When you grow up with domestic violence, housing instability, and no parental direction how do you have the tools to be a healthy, functioning, contributing member of society? You don't. My guest today, Jose Vargas, had no one in his corner as a child. His understanding of what a normal life was like was skewed by a life experience filled with violence, hopelessness, and fear. Take a minute to imagine what that must feel like. This does not excuse the choices and behavior he made as an adult, but it does explain how he got to that point. We internalize the messages our peers, parents, and communities tell us verbally and non-verbally. Most of us only live with our parents for a short time but their impact is felt life long - for good and for bad. Dependending where you live and who you live with can change the trajectory of your life. We all need someone to believe in us - most of the time that someone is our parents. But what happens when you never get that? This is the story of what that looks like in Jose's life.

Show Notes

He speaks about his younger years from the standpoint of: "this is just the way it was" with not a hint of bitterness in his voice. And he never portrays himself as the victim. He teaches us that often our misconceptions, preconceived ideas, and false judgements of situations, or people, or things that happened in the past have fed our anger for so long but are often false. If he, who had every right to hold onto anger or resentment was able to see past it and forgive, who am I not to?

It gives me joy to hear that Jose and his Mom are finally able to have an open and sincere relationship after all these years. No matter how old you get, you never stop needing the approval, love, or acceptance of your mom. It is proof that healing can come, but maybe not in the way or the time frame isn't when we thought it would be. I appreciate how he is striving to grow in understanding and deeper love. He's learning to trust, to love, and to have hope again.

Jose's adamant and purposeful decision to change his mindset and lifestyle despite the negative repercussions he thought he might receive from those who knew him in prison, is nothing short of heroic. He finally knew who he was and what he wanted and he wasn't going to rely on other people to validate who he was. Steve Maraboli, another hero and decorated military vet says, ā€œOnce your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.ā€ Jose's life is witness to this truth. May we all have the courage to change our mindset and to keep on living it day in and day out,  just as Jose has.

Jose's quote - People may forget your name, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

Defy Ventures

What is Gramercy?

Stories from those who live and work on the margins of society.