Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year Tip

As we begin 2019, I would like to share something with you that has really helped me lately. We’ve all seen a beautiful sunrise and a magnificent sunset. It is breathtaking, beautiful and brings about emotions of our own simplicity and the magnificence of the world around us. But there are sunsets and sunrises happening all the time, ever day in fact. Why don’t we see them? Usually because it takes a lot of effort to get up early and take the time to watch a sunrise. It might imply a little less sleep or a hike up a mountain. We are busy people. We don’t have a lot of time to stop and just watch the sun rise or set. Yet, it is so refreshing when we do.

On New Year’s, when we step from 2018 and into 2019, we are experiencing a type of sunset and sunrise moment. Many of us, as we ought to, have a great time, celebrate, and maybe make a resolution for the new year. It’s a bit more challenging to take some time, stop, think, look back on 2018, and look ahead to 2019. I would like to present a simple method for doing this that has helped me. Again, the sun will rise and set, the year will go on pretty much the same if we don’t do anything, but if we do take a little time, reflect and rejoice, we will walk into 2019 refreshed.

Here’s the simple tip. Take a piece of paper and make a little graph. The graph consists of four sections:
1.  The month of the year (2018).
2. Important events or people.
3. Feelings, emotions, thoughts, that these events brought about.
4. Lessons I learned from those events, people, feelings, emotions.         

Take a little time these days, sit down on a sofa, grab a drink, and look back on 2018 as you fill out your graph. As you go through each month, reflect on the important events or people that come to mind. Maybe you’ll have two really important events or people per month, or maybe you’ll have more. Maybe for January you met with your cousin and she really inspired you. So, under the third section, you specify what feelings, emotions, thoughts, came about as you talked to her. Maybe you were inspired by her work with refugees. She transmitted positive vibes and lately you’ve been down and hanging out with people who don’t do a lot to help other people and you felt like doing something to help refugees also. So, in section four you can write down a little lesson, like making a point of spending time with people who are doing good for those in need, that transmit positive energy. Maybe a lesson could be to go and help the refugees yourself.

This simple activity, can be so helpful. It is an aid to see the sunset and remain in awe at the experiences of 2018. It is also an aid to see the sunrise and take those lessons into 2019. Personally, it has been helping me so much. You may prefer it to be very personal and maybe done alone or in prayer. It can also be fun and there is lots of space for creativity. It could even be done in groups or shared in family, or among friends. It’s not too late, these next days are a perfect time before heading back to work and school. Have a fantastic 2019!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Poverty, Inc.

I flew into Haiti on July 20th, one year since my last visit and things are getting worse. I have to admit that the airport seemed to be in better shape, some of the roads were better, but the more I discovered, the more I realized what was really going on.

There have not yet been elections in Haiti - which are way overdue. The previous president finished his term and stepped down. The economy is the worst it has been since 1994. The time never changed with daylight saving time because no authority made the decision to change it. Many public hospitals were closed and the government money was pumped into the police force to keep things under control.

How can a country be constantly declining when its people have so much potential to be lively and creative? The Haitians that I know are energetic, naturally seeking to improve their situation and very hard workers. How is the country in such bad shape? I have been thirsting for answers because something is wrong and it is not just!

Then, Fr Robert Sirico, the founder of Acton Institute, gave me a copy of the documentary called Poverty, Inc., after we chatted about my recent visit to Haiti. In the near future I will share my reflections on this documentary, but first, I would like to share it with you and hear what you think about it.

Image result for free poverty inc images

The full documentary can be found on Netflix, itunes and Amazon. 
Here is the trailer:

Friday, January 8, 2016


Recently I saw the documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine. One phrase has stuck with me. Bob Belleville, the former Macintosh head of Engineering, said, "The work was intense. The commitment needed to do it was intense. I lost my wife, I lost my children." 

These past months I have been working on my thesis for my Master's in Philosophy. I am writing my thesis on human freedom. This quote of Bellville, in the midst of all my reading, thinking, talking about and writing on human freedom has led me to a conclusion: when we want something bad enough, we are willing to sacrifice anything, everything! The problem is that most of the time we don't want enough!

This 2016 what do I want? It is worth sitting down, taking a couple of minutes and reflecting on commitments for this year, before the speed of life steals what is most precious to you. As time passes, we ought to be growing and developing, not losing.

For Bellville the commitment was intense. So intense that he was willing to sacrifice everything. Is there anything worth sacrificing this 2016? Is there anything worth losing this 2016? If your commitments for this year are clear, then what you can sacrifice to achieve those commitments will also be more clear. If you don't have commitments, then you will want a lot of things, because as humans, that's part of who were are: we want what is good and everything is good in some way, but not necessarily the best for us.

This 2016 what are your commitments? Are you willing to spend more time with your wife? Are you willing to watch a little less TV and go for a walk with your children? Are you willing to drive a little out of your way to pick up a treat for your family on a regular Tuesday night? Are you willing to ace that exam? Are you willing to call that friend even though you are busy? What are you willing to sacrifice to achieve your commitments? Hopefully your wife, children, family and friends will be a priority on your list of commitments and as time passes, you end up winning, not losing.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Personal Trainer

When I arrived back to Rome from Haiti this summer I had a lot to do. Originally I thought I would have some time to study and work on my thesis (on human freedom), but with the work load, study became the last item on my to-do list. 

After a couple of days, I really thought I was maxed out. Then, a friend of mine called me. He is a friend, but I consider him also my personal trainer. He is not a work out trainer, he is more of a life trainer. So I told him how life was going and how busy I have been and he asked: are you studying? We had already talked about this before the summer: I needed to study this summer and make progress on my thesis, because this year was going to be intense.

During our conversation he challenged me to make time in the midst of my busy schedule to study. He pushed me and challenged me to sacrifice a few things in order to make time.

I felt I was maxed out and he pushed me a step further. After taking some time to think about what we talked about, I decided to push myself a little farther – and I made time to study. My summer has been brighter and my future will be brighter thanks to him.

Do you have a friend that you can ask to be your life trainer? A friend that will challenge you to be a better you?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Do you remember the last time you had rice?

Do you remember the last time you had rice? When you finished your meal, what did you do with the little grains of rice left on your plate? Just a few days ago I was in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I, along with twenty-eight other missionaries, helped run a summer camp for some one hundred and seventy little girls from some of the poorest parts of Haiti (of the Western Hemisphere for that matter).

During one of the lunch breaks I walked into the classroom. The little girls, around five years old, were dumping the rice they had received into plastic bags. I looked at one and she looked up at me with her big eyes and said, "Mama!" She was bringing the food back to her mother -- they all were! I helped them scrape the rice off the plate into the bag and their little black hands reached in to help out at the end making sure even little individual grains of rice made it home to their family.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

Tomorrow in Las Vegas will be the "fight of the century". Mayweather will earn $200 million if he wins and Pacquiao $130 million. Each one deep down has his motivation. They are willing to enter the ring in order to achieve their goal. What are you willing to fight for?