Tag Archives: love

40 Years Young

40

 

This month I turn 40. I completely embrace age. Life offers many wonderful moments that often lead to lessons. Lessons often bring wisdom and wisdom presents limitless possibilities!

Along with this post I wanted to include some of my favorite quotes about life;                                                                                                                              
“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” Unknown
 
“The days are long, but the years are short.” Gretchen Rubin
 
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln

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September 8, 2014 · 4:14 am

No Child Left Behind

Loved1

 

Our local paper wrote a story on my book; I thought I would share it on my blog (source) http://www.eaglebulletin.com/news/2014/jul/23/no-child-left-behind/

“During his more than 20 years of teaching in elementary schools in Brooklyn, Atlanta and Washington DC, Jason Galvez taught many different classes, several subjects and hundreds of students. And during his time working in Washington, DC, only one of his students came from a home with a mother and a father.

Galvez would spend hours searching through the school libraries for books that depicted all different kinds of family dynamics, and usually came up empty handed.  “I would either have to lie to my students and change the pronouns, or try to order special books that cover diverse families,” said Galvez, who now resides in Manlius. “And instead of continuing to try to find more, I decided to write one.”

On Feb. 25, Galvez’s first book, titled “I Am Loved Right Where I Am,” was released on Amazon.com and on Barnes & Noble’s website. The book follows a little girl named Sylvia who lives with her grandmother in Washington, DC. She takes the reader on a journey to meet all of her friends, who all come from different family dynamics: children who are raised by foster parents, same-sex parents, stepparents, an older sibling, a single parent and even a family with a mother and father.

“For children not just to survive but to thrive in life, your foundation, which is your home, needs to be relatively solid,” he said. “I remember seeing fellow teachers teaching a lesson on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, and you would see some kids sort of slump in their chair a little because they didn’t feel belonged. And if we’re going to arm our children for success, it needs to start at home and we need to give them a solid foundation [by enforcing the idea that] where they are is precisely where they belong and that they’re loved.”

Galvez, a self-proclaimed psychology enthusiast, said the bare-bones idea for the book came from psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which states that love and belonging are among the basic human fundamental needs in life.

He began writing the book when he was still living in Washington, DC as a way to help students who may not fit the traditional family dynamic feel that they do belong, and for children who come from homes with a mom and dad to realize that the world they live in is much bigger than what they may see or are used to.  And he’s noticed a real need for the book – since Galvez began working in public schools 20 years ago, he said it’s becoming more and more common to see children coming from untraditional households.

“Even statistically, if you look at the divorce rate ten years ago compared to now it has changed,” he said. “And family dynamics have changed, and we need our media and books to keep up with those changes if we want our children to survive.”

On the last page of the book, Sylvia asks the reader, “What kind of special family do you have?” Galvez hopes the book will be used as a catalyst for family discussion about family dynamics, a topic that’s as uncomfortable to many parents as sex.  A lot of times, for whatever reason, parents don’t want to say, ‘Do you know that so-and-so doesn’t have a dad?’ Or that ‘So-and-so is raised by their sister?’ And I don’t know why that’s such a taboo topic when it’s around us everywhere.”

Proceeds from “I Am Loved Right Where I Am” go directly to charities, Galvez said. Although he wrote the book for a third-grade audience, he’s received emails from parents with toddlers to eighth-graders who have enjoyed the book. To order the book, visit amazon.com/Am-Loved-Right-Where/dp/1630633038. “If I can help one child walk out of their house in the morning feeling a little more confident, my job is done,” he said.”

 

Please share this post as my book has helped many children and families, and I would love to see it help many more.  For a list of all ordering options;

 Amazon http://tinyurl.com/oyjmzxu

Barnes & Noble http://tinyurl.com/p822wrz

Signed Copy http://jasonj.biz/author.php

Youtube Video http://tinyurl.com/ocupldl

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Filed under Books, Education, Esteem, Families, Gods love, Library, Life, Love, Marriage, Media, parents, School, Youth

I Am Loved Right Where I Am

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Amazon http://tinyurl.com/oyjmzxu

Barnes & Noble http://tinyurl.com/p822wrz

Signed Copy http://jasonj.biz/author.php

Youtube Video http://tinyurl.com/ocupldl

I recall my first grade teacher (Ms. Martin) talking about a fun craft project which included the use of scissors.  I was beyond excited and could not wait to begin.  Ms. Martin placed the scissor rack in the center table and off we all dashed with anticipation. To my disappointment however the only options were right-handed scissors.  Being left-handed I did not know how to cut with right-handed scissors but seeing all my classmates I desperately tried.  Try as I may my cut-outs were looking nothing like those of my classmates.  Frustrated I secretly asked myself why I was different.  Ensuring the rack included a pair of left-handed scissors would have prevented the feeling of isolation I experienced.  It was there in elementary school I first experienced the feeling of being dissimilar and not belonging.

Fast forward twenty five years I became a teacher myself (obtained my Masters in Arts and Teaching at Trinity University in Washington, D.C.).  I taught various grades and subjects in Syracuse, N.Y., Brooklyn, N.Y., Atlanta, GA and Washington, DC.  Prior to teaching I was a youth counselor for many years – working with youth diagnosed from moderate to severe intellectual disabilities, behavioral and emotional challenges, those diagnosed with autism/Asperger’s syndrome and even including eating disorders.  While working with children I have noticed a disheartening truth over the years.  Regardless of the therapeutic setting, classroom or child population, one thing that became abundantly clear to me is that children who do not fit the “traditional family” mold at times face a tremendous sense of feeling alone and uncomfortable – especially because every book in their homes, schools and libraries mention a mom and dad. It is certainly no fault of the families involved but more so the fact that, as a whole, society caters to the commonly advertised mom and dad family.

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs the feeling of belonging is one of our basic needs, and one in which many successes are based on.  Students, who do not feel belonged, long for understanding, yearn for relatability and, at times, struggle with isolation.  We live in a society where our books, music, conversations, holidays etc. are geared exclusively to families made up of a mom and dad.  While I think that we need to embrace and celebrate the mom and dad family dynamic, we also need to embrace and celebrate ALL family dynamics just the same.

When I worked with elementary students I was always careful with my pronouns during story time.  I would try and use “parents” or “family” instead of the usual “Mom and Dad.”  The reality is that there are many different family dynamics.  Children often come from a home with a step-parent, foster-parent, same-gender parents, single parent, grandparents etc., and sadly our books and language often (yet unintentionally) overlook this rapidly growing reality.  In order to thrive and succeed children need to feel affirmed and belonged regardless of where they come from, and with whom they happen to live.

Frustrated over the constant lack of children’s books on family diversity that spoke directly to a child’s self-esteem I decided to do something about it so I wrote and illustrated my own easy to read children’s book, “I Am Loved Right Where I Am” http://tinyurl.com/oyjmzxu

This book is a phenomenal educational tool for every child, and every home in America.  If the child reading I Am Loved Right Where I Am comes from a home with a Mom and Dad than they will not only relate to one of the characters in my book, but also learn that many of their friends and classmates may come from different family dynamics.  Children that come from other family dynamics (foster, step-parent, same-gender parents, single parent etc.) will also relate to some of the characters in my book and have a sense of family equality.  The goal of my book is quite simple; after browsing this easy to read children’s book the reader will walk away feeling belonged, loved, as well as, have a stronger sense of universal connection.

If we want our children to succeed in life it starts early, and especially in school where pressures of all types are constantly bombarding our children from every direction.  At the same token my book is just as educational for those that are home-schooled or children out of school.  Even such children are not safeguarded from the media, their (good-intentioned) friends and society.  We must ensure our youth feel safe, comfortable and belonged.  If a child is constantly on mental guard from friends, extended family members, society, the media etc., he or she cannot be fully focused on learning, or be able to reach self-actualization in life.

Please take a look at the wonderful reviews from those that have read my book http://tinyurl.com/oyjmzxu and treat that special or someone to a copy.  You have the option of ordering from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and even a signed copy via paypal.  This book is a great addition to your personal book collection, home library and most certainly gift to that special child or family.  Happy reading

 Amazon http://tinyurl.com/oyjmzxu

Barnes & Noble http://tinyurl.com/p822wrz

Signed Copy http://jasonj.biz/author.php

Youtube Video http://tinyurl.com/ocupldl

* Please share (links above) as proceeds of my book go directly to charities *

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Filed under Bullying, Discrimination, Education, Equality, Love, Media, parents, School, Youth

Our Life, A Mere Vapor

Our life, a mere vapor

Recently my father turned 63. While celebrating I watched the family interact and socialize. It was one of those “aha” life moments seeing three generations (my father, my siblings, and my children) at one table. It was not too long ago that I was talking with my grandfather who is no longer with us. At some point in our lives we face the realization that we all, even our parents, are just tall children trying to navigate this perplexing and often challenging world the best we/they know with the tools given (or not) in childhood.

Although the relationship with my father growing up was far from ideal, we both have matured and are learning healthy father/son dynamics as adults. I do not necessarily think any parent has bad intentions for their children; we are all simply a product of our childhood – the good and the bad – as are all generations before us. When I view my parents as tall children – who are a product of their own childhood – it helps me understand them, forgive them, and love them.

It won’t be long before my toddler will be playing with his grandchildren. Reminds me of a trip I once took to Arlington cemetery in Washington, DC. Our tour guide stated, “On every gravestone there are two dates – one in which you came in the world, and the other in which you left. Although you have little say on those dates, you have all the say on what happens in between them.” Days may be long but the years short. Are you pleased with the decisions you are making in life? Like it states in James 4 “life is but a vapor. Here today, gone tomorrow.”

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June 2, 2014 · 4:32 pm

Commitment

Thurs

Today I celebrate my 11th anniversary. I have been with the same wonderful person for four thousand and fifteen days – and counting. The majority of these days have been filled with pure enjoyment. On many occasions I have found myself on the verge of tears asking God why He blessed me so abundantly.  Other days, however, have been incredibly challenging. On these days, where love and bliss feels distant, I hold on to my commitment.

We live in a microwave society. Everything we want from fast-food to research is at our finger-tips and attainable in minutes. Marriage, however, is very much the opposite. Like anything of worth and value, marriage takes hard work, time, effort, and a conscious decision to recommit; day after day, year after year.

I’m never too surprised when I hear new lovers say, “I’ve never felt this way before” or “this person makes me feel alive.” What usually follows a short time after, unfortunately, is “they just didn’t make me feel special anymore” or “I wasn’t happy with her/him.”  While I would never advocate staying in a loveless or emotionless relationship what I do know however is that we far too easily give up on relationships, and our commitment to stay in love.

Yes, love is an emotion, a feeling of butterflies and rainbows at times.  Much more than that though love is a verb.  Love takes work, a lot of hard work.  A large part of that work is making the decision to commit and recommit daily.  Recommit your vows, recommit your dedication, and recommit your decision to support your spouse, encourage and forgive your spouse, elevate your spouse and continually find ways that keep your marriage alive.  When this is the focus, happiness overflows.

An anniversary is a medal.  A marital medal is a souvenir born from the most difficult task there is; to lay your life down for another – for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.  And that takes commitment.

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November 14, 2013 · 5:12 am

Do You Need Duck Feathers?

I was raised in a victim-mentality family. In short, a person with a victim mentality rarely ever takes responsibility or accountability for their actions.  People that choose to live in the victim mentality world will always fault and blame others for what is or went wrong in their life.  As a child it did not matter what I did, how I did it, when, why, where, or the fact that my intentions were good.  What was guaranteed however, was that I would undoubtedly without fail “offend” or “hurt” someone’s feelings. Once blame was cast I could then be accused of and responsible for whatever went wrong at the time.  It took me decades to realize that I do not own any of the woes in my family.  At the same time realized one of life’s most powerful quotes, “hurt people hurt people!”  

Another favorite and powerfully true quote is; “we do not see things as they are rather how we are.”  Whatever we carry around within ourselves is the lens in which we look at life.  While some choose to view life through rose-colored glasses, others choose resentment, fear, animosity, anger and unforgiveness. Whatever resides in us, and we dwell on, will certainly skew our perception and interpretation of the world around us.  I have learned a lot from my family including one of life’s most important lessons; you cannot change anyone but yourself.  Attempting to change others is wasted energy and sure to bring frustration to both parties.  Another great, healthy and important skill/lesson I have learned is the power and gift of forgiveness.  This journey has been a long road and, at times, leads to frustration primarily because I am constantly forgiving extreme hurts when there is no responsibility, accountability or change in the lives of those I am forgiving.  I am sure many of you have experienced the same exhausting and discouraging outcome.

From the time our brain understands and processes our surroundings (usually pre-toddler) we are capable of experiencing and remembering hurts.  Because we tend to personalize hurts they eventually begin to chip and eat away at our self-esteem, self-image and identity.  Unattended hurts are cancerous and often prevent us from reaching our fullest potential.  These wounds happen at home, at school, in our childhood, teen years (graduations/celebrations), relationships, jobs, anniversaries, weddings etc.  From important events and milestones to everyday living we are exposed to the potential sharp stab of hurt.  If these jabs are not dealt with in an immediate and healthy manner they eventually compound.  Before long these solidified hurts can turn any human into a walking tightly bound ball of anger and animosity.

So what exactly is forgiveness and how do we forgive?  There are many definitions of forgiveness and in all honesty it may be beneficial to find or create one that is suitable to your personality.  For starters let me tell you what forgiveness does not mean:

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean the offense is excused

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean the offense is condoned

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean forgetting the offense/offender

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean you are not affected or even (deeply) hurt by the offense.  It does mean however that you are making a clear, confident decision that you are putting yourself first and refusing to carry the affliction any longer. 

Forgiveness, to me, is “choosing happiness by releasing your burden to God.”  Therefore the hurt and pain is no longer mine to deal with but is now in God’s hands for Him to deal with.  When you no longer own something you no longer have any responsibility with or to it.  Once you handover your hurt to God trust Him to deal with it.  It is no longer yours to stress about and to do so would be a waste of time, counter-productive and just plain foolish.

So how do we forgive?  In my opinion it is best to be proactive and walk in constant forgiveness.  Hurt, anger, frustration etc. has a way of permeating our thoughts, feelings and emotions.  Like quick growing weeds it spreads like wild-fire affecting and consuming us.  It never ceases to amaze me how quickly hurt can change a person. This is why it is imperative to be proactive.  The instant you feel hurt approaching talk to yourself (out loud if necessary) and say, “This will not control me.  I will not be easily offended, and I will forgive.”

 Intention vs. Behavior

 Every single person in your life – no matter their role, involvement, or the frequency of your paths crossing has a good potential of hurting you.  Either by words, actions or otherwise their behavior may cause you discomfort and possibly frustration/hurt.  Often one of the key questions I ask myself during such times is, “did this person make a conscious decision to intentionally hurt me?” If the answer is no (which it usually is) I simply remind myself that, just as I am, this person is human and fallible.  I then humbly put away my violin and leave the pity-party I selfishly threw.

Let me be clear that I am not advocating we become doormats or punching bags for the impulses and emotional whims of those around us.  There are times – for our sanity – we must re-position ourselves, re-think our expectations of certain people, and of course even distance ourselves from intentionally hurtful and negative people.  If, after much prayer and reflection, you feel it is best to do this it is healthy and beneficial to do so with as much love and forgiveness toward them as possible.

Years ago I went to visit my uncle in the hospital whom I haven’t seen or spoke with in years.  While he lay on his death-bed I said these words to him.

“I want you to know that I earnestly and from the bottom of my heart completely forgive you for all of the sexual abuse I endured while in your care.  I want you to be with God and soar with the angels.  Know that what you did to me is completely forgiven, and I love you.”

 I did not wait for nor want a response.  I walked out of the room and prayed he made peace with his creator.  The next time I saw him was in his coffin.  I refused then what I refuse to this day; to let the actions of others steal my joy, happiness, and prevent me from being all that I was created to be.  If I were to let the actions of others affect me by unforgiveness it would change who I am ultimately robbing me from reaching my fullest potential.  How unfair to me, my creator, my spouse, children, and the world I live in.  You and your loved ones deserve a free, whole and complete you!

I was recently reading a research article where leading doctors agreed that the number one factor in advanced aging and health problems is stress.  Unforgiveness and stress go hand-in-hand! Unforgiveness harbors tension, frustration, anger, hurt and is a complete joy-thief.  Let’s not forget that unforgiveness also makes it difficult and challenging to love people we want to love.  Joyce Meyer put it best in her New York Times bestselling book Power Thoughts, “I was very angry and bitter toward my father for abusing me and I ended up mistreating my husband who had nothing at all to do with it.” (pg 138)  All unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness and anger does is rob you from being all that you were meant to be.  Why would you give anyone that much power?  Not to mention, for us believers, forgiveness is pretty much a mandate.  “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15 KJV).

For believers reading this, do you remember the parable in Mathew 18 of the unforgiven servant?  Bottom line Jesus forgives us constantly.  Every day we wake up forgiven, a completely new slate.  Jesus also has an answer for how often we need to forgive, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:15-22).  Jesus made it very clear; you don’t forgive others, I cannot forgive you (Mathew 5:24).  As believers we have a direct life-line to our creator.  Our heart cannot function optimally when our arteries are clogged.  Similarly we cannot function optimally when our life-line is.  Choosing forgiveness leaves our life-line healthy and spotless for blessings to flow.  There is redemption however for those reading this and feeling completely walked on from others who have, or continue to, mistreat you.  “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19 NIV). Simply put it is no longer a matter of will this person get dealt with, but when!  Once God (our spiritual attorney and redeemer) has our case it is no longer our business and we need to stay out of His courtroom.

For the purpose of this blog I asked a dear friend of mine how they would be confident they had in fact truly forgiven another.  His response was quite fitting, “Forgiveness has taken place when you can remember the wrong that was done without feeling resentment or desire to pursue revenge.”  Although I completely agree with this great response I want to add that it is okay to fake it till you make it if necessary.  Again, if someone is truly unhealthy to be around than it is your duty to keep your sanity by placing distance between you.  Other than that forgive, and forgive often.  You were not designed to be weighed down, rather to live free.  As Bishop T.D. Jakes states, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison hoping the offender would die.”

Recently I took our toddler to the local duck pond.  He was having the time of his life tossing corn into the water and watching the ducks dive after it.  His laughter warmed my heart and while enjoying our bundle of joy and our bonding time I noticed something.  I noticed that every time water landed on a duck it immediately ran off.  The water did not even get a chance to bubble or the need to be shaken off – it simply rolled off as soon as it touched the duck.  It was almost as if there was an invisible shield around the ducks body.  I thought “this is precisely what people need.”  We need armor where hurts, pains, anger and frustrations roll off before having the chance to even penetrate our skins surface.  This armor, should we choose to wear it, is forgiveness.  It would be what I stated previously; walking in constant forgiveness.

Walking in constant forgiveness is especially vital for us who are gay.  Unfortunately we have a thousand arrows approaching on our left and ten thousand on our right – at times, daily.  Sadly it is usually the names of family who hang from those daggers. One of the reasons ducks do not drown is because water cannot weigh them down.  It is our personal responsibility to ensure we do not emotionally or spiritually drown as well.  Do you need duck feathers?

Being hurt, afraid, frustrated, angered etc., are all natural and healthy emotions.  You are supposed to feel these things (I’d be concerned if you did not).  However, these are emotions that should not be allowed to vacation in your soul.  Time does NOT heal all wounds.  It is what you choose to think about, and do with your time that will depend on healing (or not).  There will be times when unforgiveness feels good.  After all unforgiveness gives us a false sense of power because when we hold onto anger we feel powerful.  Anger however is a FALSE sense of power.  When we are angry we are actually at our weakest.

Do not sell yourself short by putting conditions on your forgiveness.  You give yourself the gift of forgiveness regardless of the other party.  Keep in mind some people are too ashamed to apologize or view apologizing as weak thus they feel vulnerable.  When you combine the feeling of vulnerability with low-self-esteem (and any other crosses many wrestle with) it’s no wonder why some resort to anger instead of apologizing.  After all anger is an easy and justifiable way to allow us a (false) sense of empowerment.

I want to conclude this blog with two quotes that I believe are appropriate.   Before I close this entry however, let me remind you that the holidays are quickly approaching and what better gift to give yourself than the gift to forgive.  God bless you now and always.  “The more I think about it the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others.”  Vincent Van Gogh.  “Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, because hate in your heart will consume you.”  Will Smith

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Filed under Bible, Christian, Forgiveness, Uncategorized

Celebrating Ten Years of Love, Loyalty, Happiness and Joy

Marriage, to me, is similar to mountain climbing.  You start with fortitude, perseverance and joyful energy.  Every step is full of passion, every climb accompanied with pleasure.   You are committed to the long haul and determined to reach the top.  Every foot further from the ground brings a sensation of tremendous achievement.

All at once however, fatigue sets in.  You begin to feel hungry, scared – and at times – even doubtful.  While fighting fatigue it is then your feet start to ache all while dodging falling debris.  You begin to feel as if taking one more step is simply impossible.  At times quitting crosses your mind but your love for climbing keeps your spirit going.

Before you know it, you reach the mountains summit and realize all of your hard work, courage, love and prayer has paid off.   It is then you gaze out at the most scenic, breath-taking and beautiful landscape far beyond your wildest imagination and get a glimpse of how the angels in heaven must feel.  Happy ten years, Eric.  I would not want to climb this mountain with any other!

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Three years ago today, when we legalized and celebrated our seven year relationship with friends and family, we had the most beautiful wedding and party.  So much has happened since then.  If you were there you remember the perfect day it was.  If you were not there feel free to get a glimpse of that day.  http://www.mywedding.com/ericjason/

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Filed under Anniversary, Christ, Commitment, Corinthians, Gods love, Love, Marriage, Sacrifice, Uncategorized