Monday, January 31, 2011

~You Gotta Be~

Whenever someone reads these words, they're very first thought is that of the popular 90's song by singer Des'ree amply titled, "You Gotta Be"....a song that's  captivated the world 'till this day!

With Des'ree's voice giving the song it's own vocal stylings, you can't help but to sing along the way, whether you are a man, woman, straight, gay, white, black, etc. The fact that from the moment the song starts, she pulls you in to reflect on how to confront issues head on. My favorite part of this song is the bridge which reads as follows:

Time asks no questions it goes on without you
Leaving you behind if you can't stand the pace
The world keeps on spinning can't stop it if you tried to
The best part is danger staring you in the face

I first heard this song in 1994 on a VH1 Live Special when I was home from school sick in bed. I had never heard of Des'ree until that point, and like everyone else, she captivated me, especially with how much ease she sang the song. She made it look so easy and really transcended the message clearly.

Being 11 years old at the time and coming to a realization that I was coming to find myself in situations that were really going to put me up to the test was nerve wrecking, yet for some reason I was always up to face a challenge. I've never been one to call attention upon myself at any point and in a way, being that I was very reserved at the time, the attention seemed to always be pointing my way. Facing weight issues, the coming of my sexuality, the will to always make my Mom proud of me in school were hindering aspects, although a lot had to do with whom I surrounded myself with. By this time my little brother Christian had just been born and my parents had just gotten a divorce a year and a half ago. I had gone from being the baby of the family to the sharing the title of "Middle Brother" with my older sibling. Things were changing at a rapid pace and we all had to make sure we pulled together as a family. To top it off I had also just met my 1st cousin's on my Dad's behalf and wanted to make sure I made a great impression on them so they would like me. Talk about anxiety!

So many times I remember crying in my room by myself because someone made a crude comment about the way I looked or acted. My Mom caught me once and asked if I was o.k. (she knew I wasn't), she just wanted me to see what was wrong. That's when she told me the following:

"You've got something special about you, not everyone will see the real you unless they take the time to get to know you, and the one's you should be concerned about are the one's that love you. Friends and people will come and go, but the one's that love you will stick around and be there for you, and vice versa. I need you to be strong for your little brother who's going to grow up just the same way you are right now, we'll all get thru this time together."

After that moment, every time I had a difficult time in any situation, I always remembered what she said, especially, "...the one's that love you will stick around and be there for you, and vice versa". Her words reminded me so much of Des'ree's song, especially the last line of my favorite part which is:

The best part is danger staring you in the face

In today's world, I face new challenges everyday, whether it be jealousy, people telling me that my work is worthless, being I didn't do a good enough job, or even being looked down upon, the only way of making sure I've done my part in finding a resolution is by simply reminding myself at night that "Love will save the day"....that is my OWN saving grace!
 To everyone out there looking farther into themselves than what they should, remember,  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Note to Self....Be True!

Apparently, being TRUE to oneself is one of the hardest tasks that us humans can ever be yet follow day to day. We ALL fall under false pretenses and want more out of life, we want more out of ourselves without having to do the work. All we should focus on is allowing ourselves to really portray nothing but......the TRUTH!

Lately I've been hearing a lot about losing oneself in a relationship, how by not listening and not paying attention to what really matters, a part of the soul and a part of the person goes missing. Yet, when it comes down to wanting to rely on that foundation that one builds upon,  it's not there. So that's the turning point where false emotions, false smiles, even false events start overflowing in our world, and by the time we recognize it, it's too late. We've created a false life!

In my experience with this subject, I lived a false life from the moment I was a child until I was 17 years old in 2001. Now remember, I come from a Hispanic Roman Catholic family and my parents both derive from Mexico. They were taught that a man should be with a woman and they should marry, become Husband and Wife, the Husband should work and provide for his family while his Wife stays at home to cook, clean, and have children. In my family household, this is exactly how life was.

We children were taken care of and made sure food was on the table and clothes were on our backs, and most importantly, my parents made sure love was given to each of us kids. Although, I knew I was different from my siblings from a very young age. I was teased constantly by one of my brothers because I showed a more "feminine" side of myself, a more emotional side than he ever did. It never bothered me what he would say about me or the way he would tease me, he was just irritating because he wouldn't let it go for the longest time! My sister was nurturing and protected me till no end (she still does, that's why she's my business manager). As I've said before I was taught to love and respect others for whomever they were, and was taught that I was a child of God and that HE would always protect me in any case and/or instance.

When in my teens, I was constantly badgered by the burning question, "Are you GAY?" or "Why do you have girlfriends and no guy friends?" or "You like the Spice Girls?" Now come on, who didn't like the Spice Girls?! Nosy people I know, but it always came up. I always had to change the subject and actually objectify girls so my cover wouldn't be blown. Until the day came that my heart and attraction was focused on a friend of mine. Although I fell for him, I respected him so much that I could never reveal my true feelings (this went on for 2 years). I remember getting so mad for the school having Pep Rally's because it would cut my time in class with him (I was koo-koo!) I fell hard!

When he fell for the love of HIS life, I couldn't believe it! My heart was destroyed and the GOD foundation I was raised with wasn't there to catch me, and I very well couldn't tell my parents either. I fell into a deep depression which made me lose 14 lbs. in 3 weeks and I was crying by the minute. Not even my friends knew what to do or knew what was happening. I was forced to come out to everyone and give up my false life, so they wouldn't think I was crazy or just plain stupid! It was one of the hardest things I had to do face head on. By that time I had graduated high school and thankfully I didn't have to go to school to face my embarrassment. I had friends that understood, and others that turned their backs on me, it was a very lonely time for a 17 year old. Luckily, my sister saw my emotional and physical distress and took me away to her home for the next 2 months so I could recuperate and bounce back. With her help and her best friends help, I was able to change my appearance and work from the outside in. When I came home, I was enrolled in Confirmation classes (last of 3 initiating Catholic-Christian Rites). That's where I met MY best friend and he re-introduced me the amazing love GOD is and how my battle was with myself and no one else. I had been hurt so bad that I blamed everyone else for what happened (I was the typical angry teen, still depressed inside).

Since then, it took me all the way until I was 25 years old to really LOVE myself and not care what the world viewed me as. That's also when my relationship with GOD came to full bloom. I learned and now know that my friend, the one I fell for, came into my life for me to use as a tool, meant for me to really learn and come to terms with who I really am and who I was supposed to become.

 I learned a valuable lesson in my teen years and early 20's...the more you stray away from yourself, the further you'll get away from the TRUTH. I never valued myself to be anything worth more than just another speck in this world, until I came to realize that ALL of us have a purpose in this world, that is:

To be TRUE to oneself, to portray nothing but.....

the TRUTH.

Monday, January 24, 2011


What has 27 years on this earth taught me thus far? This is a look as to how this Busy Little Queen learned to LOVE, RESPECT, and HELP in a world where anything is possible and within our reach, yet it's all about...PATIENCE!

My Little Brother Christian's Baptism circa 1995
(From Left: My brother Jorge Jr., Mom, Christian, Me, and my sister Marisela)

When you know what you've always wanted is right there within reach, and you hear that little voice inside your head saying, "PATIENCE! All you have to do is wait..." Really!!!?

I have to say though, waiting does take a while but at the end of the day, it's worth it. My firm belief  that by waiting and having PATIENCE, were able to grow into our own individuality and see how much were able to take before we reach or breaking point.

Time and time again, in my profession of hairstyling, I really have to be patient with all the rules and reservations my clients have about the way they would like to look. Time and time again, in my personal life, I have to see what works and what doesn't so I won't take on too many things all at once. Time and time again, I have to know what's within reach before I over extend who and what I really represent.

I was taught to LOVE, RESPECT, and HELP others in need, for tomorrow NEVER promises anything. This is probably the reason why I have no trouble listening and helping others when they're in a time in their lives when they have to unload all of their worries. My mom was first in line when I used to live with her until I was 18. I used to hear all about her work, co-workers, why she felt sad, why she was angry at times, her confusion with life etc. (in my teen years we also had a 30 min commute to my high school, so I never really had a choice), nevertheless, my mind would always be thinking about how there always needed to be a solution, rather than continue with the everyday issues of life. Every now and then, I would have my own troubles and my mom would try to give her input, yet, it was always a biased one due to her always wanting to protect me (it was only natural, I'm her son!). The funny thing though is that she also taught me how to never judge someone or a situation (even though she would judge mine), yet she wanted me to put myself in "their" shoes and determine what would be the next proper step. This is where the LOVE, RESPECT and HELP came in the picture. She knew my passion was always there and often wondered how sensitive I was to others in need, and usually, one learns by example, so I wanted to do what my mom always did in her situations. At the same time, she always wanted me to be careful with whom I helped and if they wanted my help. She couldn't bear to see me getting hurt. You know that saying, "Momma knows best", well, she sure knew how to make it a point of letting me know what was the best choice for the best outcome!

Now, this doesn't mean that it never backfired, cause everything in this life at some point backfires in order for us to live and learn from it, yet, never meant for us to take it for granted. In our own relationship, it's gone thru highs and lows. My mom and I have been close and have taken time away from each other. If anything, at one point having spent almost 2 years of not having any contact with each other, we were able to be at ease and not have to do anything we didn't want to do, more or less, what we were meant to do, LOVE, RESPECT and HELP. I'm happy to report that my mom and I follow these 3 simple words and put them into action, for this is the only way our PATIENCE will grow for one another and our current and future endeavors. We still have our moments, but not nearly as much as we used to.

In today's world, anything can be given to us and everyone can promise us the lives we've always wanted, yet, would it hurt if we simply had PATIENCE and spend time to learn that much more about ourselves? Why don't we use this formula and see what happens:


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rose Colored Glasses...Take 'em off!

Usually every year there's 1 or 2 songs that really stick out to me so much that they make an impact on how I view certain things in life. One of these songs last year was, "Rose Colored Glasses" by Kelly Rowland (1/3 of Destiny's Child).

                                           Kelly Rowland- Rose Colored Glasses (video)

When I heard the song in the Murrieta salon, I automatically knew it was Kelly. She has this distinctive voice that just resonates, and being a HUGE fan of Destiny's Child, somehow her voice is ingrained into my head. The beat itself keeps you going throughout the whole song, and when I saw the video, the song was even better to me!

"Rose Colored Glasses" talks about a relationship that's been on the rocks for a while, everything on the outside looks perfect and amazing, but only they know the truth behind the smiles. It explains how everyone around them see's perfection and unlike on the inside of the relationship, it really seems and is the exact opposite. The chorus really puts it into perspective, and it reads as follows:

They don't know, what I know
They never seen that part of you,
They know the lies, I know the truth.
They say stay, I say go
They never seen our scars before,
They think our love is beautiful.

'Cos everything is beautiful when you're lookin through

Rose colored glasses.
Everything seems amazin when you see the view in
Rose colored glasses.
Take 'em off. 

Pretty much these "Rose Colored Glasses" serve as a shield to hide everything, and as Kelly's singing it near the end, "Take 'em off", it's seems to be about that time for a lot of people.

Time and time again we can continue to live these lies that only live within our actions. Once we've discovered them, and yet live thru them and sweep them under the rug, we've purchased our priceless pair of "Rose Colored Glasses".

I've met beautiful people who unfortunately fit the profile of a lie. In my last relationship, everyone around me really liked the person I had next to me, they glorified the feeling of me being with someone that just made it all I thought. I'm one to take it to the next level when it is necessary and in the proper time. Unfortunately, our timing was off, although we were the same age, and even though I knew the timing was off, my Rose Colored Glasses seemed to fit just right and I wanted to hide the inevitable. When the time came for ME to make a decision, tears only filled my heart and soul because I held off on confronting the truth behind the smiles, the laughter, the sarcasm, and even the hugs. Everyday I came closer to taking the pair of Rose Colored Glasses off, but I couldn't, because it was going to hurt me and the one person involved, I didn't want to be the cause of a demise and hurt someone I did care about. Until the time came...and it was time to take 'em off.

Was it the best thing I did? Yes...Was it at the right time? Yes...Did it hurt? Oh Yes...Did we learn? Yes

All I can say is that while I had on the Rose Colored Glasses, I didn't know where to go. A person can be so beautiful on the outside and while that makes it ok for us to move forward, the outcome will not be what we bargained for. At one time or another, TRUTH will face us off in a match that only TRUTH will win. I took time to heal by really looking at what made me want to have this "Perfect Desire", and came to find that it was just that, a fictional "Perfect Desire". Needless to say, were both in better places in our lives and learned to move on peacefully.

Word to the wise, if everything looks beautiful when you're looking thru Rose Colored Glasses...take 'em off.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

When I grow up...

                                                          (Picture by Vijana FM)

Growing up takes a lot on our behalf I'll tell you that much! As life takes it's turns, were forced in a way to accept our paths the way they're supposed to lead you agree?
Well, let's see what we got:

-Whether you're born a BOY or a GIRL, you're automatically supposed to fit this certain mold of either becoming a "macho blue smurf" or a "pink lady" (I was dressed up in yellow)

-Once you're old enough to run around and be a spaz, then you're either signed up for Baseball or Dance Classes (in my case, it was Baseball...and yes, I hit the ball!)

-In school you write a one paragraph assignment on what you want to be when you "Grow Up"...usually the norm answers are Firefighter, Doctor, Policeman, Model, Ballerina, etc. (I always wanted to be a wrestler like Hulk Hogan)

-As a teen is when you're entering the world of torture with everyone dissecting you from what you look like to what you wear and how fat you're getting (acting like a "true grrr" boy was hard enough as it was for me)

-Now upon  high school graduation, depending on your grades and family's income of course, is when the pressure's on to lead a "Path of Success" so that you won't go hungry and live with your parents for the rest of your life (I'm a 3rd generation hairstylist in my family, I tried denying my true self, annnnd it didn't work)

-Then love comes in the picture and just snowballs everything and every plan you were looking to achieve and carefully thought out... that is if you let it (My exes would tell you that I was too much of a workaholic, but there's 2 sides to every story)

This brings us to NOW...whether were in our early-late 20's, 30's, 40's or 50's we go back to the good ol' statement, "When I grow up...." and we start to reflect on what choices we made that really made us who we are today. It takes blood, sweat and tears to really survive in a harsh world like ours, let alone simply live in it. We constantly have to have that motivation, the drive that makes us go on day after day.

As much as I love what I do, I've questioned my career more than a thousand times! I've wondered:

"What if I became a regular 9-5 citizen like everyone else? What about if I go back to school for psychology? What if I just stick to a Mon-Fri schedule? What if I moved to Beverly Hills or New York and work in a coffee shop?"

So many times I've asked myself these questions and many more in my head trying to decipher what my ultimate result would be, although, one thing I NEVER said as a kid was that I wanted to become a Hairstylist, and at 17 yrs. old, it simply came to me as a back up plan, 10 years later it became my reason to be. If I can say that the motivation that I have to continue my career thus far is that I simply LOVE to put a smile on a person's face, it give's me great joy to fulfill a happy thought and make someone remember how great they really are and restore the LOVE they once had for themselves.

The ONE thing I did say when I was a kid was that I wanted to be HAPPY and have a FAMILY....I can honestly tell you that even though I never said I wanted to become a Hairstylist and yet became one, I still have the desire to say:

"When I grow up, I want to be HAPPY (which I am truthfully) and have a FAMILY"

Let's remember what we said back when the world wasn't cruel to US, and let US have the motivation to make that come true!
                                                  (Illustration and card by Sandy Turner)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Will I EVER recover from being Damaged?"

                                           "Will I EVER recover from being Damaged?"

This seems to be the question that everyone, at least once or twice in their life, will ask themselves over and over again and want a response within the next minute of them asking it.

I see so many of you in my chair at the salons pouring out your hearts about the one person who did a number on you, and let me be the first to say, that I feel everything you guys feel. From the anguish, to the tears, the heartbreak, the words of resentment, etc. Being "Damaged" comes with a lot of excess baggage that were not ready to deal with. We ask ourselves, "Where do I start?", "I can't think straight", "Please show me a sign"....were vulnerable to the point that this is when we start to really look up into the skies and ask the man upstairs for an answer. Unfortunately, the signs will lead to what we DON'T want to see or hear., rather what we NEED to see and hear.

In 2006 I remember being so hurt and finally wanting to actually give up my FAITH and the actual BELIEF in GOD. I was so tired of being stepped on and being the one person who always wore my heart on my sleeve, so much that it seemed that the whole WORLD kept throwing stones at me. I kept saying, "Really, if there is a GOD, where the HELL are you? I feel nothing but hatred and disappointment and all you really have to offer is my heartbreak! I need nothing from you!" 

Yes, very strong words, as I said, I was whole attitude was so negative, my hairstyling was in a funk, I hated being at work and most of all, I hated being in the presence of fake people who thought this GOD had great things for them. So many by that point had shunned me out and turned their backs on me, and I always kept going and going with no end. UNTIL, a Monday morning came along. My best friend Jason woke me up and invited me to go visit a a friend of ours, Father Juan, in the mountains at his retreat home. Like a devil, I refused, spouting everything known to man and telling him why I wasn't going. Well, he stood at my door for the next 20 min. to make sure I said yes and also that I would be the one driving. So, up we went, with my heart as hard as a rock, I kept thinking, "Yeah, Ok, this is ridiculous". While up at the retreat home, I was left to my own discord to figure out my issues. I kept seeing the green mountains, the plants, trees...and I had it out with GOD for the next 3 hours. I was called back to pray for 30 min, anything I wanted, and, I refused, I stood there for 30 min critiquing someone's hair in the meantime. Then I was told to go back outside to find my answer, and not to come back in until I found it. So I went back outside, and sat in the middle of a green mountain field...I closed my eyes, and looked up....I felt a ray of light slowly overcoming my body, I was paralyzed and couldn't I peeked in front of me, and the spotlight was literally on me! I asked, "Is this YOU? If it is, I need YOU"...the ray of light grew so strong that I was sweating  and my left eye watered a tear, and then a gust of wind pushed I caught myself with my hands, I opened my eyes and knew what was in me, HE took away. I came back into the house glowing and said, "I will NEVER doubt GOD again!" Father Juan smiled at me and hugged me.

Needless to say, that was the very LAST time I ever had a doubt in the power of healing. I'm not saying that you need to go on a spiritual retreat or you have to test your FAITH. I do ask that you challenge yourself to really look inside and bring out what is so toxic, what is really making you have so much pain. In order to smile ONE must survive the good along with the bad, for it is then that you will really value how strong you really are. I've always said that no one can ever piece you back together except for YOU. You must sew yourself back together in order for the rest of the world to see that IT IS possible to recover...IT IS possible to see a light....IT IS possible to say to yourself:

                                               "I RECOVERED from being Damaged!"

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ever After- How can I relate to Cinderella?

I remember watching the movie "Ever After" with Drew Barrymore and Angelica Huston back in 1998 by myself in the movie theater, I was meeting one of my friends there but he chose to watch another movie...go figure!

As this movie was going on, I was so intrigued by the acting and how amazing this was turning out in real life form in comparison with Disney's version of "Cinderella". When the movie came out a year later on VHS I saved up my allowance to buy it (back then I payed $18.99) My mom thought I was crazy and obsessed with it! Little did she know that I was and still am obsessed with "Ever After"!

In "Ever After", Danielle de Barbarac is the Cinder girl that is a peasant slave in her own home to her stepmother Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent, and her step-sisters Marguerite and Jacqueline. She finds herself meeting Prince Henry as he's simply "borrowing" her father's horse to run away from his Kingdom. He's disoriented by the apple that Danielle has thrown at his forehead to knock him down and barely see's her face when he get's up as she's bowed to him due to her being a commoner (person below the  Royal Hierarchy). He then runs into Danielle again as she's dressed up as a courtier (person who's in attendance in a Royal Court) to save her friend's life from being sent away to the America's for harsh labor. As Prince Henry tries to remember Danielle, she gives him her mother's name, Comtesse Nicole de Lancret, thinking that this is the last time he'll ever see her. Yet after much time he's spent with Danielle, running into her and taking her on escapades, he learns of her real name and status thanks to Baroness de Ghent and Marguerite at the Masquerade Ball where he is to announce his Royal Engagement. He refuses Danielle for her lying to him, even though he truly loves her, and is convinced he is to marry a REAL princess, and not a the end, Prince Henry goes in search for Danielle to ask her hand in marriage, for she is his TRUE love...and so he slips her missing glass slipper that she left at the Ball and she cries from pure joy and accepts! Did they live happily "Ever After'?

How many times have we not been in Danielle's position? Where we are so afraid to come to terms with who to let in our hearts and when the right time is to let others love us for who WE are and NOT by WHAT defines us. By living happily "Ever After", we must work hard at out relationships with communication, truth and allow ourselves the opportunity to, as Danielle says, "Breathe...just breathe".

"Ever After" has a real meaning of what it means to reach the level of TRUE LOVE, as Danielle and Prince Henry both went to find themselves in the world and found each other, the TRUTH was what really brought them together, their heart's desire! One of my favorite quotes comes from this movie:

Danielle in conversation with Leonardo da Vinci:

Danielle:"I have deceived him, how can I face him?"
da Vinci: "Because he deserves  to hear the truth from the one he loves..."
Danielle: "A bird may love a fish Signore, but where would they live??"
da Vinci: "Then I shall have to make you wings!"

Let's believe in living happily "Ever After" : )

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The closing of a "Chapter"

In any aspect in life we always have a:


In the Beginning we find ourselves in a new environment, were getting accustomed to what we have to look forward to, and make sure our goal will be met.

The Middle has us involved in what we like to call, Fully Immersed....meaning that day in, day out, were ALL about it, it's our duty, and we must excel in every way.

Now the End has us in tears, our emotions are out of control and we are in fear of what our lives will be like in it's new form of state.

You can truly apply this in romantic relationships, friendships, family, jobs, opportunities, etc. and yet we have every single time we go through the "Beginning, Middle, End", we come out stronger and hopefully wiser.

I remember starting out in Youth Ministry back in 2002, it was terrifying!! I was only 18 and really, what would I have to offer 15-17 year old teens about having to learn about GOD? I had to do my full research and get with it! So we move forward to 2005, I was a personal assistant to my best friend and Youth Minister, I was in the lead singer in the choir, and was teaching teens and helping them understand what GOD had to offer them, I was on FIRE for the LORD! Then we move to 2008, I had announced my farewell 2 months in advance to everyone and was thinking, "For the past 7 years, it's been all about GOD, researching and countless speeches and retreats and prayers....what am I to do now?" I then found out that I wanted to challenge myself in the real world and see how I could put into effect what for years I was speaking to hundreds of teens about, LOVE!

I went in with an open heart and wanted to discover what LOVE was all about in a FAITH sense and I was able to capture what I was looking for all along in me, I just had to give myself fully to what was asked of me and dive in! Once I discovered what I was looking for, I could no longer use it as a crutch to walk along with, I needed to move on and LIVE. Closing this chapter in my life was the hardest thing I had to do, I felt like I turned my back on everyone and abandoned them. Little did I know and recognize that if I hadn't closed that chapter, I most likely would not have had the opportunities that have led me to what my life is now.

This is why it's so important to recognize when to close a chapter in our lives, and once it's closed, we can never highlight was once was, we can only learn from what we've gone through and...move on! Growth is a part of life that will always need sustenance, it will always need and yet have a:


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What makes US happy?

Hello everyone,

Yes, as you see, when do I have time to write a blog? At 12:20 am : )

2011 just got underway and with every "New Year" comes a mew outlook, yet, a whole new type of balance that we each look for in our lives.

In the salon world I constantly hear, "I want to look like...." or "I am looking for the new me" etc, yet in those vulnerable times we forget what our lives truly need, Happiness.

I come from a family that would give their lives for one another and yet we all leave ourselves, our own needs last, no matter what the cost. Do we regret it? No, if anything we recall how we got in that position, and if we need to change anything, we'll do so. At the end of the day, what makes us happy is the fact that those whom we love and around us are satisfied and know they're greatly loved!

If any of you are saying to yourselves, "This sounds like Erik", well, I was simply raised to love others. For the past 10 years now, I've been doing hair to satisfy others and make them feel like the whole world is looking at them, and more times than often, my work appeals to those of every age from 7 months to 74 years old. As I take time to grow deeper inside of me, most of the time I'm always seeing what my clients are going through in their lives, I'm wanting to see how I can benefit from them. For this is the reason why I'm ALWAYS thinking to myself and expect more out of myself than anyone.

So I ask this, "What make Us happy"? For me, what makes me happy is that I can make a difference by simply listening and giving a smile to those who need it, my Mom is constantly telling me that I can never please everyone, yet, my smile is so infectious that one cannot help but to smile back, even when I'm not in the best of moods, I try to smile and give the best of me so I can make a difference.

So, tell me, what makes US happy?