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On the front page of last Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, there is an image of a 30-year-old woman standing in the remains of her Ukrainian home. The article that corresponds with the picture discusses sanctions, finding refuge in Poland, and other important details from the violent conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Reading the newspaper from my mother's bedside reintroduced me to the United States.

It had been three years since I visited my parents’ home. Fears of traveling and returning with covid kept me grounded in Antigua. The need to support my mom's recovery from breast cancer surgery put me on two flights to LA.

A man with a face shield and double layer skin masks for covid
My airport swag:)

After my mom finished explaining her future treatment options, turned on a Facebook live church service, and then fell asleep, I read more of the headline stories.

There was an article about the Sherri Papini case. If you’re not familiar like I was, Shasta County charged Papini with lying to authorities and kidnapping fraud. According to a LA Times journalist, Papini acted in solidarity with Trump's political agenda to limit the influence of the growing Latinx population.

Papini claimed two “Hispanic” women kidnapped and abused her for 22 days. However, it appears Papini's powerful xenophobic imagination made up the crime and perpetrators. She was with an ex-boyfriend and injured herself to reflect a false account of her dissappearance.

Between the devastation across the Atlantic, continual race-based challenges inside the US, and listening to the details of my mother’s cancer battle, I felt out of the loop. My life in Antigua is different from my family and friends in the States. Although I appeared stoic in my demeanor during my trip, I fought emotions to express rage and reveal sadness every day.

The time I took to write this post and exercise on my trip helped me release emotions and revisit the decision to live abroad.

We didn't leave the US in 2016 because of Trump's successful presidential campaign and supporters like Papini. My wife and I chose to move in pursuit of family and entrepreneurial dreams.

Fed up with our US lifestyles, we wanted to create location-independent income that empowered us to become more attentive partners and parents.

We remain in the REM phase of sleep, where dreams occur, without plans to move back to the States. It is challenging to be away from friends and family in the US during this season of our lives. However, Antigua continues to support the life my wife, and I want for ourselves and our children.

There are days when I wish I lived closer to the States. In the last year, several friends lost their parents, and my mother’s health deteriorated. But I’ve learned from my travels that living involves navigating unpredictable storms.

Wars, crimes, and personal health challenges are the unfortunate elements of life. It is our responsibility to think, decide, and act on the solutions to problems.

Before I traveled back to Antigua, my mom gave me some parenting advice. She said that children are like suitcases, and once you fill them, there is nothing more you can put inside. She emphasized the importance of packing their lives with examples of positive values and discipline to support the transition from youth to adulthood.

At some point, we must allow our children and ourselves to unpack the luggage from childhood to discover paths leading to a divine destiny. We have to become aware of what we need to survive and thrive in life without the careful gazes of parents and guardians. Hopefully, once the zipper is pulled open on our bags, we can use the contents to form healthy habits enabling us to live meaningful lives.

If what you find inside yourself does not support achieving your definition of success, get help in the forms of a therapist, coach, or lifestyle change.

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We continue to pray for peace in the Ukraine and for all those who have been displaced.

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