The Most Important Lesson I Learned from Homelessness

For many of you it may come as a surprise that I was homeless. For roughly a year. I lived in absolute poverty. I ate out of trashcans when I was desperately hungry. I reached out for help and far too often I was turned away. For an entire YEAR I suffered. The greatest suffering of homelessness is not the physical pain of sleeping outside, the worry, the stress of just surviving each day.

The greatest pain of homelessness is this.

Rejection.

The world has rejected you. No one is willing to offer you a hand up.

Family doesn’t mean anything. Religion doesn’t offer any solutions. In the end for most people who become homeless they eventually give up all hope and fade away into the background. Becoming one of the forgotten.

And short of a miracle there you are. Stuck in a world without hope. Waiting for a miracle to come along and somehow save you.

For me homelessness taught me to embrace a world filled with hope. To be a man who desires to willingly share the hope that naturally flows from my heart.

Homelessness taught me to seek out the rejected — to look for them. To learn to love them. Even if it doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes just hearing their story is all that matters.

Much love to those who have shared in my journey and without you I would not exist today.

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The End of Everything

“I look back over the events of my life and see the hands that carried Moses to his grave lifting me out of mine. In remembering I go back to these places where God met me and I meet him again and I lay my head on his breast, and he shows me the land beyond the Jordan and I suck into my lungs the fragrance of his breath, the power of his presence.” ― Rich Mullins

Let’s imagine for a moment that you believe in the Bible. Let’s imagine for a moment that you believe in the Holy One of Israel. Let’s imagine for a moment that all of that is TRUTH.

Let’s imagine for a moment you awake from a deep sleep with a vision of the end of the world. But instead of the story ending the way the Bible promises with God coming down and saving his people that simply decided He’d had enough and turned His back on everyone and walked away to the comfortable confines of another universe with another chosen people who had been more faithful, and more deserving.

And at the moment He turned his back on mankind it was not destroyed overnight instead it slowly destroyed by itself over thousands of years. And mankind set in motion a living hell with little remnant of what it once was.

Until now.

Thousands upon thousands of people all over the world awoke with the same dream. A dream of The End of Everything.

We awoke with the knowledge that God himself had turned his back on us. And that there was no hope. That slowly all of THIS was slowly unraveling over thousands of years.

Until finally it was revealed Earth would cease to exist in 10 years and God would chose one man or woman out of the thousands he chose to survive the end of the world and walk with Him.

Let me ask you about this journey called life. How often do you walk with God ?

I grew up being a Christian. I believed that Christianity was the answer but EVERY single church I ever participated in would turn it’s back on the people who needed God the most. They were fixated on worshiping Jesus and yet put no effort into actually believing and following anything he taught. Instead they worshiped capitalism, status, and religion.

Mainstream Judaism doesn’t appeal to me. In fact no religion does. But I find some amazing truths in Judaism that I believe have shaped my heart.

The story of The End of Everything is a true story. All of this is coming to an end, maybe not in 10 years but mankind is slowly destroying the world. Mankind ultimately fails and what’s important is that we learn to walk with God.

The roadmap of modern Christianity puts its emphasis on individual salvation over obedience, love, and sacrifice. It’s not something I’m interested in. Individualism has destroyed the culture I grew up in. The message of individual salvation over obedience has destroyed the message of Jesus, and in fact has destroyed Christianity.

And yet on the opposite spectrum having spent time in many churches I have found that the church instead of loving the least of these (the poor, the needy, and the misunderstood) they judge them, and reject them.

I’m not here to judge the world’s faiths. I’m here to tell you a story about The End of Everything.

This world is slowly coming to an end. There will be earthquakes, wars, famine, poverty, disease. Every imaginable evil will eventually happen at one time or another until this world ceases to exist.

I’m here to give you a message.

There is a way HOME. I’m not talking about salvation. I do not believe in Salvation. Salvation implies that God will give us eternal life when we accept Jesus, and ask him into our hearts. That’s a bunch of nonsense. It’s US trying to hold on to ourselves into eternity. And not learning to walk with HIM.

God wants one thing from us. He Want’s US. God wants us to WALK WITH HIM.

When we walk with him there is no need for salvation. Our life exists in his and continues on regardless of time, space, or any concept we may conceptualize through mankind’s false religions.

He asks us to be in communion with him. Not today, not tomorrow. Every single moment, every single breath that we have. to walk with him.

There is a legend of a monk whose great desire was to see Jesus and touch the hem of His divinity. At his monastery, he waited in prayer and penance before his crucifix. He had vowed that he would see no human face—until his prayer was granted. One morning he seemed to hear a voice which told him that his wish would be fulfilled that day. With eager joy he watched.

There came a gentle tap upon his door, and the plaintive cry of a child was heard, pleading to be taken in and fed. But the voice of the cold and hungry little one, was unheeded. The ‘saint’ was busy with his devotions, watching for the vision of the Master, and must not be disturbed. The condles burned low and the monk grew dismayed. Why did not the vision appear? All he heard was, “Unhappy monk, you may pray on forever. The answer to your prayer was sent today—it lingered, then sobbed, then turned away.”

God is quite as sure to come to walk with us, in the doing of some common task of love and kindness—as when we pray or sit at our Master’s communion table. “For I was hungry—and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty—and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger—and you took Me in; I was naked—and you clothed Me; I was sick—and you took care of Me; I was in prison—and you visited Me.” Matthew 25:35-36

How often do people of “faith” seek God and yet ignore the very ones that God has sent into our lives to be his messengers ?

Our time is short. The world is coming to an end and we haven’t much time to learn to love, to sacrifice, and more importantly learn to walk with God.

The End of Everything is nigh.

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THIS is the solution to all of the world’s problems & will make you insanely rich! GUARANTEED.

I don’t write sensationalist headlines. But when I do I do it because I’m insanely sincere. The world has a lot of problems. But the solutions to those problems are very very simple. But it takes a lot of manpower to solve the problems. Thus even if .0000000000000001% (YOU) of the world’s population would heed my advice we would be much further along in solving the world’s problems than we began.

The world’s problems are broad. We could start with the big ones.

Hunger.
Disease.
Poverty.
Energy.
Water.
Homelessness.
Corruption.
Greed.
Apathy.
War.
Religion.
Racism.

These problems could be easily solved with this simple formula I have experimented with and developed over the last 10 years. It’s patent pending so please don’t steal it. Just use it freely.

Step One: Every day read as much as you possibly can.
Step Two: Never turn on the television.
Step Three: Only read one global newspaper
Step Four: Read more books.
Step Five: Cancel your netflix subscription.
Step Six: Read more books.
Step Seven: Turn off the television.
Step Eight: Develop more willpower.
Step Nine: Read more books.
Step Ten: Apply what you learned.

The world’s problems are solved by smart people. Every day strive to go to bed smarter than when you woke up. This isn’t achieved by watching Desperate Housewives of Hollywood Gulch, or another episode of America’s Bachelor Idol. It’s achieved by a daily focus on learning as much as you can, and applying what you learned in a systematic way to improve your life and the lives of the people around you.

Follow my ten steps. You will never regret it. And the world will be one step closer to finding lasting solutions to our greatest problems.

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When It’s Time To Move, and When It’s Time To Start Over

Last month I severed ties with my business partner. There’s a bunch of business reasons why this was stupid. But honestly at the end of the day I didn’t care. I had to do what made me happy and what I believed would guarantee my long term success. Far too often I felt like I was putting more into our projects than what I was getting out of it. I kept putting my work and contributions on a scale and balancing what it was I wanted out of my life. In the end all I felt was pain, sadness, and rejection. I felt like my contributions to the world and to our projects were not appreciated. And as a man we often tie our life’s work and contributions to our self worth. In the end I realized the danger of this approach to life, and to work.

I set out to weigh what the future held. I felt like there was nothing I could do to fix the working relationship. That this was a series of events and situations that would merely repeat itself over and over again. In fact they already had over the years. There was always an excuse. And far too often I was told it was my fault. It was an abusive relationship. And it played out over and over again. And not just with me. But with others. People I valued in life.

In the end I decided to walk. Even if I lost everything. Life’s too short to remain in abusive relationships whether they are personal, professional, or casual. Life’s just too short.

It’s taken me about a month to decide on the direction of my previous business, and on any future ventures. I sold one of my smaller sites to cover some initial expenses. Financially it’s been a weird struggle but my minimalism takes the focus off of needing to focus on the money so much as doing something I truly love doing.

I love to create new projects and let older ones percolate. I love selling sites. I love flipping sites. It’s been years since I allowed myself to do just that. Over the next few years I plan to sell off my old business to finance my new one until the old replaces the new.

Over the next month or two I will be launching 10 sites focused on Mexico. I love Mexico. That hasn’t changed. Now it’s time to share my knowledge better. The travel ‘blogging’ industry is a hard one to create a living for yourself. I’ve been watching and pondering ways I could enter in that space. So over the last few weeks I set out a plan and I plan to launch 10 location specific sites around popular travel and retirement destinations here in Mexico creating a unique and recognizable brand for each locale.

As far as monetization goes I plan to utilize affiliate marketing, and direct marketing with hotels, resorts, and AirBNB being the primary monetization method.

However I do plan to launch specific based city guides that we will sell on Amazon.com.

I’m excited for new adventures and will obviously keep you posted as each sites launches!

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The Longest 5 Years

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All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.” ― Mitch Albom

My name is not important. My story is. I was born in the early 1980′s. It appears life there was different. Child abuse was far more acceptable than it is today. I spent much of my childhood in foster homes and orphanages.

Often times I was a minority in these homes. Sometimes the only boy, sometimes the only white child in an inner city. But always I held deep inside me the desire, the dream, the vision of hope. Hope in the Creator of the Universe. That He had a vision for me. That I was created for a reason. I held onto that hope with everything I had. It kept me alive.

By the early 1990′s I was a young man that my adopted family no longer wanted. My family was a wealthy family from the upper middle class in a large US city. And through various contacts that my parents had made they decided to literally discard me because I had made their life too difficult. You might think that you can’t discard children in today’s world. But the reality is that you can.

I was sent to a place in Montana. It was called Pinehaven Christian Children’s Ranch. I was given the choice to go there. I was told it was a working cattle ranch. Much like a dude ranch in a movie I had watched once called City Slickers. I grew excited to move to a place where I might ride horses, and chase cattle. I was a mere child and still believed that mankind was essentially good. Even in spite of the fact that my life up until that time looked more like broken glass than a fairy tale.

I accepted “The Invitation” to Pinehaven. And I was told I was special to be accepted. That there was a “waiting list” and that I had been picked especially for this.

At that moment I truly believed that the Creator of the Universe. God. Had selected me and allowed me, even destined me to go there.

After I arrived at Pinehaven that hope that I had in God was quickly suffocated. It was suffocated by the daily abuse that I suffered, and maybe the greatest suffering that I experienced at Pinehaven was not the physical abuse, nor was it the psychological abuse of the words daily that I was told. That I would never amount to anything. That I was nothing. No. The greatest abuse that I experienced was watching helplessly as others that I had come to love, cherish, and hold dearly were abused in front of my eyes on a daily basis. This feeling of hopelessness created a darkness within my soul that I battle every day of my life. It’s called survivors guilt.

Survivors guilt is a very real thing. Because I came out alive. I survived 5+ long years at Pinehaven. Being physically abused, psychology tortured, and spiritually destroyed. And yet somehow I survived physically. And over the years I’ve found healing. Healing in helping others. I’ve found hope in telling my story. I’ve received fulfillment in trying with all my soul to bring an end to the torture, the abuse, and the destruction of the innocence of childhood.

But my friends. So many of them. They weren’t so lucky. Some of them have passed on. Because the scars, and the jagged pieces of their lives they were unable to put back together. Their hope in God, and in the goodness of mankind was shattered to dust. And from dust they came and to dust they returned. The gift of life that they were given was extinguished far too soon. Their innocence was vacuumed up and they were told that they somehow deserved the abuse they received. And though they might have physically survived a few years at Pinehaven. Many of them were left with this hollowness that they would care for as long as they could.

This would destroy them. They would end up in jail. Some of them drank themselves to death. Others vanished to a life of homelessness. Some to prostitution. Other jumped into abusive relationships. Because that’s all they knew. Still others were mercifully taken from this world. Because their pain was too great to keep on living.

And then there’s me. Here I am. A survivor. Still far too often the boy who witnessed the abuse. The one who was not strong enough to fight back. The one who stood by and could do nothing. Because I was just a child.

I made it. And maybe the greatest thing in my life. Is that I survived. To tell my story. To help bring an end to abuse that other children experience in these “institutions” that are setup to help children. When in reality, they systematically destroy the only innocence that they have left.

My name is not important. But my story is. I urge you to do everything in your power to protect the 20,000+ children who every year are sent to unregulated institutions that have a long history of abuse. I ask you to save innocence. To protect the children of the future. So that I and other survivors might be able for once to lay our heads down at night and feel safe again. Not just for ourselves but for the children who are currently living the nightmare that we have lived through.

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7 Things I’ve Learned By Living In Mexico

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When I look back on the last ten years there are some amazing moments. Some awesome memories. Some truly enriching friendships. I may not have found a wife, or built a family but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t learn anything here in Mexico. Or that I didn’t succeed in doing the things I desired. In fact I’ve grown up so much I hardly recognize myself. I’ve never been so blessed in my entire life. Here are 7 things I learned by living in Mexico.

Always Be Grateful

I used to not be nearly as grateful for my life. After seeing a different perspective and living through another I strive to daily seek to be grateful for the gift of life. This decade has not been the most peaceful here in Mexico. And that has added to my need, my desire, and my calling to constantly be in a state of gratefulness. It has added so much time, passion, and energy to my life.

Live In The Moment

I strive every day on top of being grateful to cherish the moments. The day to day. Today I awoke grateful for life and the ability to step outside my door and walk down the street and get a huge cup of fresh fruit for about $1.25. This is simply amazing. An amazingly blessing I will never take for granted. Simple things like this have taught me to be grateful. My life hasn’t always been easy and I strive to daily live and appreciate the great gifts that I do have.

Not Everyone Will Like Me

By living in the moment, and learning to be grateful I have been able to handle negativity much better. Not everyone likes me. I’m an American. I come from a different culture. I strive to be respectful of everyone’s culture. I strive to constantly be improving my spanish. And yet on top of that not everyone likes me. And that’s ok. I have learned to handle the negativity with a smile. And be appreciative of even people who just can’t stand me. They are missing out. I think I’m pretty awesome to be around on a daily basis.

Not Everyone Will Understand Me

Some days on top of people not liking me, people just don’t understand me. Not from a language standpoint but from a cultural standpoint. Some people believe that America is the greatest country on the earth. And for an American to not be living there that …. somehow I’m an idiot. It used to bother me that people didn’t understand me. Now I just smile at them and cherish the negativity because living here has been the greatest gift of my entire life.

Love Unconditionally

One thing I have been gifted so often here in Mexico is negativity. Some people judge me. Some people look down on me. Some people dont like me. Some people don’t understand me. And that encourages me every single day to love them unconditionally. To look within myself and see my own imperfections and realize that we are all human. And in turn I open up my heart and strive to love everyone to the best of my ability. Life is beautiful when love moves into the center of our lives and warms our hearts like a smoldering fire.

Live Life Slower

When I lived in the United States I was always in a hurry. I can’t remember the last time I was in a hurry here in Mexico. Life is slower. When I get stressed I step back and take a deep breath and strive to live life slower. Life is a gift. It’s meant to be experienced slowly. Friendships are a gift and likewise should be cherished. We should always take time out of our days to just slow down. Watch the sun rise, and watch the sun set. Every day I strive to live today slower than yesterday. Our lives aren’t getting any longer but … we can experience them a bit slower to make it last.

Be True To Myself

Finally, I strive to be true to myself. To live life on my terms. To be true to my own hearts calling. This year I’m converting to Judaism. Guess what ? It’s true to who I am. I run my own business. I live my own life. I do things my way. And there’s no other way to experience life. So often in my life I worried what people thought about me. And that was so exhausting. Being true to myself is like being free for the first time every day….

In conclusion. I have learned so much more than this. But these 7 things have truly changed my heart and changed who I am as a person.

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Embracing The Unknown

This week I parted ways with a long time business partner. Over the years maybe we grew apart I really don’t know. Maybe my expectations for success were different than his. One thing I knew was this I wasn’t prepared to work harder and harder and not achieve success. I fully believe in my business. That hasn’t changed.

The other day I woke up fully ready to walk away. I was ready to quit my own business. The reasons were these.

Our partnership had soured. I felt like the amount we were puttng into was no longer equal. I felt like my sweat equity was worth more, far more than what he was putting in. In fact when I set out to have an equal partnership I wasn’t looking for a “job”. Over the last 2 years I basically ceded editorial control, business control, and control over all decisions in the business. Foolishly honestly. I felt as though it had crippled most all of my talents and relegated me to a role of a virtual assistant building a business for my partner instead of building something that we both built, loved, and achieved equally.

On top of it all essentially I felt underappreciated, undervalued, and at the end of the day I realized I wasn’t happy. My decision was to just walk away and hand the business over to my partner or ask him to buy me out.

He refused to buy me out. Instead he basically just threw it all in my face very defensively. Saying I work with 20 other people and I guess your unhappiness is your business.

It was very deflating. Over the last 2 years I had helped him make some very important decisions strategically in the business changing affiliate companies, and making strategic decisions about how to build a business. In the end he decided without even asking me or talking to me to cut the resources on my sites because I was underperforming.

And so a friendship of 10+ years disintegrated into dust.I felt that things were unrepairable. It was time no matter what that I moved on. I couldn’t in any fashion invision myself being happy in this toxic environment that removed from me any creativity, any decision making, and any ability to work outside the box. And the one thing I depended on to work with from my partnership was marketing and over the last 12 months our marketing has sucked. I’m sure his side would place the blame on me. But that’s the one part of the partnership he said he would handle. On top of it I felt unappreciated.

Literally ideas I pitched to my partner were used on his other sites and when asked about my projects he said things were slow this was a new process. Then…. it was my fault when our marketing fell short of our goals. Yet the same ideas I pitched were working on his sites. Umm. Yeah. Huge red flags kept appearing often.

Constantly I needed to increase my effort. Finally I realized he no longer cared about me, or our partnership. He cared about easy profits. Not helping building a long term stable business partnership. That was evident when after I confronted him he just threw my business at me and walked away.

I had decided to walk away. I had prepared my resume and was ready to start looking for jobs. And now today I wake up needing to organize new systems to run a business that I was sure I was going to lose. Today I strive to build a better marketing engine to drive profitability. To build a better content marketing process.

When things were finally starting to clear after the chaos fell down he had accused of me of being irrational and quiting on projects. I quit on a couple of small projects over 5 years and somehow this was important to our current projects. He said I had a pattern of quiting. That I was a quitter and that’s why he didn’t place the same level of importance into my projects, and didn’t invest as much into my projects as others. I was shocked and I realized I was right to walk away at all costs.

I am hurt knowing that basically in my mind’s eye that he had purposefully or subconsciously wasted the last 2 years of my time with our business because of his preconceived notions of my past. Maybe he put effort in I don’t know. It never seemed like he did to me. Our payments were constantly late. Our media was constantly late and underperforming minus one supplier. Everything was always like pulling teeth to accomplish anything. Finally enough was enough. There has to be a simpler way.

I could no longer rely on luck to get things accomplished. I could longer see myself in this partnership. That was then. This is now. I could analyze why he basically threw away his investment in me. I could be hurt by that. I could be hurt by many things in our business. I could question why we weren’t successful again in this partnership. Instead I’m going to take what worked and build on that. And instill better systems for success.

Today is the first day of the future. Today I embrace the unknown. I recognize my own failings in my business and strive to develop better systems to improve on that and to continue developing a successful business. I know I must be doing something right. We had our first buy out offer today as well as 4 other interested parties.

Instead of quitting I strive to build something that will be a lasting legacy of success. I embrace the unknown with a passion I’ve never had. I plan to share the journey and mark this day as the one where someone gave up on me. Where someone didn’t believe in me enough to fight for our partnership. I plan to do great things. Not just to prove to the world that I can but because I love what I do. And I don’t believe that failure is something I can do.

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Letting Go

I love hitchhiking. I never had as many moments of silence as I did when I was standing on the side of the road waiting my next ride.

A few years ago I left Mazatlan with only 3 dollars to my name and journeyed north with only my thumb and my backpack to guide my way.

The problem with hitchhiking is I’ve nearly died a few times doing it. Once in Mexico, and another time when I got stranded out in the desert in Southern California in 110 degree weather.

The problem with dying is that it’s painful. We have all these attachments. When I was 9 years old I was diagnosed with attachment disorder, for failing to magically manifest childhood attachments to my adopted family. But in all honestly it was only my 10th or 11th family in my life.

At such a young age I learned that life is not about our attachments. It’s about our ability to successfully lay aside our ego when the things that are not in our control
seem impossible, or to hard to comprehend.

I spent over a year homeless. I had to lay aside what the world thought of me. I had to lay aside what I thought of myself. I had to let go of my own pain.

I had to learn to wake up each morning and die to myself. To let go of my ego. And to be grateful for another day of life. Of breath. Of this moment.

the hardest part about dying is not death. Death is merely the ceasing of our current bodies. What makes death hard is our inability, our unpreparedness to let go of our attachments.

I’ve seen death a few times. And our attachments are what makes passing on to the next phase of our existence so hard. When we let go of our attachments life and death becomes so much more fulfilling.

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Simplicity: Reimagining My Business

Over the last few weeks I have taken a hard hard look at my business. I’ve taken a hard look at usability. The first I realized was outside of our traffic numbers was that we were doing a horrible job at conversions.

HORRIBLE.

Instead of losing faith and throwing in the towel. Which was tempting actually. I decided to stop everything and meditate. Like seriously instead of looking at this from a negative perspective I wanted to look at it from a perspective of growth, freedom, and prosperity.

I meditated.

I felt like I was mismanaging opportunities to succeed by cluttering things up and losing users. I had to take a deep breath and reimagine my business.

We’d still be doing the same exact things. Helping students find the best college degrees. and career paths to help make the world a better place.

But we needed to cut the glut and reimagine our websites.
We studied navigation and just cut everything down to the bare minimum. Next we went with simpler more passive text based logos, slightly larger text, and better spacing on every single page.

Next we would focus more on conversion by cleaning up our links, and adding more links, bulking up our content. Making sharing and social media a central focus to everything we do.

Next after our sites were where we wanted them I took a look at content. I realized while our backlinking and SEO was solid going forward our commitment was to build more linkable, promotable, social and viral content. This would have to be literally a clear 50-60% of our focus going forward.

I will be using this site as a test bed for new content drafting and practice as well as testing our business platform which I call “Simplicity” which is build on Thesis, Social Triggers, WordPress, and the Open Sans font.

You can one of our new designs here at Online Masters In Public Health

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Why I Love Mexico

I love waking up in the morning in Guadalajara. It’s a simpler life than in the United States. I roll out of bed whenever I see fit. I wake up excited for life. I go to work which consists of heading over to my desk, or to a table on the terraza to soak in some daylight. I drink a hot coffee usually french press, or a Cowboy espresso. I generally make eggs and black beans for breakfast and just ease into my day allowing creativity to be the center of it.

san juan de dios

As the day progresses I seek out social interaction usually on Facebook, or Twitter, or sometimes in person at the local cafe.

Here in Mexico I’m not drawn to the news. I do have a fond addiction to TV in the evenings, and Jazz Music during the daytime while I peck away at the keys of my keyboard.

This city is so amazing. There is architecture gallore. There are limitless restaurants. Limitless amazing cafes. I have access to amazing whiskey, even better cigars.

It doesn’t ever snow here. And life is just simpler. On Saturday mornings I wake up and go to the mercado with friends. Where we order menudo and fresh handmade tortillas.

The cycles of life continue on and on again. I take it in slowly over a cup of coffee, a glass of whisky, or a simple cigar.

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