Our world is made up of contrast and one of the harshest realities of life is the gift of Gain and its unwelcome counterpart, Loss!!!
As I grow and watch the world move around me, I realize more and more that nothing is permanent (with the exception of true Love).
Everything, including life, is borrowed; and only our perception of time, and what is considered to be “normal” for us, is what determines how we react to any loss.
My idea of Loss being a Gift may sound radical and its easy for me to be objective as I write my story and explain how the Gift of Loss has brought me to live out my passion thru the service of Board Meetings International.
Please read on and you’ll see where I’m coming from.
In a previous life I was a teacher and counselor in Santa Barbara, California, at a place called the Devereux Foundation. For five years I worked with kids ranging from age 8-18, most of who were dually diagnosed with varying degrees of Autism and Severely Emotionally Disturbed (SED). This time in my life was exceptionally rewarding and taxing to say the least in many ways.
I grew up in Northern New Jersey in a modest upbringing but one that was always filled with family, friends, and most importantly, Faith and Love!
The kids I taught on the other hand were mostly brought up in the ghettos of South Central Los Angeles with no family, no real home, no friends, no stability, not being Loved and no Faith.
When I was first hired, part of my training was to read the history and Case Study of each child I was to work with.
Without going into detail, I’ll just say, the abuse and issues these kids dealt with and were exposed to on a daily basis would be most peoples’ worst nightmares.
Immediately, my perception of what was normal and what it means to have Loss, shifted very quickly.
I, like everybody else, have dealt with the loss of a Loved One many more times than I like to think about.
I have lost many family members, my Boxer, Thaitus, who was like a son to me, many close friends at every stage of my life, and most recently, the passing of my 2 month-old nephew which is the one that stung the most of all for obvious reasons.
I had mentioned contrast earlier and when my sister was going thru the loss of her 2 month old son (her absolute worst nightmare), my wife and I were coming off the most Magical month of our lives after getting married in Thailand and having our honeymoon in the Maldives.
I will never forget the look on my sister’s face when she picked us up at the airport coming back from our honeymoon and her breaking the news to my wife Coco and I.
Being a new father of our precious 8 month old son, Zion, allows me now to understand even more so, what it must have been like for my sister or any parent to go thru the loss of their baby, to be honest, I get nauseous just thinking about it.
Loss, just like Faith, is an extremely Personal Process and everybody goes thru it the way they need to. The key words here are (Personal), only you can determine how you will react, wallow, and/or heal, in your Loss, and (Process) as it is no doubt a Process and not an Event moving thru all of the classic stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, hope) of any Loss of a Loved One.
In no way do I want to downplay anybody losing anyone they care and love for. I have the utmost respect, empathy, and compassion for anyone grieving the Loss of a Loved One.
But I do want to share how my time at Devereux definitely put perspective on just how Blessed I and I believe most of us in the Western world are and what it means to deal with loss on a daily basis as I saw my students go thru and many continue to do so today. 80+% of the kids I taught were wards of the State of California, meaning their biological parents, were either dead, in jail, or deemed by the State to be unfit to be the primary care-taker of these children and so the State stepped in and took custody of the child.
From there, these kids were bounced from one foster care or juvenile facility to the next for the majority of their lives.
These children and the time I spent with them will always be one of my greatest teachers. Their definition of loss would be radically different from ours, as they really never had anything to lose to begin with.
From the time before many of them can remember, they had no sense of family, friends, a stable safe home, or a place they knew undoubtedly they would always feel loved. This is where I started to see the Beauty and Gift in Loss, as it was something I, at least, had the good fortune and privilege to lose in the first place.
And yet again, my world and perception of Loss and Contrast were flipped on their head.
After five long years of teaching and counseling these kids, I decided that if I wanted to keep my sanity, I needed to take a trip and a breather from this bubble I placed myself in.
So I decided to go to Brazil for 4 months, learn some Portuguese, travel and surf, and do a whole lot of soul searching. I love Brazil, its culture, its beautiful people and more than anything I have ever experienced, its Contrast.
There is no middle class in Brazil, only the extremely rich (3%) and the extremely poor (97%). And when I say poor, I mean, poverty at a whole new 3rd world level.
I learned a ton while I was there but the thing that struck me the most about Brazil at the time was learning approximately 35% of Brazilian children are dead before they turn 5 years old.
I don’t share this statistic lightly and I don’t share it to be morbid.
I share it to relate once again the Contrast of how Blessed I/We are living in country where many of us don’t have to think about things like; Where we will sleep tonight? Where we will get our next meal or clean drinking water?
Where our parents/relatives live and wondering if they are dead or alive?
When I came back to the US and started working again at Devereaux, I thought, man, how lucky are these kids I’m teaching?
Yeah, they might not know where their parents are; but at least they are getting an education, have a roof over their head, and never have to worry about a meal or clean water. And come to think of it, they have some friends, at least schoolmates and teachers that really care about them and their welfare.
To reiterate, the point again, everything is relative, including Loss, and how we act or react to it is totally up to the individual. After going thru those two learning lessons in my life, I started to think a lot and starting seeing things on a Macro level vs. the Micro world I have always lived in.
While I was having a really positive impact on many of these kids lives, my conscious starting weighing heavy on me that I wasn’t fulfilling my true potential, not to mention, I couldn’t pay my rent on the 17k annual salary I was making even with a college degree as a teacher.
This is when I started educating my self on minding my own business as a business owner instead of someone else’s as their employee and in turn I can help a lot more people from the Macro level I started to see the World thru. So in 1998, my best friend of 35 years from New Jersey where we grew up started a boutique Real Estate investment firm in Bakersfield, California.
At that time, we were both broke financially and very green to say the least when it came to business acumen.
But one thing we did have was an unwavering desire to make it on our own and help as many people as possible.
Our first go at business included many ups and downs, many sleepless nights, many triumphs and failures, and many gains and Losses.
We learned a ton and got humbled all along the way as we continue to do both today.
All of my life lessons have brought me back to one Rule that I live and know with conviction, nothing is more important than Relationships in Life, and in particular, Family!!
After doing a lot of surviving and a fair amount of Thriving our first decade in the Real Estate business, we both knew we wanted to get back to teaching (creating and using a very non-traditional curriculum and setting), our true Passion.
This is where Board Meetings International was born.
We saw a void in the educational arena and the curriculum that is taught in the traditional educational system. I especially experienced the lack of vital life lessons that are critical to our children’s growth and leadership when I was teaching.
So we’ve created our retreats for parents and their kids to spend quality time together, one on one, using Experiential Education.
We focus on 6 Pillars at our retreats which include; Confidence Mindset, Entrepreneurial Vision, Financial Empowerment, Conscious Contribution, Quality Connection, and Energetic Health!!
We’d be honored to have you join us at one of our upcoming retreats:
God bless and be well!
Aside from being a razor-sharp entrepreneur, Brian is a certified yoga instructor in Siddha Yoga, which is rooted in meditation and most importantly, selfless service. Brian has integrated his knowledge and passion of his yoga and meditation practice as well as the importance of selfless service into the core principles of Board Meetings International. www.boardmeetings.com
Brian has always focused on living a healthy and whole life, and he made the conscious decision to build his life and successful business around holistic principles, not the other way around. From the moment you meet Brian, you immediately feel his kind, caring nature and it quickly becomes apparent that he is committed to enriching as many lives as possible using experiential education and the key success principles that are shared throughout all Board Meetings International retreats.
In addition to revamping the education system, Brian still plans to travel the world (so far he’s traveled to South America, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand), volunteer extensively (yes, he’s worked with crocodiles in a bush conservation project in Botswana and shrimping villages in Thailand after the Tsunami) and of course chase as many waves as possible!