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Vera Jo Bustos stood out on the basketball court at West Las Vegas High School.  She owns the school records for points (2,098), rebounds (935), assists (536), steals (331) and games started (125).  Following her stellar career in high school, she turned in a Hall of Fame career at Adams State from 2007-2011.  Bustos not only became the school’s all-time scoring leader with 1,859 points, but she also became the school’s all-time leader in minutes played (3,805) and games started (105). In her four years, Bustos averaged 17.5 points per game and set records for most points in a game (36), most 3-pointers in a game (8) and most points in a half (27).  Bustos spent the 2011-12 season playing professional basketball in Greece where she averaged 11.2 points and 4.9 rebounds in 21 games as a rookie.  She followed up her playing career as an assistant at Western Colorado University and would also later join the coaching staff at the University of New Mexico.  Now she’s adding ‘author’ to her title.  Bustos published a book titled “A Mindful Journey: An Adventure of Discovery and Transformation.”

Separated from her comfort zone, Bustos followed her dream of playing professional basketball and traveled six thousand miles away from friends and family.  Her message to others is one of resilience and using those “golden nuggets” of inspiration.

Bustos recently sent a video message to the student-athletes of New Mexico with some advice during this uncertain time.


“I can’t pretend to imagine and even understand the magnitude of what you must be going through right now, I’ll do my best to give you some words of encouragement.

Some of the things that are going on remind me of my first days in Greece.  I had no blueprint, no idea of what to expect, everything was unknown and I could barely communicate with anybody.  Fear of the unknown was always around me.  I, myself, was overcome with fear and cried myself to sleep my first night on Greek soil.  As time went on, though, I learned some powerful life lessons during those times of fear and uncertainty in my life.

The first lesson I learned was living each day in the now, being grateful for the things I did have instead of the things I didn’t or the things that were taken away from me.  I made it a habit to write down three things that I was grateful for every single morning.  I called them my Golden Nuggets and I still do it to this day.  Not only did my perspective change, but so did my overall joy and motivation.  Although, it’s not easy to stay motivated and disciplined during times of adversity, I understand that.  So, I want you to think about your favorite movie for a moment.  In most cases, the main character wants to achieve something, but must overcome adversity and conflict to get to it.  It kind of feels like we’re living in a movie today, doesn‘t it?  It’s a bit surreal.  I want you to take the script in your own hands and make your own blockbuster hit.  Rise above the adversity and have a next play mentality.  You see, just like a missed layup, fumble, missed goal, dropped stunt, whatever it may be, we can’t go back and control the past.  It happened, it’s out of our hands, there’s nothing we can do about it.  Instead, I want you to live in the now.  Be where your feet are.  Win the moment.

In order to win the moment, we have to focus on what’s important now.  Visualize with me for a moment.  What’s your goal, your aspiration, your dream held deep within your heart?  What habits can you create today to bring you closer to that goal?  See this now as an opportunity to win the moment and become the best you that you can be.  When you cleats touch that grass again or your sneakers touch the hardwood floor, imagine that feeling.  Remember why you continue to work hard.  I never said it was going to be easy.  As a matter of fact, I think it’s going to be really hard to maintain discipline, accountability, and sense of accomplishment during this time.  So, I’m going to leave you with one thing that may help you attain these things every single day.  It’s extremely basic, but if you commit to this you are going to get better at creating the habits and stay on track for the aspirations and dreams you have for tomorrow.  So, every single day, you’re going to start the day by making your bed.  I know it’s basic, but stay with me.  Let’s say you wake up and just don’t feel good or your tummy hurts or you have a headache or you’re sore from the workout that you had, whatever it may be, but you make your bed anyway.  That’s establishing discipline.  Now let’s say you have an alarm set to workout, even though it may be a virtual workout, you set your alarm for pm instead of am.  I used to do it all the time.  Now you jump up because you’re late and you’re going to feel like you’re late to the workout and you feel like there’s more important things going on, but you make your bed anyway.  That’s establishing accountability.  At the very least, you start off the day with a sense of accomplishment by getting one thing done immediately.

You see, we have no power over the past.  We have no power over the future.  Our only power is in the present.  You are the present and you are the power.  And remember to always find your Golden Nuggets.

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