Student Leadership Development Conference & Retreat

20FREAKIN19 started out with a bang!!!

I genuinely feel like all of the challenges I experienced between 2017-2018 have deeply integrated for me so that I can use the knowledge gained from then during both the present and upcoming days ahead. Though, in many ways that’s really the whole idea behind being alive ain’t it? To participate fully and presently within the magical wonders of each present moment in an effort to grow, completely experience all that is and improve upon the moments to come for both self and others.

There’s so very much potential in now! Both in an observable and hidden fashion. I didn’t always live in the moments of the past two years. Truthfully, I spent much of those years saddened by the past and anxious about the future. But something happened right before the end of 2018. There was this “aha moment” that allowed my thought processes to realign and even granted me the understanding of what had truly occurred to me. I’d experienced trauma, had been both psychologically bullied and neglected within my professional life, developed post traumatic stress from it, lost a sense of self, and never fully integrated the major transitions I’d experienced.

During the more difficult moments of those past years I’d often think “Why the f&$@ is all of this happening”. 2019 has gifted me a strong sense of clarity. A clarity I’d been desperately hungry for. Life had been granting me opportunities for discomfort so that I could grow. Like a lobster that must seek refuge in the dark so that it’s uncomfortable and no longer suitable shell could be shed I’d been getting nudged towards situations for expansion. Ones that made self-guided change inevitable. The times of discomfort showed me ways to improve upon the person I’d forgotten that I am. I now see that those moments of mental darkness were merely times of preparation for the crucial light I’d be called to shine ahead.

While on the subject of shining light…I had the distinct honor of co-coordinating and facilitating various personal development sessions during a day long Student Leadership Conference (1/16/19) followed by a Student Leadership Retreat (1/17/19) at Westchester Community College this month. The best part is that I had the distinct joy of working with some amazing higher ed professionals and got to share some invaluable leadership skills such as mindful and authentic leadership, intentional listening, time management, the realities and importance of human connection, some how to’s for self empowerment and much, much more.  During these two days I got to work with nearly two hundred students and felt fueled by each moment and interaction. In short, it granted me the opportunity to re-tap into purpose.

The smiles below are a from a few of the courageous individuals that chose to step into the discomfort and experience what it’s like to shed an old shell. One of the students even said “I originally didn’t want to be here…I thought it was going to be horrible and uncomfortable…but I’ve learned so much from you and everyone here today that I can’t wait for the next chance to do this”.

wcc leadership development day

This year be sure to step into your discomfort, shed your shell and Stay Awesome ALWAYS!

Juan-Carlos

Mindfulness & Leadership Development

WOW! TWENTY FREAKIN 18 HUH?

This year has been a WILD one filled with challenges, transitions, opportunities for growth, moments of DEEEEEP inner reflection, change and epiphanies…like…TOO MANY epiphanies in 1 year : )

While in this whirlwind of internal expansion I had the opportunity to wind down the year with two of my favorite types offerings.

Mindfulness & Stress Reduction WorkshopPatrick Sheehan, LMHC and myself after our presentation for WCC’s SALT

Last Friday, I had the distinct honor of co-presenting a Stress Management and Mindfulness professional development alongside one of my favorite people Patrick Sheehan, LMHC. Patrick and I had a Batman and Robin (only let’s be real, BOTH of us were BATMAN) opportunity to offer stress reduction and mindfulness tools/info during one of Westchester Community College’s SALT (Strategic Administration and Leadership Team) professional development experiences. SALT members are at the highest levels of this AMAZING and visionary community college’s leadership team and meet once a month to discuss how they can more strategically and efficiently enhance the work they do while also discussing how they can take innovative tools and methods back to their respective staff’s.

During our time with SALT we discussed the importance of living a life guided by true inner purpose, the realities of stress, how to more efficiently hit the brakes within our day to day experiences, the value of self-awareness, and even collectively practiced a few mindfulness, breathing and power posing techniques. Patrick and I both had an awesome time and loved the chats/emails our presentation inspired afterwards. Quoting one of the individuals I spoke with after the presentation… “It’s time to put [the] phone away and be more intentionally present for my family and work”.

Commit 2 Change 2           A few of the 20 or so students within WCC’s Commit to Change Program

Two hours later, I got to wrap up this Fall 2018’s Commit to Change Leadership Series! This 12 week program, developed by the visionary mind of Tiago Machado (WCC’s Director of Student Involvement) and based on the social change model of leadership offers members of this…program an opportunity to learn about and use leadership skills that are already within the individual though often remain unknown or untapped, work with peers to develop positive social change at Westchester Community College and its surrounding community as a whole while bonding and becoming close friends with members of their cohort. Lastly, given their work and leadership development they even get the opportunity to apply for and attend the highly prestigious Clinton Global Initiative University…(modified and taken from the WCC website).

It was an absolute and total joy to work with these students. We discussed how to more effectively be open to and receive feedback, how to utilize it (even when one disagrees with it) the value of both mindful and purposeful leadership, and what to do when the vision doesn’t pan out as planned.

Both of the above experiences filled me up with so much joy and energy that I took some time to further reflect on my own life purpose and how I can further utilize my current experiences so as to more intentionally align myself with my life’s work. Since then, I’ve been envisioning a number of shifts and look forward to putting them into place within the upcoming weeks.

Stay Tuned and if I’m not back here before then, hug some family and friends, take a moment or two for gratitude and enjoy the holidays ahead of us!

Summer of Weddings! I’m an ORDM

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This summer was by far one of the greatest I’ve been blessed with experiencing in my life. I had the joy of traveling to Washington State and spending time with my aerospace engineering nephew, to Kosovo and connecting with my angelic wife’s family/roots, attended multiple weddings (both in the U.S. and Kosovo) and even had the absolute HONOR of officiating two of them! Yup! I can officially add ORDM to my signature as I’m legitimately an ordained minister.

What a truly amazing experience! I had the joy of officiating the two weddings below and marrying individuals that have been deeply in love with each other. It was AWESOME to create and share a space in which they could connect with their loved ones in a LOVE filled and modernly focused space. Both ceremonies were creatively designed to ensure that beauty, love, spirit, joy and as you can see from the photos laughter paved the way for their future lives together.

It seems that years of the performing arts, spiritual study and most recently ordination have paid off in a way I couldn’t have possibly imagined. During these intimately beautiful moments within their lives, I got to design, facilitate and legitimize the eternal bonds of individuals that above all simply wanted to laugh, grow with and most importantly LOVE each other.

Within a CRAZY time in this world I got to see first hand, up close and personal that what Dr. King so eloquently shared with the world…”Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that” is so incredibly true. Where there is darkness folks…shine light and where there is hate PLEASE shine LOVE.

Officiant 3.jpg

Officiant 2

“Purpose As A Life Skill” TEDx Officially Released!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

It is an absolute honor to share my first TEDx. The whole experience in developing and creating it was absolutely surreal and I genuinely hope that the message is somehow of service to either you or someone you know.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=VY0dKhp03WA

Stay Awesome Always and Thanks for Loving Support!

Summer Love!

Hello Amazing One!

I hope the past few weeks have treated you well and allowed you to open your heart while holistically growing further towards your truth. If not, well then, hey…you’re alive and that’s pretty awesome regardless of what’s going down : ).

I’d taken a break from writing and recording for a few weeks. So much had been occurring that I needed to take time to experience and integrate knowing that the time to share would soon come…and here it is!

I spent some time hiking in Washington and learning about aeronautics (my nephew is an aerospace engineer and incredibly skilled at making advanced concepts seem basic), left my old full time work and transitioned into a new one (said some really tough goodbyes and the emotions alone were enough for a break), went to a beautiful wedding, was asked to officiate at one in September (super blessed, honored and excited for this) asked to host another wedding in August (seems like there’s a theme for me here)  spoke in/hosted the FIRST EVER Tedx Newburgh and made some amazing connections as the weeks have passed. It’s been a wild few weeks in which I’d been manifesting growth and expansion for this summer and based on what’s occurred it seems like I’ve been living within a whirlwind of it. Considering, I’d decided to cocoon myself from social media so that I could further dive into the experiences and changes occurring around me.

The Challenges with Growth

Sometimes growth is hard! Our minds may want to stick to the way things were…even when they aren’t really good for us anymore. The grooves in our brain can’t tell the difference between what’s good for us or what’s bad for us. It’s efficient in getting certain activities done but not helpful regarding life’s choices. That’s where the heart and trusting it to guide us comes in. Because even if the change we’re looking to make is a good one the old way offers up a source of comfort. Simply explained it’s because the old way is known. We know what it looks, sounds and feels like. We have an understanding of navigating it. The grooves in our brain and patterns in our minds know how to make the old way as comfortable as possible given it’s experience with it.

This is how I felt about leaving my old position. Though it was clear to me that it was time to move on and that I’d been unhappy within it for nearly two years, I still felt this sense of hope. My mind kept telling me “You can change it. You can make it better”. However, the challenges I’d been experiencing were out of my control. My heart knew this. It kept telling me again and again…”It’s time to go”. I ignored it for months hoping that I could somehow and singlehandedly change a system that had been authoritatively put in place for years.

In truth, most in life is completely out of our control and at times, the only thing we CAN do is work towards accepting just how little control we have over it. I had to accept that it was time to transition so that I may step into new opportunities for growth and expansion. Though the transition has been challenging, I know that the decision to step into new waters will inevitably lead me towards new territories. Ones that will show me a new side of myself I’d never seen before and prepare me for whatever the next steps are in my life.

What’s Next?

As soon as the Tedx Video is released I’ll be sure to post it here. It really was a night to remember and one that all involved will surely take with them for many years to come. Pero if you couldn’t make it…noooo worries. All talks will be online within a few weeks.

I’ll also be posting new Mindfulness Now episodes with guided meditations and a couple of interviews in the coming weeks. Some of you have been messaging/emailing me about them and I look forward to sharing some light with you that way soon too!

Lastly, I’ll be teaching another PSYCH 111 (Intro to Psychology) course at SUNY Orange in the Fall. If you know of someone that my be interested be sure to have them look me up. It’ll definitely be a fun and memorable course.

Stay in touch, Stay Awesome and remember…YOU BRING THE LIGHT!
Juan-Carlos

Excelsior Academy’s Youth Summit & ECSU Student Affairs Mindfulness Class!

Hello Awesome Sauce!

I’ve been distant…I knoooow I knoooow. It’s been a fuuuuuulll couple of weeks.

Between coordinating and overseeing a MAJOR Award ceremony for SUNY Orange Students, assisting with SUNY Orange’s Commencement (more than 500 graduated!), prepping for my upcoming Ted X (was postponed due to tornado) hosting the Excelsior Academy Youth Summit (more on that one below), starting a 6 week Intro to Psych Course (registrations are closed but I’ll be teaching a 15 week version in the Fall), attending a by invitation only Anti-Gender Violence Leadership talk sponsored by Safe Homes of Orange County (I LOVE THE WORK THEY DO!) and most recently facilitating a Mindfulness & Meditation Class at Eastern State Connecticut University (more on this below too) it’s been an INTENSE few weeks.

All good though…I’m back and will be posting some more podcasts and offering some additional interviews and meditations soon.

The young people above are absolutely and totally amazing! I had the IMMENSE JOY of working with them over the past few months while coaching them for a youth summit that THEY ORGANIZED, RAN and PARTICIPATED IN! It was a day full of young people showcasing their work ending with a concert featuring youth performances, youth presentations on the status & history of both Newburgh and Orange County (so proud of their research and work) and ending with a performance by Decora! Each time I saw these young people either take the stage to perform a poem or deliver a fantastic presentation, or work behind the scenes setting up equipment and co-hosting my heart would fill with both love and faith. THIS is what we NEED to be showcasing…the AMAZING work that our young people are doing to bring additional, knowledge, peace and health to the world!

Shout out to their teachers and mentors Jackie Hesse & Christine McCartney for the phenomenal work with they’ve done for these young minds along with Dr. Roberto Padilla (Newburgh Schools Superintendent), NFA Principal Matteo Doddo and NFA North Principal Kevin Rothman for their guidance, leadership and support of the program.

ESCU Staff

Later in the week I got to travel to Connecticut and deliver an experiential presentation and workshop for the Student Affairs Staff of Eastern Connecticut State University. These human development workers got to learn more about Mindfulness, Meditation and Self-Cultivation and experience/gain various tools to live a more mindful and holistically healthy life. I had a wonderful time connecting with them and based on the smiles they had after each experience I’m confident that they’ve gained a series of tools to help them be more present for the critically important work they do in the world.

Stay awesome, stay subscribed and keep your eyes and ears open for some upcoming podcasts,
Juan-Carlos

Speaking/Hosting TedX Newburgh!

Eyoooooo!

Hope you’re doing beautifully well and finding the magic within each moment.

I’m writing this brief post because I have the distinct honor of hosting, speaking at and even mentoring the young people that are putting on the first ever Tedx Newburgh. See link below…

https://tedxnewburgh.com/our-team/

 The opportunity to do so is TRULY a dream come true. One that I’d envisioned the very first time I saw a “Ted Talk”. In fact, a fellow speaker just texted me…”I’m really excited for all of this. Feels like a moment” to which I replied “It IS my dude. It most definitely is!

This is for sure something! As a city that has been labeled as “the place you don’t go to” but moves forward with it’s groundbreaking youth initiatives, impassioned community members/leaders, and a beauty that could only be described as “THAT VIEW THOUGH!” Newburgh is moving forward via it’s Ebb & Flow (Tedx Newburgh Theme).

Those of us that lead from heart can both sense and see the magic that Newburgh holds within it. Know that though the news reports of it’s darkness we report of it’s light. And I’m here to tell you…(as someone that has worked with it’s youth for nearly 15 years) it holds muuuuuch light!

Stay tuned for video of the event and let it be known…Newburgh is love…not fear.

Stay Awesome Always!
Juan-Carlos

Episode 3 MyFOURmula w Coach Ray

Welcome back to Mindfulness NOW!

In this episode I interview Coach Ray about his MyFOURmula system, the work he does in the service of others and how he maintains a state of balance in his life.

CoachRay is the creator and founder of MyFOURmula™ and TheMyFOURmulaWay™, an Evolutionary Self-Health Practice. CoachRay brings 25 years of professional and lived experience to his clients. From careers in the Music & Entertainment industry, as a Hip Hop artist, producer and recording engineer business owner, to the Real Estate industry then to the Human Service industry, his broad array of professional and experiential knowledge and understanding of the human experience is well developed and at his disposal when coaching people through their life’s challenges.

CoachRay holds a B.A. in Psychology, is a Certified Professional Life Coach, is Certified as a Peer Specialist in New York State for both Mental Health and Substance Use, earned his Tang Soo Do Black Belt Certification in 2015 and actively volunteers as a Board and Committee Member with several organizations in the Hudson Valley of New York.

His passion is to coach people through the process of RecoveringTheirSELF™ to LiveTheirPurpose through their own customized MyFOURmula™ practice through TheMyFOURmulaWay™.

To learn more about Coach Ray go to…http://www.myfourmula.com

 

Don’t Stop Until You’re DONE!

When I was a boy, I was obese, a nerd and by no means athletic. I was never chosen on sports teams, was terribly bullied, laughed at when I went running in the neighborhood one day and always wanted to have some way to physically excel and challenge myself.

A few years back I decided to run. As time has passed I’ve become more experienced and have trained more intentionally and regularly. This was my 3rd race EVER…I came in 10th out of 103…6th out of 31 men and 2nd in my age category.

I can’t possibly express how incredibly proud I am of myself, how grateful I am for the support I receive from my superwoman of a wife and even more so how amazed I once again am at the human spirit and the power that purpose holds in one’s life.

I wrote this because I’ve genuinely deemed it my life’s intention to assist others in developing their own sense of purpose while supporting them in becoming their truest selves. We ALL have a purpose and through it we can become who we TRULY are intended to be.

One of my life’s purposes is to stop running when I’m DONE not when I’m tired. In that photo…I… WAS…TIRED…but I wasn’t DONE!

My hope is that this Facebook post not become a method of advertising to it’s readers, or that it be considered a moment of gloating…instead…I hope that it demonstrates that as long as we are alive we have the time we need to commit to our life’s purpose. Because in so doing…this world is and can be the place we all wish it to be. One in which life has meaning! One in which we don’t wait for someone’s permission to BE AWESOME. And quite importantly…one in which we DON’T STOP until our life’s, purpose driven work…is DONE!

Special thanks to William O’Keeffe who took the photo (my edits : ) and to Safe Homes of Orange County for coordinating the race “We Can Be Heroes 5k” and for the AMAZING work they do in the community.