I will never forget the excitement I felt when I saw video images of me and my family on national television that warm night in the early 80’s. I remember the documentary coming on and being all confusing, but then we appeared on this tiny little box and it was clear that we were going to be famous or something. Little did I understand at the time that the documentary being aired was on the topic of poverty, and the footage being shared was of us living in public housing with my mother father, uncle, aunt, her daughter, and I.
Soon after this, my dad and mom decided to move to Galveston Texas. We rented a house there on the other side of the tracks from the island, but it was nice to not be surrounded by folks on every side. Having a house meant that we had a yard and could even practice baseball by the house. My dad being a semi-pro baseball player in Nicaragua meant I was destined to have some skill with the sport, and I did. In fact, I was given a scholarship to play ball at a private high school on the island. The school was a culture shock for me because most of the kids came from affluent families that bought the kids new cars when they turned 16.
I used to hitch rides from the other kids after late games. The problem was that I was so embarrassed by the house that I lived in, that I would tell my teammates to drop me off down the block at a different house, because I didn’t want them to know how poor we were. I used to buy used clothes from a friend of mine so I could fit in with the other students wearing Tommy Hilfinger and Guess jeans. I always felt like I was just too poor to keep up with this image of success. Even upon graduation only a couple people actually knew where I lived.
Things changed when I graduated from High School and was hired to drive a truck to Nicaragua with my dad. I will never forget driving by glistening beaches, through endless mountains, and through valleys of complete darkness. Guatemala City was so busy with cars and cows, and kids in the streets. Outside of the city I was shocked to see the huge heaps of garbage and the people who lived there. I thought the city demonstrated some major poverty but was even more amazed to see that there were some people who were so poor that they lived in the garbage being dumped from the city!
This exposure to extreme poverty changed my way of thinking. I realized when I got back home that I had running water, electricity, and air-conditioning and that I was not poor but rich, and in fact I was living the Good Life. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t have, I started to focus on what I did have and this way of thinking was at the root of me starting my own skateboard and clothing business, to later creating my own major at the university, to now working to creating community change with The Good Life Organization today. I realized that instead of looking at the deficits and feeling disempowered, that I could look at the assets and begin to cultivate these things to empowering myself and change my community.
Many institutions focused on social justice are overly focused on the issues at hand and for this reason they feel overwhelmed, are disempowered, and often times are not sustained because of burnout. The Good Life Organization takes a different approach that focuses on the assets and the strategic usage of these assets to solving problems on individual and social issues. Operating from the idea that healed whole people create healed whole communities, we see the empowerment of individuals as part of a larger work to the cultivation of transformation in communities. The Good Life is not something that can be purchased but something that must be cultivated within us, and the truth is that we can start living it now by pursuing holistic empowerment and social contribution.
We are starting a global movement of people living the Good Life and bringing this healing and wholeness to our communities and world around us. Just because many of us live in Urban environments doesn’t mean that we can’t take wellness and social change seriously. To help us in our journey we have connected to some of the top thinkers in our time focusing on relevant ways to empowering ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We have authors that specialize in urban meditation and movement, creative grieving and healing, spiritual enlightenment and communal change. These stories will inspire you, encourage your and equip you to being empowered to living the Good Life not matter where you live or what possessions you have. We are raising up and challenging the fantasies of a world that uses documentaries, music, and culture to say that the Good Life is based on money, materialism, and upholding the status quo. It is time to live the Good Life now, and the journey continues!
For more info on this movement of living the Good Life check out: http://www.thegoodlifeorganization.com