Me

by Nadia Gire
Introduction by Fred Cuellar

Someone once said, “The only way too know yourself is to get to know someone else. Nadia Gire is one of those someone’s you need to get to know. At all of seventeen she asks a lot of the same questions we all do, “Who am I?, where am I going?, why am I here?, what’s the point?”

Starting with her first published piece “Me” you’ll get to know a lot about a young lady who takes us into the world of teenagers and what they think.

In this first installment, we get to know Nadia at the ripe old age of 14 and how one weekend, like one moment can change your life forever.

They say there comes a time when you have to question everything about yourself. I believe my time came before most. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Nadia Gire. I am seventeen years old, a junior at Lee High School in Houston,TX. I was born in England on January 9, 1986. I am all of 4’11” with brown hair and eyes. I have two sisters, one older and one younger. Yes, I am the middle child and you know what they say about middle children. We’re the attention-getters, the rebels without causes, the wild child of the family. But lurking behind that mask of impulsiveness, I had a side to me that no one else knew, not even me. So, I departed on a journey of self-discovery, one that would allow me to see my reflection clearer than ever before. So this is me, no build-up, no gloss, no hype just me—becoming.

My search for myself began way before I came to meet Fred, with whom you will be introduced to later. Around my freshman year, I was at that stage in my life when I began to wonder if everything that I had dedicated myself to, labels I had gotten, nicknames I had received, were correct or even partially true. I suppose this annoyingly befuddling question led me into what most would label as teen rebellion.

Picture this if you can; a group of fourteen year old freshman with the keys to an empty house, credit cards and most importantly, the car. It began during second period drama class; the planning, that is. “I hate going out of town with my parents,” one of my closest friends Avril was saying, “it makes me look like one of those loser teenagers that hangs out with their parents on the weekend. Plus, my lake house has one mall, and it consists of a Walmart and a Krispy Kreme”. “That doesn’t sound too bad,” I answered, but when I saw the glare, I corrected myself, “Why don’t you just spend the night at my house?”. She pondered it for a moment and I could see the gears in her head grinding furiously as she said, “What if I said I was spending the night at your place and I was actually at my own house?”. My friend Andrea got in on the plan at that point in time, “And we could say we’re all spending the night at your house.” All this excess planning became what we cleverly titled “The Weekend”.

“The Weekend” began with severe action taken by the hostess Avril a.k.a. Avie.She pleaded with the parental unit to allow her to spend the night at my house while myself and three others involved in our radical clan did the same. With everyone’s parents ‘okay’, we were ready to begin our journey. We were so prepared that if a natural disaster struck, we would be the last to go down. We devised a plan. It included an itinerary and rules. We had possible things to do when we would get bored; people who could be invited over; scapegoats we could use if our parents ever got suspicious and hookups we had. We synchronized our cell phones, made copies of keys, and developed emergency contacts. The only rules we had were ‘No drugs’ and ‘Get out of the house by Sunday at five’. Avie’s garage was stocked with food and drinks (we had even bought a book named Drink Mixes for Dummies). We practically bought out Blockbuster, with every CD that we thought we could use in the car. I thought we were pretty set for a year, let alone the weekend.

Friday night’s cast included Avie, Desi, Andrea, myself and Sarah. We began with dinner at Jillian’s where we all quickly got a little bored and invited some guys to join us. Chris, Taylor and Ryan were all really good friends of ours from the Strait J football team. They acted like, well…guys and our dinner turned into a heated debate over why a girl can be a slut when she sleeps with a guy while a guy is a player. We continued on with a movie that we made sure was one where we could all drool over the guys in Boiler Room. However, our three guys had lost interest. We decided to go home and it’s a good thing we did. There were cars lined up and down Avie’s street. Teens sat on the hoods of their cars and waved us on. Some people we knew; a few we didn’t. Apparently news of the parentless house spread like wildfire and by the time we had gotten to the door, there was a line of people, like we were at a club and I was one of the bouncers. We took shifts letting people through and by the time we were done, an estimated 200 people were jammed into Avie’s house. Although Avie’s house is not small, I somehow got the feeling of a sardine crammed into a tin. Two hours later, the place was barely recognizable. Smoke filled the air, people had hauled in kegs and some guy kept parading around naked with a beer helmet on his head and two straws that connected it to his mouth until we convinced him that clothing would make him more appealing to the girls he was attempting to hit on. After a new crowd of people joined us, the music changed to hard rock/ metal and was so loud that a nearby frame came smashing down on the floor. Neighbors came over to complain and we all grew nervous. People had made themselves comfortable in the hot tub and then the last straw came when Andrea walked into Avril’s parents bedroom and found a threesome doing something they obviously shouldn’t have been doing. “Not on my parent’s bed,” Avie moaned when she found out. We managed to kick them out and throw the sheets in the wash. The place was a mess. The bathroom smelled like vomit and somebody (a guy), missed the toilet completely. Beer cans littered the floor, the kitchen cupboards were raided and all of our stored food was taken and people lay passed out on tables covered in food. Pizza was ordered and we had to pay for thirteen cheese pizzas. We tried to cancel the order but it was no use, everyone had already started eating. Now was the time to take action. Some of the people that we actually knew began helping us clear out the place after three in the morning. I guess we got to sleep around five, after kicking out numerous amounts of people with crabby personalities and slurred speech.

The next morning we were up bright and early, ready to begin a new day with high hopes. Excitement ran high as we hopped into Avril’s mother gold Acura SUV with Avie in the driver’s seat, myself in the passenger’s seat and everyone else in the back. Avie (carefully) drove us to the mall where we met up with a couple of people. Our next move makes me wonder, even today. For no apparent reason, we began discussing strange things to do, and Andrea started raving on about what she called “the best piercing place with the hottest guys”. So we drove to Montrose. For those of you who do not know Houston very well, Montrose is one of those watch-your-back kind of places. After parking in an extremely tight spot, we walked into a tiny, jammed store. It looked strangely gothic, with black paint slathered on the walls, dark concrete floor and shelves lined with strange ornaments, like voodoo dolls and sex toys. This didn’t look too good. But, behind the counter stood a gorgeous guy in his early twenties. This was starting to look better. His muscle shirt revealed numerous tattoos on his biceps and chains of silver jewelry strung from his wrists. His head was shaven and he had the most beautiful blue eyes I had ever seen. No wonder he works at a piercing place, I was thinking, whenever he got bored, he got a new piercing. This guy had everything from his tongue to his eyebrow to his whole right ear pierced. We approached him nervously. “Hey, you girls here for a tongue ring?” he asked. “That’s not exactly what we had in mind,” I answered since the rest of my posse was to busy drooling. But, I had no clue what we did have in mind since I wasn’t there for a piercing. Andrea quickly regained her balance and spoke up, “Well, how much are your belly piercings?”. While the two of them bargained prices as if were at a flea market, Avril turned to me and said, “Pick one”, pointing to the display of dazzling rings. I apparently thought I was doing it for fun so I chose a simple studded one and Avie chose a blue jeweled ring. “Alright, whose first?”, the hot guy asked, whose name we later discovered to be C.J. Everyone pointed to Andrea, it was her damn idea. She was escorted into a room at the end of the place where she emerged some ten minutes later with a tight smile, or maybe it was a grimace. Avril was next and when she came back, there was no mistaking the contorted scowl on her face. “It’s your turn bitch”, she told me from the corner of her mouth as I laughed hysterically. “My turn for what?,” I asked as C.J already had my hand in his (and how could I refuse?) as he led me into the back room. Then it hit me. These people actually thought I was going to get a navel ring. In his other hand was the simple but oh so painful ring which I had innocently chosen just moments before. “I don’t want it,” I said as I tried unsuccessfully to dart to the door, forgetting that a person was in the way. “Don’t worry about it, you won’t feel a thing. I promise.” As supporting and reassuring that his handsome smile was, … no. I shook my head and then he said it. “Your friends have already paid and I don’t give refunds. Sorry.” I could not afford to lose my friends’ money, nor did I have a death wish, so I sat down. While his back was turned sterilizing his materials, I looked around at the clear white room. Maybe that was a sign. Me, being the idiot I was, chose to ignore it. I was laid down on a white folding bed where he began the procedure. “I am deathly afraid of needles,” I told him nervously. “Oh, I don’t use needles.” THAT LYING BASTARD. Then maybe he could explain the rush of severe pain that I received only two minutes later. “That was only the clamp,” he clarified for me, “it cuts off some of the…”. I stopped listening. If the clamp was this bad, then how awful would the real thing be? I soon found out. He told me to take a deep breath and I thought it was because he was trying to calm me down, but I was truly wrong. I felt the worst pain I have ever felt. It was like someone jammed a searing hot rod through my stomach. It could have been a method used in the torture chamber so I have no clue as to why in God’s name anyone would do this for fun. “There, that wasn’t that bad right?” At that moment, I wanted to kick his ass to hell and back. I lay on the folding bed for what seemed like a long time and then he asked me to walk in a straight line. When I completed that strenuous task, I walked out of the room with the same expression that Avril had when she walked out. They, on the other hand, were all smiles. We thanked him, well, they did and then we went to the car. It seemed like there were so many more cars then before and everything seemed white. As we strapped ourselves in the seats and Avril was backing up, I passed out…

Alarmed, everyone began panicking and Avie accidentally stepped on the accelerator. As I sleepily awoke, Avie finished hitting a beautiful black Mercedes CLK. It was parked, so there was no owner and not many people were around so we split up what little money we had, stuck it in an envelope with a sloppy ‘sorry’ stamped to the front, slipped it onto the windshield and left in a rushed frenzy. When we stopped the car at a further distance, we examined the peeling paint on her mother’s car. Luckily, I knew a friend of a friend (Jerry) who worked at a car place. Jerry is the type of guy who goes to Astroworld and calculates the velocity of The Viper. His normal outfit would be high waters, a plaid button-up and hiking boots. I called him over and begged him to come take a look. He said that if we gave him a couple of hours, he could fix the blemishes. Of course he forgot to mention that he fixed the problem after stealing the gold tint paint from the repair shop where he worked. (Don’t worry, he got fired). After about three nerve- wracking hours, the car pulled into the driveway looking as if nothing had happened. Jerry did a great job, and he got paid well. He told us he didn’t need money. His parents had enough of that. What Jerry needed was some good loving. The poor guy was desperate. He had never had a girlfriend and from what we heard, he had an enormous crush on Sarah. The problem was, Sarah had a boyfriend. The 6’2” running back for the Cardinal football team would crush Jerry into pieces if he ever found out what was going on. But at times like these, we were not thinking clearly and had no choice. Also, we decided that since Sarah had none of the torturous pain that we had to endure, she would have to agree. “Look Jerry, what if we told you that we could get you to go on a few dates with Sarah?”, Andrea, Avril and I asked him while Desi distracted Sarah in the house. “Define few,” he said. God he was a smartass. We finally decided on three. I recall later that one date was a movie and dinner where he got a make-out session and something extra and another was a party where she left him standing by the keg. She was furious with us, but we were her grateful friends in need.

We were bouncers, pimps and rebels all in one weekend. Saturday night, we found a club that was perfect. Our counterfeit ID’s got us in with no problem and the place was… interesting. We walked in and examined the place. To the right of us was a bar with people shouting orders and we had difficulty moving. The ceiling was strung with Christmas lights from the past holiday. The dancing looked straight from a Missy Elliot video; hip hop and R&B blared from the wired speakers. The DJ looked like he was having a blast and kept busting out with a break dancing move every couple of minutes. Our shoes stuck to the sticky floor as we made our way up the rickety, unstable winding staircases before grabbing drinks. After seeing two guys make out next to us, we started to get a little suspicious. Our suspicions proved to be correct soon after. We forgot about it when Andrea found a guy to dance with. The rest of us were sitting around discussing our brilliant mastermind plan until we noticed we had company. A woman with short blonde hair had sat at our table. Her make-up looked like it was done by a color-blind person and her black go-go boots would be found out of place even at a rodeo. She looked like the poster child for steroids. Her tight, bright, red shirt showed off her muscles and her leather skirt was so short that I wondered how she found a way to sit. Her voice was husky and deep when she turned to Desi and said, “Can I light you a smoke?”. The rest of us were trying in vain to keep from laughing. “Umm…no thanks, I don’t smoke,” Desi inched slowly away. “Well, I should have known you didn’t need a light, you’re already on fire,” she said. Sarah could not stop herself from snorting out her Cosmo and laughing outright. Twenty minutes later, we left. We had no intention of being jumped in the parking lot by the lady who got turned down by Desi. We went to bed earlier than we had in a few days after watching a couple of movies. The next day was Sunday and we played clean up. I recall all five of us pulling on yellow rubber gloves and scrubbing feverishly. All previous clutter was replaced with a shining floor, washed windows, and clean carpets. The kitchen was restocked and the car was washed. We finished sooner than we had expected and I returned home around mid-afternoon.

“The plan was flawless. Nothing could have gone wrong now. It was over,” that’s what I was thinking after I got home, pleased to know that something had finally gone as planned. That night I discovered just how mistaken I actually was. All the mothers had gotten together to thank the other for keeping their child, while we were never there. The mothers’ investigation completely ruined our flawless planning and we were all grounded for a month. I actually had some really bad luck because two weeks into that grounding, the piercing was discovered and I got grounded for three more months. Looking back at the scenario, I find it amusing. Back then I didn’t. It was my first test in a series of many more to come. I read somewhere that when you begin to test yourself, your limits, your strengths, everything; you have landed smack in the middle of an identity crisis. The battle to overcome this complex ordeal led me into a conflict with myself that I was not yet ready to fight. I discovered a long time ago that two heads are better than one. And as I was not up for the challenge, I needed a little bit of assistance. This is where you meet Fred.

 

by Nadia Gire
Introduction by Fred Cuellar the Diamond Guy®

The Problem with Perfect

In 1972 I was nine years old and a chess fanatic. Bobby Fischer was playing Boris Spassky for the world chess championship. Every kid my age (probably only the nerds) watched every move Mr. Fischer made on his way to being the first ever U.S. world chess champion and the only one since.

I would stay up late reading the commentary from the newspaper about the genius behind every decision Mr. Fischer made. “Bobby Fischer then moved his king’s pawn to E5 initiating the classic Max Lange attack after beginning with the Italian opening. It was the “perfect” move!” Of all the commentary I remember reading, I loved the use of the word perfect. “Bobby played a perfect game; Spassky missed the perfect life-saving move on his 43rd turn up to bat”. There were things in this life that were perfect. If you followed the rules, studied the board, paid attention to your opponent, you could make the “perfect move”. However, one misstep, one miscalculation and 40 perfect moves could be eliminated by one mistake. I loved chess – I love chess now. I love looking for the perfect move that 1400 years of Grand Masters say exists on every turn. I believe life is a lot like chess. Time, space, force, structure and development – all the main principles of chess turn out to be the main principles in life. For example, every game of chess will eventually end with a winner, no winners (tie), or simply run out of time. If you fail to develop your body, mind and soul not only will you never be a winner, eventually you’ll just run out of time. If you don’t develop a force within yourself or understand the forces you’re up against you’ll be dust in the wind. If you live a life without options/choices you will be judged not to have lived. Chess is a lot like life but with one exception; if you go through life looking for the “perfect” move you’ll be doomed.

I sincerely believe that the only place to find perfection in life is in imperfection. Nothing is perfect. Not diamonds, not people, not jobs or lovers or friends or family members or your pet dog Scruffy. The sooner you start to realize that perfect only exists in games like chess the sooner you’ll be truly happy.

I meet so many people who go through their life questioning every action they have taken. What if I had finished college; what if I had stayed married; what if I had taken that job? Let it go! Even in my wonderful world of diamonds the word “perfect” was outlawed by the Federal Trade Commission as misleading. The FTC said “perfect” was a matter of perception not fact. It’s true. We might have days that to anyone else would seem less than perfect but are perfect to us. Why? I don’t know; I guess because we just made it so, decided it was so. The problem with perfect is it leaves very little room for maneuvering. We don’t have the perfect bodies but we try to make them so. We try to live the perfect life yet I’ve never met one person that succeeded.

After Bobby Fischer played the most perfect chess of his life he went into hiding. He didn’t want to play anymore. Why would he? How could he ever top perfect?

I said before that the only place to find perfect was in imperfect. What I meant was since every person, place or thing is imperfect then it must mean imperfection is part of the design. If you believe in God or a higher force (a latest NBC study says 92% of us do) you probably see this God, higher force as perfect. If this God that made us is perfect and he made us with imperfections isn’t it possible that what makes anything in this world perfect is the imperfections that come with the package?

One of the reasons I love my wife isn’t because she thinks I’m wonderful but because she can live with the things I don’t think are so wonderful about me. Instead of living a life searching for perfect, try dialing it down a notch and look for something with a few flaws. It or they will probably add a lot more joy to your life.

by Fred Cuellar the Diamond Guy®

Becoming—Seventeen

This is the second part of Nadia’s first article entitled “Me.” We continue to hear about Nadia becoming who she is and who she will be in the future. Let’s fast forward.

Here I am at age seventeen, still 4’11 with brown hair and eyes and a little brighter than I was during that last incident. As I lounge comfortably in this black leather rotating chair, and examine the office covered with autographed pictures such as Red Planet signed by Val Kilmer and glass shelves that hold items Ebay would die to bid for, I begin to recall why I am here. He was a guest speaker at a lecture at school. And as he discussed his company, books and life, I eyed him doubtfully. He wore a navy blue button up and black pants. He stood tall and was built slightly heavy. His salt and pepper beard was well groomed and matched his short hair cut. He looked like the intellectual type, but I assume that about anyone who wears glasses. He reminded me of those jaunty business sorts that come knocking at your door and ends up selling Bibles or something of that sort. It was Fred.

Fred’s description of himself and his life had a sort of fairy tale appeal to me. The guy was married to a model, ran a very successful diamond company which sold to famous people and was a millionaire. Most of our guest speakers are retired plumbers or college freshman who talk about their lives at A&M and speak at like 500 words a minute because of their coffee high, so it was refreshing to think that our school provided us with someone who actually had made an empire built on accomplishment. During his speech, it hit me. This was the very break I was looking for. I had been unemployed for well…forever, and I was in dire need of a sufficient amount of cash flow. You’re probably thinking, why can’t I just get a job at the local McDonalds? Well, since you don’t know me too well, I am going to clear some things up for you.

A.) I am the clerk at the Gap. You ask me where I can find this sweater in a smaller size. I fumble with it, look at the tag and then point you to another clerk and whisper, “Ask him.” When I am working at the cash register, I have to ring up the lady in front of you who is buying out the whole women’s department. I have a difficult time ringing up sales prices and discounts, and after waiting in line for forty five minutes, you storm up to the manager, point me out, complain and then…I no longer work at the Gap.

B.) I am now the girl making your smoothie at Smoothie King. It’s my third week on the job and I am as confused as it were my first day. You ask for a Strawberry Extreme with ginseng. I go to my blender and start throwing around any combination that gets me the same color of the Strawberry Extreme. I hand it to you. You take a sip and gag. “This is not what I ordered”, you angrily confront me. I have to make it for you three times before I get it close to being correct and as I am coughing up a big spitball for your drink, the manager is standing behind me. Five minutes later…I am fired.

C.) I am the hostess at Joe’s Crab Shack, which happens to be your posse’s favorite restaurant. You walk up with your friends. “Umm…can I help you?” “Table for four”, you say. “Smoking or nonsmoking?” “Nonsmoking”, you answer. You end up sitting at a table in the corner by the bar, smoking section with enough seats for two people. After four more encounters with people like this, they begin to complain. I am fired…again.

So now that you see how I function, you can see why none of these places would last. In the few minutes that Fred had been lecturing, his mention of his wealth was spoken of in such a nonchalant fashion, that I began to think he wasn’t one of those rich, arrogant guys who stand by their $300,000 cars and brag about renting a beach house in Boca Raton over the summer. I have always coined in the cliché “Share the wealth”, and somehow, I believe that I could milk that phrase for all it had. Fred had all that money, and it seemed that it would just be unfair to not help him spend some of it. I mean, how much could one guy do with a million dollars? I could be his charity case. I was his community service. So come the end of his lecture, I went up to him and introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Nadia.” He stuck his hand out. “Fred Cuellar.” “Well you mentioned that you have this big diamond company and I was just wondering how you began it. It must have been so difficult.” I was setting the stage, and earning brownie points while I was at it. As he rambled on about his business, I thought of ways of asking my question. “That’s great,” I said, not sure if he was done or not, “You know, when I was younger I used to want to be a jewelry designer. It seems like the best thing to do. But don’t you have to have a degree in….” At that point, I started pulling degrees out of my ass such as marketing and visual design. “Well, in my case…”. He was interrupted by the assistant principal who started congratulating him on a job well done. I glared at her and cleared my throat. She was ruining my future career opportunity. He turned to me and said, “Why don’t you come by my office one day and we’ll discuss it?” With that being said, he handed me a card and returned to the AP. Good, I got him exactly where I wanted him.
I waited a week to call. I didn’t want to look desperate. Finally I decided that the time had come. I picked up the phone and dialed the number. “Good afternoon, Diamond Cutters”, the secretary answered. “May I speak to Fred? It’s Nadia.” While the secretary put me through, I thought of ways to phrase my question again. Maybe he forgot. I mean he was a big business tycoon, I’m sure he had other things to do then contemplate the many job offers he was handing out. “Hello,” he answered when he picked up. “Hey Fred, this is Nadia. I don’t know if you remember me from that lecture you gave at Lee High school.” “Yeah, I do. How is everything?” We made polite small talk for about five minutes until I finally brought up the question. “I asked you whether or not you would know a good place to work and I was just wondering if you still had something in mind.” “You know what? I completely forgot. Why don’t you just swing by the office tomorrow around four and we’ll talk about it.” I replied my thanks and hung up. Whoa, this was like a job interview. What should I wear…

The next day was Tuesday and I hesitantly pulled up to a thirteen story silver gray building practically embedded in glass. As I got out of the car and walked into the marble covered elevator waiting area, and waited for the silver doors to open, I had this strange feeling in my stomach, it was like the same one I had during my first cheerleading tryouts. As I stood in the elevator waiting for it to hit the dreaded ninth floor, I took a deep breath. What was I doing? I didn’t even have a resume with me. Wait, I didn’t have a resume. 7…8…9, ding. I walked out and opened the door to Suite 960. The place was pretty nice. Glass ornaments were placed on mirrored shelves which lined three walls. There was a waiting room where there was a couch and a table with magazines. In the front stood a large circular mahogany desk where a smiling secretary sat behind. I told her I had an appointment with Fred for 4:00. She buzzed him and a few seconds later, I was sitting in a large black chair in Fred’s office while he finished up a phone conversation. This gave me a chance to examine the room. The walls were covered in framed pictures, mostly autographed and all featuring Fred and famous person (insert name here). On one end of the room he had a conference desk with six seats and on the other he had his large gray desk which he was seated behind. In front of him were four small screens, security cameras. When he was done with his call, he turned to me.

We had a long discussion. We talked about me. And what I wanted to do with my life. My interests, my hobbies, what I did in my free time. What kind of a job I would want.. “I’m a Capricorn vegetarian. One of my favorite bands is Sugar Ray. I love beaches, fast cars and my biggest pet peeve is being cut off while I am still completing my sentence,” I beamed as he gave me a strange look. I thought about it. “I’ve wanted to go to Wellesley for as long as I can remember. It’s always been me in a Wellesley shirt and cap ever since I was like five years old.” The voice inside questioned his questions. Interests? Hobbies? Like what, making macramé potholders? “I play a lot of sports. Track, cross country, volleyball, cheerleading, golf, swim team. You name it, I’m on it. It helps me take the stress out of everyday stuff.” Back in my head, Free time…this should be easy. How do I say it without looking like a complete bimbo? “I am a shopaholic. Most of the time, it comes against my will. It can be scary. I love concerts too, and beaches (I forgot that I had already mentioned it, I was a little bit nervous) and if you have a concert on the beach then I’m in heaven.”. Careers, I might have some diffuculty with this one. “I started out wanting to be an interior designer. Then it changed to jewelry design. Then I had this great idea that I should become a fashion entrepreneur. Well, after all those careers, I finally decided on psychiatry. I haven’t yet decided whether I should be a psychiatrist or a psychologist.”
“So you want something to do with psychology right? Well, maybe I could get you to intern with a psychiatrist I know.” I said I would think about it. “Well, how about like work at a clothing store? My wife shops at Bebe.” “Umm…I’m not a retail kinda gal,” I answered quickly, remembering the above situations. Then, “Well, my assistant always has a ton of work to do. She could probably use some help every now and then. You wouldn’t be doing anything too difficult. Maybe filing papers and typing stuff. How does that sound?” I said yes. So we decided that this would be my temporary job for awhile unless I liked it, then I would stay. Since I was also interested in the art aspect of jewelry, I would have drawing classes every Saturday morning along with sales classes from 7:00-9:00. You may be wondering what it was that caused me to turn down his first two offers, I mean how dumb was it that I said yes to a filing job rather than work at the promising psychiatrist’s office and get caught up in my future career or get satisfy my shopping fetish at Bebe? Well, have you ever walked in somewhere and felt a vibe? Like once when I was at the local movie theater catching a flick with some friends, I had this overall really good feeling. Happy, floaty sort of. And it wasn’t even that good of a movie. I excused myself and stood outside the theater and called my sister who told me very happily that she finally got an apartment and was moving out. I have never been happier. So that was the good vibe feeling being sent to me. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a strong believer in superstitions and fate and whatnot but when entering this place, I got this sense, this incredible feeling of euphoria, like I was in the right place, just like when older-sister-who-steals-your-clothes decided to move out. I had walked in with doubt and uncertainty, and had walked out with a job that would change me forever. However, in the weeks to come, I would be blind, pillowless and …arrested.

A few weeks ago, I tried out for a reality television series whose name I will leave anonymous. I signed a confidentiality agreement about what it was and at the time wasn’t thinking about it. When I signed on for this, I had walked out from a strenuous SAT class that pretty much left all the brain cells I had dead and was bombarded by a large, overall scary woman who shoved a clipboard in my hands and said, “Why don’t you audition for this?” It was a sign on for a reality television show which I could care less for, but frankly, I was a little scared to refuse the offer. The interview was started outside a room with one camera on me, the director standing next to me and the big lady who asked me three questions. “What’s your name?” “Nadia Gire.” I turned to the camera and smiled big. “Tell me what you think of reality television.” There are so many ways to answer that. “Well, I actually watch shows like American Idol, Real World and Fear Factor so, I think it’s great that they came out with something new that could replace regular television shows that we’re all so used to watching.” I was of course making all this stuff up, but hey, I personally did not care at the moment, I was cattle roped into this and I was going to make it an enjoyable experience dammit. As soon as I finished answering that question, the director got in front of the camera and started talking like those annoying guys on the Discovery Channel, “Well, let’s see what happens to Nadia when she is faced with nine judges from our panel.” I was lead into a room, with the camera following me, which caught me trip over numerous wires might I add, where there was a lone chair placed in the middle of a conference room. Around the chair were three tables that formed a U shape and three people sitting around each table. They all looked so professional with their Deja Blue water bottles placed neatly in front of them and a clipboard permanently attached to their hands, inquisitive expressions on their faces all ready to pounce on me. There were so many lights, I was waiting for a football team to arrive and there were three cameras that were placed randomly around the room and one camera which was being operated by a camera man. “Hi, Nadia. I hope you’re not camera shy,” said a woman with short blond hair and a big grin. Now I was sure this was some kind of dumb joke. So I decided to play along. “Are you kidding?” I jumped in front of the camera directly in front of me and started pulling faces at it and winking and what not. “Okay…umm…well tell us, do you know what this is for?” I shook my head as I was deciding where to place my hands. These guys probably analyze all that stuff you know. “The Blank (nameless show) is a reality television series which is going to place you in a penitentiary in Texas, which has the toughest legal system in the county, for a month. You will be with twenty nine other contestants, but here’s the catch, you won’t know who those other contestants are. The only two people who know you’re a contestant for a show will be yourself and the warden. So what do you think now that you know?” I lay back in my seat and thought back to that day when something like this was done to me. Follow me back to a niche in my past. (Dream sequence begins)…Once, back when I was around eight years old, we went to a farm to visit the horses. As I was feeding sugar to a large mahogany colt, I felt something grabbing at my shirt. I turned around to face a pitch black Doberman bearing his abnormally large teeth at me. What a Doberman was doing on a farm I don’t know, but it couldn’t have been good. I fled for my life and I ended up running in circles around the owner of the farm, a man who looked fairly confused at the time, screaming, “Get it off me, get it off me.” Soon I was scooped up by the loving hands of…dad and in tears I was hauled off to the car. I figured I shouldn’t have run from it. The owner later told me that Twister, (what an appropriate name) thought I was playing with it. I learned not to run from that which I feared.

Now you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this. Well, one cold Saturday morning in mid January, I was sitting in Fred’s office listening to him dictate a chapter of a book we were discussing. I was awakened from my dreary sleep by Fred’s looming voice, “I have a surprise that goes with this book, but I don’t think I should tell you.” “Well Fred, no need to keep me in suspense, just say it already.” I knew Fred was just itching to tell me about it so I didn’t have to persuade him any further. “Since you know that the moral of this chapter is to live this day as if it were your last, I decided to help you envision that and actually make it happen.” Oh God, he’s going to kill me. I knew this guy was wacko. “I’m not supposed to tell you this but next week you are going to be going to jail.” No response. I was silent. Frankly, I was in shock. And the one thing that was running through my head was that day when I was eight. I can’t be afraid of this. It’s just like that dog, if I let Fred keep running in circles, he’s eventually going to have to stop. However, he didn’t.

That night, I sat around thinking about it. I talked to peers who had been to a juvenile delinquent center and got some information. I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to go. I can’t let him go through with this. I have to fight it. I practiced my speech to Fred. “Look, this is getting to be a little too much for me. I think you have gone overboard and if this means I’m going to be fired then…okay.” I never actually got around to saying any of this. When I walked into his office for the next week or so, he was so happy, like it was greatest thing in the world that I was going to jail. One day, he asked me, “What is your greatest fear about being in jail?” he asked very casually. “Oh, there are so many, where do I start? How about the physical abuse, mental abuse, jail rape?” Fred looked interested. “Well, is there anything I can help you with?” Then I remembered something. “Aren’t you a black belt in karate?” He nodded, “I can show you a few moves if you want.”

To any normal person it would have looked a little more than strange to watch me struggle to beat Fred up. He taught me a couple of moves such as learning how to twist a knife out of one’s hand or how to shove someone bigger than you. After a thirty minute session, I told Fred, “I’m not ready for jail.” Grinning he said, “Oh, don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine.” It seemed as if he looked too damn happy about it. ‘My last day’ as he put it was on a Thursday. Just like any other Thursday, it included school and then work. But unlike any other Thursday, it also included a vague imitation of death. During lunch at Subway, which I could not eat, I called Fred. “Fred, I can’t come into work today. My umm.. stomach doesn’t feel too good.” On the other line you could hear Fred choke with laughter as he said, “Those police officers can find you at home or at school. Wouldn’t you rather they find you at work than at school? How embarrassing would that be?” Like either of those options sounded inviting. But I could picture the look on my friend’s faces when I would be picked up and arrested at school. The annoying guys that I never went out with would whisper, “I knew she was a bad ass all along.” My friends would still be partly impressed but mostly confused, the norm. “Never mind,” I groaned, “I’ll see you at four.”

When I moped into the office around four, I walked into Fred’s office and we discussed how my day went and how I attempted to keep my mind off everything that was going to happen, but it ends up when you try to forget something you think about it more than usual. I tried to humor myself during the day, I really tried. I talked to people I didn’t talk to. I smiled a lot. Yesterday I went shopping because I figured if I was going to jail, all the good sales would be over by the time I came back. I busied myself with anything and everything. Every time the alarm went off on the door, I would check Fred’s surveillance cameras to see who it was. One time this little kid got stuck in the door so the alarm stayed on for what seemed like forever. With every noise, phone call, buzz, or alarm sound, my heart would skip a beat. Finally the alarm went off again. Fred glanced quickly at the cameras and said, “Yeah, there he is. That’s the cop.” By this time, my mind had slowed down and come to a stop. A buzz came through on Fred’s phone. “Fred someone’s here to see Nadia.” Fred went out to bring him in and I was left alone sitting in that same comfortable leather swivel chair with the craziest thoughts just running through my head. Fred bought the cop into his office. He was a stocky kind of guy with dark eyes and a baseball cap. He wore a navy blue jacket which had POLICE stamped on it in bright yellow letters, as if I needed a reminder or maybe they were their to spite me. Fred introduced him. “Can I see some identification?” “I don’t have any on me.” “Alright well, you know what you’re here for so let me just check your stuff and then you can go.” I was frozen and for the first time in my life, at a severe loss for words. Then he proceeded to take out his big silver handcuffs and lock me in them with my hands behind my back. All he kept saying was, “You have the smallest wrists I have ever seen.” Thank you for sharing, now if you will excuse me, I have a jailhouse to be hauled off to. In the hysteria of it all, I cracked a grin. Wrong move lemme tell you. The guy exploded. “Do you think this is funny? Do you think this is a joke? Look at me when I speak to you. This is some serious business. Don’t give me this attitude. It just isn’t gonna fly.” After being lectured for like a good five minutes which seemed like years, he asked Fred to go get my gym bag which he would then check for “illegal possessions”. He asked me if I had anything which he would like to know about and I shook my head. Then I hesitantly informed him about the cigarettes in the pocket who belonged to a friend. The guy turned livid. “What the hell are you doing with cigarettes? You do realize that you are underage? Well do you realize that I can throw you in juvy right now?” The whole time he was talking, I was staring at my feet and waiting for him to shut up. “Is there anyone who you would like to contact?” asked Fred whose ass was going to be seriously kicked after I made some new cell buddies. As I gave him my parent’s number meekly, I thought I was going to cry. Then the cop tightened my handcuffs and double locked them and of course repeated his “Your wrists are so small” commentary. Then he sat me down and told me he had to read me my rights. As soon as he started off with, “You have the right to remain silent,” I freaked out. I thought I was having heart spasms. My initial reaction was to jump up and run out the door but my hands were in cuffs and the door was closed. Then I kept thinking someone was going to jump up and say, “Happy April Fool’s Day”. I was slowly growing hysterical. After he finished telling me about how I could hire a lawyer and stood me up getting ready to leave, he received a phone call on his cell. I was so in shock that I wasn’t even paying attention to anything he was saying until, “What?! You’re kidding. I’ve been trying to get that guy for months. How long? Forty five minutes? No…I’m coming. Nothing too important. It can wait. Yeah…okay”. Then he turned to me and said, “I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I am going to take those handcuffs off you and leave. The bad news is I will be back”. Then he turned to Fred, “I’m sorry but this job I have is more important then some seventeen year old.” I never thought those words would be such a relief to me. He was escorted out by Fred instead of me being escorted out by him. I was flooded with gratitude and appreciation that I never knew were possible. I numbly sat with my rubber legs and took deep breaths. My hands were clammy and I was shaking violently. I can still recall after the cop left the whole office was buzzing about my double life of being like a drugged up teen. When the day was finally over, I reminded Fred to inform the rest of the office that I was not a juvenile delinquent seeking hideout from the cops. For now, I had nothing to worry about. Tomorrow, however, was another day.

As I hazily returned to the bright lights in the interviewing room, I told the judges my previous scenario. “This sounds so familiar. You know my boss once tried to throw me into jail. It sounded exactly like this thing you guys are doing. So maybe to a normal person, this would be crazy, but to me this is pretty tame. Is reality television turning wuss?” They asked me a few more lame questions such as, “If a person of the same sex approached you, what would you do?” My response to that was, “I have no problem with homosexuals but I am not one myself. Therefore if a person who was lesbian approached me, I would … move quickly.” I got a cold glare from the guy who asked the next question. “Alright, well we would have a code word that would help you get out of the game if necessary. Where would you draw the line and yell out the code word?” asked the guy in the tight muscle shirt with blond streaked hair whoseemed oh-so offended by my response. “The code word would be what? Help? Well, anyways have you ever seen those movies where they get jail raped? I believe if that were to happen to me, I would be long gone.” Another question was, “What would you tell you other cell mates that you did?” I remembered a television show where the guy had a serious death wish and told some guy in jail that he killed his mother. However, when I shared this bit of information I was met with some very dumbfounded expressions, big shock there. “Murder in the third degree.” “Good, good I’m seeing like a gruesome murder with some drunk teenagers maybe,” the director started brainstorming. “They already did that in I Know What you Did Last Summer.” I told him. Somehow, he looked extremely disappointed. I can’t believe they picked this guy as the director. The funniest question by far was, “One of our challenges would be to try to get into the psychiatric ward. How would you accomplish that?” I started laughing really hard. This was getting to be too much fun. “You want me to be crazy? Crazy?” I started talking like I was Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Then I started chasing the camera man around the room. After the camera guy was panting and out of breath, I turned back to the panel, “If you really want to seem crazy, steal the tough guy’s food and claim you have an eating disorder. If it still doesn’t seem like you’re crazy, then something is seriously wrong.” Have you ever had nine judges just sit there and stare at you with staggered expressions on their faces? Well, I have. After a few more random questions, the judges huddled together, compared notes and then the redheaded woman with a squeaky voice faced me and said, “Thank you Nadia for your time. It’s been…well, thank you. We will be sure and get back to you.” The director then got up and led me out of the room and said, “Was it that bad?” I looked at him and said, “That was all fake right?” He looked kind of confused. “Umm…no… There really is going to be a reality show and you just tried out for it.” Great, I thought, I’m going to get a phone call in a week asking me to be on that show. That has got to be the dumbest thing I have ever done, I thought as I walked out to the car, but I couldn’t help and think back to those few months before when my fate rest in the hands of, well …Fred.

A whole year ago it would have seemed ludicrous to even think that I would be where I am today. People saw me as someone they had built with their imagination. My friends thought of me as the impulsive one, my parents thought of me as the wild child. But when I got this job, things changed. My parents were shocked that I would work for my own money. My friends constantly joked about joining my sales class and the idea of sharing my writing had never occurred to me.  I had become the girl that everyone wanted me to be. That was before Fred.

Through Fred I learned many lessons, lessons that were taught through books, writing, and example. My thirst for knowledge grew with every waking moment. I no longer dreaded waking up at seven in the morning for sales class, I awaited it. Together we devoured books such as Tao and How To Read Body Language. I eagerly anticipated projects Fred planned, one of my favorites being when I was deprived of everything except for food, water and shelter.  I left behind the world of expectations and commenced on a voyage with no one but myself. And in that journey I found my morals, principles, and philosophy of life. I also discovered who I was.

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

This article archives my unpredictable roller coaster ride of the past year. Like seasons which come and go, I have learned, so does our identity. Each day is a new person who, just as spring retires into summer, changes his self. Throughout the years, I have no doubt that my looks will change, as will my character. Each coat will still be bright and vibrant as the next, but in unison … boundless, alive, and even more so, becoming.

 

by Nadia Gire

Love

What is Love?

Love is an unconscious decision, a sense of being. Love is freedom. Love is joy. Love empowers and let’s go. Love sets no limits or boundaries. It is endless. Love requires and needs nothing in return. Love is spontaneous. Love is almighty. Love does not live in the world of expectation and prefers only what occurs. Love doesn’t know failure for it sees the perfection in every design and outcome. Love does not seek knowledge because it already is the truth, the way, the question and the answer. Love is a gift, a smile, a hug, a gesture of good faith, a promise that is unspoken. Love is all. Love is fearless. Love is change.

What isn’t Love?

Love is not selective. Love is not judgmental. Love knows no doubt. Love does not set requirements or rules. Love is not jealous. Love does not hope or think or believe; love knows. Love does not have needs. Bodies have needs, souls do not. Love is the soul fully expressed. Love is a soul fully expressed and accepted by another. Love is the realization that there is no other. Only you and I as parts of one. To hate another is to hate a part of one’s self. To love another is to love one’s self. To truly love another you must truly love yourself. To give love you must be love. To be love you must let go of bigotries, hatred, expectations, requirements, disappointments, needs, jealousies and doubts. To be love is to accept that life equals change and change equals beauty. All truth is beautiful, all truth is love.

When Do You Fall in Love?

It is said that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. So will love. As long as you find fault in yourself so will others and push you away. When you come to the realization that you are one of nature’s greatest miracles, so will others. Be loving. Do this by reminding others, awakening others, to the miracles that they themselves are. When two souls awaken in the same time, love is created. A common-union. A communion.

What is love? Love is everything.

 

by Fred Cuellar the Diamond Guy®

Infidelity: Is it a Zero Tolerance Game?

Michael’s Story

As Michael Callahan, Jr. pulled into the Four Seasons, he drove past the valet and into the parking lot jammed full of Mercedes, Lexus, and BMW’s. He took the last handicapped space. Michael Callahan was not handicapped, but he was broken. Michael Callahan, age 42, happily married for 17 years, father of two; Sammy, 13, quick-witted, over-achiever, hot-tempered, perfectionist—just like his old man; and Sandy, 11, lover of animals, nature and free speech—just like his wife, Anna. Michael, Harvard-educated and a Rhodes scholar, was Founder and CEO of Callahan and Associates, the top public relations firm on the East coast. He was a devout Catholic and a workaholic. His friends nick-named him Midas years ago because everything he touched turned to gold. Perfect job, perfect wife, perfect family.

As he parked, a man began walking from the hotel to Michael’s black Bentley sedan carrying a shiny gun metal metallic briefcase. The man, wearing a perfectly tailored dark pin striped suit and high gloss wing tip shoes with a military-style flat top haircut, weighed 250 pounds and stood six feet four inches. Basically, he was built like an oak tree with arms. When he reached the passenger door, he rapped on the window twice. The door locks popped open allowing the man to enter. He opened the door and sat down, placed the briefcase on his lap and closed the door.

“Good evening, Mr. Callahan.” said the red oak in a deep voice. “I have my report, the photographs and the audio tapes. Would you like to go over them?” “No. Here’s your check.” Michael handed the private investigator a check for $10,000. “Our business is concluded. Please go.” “Mr. Callahan. I’m sorry…” “Excuse me,” Callahan said sternly. “Our business is concluded. You need to leave now!”

The P.I. placed the check in his briefcase, locked it and exited the car. He left a large manila envelope on the passenger seat. Michael didn’t need to look inside to know what it contained. He had already been briefed. It included pictures of his wife and her lover; audio tapes of their conversations; records and receipts of her secret life.
After checking into a two bedroom suite on the hotel’s top floor, and ordering practically everything on the room-service menu (none of which he ate), Michael turned on CNN. The Dow was up, NASDAQ had changed little and his wife was not expecting him home from his press junket to L.A. until tomorrow. He had come home a day early. He was home but not in his home. Would he go home tomorrow? Would he go see his attorney? Would he go to the bank and close out his accounts and cancel his wife’s credit cards? Should he buy a gun?

The next morning at precisely 6:30, he turned on his lap top and typed into Google the words, “Why Do Women Cheat?” He found an article by Vanessa Burton on Askmen.com that said women cheat for six different reasons:

1. You stopped giving her attention
2. Lack/fear of intimacy
3. You change drastically
4. Someone is giving her more attention
5. You cheated on her
6. She’s just rotten

After reading the article, Michael took a shower, got dressed, checked out of the hotel, did a little shopping and headed home. “Hi, Honey! I’m home!” announced Michael as he entered his palatial, 20,000 square-foot fortress. “Mike? Is that you?” Anna replied. It sounded like her voice was coming from the game room. Michael thought this was quite appropriate. If she wanted to play games with his life, his reputation, he was up to the challenge. “Baby, stay there. I’m coming.” Michael said. He reached into a brown paper bag, pulled out his new revolver and placed it inside his coat pocket.

Anna ran up to her husband and gave him a big hug and kiss. “Wow! You’re home early. I thought your plane didn’t arrive until five.” Michael sat down behind his mahogany desk and set the revolver down. “Michael! What are you doing?! You know I don’t allow…” “SHUT UP!” “SIT DOWN!” screamed Michael. She complied. “We’re going to play a little game. I’m going ask you three questions. If I don’t like the answer to any of my questions, I’m going to pull the trigger of that gun. There are six chambers and one bullet; it’s time to be very honest.”

Anna’s whole body began to tremble and tears ran down her face. “Michael,” she said sobbing, “Please, whatever I’ve done, I’m sorry.” Michael picked up the revolver and pointed it at Anna. “Question number one: Have you ever been unfaithful to me?” “Yes. I’m sorry. I was lonely. You were always out of town and…” “Shut up!” Michael snapped. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” “Second question: Are you ever going to be unfaithful again?” “No! No!”

Michael stood slowly and walked around the desk toward her. “Third question:” he placed the barrel of the gun to her temple. “Are you sure?” “Yes, yes! I’m sure! I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you, Michael.”

Michael lowered the gun and placed it on the desk. He hugged Anna for an eternity. When he finally spoke, he said, “I know I haven’t been the perfect husband. Let’s promise to do better and forget this ever happened.” They walked out of the game room and up the spiral staircase to the bedroom. As Michael turned to close the door behind them, they heard a loud “BANG!!” “Where are the kids?!” Michael hollered frantically. “Sandy’s over at Melissa’s spending the night and Sammy is in his room!”
Without saying another word, they both ran into Sammy’s room to find it empty.”

 

Jackie’s Story

“Come in, come in! Jackie, what’s the matter? You look horrible! Are you crying? What is it!?” asked Rebecca, Jackie’s neighbor.

Jackie tried to speak. She knew what she wanted to say, but no words would come. She gasped a few times and took one deep breath. Finally, she said with a quivering voice, “It’s over. I’m leaving him.”

Rebecca helped her friend out of her jacket and put it on the coat rack near the door. Jackie had been a great friend and neighbor during the past three years. They became friends instantly after moving into adjacent homes, but had really bonded after becoming pregnant at the same time and having their babies within a month of each other. Jackie’s son Jonathan and Rebecca’s daughter Shannon were 18 and 19 months old, respectively, and the four of them did everything together–play dates, lunch dates, and shopping trips. Their husbands worked long hours, (Jackie’s husband, Mark, as an engineer and Rebecca’s husband, Steve, as a financial advisor) so they often had dinner together, also. They knew everything there was to know about each other, so she couldn’t imagine what was wrong with her friend. They had just seen each other that afternoon at the neighborhood playground and she seemed fine…happy, even. She went to the kitchen to open a bottle of wine as Jackie slumped into a chair and buried her face in her hands.

Jackie finally looked up just as Rebecca put a glass of wine and a box of tissue on the coffee table in front of her. She reached for the glass anxiously. She didn’t drink very often, but she felt like she needed a drink tonight like never before. “Ok. What’s going on? Did you two get in another fight about his working late? I thought he said his schedule would lighten up this month.”

“No, Bec. It’s not his schedule. I wish it were that simple. I don’t even know where to start. I guess I’ll just tell you straight out. Mark had an affair. No …Mark has been screwing around! ‘Affair’ sounds too quaint and sweet and innocent, doesn’t it? Anyway, he came home from work tonight about 5:00. I knew something was up because he hasn’t been home that early in over a year. It was like I was watching a bad movie. ‘Jackie, we need to talk. It’s nothing you did wrong. It didn’t mean anything. I’m not in love with her; I’m in love with you. It only happened once.’ Every sappy, disgusting phrase you’ve ever heard came out of his mouth. I took Jonathan to my Mother’s and intended to go back home to talk it out, but I can’t, Rebecca. I don’t want to be in the same room with him. I don’t want to hear him apologize. I don’t even want to look at him. I can’t! Can I stay here tonight?” The tears were rolling down her cheeks.

“Of course you can!” Rebecca replied as she held Jackie tightly. “You know that. You can have the guest room. Um, I…uh…I don’t mean to pry, and you can shut me up and go right to bed if you want, but when…why…and, for God’s sake, who?! Did you ask him?”

“You bet I did! I think he expected that I would want details, because I swear he had his answers all scripted and practiced. He said that he was lonely. He was working so many late nights at the office and he missed me. That’s hilarious right?! He missed ME, so he slept with someone else!? He needed companionship and there she was—day in and day out—convenient—willing. I’ve told you about her before, remember? Sarah; the one who works down the hall from him. I’ve always been jealous of her, you know. Not only does she have long legs and perfect skin and perky, perfect….anyway…I’ve always been jealous of how much she and Mark have to talk about. They have the same educational background, went to the same schools, know all the same people. I even told him once how I felt. He said I was nuts; that he didn’t even find her attractive or interesting. Not attractive or interesting, but worthy of a one night stand, I guess. He said it was one time; a weak moment at the annual conference, after too many drinks. I guess I believe him, that it only happened once. I mean, I don’t know.”

“What are you going to do?” It sounded lame, but Rebecca didn’t know what else to say.

“I have absolutely no idea. I just need to try to get some sleep so I can figure this all out tomorrow. I have to pick Jonathan up at my Mother’s and try to put on a happy face for him. Thanks for letting me stay. I don’t know what I would do without you.” The two friends hugged for a long time.

The next morning, Jackie was greeted in the kitchen by Rebecca and a big cup of strong black coffee. “He called…twice. He wants to know when you’re coming home. I told him I’d have you call when you woke up, but that I wouldn’t wake you after the night you had. It was hard to be civil, but I managed.”

“Thanks. I’ll call him in a minute. I just want to pretend for a moment longer that we’re enjoying our morning coffee together and that last night was a horrible nightmare. I need to finish at least one cup of coffee before going home and telling Mark that I’m going to give him another chance.”

“What?!” Rebecca almost yelled. “I mean…really? Wow. Are you sure you’ve had enough time to think it over?”

“Absolutely. I’m 35 years old with an 18-month-old baby. I haven’t worked in over ten years and I have no college degree. No thanks…I don’t feel like starting over right now. We’re finally settled in the house, we bought the car just a month ago, Mark is making a name for himself in the company and I love not working. Besides…I love him and he’s been a good husband. He’s a great father and Jonathan needs his father in his life. He’s human. I truly believe that he’s sorry and who am I not to forgive him? You know…’Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ Forgetting will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I have to try.”

ALTERNATE ENDING #1

The next morning, Jackie was greeted in the kitchen by Rebecca and a big cup of strong black coffee. “He called…twice. Wants to know when you’re coming home. I told him I’d have you call when you woke up, but that I wouldn’t wake you after the night you had. It was hard to be civil, but I managed.” “Civil? You think you need to be civil to that bastard? Why? Because he’s your neighbor and an upstanding member of this community? Because he’s been married to me for 5 years? Because he’s the father of your daughter’s favorite playmate? Please…don’t force yourself to be sweet on my account. I certainly don’t plan on it, so why should you?!” Jackie could feel the bitterness and anger welling up inside her. She felt like crying, but wondered if the tears would come. She had cried so much in the last 12 hours that she wondered if there were any tears left.

“I’ll call him in a while. But first, I’m making a call to my lawyer. Can you pick Jonathan up from my Mom’s for me?” Rebecca was stunned. “Uh…yeah…of course I can.
Did you say lawyer? Are you sure you’re not rushing things? Maybe you should wait a few days.” “No, Bec. I’m sure. I laid awake all night remembering things…lots of things…that should have been clues. Hell, they weren’t even clues. Any idiot should have known what was going on, but I didn’t see it. I didn’t want to see it. The late night rings from his cell phone; the times I tried to call his office AND cell phone and didn’t get an answer; the password on his lap-top that he keeps changing; the restaurant receipts; the business trip last month that he never wanted to talk about. He even came home late from the office smelling like women’s perfume several times, and I explained it away by imagining him in a crowded elevator next to a woman wearing too much Chanel. He’s been lying to me, Rebecca, for a long time. He promised that it was one mistake, one night, and that it would never happen again. Well, I figure it’s been going on for at least six months, maybe longer. I’m not going to waste what’s left of my 30’s trying to hold on to a man who wants someone else. I’m smart, attractive, resourceful… lots of things. I don’t want to live my life being suspicious and bitter. If I stay, that’s what will happen. I deserve better. I’m sure about this. Can I use the phone in the bedroom?”

ALTERNATE ENDING #2

Rebecca looked at the clock. It was 8:30 and she was already on her third cup of coffee. She had gotten Shannon dressed, Steve out the door and put a load of laundry in without making too much noise, but she couldn’t believe that Jackie was still sleeping. She knew that she must have been up half the night crying, so she was hesitant to go and check on her for fear of waking her from a much-needed sleep, but she knew Jackie’s Mother would be expecting her soon to pick up Jonathan. She also knew that Mark would probably show up at the door any minute wanting to see his wife, and Rebecca really didn’t want to get in the middle of that mess.
“Shannon. Mommy is running upstairs for just a minute. You sit here and watch the video and I’ll be right back.”

She cracked open the guest room door very slowly. When she didn’t see Jackie in bed, she opened the door completely. She expected to see Jackie standing at the window, or on the phone, or washing her face at the bathroom sink. Instead, she found Jackie asleep in the easy chair in the corner of the room immediately to her left. She was fully dressed, shoes and all.

“Okay,” Rebecca said as she pulled open the curtains, “Time to get yourself together, girl. You’ve gotta face this head-on, like you always do. Come on. You can’t let Jonathan and your Mother see you like this. You definitely can’t let Mark see you like this.” She was talking loud enough to wake Jackie, but she remained still. She got down on her knees in front of the chair. She placed her hand on Jackie’s arm.

“Jackie. Jackie. Jackie!” That’s when she spotted the prescription bottle on the floor near the chair. She picked it up. It was Mark’s prescription; sleeping pills. The bottle was empty. She gently felt her neck for a pulse. Nothing. She leaned over and put her cheek near Jackie’s mouth to see if she was breathing. Nothing. Rebecca stood slowly, let out a sigh, and turned toward the phone near the bed. She straightened the throw pillows on the bed before sitting down on the edge. She stared at the phone for a moment and then looked at her watch. 8:40.

“Mama!” Shannon squealed from the bottom of the stairs. Rebecca cleared her throat. “Just a minute, baby! I’ll be right down! Finish your juice for Mommy!”
Rebecca picked up the phone and dialed 911. The conversation lasted less than 3 minutes. She picked up the phone a second time. She dialed the phone number to Jackie and Mark’s house without even looking at the phone. She had it so engrained in her memory after dialing it day after day for three years that her fingers seemed to know automatically which numbers to press. “Mark. It’s me. You were right. She was suicidal. She took the pills out of your medicine cabinet just like you said she would….What…Yes, I’m sure she’s dead. She took the whole damn bottle. Yeah, she believed the whole story about Sarah at the office.”

by Fred Cuellar and Julie Seitz

 

How Many People Do You Have To Meet To Find Your Soul-Mate?

Read the title again, please. That’s an interesting question, don’t you think? Is it mathematically possible to calculate the odds of finding your significant other? Can logic and love co-exist? What is a soul-mate? How many soul-mates are out there for each one of us? What are you supposed to do if you’re in a loving relationship with someone you think is your soul-mate, then, out of the blue, your true soul-mate shows up? What element does chance play? Can you be happy if you never find your soul-mate? How do you know when you’ve hit the jackpot and your search is over? While I think any one single question would make a decent article all by itself, not any one answer alone will give us the whole truth we’re looking for. To the point, were we placed on this earth one half of a whole? Do we need to find the other half to be happy and if so, how many other keys exist out there that will unlock our hearts?

WHAT IS A SOUL-MATE?

Ask a woman what a soul-mate is and her eyes will glaze over, her hands will go to her heart and she’ll say “It’s the one!” If you ask, “The one what?” she’ll say, “That one person placed on this planet who it is your destiny to find. This is the only person who will truly know you, complete you, and finish your sentences for you, love you like you’ve never been loved–the one that will laugh with you, cry with you, and be your compass.” (Maybe soul-mates are a lot like G.P.S. systems.) If you ask a man what a soul-mate is, his eyes will glaze over, his hands will go to his stomach and he will say, “The one who can cook like Mama!” Just kidding, but certainly anyone who can cook should get some kind of brownie points. No, for a man, at least the ones I talked to, a soul-mate is the one he can truly be himself with and not be slapped across the face and be accused of being a pig. Someone who in some small way makes him feel like a hero. Guys like being heroes. If you look up the word soul in Gray’s Book of Anatomy (supposed to have labeled every human part) there is no mention of soul. Webster defines a soul as: “The spiritual nature of humans regarded as immortal, seperatable from the body at death and susceptible to happiness or misery in a future state.” Hmmm…If that’s right then a soul-mate is someone we may be destined to be with even after we die! How’s that for a commitment?

HOW MANY SOUL-MATES ARE OUT THERE FOR EACH OF US?

Everyone I talked to seemed to agree, or at least be open to the possibility that we may have more than one soul-mate out there, (this was mostly the men). The die-hard romantics (women) said while there are many people we may be compatible with, there is only one true love; one soul-mate for each of us. While the romantic’s point of view has a very clandestine appeal, I couldn’t help but feel that with over six billion people in the world, and most of us with expired passports, it’s awfully convenient that our Maker always puts our soul-mate in places we like to hang out and not in the Congo, Switzerland or Bulgaria.

WHAT ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO DO IF YOU’RE IN A SIGNIFICANT RELATIONSHIP WHEN YOU MEET YOUR SOUL-MATE?

If there were a United Nations that governed soul-mates, kind of a rules and regulations committee, they’d probably argue that while there are many things we cherish in our lives that have great meaning to us (money, siblings, friends, family, pets), we owe it to ourselves to be with our soul-mate…at any cost. This could be the reason for such a high divorce rate in this country. Just when we’ve convinced ourselves we’ve found “true love,” the B.B.D. (Bigger, Better Deal) walks in the door. While many marriages are marriages of convenience and some are even arranged, this kind of leads us to our next question.

HOW DO WE KNOW WHEN WE’VE FOUND OUR SOUL-MATE?

While this may seem like a very complex question, it isn’t. You know you’ve found your soul-mate when you no longer have to ask yourself if you’ve found your soul-mate. Doubt does not live in Soulville.

While we could probably debate at length the importance of having a significant other in our lives, there are still a great number of us who never tie the knot. According to the U.S. Census 2002, 30.6% of all men and 23.6% of all women will never marry. Many of these people have been interviewed and found fulfillment in their jobs, friends or life’s work. Happy is not a commodity solely owned by the paired-off couples of this world. In Anthony Storr’s book, “Solitude A Return to the Self,” he cites account after account of people that found their Nirvana in the absence of the company of others. It’s as if they’re soul-mates with themselves. While at the same time, he acknowledges “the need to be loved for being oneself is one of the highest needs we have.” If this is true, all solitude must eventually break and we must rejoin the group. In the absence of that which I am not, that which I am is not. People need other people (whether they like them or not) to define themselves. We use people as mirrors to help us recognize who we are. To me, soul-mates are people who can see past the façade of clothes, fine cars, expensive houses and stupid jokes and know who we are underneath it all. Someone once told me that when you can sit on the throne and do a #3 (that’s a #2 plus a #1), and carry on a full conversation with your partner, you’ve probably found your soul-mate. If you run out of toilet paper and they bring you a new roll and don’t just toss it to you, then you’ve definitely found your soul-mate! But let’s get back to the original question.

HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU HAVE TO MEET IN ORDER TO FIND YOUR SOUL-MATE?

While this seems like the hardest question of all, it was always the easiest. The answer is 23. Well at least 23 to have a decent shot; you know, at least a 50/50 chance. While this number may seem extremely small to you, the producers of all the reality TV shows already know this fact. That’s why the Bachelor and Bachelorette of reality TV always start off with 25 people to pick from (they rounded 23 to 25), because they want at least an even money shot at true love. Why 23? Simple. It’s based on an old math puzzle called “The Birthday Paradox” which asks, “How many people do you have to put in a room before you have a 50/50 chance that two of them will have the same birthday?” The answer is 23. All of you non-mathematicians can scroll to the bottom of this article to read the explanation of “The Birthday Paradox.”

Let’s continue. Go ask any married couple how many people they had to date before they found their true love. Go ahead, ask anybody. I guarantee that nobody will give you an answer larger than 365. See the correlation? 365 days in the year, 365 dates, max, to find true love. Using the Birthday Paradox, we can turn the very complicated question of love and soul-mates into a numbers game. Go out with 23 people; pick them carefully. At the end of the process, one half of you will be married. Don’t believe me? Go see. Two more things to remember: 1) Almost 1/3 of all men will never marry and almost 1/4 of all women will never marry. Marriage doesn’t necessarily equal happiness. 2) Before anyone is ever going to fall in love with you, you’d better be in love with yourself. If you can’t sell yourself to you, then why should anyone else bother? Last question: What element does chance play? If you ask the romantics; none—it’s all destiny!

 

THE BIRTHDAY PARADOX
By Dave Reitzes

Just how likely is it that, in a group of people, two of them will have the same birthday?

To simplify this question a bit, let’s ignore leap years and assume that each year has 365 days.

If there are two people in a room, the odds of having the same birthday are one in 365.* The probability is therefore 0.0027. That’s pretty unlikely.

Suppose you have three people in the room: A, B and C.

There are three possibilities for two of them to have the same birthday. A and B might. A and C might. Or B and C might.

What is the probability that two of the three will have the same birthday? We have to start by noting that the probability of A and B not having the same birthday is 364/365 = 0.99726.

Thus the probability of A and B not having the same birthday and B and C also not having the same birthday is .99726 x .99726 = 0.994528.

And it follows that the probability of A and B not having the same birthday and B and C also not having the same birthday and A and C not having the same birthday is .99726 x .99726 x .99726 = 0.9918.

Following this logic, when there are five people in the room there are ten possibilities for two of them to have the same birthday (4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 10), and if there are six people in the room there are 15 possibilities (5 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 15).

In this latter case (six people in the room), the probability of none of the six having the same birthday is:

(364/365)15 = 0.959683

Therefore there are about four chances in a hundred that at least two of the people will have the same birthday.

Since the number of possibilities of two people having the same birthday increases roughly as the square of the number of people, the probability of at least two having the same birthday rises rapidly as the number in the room increases. With 20 people in the room, there are 190 opportunities for two people having the same birthday.

The probability that no two will is:

(364/365)190 = 0.59377

Repeating the analysis with 30 people, the probability is:

(364/365)435 = 0.30318

In other words, the odds are only three in ten that no two people will have the same birthday.

by Fred Cuellar

The Want Dichotomy (Instant Gratification vs. Delayed Gratification)

Do you have things you want? My guess is you do. Maybe you’d like a new diamond ring, a new car, a vacation. Wanting is an interesting emotion. It’s kinda like the adolescent child of need. What is so interesting to me about wanting something is how illogical and fickle that want may be. Want is very moody. I’ve made note of a few of the obsessive, compulsive tendencies of want and grouped them all together so that maybe we can try to understand ourselves better or at the very least forgive ourselves for doing something “just because we wanted to.”

“Seven of the Idiosyncrasies of Want”

1. We want what we cannot have.
I don’t know why we want what we don’t have. If we really wanted something that bad we would find a way to get it. The clearest way to differentiate a want from a need is your willingness to do anything to get a need. I’m not a big fan of needs either. The minute you announce to the world you need something, Happiness is told to take a time-out till the need is fulfilled. Happy and Need can not coexist.

2. What we have we do not want.
This is why we are always having garage sales. You know the old saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The unwillingness to love and appreciate the things we do have in our lives maybe one of society’s greatest faults. We work long and hard to get something, then work just as hard trying to get rid of it. We end up back in the same place, back to where we started. I love the saying “Let’s go already so we can get back.” Heck! Why go? I wish everything came with a lifetime return policy (non perishable goods). That way if it turns out our want was unjustified we could start over with a clean slate. E-bay is a classic example of people who don’t appreciate what they have and want to unload it. A shopper should ask himself BEFORE making a purchase of some used item. “If this seller doesn’t want it, why do I?”

3. If others we respect or admire get it (the thing we want) we want it more.
If there is such a thing as guilt by association, people must believe in happiness by association. “Geez, so and so over there looks happy, they have that thing I want, ergo if I get it I’ll be just as happy!” How in the heck do you know that thing they have is what they are happy about? Maybe they just got a winning bid on e-bay and are tickled because they are finally able to unload an item they compulsively bought in the first place.

4. We want what everyone can’t have.
Maybe this has something to do with our own individuality. In order to stand out from the crowd we ought not look like them. Common sense would seem to imply that if everybody has something it must be great and that would make us want to join the group. This logic of course is faulty. We only tend to want what is rare and difficult to obtain. The masses can’t have it. Many people have disagreed with me on this one but I’m usually able to convince the doubter by saying “If everyone could buy a 1ct diamond for one dollar would it be as special?”

5. The harder something is to obtain the more we appreciate it.
Just look to lottery winners to know how true this is. The suicide rate of lottery winners is over twice that of non lottery winners. While instant gratification sounds great, it is as filling as a Chinese meal an hour after you eat it. As a society we are taught at an early age if you want to get any where its going to take hard work. For this reason, wants that are easily satisfied are the least appreciated. Wants, like a brand new home which are expensive and difficult to obtain are our most prized possessions. Even when picking a mate the one that “plays hard to get” usually gets the second date.

6. If something is truly great it should not be available or be in short supply.
I have seen countless commercials where someone goes rushing into a toy store to buy the “it” toy of the moment to find there is only one left! The guy puts it in high gear, races to the toy, grabs it and proclaims “I GOT THE LAST ONE!! It’s almost like he’s as happy that no one else is able to get one as he is with purchasing the item. As a species it’s hard for me to understand the mentality that something’s value is higher if most of us can’t have it.

7. People want to go where nobody can get in. If they get in they tend to think about whether they want to go.
Gallagher used to tell a joke about a kid who continually skipped school. When they caught him they punished him by suspending him! Like this makes a lot of sense?! He won’t come, we won’t let him! We are a people that don’t know what we want, where we want to go and who we want to be with. Most of us don’t know who we are. We jump from marriage to marriage, purchase to purchase looking for that golden ticket that will quench our thirst for happiness. Our biggest fear is that opportunity will knock and we won’t be there to answer the door. When I was a kid my dad taught me a valuable lesson about wanting. He told me “no matter how bad you want something, walk away. If when you wake up tomorrow you still want it, go buy it. If you follow this one little rule you’ll be having a lot less garage sales and appreciating the things you do have a lot more.”

Remember: The person with the most toys leaves the most toys behind.

by Fred Cuellar

Twilight Zone

The following story is respectfully offered for your consideration. It concerns two people—Kathy Kitson and Tom Sherman—but they are from another galaxy and another time. They live quite simply in the Twilight Zone.

“Everybody knows, don’t you think?” asked Kat.
” I do. I think most people can tell we’re a couple,” replied Tom.
” It’s not like we’re breaking the law,” said Kat.
” Fifty years ago, what we’re doing would have been against the law,” he reminded her.
” Thank goodness we didn’t live back then!” She exclaimed.

Tom took Kathy into his arms and held her. Outside of their two bedroom loft on the outskirts of suburbia, they still turned heads when they walked hand in hand down the street. Most people just looked the other way, but there was occasional trouble.

A recent heckler had yelled, “Blasphemers! Don’t you realize that what you’re doing defies God’s will!?”

“Well, if God is against two people loving each other, caring for each other, then He’s no God to me!” said Tom to the busy-body who didn’t want to mind his own business. Tom and Kat had just finished grocery shopping and were putting their last bag into their sedan. The heckler continued, “The Bible clearly states that a man should only lie down with a man and a woman should only lie down with a woman. A man and a woman are only supposed to come together to procreate! You’re breaking God’s laws!”

” Come on, honey,” said Kat. “Don’t listen to this idiot.” Kathy and Tom got into their car and drove away.

It didn’t make any sense to Tom. Who was he hurting? Why did anybody care what they did in the privacy of their own home? Kathy and Tom had always known they were different. When other kids were out hooking up with someone of the same sex, he couldn’t stop thinking about the opposite sex. He couldn’t help how he felt; he couldn’t help who he was attracted to. If there was a God, as Tom believed, and God made him, then he couldn’t believe what he was doing was wrong. While it seemed that society had finally allowed Tom and Kathy to live their lives their way, they still couldn’t enjoy the same rights of their “normal” friends: Health benefits, retirement benefits, nothing. They were allowed to be a couple, but they couldn’t legally be married. The President was trying to institute an amendment that marriage was only something between two men or two women. Opponents of O.S.M. (opposite sex marriages) said, “Where is it going to stop? If you allow a man and a woman to come together, what’s next? Polygamy? Incest? Communes? God made Adam and Steve, not Adam and Eve! Eve only showed up when they decided they needed an incubator to make babies!”

On the internet, articles could be found for and against O.S.M.:

In the “For” Column:
  • “Because our country has been founded on a constitution, in which all people are created equal; we cannot deny the basic human legal right of marriage to a class of individual due to their sexual preference.
  • “The right to choose whom a person marries is a fundamental right protected by the constitution. A provincial court argued that the emotional bonds for same and opposite sex couples are identical and so should be their legal rights.”

The Rebuttals:
  • Only same sex partners could make good parents.
  • Children need to be raised by non-biological parents. Otherwise, emotional ties will be too strong and could effect the emotional development of the child.
  • A child of opposite sex marriages will be subject to hate. This in effect punishes the child who has done nothing wrong.

Tom wished there was a world out there where a person wasn’t judged by the partner he chose, but by his character. But, he knew it was a dream. But that’s where all great change occurs; from the birth of a dream.

Tom and Kathy are from another place, another galaxy, another time, yet we are all caught at the same crossroads…in the Twilight Zone.

 

Story by:
Fred Cuellar

The Interview with God

Me:

I dreamed I had an Interview with God.

God:

“So you would like to interview me?” God asked.

Me:

“If you have time,” I said.

God:

God smiled. “My time is eternity…what questions do you have in mind for me?

Me:

“What surprises you most about humankind?”

God:

God answered… “That they get bored with childhood, they rush to grow up, and then long to be children again.”

“That they lose their health to make money…and then lose their money to restore their health.”

“That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live in neither the present nor the future.”

“That they live as if they will never die, and die as though they had never lived.”

Me:

God’s hand took mine and we were silent for awhile. And then I asked, “As a parent, what are some of life’s lessons you want your children to learn”?

God:

“To learn they cannot make anyone love them.” All they can do is let themselves be loved.”

“To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others.”

“To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness.”

“To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in those they love, and it can take many years to heal them.”

“To learn that a rich person is not one who has the most, but is one who needs the least.”

“To learn that there are people who love them dearly, but simply do not yet know how to express or show their feelings.”

“To learn that two people can look at the same thing, and see it differently.”

“To learn that it is not enough that they forgive one another, but they must also forgive themselves.”

Me:

“Thank you for your time,” I said humbly. “Is there anything else you’d like your children to know?”

God:

God smiled and said…

“Just know that I am here.”

“Always.”

Story by:
Anonymous

Think About This

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesnít cost a cent. Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

HOW TO STAY YOUNG
  1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctor worry about them. That is why you pay him/her.
  2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
  3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” And the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s.
  4. Enjoy the simple things.
  5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
  6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.
  7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
  8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
  9. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, to the next county, to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.
  10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Story by:
George Carlin

The Secret of The Four Triads

When I was in high school, one of my first jobs (where you get a real paycheck, learn who FICA is and why he gets a cut of your money) was working at a magic shop. My job was to do magic tricks for customers who wandered in and, hopefully, get them so intrigued that they would buy the trick to learn the secret. Everyone loved the show, but few were curious enough to pay and learn how to perform the trick. They just moved on. Everyday, incredible, magical things happen before our very eyes–opportunity, happiness, joy, love– and many of us don’t bother to ask what the secret is to the magic. Why is that guy so happy? How is that couple so much in love? How did that guy get to be so rich? Luck? Hard work? Fate? For years I’ve been looking for answers to these questions. What I’m about to share with you won’t make any cognitive sense, but I do believe it will elicit an emotional response. I want to share with you the mystery behind the Calatrava Cross; the Secret of the Four Triads.

At high end jewelry stores that sell watches, you will find that the most expensive watches in the world are manufactured by the Patek Phillipe Company. (See photo 1) Some of their watches go for over one million dollars. If you flip over some of their watches (See photo 2) or look at the crown (See photo 3) you will notice an interesting cross. This is where the story begins. The year is 1998.

 
Calatrava Philippe Patek

 

After recovering from a stroke and taking a six month sabbatical, I decided I would treat myself to a new watch. Since I was young, I always knew that the finest timepieces in the world were Pateks and hoped someday to own one. I wasn’t exactly sure how successful someone had to be in order to own one, but I figured having enough money to pay for the watch was good enough for me—my wait was over. From the minute I put on the Patek Phillipe, I could sense something different about myself. I’m not sure if it was self-confidence, but I definitely felt more reassured and in control. Over the next few months, as my health improved, my relationship with my wife seemed to be at an all-time high and everything was going remarkably well with my friends, family and business. That’s when I noticed the cross on the back of my watch. Curiosity led me to the manufacturer’s website where I read about the “Calatrava Cross.” Apparently, Patek, one of the founders of the company, had chosen this insignia to protect each watch and bring good fortune to the wearer. Nowadays, picking a logo that is recognizable is nothing new (Nike’s swoosh, Mercedes Benz’ logo, Ralph Lauren’s Polo), but back in the 1850’s it wasn’t as common. Patek, as it turned out, was very superstitious. His favorite saying was, “I’d rather be lucky than talented any day.” So I’m sure it seemed somewhat odd when he told Phillipe, his partner, that this Calatrava Cross (used by the Knights of the Calatrava) would not only protect them, but bring them the success they desired, to create the greatest watch company in the world. Their dream came true.

According to company legends, Patek had stumbled upon the secret of the Calatrava Cross that, up until that time, had only been known to the Popes! He discovered that in 1158, Pope Gregory VIII, in a desperate attempt to fight off the Moors and save Christianity, had commissioned shepherds from the fields to fight as knights. They were known as the Knights of the Calatrava. The Pope took the name of an old Moorish castle that had been liberated (The Calatrava Castle) and placed it on four fleur-de-lis like anchors that united in the center (See photo below) and told the shepherds that the cross would bring them victory in battle against the superior forces of the Moors.

 

Calatrava Cross

Outnumbered more than ten to one, the Knights of the Calatrava were still victorious. The Calatrava Cross had truly protected them.

After Patek passed away, it was rumored that he left behind a journal (I can offer no proof ). In the journal was the explanation, secret if you will, of the power of the Calatrava Cross and how it’s unleashed. Supposedly, its origin dates back to 2560 B.C., and over the millennia its secret came into the hands of the Pope and then passed on from one Pope to the next. Patek apparently believed that if he harnessed the power of the Four Triads (Calatrava Cross) he would find success in life, and immortality for his soul. What follows are the bits and pieces of what all my research has uncovered on what the Four Triads are and how to harness their energy. Crazy? Maybe, but please read on.

 

THE FOUR TRIADS

1. THE TRIAD OF TIME:
First, there had to be time, the past, present and future. How we interact with time and use it for comparisons, goals and achievements becomes critical to our mastery of time. I believe there are three different types of “time” people–people who live in the past; people who live in the present; and people who live in the future.

 

“Past” People

“Past” people are relatively easy to spot. They are always reminiscing about some wonderful past period that the present just can’t live up to. Conversely, there was some traumatic event that has frozen them in time and won’t allow them to move forward. While it’s natural to use past experiences as a reference point to appreciate things we experience today, these past comparisons are a double-edged sword. When great things happen to us, it’s important to remember that each moment of extreme joy eventually passes away. Worse, that great accomplishment, if relived over and over, can end up being a rope around our neck if we expect to keep matching or topping that moment. One of the hardest things for professional athletes to do is to let go of their playing days and adjust to the everyday world that doesn’t include paparazzi and autographs.

Traumatic events are no different. The “why me?” syndrome can shatter a person’s life when a significant tragedy, such as a death, loss of a job or divorce finds its way into our lives. While most people are hard-wired to eventually find the silver lining, not all of us make the transition. Many of us get stuck on pause and don’t allow ourselves to experience new events. If you’re always looking back, you’ll never see where you’re going.

 

“Future” People

“Future” people share a fate similar to past people in that they spend very little time in the present. They spend their time fantasizing or dreading the future. The positive attitude “future” people tend to believe that tomorrow is destined to be better than the present. These people can be found everywhere—from habitual lottery ticket buyers to young people who can’t wait to grow up. Even your average Joe or Jane can easily get caught up in the idea that true happiness is a place somewhere in the future. You hear people all the time saying “When I get that new promotion, I’ll be happy. When I get my driver’s license, I’ll be happy. When I turn 21…get married…have a new house…a soul mate…kids…I’ll be happy.” Happy ends up being a place in the far-off future, just out of reach. What these futurists don’t realize is that they subconsciously rule out the possibility of being happy in the present. Happiness isn’t something that happens; it’s something you decide to be. Negative futurists are so consumed with a negative future that they fail to see the point in living. One suicide patient I talked to told me “We’re all going to die anyway. What’s the point?” Many times, futurists had horrific childhoods and feel that more of the same will be served up so let’s quit now. Life is a game and I don’t want to play anymore. I’ll grant you that life doesn’t come with guarantees, but you would probably find it very boring if it did. Someone once said, “Life isn’t fair, but that it is unfair to everyone, makes it fair.” A life spent worrying about events that may or may not happen is a life I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

 

“Present” People

The “present” people are the ones holding the Golden Ticket. The smart ones realize that first and foremost, we are not our past and regardless of what happened, it should have little effect on how we experience or appreciate this very moment. The smart “present” people also realize that we are pretty lousy at predicting the future and we should not waste much time worrying about events that may or may not become a reality. Don’t let a lot of sunny days go by that you will never get back.

When you’ve mastered time, you’ve mastered the moment. You accept an equal helping of the past and future and plan accordingly; but spend most of your days being in the moment–loving now, living now, eating now, exercising now. You’ve mastered time when you come to the realization that it’s always “now.”

 

2. THE TRIAD OF LIFE:

If you’re lucky enough to have mastered the use of time, you move on to the second stage—Life. Most people concur that all of us have a mind, body and soul (soul being a more personal belief). If you’re going to have a chance of living in Joyville, you need to recognize that one of the three parts (body, mind, soul) is in charge. Like a pack of animals, there is always the Alpha that is running the show. Two of our individual parts will always be dominated by the third.

 

“Body” People

“Body” people are easy to identify (just like past people and futurists). Just watch someone for a while. Do most of the decisions they make end up benefiting the body in some way or another? I’ll give you some examples: Body builders, anorexics, junkies, binge eaters, overweight people, and sun-worshipers. These are all people who make decisions in their lives that will one way or another effect their body. In essence, their bodies are calling the shots. If the body wants food—it gets it. If it wants drugs, to work out, take a nap, drink alcohol, it gets it. While the mind has some say in the matter, in the end, the cravings of the body will win. Body-decision driven people are everywhere. Just take a look at the number of overweight people in our country and it will become apparent our bodies are making the decisions. In the end, body people can’t sustain happiness. Whatever quick fix they get from sun-bathing, eating too much, etc., eventually levels off. Then the body runs this vicious cycle in an attempt to chase the high. While no one can deny that physical pleasures are nice, we can’t allow them to decide how we spend every waking moment. Also, the body is well aware that time is its enemy—that someday it will cease to exist—so it tends to gravitate toward what’s best now and never prepares for the future at all. This creates an imbalance. While we have already learned that being in the moment is critical to a happy life, ignoring the future and not spending some time preparing for it is a recipe for disaster. If you’re a body person, you will always be chasing happiness and, even though you catch it once in a while, it will always slip through your fingers.

 

“Mind” People

Minders, or over-analytical people, are also easy to spot. Every decision they make must make sense. Two plus two must always equal four; what goes up must come down; if the sun rises in the East, it must set in the West. Minders make very good accountants, engineers and architects. Anywhere mathematics can be applied, anywhere logic rules, minders are at ease. Introduce philosophy, religion, emotion and minders are on less stable ground. While living an objective life seems practical, there are very few things in this world that are entirely objective. Relationships, people, love, joy, sadness, depression are all hard to put a quantitative spin on. Love is something that defies logic. Wants, needs, passions, expectations are far more subjective than objective. Minders spend very little time smiling unless they can crunch enough numbers to give them a good reason. If all our emotions are forced to be filtered through our brains, we’re going to be left without all the good stuff. Spontaneity, joy, exhilaration rarely can be laid out on a spread sheet and calculated in advance. Minders get lost in a web of their own making– usually watching the sunset while they wait for the latest data to come in. Since minders’ self-esteem is logic derived, they hate to be wrong; hence take fewer chances; hence try to live safe. But that’s where they have it wrong. Life is to be devoured, not placed in a Tupperware container on the shelf for safe keeping. The brain also knows it will someday die and it will always make decisions that protect its self interest. Relationships, bungee jumping, parasailing will all be avoided because the mind usually knows that if the body dies, the brain follows. While I’m not suggesting that everyone take life-threatening risks, I am saying that to avoid all risk is the greatest risk of all. Minders are rarely happy because the biggest risk is believing in love, and love is seen as something very difficult, if not impossible, to quantify. Minders tend to be loners. Without the company of others—without having someone to bounce ideas off of—our lives quickly lose meaning. It’s rather sad—in order for minders to protect themselves, they build barriers, yet it is these same barriers that end up suffocating the logic-driven mind.

 

“Soul” People

As you probably already guessed, in order to master your life, you must be soulful. While soulful people have a great respect for the mind and body, the soul knows it will never die. Believe me, there is great comfort in believing no harm will come to you. Decisions are much easier to make when you don’t believe your life is on the line. Soulful people have an inner glow that lights up a room. In a sense, they are people that epitomize love. You’ve seen the bracelets and bumper stickers that ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” Soulful people approach situations and problems in a similar manner by asking the question, “What would love do?” In fact, soulful people rarely see anything as a problem. Everything seems to take the form of an opportunity—an opportunity to grow, to learn, to remember. Soulful people seem to know something we don’t. I guess that’s why they are always smiling. I once asked all the happiest people I know in my life what the heck they were so happy about, and they each tended to give the same answer. They were just so grateful for everything and everyone in their lives, that they truly saw their lives as blessed. When I pointed out that there were certainly things, from my point of view, that could cause them unhappiness, once again they all seemed to have the same response, “It could always be worse, so I’m grateful.” I’ve always believed, personally, that happiness isn’t something that can be bought or rented at Blockbuster. To see that joy is nothing more than how we decide to view our lives makes a lot of sense. You have mastered your life when you realize that how you feel is only a decision away—your decision.

 

3. THE TRIAD OF AWARENESS:Mastery of time and life are critical in being a happy, joyful person, but they represent only part of the puzzle. The third piece is awareness. I refer to the attitude a person brings to the table about the things they are doing in their life and the goals they strive for. There are three types of awareness people—the hopefuls, the believers and the knowers.

 

“The Hopefuls”

The “hopefuls” seem to believe that they have little control over what happens in their lives. They can be extremely hard workers, but believe chance plays an integral part. Hopefuls are fond of saying, “I hope it works out. All we can do is hope for the best. I hope I get the promotion. I hope he pops the question.” Hope is a word that should be eliminated from your vocabulary if you want to strive for a happier life. Every time you use the word “hope,” you signal to the world the preferred outcome that you are wishing for. You also express to the world that there is a non-preferred outcome (the opposite of what you are wishing for). Where hope lives, doubt and regret are never be far behind. If there are two things in this world that are love-enders, they are doubt and regret. Literally, from the time you say the word “hope,” you relinquish your power to do anything about the situation and you create a void of uncertainty. Love can live in many places, but it can’t live in uncertainty. Hopeful people tend to be followers and not leaders–lambs who follow the flock and let life happen instead of creating a life of their choosing. Even if you live for the moment and act from your heart, you can never truly be happy if you can’t elevate your state of awareness. This is where believers come in.

 

“The Believers”

To believe in something is far stronger than to just hope for it. It is a defining statement, not a wishful one: “I believe it will work out. I believe it’s the best choice. I believe I will get the promotion. I believe he will pop the question.” To believe in something is not only a form of expression, but a way to define yourself: “I believe in women’s rights. I believe in God. I believe in love.” Believers tend to live extremely happy lives because they have chosen to stand for something. While believers are much more aware of their surroundings and their ability to change what happens, they still leave the door open to doubt and regret. When outcome doesn’t meet expectation—watch out! Believers get very upset! And, of course, expecting an outcome is the Achilles’ heel of believers. They honestly believe that there is a preferred outcome for every situation. Leonardo DaVinci once said, “Experience does not err, it is judgment that errs in promising itself results.” While believers are a thousand times better off than the hopefuls, it is not until you come from a place of knowing that there is no “wrong” outcome will experience lose its ability to inflict pain in your life. The reality of any event may be undisputable; its perception lies solely in your hands.

 

“The Knowers”

Think about the things you know. You know the sun will come up tomorrow. You know we breathe air. You know you are reading these words right now. To come from a place of knowing is to exclude any other possibility. Where there is knowing, there is no doubt. Where there is no doubt, there is happiness. Knowers don’t have some kind of sixth sense that allows them to predict the future; it’s just that knowers know if they do their best, “experience does not err,” just like DaVinci said, they have nothing to worry about. Knowers have the ability to look at any outcome and find the beauty in it. To knowers, nothing is good or bad. Either something represents you or it doesn’t, and if it doesn’t, you can let go of it. Knowers know instinctively that there are no coincidences—what has appeared in their lives, they created. No one else is to blame. When something occurs in a knower’s life they didn’t want, they realize they must hold onto it with both hands, accept it, not deny it before they can let go of it. You can’t let go of something you don’t have hold of. To know is to master awareness. To know that there are no accidents, no coincidences, and everything happens for a positive reason that they are to determine, is to own knowing. You can hope and believe something until the cows come home, but it is the knowers that run this world because they are the creators of it!

 

4. THE TRIAD OF CREATION:

For something to be created, it must first be conceived (thought), verbalized (word), and put into motion (action). Thought, word, action (T.W.A.); that’s how we create anything. There is a saying that goes, “There are those who wonder what happened, those who watch things happen and those who make things happen. This triad is about these types of people.

 

“The Dreamers”

Ask the graduating class of Any High School in Any City, USA if they believe they will be financially successful; over 97% will say yes. Yet, if you check in on our graduating class 20 years from now, you would find that less than 3% would define themselves as having achieved a high level of financial success. What happened? It’s one thing to dream it; it’s quite another to create a plan, tell the world of your plan, and actually do it. There is a reason Nike has had such enormous success with the slogan, “Just Do It.” It’s derived from this triad. Nike knows that the longer you spend thinking about something, the more reasons you find for not following through. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech starts with, “I have a dream…,” but it wouldn’t have meant anything if he hadn’t shared his dream with the world. Look hard at the people around you—the ones with a far-off look in their eyes—the ones you have to snap back to reality to make sure they are still listening to you. These individuals (call them daydreamers if you’d like) are contemplating a better life, a better existence, but aren’t going to do anything about it. When you ask them what they are thinking, “A penny for your thoughts,” they always reply, “Oh, nothing.” The easiest thing in the world to kill is an idea. People are so petrified of looking stupid, they don’t raise their hands to ask questions; don’t interrupt the boss with a better way to get something done. We are all geniuses in one way or another, but most of us die after lives of quiet desperation because we didn’t speak up, interrupt, raise our hand, or sit down in the front of a segregated bus. A day isn’t something you have to get through, but a gift that allows you to dream your impossible and possible dreams and go for it. Dreamers never get to see the view from the mountain top because they see the mountain as an obstacle instead of a stepping stone. To dream is beautiful—to be silent is deadly.

 

“The Talkers”

I once met a guy who said he was president of the Gonna Association. When I asked him what it was, he said he had gone through life saying “I’m gonna do this; I’m gonna do that; I’m gonna go skydiving; I’m gonna go run with the bulls.” But he never did it. Dreamers and Talkers are in the same boat in the sense that they both achieve nothing. In another sense, at least the talkers got their idea out for public consumption but still, in the end, failed to pull the trigger. I meet a lot of woulda, shoulda, coulda people in my life. Many of them have good intentions, but have no follow through— no stick-to-itiveness. I’ve been told by many people the biggest failure isn’t to try and fail, but to fail to try at all. I know it’s hard to believe that in the great big scheme of things one guy can make a difference, but what are we here for if we don’t at least step up to the plate? I know that everyone who comes into this world is on a mission. When we complete that mission, it’s time for us to go. I believe in my heart that there are no untimely deaths, just people who have fulfilled their destiny. Death is life’s reward for doing your job. Keep in mind that even someone who achieves nothing can still be used as a bad example. In their failure, they achieve—in their lethargy, they teach. People always ask me why bad things happen to good people. My response is, “If you think it was bad, then you haven’t figured out the blessing yet.” Most blessings take a while to recognize. Many times, it takes years to realize that what we labeled as “bad” was tagged incorrectly. I’m convinced that some of our greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. No doubt, if talkers spent half as much time doing the things they talked about, they would achieve many more failures. But mixed in with those failures will be successes that will boggle the mind. To achieve success is to embrace failure. They are two sides of the same coin. If you want to achieve true happiness, you have to spend a little of your time chasing rainbows and not worry so much about the pot of gold.

 

Action ­ “The Doers”

Thought, Word, Action—the three elements of creation. To act without thinking or planning can be as dangerous, if not more, than no action at all. I’m sure many a drunk driver wishes he had not gotten behind the wheel. Action for action’s sake is as impractical as either of the other parts of the triads are by themselves. To conquer or master this triad, thought, word and action must work together. Get the idea, plan it out, and get the ball rolling. Achievement is not possible if you don’t eventually stop the meetings, the training, the preparation and just do it. When you can live your life in the moment, use your heart as your compass, be aware that there are no accidents so that you can come from a place of knowing you are only one step away from coming full circle—and that is to take action. To create, to help others create; to teach, to learn, to be the student and the master; to be curious, to ask questions; to be a better person today than you were yesterday; to embrace change, to cause it; to do at least one thing every day that scares you in order to remember all the things you have to be grateful for. The secret of the four triads is to be present, soulful, knowing and active. These four elements will take you to one place and one place only—it will bring you home to yourself. Once you have found yourself– you will have found everything!

DCI has minted heirloom coins outlining the key elements of the Four Triads emblematic of the Calatrava Cross in all the precious metals (platinum, gold, silver), which can be handed down from generation to generation. These coins will serve as a daily reminder of the principles of the cross which have brought success and meaning to so many lives.

 

The Four Triads Heirloom Coin

by Fred Cuellar

Letters

Dear Readers,

Four months ago, the son of a very close friend of mine committed suicide.  These are our letters.

Monday, August 02, 2004 1:38 PM

Dear Fred,

I just wanted to let you know that I will be here but not readily available for a few days. There was a tragedy in my family yesterday – my son committed suicide yesterday evening.  I am not taking it very well. How ironic that when you finally feel that life is changing; getting better (for you) that another curve ball gets thrown at you.

Regards,

Melissa.

 

Friday, August 27, 2004  2:23 PM

Dear Fred,

Every time I read one of your newsletters, I am always deeply touched, usually with tears running down my face.  I have never met another person in my life that can gauge people the way that you do. Would you be willing, in your honorable opinion, to gauge me according to the Four Triads? I am so confused and mixed-up in my life right now that I feel like I don’t know who I am – if that makes sense. Even before this tragedy with T.R., I spent so much of my life making sure that everyone else was happy and exuding a persona to fit every situation that I’ve never had time to find out WHO I am. I realize certain aspects about me but it’s so hard when it is personally about you to decide what is normal, even though normal is a relative term.

I am trying so hard to stay focused and to keep busy so I don’t have time to dwell on the most catastrophic loss of my live – losing my son. I am intelligent enough to realize that I will never get over this incident, but, with time I hope to bring it to a manageable level. 

I so want to succeed. I so want to be happy and full of energy every morning when I open my eyes. I am trying so hard to stay busy and get this business going to feel fulfilled and to contribute to the happiness of others in a healthy positive way. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you don’t have time to duck and it can end-up being a direct shot to the body. (For example, I could never in a million years bat against Randy Johnson, that guy scares the bejeezus out of me). But, with luck and perseverance, we come through. We’re human, after all and adaptable. I will never be able to replace that part of my heart that died with T.R. but maybe my heart will grow larger to someday allow more joy to reside there.

So, would you, as an objective person define my traits, as you see them, according to the Four Triads? I would be very curious to hear what you have to say and it may even help me change what I don’t like about myself. If you decide not to, I would surely understand. It’s just that even after only meeting you one time; I hold you in the highest regard and am full of respect. You have achieved what other people only dream to achieve and I don’t mean monetarily, either.  You do touch people and you do care.

I haven’t looked at the prices of the Coins, I think I’m a little afraid too.   J   But, I know I would like to get one.  I don’t believe in luck – I believe you can be whatever you choose to be.  You just have to figure out how to follow the correct path to get you there.

Also, if I may ask one more question – does Jose’ do all of your jewelry designs? I only ask because at the funeral home they had these necklaces with pendants (cross, star, etc….) that you can use to place a small amount of a deceased person’s ashes in. I was not overly fond of their designs. I would need something hollow and sealable. My son’s name was Thomas Richard Gorman, III. If I can afford it, I would like to have some type of pendant or medallion made that said ‘TRG3.’ That way I can wear it and it will always be close to my heart because I just can’t bear the thought of being without him.

Lastly, in reading your newsletter, it made me think of a couple of quotes, some I’m sure you’re already familiar with:

“Don’t be afraid of dying; be afraid of the life you haven’t lived”

“Somewhere over the rainbow lies a new horizon to explore”

“Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow

 Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead

 Just walk beside me and be my friend”

Once again, thanks for taking time out of your busy day to ‘listen’ to me. Maybe you have heard it before but I feel some type of connection with you on a cerebral level, though in a million years, I will never be as intelligent and astute as you are.

Warmest regards and my best to LaTeace,

Melissa.

 

Friday, August 27, 2004  4:05 PM

Hi Melissa.

Please watch for a Fed Ex delivery from me on Saturday. I’m sending you a silver Four Triads Heirloom Coin. Although I am not a superstitious person, I do think it’s important sometimes to have something tangible that you can touch with both hands to remind us of the intangibles. That’s why I made the coin. If you know nothing else, when you’re holding the coin, at least you know you’re holding the coin. It’s for sure. It can help you to come from a place of knowing. 

Over the weekend, I will put pen to paper and give you my impressions; what I feel. I’ll email it to you on Monday.
I’m always here for you.

Fred

 

Sunday, August 29, 2004  11:56 PM

Good Morning, Fred, or in your case I guess it’s still Sunday for you.

I wanted you to know that there are not sufficient words for me to express the gratitude that I feel towards you for your nature and generosity. From the bottom of my heart I send the deepest sincere thanks for the joy you have brought into my life. I was home alone all weekend because Earl and the kids went to Virginia Beach for his middle son’s wedding; I didn’t even have a car to go anywhere so I spent the weekend alone. I felt that I couldn’t handle the event emotionally and did not want to ruin anyone’s one’s time in celebration. I knew that I could not watch my husband’s son get married without the thoughts that would consume me of knowing that my son is not here and will never marry and raise a family. I think the few days alone may have done me some good. I could cry and grieve all that I wanted without those around me worrying or feeling guilty because there was/is nothing they could ‘do’ for me.

Also, there has been a somewhat positive event in my life that makes me feel good. I have the pleasure and opportunity to tangibly to help another person. Last week I officially, through the courts, now have guardianship of my daughter’s best friend since 3rd grade, Amber. She has had a tough life. Her mother left her and her brother when she was 3 and it has just been the three of them all of these years living in a very remote trailer park. Her father agreed to do this because it will make her happy. I have felt like she is one of my own since she was 8.  She has very little contact with her mother and I know that she holds so much anger and hurt inside. I want to be here for her, and Becca, as much as I can. This is the first time in her life that she will have health, dental and vision insurance. Unfortunately, she has never been to a dentist in her life. I am so proud to give her this opportunity in life. She is a sweetheart and an excellent student. 

I want to thank-you so much for the coin. It is beautiful, so beautiful in fact, that I am hesitant to take it out of the case. Reading what you write, how you inspire people truly makes me view my life differently and makes me want to be a better person. To reach out and touch people, it’s difficult for me because I don’t know how. Most of the time, I feel like such a ‘closed’ person and am scared to venture outside of what I am. I wish I had your skill.

As much as I appreciate your gift, my inner programming tells me that I should offer to pay you for it. I find it difficult, most times, to accept gifts from people. So, please let me know if I can pay you for it in some way. But, I did want to tell you that I did feel a connection just holding that coin in my hand. I felt a comfort that I can’t articulate.

Well, I am sure that I have taken-up enough of your precious time. But, I would like to ask you one small favor, if possible. I love the coin that you sent me and it will always have a special place in my heart, please don’t have one doubt of my appreciation. My favor is that if you would allow me, I would like to put one of the gold coins on a type of lay-away plan. If you could give me a price and a payment schedule, I promise you that I will adhere to whatever you would be willing to agree to. I would like to share the silver coin with my daughter. I had her read the literature regarding the coin and it appeared to touch her, too. For the record, I would not expect to receive the gold coin, if you agree to let me purchase one over time, until it was paid for. I don’t have a lot of immediate cash available especially after taking out a loan to pay for my son’s funeral. Also, if you think Jose’ could come-up with an idea for a medallion/urn as I discussed in my last e-mail, I would be greatly appreciate. I would need two – one for me and one for my daughter. Everything I had looked at looked tacky and I don’t do tacky. I just want something elegant and meaningful.

Anyway, I wish you the best of evenings and hope to talk to you soon. I really hope you enjoyed the milkshakes and I am so excited about Claudia’s baby, I’m not sure how to spell it – Calie? The only thing I wish I could have done while I was there was to meet your father, Hector. Maybe someday soon I can make another trip.

Sweet dreams and sleep well.

Warmest regards,

Melissa Oaks

 

Monday, August 30, 2004  3:05 PM

Hi Melissa,

After giving it a lot of thought, I realized there were some questions I needed answers to in order to make an informed evaluation.
  1. What is your biggest regret?
  2.  Name the top ten things (in order) that you love.
  3.  What is your most prized possession?
  4.  Do you believe your son’s death was an accident?
  5.  Does the past depend on the future?
  6.  What is your definition of a successful person?
  7.  What is your #1 fear?
  8.  Name ten things you doubt.
  9.  What was your happiest moment?
  10.  Why do you believe man was put on earth?
  11.  Do you believe thought creates reality?
  12.  Is happiness an expectation that becomes a reality?  Yes or no and why?

P.S.  One of our clients is the largest funeral home company in the world.  We’re checking with them now to see what kind of pendants they might have available.  We’ll let you know as soon as we find out.

Thanks so much for the milk shake!

Fred

 

Monday, August 30, 2004  5:23 PM

Good afternoon, Fred

After reading your questions and giving them all careful consideration, I have come up with the following (good or bad):

Regrets

I don’t believe in them. I surely have made some poor choices in my life but if I had not done what I did, when I did it, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.

Top ten things in order that I love:
  1. My children
  2. My husband
  3. My best friend, Charles, who lives in Dallas
  4. My best friend, Maryam, who lives in San Diego
  5. The smell of fresh cut grass
  6. My parents
  7. To make someone smile
  8. Reading Books
  9. Watching movies
  10. Something that I’ve done that came out perfectly.

Most prized possession

I would like to say my daughter but I do not ‘own’ her.

I think it would have to be:

Tangible – my 1800’s lap desk

Intangible – the sureness that I feel that I am a good and honorable person.

My son’s death

Yes and No:  Did he choose to hang himself? Yes and I believe that in the manner in which he did it sent a very powerful message to his father that he will never get over.

Would he have committed suicide if drugs had not been involved? No, I don’t think so.

Does the past depend on the future

No, it doesn’t depend on but can change the future if you choose to let it.

Definition of a successful person

A person that is truly happy in what they do for a living or just living the (good) life that they have chosen.

No. 01 fear

To feel stupid, unprepared or inadequate in any situation.

Ten things that I doubt

Myself

My competence in raising a child

My strength

My self esteem

That I will die a success

That I have the guts to stand-up to someone unless it involves my children.

That I will ever be ‘normal’ because of my dysfunctional upbringing

That I will make a difference in this world

That people, outside of my immediate circle, have a clue of whom I am

Happiest Moment

Finding out that I was in remission from cancer and finally finding someone that believed the way that I do, as I have felt like an outsider to general society for as long as I can remember. Finding out that maybe there wasn’t/isn’t something terribly wrong with me because I ‘thought’ differently than most people; that I was not alone in my thoughts, values, etc…….

Man on Earth

I honestly do not know. But, I do feel that is was not to endure all of the ugliness that resides within our lives and communities. I would say that man has the ability to learn in order to teach the next generation.

Thought creating reality

Yes, I do, if you choose to let it or pursue it or allow yourself to follow your dream.

Happiness as an expectation

No. To me, complete happiness defines perfection in our lives and personally, I find most types of human perfection boring.  But, I do love the symmetry of perfection in objects. I have taught myself to never get my hopes up, that way I can never feel let-down or disappointed

Well, I hope that none of the above scared you or made you groan and I hope I adequately answered so that you can make your evaluation. Also, if you think I’m ready for that straight jacket, don’t be afraid to say so. J  

Please let me know if you need anything further. All you need to do is ask.

Have a wonderful evening,

Melissa.

 

Tuesday, August 31, 2004  12:42 PM

Hi Melissa,

Here’s my opinion, for what it’s worth:

An experience is defined as something that is perceived, understood and remembered. It is our experiences that define us.  For the triad of time to be conquered, not only must someone live in the moment (I don’t believe this is a problem for you), they must be able to correctly assess the past and garner the fruit from it. To forget the past is to lose all the lessons it can teach you. With that said, we are not our past. What we choose to be at any moment is up to us.  People, however, will want to label us based on their past experiences with us so they can be “right” about us in their little world. This is where I believe you get off track; instead of creating an internal compass to guide you where to go, you’ve allowed those around you to tell you where to go. Your past, your present and your future was and probably still is perpetuated not on what you desire but on those around you. You are literally a space traveler with no sense of time. While it is great to have no regrets, it’s possible that you have sugar-coated real truths about your past and didn’t learn the true lesson from many past experiences. When we fail to learn from the past, we are destined to repeat it. I believe, in a way, you are stuck on auto pilot.

Of course, the advantage of allowing others to make decisions for you is it takes the responsibility away from you when things go “bad.” (I don’t believe in good or bad, just in what represents you or doesn’t.) The problem with this fail-safe way of life is it doesn’t allow you to accept responsibility for your accomplishments. Since your actions were pre-determined by others, how can you possibly have a feeling of self-worth?

In the triad of life, I believe you are a very soulful person. You lead with your heart and epitomize kindness to others.  Your big problem here is with your list of the top ten things you said you love.  Guess what?!  You’re not on the list!  You have to #1. How can you give love without being it? Last time I checked, there was only one Melissa Oaks! You are one of a kind! That makes you a miracle! You have to know that if you are to ever be truly happy.

In the triad of awareness you crumble. Love cannot live where doubt exists. You must live a life where you realize there are no accidents, only blessings—a life without expectation; where you do your best, regardless if there is someone to put a gold medal around your neck. When you put your head on your pillow at night and KNOW you did you best, then you should overflow with gratitude. You must remove doubt from your life and accept and embrace even the things you don’t understand yet.

The triad of creation is a place where you excel. You are a prolific and talented writer. You are also probably good at other things, but I don’t know you well enough to point them out. You are determined and very goal oriented. I believe your biggest problem is just picking what to work hard at. While I want you to be whatever you are supposed to be (you have no choice), I believe some part of your future should be spent sharing your life experiences with others.  You are inspirational to me, and I’m not easily impressed. I would love it if you wrote short stories that I could publish on my website to inspire others.

In closing, you are a soul that is a little lost but only because your eyes are closed. As soon as you realize that you are one of God’s greatest creations, your live will move on. You need only ask two questions to yourself; where do I want to go and who am I taking with me? But never get them in reverse order. First you must decide who you want to be regardless of how others feel about it. You’ve spent your life trying to be what others want, it’s about time to take that responsibility on for yourself. And in that journey you will find you, beautiful you.

I hope that helps J

Fred

 

Friday, September 3, 2004  1:08 PM

Dear Fred,

First, I want to sincerely thank-you for the time and effort that you took in giving me your opinion. I do value your opinion and hold it in the highest regard. I apologize for not writing you back sooner. I’ve had a rough couple of days – just emotional ups and downs; September 01 was the one month anniversary of my son’s death. I have never felt such pain in my life and am looking forward to the day when I can have just one day without tears or wake up not dreaming about him. I’ve been going to grievance counseling and it’s helping somewhat but there is definitely a limit on what someone else can ‘do’ for you.

I have read your opinion, over and over and each time, it amazes me. Where did this innate talent and gift come from that makes Fred Cuellar? I wish I had your ability to so accurately read a person. Sometimes I think I am good at reading other people but when it comes to myself, well, I am just a mess. I can easily get mired down and overwhelmed and lose sight of whatever the real issue is.

I do think you are about 99% correct in your assessment of me. It is true; I have allowed my whole life, feelings and emotions to be dictated by others. Their needs, their expectations. I have always been so busy trying to gauge what it is that others want from me that I have never learned who I am. I realize now, through counseling, that this is why I had my melt down last July. I no longer had the emotional strength to put on that façade for all of the people around me. Years of hyper vigilance, in addition to the worry that consumed me about my son, just plain tuckered me out to the point where I didn’t want to interact with anyone. I didn’t/don’t know how to be ‘me’ and the thought of putting on that face – I just couldn’t do it anymore. That’s when I came to my room. My safety zone where I didn’t have to talk to anyone except my immediate family. Back in July, when I came to your offices, you cannot believe how proud of myself that I had actually made the trip. Even up to the moment of the plane departing from BWI, I was contemplating not coming. I was so anxious. But, it turned out to be such a positive event for me. You, Todd, Rick and the whole office staff made me feel so welcome and at ease. I came home feeling better and feeling proud that I had done it.  Then, two weeks later my son died and I have regressed. I am once again struggling but this time for different reasons. I know I will get better. Life will never be the same but I will move forward with the passing of time.

You referred to my internal compass, in your first paragraph. You hit the nail on the head. I don’t know who the real me is but I am working on it weekly with my counselor. In addition to my diagnosis of major depression, general anxiety and some OCD issues (boy, am I a joy to be around!), I also suffer from the Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome. My role, as it were, was to try my best to make everyone happy and to never rock the boat. I never want anyone angry at me, I never want confrontation and I obsessively worry about what other people think of me or how, or if, they are judging me. These are the issues that I am working on. On one hand, this event with my son has so consumed me that I really could care less what anyone thinks of me right now. I have to learn how to hold on to that feeling. Not in a mean way but in a confident manner.

I completely agree with your paragraphs regarding self-worth, triads of life and awareness. When I got to the triad of creation, you made me feel good about myself. I do love to write, I always have. I’ve always felt that there is a comfort in writing and a measure of safety because usually I can write what I don’t have the confidence to say to someone face-to-face. Again, you are absolutely right when you say that my picking what to work hard at is difficult for me. I have always had this uncanny feeling that I know that I could excel at whatever I chose to excel at. I am a fast learner and tireless when it comes to figuring out how to do something. I get obsessive and terrier like until I feel comfortable with the subject or idea. I have just not found that one thing yet that truly sparks my passion. I am really starting to feel that way about the diamond business. I know I could do well with it, it just takes determination, time and money. I do like to make people happy and I can’t think of a woman on earth that a beautiful diamond wouldn’t make happy. I just have to get my butt back in gear and finish-up working on my web site and get my ball rolling. I ‘ve really allowed myself to become stagnant over the last few weeks, I feel with good reason. It’s not due to laziness because hard work doesn’t scare me a bit. 

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Thank-you again for all that you have done for me and if there is anything I can ever do for you, your family or your business, please let me know. On the phone, you asked if I’d be interested in writing an article for the website.  If you would like me to try and write something – you’d have to give me a topic? 

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and look forward to talking to you soon.

Regards,

Melissa.

 

Thursday, December 2, 2004  1:51 AM

Dear Fred,

I am so sorry it has been so long since I’ve spoken or written to you. Life just seems to get away from me. Minutes turn to hours, hours turn to days and before I know it, another day has passed. I honestly don’t know where the time has gone. I cannot believe that today (yesterday) was the four month anniversary of my son’s death. I still feel like it was such a recent event. Every single day, I berate myself for not have written your story yet. I feel like I am stuck in a time warp and don’t know how to get out. All of my days are spend in my room, I rarely venture downstairs and only go out of the house if I need to go to a counseling appointment. I am on five different medications, one of them an antidepressant and I am on the maximum dose. All of these medications affect my memory – I feel like an Alzheimer’s patient at times. I have to keep writing things down for I forget to do them. I am not concentrating very well and at times feel like I am caught-up in some bizarre spider web that I can’t make my way out of. To quote a country song ‘I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, sometimes I find it hard to breathe.’

My emotions vary from moment to moment and I never know what will trigger this immense sadness. A song on the radio (How Far is Heaven by Los Lonely Boys was his favorite song when he died), a television show (The Wire, shown on HBO and filmed completely in Baltimore and deals with police and drug trade), a picture, a memory – you name it, it is an endless array of bits and pieces of our, and his life, that hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t know what to do, counseling helps but there is only one thing that I want – I want my son back. An illogical and unrealistic ‘want’ but I do not care. I want to scream, I want, at times, to hit someone and demand that he be returned to me. For the first time in my life, I have verbalized my wish to give my own life to give him another chance. This evening, I was going through some papers and came upon a newspaper clipping where his name was listed as an excellent football player that had made a touchdown. I was reduced to tears for about an hour. 

I have tried so hard to come to closure about many things but when a parent loses a child over a suicide become just another word listed in Webster’s. I have made myself endure very painful things hoping that in some way I could find an answer. I went a picked-up a copy of the police report, I ordered a copy of the autopsy report – both items probably the two most painful documents I have ever read excluding his death certificate. I refuse to visit that part of my brain that would lead me down the path of ‘would have, could have, and should have’; I know in my heart that I did everything that I could. It was his decision, not mine but this seems irrelevant. I have been such a logical person all of my life and this is the first time that logic has miserably failed me. I cannot find solace.

I am going to be very graphic and tell you a few things – images that I cannot get out of my mind. I have not told these to anyone except my husband and counselor. If you do not wish to read them, please skip over them and accept my apologies. Also, it seems that the few friends that I had have abandoned me. Maybe they feel I am too depressed to be around, maybe they don’t know what to say to me. I have my husband, Earl and he has been my rock, my touchstone, my trusted companion. I cannot speak to my ex-husband as I cannot trust a word that spews from his mouth. In his case, he would lie even if the truth sounded better. Please trust me, these are not the bitter words of an ex-wife, they are simply the truth.

Okay, here are the images I cannot get out of my mind, so, once again, if you choose not to read them, please skip over this part. I just feel like I need to write it, to get it OUT. If anyone would understand this, I think you would. If I offend you in any way, I truly apologize.
  1. The night that I got the news that T.R. had died, Earl rushed me to the hospital ASAP. There was a Patient Advocate assigned to my family and she was one of the most calming, caring people I have ever met. It finally came time to go back and ‘see’ T.R. if we wish to do so. As much as I dreaded it, I could not, not go. My husband and I were led through a series of hallways from the chapel and soon we became upon a door. Inside that door, I did not know what to expect. I just held tightly to my husband’s hand with tears streaming down my face. When we went through the door, my son was lying on a gurney with a sheet that covered him from feet to neck. He was lying there face up and still had an intubations tube still protruding from his mouth. His skin was odd looking, he was extremely mottled. I pulled the sheet down to his torso and just looked at him. There were extreme abrasions and marks around his neck from his hanging by the belt that he used. I held his hands and rubbed him arms and talked to him through tears. I went to the end of the bed and pulled up the sheet to look at his feet. I was still in disbelief or denial, whatever terminology you want to use. My husband left to let me spend some time alone and I found myself sitting on the floor with my hand on his forehead and rubbing his head. I kept expecting him to breathe or to move. Knowing my son, I fully expected him to sit-up and just say ‘ha ha’, fooled you. But, obviously that didn’t happened. He felt cool and warm at the same time; I don’t have sufficient words to explain it.
  2. When my father arrived (he had been in Ocean City, MD in a fishing tournament), he finally decided that he wanted to go back to that small cubby room to see T.R. so I went with him. It was a great shock to him and for the first time in my life, I actually saw my father cry. I never knew he was capable – and that is said with no malice. Even when his own mother died, he never shed a tear. My father couldn’t take it and walked out, leaving me there alone. I did not want to leave. I would have given anything for him to wake-up for smile or to even wiggle a finger or toe.
  3. The next event that happened that was devastating was when I had to go to the funeral home to identify my son’s body. They have strict protocol that someone must positively identify the deceased to ensure that they received the correct remains back from the Coroner’s Office. Once again, I had to walk into a quiet room, with my husband and view my son. The most difficult part was that he was once again lying on a gurney but this time his body was encased in one of those heavy duty zip up bags that you see on television when they are transporting remains.  They only had the bag unzipped and pushed back far enough for me to view his face. The intubations tube had been removed but everything else seemed about the same. It was just so difficult to see him like that, zipped up in a bag.  Another visual memory that won’t dissipate.
  4. The last visual image of my son that I remember crystal clear was the day of his funeral. When the services were over, Earl and I went up and knelt in front of the casket. Again, all I wanted to do was for him to wake up. I took-off the diamond and gold ring that the children had given to me which said “Mom” on both sides and placed it in the casket with him, gently laying it on his chest. It was the absolute saddest day of my life.

So, I am hoping that this gives you a small indication of what my mind set is.  I truly apologize for not have written you a story, article yet – I just can’t seem to get my head around it.  I have not yet gotten to the point where I can focus on the positive instead of the negative. I also want to apologize for not sending a thank-you card yet but it is just not something that I can seem to write yet. I have not sent out any as of yet. Do you have any other topic(s) in mind?  I know I need to get out of this room before it becomes my prison.

Anyway, I just wanted to touch base with you and tell you that I have not forgotten my obligation.

Warmest regards,

Melissa.

 

Thursday, December 2, 2004  11:26 AM

Dear Melissa,

We live in a cold, thoughtless, unforgiving, hate-filled world. Do you believe me? I hope not. We live in a loving, thoughtful, forgiving, love-filled world. Do you believe me?  I hope not. To appreciate the joy, we need atrocity to compare it to.  I wish it weren’t so.  It is.  To try to forget something is to remember it more. Don’t forget the hospital room. Don’t forget the morgue. Every time those thoughts enter your mind, bless them. Give them a special place in your heart because they will trigger the touchdowns your son made on the football field.

One day I won’t be here. One day you won’t be either. Our jobs are to touch as many other lives as possible while we are here. You do that every time I hear from you. J

Congratulations for finishing your first article (your letter). With your permission, I would like to post is as a Christmas present for all my readers. It’s important in life to be reminded that those around us give us our greatest joy. And those who have left us remind us to hold tight to one another because one day we all leave. 

Your next article needs to be about your room…your prison…your day to day life. I will accept your article in form of a letter.

Best wishes,

Fred

P.S.  One man’s prison is another man’s castle.

 

Thursday, December 2, 2004  11:15 AM

Dear Fred,

I am actually astounded and was in tears after reading your e-mail. I wish I possessed your wisdom and articulation.  Do you seriously want to post my ‘letter?’ Here, I thought I was trying in my sometimes lame way to explain to you, to apologize to you for my lack of communication. Not one day has gone by that I haven’t thought of you, your kindness and my obligation – my word to you and it has been annoying the snot out of me that I had not come through for you.  Maybe I just didn’t know where to begin? If you would truly like to publish my letter, on its merit, then you have my full permission. I just truly hope that it does not offend anyone – the graphic depiction. I don’t want people running from your web site screaming. J That is MY job. 

Please give LaTeace my best and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Also, all of your office staff is such a great team. You have no idea how many times I wished I were there, working within such a wonderful group.

I promise to have a new ‘letter’ for you very soon. 

Warmest regards,

 Melissa.  

…TO BE CONTINUED

 

by Fred Cuellar the Diamond Guy®

The Jeweler’s Shop

By Karol Wojtyla
ACT I
The Signals
(Teresa and Andrew)

 

TERESA

Andrew has chosen me and asked for my hand. It happened today between five and six in the afternoon. I don’t remember exactly, I had no time to look at my watch, or catch a glimpse of the clock on the tower of the old town hall. At such moments one does not check the hour, such moments grow in one above time.
But even had I remembered to look at the town hall clock, I could not have done so, for I would have had to look above Andrew’s head.

We were just walking on the right side of the market square when Andrew turned around and said,”Do you want to be my life’s companion?” That’s what he said. He didn’t say: do you want to be my wife, but: my life’s companion. What he intended to say must have been thought over. He said it looking ahead, as if afraid to read in my eyes, and at the same time as if to signify that in front of us was a road whose end could not be seen -there was, or at least, could be, if I replied “Yes” to his question. I answered “Yes”-not at once, but after a few minutes, 23 and yet in the course of those few minutes there was no need for reflection, no need to struggle between motives.

The answer had almost been determined. We both knew that it reached deep into the past and advanced far into the future, that it penetrated our existence like a weaver’s shuttle, to catch the weft that determines a fabric’s pattern. I thought much at the time about the “alter ego”. Teresa was a whole world, just as distant
as any other man, as any other woman -and yet there was something that allowed one to think of throwing a bridge. I remember that Andrew did not turn his eyes to me at once, but looked ahead for quite a while, as if gazing intently at the road before us.

I let that thought run on, and even develop within me. lt was not an assent independent of an act of will. I simply resisted sensation and the appeal of the senses,
for I knew that otherwise I would never really leave my “ego” and reach the other person-but that meant an effort. For my senses fed at every step on the charms of the women I met. When once or twice I tried following them, I met solitary islands.

This made me think that beauty accessible to the senses can be a difficult gift or a dangerous one; I met people led by it to hurt others -and so, gradually, I learned to value beauty accessible to the mind, that is to say, truth. I decided then to seek a woman who would be indeed my real “alter ego” so that the bridge between us would not be a shaky footbridge among water lilies and reeds.

ANDREW

I went quite a long way before reaching Teresa, I did not find her at once. I do not even remember if our first meeting was marked by a kind of presentiment. And I don’t think I even know what “love at first sight” means. After a time I realized she had come into the focus of my attention, I mean, I had to be interested in her,
and at the same time I accepted the fact that I had to.

Though I could have behaved differently from the way I felt I must, I thought there would be no point. There must have been something in Teresa that suited
my personality. I met a few girls who absorbed my imagination, and also my thoughts-but at the moments when it seemed to me I was most concerned with them,
I suddenly realized that Teresa was still there in my consciousness and memory and I instinctively compared each of them with her. And yet I even wished them to push her from my consciousness; in a way, I counted on it. And I was ready to follow sensation, strong, forceful sensation.

I wanted to regard love as passion, as an emotion to surpass all -I believed in the absolute of emotion. And that is why I could not grasp the basis of that strange persistence of Teresa in me, the cause of her presence, the assurance of her place in my “ego,” or what creates around her that strange resonance, that feeling “you ought to.” So I avoided her cautiously, deliberately evaded everything that could cause even the shadow of a guess. Sometimes I even tormented her in my thoughts,
while seeing in her my tormentor. It seemed to me she pursued me with her love, and that I must cut myself off decisively.

Thus grew my interest in Teresa; love grew, in a sense, from resistance. Or love can be a collision in which two selves realize profoundly they ought to belong to each other, even though they have no convenient moods and sensations. It is one of those processes in the universe which bring a synthesis, unite what was divided, broaden and enrich what was limited and narrow.

 

TERESA

I must admit Andrew’s proposal was something I did not expect. I really had no reason to count on it. It always seemed to me that Andrew did everything to make me useless to him, and to convince me that this was so. If I was not quite unprepared for his proposal it was because I felt that somehow I was the right one for him, and that I supposed I could love him. Being aware of that, I must already have loved him. But that was all. I never allowed myself to nurse a feeling that remained unanswered.

Today, however, I can admit to myself that I did not find it easy. I recall one month particularly, and in that month, one evening:

we were hiking in the mountains, a big group of people but very close, our friendship was especially strong— we understood one another perfectly.
Andrew was then quite clearly interested in Christine. But this did not spoil the pleasure of the ramble for me. For I was always as hard as a tree
that would rather rot than topple. If I cried for myself, it was not from disappointed love. And yet it was difficult.

That evening, particularly, night fell as we were going down, and I shall never forget the small lakes that surprised us on the way like two cisterns of unfathomable sleep. There was metal asleep, mixed with the reflection of a bright August night. And yet there was no moon. Suddenly, as we were standing and watching -I shan’t forget this as long as I live somewhere above our heads we clearly heard a call. It was rather like wailing or like a groan, or even a whine maybe. Everyone held his breath. It was not clear whether it was a man calling, or a late bird wailing.

The same call was repeated once more, and then the boys decided to call back. Through the quiet sleeping woods, through the mountain night* went a signal.
If it was a man-he would hear it. The first voice, however, was heard no more.

* In the original, noc bieszczadzka-“Bieszczady night”, referring to the Bieszczady range of mountains in southeastern Poland-B. T.

And just then, when everyone had grown silent, listening in case the call might ring out once more, I was suddenly struck by another thought: also about signals; that thought returned to me today between Andrew’s profile and the tower of the old town hall in our city— today between five and six in the afternoon, when Andrew asked me for my hand— then I was thinking about signals that could not connect. It was a thought about Andrew and myself. And I felt how difficult it is to live. That night was terribly hard for me, though it was a truly glorious mountain night, and full of nature’s secrets.

Everything around seemed so very necessary and so in harmony with the world’s totality, only man was off balance and lost. Perhaps not every human being, but I know for certain that I was. So today, when Andrew asked,”Would you like to become forever my life’s companion?,” after ten minutes I answered “Yes,” and after a while I asked him if he believed in signals.

 

ANDREW

Teresa asked me today: “Andrew, do you believe in signals?”

And when I, surprised at this question, stopped for a moment and looked, astonished, into my fiancee’s eyes— my fiancee of a quarter of an hour— she told me her thoughts, those that had been revolving in her head since the evening in the mountains. To get our bearings on the complicated map of signs and signals. It must be so. Today I see that my country is also her country, and, after all, I dreamed of throwing a bridge How close she passed by me then; she almost hemmed me in with her imagination and that discreet suffering, which at the time I did not want to know, and today am willing to regard as our common good.

2. In the evenings, in our old city (evenings in October begin early) men leave their offices, where new housing developments are planned, women and girls on the way home look in shop windows. Teresa-Teresa-Teresa like a strange focus of my way to maturity— no longer a prism of superficial rays, but a being of true light.
And I know I cannot go further. I know I shall not seek anymore. I only tremble at the thought that I could so easily have lost her. I met Teresa when she had just paused in front of a large window full of ladies’ shoes. I stopped by her quietly and unexpectedly -and suddenly we were together on both sides of the big transparent sheet f1lled with glowing light.

And we saw our reflections together, because behind the window display is a great, immense mirror, which reflects the shoe models as well as the people passing on the pavement, particularly those who have stopped to look at themselves, or at the shoes. For several years she had been walking by me, and I did not know that it was she who was walking and maturing. I recoiled from accepting what today is for me a most magnificent gift. Several years later I see it clearly that roads which should have diverged have brought us closer together. Those years have been invaluable, giving us time. So when we found ourselves all of a sudden on both sides of the great mirror here alive and real, there reflected I-who knows why, maybe to complete the picture, but more likely just in answer to my heart’s need asked, “What are you thinking about, Teresa?,” I asked this almost in a whisper, for this is how those in love are wont to talk.

TERESA

I wasn’t thinking then about signals anymore. And I wasn’t really thinking about Andrew. I was looking for high-heeled shoes. There were many sports shoes, many comfortable walking shoes, but I was really straining my eyes for high-heeled shoes. Andrew is so much taller than I that I have to add a little to my height -and so I was thinking about Andrew, about Andrew and about myself. I was now constantly thinking about us two; he must surely think like this too so he must rejoice at my thought.

We then began to talk about all sorts of little things connected with our wedding. I told him about the tie in which I like him most, and about the dark suit which best becomes him.

Andrew listened to all this gladly, not because he wished to be flattered, but because he wanted me always to find him attractive, and wanted to please me. Then we looked together in the window of a jeweler’s shop, where in little boxes, inlaid with velvet, jewelry was exhibited. Among them were wedding rings. We looked for a while in silence. Then Andrew took me by the hand and said, “Let’s go in, Teresa; we’ll choose our rings.”

ANDREW

And yet we did not go in at once, held back by a thought which -we felt this clearly-arose at the same time in me and in her. The rings in the window appealed to us with a strange force. Now they are just artifacts of precious metal, but it will be so only until that moment when I put one of them on Teresa’s finger, and she puts the other on mine. From then on they will mark our fate. They will constantly act as a reminder of the past, as a lesson to be memorized for good, and they will constantly open up the future, joining the past to the future.

By the same token, they are, for all time, like two last links in a chain, to unite us invisibly. So we did not enter the shop at once. The symbol spoke. We both understood it immediately. Looking at wedding rings, we yielded to emotion, without words. That was what held us up in front of the shop. We put off the moment of entry. I only felt Teresa cling more tightly to my shoulder. . . and that was our “now”: the meeting of the past with the future.

Here we both are, we grow out of so many strange moments, as if from the depths of facts, ordinary and simple though they are. Here we are together. We are secretly growing into one because of these two rings. Someone spoke quite loudly behind our backs.

 

SOMEONE

This is the jeweler’s shop. What a strange craft. To produce objects that can stimulate reflection on fate. To gild watches, for instance, which measure time and tell man about the transience of all things and their passing.

 

TERESA

Someone ceased to speak. The man found his way, however, to the edge of our thoughts. We went on standing in silence. Imagination worked, though. I already saw, as in a mirror, myself, in a white wedding dress, kneeling with Andrew, dressed in a black suit. As we entered the church I equaled him in height, inasmuch as there was no disproportion (this was why I had to buy the high-heeled shoes I saw today in that other window). And now-the strangest thing and unexpected: as we were standing thus in front of the jeweler’s we remembered fragments of letters written a few years ago.

 

[Fragments of Teresa’s letter to Andrew]

. . . I want to return, Andrew, to our August hike, to that night when we heard those strange signals. You remember, there was some confusion and difference of
opinion. Some thought that we ought to begin a search for wanderers who might be lost in the thick of the forest, while some, on the other hand, took the view
that it had been a late bird calling, not a man. You were among the latter.

It was a memorable night, also memorable because it was then-it seems to me, Andrew-that I saw you in truth. And believe me, the contrasts dormant in you almost struck me in the face. A disproportion between the wish for happiness and a man’s potential is unavoidable. But you try to calculate your happiness at any price,
just as you calculate everything in your planning office. You lack courage and trust-in what? in whom? in life, in your own fate, in people, in God. . .
But the window has turned into a mirror of our future -it reflects its shape.

ANDREW

The wedding rings did not stay in the window. The jeweler looked long into our eyes. Testing for the last time the firmness of precious metal, he spoke seriously, deep thoughts, which remained strangely in my memory.

“The weight of these golden rings”, he said, “is not the weight of metal, but the proper weight of man, each of you separately and both together. Ah, man’s own weight, the proper weight of man! Can it be at once heavier, and more intangible? It is the weight of constant gravity, riveted to a short flight. The flight has the shape of a spiral, an ellipse-and the shape of the heart… Ah, the proper weight of man!

This rift, this tangle, this ultimate depth this clinging, when it is so hard to un stick heart and thought. And in all this-freedom, a freedom, and sometimes frenzy, the frenzy of freedom trapped in this tangle.

[Fragments of Andrew’s letter to Teresa]
so you are courageous and full of trust-and yet how many times did I see tears in your face, though your eyes remained dry. Maybe you think you courageously reach for happiness, but in fact this is only another form of fear-or caution at least.

 

TERESA

Imagination was working more and more intensely, ranging over reminiscences, over the past, to the future, whose picture was ever nearer. So, I see myself near Andrew, equal to him in height. We are both elegant and somehow mature -we matured through so many letters exchanged during those years. We are still standing in front of that shop, choosing our fate together.

And in all this-love, which springs from freedom, as water springs from an oblique rift in the earth. This is man! He is not transparent, not monumental, not simple,
in fact he is poor. This is one man-and what about two people, four, a hundred, a million multiply all this (multiply the greatness by the weakness), and you will have the product of humanity, the product of human life.”

This is what the strange jeweler was saying while taking the measure of our rings. Then he cleaned them with chamois leather, and put them back in the little box,
which had earlier been in the window, and finally wrapped it in tissue paper. All this while he looked into our eyes, as if he wished to sound our hearts. W as he right in saying all that? Were his thoughts also ours? I suppose neither of us could think about it from such a distance- love is enthusiasm rather than pensiveness.

 

TERESA

So, we are standing reflected in the window, as if in a mirror that catches the future: Andrew takes one of the rings, I take the other, we take each other by the hand
my God, how simple this is. What can the people think invited to our wedding? What do they think when they are silent and what will they go on thinking when they stop talking?

CHORUS

I. The occasion is most beautiful, it evokes so many associations. We are looking only at what is!

2. Man lives with a shadow line, he lives also with a line of light. The light passes into shadow, shadow into light.

3. New people-Teresa and Andrew two until now, but still not one, one from noW on, though still two.

4. She seems sad, though, but perhaps she’s just serious and moved (a diamond flashed on Andrew’s shirt front, a white flower in Teresa’s hair, though it’s a different flash).

5. Wine also sparkles. Wine is a thing. Let it live in the other man, man-is love.

6. Ah, how many words and hearts ah, how many words and hearts ah, how many words and hearts And we’ll go on with you along the cloister we’ll go then down the avenue, a few score, a few hundred yards, with enthusiasm, with a sincere smile, up to now, up to now together. Later vehicles will appear, later a road will hinder us -when you get into the car you must stay alone.

7. But let us return to the stars, let us return to warmth, to feelings. Ah, how man thirsts for feelings, how people thirst for intimacy. Teresa and Andrew.

8. Trees, trees-straight, slender trunks, cutting high, high above the eyes cutting the moon distant from the eyes three hundred thousand miles and yet they are two. Teresa and Andrew. The moon becomes a little drum

9. Love-love pulsating in brows, in man becomes thought and will: the will of Teresa being Andrew, the will of Andrew being Teresa.

10. Strange, yet necessary -and again we move away from each other because man will not endure in man forever and man will not suffice.

I I. How can it be done, Teresa, for you to stay in Andrew forever? How can it be done, Andrew, for you to stay in Teresa forever? Since man will not endure in man and man will not suffice.

12. Body-thought passes through it, is not satisfied in the body and love passes through it. Teresa, Andrew, seek a harbor for thought in your bodies while they last, seek the harbor for love. . . Wine, wine radiate mutually into each other’s lives. (Raise your glass.)

 

ANDREW

Though we were still standing in front of the jeweler’s shop. . . it was nonetheless clear that his shop window Teresa and Andrew that plays in the depths of eyes and in the depths of hearts.

had ceased to be a display in which everyone without exception could find an object for himself It became, however, a mirror reflecting us both-Teresa and myself. Moreover, it was not an ordinary flat mirror, but a lens absorbing its object. We were not only reflected but absorbed. I had an impression of being seen and recognized by someone hiding inside the shop window. The future for us remains an unknown quantity, which we noW accept without anxiety. Love has overcome anxiety. The future depends on love.

 

TERESA

The future depends on love.

 

TERESA

One could see in it our wedding day. We were both dressed in our Sunday best, and behind us there were a lot of people: they were wedding guests. The window absorbed my person at various moments and in different situations-first as I was standing, then kneeling by Andrew, when we were exchanging the rings. . . I am also convinced that our reflection in that mirror has remained forever, and cannot be extracted or removed. A little while later we concluded that we had been present in the mirror from the beginning-at any rate much sooner than the moment we stopped in front of the jeweler’s shop.

ANDREW

At one point my eyes once more met the gaze of the old jeweler. I felt just then that His gaze was not only sounding our hearts, but also trying to impart something to us. We found ourselves not only on the level of His gaze, but also on the level of His life. Our whole existence stood before Him. His eyes were flashing signals which we were not able to receive fully just then, as once we had been unable to receive fully the signals in the mountains-and yet, they reached to our inner hearts. And somehow we went in their direction, and they covered the fabric of our whole lives.

ANDREW

And’ the jeweler, as I have already mentioned, looked at us in a peculiar way. His gaze was at once gentle and penetrating. I had a feeling he was watching us while he was selecting and weighing the rings. He then put them on our fingers to try them. I had the feeling that he was seeking our hearts with his eyes and delving into our past. Does he encompass the future too? The expression of his eyes combined warmth with determination.

 

TERESA

We stood in front of the jeweler’s shop for a long time, without noticing the time, or the cold of the October evening. At one point, though, we were roused by these words, spoken loudly by a passer-by behind our backs:

 

SOMEONE

It is late and the shops are closed. Why is the light still on in the old jeweler’s workshop? He too should lock up and go home,

By Karol Wojtyla


(The preceding article is an excerpt from the best-selling book by Karol Wojtyla; more popularly known as Pope John Paul II.  If you’d like to read the remaining two acts, I highly recommend you go to your local book store and find this wonderful play.)

Divide & Conquer Didn’t Work — Maybe We Should Try Something Else

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s horses,
And all the King’s men,
Couldn’t put Humpty together again”

Our world sits on the precipice of annihilation.  Through our own deeds and actions we are witnessing a fall from grace, not only as a society, but as a super power.  Before it’s too late, before we share Humpty’s fate, maybe we can do something about it.  The following is a thank you letter received by me from a prophetic student I taught last year in 8th grade economics through Junior Achievement.  She is only 14 years old.

Dear Mr. Cuellar,

After I read a very confusing and action packed book, I step back and think about it for a while. That is what I did with all that you taught us because I feel like I can only truly thank you if I understand everything you have taught us. That moment has finally come for me and I just want to thank you with all my heart. What you have taught me will live on and stay with me forever. Life is there, waiting to be taken advantage of, and now I’m ready to. The only thing that is holding me back is time. I only have so much time on this earth, and life is measured by how many people you have left behind that were touched by you in some way. Never before has “time is of the essence” seemed more real, and death more imminent. Now I understand that each minute of every day has infinite possibilities and they are all there, but in order to see them, you have to ask questions. Questions are a way to fully understand yourself and all the opportunities you have. When you figure out who you are, you are happy. So, in a way, questions are the way to understand opportunities that can influence somebody else and a way to become happy.

The reason finding who you are or your “self” is so important is because once you truly value yourself, you value your time, and when you value your time you do something with it. With time comes choice. Choice is one of the trickiest things I think I will ever deal with. You base your decisions on reality and experiences, but what if you perceive and/or remember reality and experiences wrong? Your final decision could be disastrous for yourself and/or others, and that isn’t all. We have a fear of loss. It has gotten to the point where I wonder why we have this almost psychotic fear of loss. It makes no sense at all, and yet I know that I am afflicted with it as well. I know that those who are truly happy and/or successful businessmen have overcome that fear to some degree. So, again, I ask a question. Why can’t I overcome that fear? The lengths some people go so as to not get a perceived loss has astounded me. It seems that we will do almost anything to avoid a small loss even if in doing so we get a large gain. Again, all these outside forces control our decision making. In order to be successful I must master this tricky choice-making business, to an acceptable degree, or fail. I realize now that I need to take a little risk, and reevaluate my reality every now and then to succeed, and I plan to.

Another thing you taught us towards the end was the gift of sharing. When we pool all our resources together instead of splitting them up we become successful; when we don’t, we fail. If this is true, which I believe it is, then by dividing up into countries, states, and races we have set ourselves up to fail. We have created many evil things by not sharing. We have created world hunger and war and many other things. We need to stop dividing ourselves up.  We need to focus on reevaluating the things we have been taught to us since the cradle, and realize that we are all one people in order to succeed.  

Thanks to you, I am now ready to grab every opportunity I get and I know that I have the heart of a champion, or at least a heart of a champion in the making. I want every day to be the best day, and I want to know how to play the game of life. You have taught me all that, and I don’t think I could forget it if I tried.

 

By Haley Golden
Intro by Fred Cuellar

Who Rules You?

Fred:
“Hi, I’m Fred Cuellar, and I’d like to welcome today’s audience to the first of three scheduled “Meaning of Life” debates between our two candidates Love and Fear. The candidates will each start with an opening statement—not exceeding three minutes. After that I will act as the moderator and alternate my questions between the two candidates. Each candidate will be given one minute to respond, and his opponent will be given a 30-second rebuttal. Neither candidate will be allowed to ask questions directly to each other as agreed upon by both parties. After the Q&A, each side will be given an additional three minutes to close with any final thoughts. Fear won the coin flip back stage so the floor is yours.”
Fear:
“Thanks Fred. It’s really great to be here, but let’s be honest folks, it’s really great to be anywhere! With so much hatred in the world, it’s a wonder any of us even leave our house! Violence is at an all time high. Young men and women are dying everyday in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our children can’t play in their own front yards because John Doe Pedophile lives next door or across the street. Our own government’s idea of minimum wage isn’t a living wage! Most of us are living paycheck to paycheck and are so heavily in dept that if any of us lost our job tomorrow it would be only a matter of time before a home sweet home is a homeless shelter. As a nation, we can’t even afford to get sick. I’m not trying to scare you. I’m just giving you the cold, hard facts. Life is hard. Life is temporary. Life’s a crap shoot! There is no rhyme or reason why anything happens. Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad. Love likes to say that everything happens for a reason. Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t make a difference because the one thing Love can’t escape—like the old saying goes—is death and taxes! At least by making me, Fear, your leader, I’ll keep you safe until it’s your time to go. Love has been quoted in the press that it is better to spend one day as a lion than a thousand as a lamb. Yet, it’s never there when that last day really comes! There isn’t a person here today that wouldn’t do whatever it takes to stay alive if they know my good friend, the Grim Reaper, was making a visit. Follow me! Give me your vote, and you’ll see that a life with fear is the only life worth living. It’s the only life that will give a chance for tomorrow!”
Fred:
“Your time is up. Thank you, Fear. Love, the floor is yours.”
Love:
“We live in a world of our own creation. If there is war, famine, or pestilence, it is because we have become a nation divided by our own conflict-ridden ideologies. We are not separate from each other. Yet, we choose to act like we are. Instead of celebrating our diversities, we outcast those that are different from ourselves. Until we exorcise Fear from our lives, we will be forced to live in self-doubt and solitude. Life is not a burden in any form; life is a blessing. It is a miracle. Where more than one join in my name so to will a union be formed; a union of souls. Individually, we are like a drop of rain that can be blown off course by the happenstance of the wind. While united we have the strength and fortitude of the ocean that can carry any ship into the harbor. My opponent wants us to believe that without fear we will be unable to set course in our life with any certainty. It believes that some how hiding behind our locked doors from the world around us will resolve the hatred that bore out of fear itself. Fear is not an overcoat that we wear to protect us from the elements. It is the element—the root cause of our current environment. If we are unable or unwilling to see ourselves in the eyes of those we choose to call our enemies, we will continue to breed fear and contemptent until we truly are the last one standing. No man is an island. No heart can stand alone.”
Fred:
“Thank you Love for your opening statement. I’d like to address my first question to you. In the current economic environment, isn’t it a little unrealistic to preach that everyone just needs to love one another? You know that’s not going to happen. Evil exists, and to pretend it doesn’t is fool-hardy!”
Love:
“Evil is nothing more than live spelled backwards. If evil exists, it is only because we forgotten how to live. We have forgotten that there is only one of us. We have subdivided ourselves from the color of our skin to the God we pray to. We label and categorize each other. We throw people away like garbage if they don’t think like us, look like us, or pray like us. This division between man didn’t occur over night so it won’t be solved overnight. You can’t kill evil with a sword; you can only change it with an embrace. Darkness cannot be diminished with more darkness. It is only in the full light of day that we can escape the shadows that follow our every step. Love each other isn’t a bumper sticker; it is our last refuge. Prisons don’t work. Violence, retribution and wars don’t work. At first it will seem insane to love the grenade of fear, doubt and hatred. But until we do the body count of those we love will continue to rise. Fighting our enemy doesn’t work so maybe it’s time to take another course. Love your enemy. Love them when they fly planes into our buildings. Love them when they take away your only son. Love them until your dying breath even when they have shot you. Then slowly, one by one, our enemies will cease to exist because they will realize they are us. They will realize that the blood they shed was their own.
Fred:
“Time! Fear you have 30 seconds for a rebuttal.”
Fear:
“Hog wash! Love doesn’t know what it’s talking about! There are good people in this world, and there are bad. We need to lock up, kill exterminate whatever we have to do to rid this world of the undesirables. It is only then that we might have a chance at the Utopia that only exists in the mind of Love.”
Fred:
“As everyone knows, my next question is to you Fear. Stress is the #1 killer today. How do you expect to rule without having Stress join the ticket as your running mate?”
Fear:
“I’ll have you know that Stress is a very good friend of mine, and I won’t sit back and listen to you malign Stress in any way! If it wasn’t for Stress, nobody would take vacations or days off. If it wasn’t for Stress, U.S. productivity would fall, and we would become a second class nation. It may be true that there may be some collateral damage to Stress. But you got to break a few eggs if you’re going to have an omelet.”
Fred:
“Love? A Rebuttal?
Love:
“I think it’s safe to say that too much of anything is bad for you. Stress is your body’s way of telling you it’s time to take a break. My question to you, the audience, is this: Do you really want to cast your vote for a candidate that thinks it’s alright for Stress to run you life?”
Fred:
“Fear, would you like to follow up?”
Fear:
“Thank you, Fred. Yes I would! Stress is nothing more than a road map. Without it, you would be lost. That’s all I have to say on the subject.”
Fred:
“O.K. It’s time for my final question, and I’d like each of you to take a stab at it.”
Fear:
“Sounds delightful!”
Fred:
“Fine, Fear. Then, we’ll start with you. What’s the point of life?”
Fear:
“That’s a great question Fred, and surprisingly a very easy one to answer. The point of life is to survive. Pure and simple. Most people will cut your throat just to watch you bleed. The goal to life is to get rich and powerful enough so you can be better than everyone else by any means possible. Then, when you’re done everything necessary to get to the top, you can build your castle and put up your electric fence to keep everyone away! The point of life is so simple; it’s just to survive as long as you can until they bury you six feet under. I didn’t invent this game, but I do know the only person I can truly trust in this world is myself!”
Fred:
“Love, the same question.”
Love:
“We are the point to life, you and I. The people’s lives we touch and those that touch us are what makes life worth living. Life isn’t about surviving; it’s about connecting. It’s about reaching out to new people and new experiences so we can better understand ourselves. The more we understand others the more we will understand who we are. I don’t know what lies on the other side of the door of life. However, since I don’t know—since none of us knows—doesn’t it make sense that we should be kinder and more grateful for the things we do have in our life instead of focusing on the things we don’t have or may lose? What’s life about? Life is about us. All of us. Not us and them.”
Fred:
“Thanks Love and Fear. That ends the Q&A portion of our debate, and since we’ve ran long, we only have time for a closing sound bite from each of you. Love, I’ll allow you to close. Fear, you can go first.”
Fear:
“Where there is darkness there is Fear. Closing your eyes to it like a child won’t make it go away. Embrace Fear and take control of your life!”
Fred:
“Love, the final statement is yours.”
Love:
“If there is darkness, turn the light on. Only by loving everyone without discrimination can you know the joy that is your soul.”
Fred:
That concludes our “You Bet Your Life” debate, and now it’s up to each and everyone of us. Who do we want to rule our lives? Love or Fear?

Story by:
By: Fred Cuellar the Diamond Guy®

My Puzzle of Life

Many people go their whole life without ever knowing who they are. My search for self-discovery started way before most people begin their search. I was a middle school student at St. Michael Catholic School. My name is Austin Langley. I’m now 16 years old and attend Memorial High School in Houston, Texas. I have two loving parents, one younger brother, one younger sister, and a handful of great friends. This is where my voyage of self-discovery began.

I was in 7th grade when I met Fred Cuellar. He was a volunteer from Junior Achievement which is a program in which working people come to schools and talk to children about economics and the business world. He was going to come to my class for just a few weeks at the end of the school year to show us a preview of what it would be like in his class the following 8th grade year. I had earlier heard from the 8th graders that he gave away sweet prizes and money and so forth. Everyone in school was talking about how he designed Super Bowl rings and Derek Jeter’s ring and all sorts of other celebrity bling. “The Diamond Guy” was the talk of the junior high building. I was advised by several 8th grade friends to raise my hand and attempt to answer any of his questions because of the sweet prizes that he gave away. Little did I know that these questions would change my life forever.

Mr. Cuellar shook everyone’s hand as we walked into the classroom and happily greeted us. He began grabbing our attention by telling us several of his achievements in the diamond business. He instantly had my interest with his intellectual ways of thinking and asking questions and basically gave us the story of his life and how he came to be the person he is over the three classes that we had with him as previews for the next year.

On the last day of his teaching before summer break, Mr. Cuellar gave our class a riddle. He gave us a puzzle to figure out written on note cards and handed one out to each of us. The question on the card read, “What is the secret to the Four Triads?” and the only clues were the scrambled words AAAAVCTLR and CSRLSLO. He said that we could ask anyone in the world for help. I raised my hand and asked, “May I ask you for help?” but he replied with a laugh and a “No.” The prize for figuring out the puzzle was a beautiful rosewood music box and more. Nobody had found the answer to the puzzle in the 10 years that Fred had been giving the puzzle and I was bound to be the first.

For the rest of the day everyone was talking about how they were going to figure it out and in several classes teachers actually took up some of the note cards because people would be trying to unscramble the words or figure out the answer while in class. Pretty soon everyone knew that one of the scrambled words was ”scrolls’ but no one could figure out the other word, much less the answer to the puzzle.

I found it pretty funny how everyone was talking about the scrambled words and who had figured it out and everything without even so much as thinking about the actual puzzle and when I got home I hit the internet and began to Google “The Four Triads.” I must have gone through 150 pages of Google and did not find anything pertaining to the Four Triads that “The Diamond Guy” was referring to.

I posted the puzzle on Able2Know.com and got a reply from an anonymous person under the name ”Calatrava.’ He replied that the secret to the Four Triads is actually a search in the meaning of life and can be used to achieve self-actualization. He also said that the secrets could be found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which refer to the ”scrolls’ clue. I later found his name, Calatrava, to be the other scrambled word.

A good friend of mine, Stephen Pasta, happened to find the site where I had posted the question and jumped in with Calatrava and I and began conversing over the Four Triads and asking Calatrava for more clues and answers. He said that he was a close contact with “The Diamond Guy” and was limited to what answers he could give us. Mr. Cuellar later told me that “Calatrava” was his teacher who had given him the puzzle when he was in 6th grade and that Fred had figured it out.

I began to find through hints and clues from both Calatrava and Mr. Cuellar that the Four Triads were the basis of and had a stronghold in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Zodiacs. I researched “Calatrava” on the internet and found that Patek Philippe, who was a renowned watchmaker, created the designs for some of the finest watches in the world and put the Calatrava Cross on his timepieces. With this I found that Time was the first triad. I quickly figured out that the three counterparts were Past, Present, and Future. Mr. Cuellar asked what the secret to Time was. I found that the Present is the key to Time because it is reality and it is now. If we worry about the Past or the Future, we will miss out on the Present. The Present builds itself on the Past and prepares for the Future.

I had a clue from “Calatrava” on the second triad which was, “It is something you have now but will eventually lose.” I did some thinking and found that the second triad was the triad of Life. Everyone lives and everyone dies. The three counterparts of Life were very hard to figure out. I eventually found out, with hints, clues, and questions from Mr. Cuellar, that they are Mind, Body, and Soul, with Soul being the key to the Triad of Life. I concluded with that that our Body is just our physical being that allows us to simply be here. Our Mind is what helps us to think out problems, but also plagues our true feelings by filling them with thoughts of logic and reason. Our true and everlasting element is our Soul. Once we come to listen to our Soul, rather than our Mind or our Body, we come to find happiness and success in everything that we do.

On to the third triad. The third was more difficult. I began to research the Dead Sea Scrolls online and could not exactly find what I needed. I turned to Mr. Cuellar for help but he would never give me answers. His way of teaching is not by answering, but by questioning. He would ask me questions in which I would find clues to the answers of the bigger picture. Not only does he do this to get you to find the answer, but to figure it out on your own and in your own way. One of the things he has always taught me is that everyone has different thoughts and perceptions, and that perception is reality, so many people are correct in many different ways. There is never a direct, true answer. This helped me to figure out that the third triad is Awareness. We must be Aware of something in order for there to be something there. I found the three counterparts in the conversation with Calatrava on Able2Know. As he was ending his mentoring to Stephen and I he said to Stephen, “I HOPE, BELIEVE, KNOW you will do well.” These were the counterparts and the key to being Aware is to Know. People can Hope for things their whole life, but nothing is guaranteed. People can Believe things their whole life, but Believing leaves room for misconstrued thoughts. Knowing leaves no room for error. Knowing implies understanding a person’s circumstances and surroundings. We must not Hope or Believe in things, but Know them.

Stephen was hot on my tail, we were practically tied at this point. The race was on to find the secret to the Four Triads. This puzzle was taking over my life as I spent all of my time trying to figure it out. LaTeace, Mr. Cuellar’s wife, later jokingly complained to me for keeping Fred up late on his computer every night as we constantly emailed each other.

The fourth triad was even more difficult to find. I tried to use the first, second, and third triads to lead myself to the fourth. I looked deep into the Dead Sea Scrolls and deep into the Bible, because I had been told the answers were there, but I missed the big, simple picture that was sitting right in front of me, Creation. Without Creation, there is nothing, and we must Create what we want and build our own Life, not have it created for us by others. Creation is put into use in three processes, Thought, Word, and Action. The key to this is Action. Thoughts and Words are worthless unless put into Action. The Creation of something begins with a Thought, and then can be spread by Word, but truly can be displayed when put into Action. I found that Creation must be used along with the other Triads to Create yourself and your world around you.

I was told that Stephen had figured out the Triad of Creation right after me and realized that we were tied. I was so close!

Mr. Cuellar told me that the final part of the puzzle was just one word. When the Four Triads are brought together and implemented they lead you to this. I guessed with many different words but none were correct. I was getting more and more worried that I would indeed not figure it out. Mr. Cuellar gave me a clue: “Self-___ ,” the word had the prefix of self-. I was so close. I had been consulting my parents for some help here and there but they seemed unable to help out much throughout the puzzle. I do not have the best vocabulary and figured that the word was just out of my hands and consulted my father who has a great vocabulary. I told him that the word had to do with someone finding themselves. (I had been keeping my parents up-to-date about the puzzle and recently explained the Four Triads to them). I told him that all of the Triads, when implemented together formed this word. I had tried every single word I could think of and even sent Mr. Cuellar a copy-and-paste of a list of words with the prefix self- that I had found on the internet but none were correct. My father helped me to figure out that the word was Self-Actualization. I knew this was correct before I even sent it to Mr. Cuellar. Self-Actualization, by Webster’s definition it means the achievement of one’s full potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity, and a grasp of the real world. Fred replied with a quote by Dr. Abraham Maslow, “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This is the need we may call self-actualization…It refers to man’s desire for fulfillment, namely to the tendency for him to become actually in what he is potentially: to become everything that one is capable of becoming…” He told me that he had something to tell me and listed his telephone number below it.

I called him and he congratulated me on being the first and only person to solve the puzzle in 10 years. I was elated. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. We set up an appointment to meet and for me to receive my prize.

Mr. Cuellar happily greeted my mother and I into his office when we arrived to talk about the puzzle and for me to receive my music box. He explained the process by which I figured out the puzzle, the answers, and me to my mother who started to get very emotional. He gave me the music box and went on to explain how music is a great example of life and how it can change lives, that is why he chose it as the prize. Music has a great impact on my life. It flows in a lively way and changes peoples feelings. Music can make you relax or feel sad or feel happy, just pick your song. He showed me a line of coins which he designed which had the Calatrava Cross on one side and the Four Triads and SELF on the other. He gave me a pure gold coin which is only 1 of 10 in the world. He also later gave me a silver one. He explained how the Calatrava Cross can be found in numerous successful places such as the Vatican, Nike, and Patek Philippe watches and the secrets to the Four Triads have led many to become billionaires. He explained the process by which the Secret of the Four Triads was harnessed where Pope Gregory VIII gave a cross in which four fleur-de-lis anchors united in the middle to a group of shepherds who were commissioned as knights to save Christianity form the Moors in 1158. The Knights of Calatrava, as they were called, were victorious, outnumbered 10 to 1. The secret of the Calatrava Cross, as it came to be known, was kept secret by the Popes of the ages until Patek Philippe stumbled upon it. Supposedly, he found the secrets to the Calatrava Cross and how to harness them. Philippe Patek designed what are known by many as the greatest timepieces of all time.

Mr. Cuellar and Diamond Cutters Intl. now come out with a line of Calatrava jewelry which has become very popular, even by first lady Laura Bush. I have a Calatrava necklace and wear it as a reminder of the Four Triads. I will use it as a guide and compass on my journey to Self-Actualization.

Looking back, I put all of the Triads and Secrets and Meanings together and found this: Time is of the essence, Life is a mere moment in Time. The Present is all there is to deal with. Knowing the Present gives Experience. Living in Soul, not Body and Mind, will bring happiness to the bearer of Soul and those around him, after-all, it is everlasting. Using our Soul, Knowledge, Experience, and Present Time, we must Create. We Create who we are and use who we are to Create everything around us. Nothing is “out of your hands.” In living in the Present Soul, Knowledgeable and Creative we come to a point of Self-Actualization.

The quote from Dr. Maslow that Mr. Cuellar sent to me when I figured out the answers to the puzzles speaks of who we are and how to put it to use. We must figure out who we are and use that to be great and find what we are meant to do. “A musician must make music, an artist must paint…” We must live to the potential of who we are. Do/be things that you enjoy and become everything that you can.

I cannot even begin to tell you everything that Fred has taught me. I use his lessons and teachings both consciously and subconsciously everyday. Now that I have met him, I question everything, strive to succeed, love everything, and much more. He has changed my life. I feel that if I had never met him, I would be lost in an abyss. At least now I have a path to follow.

My mom later explained to me that the reason she became so emotional was because all of the talk about life and finding Who You Are reminded her of her father, my grandfather, who once found himself and who always used to talk to her about such things. Poppy, as we called him was an executer of the secrets of Four Triads and brought enjoyment to everyone around him. Poppy passed away from cancer several years ago, but his legacy as a great example of life still lives on in those who were close to him.

One example of this is when after he was diagnosed with cancer he gave me a book called As a Man Thinketh by James Allen. He told me that it held one of the most important lessons of life and that his father had handed it down to him as he was doing to me. He told me to read it, apply it to my life, and then later pass it on to my own children. I learned from that little book that what we think affects our surroundings. How thought affects our actions, which in turn, affects everything around us. His ability to change his surroundings was visible when he would light up the room. You could not help but to enjoy his happiness and joy of life. This is how I would like to be. I want to light people’s worlds doing something I love.

I enjoy life the most when I have no doubts. Many of the most enjoyable moments of my life have been with my family and my friends. I feel comfortable with my family and my friends, as if I can tell them almost anything. When I am with them I feel more like myself than I do when I am not with them. One of my goals in life is to simply enjoy it. Being with these people are key to me enjoying my life. The only thing better than having fun is having fun with other people.

Probably one of the most vital things that I have now come to conclusion through all of this is that I cannot find myself, I have to create myself. In search of myself I found a bundle of confusion, but I have found that when I am not thinking, I am myself. You cannot try and be yourself because then you are simply not who you are. That is my problem is that I overanalyze in search of answers when they are sitting right in front of me. As Hugh Prather said, “My trouble is I analyze life instead of live it.”

So in my search for self-discovery or should I say Creation I am trying to attain I will use the Calatrava Cross and it’s Four Triads as a guide and compass in life. On this voyage of creation I am working to forget my unwanted thoughts and begin to create my life. With Fred’s help, I now know some of the secrets to success in Life, and now with the Calatrava Cross by my side, I am on my way to figuring out how to apply them so that I may come closer to a point of self-actualization.

“I reached out for answers
To questions that didn’t exist
To find meaning in the ones that do
I evolved not out of chance nor fear
But to recognize my face in the mirror”

 

-Fred Cuellar, “In Search of Me”

Who do we choose to love?

How many people cross our path in a life time? Well, if you are reading this, you are alive. If you are alive it means you were born. If you were born you have or had a mother. That’s one person. Now, add in the doctors and nurses that were there when you left the comfort of your mother’s womb plus a dad who, hopefully, was still on the scene. Then include a whole slew of relatives (you had no choice in the matter) forever connected to you through your family tree.

Over the course of your life, hundreds, even thousands, of people will smile at you, frown at you, or even ignore you all together. You will have close relationships, break them, and just plain lose touch with people that, for one moment in time, were part of your life. A few, a very select few, will enter your life and stay. Stay till either you bite the big one or they kick the bucket. Very few will be with us at our end. Will they be the right few? Will they be people of honor? Of character? Or, will they be leeches, bottom feeders that are there to pick over our bones without a passing thought or moment of remorse?

We make choices every single day. We decide what to wear, what to eat, where to work, where to live, and where to be. Some people spend more time picking out a new pair of tennis shoes then picking with who they share their time.

In a recent obesity study report, carried by all the news services, you have more than a 70% chance of being overweight if your friends are overweight. Who we hang out with matters and not just for our bottom line. Our friends are a reflection of who we are. Our spouses are a reflection of our inner soul. Einstein once said “Without someone to love life is miserable.” But the question is who? Who do we choose to love? How do we know the difference between Mr. or Mrs. Right vs. Mr. or Mrs. Right Now? The saying goes, “ Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer,” but leaves out how to differentiate between the two.

I can’t tell you how many Datelines I’ve seen that start out “To the outside world they seemed like they were living the American dream; beautiful home, perfect jobs, two and a half kids…when everything went wrong! What made the girl next door hack up the entire family?!” Even though my wife has Tivo’d Dateline and 48 Hours, I don’t have to read any more what any of the episodes are going to be week to week. They’re all murder! Even Stone Phillips just got axed and all he had been doing was telling the story!

Seriously, if we are going to make it in this world or have a fighting chance of making it, we have to know who to trust. In a book that I read a while back, “The Seven Levels of Intimacy” by Matthew Kelly, the key to picking soulmates, bunkmates or roommates lies in one very obvious fact and that is “People aren’t going to treat you any better than they treat themselves.” If your friends are irresponsible drunks, if their lives are out of control, if they lie to themselves…well guess what? They are going to create chaos in your life! People who have lost control over their lives are going to be looking for company. You can either hop in the car with them and go for a ride, or step away from the vehicle.

So very simply, that’s rule #1, “Unless you want your life to go down the toilet, avoid others who are flushing their own life away.” Rule #2, “Perceptions are deceiving.” It’s always calmest right before the storm. There are a lot of “stable looking” individuals out there that are barely hanging on- people with no savings; cars that need repair held together with duct tape; paycheck to paycheck people. When the ground opens to swallow up these people, you don’t want to be standing nearby, much less next to them. Rule #3, “Can you trust this individual?” If there is a pause or hesitation in answering this question, then you can’t. As I said before, people that let themselves down, will take you down.

That leaves rule #4. “Do they have your best interest at heart?” And I’m not just talking lip service. Do they go out of their way to help you, assist you in being a better person without looking for a hand-out? Look at your past experiences with the person you say loves you or has your back. Do they? Do their actions reflect self interest or devotion? Jane Fonda once said to Lindsey Lohan after her third or fourth arrest for DWI and cocaine possession “This isn’t a dress rehearsal, you only get one life.” If we could all remember that, we might be a little more careful with who we travel down the road of life.

Story by:
By: Fred Cuellar the Diamond Guy®

One Life/Letter of Life

Recently, I spoke to a group of high school students in a summer program. One of the teacher was a remarkable young college student who wishes to remain anonymous. His life story is so compelling that I asked him to share it with all of you.

The Letter of Life:

Mr. Cuellar,

I met Mr. Cuellar through some of his volunteer efforts at a Houston non-profit organization. He gave a presentation to our high school students in the summer program. We had had many presentations in the past few weeks and I thought Mr. Cuellar would simply be another visit on the list. What I didn’t know before his visit, is that what he would say and the man that would stand before me would leave and everlasting impact on myself and everyone in attendance. His words compelled me to share my unfinished story of success to reach others as he does every time he speaks. His words were those of encouragement and hope for the many dreams we all held in our hearts. His lessons of self-perception, believing in yourself, and embracing your past without regrets made it easier for me to understand the importance of reaching people through the story of my life.

Mr. Cuellar explained about his childhood and how helpful his parents were throughout his life. I did not have the same kind of support or advice as he was blessed with as a child. Mr. Cuellar had two parents who cared and watched out for him. I’ve been on my own most of my life. My father has been in out of my life (either voluntarily or involuntarily) and my mom was too young and immature to take care of her kids at times. Until the age of ten, in Colorado, either my older sister or my grandma took care of me. I grew up in one of the worst neighborhoods in Denver and ran the streets with my older cousins at a very young age. I had dreams to never leave the barrio and all I ever wanted to be was the leader of a gang ,like my father and cousins, or locked up, like my dad was at the time. These were my dreams, this is all I knew. Those were my role models. I was fortunate to have been raised by my grandma on my mom’s side, who was very religious, and remain close to my grandpa on my dad’s side, who devoted his life to community service and cleaning up the neighborhood. My heart was in that neighborhood and I never had thoughts about college or getting out. I saw and did a lot of things before the age of ten that nobody should ever do. I was falling into the trap of the streets. I didn’t mind or realize this because I didn’t know anything better.

At the age of ten my mom’s job transferred her, my little brother, and I to Missouri. It was the best thing to ever happen to me. My sister decided to stay in Colorado and planned to stay there for her high school years. My dad got clean and ended coming to Missouri. They were good for a while and I got to see what it was like to have a real family. Then, after a few months, like everything they had done in the past, they let us down. Things went back to the way they were before. My mom went along with whatever my dad did or said and my dad was disappearing for days/months. The only difference was that this time my little brother and I didn’t have refuge in family. We were over eight hundred miles away from the nearest family member. We were all alone and were victims of our parents’ problems. We never had parents to help us with decisions or homework. We guided ourselves and made our own way.

Around this time is when I began to excel in school and sports. I hoped my brother would follow my example as I tried to be the best brother/father possible. I tried to fill the void of not having a stable family with these things which didn’t fail me at all. My brother and I became very close and my sister decided to move to Missouri to be with us. We are very close and have always been there for each other.

As we got older the situation got worse. We never complained, and if you were looking from the outside in, you would never think anything was wrong. All people would know is that my dad would show up to my ballgames drunk and get kicked out of most. My coaches had to pick me up for every practice and game. But other than that people didn’t see or hear much. We were all good kids and did well in school. When my sister was seventeen she had a baby. Soon after she moved out to raise her child, finish school, and make a way for herself away from the family. She is the strongest woman I have ever known and is my hero. It got rough from there for my brother and me because she was not around, although we helped her out a lot. We continued to do our own thing with success, never letting people see our weakness or that we were dying inside.

The years passed and I got accepted to one of the most prestigious high schools in Missouri. It was a private school with a high tuition. Upon looking into the school I knew I would never be able to pay the going rate. Truth is, I got recruited to play sports there, like all the other high schools, and would not have to pay a dime of the several thousand dollar tuition. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity and made the most of it. Coaches from my younger days helped with the academic/athletic/need-based scholarship and even my father when he was sober. Alumni from the school took over from there and were excited to have a smart, athletic Latino in their school.

I did well there being top three in my class and starting on the varsity basketball team. I took pride in the fact that my work ethic was unmatched. I would never let anyone outwork me. People thought I was crazy, but they didn’t know I had huge chip on my shoulder. I had come from nothing to being in a school with a bunch of elitist white kids who had had everything handed to them their whole lives. I had to prove myself over and over again. I started on the varsity football as a sophomore and began to enjoy it more than basketball. I was working three days a week to provide for my little brother whatever he wanted. I did every community service opportunity I heard of. Working, studying, caring for my brother and the community, and playing sports are what made my glass full (as Mr. Cuellar would put it). I didn’t know any other way than to leave the house before 6 AM and not return until after 10 PM. I was determined not to end up back in the neighborhood that I once hoped never to leave. I would not allow my brother to fall into the trap either.

All the while, my life at home was deteriorating. I cannot really explain the feeling of trying to be perfect in order to be loved more than the things people chose in their lives. This is what I was doing and I was failing greatly: or so I felt. I feel that this is where Mr. Cuellar’s life and mine parallel in making our own decisions and allowing ourselves to fail or succeed. When I turned seventeen I decided to move out of my house. The environment was not productive for where I was headed and I wanted to get my brother away from it. We had been on our own for a while in a lot of ways, so leaving wasn’t very hard. As it turns out, I was under eighteen and therefore could not legally take my twelve year old brother. He was forced back into the house with my parents where he assured me he would be fine. From there I made my own way. I lived on the streets, in my car, with my sister and with friends. I was homeless but a lot of people opened their doors to me, whether knowingly or not. I can recall, asking friends if I could come over and study late and then intentionally falling asleep on their couch just so I could have somewhere comfortable to stay. I lived with families for weeks then would just disappear so I wasn’t a burden on them. I continued to work, play sports, do community service and go on my Mission Trips to Mexico. I was very busy but very unhappy and depressed. I went through some of the best and worst times of my life in this two year period.

The summer going into my senior year is when it all fell apart. My family had disowned me and said I couldn’t see my brother. I kept getting injured and thought my senior football year which would determine my future had ended before it started, and I was on my own living in my car. I felt I had no where to turn and I had lost faith in the Lord and myself. It was my eighteenth birthday and I had been in my car for almost forty-eight hours. I was suicidal and ready to end it all. I felt I had nothing to live for and had written to the people I cared about most to explain my actions. I knew where it would happen, I had it all planned out. The electric pole, the speeding car, the rain would all play their role in ending my life. I decided to do it on midnight of my birthday. I hadn’t accepted calls from anyone on my cell phone in two days and didn’t plan on it either. Honestly, fifteen minutes before midnight I got a call from a private number. None of the numbers had been private and I decided this was the last call I would ever take. I answered the phone, in tears to an unfamiliar voice. A voice I didn’t recognize but was speaking Spanish. The voice said “Oye. Oye happy birthday.” It was Judith, a girl from Mexico who I had spent most of my time with on my previous Mission Trip. I said thank you and she heard the pain in my voice. She is a wonderful girl and knew she had to figure out what was wrong with me. She continued to say over and over again that the people on the mission had been thinking about me and they loved me. She loved me like a best friend and would do anything for me. She said she knew I had the biggest heart she had ever seen. Those words saved my life. Judith and the great Lord saved my life that night. I couldn’t thank her enough for what she did. She is my angel sent from heaven to save me.

From there I didn’t look back and was relentless in my new life. God had given me a second chance and I would not fail Him this time. My outlook on life was completely different because I had been at the end of the road. There was no where to go but the right way and I felt I was here for a reason. That is when I really began my pursuit to help and educate others. I had done things before to be there for underprivileged young people but it was nothing like I began at that time. I felt that people could look at me and my story and see a path for success through all the trials and tribulations. I became devoted to affecting as many young minds as possible.

In 2006 I committed to one of the finest Ivy League institutions to play football. It was a dream come true. I never imagined as a young boy even going to college because nobody in my family really did that. But now I was headed to the Ivy League and was determined to continue my pursuit of helping people. Now I would have a different platform and be meeting a different group of people which I could change their mindset. Whether it was the elitist who saw no reason to give back or the boy who grew up poor and felt that he would never get out, I was determined to change those ways of thinking. I began with getting involved with a number of tutoring programs at my college and began to head one for athletes at one of the worst public high schools in the state. We have a lot of work to do there and I will continue my work with them.

So like Mr. Cuellar, I had big dreams, a positive mind, and a strong work ethic. I have used this to get me to where I am today and where I want to be. In the past year and a half I have began to resolve issues with my parents and they are cleaning up there act although I am still on my own and do not receive financial support from them.

Being here in Houston and working with these kids is also like a dream come true. I am learning a lot from them and I hope they are learning a lot from the stories I have offered them about myself. I hope to continue in education or something in community outreach. My dream is to go to law school and someday be CEO of my own non-profit organization. I hope that it is similar to the non-profit I am currently working for but also reaching youth through athletics and education. I know that these dreams can materialize with continuing hard work and meeting people from all over the country who can help me in the future.

Looking back it seems like an unbelievable story. But even in doing so, like I always have felt as a child, I realize there are people out there who have it worse. This is why I never complained about my situation and only tried to take steps to improve it. There have been many times when I could have given up like I planned to that rainy night, but I didn’t for a reason. I now understand the purpose of my strength through these hardships. There are a lot of people who love me and want to see me succeed. I don’t regret anything that has ever happened in my life because if it didn’t happen then I might not be in the same position I am today of being able to touch people through my life. I live by a quote: “For God to use a man greatly, he must first wound him deeply.” I have lived a life that is meant to inspire others to overcome obstacles in their lives. Always know that there are people out there who overcome unconquerable odds and end up on the top of the world. You must first make a personal decision to better your life with inner strength and believing in yourself. With these two things anything is possible.

I thank Mr. Cuellar for instilling these words into my students with his story of success. I also thank him for giving me giving me the opportunity to reach others through my story.

Thanks again,

-Anonymous

Miss Takes

Nobody quite knows where Ms. Takes came from. Some believe her mother was Invention. Others believe Chance, Risk, or Life itself was her creator. As a child, little Miss Takes used to be greedier than her other classmates—always wanting more than her fair share. Properly named, Miss Takes was not a giver but a taker in every sense of the word. She would stun her mother, Invention, by saying nothing was possible, there wasn’t enough, and everything was hopeless. Her mother eventually had enough and made her a ward of the state of mind—left to drift in and out of consciousness.

As Miss Takes grew older, she would eventually make friends with Homeless and Downtrodden. It was with Unfortunate that she finally was able to settle down and plant some roots. Sad, Depressed, and Hopeless welcomed Miss Takes into their lives. They held onto her and identified with her. They modeled their lives after her. “Yes! The world was a horrible unfair place! Yes! Life was pointless!” Her fans would roar. It wasn’t long before Miss Takes had quite a following. Trouble-makers around the globe pointed to Miss Takes for their misfortune. She became the scapegoat for the worried and doubtful. Scoundrels and hooligans alike sought refuge in Miss Takes. The name Miss Takes became synonymous with Fear, Doubt, and Worry. Although she liked this new found infamy, she realized there was something missing in her life. She didn’t feel comfortable in her own skin.

One day she decided she would give up her fame and notoriety and try to uncover her true self. On one bright spring morning, Miss Takes changed her name to Miss Givings. The reaction to her name change was alarming. Miss Takes had been confident that by changing her name from Miss Takes to Miss Givings she would be loved and adored by everyone. Instead, she gave everyone an uneasy feeling. People were so used to Miss Takes they didn’t know what to make of Miss Givings. Like so many others, Miss Takes gave to others, hoping to receive the credit she never gave to herself. Despite her best efforts, no one trusted her. She became lost and took on an identity of insecurity that didn’t really suit her. She wondered if all she was, or could ever be, was one big mistake. Sad and dejected, Ms. Givings, formerly Miss Takes, contemplated taking her own life. As she sat in her one-room apartment and began to compose her final goodbye, there was a sudden knock on the door. She tried to ignore the knocking, but it would not stop. Finally, she decided to get up and answer it. To her surprise, Mister Success was knocking at her door.

“Are you Miss Givings, formerly called Miss Takes?” asked Mister Success.

“Yes,” answered Miss Takes.

“Oh! I have been looking for you everywhere!” he shouted. “I want to thank you for all the work you have done, and are doing, and I want you to go back to being who you are! You aren’t Miss Givings! You’re Miss Takes! If it wasn’t for you, myself and so many others like me could have never become whole.”

“You mean there are more of you?!” questioned Miss Takes.

“Yes! Yes!” he screamed. “There are billions of us! And we’ve all been looking for you! If it wasn’t for you, Miss Takes, none of us would have been complete!”

“I’m sorry,” Miss Takes replied. “Please leave me alone. You must have me confused with Inspiration or something.”

“No! Please don’t close the door,” he exclaimed, “Don’t you understand that you are inspiration? That, without you, there would be no alternative theories, no invention! Without you, Miss Takes, the world would always be the same and would never be able to learn. It is only because of you that we can learn from our beloved mistakes.”

She began to cry. She realized the world wasn’t a horrible miserable place with no room for Miss Takes. She was responsible for success; the world needed her. She embraced Mister Success, and they lived happily ever after. To this day, you will never find Mister Success where Miss Takes hasn’t paved the road for him to walk on.

 

by Fred Cuellar the Diamond Guy®

Right Hand Rings

Congratulations ladies. The world of diamond jewelry advertising has discovered that you have a right hand. While this may come as quite a shock to you and many may doubt what I’m saying, I can clearly prove that what I’m saying is fact, not folly. Please look over to your left hand/arm. It’s the hand/arm where you will find your engagement ring, wedding band or watch, (assuming you’re right handed; of course if you are, then I don’t have to prove anything to you. You knew when we started this exercise you had a right hand!) Take your left hand and make a clapping sound. The hand you just hit is called your right hand! I know, I had to repeat the exercise a few times myself before I believed I had a right hand. What a shock! Then I was informed that apparently these “right hand rings” aren’t for me (guys). Note to diamond advertising company: When will you publicly acknowledge that men have right hands, too? Will it be next year? Year after? I know, it’s not all about me. I was just curious. Anyway, the Diamond Trading Company (formerly known as DeBeers) is spending millions of dollars letting women know that not only are they the owner of a right hand, (this has really got to tick off the women who don’t have a right hand, but then sometimes advertising can’t please everyone) but will feel more empowered if they buy themselves a piece of jewelry for that hand. Here’s the advertisers logic: In the past, we told women if their men loved them they would buy them a diamond or a nice piece of jewelry. In the community of women, a piece of jewelry is not only a status symbol but a declaration to all the world that they are loved. The advertising guys, after reading the 2002 US Census Bureau Report, realized that 23.6% of women don’t ever get married and will never get a piece of jewelry from the love of their lives. While this isn’t disturbing enough in its own right, the diamond industry took it more in terms of dollars and cents. Close to 25% of women were falling through the sales net. Not only that, the women who do own a few trinkets depend on us, the males, to buy them more. As a rule, most men aren’t tickled to death at the prospect of buying “lots” of jewelry for our wives, unless of course we’ve done something really wrong and deserve to be forgiven (I got your back, Kobe.) That being said, the solution to the problem was very simple (if you’re the advertisers); convince women to buy jewelry. Tell them it proves how independent, strong and intelligent they are and the Diamond Trading Company (DeBeers) could double the number of diamond jewelry buyers out there!

Short story: When I was eleven years old, I went on my first memorable airplane ride. Being that my Dad was a pilot in the Air Force, I felt I could get a taste of what he did when he went to work. He assured me that flying on a 747 was nothing like flying a two-seater jet at mach 2. Even though I didn’t know what type of plane a “54” was (I didn’t understand why my Dad didn’t just add 7 and 47), or who Mack Tu was (probably his co-pilot), I was still looking forward to the adventure. “Please take your seats. The captain will be taxiing to the runway any minute.” This, of course, alarmed me. Where could the captain be taking a taxi to? Shouldn’t he be flying the plane? But then I remembered about Mack, the co-pilot, and felt better. The next thing I remember was a very pretty lady giving instructions to everyone on how to work a seat belt. Because I had already easily connected and reconnected my own belt a thousand times, I didn’t understand who this demonstration was for. What I’m trying to say is, while I appreciate what the advertising guys are trying to do, sell more jewelry, they don’t have to state the obvious. Come on, how many different ways are there to stick the buckle into that latch? I’ve always preferred the K.I.S.S. approach (Keep It Simple Stupid). Show the bright, intelligent ladies some beautiful jewelry and step back and see what happens.
Without further ado, here are the “Right Hand Rings.”

P.S. You can wear them on your left hand, too. Just don’t tell anybody. It will be our little secret.

pictures of right hand rings

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Will I Marry a Cheater?

(Please make sure to read the whole article)
If you’re married, you’ll probably remember the words I (fill in your name) do take (fill in his name) to love, honor and cherish through sickness and health; through good times and bad forsaking all others till death do us part. Or maybe you wrote your own vows that showed a little more creativity. Either way I’ll bet my bottom dollar monogamy and “till death do us part” were part of your vows.

If your man said these words or is going to say these words, you can stop reading this article right now. You have married or are going to marry a cheater. I don’t know whose idea it was to put boundaries on love and death in the same sentence but they were an idiot. The quickest way to drive a man to cheat is by putting boundaries on him or bring up his own mortality. That’s why so many middle-aged men run off with another woman because “till death do us part” pops up in their head and they feel they have to leave their current relationship because its only heading one place: “Deathville.”

Statistically 99% of all men will cheat on their spouse during their marriage. The other 1% doesn’t exist, it’s just there because no statistical average is 100% accurate and the survey has a + 1% error ratio. That’s right, that’s what I’m saying, all men cheat, are cheating, or will cheat. It’s built into our make up to hunt and conquer.

Now don’t get me wrong, not all men’s mistresses are women. In some cases it’s football, sports in general, golf, work, money, possessions. Heck, men can cheat on a woman with a television set. Cheating can be anything that make a woman feel lonely, depressed, taken advantage of, or replaced. Ever feel jealous of something your boyfriend or husband is doing or has done? Then you’ve allowed yourself to be cheated on.

Want to know what I believe are the two most responsible reasons for divorce in this country? Jealousy and boundaries. Tell a kid he can’t have a cookie and I promise you will catch him with his hand in the cookie jar. Even Adam and Eve who had everything blew it the minute someone who will remain nameless said you can eat everything but don’t touch the apples. Come on, the nameless one was practically begging us to take a nibble.

Men as well as women tend to want what they are told they can’t have. Want a forever lasting relationship? Loosen the reins. The tightest relationships are the ones with the loosest reins. Remove jealousy, remove boundaries and you’ll remove cheating.

I think if I could write the perfect vows, it would be, “I’ll always try to do my best but if there are times when I am weak, you’ll allow me to speak and not judge me for my thoughts.” Want to blow a man’s mind? Tell him, “Honey I know just because we are getting married, you don’t have to give up your other interests. Just always be honest with me. Tell me the truth. Loving me doesn’t mean letting go of others or the things you love.”

You know what the #1 reason women leave a man if he cheats on her? It isn’t the other women, it was the deception.

So if you’re a man reading this article and you really are a man and you’re thinking of letting something else come between you and your spouse, be at least big enough to be honest with your woman and tell her. And if you’re a woman reading this, make your man understand you can be loving and understanding of anything unless he disrespects you or is dishonest.

by Fred Cuellar the Diamond Guy®

Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Tin Man

All men, not some men, are either part of, or all of the above. Knowing what you have and how to deal with him will either make or break your relationship.

Let’s start with “The Scarecrow.” Unlike his title “The Scarecrow” is brave, loyal and trustworthy. He would fall on a brush fire if it meant saving a life. “Scarecrows” are so kindhearted that their mates always take top priority. “Scarecrows” remember birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions. Their downfall lies in self-maintenance. Their stuffing is always falling out. Their organizational skills are poor at best and matching the right tie, sports coat and slacks can sometimes be disastrous.

“Scarecrows” are generally considered loners that avoid large crowds and stay introverts unless forced out of the nest. Most “scarecrows” think they lack the brain power for success but they’re generally geniuses. If you don’t mind a man with maintenance problems and is probably a little sloppy, “scarecrows” make great husbands and can be molded with little or no extra effort. Don’t get me wrong, “scarecrows” aren’t wimps, they’re just guys that are too smart to know how smart they are.

“Cowardly Lions” are direct opposites of “scarecrows”. They are boisterous, loud, sometimes obnoxious and very macho. They are extroverts to the third power. They are the athletes, the lawyers, and the salesmen. You see, to a “cowardly lion,” the “cowardly” is silent. To them they are just “lions”. King of the jungle. But the sad part is it’s just an act partly for their benefit, partly for others, but it is still just an act.

You see ladies, men are a nation of opposites. If he acts macho, he’s really shy; if he’s shy, he’s a conqueror, and hidden inside of every “cowardly lion” is a man that thinks if he acts tough enough, talks tough enough, maybe he can convince himself he’s tough enough.

“Cowardly lions” can make great husbands, but they are tougher to tame. If you don’t get through the macho man act, you’re doomed. Because until the “cowardly lion” realizes he doesn’t have to act tough to be a man, you’ll never get anywhere. By the way, some “cowardly lions” are smart, but very few. Unfortunately they spend too much time thinking about themselves than they do others. A “cowardly lion’s” favorite saying is “Well, what’s in it for me?”

The “Tin Man” if you recall was looking for a heart. That’s probably the best way to describe a “tin man.” A man in search of emotion. “Tin men” can be accountants, engineers, even architects. Usually they are great men. Over-achievers, men of logic; cause and effect fellows. The biggest problem with “tin men” is how they over analyze everything and how anal they are. They have a sense of perfection that must be a standard for all others to live up to. Quite frankly, most “tin men” end up living very empty lives. They get left behind because they can never learn the art of compassion and the voice of the soul. Want to be a wealthy wife? Find a “tin man,” he’ll be a great provider. Want to live a glorious life? Teach a “tin man” how to feel, how to touch, how to love. Give the “tin man” a heart and you’ll have a love affair that will never die.

Now don’t get me wrong, not all men are just one of these characters, some are combinations like I said before; heck there’s even a Dorothy or two out there. But what you should get from this article is there is no one definition of a man. We are all different and if you’re going to want to get to know your man better, it might be a good idea to know who you are talking to. The scarecrow, the cowardly lion, or the tin man.”

by Fred Cuellar the Diamond Guy®

Superman Syndrome

Big boys don’t cry — if you want a job done right you have to do it yourself — survival of the fittest — the boy with the most toys wins — a real man solves his own problems and behind every good man is a good woman. Young boys are told a lot of things growing up. Stereotypes are created at a whim to please society and the world around us.

“Superman Syndrome” is the fallacy that a man ain’t worth two cents if he’s not a good provider and problem solver. Ever hear the expression, “I wonder who wears the pants in that family?” It stems from ignorance bred by the idea that a real man is head of his family and makes all the final decisions. And it’s that ignorance that turns young boys into men who think every time their family, their wife has a problem he’s expected to be Superman and solve the problem.

Real men solve problems, that’s what we’re told our entire lives. That’s why I think men get confused when our mates tell us about their day and the Superman in us doesn’t look to listen but listens to fix, to solve, to save. Most men don’t understand that women don’t need saving any more. I don’t know if they ever did. Women just want to be heard. Not solved or fixed, just heard, understood. Nothing has meaning till we give it meaning. A problem is not a problem till we label it one.

I don’t know what women do when they sit around and share ideas and talk. But I do know what men do when they group together. They tell war stories. Battles won, problems solved, questions answered. We puff ourselves up, I think not so much out of ego but maybe to help each other in garnering a little more confidence to take on another day.

You see, deep down we know we aren’t Supermen and we can’t solve all the problems, but that doesn’t stop us from dreaming. Maybe this article is more for men to stop labeling every thing out of a woman’s mouth as a problem and stop trying to fix it, or maybe it’s for women to understand that when we don’t have something to fix we feel useless. I don’t know how to make men better listeners but if I could make one request, maybe once in a while when you do have a problem to solve, even though you can probably solve it yourself, you can be Lois Lane and let us be Superman. Because even if we can’t save the world, we still want to be heroes.

by Fred Cuellar the Diamond Guy®