Sunday, September 24, 2017

FRUSTRATED WITH LIFE?, "Live with Purpose"

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Chapter 10:
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 home. 

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 my story….

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 moved out. 

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 Manhattan. 

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.

I looked, 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 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

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