Rug Talk: The Gift of Giving.

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A few years ago I was blessed enough to be able to buy a new truck — a ’15 Chevy Tahoe.

I still had my old ’07 Tahoe that I was going to sell (and believe me, I could’ve used the money), but something inside of me (GOD) kept prompting me to give the truck to my boy Datin ( @datin_tripled ) who was struggling at the time. “GIVE it to him!!?? Well, maybe I could ‘give’ it to him for cheap!” “YES, JUST GIVE IT TO HIM,” the voice said.

So I jumped on a call with Datin, blessed him with the truck and never looked back.

Fast forward a year later, pillow talking with the wife, I tell her, “Baby, I’m not sure I want to take our tour bus on our next run.” I had this event in Texas that I needed to get to. It was at least a 24 hour road trip from NY, and at the time our old Tour Bus was acting up.
In fact, it actually broke down on us a few times, leaving us stranded in the middle of no where. (Not fun). Wife responds, “I know. So what you gonna do?” “I don’t know, it ain’t like we can afford a new tour bus. I’ll have to figure it out somehow. But it’ll be okay”

I went to sleep later that night.

The VERY next day, my boy Andra Davis ( @allroadsopen ) — who just happened to be an NFL SUPERSTAR that I knew for less than a YEAR at the time —  calls me up and says, “Yo Unc, how fast can you make it to Denver, CO?” “I don’t know. Why? What’s up!?”. He asked again, “How fast can you make it up here?” “Shoot, how fast do you need me up there?” He then responded, “I feel like God told me to bless you with the BEAST last night, so get down here and pick it up!” I was speechless and I thought to myself, “Man, God is so good”. ——
A lot of  people don’t realize that in order to RECEIVE you have to be willing to GIVE. But, when you DO give, you can’t expect to receive.

I hope you understand me.

P.S. Love You Big Man! 54!

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Rug Talk: Rough Times.

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It’s this spot right here that I mentally refer to anytime I feel like I’m going through a “rough” time.

Why this spot you ask?
Well, let me bring you back for a second.

Years ago, after a long rough night of running the streets of Queens, NY up to ABSOLUTELY no good at all, I decided to make my way back to the place where I was staying at the time… a “friends” house.

Exhausted, I swang open the front gate and made my way up the three little steps that lead to the front door.

Before I even attempted to open the front door, the lady from next door, who just happened to be walking out of her house says, “you looking for your friend?” I responded by nodding my head up and down.
She goes on to tell me that they moved yesterday and that they had left all of my belongings in a couple of garbage bags in front of the house.

My heart dropped because  A. There was no sign of my belongings anywhere (believe me I looked everywhere and asked anyone I could). No clothes, No ID, No contacts (before cell phones we use to have to write all our contacts in a little phone book). I had NOTHING not even a dollar to my name! and B. I was exhausted and I once again I found myself with no place to stay.

With an empty, exhausted and hopeless feeling I walked to the Bodega a few blocks away (this spot right here) and just stood there… broken.

All I had to my name was a pair of blue Vans (sneakers for those of you living under a rock) and a white pair of Champion shorts (that’s right, I’ve been rocking Champion) that were filthy from the reckless night.
I didn’t even have a tee shirt on (which was normal back then) just that pair of Vans and a filthy pair of white shorts.

I honestly don’t even remember how I climbed out of that situation, all I know is that I did (and so can you). So again, ANYTIME I find myself feeling like I’m going thru a “rough” time all I have to do is refer to this spot right here and know that if I made it through that, I can make it through anything.

I hope you understand me.

Rug Talk: Where my Hustle Began.

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This is where it all started for me.
Looking back I’ve always been an entrepreneur, but with little to no guidance as a kid, I took my talents to the streets.
When I was about 14 or 15 years old, I would ride up to this spot right here (85th St. Park) on my bike and post up on this bench between the hours of 6 pm and 9 pm to give the people what they wanted (I don’t have to be specific, do I?).

Because I was responsible and consistent (principles which are still valuable to this day) I was able to build up a steady clientele, or a customer base as we call it today.
Fast forward 10 or 15 years to where my whole operation grew tremendously, with a few hiccups of course. (But we’ll save that for another post.). Money, houses, trucks and even a boat.

I was “On Top Of The World” (boy was I blind). Until this one day when I heard this guy by the name of Raymond Ramos–who I didn’t know at the time–say these words; “You can’t fill a spiritual void with things of the physical”. That statement right there rocked my world.

Long story short (too many details for this post), and at the peak of my street career, I walked away from the game.
I had no income for over two years and my stash was running low.

I guess the same thing that prompted me to start hustling on that bench when I was a kid, kicked in once again.
This time it had me jump out of my friend’s pool and say, “I’m going to make some cool tee shirts.” And the rest is history.

The reason why I’m saying this is because, to me, there’s a lot of entrepreneurs out there right now wasting their talents in the wrong places.

Trust me, you are built to survive and if you can make it in that world you can make it anywhere.

I hope You Understand Me.

Rug Talk: My Wife, AKA Consistent Jess

 

gratefulapparel_50874104_606104073162385_4302831078201172818_n.jpgThis spot right here is where my wife Jessica and I (who was my girlfriend at the time) kissed for the very first time. Now come on people, you know I deserve some points just for remembering this.

For all of the time that I’ve known Jessica, the one thing that I’ve loved about her the most is her consistency.

I remember when we first started dating–or I guess she was dating me (lol). I would have to pick her up from the train station on a busted, 10 speed bicycle with no breaks and we’d hang out at my little basement apartment–which was more like a room–and if it was a good day, we’d order Chinese food from the corner (big dog status). That ten-speed bike eventually turned into a beat up Ford Explorer that we would use to get around and go to the flicks at times. I don’t even know if she knew that I had no paperwork on the vehicle or a valid driver’s license. (lol)

Fast forward, and after a few years in the game (check out my older posts for details on what “game” I’m talking about), my basement apartment led to an even nicer apartment, and eventually a house. Fast forward even further, and that house led to four more houses, trucks, cars, and even a boat.
Eventually, due to a major change that I made in my life (a GOD change), we had to downsize on most of our material possessions in the effort of bettering myself. I wanted to make a positive difference in the world for a change.

This was the decision that led to the creation of the 3Sixty House and Grateful Apparel.

And guess what… Jessica was right there with me through it all, the same exact person that she was when I met her.
If anyone deserves to be by my side right now it’s her.
Happy Valentines Day Baby, AKA Consistent Jess @jaie14 .

I Hope You Understand Me.

Rug Talk: I Was ONLY Lending a Friend Money… Or Was I?

gratefulapparel_51018449_830794893945993_1179327835315871481_nTo be honest, at the time I couldn’t even tell you how I winded up at this spot right here.

Here I was, two years out of the game, with no income coming in & a stash of cash that was running low.

A friend of mine asked me to do him a favor and lend him 20K and he’d give me 21.5k at the end of the week.

Somehow, I convinced myself that ALL I was doing was “lending him money”. $1500 had a way of eclipsing any conviction I had at the moment.

The first time was smooth sailing, so we did it a few more times.

Until, one day… I got the phone call that my friend had gotten arrested.

My heart dropped for two reasons, A. Of course I felt bad that my friend got arrested, but B. my MONEY!!! Cash was tight, so losing 20k was no joke. I didn’t even make the money back yet!

Then, out of no where, my friend’s Connect some how figured out who I was and returned the MONEY, which was completely unheard of, especially in this game.

Days later, the Connect asked me if I could return the favor and get rid of something for them (I don’t have to be specific do I?) Out of honor, I reluctantly agreed and had them follow me in their car. I was going to have them pull over a block before I got to where I’d be able to unload the goods.

As I drove in front of them… it hit me—sin has a way of growing on us without warning.
I went from “lending” my friend money to–after two years out of the game–transporting with the intent to sell (allegedly 👀) Now, I was super convicted almost to the point of tears, but my ego wouldn’t allow me to pull over and give them the goods back.

But, after a storm of emotion, I thought to myself, “caring about what God thinks of me is worth WAY more than what these guys thought”. So, I pulled over, jumped out of my truck, walked over to theirs, handed them the goods and told them, straight up, “I apologize, and I know you’re not going to understand this, but I can’t make this happen”. They all looked at me like I had three heads, and I was cool with that.

With the weight off of my shoulders I walked back to my truck and said, “sorry God”. And I never looked back. “Little Sin” turns into “BIGGER sin”

I hope you understand me.

#RugTalk

My Celebrity Pic-Post!

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I’ve seen it a million times, the “Celebrity” picture-post.
The I’M with So and So!!!!! Well, here’s MY Celebrity picture post.
Who & Why?
First of all, right here in this picture, there are over 60 years of clean time (no drugs or alcohol). And more importantly, these men have dedicated their lives to helping thousands of men, women, and children from all over the country who struggle with addiction.
In all reality, “Celebrities” should be taking pictures of them and posting it on THEIR feeds.

But nope, not in this world… Not “COOL” enough.

Well, I think these guys are Rock Stars and it was a privilege to be able to hang out with them and talk about the future of helping others in need.

Pay attention to the real celebrities sometimes.

I hope you understand me.

PS – God has taken me way outside of my comfort zone.

Raymond Rivera
Grateful Apparel
The 3Sixty House.

 

I Smiled Today!!!!

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I smiled today and you’d never imagine why.

Lunchtime and I stopped at a Panera Bread to grab me a Squash Soup & Quinoa Salad (I haven’t eaten meat for about 5 months BTW). As I’m walking back towards my truck I spotted a Stop & Shop Supermarket in the same Plaza.

My son Jadon needs orange juice so I might as well head over and grab one.

Anytime I’m at the supermarket I get this nagging voice in my head, “call your wife and see if she needs anything”. A phone call or text I normally HATE to make because grabbing an orange juice turns into a full-blown grocery list, which quite frankly S-T-R-E-S-S-E-S ME OUT!

Why does it stress me out you ask? That’s funny because for some time now I’ve been asking myself that same question.

You see, I started to not like the feeling of getting stressed out/upset because my WIFE asked me to grab a few things for her while I’m ALREADY at the Supermarket.

This way she doesn’t have to go when she gets off of work.

She does have a forty hour a week job that she has to drive to and from, while I am blessed to be able to work from home, where I can come and go as I please

(don’t stone me).

And, because of that, I started to call her every time I went to the supermarket to train myself not to get stressed out. In other words not be so SELFISH.

Honestly, it wasn’t easy at first, but a lot of deep breathing helped me out (LOL). It took me about a year to get better with it.

Hence today’s smile.

While shopping I realized that I was on the phone with her the whole time, and you guessed it, that orange juice, well, it turned into an entire Christmas Dinner shopping spree, a COMPLETELY full shopping cart.

The difference was, I wasn’t stressed out at all.

In fact, I had fun on the phone with her while shopping.

I smiled because I changed, and that felt good.
Bad habits aren’t forever. Free yourself.

I hope you understand me.

Raymond Rivera
Grateful Apparel
The 3Sixty House