off circumstances, people and events. We do everything within our power to try and resist the changes that confront us, and yet we continue to struggle fighting against a powerful force that will simply not letup.

Do we ever stop to think about the actual process of change?

The world as we know it today will not be as we will know it tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. The people that we know today are not going to be the same people tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. Nor will we be the same tomorrow, next week, next month or next year.

The simple fact of the matter is that change continues to evolve and expand on every level each second throughout our day.  Change is like the wind blowing a sail boat through the open ocean. To resist change is to fight against the inevitable and all powerful forces of life. On the other hand, to harness the power of change will take one on a path of unexpected transformation that can bring many blessings and the potential for abundant opportunities.

The Quickest Path Isn’t Always the Right or Best Path to Take

Most of us have a deep fixation in our minds that there is only one way, one path towards a desired destination. We are so fixed and locked upon this journey that we will rarely accept a different opinion or perspective. We know the path that we must take and we will do whatever it takes to reach that destination no matter what difficulties may lie in our way.

“Inflexibility has killed a great many people over the course of human history.”

The funny thing about life is that it presents us with a constant array of clues that are somewhat forced upon us when we least expect them. The great sailors of days gone by picked up on this very quickly. They knew that the wind blows and directs with a purpose. They realized that through the act of harnessing this powerful force that they could redirect themselves along paths that offered less resistance and greater potential for success. Yes, indeed for them these journeys might have taken longer, however life always has a means and a purpose for everything that it throws our way.

Learn from the Winds as they are our Teachers

Life has an interesting way of teaching us lessons that prepare us for the journey ahead. We all have goals, dreams and ambitions that we would like to one day successfully bring to physical reality. Yet from our very limited perspective we fail to realize or understand how unworthy and undeserving we actually are of these experiences.

Every goal, every dream, every deep intense purpose that we conjure up within the recesses of our minds is not so much a destination but rather a journey of experiences filled with lessons, hardships, and challenges that must be confronted and overcome in order to experience the pleasures of the destinations that we envision within our minds.

No man or woman EVER accomplished their goals, dreams or visions without first experiencing the hardships of the journey that led them to their final destination. When the winds came they understood that they had a choice. They could either resist and try to fight over the top of the winds of change, or they could harness the power of these winds and propel themselves forward towards their destination in potentially unforeseen ways. They realized that life is in a constant process of motion and change that adapts to our shifting thoughts, actions, emotions and goals. What we consciously think we want, may indeed not be what we unconsciously desire. Yet, the shifting wind knows and realizes these internal desires and progressively adjusts our course towards our true intentions.

Will this course bring about a smoother journey of experiences, or will it bring further hardships and lessons?

As our course changes, the winds become our teachers, they help us to understand what it will take to deserve to experience our dreams in physical reality. Without these experiences it would be impossible to accomplish what we seek. Ask the most successful people in the world if they would have become who they are today if not for those challenges, problems, or ill-fated circumstances that constantly stood in their way. They learned throughout this process that life will always throw you curve balls, and that unless we adjust, adapt and alter our course to match the changes that we are experiencing, we will suffer the consequences of ill-fated decisions that may leave us guilt ridden for the remainder of our lives.

We simply can’t change the direction of the wind, but we can adjust our sails to reach our ultimate destination.

Michael V. Reynold.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Giving God Control

  


I feel like so many emotions have been rushing through my head recently. Loss, grief, anxiety, fear, eternity, college...so much has been overwhelming. I feel like my mind keeps getting taken from one to the next and I can't concentrate on one thing.

Lately I've been trying to look for God and ask for His will to be done instead of my own. It's been so hard and is so unpredictable. I can't stand unpredictability- I like things planned out and certain. Even just giving up my grandmother's life into God's hands was hard. I knew that He was able to take better care of her than I could. Seeing just how much confidence and love she had in God was so character-changing to me. Her confidence and trust in Him showed me that I too should have that same faith. It really challenged me.

Sometimes in this life there are things we wish we could control. We want things to happen a certain way but everything we try to do just fails. We try so hard and every door seems to be slammed in our face. It hurts after a while and it gets tiring. But when you feel like you want to give up and you've given it all you've got- go to God and ask for His will to be done. Maybe you've been seeking your own will and not God's.

I have found myself in that place more often than I should. I try so hard to have my will work out and do everything within me to get it done the way I want and not do it God's way. It just shows how much I don't like getting out of my comfort zone and trusting other people. I have such a hard time giving other people control of my life, I guess because so many have seemed to fail me before and let me down.

So if you have something in your life right now that you feel is too heavy to carry anymore - just give it to God. Ask Him to take a hold of it and take it off your shoulders. You don't have to carry the heavy weight anymore- it was never yours to carry. God's got it and He'll carry it for you now. Give it to Him and He will do what is best with the things in your life.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Matthew 11:28
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."

Philippians 4:6
 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 

Luke 11:9
 So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Michael V. Reynold

Encourage/Discourage - which is correct?


Encourage, not discourage! It's a simple slogan that carries a lot of weight. But how many of us really ponder over it. To be encouraged or discouraged by someone is our choice and similarly to encourage or discourage someone is our decision.
Have you ever helped a person get out of an enigmatic situation? If you have then you can really understand what encouragement means.
Have you been around people who seem to attract others? It’s a pleasure being with them and they make you feel easy and comfortable. I call them the encouraging people.
Often in your path towards your goal, you’ll find both kinds (encouraging & discouraging people). It’s your decision to decide what you want out of yourself. There are times when even a single encouraging word can save someone’s life, or can change his/her attitude towards life. But at the same time, a discouraging word can inspire the person to take a challenge and achieve his/her goal.

I think it depends on the person and the purpose for which he’s being encouraged or discouraged. What do you have to say??

A True Act of Love.

 
These past few days have been different and have had ups and downs. We all go through ups and downs in our lives and often feel happy one minute, and down the next. It's hard to feel content for long in this life. We may feel loved, happy, successful and talented for a little, but then the happiness soon fades away and we are discouraged once again.

Lately I've been having trouble feeling accepted and loved. It seems like people always let you down and leave you feeling unqualified. You feel like you are easily replaced and not needed or wanted. I feel like most of the people I know have just shoved me out of their life and it hurts sometimes. One minute you feel important and loved, and then the next you feel like they could care less if you lived or even existed.

Today while I was feeling down, I remembered the love God has for all of us. I remembered that God loves us all even though He sees all our mistakes and imperfections. When we are broken and are in need of sustaining, God will still stay with us and be near to us. Sometimes I feel like He draws us closer when things are harder- unlike the people we often know in this world. From some of the past friends I've had, when things got hard and trying in my life my friends fled in an instant. Sometimes it seems like all people ever want is attention and to feel secure. They don't want a friendship or to care about you. They just want something out of you.

It hurts feeling used by someone and not feeling worthy of love. It hurts when someone only wants what you can give them, and doesn't care if they give anything in return. It seems like recently in my life I've tried to give more of myself, and I feel like I've got nothing back but silence. It hurts even though I know it shouldn't matter if I get anything back. But sometimes so much silence and lack of love gets to you. You feel like there's no reason to give anymore or even try to do what is right.

But you know what? God sees all that you are doing. It's not going unnoticed. And when you feel like you aren't getting anything in return, God knows how you feel. He has showed so much love to so many people and they just shove that love back in His face and outright reject Him. I know that's gotta hurt! God understands our pain and sees all that we are doing with good intentions. And no matter how many people reject us, avoid us and let us down God will always love us more than anyone else and He will always be there for us no matter what happens. He will never let us down or  forget us. Often it may seem like He's not there or He doesn't love us, but often Satan tries to use feelings to get to our hearts to make us doubt. Don't lose your faith and trust in God. He's got reasoning for what you're going through.

His act of love on Easter shows just how much He loved you. He sent His only Son to this earth so that He could show us all just how much love He has for us. It was a way that we could see just a glimpse of the love He has for us and the willingness He had to take His life and suffer so much just for us. Nobody else has ever suffered as much for us and will never do more for us than He did. If you feel unloved today and wonder if anyone cares for you, know that God loves you today. He sees your heart, your mistakes, your past, your future, and He still loves you more than anyone. And even when things seem the darkest, it gets better. Jesus died and was put in the tomb, but on the third day He rose again and lives today! If you feel like your life is at a standstill and seems so dark, know that God is working still and you will rise up from the valley and see the sun once again!

Keep doing what is right and don't lose hope. Someone loves you more than you will ever know and He sees all that you are doing!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

THE BREAKING POINT

                        Lately I've been having so much trouble finding joy in my life. It seems like everyday is a new struggle to wake up to. Everyday leaves me feeling burdened and aching. I can't remember the last time when I felt carefree and happy inside with no worries. The past few days have been so stressful and upsetting with making up homework for college, grieving my best-friend death  figuring out future college plans and emailing tons of college professors for guidance and assistance.

A week that I was supposed to be spending with my friends family after his funeral everything has turned into such a stressful week trying to get tons done. Why can't anything ever be simple? I feel like college has made me so stressed out recently and has left me feeling empty and questioning where God is in my life. I feel like most people don't  seem to understand the effort and heartaches of emailing college professors, meeting with deans and advisors beyond belief to try to work out my schedule and figure out classes- it has just left me worn and frail. Trying to put more effort into my work in my classes has not even shown for most of my classes and it has made me feel disappointed and discouraged that no matter how hard I try it just turns out average and my hard work is overlooked once again.

Lately I have just felt worried and stressed out beyond belief over things that I know don't really matter to most people, but they are so important to me. I think we all have things like that in our own life. We get so stressed over the littlest things but to others they are insignificant and often people don't understand the depth and hurt it causes. They don't realize just how much something hurts or the impact it makes on you.

Job 56:1-2
If only my anguish could be weighted and all my misery be placed on the scales!
It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas.

Nobody truly understands what you have gone through. Nobody knows the effort you put into things. Nobody knows how deeply something hurt you. Nobody knows the searing pain you've felt. Nobody knows the letdowns you've faced. Nobody knows the disgrace you feel when you are neglected. Nobody has seen all the tears you've cried. Nobody has seen the fake smiles you show to cover the pain inside. Nobody knows how hard you have tried to hold it all together. Nobody knows the amount of courage it takes to get up in the morning.

Sometimes it seems like nobody understands, and that probably is true, but know that God sees your pain, tears, heartaches, trials and fears. He knows everything about you. He has collected your tears and knows the hairs on your head (most of us don't even know that about ourselves). God knows you inside and out and He has a plan for all that happens in our life. Bad things happen to us and often it hurts more than most people see. Sometimes the pain never truly goes away but it can always teach us something.

The past few days I have been feeling upset with God with the life He's given me. Things have gotten so hard lately and I just can't stand another let-down. Everyday it's something else that is thrown my way. I've just been getting so weary with so much being thrown at me. I don't know how much longer I can stand it and remain strong. Today was the breaking point- I felt like everything hit harder today. I just couldn't take it anymore and I just needed to let some of it out from all that I've been holding inside. I felt like God was just slamming so many doors in my face and everything was coming back "no." Lately I've been so tired of hearing no or wait. I just need to find hope for the future, because right now there's nothing but pain.

When you feel like all you have is pain and heartaches in your life remind yourself of your eternal home. The pain that you've been feeling down here is only temporary. Remind yourself of the joy you will feel when you reach heaven knowing you didn't give up when the going got hard. Keep strong and know that God is in this life with you- you are not in it alone. You may be going through your darkest night, but know the sun will come up in the morning and all will be made right.

Michael V. Reynold

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The truth

How often do you look at yourself in the mirror? Most people look at themselves in the mirror only when they are dressing up, putting on make-up, comb their hair, and brush their teeth. What I am talking about is looking at yourself in the mirror for more than 10 minutes. I asked this question to my best friend and friends and found out that some of them just throw on their clothes and barely look at themselves for more than a minute. That’s what they do every day! Hey I did that until last year.

One thing you should do is first stare at yourself in the mirror for at least 5 minutes. Are you able to look into your eyes and say you’re happy with yourself? Are you happy with the way you look and feel? Some people can’t even look at themselves in the mirror. I have seen a man look into the mirror and punch the mirror breaking it to pieces. He just hated himself and how his life was turned out. He thought about himself to be a failure. Do you feel like that sometimes? If you do, I want to say that you have the talents and the power to change your way of thinking.

Rally yourself up.



Make a list with positive things about yourself including what you want to become. Now I am no psychologist but I use to do this when I was in High school  and freshman year of college before I took a Calculus test. I started doing this again last year. Now go to the mirror and tell yourself what you wrote on the list. Do this every day and believe it. You see our whole lives we had been surrounded by negative people. Family, friends and strangers may have put you down and put limitations. As result it went into our subconscious minds and we began to believe it. This causes a person to get low self-esteem and get on the defensive and walk around like they have a force field.

Relax and be Persistent

If you keep looking into the mirror and telling yourself positive things your life will transform. When you start believe that you have a beautiful mind and a unique body god has given you. You become what you say. People will see you different in the way you carry yourself. Your whole inner being becomes free and you see things more clearly. The chains of insecurity that held your thoughts captive will be broken. Success will definitely follow you in whatever you do.

 



“No man is free who is not master of Himself”

“Know first who you are; then adorn yourself accordingly.”

“First say to yourself what you would be and then do what you have to do”…Epictetus Philosopher.

 Written by Michael V. Reynold

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Kids trafficking

After watching the news this morning it saddens me to see that  in our present day, slavery still exists and the exploitation of the poor and weak are deepening poverty ( financial poverty, spiritual poverty, and emotional poverty) around the world. Human trafficking and slavery affects 161 countries around the world.  From these 161 countries, 90% of them are countries poverty stricken, leaving them vulnerable to such atrocities. There are many forms of slavery; each one of these is both damaging to the enslaved person AND also hinders a country’s growth and development. The three main areas that are affected by slavery are the labor force, education, and sociological and psychological aspects of a country. Human trafficking is largely a misunderstood subject, to better introduce the topic, here are definitions of different types of slavery that occur:

Forced Labor: forced labor may result when unscrupulous employers take advantage of gaps in law enforcement to exploit vulnerable workers. Forced labor is a form of human trafficking that is often harder to identify and estimate than sex trafficking. This occurs very frequently in sweatshops around the world, where workers are not allowed to leave or form unions. It may not involve the same criminal networks profiting from transnational sex trafficking. Instead, it may involve individuals who subject workers to involuntary servitude, perhaps through forced or coerced household or factory work.

Bonded Labor: One form of force or coercion is the use of a bond, or debt, to keep a person under subjugation. This is referred to in law and policy as “bonded labor” or “debt bondage.” An example of this is when people pay a smuggler a fee to smuggle them into another country. Then they work in exploitative conditions in order to pay off their debt.

Debt Bondage Among Migrant Workers: The vulnerability of migrant laborers to trafficking schemes is especially disturbing because the population is sizable in some regions. There are three potential contributing factors: (1) abuse of contracts; (2) inadequate local laws governing the recruitment and employment of migrant laborers; and (3) intentional imposition of exploitative and often illegal costs and debts on these laborers in the source country, often with the support of labor agencies and employers in the destination country.

Involuntary Domestic Servitude: A form of forced labor is that of involuntary domestic workers, whose workplace is informal, connected to their off-duty living quarters, and not often shared with other workers. There are numerous cases of young women being taken from poorer countries and smuggled into the U.S with promises of schooling,  however when they get to the U.S (this occurs mostly in middle class suburban neighborhoods) they are forced to work long hours with no pay and in isolation.

Forced Child Labor: The sale and trafficking of children and their entrapment in bonded and forced labor are among the worst forms of child labor. Any child who is subject to involuntary servitude, debt bondage, peonage, or slavery through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, is a victim of human trafficking regardless of the location of that exploitation.

Child Soldiers: Child soldiering is a unique and severe manifestation of trafficking in persons that involves the unlawful recruitment of children— often through force, fraud, or coercion—for labor or sexual exploitation in conflict areas

Sex Trafficking: Sex trafficking comprises a significant portion of overall human trafficking. When a person is coerced, forced, or deceived into prostitution, or maintained in prostitution through coercion, that person is a victim of trafficking

Child Sex Trafficking: According to UNICEF, as many as two million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade. International covenants and protocols obligate criminalization of the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The use of children in the commercial sex trade is prohibited under both U.S. law and the UN TIP Protocol. 

Poverty and slavery

Slavery contributes to a country’s poverty because it inhibits the labor force from reaching its full potential. Construction, research, farming, technological development, and hundreds of other occupations contribute to the betterment of a country. With a strong labor force, a country can work together and slowly work itself out of poverty. Slavery, on the other hand, battles against this movement and emotionally scars, emaciates and inhibits the creative power the labor force of a developing country. The work that these enslaved people are putting into their slavery should instead be directed to their home country’s economy and development. The revenue and economic benefits that the human traffickers generate rarely flows into the country where the slave is originated from.  For example, many American Products are produced in sweatshops, these products produce economic benefits for the United States since we enjoy many low priced goods at the expense of human trafficking. Sweatshops produce a minimal benefit to the local regions they operate in.  These enslaved men and women should be working on their own farms, factories, or starting their own businesses and contributing to their own country’s economy, instead of increasing the wealth of other countries.

2.Effects on education

Education is a second area that is affected by slavery.  Lack of education greatly hinders a country’s ability to emerge out of poverty. In my research on the subject I see that  in  2009, it was estimated that the total number of people enslaved in the world was about 27 million. Out of these 27 million 50% are children (Human). That’s a total of 13.5 million children that are forced or lured away from their homes. These 13.5 million children, ranging anywhere from 5 to 14, are not given any form of education. Of course, it is to be expected. If the human traffickers and “pimps” won’t even provide safe and human living conditions, then why would they bother on spending on their slaves’ education?

According to Alexander L. Peaslee, “In the last one hundred years significant economic growth has been achieved only in those countries in which a high proportion of the total population is found in primary schools”. Education is crucial to a country’s development. It plays a major role in technological advancement, medicine, health, economic development, and other key areas. With education people can be informed of the dangers of AIDS, HIV, and other diseases. In addition, with a good education, they will not find the need to resort to the scams and false promises that human traffickers have to offer. Education is necessary and if 13.5 million children worldwide are being forced into slavery and deprived of an education, then the countries affected by slavery will struggle with their future development and escape from poverty.

“Kidnapped from their villages when they are as young as five years old, between 200,000 and 300,000 children are held captive in locked rooms and forced to weave on looms for food. In India, Haiti-as well in other countries—the issue of slavery is exacerbated by a rigid caste system."

3. Effects on the people’s sociology and psychology

“In a post slavery societies where the colonial settlers co-exist with natives and descendants of freed slaves, there persists a culture of absolute economic and social segregation, discrimination, injustice and inequality against natives and descendants of freed slaves. It is a world in which the natives,  freed slaves and colored peoples are marginalized to the extent that they have been perpetually deprived of their lands, voices, beliefs and customs; they have no say in decisions affecting their existence and welfare” (Overcoming).

Slavery not only cripples a country’s work force and education, but also destroys cultures and people’s physical and mental state of being. Those who escape slavery are left with physical scars, long-term psychological damages, and are “misfits” in society with their lack of education and the severity of their trauma. They are demoralized, marginalized, and scarred physically, mentally, and spiritually. In a nutshell, without the proper help and support, their freedom can mean nothing with their past and trauma haunting them every second of their lives. These cripples a country. Children that are abused rarely return to normal lives. On the other hand, they will live in conflict with society and either join gangs or sort to drugs and alcohol. The effects that slavery has on countries affected by slavery is incomprehensible and irreparable.

Written by, 
Michael V. Reynold

The challenges of modern life



Women and their children face more and more problems nowadays. Why them in particular? Because for the first time in history, women have numerous ways to choose not to obey their husbands or communities – as they feel oppressed or are victims of violence and discrimination. This in turn affects their children, because they witness the violence, sometimes lose the opportunity to go to school or because they suffer from the consequences. If a mother has work and raise kids all alone, without the right help and institutions this often causes children to suffer from preventable diseases as the family has to move to improper housing, downgrade its living standards (hygiene, foods), etc...

Our societies are going through deep changes worldwide and guaranteeing one’s freedom means also guaranteeing their basic rights: access to employment, housing and healthcare. In the case of women’s emancipation, it’s not just about their rights or freedom anymore, but it’s also about making sure that their children’s rights (e.g. education, basic needs) are respected as well.

Michel reynold

Friday, April 11, 2014

Causes and effects of poverty



Several issues like hunger, illness and thirst are both causes and effects - for instance: not having water means you're poor, but being poor also means you can't afford water or food. In a sense, they’re a characteristic of poverty in that they define poverty. Therefore, you should always look at both ends of the problem - and you can refer to the article on the causes of poverty to complete the picture.


 
The poverty cycle

The effects of poverty are most often interrelated so that one problem hardly ever occurs alone. For instance, bad sanitation makes it easier to spread around old and new diseases, and hunger and lack of water make people more vulnerable to them.

Impoverished communities often suffer from discrimination and end up caught in cycles of poverty. Let's find out just what this means concretely.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Education, women & family poverty.


7 The common challenge that millions of women face around the world is having to raise a family on their own. Of course there are different reasons for that. In some countries, women run away from their violent husbands, in others the husband died from preventable diseases, sometimes it’s a simple case of divorce and so on.

The real problem comes after when women have to make a living all while raising their kids on their own. Most of the time, this situation creates more family poverty, be it for a few years or for a lifetime. The core of the problem is that in many countries, to begin with the United States, a single salary isn’t enough to sustain a family. That's where they fall into poverty. This is a systemic problem of the labor market that simply doesn’t provide wages high enough at the so-called bottom of the pyramid (i.e. where the poorest are).


7
The education trap

While welfare programs do alleviate poverty, in the case of the US for example, it’s become obvious that they often don’t help actually lifting people out of poverty. They just make life in poverty more livable.

There are several reasons for that and trying to sum up the whole situation in one sentence is just simplistic and idiotic. Why ? Because these families have very different needs. In some cases, the best way out is to invest in children’s education, but most countries have failed to do so and the result is none of these kids go to university.

In other cases, it’s women who need education and by developing a few well-chosen skills they could actually earn a decent living that could reduce family poverty. But training programs aren’t for everyone either, some women already have experience or specific job skills and need economic support while waiting for the job market and the economy to be fixed. Hoping that happens sooner than later. Or maybe they need help with job-hunting, finding and targeting the right sectors which can make good use of their skills (e.g. help with CVs, job search or job interviews).