RodolfoCostas-smPDB: Your life is an interesting story, Rodolfo. It took a great deal of courage for you to leave your native city and country of Lima, Peru at the age of nineteen to immigrate to the United States alone. Please share with us what that was like.

RC: It was hard to leave my family, and I know it was especially hard for my parents, but they knew that I had to grow. They supported that, I guess because of the way they raised me, and they felt that everything would be all right, and actually it was.

At the time, it was like an adventure for me, and I guess I was not smart enough to know that it could be a difficult move, but I was charged, I was optimistic, I was feeling very positive, and nothing could stop me. I remember being at the San Francisco Airport with two small suitcases in my hand, not knowing where to go, but feeling great! But after a few years I lost my optimism, I lost my motivation, I became complacent, and the fire that I once had inside of me when I first came was not burning anymore.

PDB: Your book, Advice My Parents Gave Me and Other Lessons I Learned from My Mistakes, is an inspirational and motivational collection. Tell us about the book, and how you came up with the idea for it.

RC: It all started one day after doing some soul searching, thinking about my life experiences, my ups and downs, my joys and sorrows, my dreams and plans, my achievements and disappointments -- my existence in general. I decided to put in writing and share the inspiration and motivation that I once had, but I chose to leave aside while I became complacent and was busy within my own world, complaining about everybody and everything.

I chose to forget that life had been wonderful to me, and chose to focus on the negative part of it. So I decided I had enough of that as I was hearing my parents' voices in my mind (No, no, I was not going crazy...), and reliving some of the advice and life lessons I wrote in the book. I wanted to share some of the words of inspiration and encouragement I received from my parents as I was growing up, and add some lessons that I learned from the mistakes I made. I wanted to tell the reader that indeed life could be wonderful, that we have a choice, but it is up to us to decide.

The book is about inspiration, motivation, and encouragement to move forward to a successful life while becoming a better person in the process. It touches on attitude, responsibility, goals, positive self-esteem, success, love, forgiveness, happiness, and gratitude, among other topics. These topics are enhanced with quotes from both historical figures (Henry Ford, Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, Marcus Aurelius...) and contemporary ones (Michael Jordan, Les Brown, Denis Waitley, Anthony Robbins...).

PDB: Everything I've read about you, and your writing, convinces me that you are a very positive person. How do you maintain such an upbeat attitude toward life?

RodolfoCostas-LgRC: I always try, sometimes I must confess it is not easy, but at the same time I know that I have a choice. I learned and I know the difference now, and I always choose to focus on the positive and the beautiful things that life has to offer, to see the glass half full, to understand that whatever it is that I am going through will eventually pass, to enjoy the moment. I learned that, indeed, we can not always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we react to what happens to us.

PDB: A quote from a bio about you includes, "He is a business owner, a Realtor, a teacher, and always a student." Please share with us how you balance all those facets of your life.

RC: I always plan my day by trying to manage and organize my time efficiently. I set priorities, so that way I minimize stress, and I learned that makes a difference in what I can and cannot accomplish. If something unexpected happens, I try to adapt to what is presented to me so I can respond accordingly.

PDB: I can't help wondering if your parents were ever able to come to America to be with you, or if you were able to return to Peru to visit them.

RC: Yes, I am fortunate that my parents were able to come several times to visit. I was also fortunate that I was able to visit them, and I still take the time to go to Peru at least once a year.

PDB: Of all the bits of positive advice you've collected over the years, what would the top three most important be?

RC:I would say that gratitude would be number one, because it helps me understand and appreciate that what I already have, what I already know, what I already am, is more than enough. It makes me put things into perspective. It helps me appreciate more all the people who mean something in my life, all the people that help me, teach me, want to learn from me, and trust me. Gratitude makes me appreciate more what I have experienced, what I have learned by every one of life's battles, especially the ones that I lost, because they helped me develop as a person and human being. 

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A positive attitude would be number two. It makes me understand that I have a choice in life, it can help me change the way I do and see things. I learned that a positive mental attitude is far more important than aptitude to succeed in life. I learned it could not be easy at first to change one's negative attitude, because we all have been conditioned since we were born, to see and do things, and in many cases, to think in a certain way. But like with everything else, with practice we can improve our attitude.

Responsibility would be third. It helps me to realize and understand that I am in charge of my life, that it is up to me to be the best I can be, that I do not have to be a victim. I have to respond for my actions, consequences, and circumstances, and if I do not control my life and future, somebody else will. They will choose for me, and I may not like the choices given. With that in mind, I think it is better to be in control of one's destiny.

JaneNWhite-75SqDr. Jane Nixon White, award-winning poet and essayist, is a veteran teacher whose writing crosses genres. Her first book, Life and Things Like Rocks, is an anthology of poems and prayers for children. She is also the author of The Taming of Corky, her first novel. Jane is currently working on a two-book series on World War II, which is the posthumous memoir of her parents.