Have you met Vidal?

I am going to be real with you. I sometimes go into a deep existential crisis when I think about the future of humanity. When I think about the world that I must grow old in, the world in which the children I will one day give birth to have to grow up in. What kind of world will that be?

My optimism allows me to hope for the best. When I see the youth of today, I think of myself and remember that most things are just a phase and we need to go through certain life experiences in order to grow and expand our consciousness. However, this new generation has an obsession with technology. Striving to create virtual connections yet failing somewhere along the line to nourish and value true connections, emotions, people.

A lot of what is needed currently in the world are more of us being present in the moment. Absolutely present. Mind, body and soul connected to the action.

 However, I know for a fact that not all adolescents are the same. No human being is like any other. We are each unique in our experiences, our thoughts and our beliefs.

I put a lot of faith in the youth. I believe we are underestimating their power. I believe a ten year old has infinite potential within him yet he doesn’t have the space to express it.

That’s why I’m always moved when I read stories about very young children making a difference, whether at home, in school, for their community or their country.

It shows a powerful soul knowing its purpose and overcoming any adversity.

You might have met this young man already but if you haven’t, I want to make sure you do.

Meet 13-year-old Vidal Chastanet from Brownsville, Brooklyn. He had a chance encounter with Brandon Stanton, creator of the popular website Humans of New York.

Brandon took Vidal’s photo, and asked the teen who the most influential person in his life was; Vidal replied it was his Principal, Nadia Lopez, at Mott Hall Bridges Academy. The interaction went viral in this touching photograph.

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Curious Brandon just had to meet this amazing principal.

It turns out that Ms. Lopez was in the middle of raising money to send her students on a trip to Harvard, a college she wanted them to have in the forefront of their minds. Soon thereafter, Brandon found himself joining the cause, helping to raise over $700,000 for the trip in just four days.

“Nadia’s unbelievable,” Brandon tells Ellen’s Good News.

“She’s like a movie character, she just cares so much and she’s tough. It’s what you need in this area. She’s tough and she’s unbelievably committed and ambitious, but ambitious on part of the kids. She could have been CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but decided to be principal in one of toughest neighborhoods in Brooklyn.”

Because they’ve raised so much money – their original goal was only $100,000 – the entire school will be visiting Harvard, and subsequently, the sixth-grade class will be able to go for the next ten years. Additionally, they will be able to establish a summer program to run for the next 10 years, as well as a scholarship fund named in Vidal’s honor.

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“When people tell you they’re from Brownsville they get cringes. There’s a sense of hopelessness. I want these kids to know that there are no limits or boundaries to where they can go… I also want those institutions to see the impact they can have on those children’s lives.” says Nadia. She is making a huge impact on her students. She started the school in 2010 as a way to change the narrative of the neighborhood, and to empower students to believe they are more than their surroundings. Vidal says he began school with a “short temper” and often got in trouble, but Nadia changed his attitude.

“If you’re from Brownsville, they don’t expect you to be much in life,” he says. “They don’t expect you to have a quality education, they don’t expect you to know what you’re doing. They expect you to fail. They don’t want you to become anything that you want to be… I realized that if I want to be anything in life, as Ms. Lopez said, I have to learn how to be better. It doesn’t matter about the past and present, you must focus on the future. Your future is what you set it to be in your mind.”

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The most recent post shows Ms. Lopez at an assembly on Monday where Ms. Lopez explained the fundraiser to the entire student body. Most of the students had already heard bits and pieces about what’s been going on, but Ms. Lopez projected the blog onto a screen and walked through the entire story. She began with Vidal’s original post and ended with the final tally raised thus far. ($707,000 at the time. over a million now!)

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“I have something to admit to all of you. Before all of this happened, I was about to give up. I was broken. I felt like typing my resignation. I told my mother: ‘Mom, I don’t think I can do it anymore. Because I don’t think my scholars care. And I don’t think they believe in themselves enough to care. I’m afraid they don’t think they’re good enough.’ And she told me to pray on it. But I told her, ‘I might be too angry to pray.’ And I know this is hard to believe, because you guys have never seen me break. But I was broken. It’s just like when you see your mom break down. You only see your mom cry when she’s been fighting so hard for you and she doesn’t think you care. That’s how I felt. But then a couple nights later I was with my daughter at a Broadway show, and we were waiting for the show to start, and I started to get all these text messages from my teachers and former students. And then I saw Vidal’s face pop up on my screen. And my first thought was that something bad had happened. Because that’s normally the case around here when someone’s photo shows up unexpectedly. And the moment I realized that Vidal had said something nice about me, the usher came over and made me turn off my phone. When intermission came, my daughter said: ‘Mom, we’ve got to find out what’s happening.’ So we went and sat in the car. And I read what Vidal said, and I began to read the comments. And tears started coming down my face. Because even though I always tell you that you matter, up until that moment, I didn’t feel like I mattered.”

This is love. Care. Inspiration. Kindness. Solidarity. Hope.

This is Humanity.

That’s why it touches us all.

PS – There are still 7 days left to donate! If you’re interested in reading more about the cause or adding your little grain of salt, click here.

PS 2 – Aren’t you glad you met Vidal? 🙂

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A Love Letter to my Heart…

I have a question for you: Have you ever heard your heart? Have you ever heard the intricacies of it…how loudly it beats, how it accelerates, if it ever trembles and if it ever cries? It was my birthday this weekend, and as a birthday gift I had participated in a Silence Retreat just outside of the city of Santiago, in a place called Portillo in Chile. It’s usually a destination for ski enthusiasts during the winter, but right now the place was empty, deserted, awaiting the brave souls that were willing to venture out in silence in search of themselves. Even though I had many discoveries that I will share with you in the future during my week of silence, the one that really hit me, really spoke to me, opened me up, transformed me to the point of no return was… my heart.

A glimpse of Portillo...
A glimpse of Portillo…

I really heard it. Everything it is, everything it holds, everything it keeps, everything it gives. It was all there, so exposed to me now. I went to sleep to the sound of my beating heart and I woke up to it, when i felt an emotion, it was like feeling it in slow motion, I felt how the seed of the emotion grew from the center of my heart and expanded into every atom in my body, I even felt how it transcended my body and like a painter with a steady hand, painted the aura around me. I felt that. And then, after a few meditations and really embracing the silence, I heard it’s voice. The voice of Love was now a channel that was completely open to me. And we had so much catching up to do. I discovered just how much love I have inside me, in all its forms, for me and for everything and everyone else. And there is such a beauty, such wisdom, such delicacy when I think back on that moment. Because even though my chats with Love lasted a short span of time, it felt like forever. It still feels like forever.

Dialogue with Love...
Dialogue with Love…

Now Love isn’t quite hard to find you see, and it’s something we do quite often, I would say on a daily basis. If you are here and reading this then you’re probably like me and you probably Love as much as you Breathe. But we need to Listen. That is the key. In a world where we are losing our listening, that is harder and harder to do. But I implore you… wherever, whenever you can, seek the silence. For it is a space that you can fill with the echo of yourself. Where you can really hear yourself, and listen to yourself. Listen to your mind, listen to your thoughts, listen to your heart, listen to Love. If you have a question, you might get an answer or two. If you have a request, you might just find the courage. We must seek a relationship with ourselves, with our hearts, with our love in the same way that we seek relationships with others. In fact, we should be a priority. The more Love you have in you, the more you’re able to share. So, if this touches you in any way, let it be in this way: You are amazing. You are wonderful. You are wondrous. You are unexplored territory. There is so much within you waiting to be discovered. Dig. Dive. Look. Listen. Seek. And be amazed by the magnificence of your own Being. Namaste.

Nirvana is a Second Long

the curious feeling
swam through him
that everything
was
beautiful
there,
that it would always
stay beautiful
there.

Sound familiar?

Paulo Coehlo also makes reference to this feeling. He calls it the Magic Moment.

When was the last time you looked around and felt as if everything around you, including yourself, was pure magic?

But if people really pay attention in their everyday lives, they will discover that magic moment.
It may arrive in the instant when we are doing something mundane, like putting our front-door key in the lock; it may lie hidden in the quiet that follows the lunch hour or in the thousand and one things that all seems the same to us.
But that moment exists – a moment when all the power of the stars becomes a part of us and enables us to perform miracles.

We are surrounded by it. It surrounds us. We are a part of it. It is a part of us. Each second, each breathe, each thought is a vivid life force. We shouldn’t waste a single one.

Look around you. Really look. See it yet? Rub your eyes and look again. There is someone in front of you breathing in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide, isn’t that amazing? The temperature of the Sun is more than 5000 degrees Celsius yet we’re all still alive. Isn’t that something? You just turned on the radio and your favorite song started to play, cool right? Your new neighbor said hello to you today. Your newborn just learned how to walk. You finally found your wife’s secret hiding place for your keys. You didn’t wake up with bedhead today. You were 10 feet away from the heater but you felt its warmth. You found a pair of matching socks. Drivers were overly kind with you during your jaywalking incident. There was no line at the supermarket. The cashier smiled at you and you felt it was sincere. Someone finished your sentence. There is a flower growing in a desert somewhere out there. Someone is getting married right now. It rained today and you noticed how the raindrops hit the leaves. You noticed. You really noticed. You took it in and let it swim in there. You became aware.

You were here. You are here. Here you are still. This is your present, this is your moment, this second of this day can be as beautiful as you want to make it out to be. Trust me. So if you could choose to, wouldn’t you want to make it awesome?

einstein

he heard the other
passengers
speaking
of other things,
or they were
reading
or
attempting to
sleep.
they had not
noticed
the
magic.

It doesn’t matter if someone else notices it. If someone sees what you see, they’re living their own reality. They have their own magic moment. The most you can do is share yours but what is yours is yours alone and that’s the gracefulness of it I think. You can be that light in someone’s heart. You can be a fire in the dark.

Please share some of your magic moments with me 🙂

 

Video

Carpe 86,400

One Lifetime = 2,366,820,000 seconds.

How do you measure your life?
How do you measure your day?
Your hours?
Your minutes?
Your seconds?

For the most part, TIME on a general scale, is something we take much for granted. I know I certainly did when I was young. Procrastination comes as natural as breathing.

If we squander so much time by nature, how are we then supposed to capture the moment?

Time is a precious resource, one of the most precious of all I would say. We can replenish our money, we can recover our health, but time is something you can never get back. Once you’ve lost it, it’s gone and the issue is that we take the next second for granted. We consider our every breathe to be a replenishment of the previous one, when in fact, it is not! Each breathe we take is a separate life of itself. Each one containing countless options, possibilities and decisions of which only one can emerge.

A close friend of mine asked me if I thought time stood still with a lover.
“When you kiss or make love, it feels like times stops” she said.
I believe the reason behind that feeling is because we are living consciously and attentively in the present moment. That kiss or that act of love is all we focus on. When you are in the present moment, there is no wandering of the mind to the past or the present. None of that exists. All you have is now. So it would make sense to feel as if time was frozen.

It is a beautiful thing to be in the present moment, we should all strive to live there more often.

Another beautiful think is to take chances, seize opportunities, take risks.

Life is a set of moments, all you need is one to change your entire life.

If it doesn’t work out, at least you tried.

Whatever you do, seize those 86,400 seconds over and over again!