Short essays by Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., the author of TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion, published in September 2011 by Outskirts Press (Parker, CO, USA), available from outskirtspress.com/tingandi, Barnes and Noble [bn.com], and Amazon [amazon.com], in paperback or ebook formats. Please visit us at tingandi.com for more information.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
FRUSTRATED WITH LIFE?, "Live with Purpose"
Live with Purpose, on Purpose
Being raised by a single
mom in the poorest neighborhoods of the South Bronx with my brother and sister
was not entirely the most frustrating part of my childhood.
I have to say that the
biggest frustration in my life so far has been coming to America on a vacation
visa at the age of nine, not knowing why we were here, or when we could go back
When we arrived here in
1974, I did not know a speck of English, nor what snow was. I didn’t even know
that we were about to meet my real mom.
A little background on
I was born in the
Dominican Republic, where I lived with my
dad, stepmom and three siblings. There was no love felt
from the stepmom, but I did feel love from my dad when he was around,
which wasn’t often.
My dad was an
entrepreneur, and as far as I can tell, we were financially well off: we had a
maid, a cook, fancy cars, and many employees.
My father died three
years after I arrived in America, and I know of
no inheritance money. Perhaps writing this sounds cold, but when
you’re growing up hungry, moving from building to building due to
constant eviction, or forced out of condemned buildings, a
better life is all you think about. Yes, even at twelve years of age.
Luckily, at twelve,
I was able to land a newspaper route. I made about $7.50 a week delivering
the New York Daily News, and other than enduring the
occasional muggings, I loved that job…because every penny I earned was getting
me closer to my independence. As I grew older, I worked at a hardware store,
grocery stores, and other part time jobs as I attended school.
Major disagreements with
my mother (I didn’t appreciate the beatings) and dealing with my kleptomaniac
brother made it difficult to live a peaceful life, At age eighteen, I
I was barely able to
afford rent, food, clothing, etc., so I looked for a better-paying job.
Not knowing what I
know now, and having no guidance, I pounded the pavement in the nicest
neighborhoods I knew in Manhattan, NY.
Having held a job
in a grocery store since the age of 16, I figured that the next step upwards
was working at a supermarket.
After walking for hours
from supermarket to supermarket, I landed a job at a Red Apple
Supermarket at 72nd Street and Amsterdam Ave. in
If you’re wondering why
I didn’t simply search closer to home, the answer is simple. Starting
out, I took a job at a local mini-market for a week. The first
time I took the day off, there was a robbery, and the clerk was shot dead. I took
that as a hint: perhaps I should quit and not test my luck again.
There are many stories I
can share about working the overnight shift at Red Apple. For instance, one New
Year’s Eve, we were locked in to replenish the store; my partner fell down the
food transport belt and lost his ear, and we had to wait until the morning
because our emergency contacts did not pick up the phone. We were afraid to
lose our jobs if we called the authorities, so we waited. Yes, I was legal in
the country at the time, in case you were wondering.
I’m not sure
if we were naïve, or simply stupid.
I didn’t last much
longer at that job; I knew that there was something better for me. I was not
just driven by lack of finances. I was driven by the knowledge that there was
something much better out there. I just didn’t know what it was.
and I looked. I answered a newspaper ad from an employment
agency. The agency tested me, prepared me, and showed me how to dress better
and shave the fuzz from my face. They sent me on three interviews. I got two
offers. I chose E.F. Hutton as my first corporate job. The job was in the Wall
Street area, and I knew that I was finally on the right track because I
could now afford to pay the rent on time every time. I was eating better,
bought a car, dressed better, and most importantly, started to live life.
I was around twenty or
twenty-one then. I’m fifty-two now. There have been many ups and
downs in my life from then until now. I am married, have two children that
have never experienced the depth of poverty that I was exposed to,
and I hope that I have prepared them enough so that they never will.
My son has finished
his four years at Hofstra University and is successfully living life
on his own terms. He and I have a great relationship. My daughter is finishing
up her second year in college, and I couldn’t ask for a better daughter. I love
them both very much, and our relationships continue to flourish.
As a parent, I can say
that all the frustrations I have experienced in life have all been
worth it to get to the point where my family is right now.
There are still a few
challenges to overcome, and that’s a story for another book.
My message to
all who have posted and will post on FrustratedWithLife.com is this:
Look beyond yourself.
Focus on a better future, even if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
The people that
frustrate you, the challenges that frustrate you, the relationships that
frustrate you, anything that frustrates you, these are just specks on
your timeline. The future is yours to accomplish anything you wish.
Choose to accomplish.
Choose to live life on your terms without infringing on anyone else’s.
Choose to live life on
purpose, with purpose.
Edison R. Guzman
Excerpted from FRUSTRATED
WITH LIFE? You Are Not Alone, ebook by Edison R. Guzman and
Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., available online from amazon.com.