Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: A new beginning

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: A new beginning

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Okinawa

The past few years have been rough. COVID-19, omicron, tornadoes, floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, forest fires, wars, political upheaval, landslides, avalanches, droughts, annoying neighbors, and McDonald’s closing in Russia. But it seems we are nearing the finish line with wearing masks and more people are getting their immunizations. There’s a social shift, the outlook is changing, as are behaviors and world views. We are seeking to understand others, while nations and cultures are also making a shift.

Despite the challenges, every morning we cheerfully awake, stretch, and zealously jump out of bed to meet life head on. The resilient human spirit refuses to be smothered by adversity. Leaving the comforts of home, we put on our symbolic hardhat and dash out the door, lunch in hand, eager and happy to navigate the hurdles of life. Starting the car, our positive outlook on life is determined to focus on solutions, positives, and possibilities to improve our life circumstances. Driving to work in bumper-to-bumper traffic smiling, you’re thinking of your morning PowerPoint presentation, while trying to maintain a positive attitude, your self-talk is pondering: “If I were not afraid to be myself, I would…”  “One of the things I’m afraid of is…?” “My ideal situation is…”

Staring at the red signal light, your other voice is saying: “Just speak to people.” “Be cheerful.” “Be interested in others.”  “Careful with criticism.” “Be friendly.”  “Just be where you are.” “Talk to express, not impress.” Suddenly, the young driver behind you starts madly beeping his horn, refocusing, you smirk at him from your rear-view mirror. Wondering if it’s time for some sign language. Suddenly, you catch yourself thinking: Wait-Think-Respond. Waiting helps thinking. Thinking increases the correct response. Pausing, you smile and with a friendly wave, proceed.

During the training, the room is filled with critical people of all ages and ranks, evaluating and judging you. Your nervous inner voice is saying: “Don’t take things too personally.” “Am I expecting unconditional approval from everyone?” “It’s difficult to negotiate a person’s attitude.” “Get people to talk freely.” “Listen carefully.” Suddenly, the room is quiet, everyone is sitting stunned, as the information on the screen goes dark. It’s a lighting issue. Gulp! What now? With a weak smile, perspiration is increasing by the gallon on your shirt and forehead, your heartbeat and blood pressure increases. All eyes are upon you, people in the back start snickering and whispering.  

Standing nervously with a dry mouth. Embarrassed. You start biting your lip. The room remains quiet. You’re alone. Confused. Some folks stare into their coffee cups and squirm uneasily. You’re pensive in what seems an eternity. Suddenly standing straight, clearing your voice and with a wide grin pronounce: “It’s time for a New Beginning!” “Are you ready for a New Beginning?” “Let’s hear it!” “Yes?” You announce, raising your hand, beaming. The audience replies: “Yes!” The ice is broken. A sigh of relief: a new order is established. Calm permeates the air. People comfortably sip their coffee. Individuals in the back smile their approval, munching on donuts.

Every night we must refresh, recalibrate and re-boot our psyches to maintain a “PMA” or a Positive Mental Attitude. This process requires effort. How we refresh, is each person’s decision. Life as we have known it, has shifted. What was true 20 years ago, is not so true today. Humpty Dumpty cannot be put back together again. Simply put, it all comes back to you. How you view life. Who you are and what beliefs or values do you need to change? We are all part of the world economy. Now more than ever accepting and valuing differences with respect to age, class, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, and spiritual practice, is upon us.

People are living longer. Staying in the work force longer. Four generations are in the workforce, soon to be five. Each generation plays a different role in everyday life. What needs to happen to weave generational respect and respect for others different than ourselves, into our lives? Inadequately handled generational disputes and issues of otherness, negatively impacts all humans. But liking yourself, leads to being more tolerant of others different from you. Most importantly, what do you think of yourself? Amidst the chaos of life, you need courage to be yourself and live life for your own approval.

 We are all a product of our time. Our place of birth. Where we were raised, and the era we were born. In your time, what was occurring in the world socially, politically, musically, including global conflicts. What is going on in our lives is seen through our own generational lens, time to refocus our generational eyeglasses and have a clearer vision of…A New Beginning.


Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at or at

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