When I grow up, I want to be this guy.

The past few months of staying home and trying to decide what I want to do next have been trying to say the least. I’ve been on the other side of job search for the past seven years, having been a job coach and a case manager, a friend and a listening ear to those in job search. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to fill out applications and post my resume. It’s been a while since I’ve had to figure out what direction my career is going to take.

Since my last employment experience didn’t necessarily end on a positive note, I’ve been wary not to jump carelessly into the next opportunity for the sake of being “employed”. I want to live my passions. I don’t want a job. I want a career. I love helping people identify their goals and achieve them. I enjoy creating things- designing programs and social services projects that have lasting impact improving the lives of individuals, families and communities. I want to help people discover and fulfill their god-given potential.

With as many available jobs as there are, one would assume job search would be easy- boy, do I wish it were! Unfortunately, many times it is not. I want to stick to my guns and only apply for jobs where I feel motivated and excited by the job description and the organization, only apply to those positions where I know for certain I would be most thrilled to wake up everyday and be a part of whatever is going on, regardless of the title. I want to, but my bills are piling up and I feel like I’m running out of time. Despite my anxiety, I hang in there and press on, keeping faith that the universe knows what I need and want, what my next employer needs and wants, and that at exactly the right time, the nexus of these things will manifest itself in an offer at an organization where I will experience an enjoyable and fulfilling career, and I will be very happy that I’d stuck it out and waited.

So far, I’ve found several “dream job” descriptions, and I’ve applied to them all. There are days when I feel so excited about what is to happen. Other days, I sit nervously in front of my Chromebook, refreshing my gmail inbox, checking to see if my phone has been disconnected since use it hasn’t rung in days, nervously scanning the digital horizon for the next opportunity.

In the course of my job search I came across an organization, Defy Ventures, and a guy named Coss Marte.

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Defy Ventures is an entrepreneurship, employment, and character training blended online program for people with criminal histories.

Defy recognizes that many former drug dealers and gang leaders can become successful, legal entrepreneurs.”

Coss is an ex-con whose prison workout is taking over New York. From all accounts, this guy seems to me to be the ultimate modern-day alchemist. Everything he touches turns to gold. As I googled him and read his story, I became more and more inspired to keep reaching for my dreams. I was reminded that obstacles are only opportunities disguised as situations to which I am yet to find a solution. This guy has been to prison, had nothing handed to him and experienced his fair share of unfair circumstances. As I watch his TEDx Talk and listen to his story, I am inspired by his bravery, his vulnerability, his resilience and ambition. From inmate to entrepreneur, he’s partnered himself with an organization, developed his passion, honed his business acumen, delivered Shark Tank styled business pitches, and he’s done a TEDx talk on his life experience. When I grow up, I want to be this guy- his entire life is my bucket list!

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Coss is a real life person who is skilled at turning water into wine; he knows how to find the extraordinary in the sacred ordinary. It’s good to know that there are real people out there with real life obstacles who are reaching for their dreams, achieving and succeeding despite their troubled pasts. Knowing this gives me the hope to keep holding on to my own dreams, to keep striving despite what it looks like with natural eyes, to believe that the universe can do for me what it continues to do for people like him. It reminds me, too, that turning water into wine is possible everyday for each and every one of us.

Defy-LogoTo learn more about Defy Ventures, visit their website http://defyventures.org/

To read about Coss Marte, entrepreneur, owner and physical trainer at Coss Athletics, go to http://nypost.com/2015/03/30/meet-the-ex-con-whose-prison-inspired-workout-is-taking-over-new-york/

Join my network or view my LinkedIn profilewww.linkedin.com/in/asamarithompsonpmp

(pictures used do not belong to the author)

Take 11 minutes to watch Coss’ TEDx talk. You’ll be glad you did. 

Love Conquers All

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They spent all night in each other’s arms, talking, laughing, pontificating, snoring, cuddling.

By the time the sun came up, she realized what a fool she’d been. She’d spent all this time broken and angry- so broken and angry that she couldn’t see the good in what was being given to her. She’d instead projected all her pain upon him, labelled and judged him and blamed him for things that were not his fault. And through it all, he still chose to love her the best he could, the best she would let him, even though he knew she couldn’t see it.

The morning sun’s rays cracked through the dark as she lay her head on his chest and broke into sobs, tears running across his skin and onto his sheets. He already knew she was “crazy”, and he didn’t mind. This may have sealed the deal. This time she wasn’t crying because of him. She was crying because of herself.

Equipped To Survive…And To Live!

A huge part of “finding the extraordinary in the sacred ordinary” is being able to see the sacred in the ordinary. 

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As children, we believed in magic. We saw the world through innocent eyes- we believed the stories and knew in our hearts that all our dreams would come true.

Then, the storm came.

We grew up and some of those dreams didn’t come to pass. Someone we loved and made promises to made promises back and didn’t keep them. We had our hearts and our spirits broken by tragedy and violence. Our dining tables piled up with bills. Somewhere along the way we forgot about our magic and subscribed to “real life”.

We ruminate over things and let things linger from one day into the next, carrying along baggage with us that weighs us down. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. Our hopes are desperately sinking, and systematically being replaced with misery, or worse, complacency.

Too many times we travel through life feeling like we are inadequate.

Too often, we use our pasts as reasons not to try harder. We convince ourselves that where we are is all we’re ever going to be. That dream we once had is just a dream. There’s no way we could follow our dreams now!

We’re too old,

too tired,

too broke,

too small,

too insignificant,

too broken,

too busy,

too lost…

…the list of excuses goes on and on.

What we don’t realize is, that dream- no matter what it is- was placed on the inside of our hearts for a reason.

Let’s face it- everyone has been through something- some loss, some hurt, some pain- everyone has their own monster to face, their own obstacle to conquer. No one gets to corner the market on pain.

Here is the good news- 

No matter what you have been through, everything you need to survive this life is already inside you. 

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Even in the midst of the mighty, terrible storm, there is a plan. Nothing happens by coincidence. No one crosses your path by accident. Everything that has happened to you- both positive and negative- has happened to prepare you for what is now and what is to come. Embrace your experiences and validate your own existence by choosing to live your life on purpose!

If you can train your mind to see the good in yourself and the good in your story, you will find the courage to power through whatever it is that is holding you back from achieving your truest potential.

Training your mind to see the positive in the negative, the light in the darkness- seeing the sacred in the ordinary- gives us a glimpse of the divine in everything and in everyone.

And then…oh, my friends…then…

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Life begins!

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I’ve decided to call this series Lessons From The Lighthouse, in homage to the imagery found in the film, Life Of Pi. These lessons have served as an inspiration to me in my personal growth and development in the past year and half, and now, I’m sharing them with you. I hope that they are instrumental in helping you find your inner ability to create miracles in your own life.

Light & Love!

To find the entire series, click here.

Pray. Then, Practice

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I’m always wary of people who pray “[God], give me (xyz virtue: patience, love, strength, etc.)”. I’m not sure that it is clear that God (or whatever you call Him) is not a magician. That is not to say that He is not capable of granting us anything we truly desire; after all, He is God. He can do whatever He wishes. The thing is, none of us is going to wake up one morning to find ourselves fully perfected. The day that happens is, quite honestly, the day we cease to exist on this plane. We are blessed with days on this earth to practice those things which we sincerely desire for ourselves in order to find that perfection which we seek.

In other words, you’re not going to wake up tomorrow, having prayed “God give me patience”, to find that you are now a completely patient creature (hallelujah, wouldn’t that be awesome?!).

 

Pray for patience.

Then, practice patience.

 

Pray for love.

Then practice love.

 

Pray for understanding.

Then practice understanding.

 

Pray.

Then, practice.

 

Set your thoughts into motion in the direction in which you want yourself to go. Then, set your actions in the same direction. When your thoughts, words and actions are in alignment, miraculous things happen. Once we pray for things like this, the universe opens a way to bring us exactly what we asked for. There will be several opportunities on a daily basis to give us the ability to practice and achieve what we set our minds to. We just need the vision to see it and the strength of will and obedience to follow through.

 

Will we fail sometimes? Yes, and that’s okay!!!

 

Acquiring any new skill is going to take time. Think of it like learning to play the guitar. At first it will be slow, demanding, maybe even a little painful to feel. It will sound awful, dreadful even. But the more you practice, the easier it becomes. and one day you will find that you are the very thing you once wished you were.

Find out what your soul needs. Heed the call. Answer.

Pray, then practice.

A Heart To Serve

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“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV)

These are the last words of Jesus as recorded by Matthew. It was his Great Commission to us, our work, as destined by the Father, to be done on earth. The groundwork had been laid; the package had been signed, sealed and delivered. Jesus had accomplished what he was sent to earth to do. Now, it was up to the disciples and to us…

Jesus left us the greatest example of what it meant to have the heart of a servant. He got involved in the lives of the people around him and ministered to them with compassion. So many times we get so caught up in our personal needs and wants that we forget that there are people in our midst who could benefit from what we have to offer. You might be saying- “Who me? I’m just trying to make it right now. I need to focus on getting a job!” The point is, even in job search, there comes a time when it is necessary to slow down and focus on others instead of being absorbed by our own needs.

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Hands and Hearts Ready To Serve

God’s commission to us does not have any limits on time or qualification. He doesn’t say- “when you finish school” or “when you find that job” or “after your kids are gone to college” or “after you get a house”. The command is:

“Therefore, go…”

…now that you have seen what I have done, and you can witness to what I have said,

“Therefore, go…”

go now…

”and be sure that I am with you always…”

We can be assured, when we are busy doing what God has called us to do, He will always do His part in making sure we are taken care of. Believe that God is powerful enough to handle the details of our lives, like the fact that we have bills to pay and that we need a job, and that we want to save up enough money to achieve our personal goals. The truth is, He placed us here on earth to be of service to His kingdom; to be His eyes and ears, feet and hands, his heart, especially at a time when He sometimes seems so invisible.

A Grateful Heart Is A Happy Heart

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“…the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying,
“Give thanks to the LORD Almighty,
for the LORD is good;
his love endures forever.”
For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the LORD” (Jeremiah 33:11, NIV)

The hand of the LORD was heavy upon His people, molding them, shaping them, purifying them into the people He knew He created them to be. In the face of their sinfulness, He had no choice but to deal with them according to their ways. That meant destruction and famine, homelessness and waste, sickness and death. But greater than His anger, was His love for them. For even among the darkness, God sent them a messenger who spoke to them words of hope.

Praising God is always the right thing to do, whether you are having a good day, but especially when you are not. God loves a cheerful heart, one that is full of faith and is willing and able to declare His name boldly in times of trouble. If we reflect, we can easily call to mind the times when God delivered us from some thing or other; times when we thought our backs were against the wall and we thought surely we were about to die! But if we remember clearly, God did not abandon us then. He came through, just at the right time, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.

The reason why God loves a cheerful heart such as this is that the heart that remembers His faithfulness will always be faithful to Him. When we get in the practice of praising God, we get to the point where we are unstoppable—the obstacles don’t matter, and the disappointments don’t faze us—because our hearts are focused on the promises of God. Our faith, then, is built on the personal history we have with Him, a first hand knowledge that God is powerful and all-mighty and able to do what He said He would do. God calls us to be a powerful people such as this, a people who believe with their heart and worship Him in spirit and in truth. Purpose yourself to praise Him continuously, and watch the circumstances of your life transform into your most powerful testimony!

Above The Storm

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“Those who hope in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NLT).

The name Isaiah translates into “Yahweh is salvation”. It seemed that Isaiah was born at the right time just to carry this specific message. The prophet Isaiah had a special message for the nation of Israel. In the face of despair and a broken past, the message for this people was hope. In the midst of what felt like being abandoned by God, Isaiah told this people to hold on to their faith. God was about to do something different, something new, something big with their lives; He was preparing them to experience a different level of goodness and blessing. Salvation was near.

An interesting fact about eagles: they are the only birds with the ability to fly at altitudes that take them above storm clouds. God created them in such a way that they are able to see a storm ahead of them. They position themselves to where the warm air currents on the outside of the storm rise to lift them up above the approaching storm. And they soar, without much physical energy, above the storm, where they are safe doing exactly what God created them to do. You and I are created in much the same way. Job search presents storms and challenges, and while our instinct tells us we should panic or run (fight/flight?), God says He will give us strength and we will soar high on wings like eagles. When we purpose our hearts to believe in His promises and we become willing to walk in the way He would have us, we find that the challenges of life become less of a struggle.

God promises even now, as we put our faith and hope in Him, to bring us through this next phase of our lives, just the same way He has brought us through before. He will provide us with the strength required to see us through to the end. When we fully believe, our perception of events change and we are able to approach life’s storms with a calm and peace of spirit that is only found in God. In doing so, we position ourselves to experience a new life in Him, and deeper relationship, and manifold blessings…above the storm.

“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” Exodus 19:3-5