So You Want to Fast This Lent?

So You Want to Fast This Lent?

There are so many ways that this Lent is already affecting me in profound ways. Here is just one reflection that packs a reflective punch:

You do you want to fast this Lent?

Fast from hurting words and say kind words.

Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.

Fast from anger and be filled with patience.

Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.

Fast from worries and trust in God.

Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.

Fast from pressures and be prayerful.

Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.

Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.

Fast from grudges and be reconciled.

Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

-Pope Francis

 

January Review + February’s New Goals

January Review + February’s New Goals

 

JANUARY REVIEW

READ MY GOALS EVERY MORNING

Confession: I probably did this about 3 times. AKA… I failed. However, I’m going into February high hopes that I can incorporate it into my life more. It’s important for me to remind myself of my goals every morning. Every time I do it I’m proud of my self and I feel like I have a better sense of direction.

NO SNOOZE

This by far was my most successful goal. Admittedly, I snoozed two times. The first time I admitted it to Bridget and the second time she actually caught me (yes, I made two Pintrest recipes as my “punishment”). I liked this goal a lot because I noticed a change in behavior almost immediately. I set a goal to stop snoozing and the next day I stopped–it was much easier than I imagined it to be. Sure I had a lot of moments when I found it to be difficult but the structure I set up really propelled me to succeed.

My Biggest Challenge for this goal was to figure out a system that worked. I knew that I wanted use an alarm clock so that I could avoid having my phone in my bed. Initially, I thought I would leave my phone downstairs but then I wouldn’t be able to hear any emergency phone calls. I had to get creative.

I decided that I would crank up the volume really loud on my phone and keep it right outside my room, basically in the hallway. I also decided that my main alarm would still be on my phone.

So–before I went into my room, I plugged in my phone, turned it up to 100% volume and set the alarm for 6:20AM. Then in the room I would set a back up alarm on my clock for 6:25AM just incase I did not hear my phone outside. At 6:20 I hear the alarm in the hallway, turn off the alarm clock, and then get out of bed to turn off my phone.

No. Snooze.

At first I wasn’t sure if it would work but it’s the system I am still using and I’m happy to say that I have nearly eliminated my bad habit of snoozing for nearly an hour a day.

NO OVEREATING

I did okay with this one. Which is just a more optimistic way to say that I failed.

NO CELL PHONE IN MY BED

Needless, to say I crushed this goal. Read above for more but this is the goal I am most proud of. It’s crazy how every time I feel anxious I just whip out my phone like its the answer to my anxiety. I mean… wow. This particular challenge has opened my eyes. I’m looking to find creative ways to limit my cell use.

It’s such a distraction from the things that I actually want to prioritize. Don’t get me wrong… I love social media and technology. I just hate the way I allow it to control me.

What am I searching for anyways on that device?

ACTIVE 10 MINUTES EVERYDAY

I think I was really thankful for this goal the first week of January. I was so out of shape that I just needed the initial motivation and pick me up to get started. So this specific challenge got me outside shooting hoops, doing crunches and push ups even if it was for ten minutes.

I missed a lot of days but this challenge put me on the right path. I’m training for a half marathon now so I’m hoping that I can figure out a new health and fitness plan for the month of February.

EVERY MONDAY PLANNING WITH ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS

I wish this goal worked out better but I was only really able to plan with my friends about two times. There was also a snow day involved and I also a “really hard-day-at-school-so-I-can’t-come” day ….so yeah. I will say that that while it helped me, I didn’t get as much done as I wanted but then again I was only able to come twice! Definitely going to give this another shot.

FEBRUARY 2017 GOALS

  1. READ MY GOALS EVERY MORNING
  2. NO SNOOZE/NO CELL PHONE IN BED
  3. COUNT MY CALORIES EVERYDAY
  4. GO TO THE GYM EVERYDAY
  5. ROSARY DECADE EVERY MORNING
  6. GET RID OF MY EXCESS CLOTHES
  7. LIST SOMETHING ON EBAY EVERYDAY

Since most of these are just repeating January. Let me just explain a couple.

GET RID OF MY EXCESS CLOTHES

I’ll explain this in another blog but it’s the fruit of reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. Wait until you see my closet. I’ve been documenting.

COUNT MY CALORIES EVERYDAY

I’m hoping that this will be an objective way to tell if I am “over eating.” I failed the last month and I’m hoping that this will get me back on track with some healthy eating habits.

GO TO THE GYM EVERYDAY

Lately I’ve been going to the gym even if I’m only there for about 15 minutes. But hey, 15 minutes is 15 minutes more than a lot of other people. I guess what I want to create is a habit of checking into my gym after school even if it’s just for 25 crunches. That’s fine with me–as long as I am taking steps to actively prioritize my health. I’ll keep experimenting with this and keep you updated!

ROSARY DECADE EVERY MORNING

I can’t tell you how difficult it is to get up in the morning. Most days I immediately start praying Hail Mary’s just because it gives me a the little extra boost of strength to get my body out from under the covers. After I get out of the covers, there is another little battle after I turn off the alarm. I swear, right after I turn off my alarm my body feels like it’s being pulled back to my bed. And again, I start to pray in hopes of getting a little boost of strength to keep moving down stairs.

A decade takes about 3-4 minutes of repetitious, mantra-like prayer and I’m not ashamed to say that it makes me stronger. So–I’ll add this to the list and see how it goes. Plus, I’m excited to use my rosaries more.

LIST SOMETHING ON EBAY EVERYDAY

Okay, yes. It’s true. I’m doing an eBay Challenge and I might as well make it public. Over the years I’ve been fascinated with buying and selling and the art of business and I think eBay is just another aspect that I think would help me understand the marketplace… at least little pockets of market places.

So far I’ve made almost $400 selling and flipping stuff on eBay and I started on Black Friday. Right now the goal is to make $1000 in a year so I’m at a good pace. There have been a lot of lessons learned and it’s definitely not easy but I will say–I’m having fun. And until I stop having fun… or until starts to take up too much of my time, I’m going to keep going. I also think it’s a fun skill to have and to develop. If you want to join then shoot me a message and we can chat more about it.

SEE YOU IN 30 DAYS 

-Jurell

 

 

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

I’m still very much on the New Year high and I’m convinced there is nothing wrong with that. Some people I chat with hate this season but I thrive in it.

The month of January gets me pumped and–I don’t know about you but–I’m utilizing the hype to make myself better.

Yesterday I was listening to one of my go to podcasts (storybrand.com) and the host, Don Miller, was discussing a book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. It only took a few minutes of them talking about it until I gave in and bought the book. Let me tell you right now…

This book is going to change my life.

Maybe it was the right time and place but I can’t tell you how much I need focus right now. My life is so… cluttered …and messy. Just…. ughhh.

I’m 28 years old and I don’t know if I’m a teacher …or a filmmaker …or minister … or a writer? I’ve gotten caught up in the hype of making hype and noise but I want my life to be more than hype. I’ve built up a successful filmmaking company and helped lead The Living Person to where it is today …but I’m wandering. What is my direction? What is my purpose?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked really hard to create meaning and purpose in my life.

I literally dubbed 2016 the “Year of No” in an effort to cut out everything that wouldn’t contribute to St. Ed’s, We’ll Be Alright, and The Living Person–but the point is that it’s still too much. I’m still divided. Which is nuts because I literally quit about about seven things: Filipino Martial Arts, Blogging for 3 different websites, cutting down my wedding clients, my leading role in my parish youth ministry program, and a handful of other small things. Are you serious?

No one is better at sabotaging my life than me.

It’s crazy to look back at my life and see how completely nuts I was but I’m lucky enough to fight through another day. If this book can inspire me to sit and think hard about the one thing my life is about, then I’m all in. Sometimes I think I know what it is… but I’m not satisfied with that. Honestly, I want the confidence and security of knowing I worked hard to figure out my “one thing.”

And that won’t be revealed to me over night but rather through constant searching and persistent prayer.

I wanted to leave you with my favorite part of the book thus far. Please note, none of the following words are mine and if you want to quote or give credit, please give it where it is due and maybe even consider supporting him by buying his book. It would be awesome to have some people to share this journey with.


The Idea that “You Can Have It All”

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, 15-16

The idea that we can have it all and do it all is not new. The myth has been peddled for so long, I believe virtually everyone alive today is infected with it. It is sold in advertising. It is championed in corporations. It is embedded in job descriptions that provide huge lists of required skills and experience as standard.

It is embedded in university application that require dozens of extracurricular actives.

What is new is how especially damaging this myth is today, in a time when choice and expectations have increased exponentially. It results in stressed people trying to cram yet more activities into their already over scheduled lives. It creates corporate environments that talk about work/life balance but still expect their employees to be on their smartphones 24/7/365. It leads to staff meetings where as many as ten “top priorities” are discussed with no sense of irony at all.

The word priority  came into the English language in the 1400s.

It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years.  Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality. Somehow we would now be able to have multiple “first” things. People and companies routinely try to do just that. One leader told me of his experience in a company that talked of “Pri-1, Pri-2, Pri-3, Pri-4, and Pri-5.”

This gave the impression of many things being the priority but actually meant nothing was. 


If you found this to be powerful then hit me up. Read the book with me and let’s move forward together. I’ll keep ya’ll updated with my favorite parts and the current things that I’m working on. So far the hard commitments are to finish the book and to really cut out some of the excess materials in my life, yet another awesome challenge from this book. Just wait until you see my closet. Cheers to a life of “less but better” and cutting out the all the things that distract me from my priority.

Thank you God for this day.

Onward and upward,*

Jurell

*I love this phrase and stole it from my awesome neighbor Brian Byers.

 

 

 

Now the Work of Christmas Begins

Now the Work of Christmas Begins

 

First, I just want to say…

I love my church

Man, do I love my church. So shout out to St. Mark in Westpark, Ohio and the pastoral team led by Fr. John Miceli. I’m literally so moved by the community, the quality of worship, and most of all the small, intimate family vibe.

Sidebar: If you don’t like your church then start doing something about it. I realize that we celebrate mass to give thanks in the Eucharist but there is something to be said about a parish community and a liturgy that speaks to your heart–one that resonates with you. Put yourself in an environment, a holy space, that brings out your best self in worship. Just my opinion.

Second, I had to share this poem with you guys. Especially today, the feast of Epiphany… aka the last day of Christmas for Catholics. It’s a litany written by Howard Thurman, an African-American theologian, educator, and civil rights leader.

Now the Work of Christmas Begins

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

So fam, let us continue on the journey, let’s walk together and lift each other up when needed–trying our best to fulfill the mission of Christmas.

 

I Need to Change

I Need to Change

I want to be the best.

It’s a thought that’s been on my mind for a couple months and it’s just true. I want to be the best.

My dad was a medical technologist before he retired. I’m not sure what that really means but I do know that he was responsible for drawing blood samples at the hospital. As a kid, I remember people talking about how good he was. He was the best. When nobody could find the vein, my dad could. When no one was up for the challenge, my dad got it done.

I remember him pulling me into his room and telling me the same story over and over.

“Jurell, you know what my co-workers tell me at the lab?”

“…no, what?”

“They say: ‘Jun, you could draw blood from a rock!’ …you know why I can do that Jurell?”

“… no, why?”

“Because I’m the best.”

Maybe back then I thought it was cocky but now I just think of his unwavering confidence and his desire for me to be the best. It’s only now, as a 28 year old, that I understand what he was trying to teach me. So this January, I can’t help but get caught up in the spirit of a new year.

There are so many things I want to change, so many flaws, so many destructive habits, so many tendencies that push me 20 steps backward from being the best.

Now, I’m not exactly sure what being the best means yet but I am positive and sure that I want to be it. I think that my “best self” is always evolving and yet to be revealed. At the same time, I believe it is in the very act of seeking it that I will discover it …maybe.

So, cheers to the seeking.

2017 CHANGES AND LIVING PERSON CHALLENGES

READ MY GOALS EVERY MORNING

A very respected and successful mentor (founder of E5Leader.com) swears on this practice and I’ve been wanting to try it for awhile. Why? Because at any given moment I get swept up in my own daily life and forget the direction that I am shooting for. I’ve also heard that reviewing your goals and to do list regularly is one of the most important factors in moving forward in your goals. So–to be blunt… I think that this practice will be the one to take me far.

For too long I’ve convinced myself that “I forgot” was a legitimate excuse–but it’s not legitimate at all. It’s just the mediocre one. And I will not be locked into the mediocre box.

NO SNOOZE

My “snoozing” has gotten out of hand and it’s time to do something about it. At my worst, I literally will set four to five alarms and snooze them all for an hour. It’s a terrible way to start my morning not to mention disrespectful to my wife when she is off work.

I made a deal with my wife to hold myself accountable to this. If I snooze I’ve promised to cook her a Pintrest recipe of her choice.

God help me.

(lol)

NO OVEREATING

If you know me then you know that I can put food away. I used to pride myself on it but lately it just been exhausting. My love for food has stolen hours and days away from me. It’s made me sick to my stomach. I’ve had too many days of being a slave to food. That might sound dramatic but I’m done with not having control over my cravings.

I look back to when I was on a serious diet and workout plan and I was limiting my food. It wasn’t until I was limiting my intake that I realized how much I really loved food. I guess it’s the old cliche that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

Food becomes more flavorful and the experience more artful and appreciated.

Another random thought: Do I consume the food? or does my food consume me? Laugh all you want but these are the things I think about.

NO CELL PHONE IN MY BED

Part of me is ashamed to admit it but I’m  addicted to my cell phone.

Okay? There. I said it.

There’s so much stimulus from it and I keep it close to my side, checking facebook, then Instagram, then Twitter, the email, then my other email. it’s just… too much.

I know how much good can be accomplished through social media but I’ve also experienced the strong grip it has on my life sometimes.

There are a lot of ways I need to improve but the place I have chosen to start is my bed. I bought an $8 alarm clock for the time and I keep my cell phone just outside the bedroom. That way if someone needs to get ahold of me I can still hear it and answer and it forces me to get up out of bed in the morning to turn off the alarm. It’s perfect for my “no snooze” goal.

If you are interested in the inspiration for these goals see the articles and videos below. If not–skip to the next goal.

Simon Sinek on Millennials: I actually have a lot of beef with Sinek’s arguments but that’s for a different blog. I completed my Master’s thesis on the Millennial generation and some of the stuff he says is really good… and some of it makes my blood boil. Anyways. The good stuff is GOOD. He inspired me to get an alarm clock and helped me realized the addiction I discussed above.

8 Things You Should Do Every Morning By Benjamin P. Hardy: This article changed my life about 6 months ago. Stop checking email right out of bed. It’s just a terrible way to live.

ACTIVE 10 MINUTES EVERYDAY

This is an old goal that always comes in waves. I’ve decided to make my goal so easy that it’s laughable in hopes that it will get me started and consistently get exercise everyday. My 10 minutes will consist of running, lifting, p90x videos, and insanity videos. Time to reclaim my health and my body.

EVERY MONDAY PLANNING WITH ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS

My friends have been inviting me to a Monday evening work session where they meet up and crank out work but I’ve yet to go. They are crazy organized and on top of things (everything I am not) so I just think this will be a good move for me. It highlights my desire to be prepared and organized and some social time to continue building friendships. I’m pretty excited for this one.

30 DAYS AT A TIME

My friend Craig is the master of new year’s resolutions. I hate him for it… but he’s incredible at it. After two years of completely failing at my new year’s resolutions I’ve learned that I am not Craig Sidol. I’ve learned that I’m terrible at committing to things for one year. It’s just too long of a period for me.

I’m not eliminating that practice completely–maybe I can get there eventually–but right now I know that I can work with 30 days at a time and then revise.

Plus, if I execute the goal for 30 days and I discover that it isn’t life giving then I can drop it. So the plan is to review my goals every 30 days without feeling bad about dropping or picking practices as I need them.

So there… see you in 30 days.

 

5 Random Thoughts about Goodness and Evil

Like most people there’s been a lot on my mind lately so I’m grateful for this platform to express some of the random thoughts going through my head. As always this isn’t the last word… there is always more to be said… no one blog (or one person) gets to summarize the complexity of the realities we live in today. Proceed into my head and heart at your own risk and please read and respond with love.

Thought #1

I always teach my students that evil is the absence or lack of the good. This theology is usually attributed to St. Augustine.

Thought #2

I get so frustrated when people say “what has this world come to?” Probably because it’s easy. It’s easy for people to look out, point the finger and say “How could you??” But the much more difficult thing would be for me to ask myself, “How could I? …How could I have been so selfish? How could I have been so greedy and materialistic? How could I have been so superficial? How could I have mistreated someone so badly?”
As much as I like to think that I am innocent, I am an active contributor to both the goodness and evil in this world… in this city… and in my home. It might sound stupid but I think about this all the time. On one hand, who am I to think that my actions affect the globe but on the other hand, do I really think that my selfishness doesn’t contribute to the hate that we experience?
We always talk about the evil that’s “out there” …somewhere over yonder with the gangs and terrorists but I’m writing this post to express one of my core beliefs: evil also lives in the suburbs. Not only in the suburbs, but like Matthew Kelly always said, “The line between good and evil is cast down the center of our own human heart.” More often than not, I am the racist. Just because I don’t say racist things doesn’t mean it’s not in my heart. And if I know it’s in my heart, who is to blame if I don’t do anything to actively get rid of it?
So yes, my friends, racism exists in America … in 2016 …it lives inside me.
God help us. God help me. God save me my own darkness.

Thought #3

If evil is the absence or lack of the good–that implies that it needs to be brought. AKA someone has to bring it. Not only that (because that seems to over simplify it) but kindness needs to be brought when no one else is strong enough to do it. Thank God for the people, the ordinary-everyday saints, that (1) give me hope to keep doing the right thing, and (2) inspire me to keep believe in the world’s God-given goodness.

Thought #4:

Every day in class I end prayer with the same intention, “so that we might be the reason someone’s day is made and not the reason someone’s day is ruined.”
We have a long way to go and we need more people to fight the good fight–not “out there”–but the more urgent one that lies within.

Thought #5

This deserves it’s own blog but I’m just going to leave this here: Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love… our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -MLK

All that just to say

In a world full of darkness, I promise to try my best to be a light.

7 Ways to Lead Like Joseph

As a kid I remember staying up late on Friday nights, saying a rosary together with my whole family. Like many other Filipino families, our devotion to her was strong, but it wasn’t until college that I realized the importance of Joseph’s role in the history of God’s promises. There are many ways I could describe him, but I think the word that fits most is leadership. So here are seven ways to lead like St. Joseph:

1. BE STRONGER THAN FEAR

Things seemed peaceful in their engagement until Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant, and it’s not with him. It’s difficult to understand but in that culture, adultery was a scandal that was punishable by death. But scripture says that Joseph was a “righteous man,” “unwilling to expose her to shame” and “decided to divorce her quietly.” Until he had a dream from an angel that said, “Do not be afraid.”

I’m obviously not St. Joseph, but I often wonder how I would do in these situations. How would I take the news? Would I be willing to hear my spouse’s story? In a way, the story seems devastating, so broken, so contrary to everything that Joseph must have had planned in his head. Who could have expected this, anyway? When it feels like everything is spiraling out of control, fear finds a way to consume me, and I become paralyzed. So it seems to me that Joseph’s dream came at a providential time. God came to him in a dream begging Joseph not to be afraid, to rise above his own selfish plans and to humbly accept the bigger plan that God was working. Strong leadership overcomes fear with the help of God’s grace.

St. Joseph, make us stronger than fear.

2. SUFFER WITH OTHERS

When Joseph discovered the news, his initial plan was to leave her quietly, but he stayed. What’s interesting to me in this situation is his compassion. The word literally means “with” (com) “suffering” (passion). So to have compassion means to suffer with another. This is one of Joseph’s most profound acts of leadership, and I often think about the ways Joseph taught Jesus about compassion. We all know that Jesus shows the ultimate act of compassion, so He must have learned a lot from his father, Joseph. Throughout his life, Joseph stayed and suffered with Mary. Her struggles became their struggles, and together they grew in love.

St. Joseph, help us to suffer with those who suffer

3. KNOW THAT LESS IS MORE

Scripture and tradition tells us that Joseph was a carpenter. He was a simple and hardworking man. We know that he wasn’t rich because when he took Jesus to the temple to be circumcised, he offered a sacrifice of two turtle doves, which was only an exception for those who couldn’t afford the traditional lamb.

My dad, too, was a simple, hardworking young man born in the Philippines and immigrated over to the Cleveland in the 1980’s. He was also a carpenter and as a child, I was ashamed of how “unrich” we were. I remember visiting him and working with him on random projects and, to be honest, it never seemed like glamorous work. My dad wasn’t one to chase riches or to be the hero, but he was committed to our family. Whether it was painfully sanding the wooden floor by hand in my room because he didn’t have the money for power tools, building random shelves from wood scraps, the unending list of household repairs, or constantly driving me around town before I had my license, these small acts of love added up into something that wasn’t very small at all. It was heroic. I’ll never be able to thank him as I want but his love saved my life.

Joseph never sought to be the hero. He knew that less was actually much more, that small acts lead us all into heroic love. Joseph’s humility might very well be the hallmark of his leadership.

St. Joseph, help us trust that less is more

4. GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY

I have countless photos of me and my dad working on projects together. We were usually depicted on the ground, on our knees, both of us sweaty, tired and sore and we weren’t afraid to get dirty. A true leader is a servant who isn’t afraid to use their hands for the “dirty work.” No matter how successful you become or how much money you make, don’t let yourself believe that you’re above anyone else. No one is above cleaning toilets and mopping floors. We know from both Joseph and Jesus that to lead is to serve.

5. NEVER EVER GIVE UP

Joseph always had hope. Even in seemly hopeless situations. When Joseph was told that there was no room at the inn, I imagine him praying to God with a simple question: “Lord, what can I do next?” The story of the Holy Family is dramatic yet so filled with God’s grace. But it’s too often that I pout and express, “Lord, why is this happening?”

Joseph is good that staying grounded and focusing on the real situation at hand. Rather than complaining, Joseph reacts with readiness and trust. We, too, can learn from his flexibility to work through the obstacles.

St. Joseph, help us to ask humbly, “What can I do next?”

6. DON’T GET MAD THAT YOU’RE NOT FAMOUS

Unlike Mary, Joseph wasn’t present during Jesus’ public ministry, death, or resurrection. Most of his life is unknown, and yet he is still a saint. He lives a hidden life, and most of his work as a father and husband will go undocumented. We simply do not know them. However, Fr. Jim Martin also speaks about St. Joseph and says that the secret to our holiness is doing things that are “hidden from other people but known by God.”*

Isn’t that the way life works? Do we even have a choice? If we’re honest, most of us won’t end up in a newspaper let alone a history book. Fr. Martin gives examples like a single parent working two jobs or an adult-child caring for their sick parent, or even if you’re a teacher, minister, sister, or priest–the work we do is often hidden, it’s not advertised, and we rarely get recognition for the things we do. But as we’ve seen from St. Joseph we can rest easy today, knowing that it’s the simple, quiet acts of love and sacrifice that make us holy.

St. Joseph, help us to lead hidden lives of love.

7. STRENGTH FOR THE JOURNEY

In our own journey to become saints, it’s easier, more fun when we can journey together. For those looking for an ongoing faith challenge, check out thelivingperson.com and join hundreds of Catholics who are striving to become the best version of themselves. Take The Living Person Challenge today.

St. Joseph, pray for us.