A Message for At-Risk Teen-Agers —
The Great Gifts of Loss, Sadness & Separation
Hang in there… this story is going to have a happy ending… and it was pretty tough getting there.
I was born and raised in Santiago, Chile until I was 12 years old when my parents brought me to the States. In those days (the 1960’s) the USA had a call worldwide for immigrants since it needed many workers. We were very welcomed; we had a green card right away, and it was easy for me to become a citizen by the time I was 21.
I was a typical LA kid. I went to a nice diversified school, Belmont High, which was near downtown. It was a relatively nice neighborhood. We had a big gang of friends. We went to the beach on the weekends, danced, we played as usual teen-agers. I was just a bit different though because I had a 2-year old sister that I cared for all the time – she was the “pet” of the group – she was constantly being held by one of my teenage friends; she was a happy child and a happy person to this day… Amen for that!
My life (and many others) changed in the summer before my last year of high school. Out of nowhere the drug cartels were able to move into major American cities and the drug culture started. Not only that but we were at the height of the Vietnam War and some of our friends’ older brothers were returning home addicted to some pretty strong drugs. Before we knew it many of our friends (mostly the boys) were getting high and everything started to change…
My boyfriend was the first one to die. His name was Larry; he was 18 years old; he was beautiful – a leader, a little outlaw, a little drug dealer, a player (there were 2 other girls crying uncontrollably at his funeral – and I was supposedly the fiancé). He was killed in a car accident – in today’s terms, we would call it a “suicide-by-cop-chase”.
Forty-five minutes prior to the accident, he and our friend Danny stole a neighbor’s small truck and planned to go “cruising” through the night. He took four “reds” (barbiturates) before they got on the road. He was driving pretty fast on Highway 5. He was being pulled over – more accurately chased – by an LAPD car and they crashed. In those days nobody wore seat belts; he went through the windshield and died instantly. He did die laughing though – I don’t know why that was such a comfort… Danny was pinned under the truck. They had to pull it off of him with special equipment. He didn’t have a scratch on him. It was the beginning of my seeing that there are no accidents – no coincidences – it all happens for a reason.
I don’t have to tell you that I was beyond devastated… and to make things even worse, I miscarriaged his baby on his birthday – 4 months after his passing. Our plan had been to be married on April 26 – he died on March 27. The pain was so intense that all I could do was to stay occupied with lots of jobs and later with college studies, activities, being a cheerleader, having a boyfriend, partying and trying to have fun 24/7. I pretty much numbed myself until I was 26 years old.
But before I move forward to the transformation that I went through, let’s go back to my high school days for just a little bit more background.
The summer before my high school graduation, when the boys started getting high, instead of having fun all the time I was constantly trying to stop them from getting stoned. Larry insisted that I try it and not make it so wrong. At 17 years old who can resist doing what the rest of the crowd is doing? A big fear at that age is not being accepted, not having friends or losing the crowd that you grew up with – that has been true for most teenagers around the world probably since the beginning of time.
We started having a pretty big crowd of friends around the time that I was 16 – we were adorable, really. We were relatively good kids – went to school, worked on getting good grades, the usual parties and school events. I was working on being a cheerleader – ended up in the drill team. I didn’t become a cheerleader until I went to college.
It didn’t even take a year for the tragedies to start. One of our best-looking guys in the crowd was Darrell Singer. He was so handsome. He reminded us of Robert Redford (in those days he was one of the top movie stars). The boys went hunting one weekend, someone dropped a rifle and a stray bullet shot him on the arm. He never got over feeling “crippled” and he just went on a down spiral that changed his life so tragically… He was the first homeless friend that I knew. They called them “bums” in those days – a couple of decades later the more benevolent term “homeless” came to being.
A couple of years after that incident, I remember seeing him walking down a street – I barely recognized him – I stopped – he could hardly remember me. I took him to the nearest coffee shop and fed him lots of food. I tried to get him to come along with me so that I could wash him up, house him until he got back on his feet – he would have none of it. He insisted on walking away – I never saw him again. To this day, whenever I see a young homeless boy that is blonde and good looking it reminds me of Darrell and it still breaks my heart a little. Most likely it is where my love of supporting homeless causes started. I wasn’t conscious of that memory when we started supporting organizations committed to supporting teens-at-risk…
From the time that Larry left this world, for the next three years we had an additional 13 friends die. There were a variety of reasons – the Vietnam War, accidents, suicides, over doses of drugs, a boat accident. One that was particularly tough was “Fast Frank”. He looked like a Mayan warrior – a gorgeous Mexican man. He was arrested for something minor, but he was a bit of a maniac, and some crazy guy stabbed him to death in jail. That one hurt particularly because he had so much potential – he was so beautiful. Later we called another friend named Frank, “Faster Frank” because he survived that period that too many of our friends left this world in their late teens or early 20’s.
So you can imagine the decisions that I had made by that time! It actually shaped the decisions that I made about life – specially my professional life. As I started college, I decided to major in languages since I had had a vision when I was about 15 years old that I was in a huge conference room that was shaped like the UN conference hall where representatives from around the world gather to discuss world affairs so I thought that I was supposed to be an interpreter in the United Nations!
Key lesson: you can only see your future from the limited view that you may have about yourself… Little did I know that someday I am most likely going to be part of a council of that magnitude – or running it!
As I was going through college, I met someone that was studying to be a stenographer. I loved the “little machine” that one could use to take down verbatim testimony. I was fascinated. I did some research and found out that you could go as high as becoming an official court reporter for the judicial system and make lots of money; or you could be a free-lance reporter, make your own hours, and be paid quite lucratively. That was for me!
In actuality, there was an underlying desire to feel safe by being part of the criminal justice system. Subconsciously I thought that if I were surrounded by judges, attorneys, policemen and protected by being part of the legal system, that I could be safe – that I would have people that could take care of me in case of any trouble… What a rude awakening!
It was all of these tough experiences that prepared me for what was to come… and as I look back, I see that there were certain choices that I made that made all the difference in the world. Sadly, many of my beautiful friends made choices that took them down roads that were very tough – filled with fear, sadness, scarcity, poverty and confusion – and some found relief through drugs and activities that got them in mortal danger. To this day I often think of those beautiful young souls that I loved (and always will) that were part of my circle of friends that helped shape my future.
I became a workaholic; and partying was part of the scenery as I was going through college and later court reporting school. I ended up being an official court reporter in the LA criminal court system. I worked at the CCB (Criminal Courts Building) made famous by the OJ Simpson trial. I learned so much about business, systems and organizations that I wrote a whole manual on it. But nothing pales to the human interactions and lessons that I learned during those years.
That book will be written when some of the players have left this world! By 2050 I’ll write it. Let’s just say that the judicial system isn’t quite what it seems to be – and some of the comedic law shows on television come pretty close to the truth – and without that experience I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Everything happens for a reason. The toughest, saddest and most impactful experience of my life turned out to be a blessing. The foundation of my life’s work – the transformation of many of the 145,000 graduates of my programs globally – the many humanitarian endeavors… Who would have ever thought that a little girl from Chile would have made such an impact?
My secret? Follow the clues! One of the most famous graduates of our program, Money & You, Anthony Robbins, says it best: “success leaves clues”. My version: “tough lessons leave clues” – learn from them!
It’s really simple: if there’s a chance that you are going to get hurt or hurt another, don’t do it. If there’s the tiniest chance that something bad could happen, don’t do it because it most likely will happen. Don’t chance your life with it. Don’t break your mother’s, your father’s, your brother’s or sister’s or your friends’ hearts. Don’t break your own heart.
Every day I saw in the courtrooms that I worked in beautiful young peeps going to jail for the dumbest things. Their lives forever changed – and some ruined. My beloved Mayan warrior was a sample of that.
I made it by the skin of my teeth… I was so close to losing my life a few times… so close to doing things that could have cost me so much… and I don’t know if it was those 14 Angels that were guarding me, or if it was my destiny to not end up in a place that could have been so costly to myself and my family.
In my early 20’s I started to make great money as a professional interpreter then as an official court reporter. I kept myself really busy not to feel a lot of the feelings that I had suppressed. It was a heady time. Lots of fun but there was always a “nagging empty feeling” that was the “screensaver of my mind” – it was always there.
I ended up moving to Hawaii, and it was there that I had what could be called an “enlightenment” experience – on a mid-day on Hanalei Bay, Kauai – one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. I had this experience that I left my body and went traveling through the Universe. I saw my life going backwards and seeing the major highlights, including my birth and traveling beyond. I saw space – almost like an astronaut – the most beautiful scenery and felt the essence of love. I didn’t hear anything – I actually sensed a message: “I did not put you on planet Earth for you to be a party girl…You have a job to do!”
My conscious mind was very quiet – it was the essence of the most beautiful peace that I had never felt before. It was unconditional love… it was heavenly… and I came back into my body with the most profound pain in my heart. It was wrenching. I started crying uncontrollably – and my boyfriend and roomie that were on the yacht with me couldn’t console me.
The most beautiful spot on earth finally got me to open my heart after 8 years of having closed it down from that original experience of loss, sadness and separation that I had experienced with the loss of my beloved and baby… Then add a second miscarriage and the additional 13 friends… plus the experiences in the criminal court system… it was a miracle that I wasn’t psychotic!
Once I made that decision, there was no question that I could only live a life of integrity. Sure I was going to have learning experiences (mistakes) for the rest of my life and that that is part of the human experience. And, of course, within a few months I was sitting across the great R. Buckminster Fuller (Bucky as he liked being called). Be sure to Google him… you’ll be impressed. He was considered the “grandfather of the Universe”. He was a mathematician, an architect, a genius that gave the world a whole new way of thinking about scarcity, sufficiency and abundance. Be sure to go to my Facebook page and download the graphic with one of his greatest question that I live by: “How do we make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or disadvantage of anyone?”
I had a front row seat as he spent the day sharing some of his greatest principles and teachings. I was clear. I knew what my job was. Of course, within a year I attended the first entrepreneurial business school of its kind in the world at the time. I learned the principles so well I soon became a volunteer, a promoter of their work, soon a partner, and six years later I inherited 100% of the intellectual rights to the most profound work… I won the lottery!
Our work is about uplifting humanity’s consciousness through socially-responsible businesses. The method: transformational, experiential training programs for entrepreneurs.
I got to combine what I love the most (transformational education, entrepreneurship and raising people’s consciousness) and hate the most (human suffering)… If there’s anything I can do to reduce human suffering at any level, I will do my best to help with that. “Churning out social entrepreneurs” has been one of the vehicles… but more than anything else, it has been the healing of my soul.
What turned out to be the worst experience of my life was the greatest gift. My beautiful angel, Larry, (who was also such a little devil :-), taught me more than I could have ever imagined. With every one of my friends and beloveds that has left this world, I’ve experienced my heart breaking into a million little pieces. Those experiences have been my greatest teachers. Every happy, sad, fortunate, unfortunate – every human experience that has impacted me deeply has allowed me to be who I am today.
Look at your life today… is there any way that you can convert your experience for the betterment of others? (Bucky’s teaching). Is there anything that you could do now that will move you out of any experience that is so hurtful and painful that the only thing to do is to walk? Can you muster up the courage to do that?
There’s absolutely no one running your consciousness but yourself. Don’t let idiots occupy that beautiful mind of yours. Evict the negativity. Evict the “victimness”. Evict all that no longer serves you for your greater good. Be the landlord of your beautiful consciousness. Be the CEO of your own life. Be the owner. Be of service to others. Be happy…
There are still times when I have to have so much courage that I surprise myself – even at my age. As I tap into that 18-year old that was so sad, lonely and in total despair, I can still cry so deeply… and then I remember that that was the greatest gift.
I wish you the same awareness – much faster than the time that it took me to get there. The beauty of learning from others’ lessons is that it can accelerate your process – and support you in no longer being addicted to suffering.
Choose differently now…
May you see the clues for your success quickly and clearly…
May the force be with you….
Dame Doria (DC) Cordova is the CEO and owner of the Excellerated Business Schools for Entrepreneurs® and the Money & You® Program – the longest running experiential, transformational, entrepreneurial program in the world with over 145,000 graduates from over 85 countries which is presented in English, Chinese and Japanese. Soon expanding to Spanish and other languages.
One of Doria’s mission is to transform educational systems around the world and eradicate poverty and hunger.
Though Doria never had her own children, she is a Godmother to many; and a bonus grandmother to three beautiful children. She supports many children through the various non-profits and humanitarian organizations that she champions. You can find Doria on Social Media / Google and find much free entrepreneurial education through different platforms.
She is a modern day female “Robin Hood” who lovingly encourages the rich to make a positive impact in their spheres of influence. She is also a partner in the global expansion of the work of one of the world’s leading solar architect, Huang Ming. His vision: “Blue skies and a green world for everyone”.
On her birthday, November 14, 2010, she was Knighted by one of the world’s oldest humanitarian Orders – The Order of St. John – Russian Priory – for her lifelong service to humanity. You can learn more about her: http://www.DCCordova.com
Not bad for a little immigrant from Chile!
Thank YOU for having taken the time to read this article that was originally contributed to a book to support teens at risk
… Aloha Nui Loa.
I just wanted to say this was a life touching transparent article. And I just marked my calendar for April 6-9 to attend the Money & You program. This is my calling to understand my purpose. Thank you for allowing such powerful information to be available to the public. Cant wait to hear more at the events !