Home

Behind the four walls that make up your house, there are so many stories. Tragic, beautiful, happy, incredible, life changing stories. The stories that make you who you are… the building blocks that created you. Moments that turned you into the person you are and set you on your path to be the one you will become.

It’s strange to think that every house you drive by holds so many stories, so many family dinners, so many arguments, so many hugs and kisses. Each house is a home to those who occupy it, when they move on those stories are carried on in their memories. When you move on and leave your home, leaving that chapter. It becomes someone else’s chapter. It becomes someone else’s future. The world keeps turning.

The house that I spent 14 years calling home, is becoming someone else’s next chapter. It’s opening it’s doors for new love, a new family and new memories together. They won’t know my families memories, the holidays spent around the table laughing… the Sanctuary from a broken heart… the people who entered the house as friends and left as family… even those they have since passed on. Those thoughts now only exist in my mind and on my levels I am sad that I won’t be able to open that door and see those memories in front of my eyes.

Although my parents haven’t lived there for a few years, it still smelt like home, up until the last night I locked the door. I will miss that smell. There was a comfort in the house, entering it felt like I was being held by my parents. I miss them.

I know home is where you make it, where you feel it within your heart. Home is where you can be yourself and feel loved, safe and comfortable. I am determined that my home will be that for many friends, even ones who don’t know they need it.

My original home in the US is gone. But those memories are not. I have to focus on that.

Feel your pulse, own your pride

4 years ago Orlando was changed forever… the LGBTQ community was hit right in the heart… 49 times…. 49 lives… 49 stories that ended that night. It was the night of the Pulse Nightclub massacre.

I was sleeping that night, peacefully in bed with my wonderful boyfriend. We woke the next morning to dozens of messages… we opened up social media and there it was. Every news station, every friend marking themselves safe, videos footage of flashing lights, crying crowds, parents desperately trying to find their children… there was emergency blood drives set up as Orlando didn’t have enough blood to help the wounded… how crazy a thought is that, not enough blood.

My heart was broken. I didn’t lose anyone that night, but I know people who lost friends and family… I have friends who were supposed to be there but for some reason… they decided to stay home. I held my friends, I held my boyfriend and we cried. We cried out of fear… out of hurt… out of sadness.

Orlando is a cultural melting pot, a transient city filled with people from every background… it’s what makes it great. But after that night… and the weekend following… Orlando showed it’s true colors. It said “We are Orlando Strong”, “we have one pulse”… that became the heartbeat of the city, love is love is love is love is love. Strangers hugged, vigils were held everywhere, people cried together, your race didn’t matter, your religion, your orientation… nothing mattered, we held each other.

Every year on the anniversary I remember the sadness i felt when i woke that morning and for days after… but then i remember how I started to see rainbow flags appear in store windows in the days following…displays listing the names of the ones lost, straight families walking around the parks with T-shirt’s supporting the LGBTQ community and Orlando… the clothing brands that released merchandise to raise money to help the survivors… that sadness turned into pride.

Pride for my community… pride in who we are as individuals. I became one of the rainbow wearing, rainbow flag owning, proud gay men. Why did I do that? What made me realize that being gay was something I should own? The simple answer, because 49, proud, loving, diverse people had their pride taken away from them… as well as the survivors who still suffer from PTSD from that night.

What brings us together… all of us… is that pulse, that heart beat… we all have one.

Feel your pulse. It means you are still here. You still matter, you still belong. Pride doesn’t end at LGBTQ, it includes pride in your heritage, being proud of your race, proud of the battles you overcame and the ones you are still pushing through. Never let anyone take away your pride. Someone tried to take that away from us that night… but we came back stronger.

Into the unknown…

So it’s quarantine day… who knows? is it Tuesday? Maybe?

That is the world we are currently living in, where we don’t know the date, we don’t know the day of the week… all we know is that we have to stay home… for how long we don’t know? The rest is unknown.

It’s a scary place to be… we are really living the same day in and out… it takes it toll on your mental health, physical health and your relationships. My dog for example is fed up of us being home… she’s ready for her 6 hour daily naps. But even human relationships can struggle at this time. To be honest my main issue has been more the mental struggle.

Recently I have found myself lacking the motivation to even get up out of bed and keep moving every day, I want to be productive but lack the energy… I found myself initially saying “I don’t have time”… but I have nothing but time right now. That was when I really had to sit down and think about what was going on… not COVID-19 related, not money related or work related but internally.

What I figured out is that the “unknown” makes me unsettled because I can’t control it… as for someone who is longing to travel everywhere and see everything the world has to offer, there will be so many unknowns in that… how can being told “stay at home” cause me to develop this new struggle. But really if you think back to your childhood, there was always someone who had the answer, a teacher, parent, friend… then as you grow up you still have those guiding lights, those people who will point you where you want to go… but right now, at this time we are all in the same boat…. facing the same direction… without a map, no control… drifting.

The unknown is scary and a in itself is a challenge to face. The nice thing is we are all facing this unknown together… yes with our own individual issues and concerns but over all… we all have this joint feeling of not knowing. There should be comfort in that right? We shouldn’t be spending this time putting others down, comparing whose life is worse off. We should be holding each other up and saying “we can steer this ship together” by focusing on what IS in our control, what really matters… and that has never changed… LOVE.

With more time on our hands, we seem to get bogged down with filling it with stress and worry and comparison… but we need to see the love in the world…

There are kids at home celebrating spending time with both their parents… they aren’t going to remember why, they will remember love. Significant others who have spent maybe a week on vacation together are now spending a month seeing each other every day… getting to love on each other. Our loyal pets that spend so much time alone, are experiencing true companionship and love because we are home… and exercising more.

For those that we can’t physically see, we are communicating through other measures, FaceTime, zoom, video calling. We need to keep those connections open when ever this pandemic is over. Sadly I don’t think we will ever return to normal… but we will find a new normal. We are already starting to… but let that new normal be based off of Love… maybe we let love lead us into the unknown… embrace is and control what we can control, what matters. Being a decent loving human being.

Food Addiction, negative self talk and the insecurities that follow.

Addiction is a scary word…and most think addiction is only for drugs and alcohol but in reality you can be addicted to So many things.

What I have recently realized is that i have an addiction to food. I overeat when I am sad, when I am happy, when I am stressed or lonely. Food has always offered me comfort, it has always been there and it was always available twenty four seven.

I have never said these words out loud or typed them out, but this is it…. this is my addiction. I know some will say it’s not as severe as alcohol or drugs… but weight fluctuation and terrible food intake can lead to so many other long term issues.

After some reflection on my childhood years I pin pointed where a lot of my self esteem issues spawned from and it was food related… whether it was my grandmother commenting on my second helping of dessert, my grandfather pointing out I had put weight on… or closer to home, my brother calling me fatso for most of my preteen-teenage years. Or more recently in a past romantic relationship being told “oh if you lost weight you would be hot”.

I was always… shall we say…well rounded physically than my brother was. Looking back those memories of him name calling still hurt me now which is Insane as they are at least 22 years old. I truly believe this created my downward spiral Into weight issues as an adult. When you are a kid there are parents monitoring your food… when you are an adult… there is no one to tell you to stop eating the entire pizza… followed by some French fries. So naturally I find myself some nights gorging on food and picking at snacks. Everyone tells me “you don’t look big, you are tall so you can carry it well”… I really appreciate the support but I know how I look and how that makes me feel.

Why oh why do we talk so badly about yourselves… why do we look in the mirror to point out imperfections…. when there will always be a grandparents, friend or sibling who will be happy bring us down without even asking for it. My insecurities spawn from those family dinners where my brother made comments, those dates when I was told “are you sure you want to eat that?”.

I started weight watchers a year ago, for a solid six months I stuck to it, I felt great and it was teaching me to have a healthy relationship with food. But with a job change and stress I slipped right off the band wagon and my weight sky rocketed back to where it was. This was a kick in the crotch… it knocked my self esteem, it knocked my confidence and it made me feel like a failure… which is not a nice feeling.

I discovered a podcast that tells you that you have to make changes to yourself in a positive way. No negative talk. You want to lose weight to better yourself, to improve your energy level and so on. But here’s the thing… of you start a lifestyle change focusing on the negative, your body is conditioned to not follow through… start with the positive and go from there.

Every body of every size is beautiful… you just have to listen to what you are telling yourself and make sure it is positive… encourage yourself to try harder, improvement not weight loss.

With that being said, I will be working on improving my well being, cutting my food I take down and focusing on feeling better within my skin.

Sitting with yourself

I haven’t sat down to write in what feels like an eternity. I have been so busy with working two jobs, trying to keep myself going and we are trying to figure out our living situation for the next year. I realize now that I haven’t stopped, I haven’t sat down and disconnected myself from everything going on externally to see how i am actually feeling. This is something we can all relate to… we are too busy all the time. Even if you don’t realize it… you are always watching TV, working, on social media, listening to music, playing video games, eating, talking to people and just being on our phones… there’s never a moment of silence as we fill our lives down to the second… even typing all of that out made me tired.

When was the last time you sat alone, in silence , with your own mind? Maybe you are someone who journals or can separate yourself from everything else and just exist for 5 minutes… but for most of us, that’s impossible. Our brains are filled with so much shit that we constantly feel over whelmed and stressed about everything. This is what I believe has pushed anxiety and depression levels through the roof.

For me, when I am writing… I am alone (maybe with my wonderful pup by my side), sitting in a quiet room and I have my phone turned to airplane mode so that I can have zero distractions. But over the past few months I feel like I have lost my voice, I have been too busy to hear it… too busy to sit with myself and ask “how am I doing today?”. Something that I am trying my best to do now on a daily basis.

Another challenge I have been struggling with is negative self talk, I have put weight on because of stress and working too much and just generally lacking self care. This has caused me to beat myself down when I look in the mirror… but this isn’t healthy.

When you talk down about yourself that’s what you hear, that’s what you feel… that you aren’t good enough… but you are good enough. You do matter. The only person who can validate you is you. Stop talking negatively about yourself and be proud of the person you are, what you feel is legitimate, if you need to cry… do it. If you need to laugh… so it. Holding in your feelings is bad for you… No husband, wife, significant other or friend needs to validate you… you are perfect. You are your own kind of normal and it’s beautiful.

I need you to sit down in silence away from all your distractions at the end of your day and tell yourself-“I am smart, I am enough, I am beautiful”

Do it scared

When ever someone would ask me what I deepest fear was… They would ask if I was scared of spider? Snakes? Heights? Airplanes?

What filled me with fear was an easy, losing the ones I love… or disappointing them. That’s always been my answer. What I have recently discovered is that fear… ruled my life. More than a fear of spiders… more than a fear of heights. I found out that I am a people pleaser. Again… this wasn’t a surprise. I love helping others, supporting them and I am willing to work with anyone… I’ll never say no.

When I took an online assessment from a book called “Do it scared” I matched 89% with the “People Pleaser” archetype. Shocking… ha.

What this book has taught me though is that I hold myself back from following my dreams… from speaking up and from following through on what I really want in life… because my fear of disappointment… fear of the unknown… my fear of “what will others think”.

This surprised me because I have never really consciously cared about what others think… if people like me great, if they don’t… oh well. Part of being a people pleaser is letting what you think others think of you rule everything, when 90% of the time it’s just your brain over reacting, and that’s true with any fear. Your mind instantly fires off worst case scenarios, jumping to the darkest possible endings… when in reality… it won’t be like that. That’s fear… fear isn’t the spider, it isn’t the heights, it’s not the disappointment… fear is your brain over reacting.

As per of the book purchase you get access you your “premium” results where it breaks down the overall impact that fear has in your life. There are seven different categories… and all of mine fell in the medium range with people pleaser being the highest. Now of course with all fears there are positives and negatives attached and the book really dives deeply into them, it really makes you examine yourself… your past choices and your decision making processes.

The “final thought” from my results really sums my fear up-

“You struggle most with the fear of being judged, which also manifests itself as the fear of letting people down and the fear of what other people might say”

Growing up I always though that people who prioritize themselves over others were selfish. Really they aren’t. Are you giving the world the best you can give if you aren’t looking after yourself? If you aren’t making choices based on your own happiness?…. no…you are living your life scared.

“Do it scared” is the mantra I am trying to keep in my mind every day… I am trying to turn it into a positive affirmation that I can chant in my mind when ever I feel any kind of doubt… any kind of withdrawal… Life is about exploring…. exploring outside of your comfort zone and sometimes you have to “do it scared”.

Who are you living for?

I am now in my 30s and I have always put the world before myself, it has lead me to become the completely indecisive person I am today. But I am starting to realize, 20 years of sacrificing myself for others is catching up. I don’t have a clear direction in my life. I work hard because that is what I expect of myself, am I in the career that 10 year old me dreamt about-nope. Now I am not blaming the world for where I am, i am not complaining that I have a terrible life, because I don’t. My life is wonderful. Minus some health issues here and there.

If you are someone like me, you will always put others before yourself, whether it’s family, friends or even someone you don’t know. Being a kind and caring individual is a wonderful thing… but it gets to the point that you sacrifice yourself for others, you lose the person you are and become the person the world creates for you… or rather the person you let the world tell you that you are.

My point is, being happy with yourself, with your choices and with your life is what makes you a well rounded individual, being decisive about your career, what you do every day and the direction you want to go will lead to you being happy. Hopefully causing less stress, less high blood pressure and meaning that you can wake up every morning with a smile on your face.

The interesting part about all of this is that it starts with you. No one else. It starts with that voice inside your head… you have to turn down the noise, turn off the overthinking and make a choice. Who are you living for? The answer should be… wait scratch that the answer IS “I am living for me”.

Sivako-rise to the challenge

With every single day we face challenges and up hill climbs that make it difficult for us to go on… some of us feel the weight of everything on us every single day and it holds us back from doing what we need to… or what needs to be done.

With every step you take in the direction of your dreams, of the life you want to live… you are challenging every single negative thought, challenging the nay sayers and proving them wrong. Sometimes one step is all you need to remember that you are strong, you are worth it and that you deserve to be an active participant in your own destiny.

I have not been writing as much as I should… I have been distancing myself from doing the things I want to do and burying myself under work. Because of stress, mostly. I have gained the weight I worked so hard to lose, I have been eating everything and anything I shouldn’t and started letting that be another reason to hold me back.

I am thankful for the positive people I have in my life, the guiding lights they provide… the support I receive from them every day is what keeps me going.

Currently I am focusing so much on the negatives of work that I know the rest of me is suffering. But I still give work my all, because that’s who I am. What is sad about that sentence is what could I accomplish if I was giving my all to a job I actually loved and enjoyed?

How much of our lives do we spend trying to impress the bosses and corporations that we are not invested in… but we do it because that’s what’s expected. If you could put all your effort into something you love… I am sure you would succeed beyond your wildest dreams. Fear holds us back, fear of failure, fear of the unknown… so we continue to go to the place that makes us Mediocrely happy…

At what point in our lives is it too late to change?

At what point do we just accept that this is where we were heading?

Sometimes you need to realize that rising to the challenge doesn’t mean quitting your job, it means standing up and focusing on every day things you can do to bring the joy into your life. What can you do to step in the direction you need to go, without letting everything else fall to the wayside.

The challenge in life for most of us, is the balancing act where we try to keep everything running smoothly and finding our happiness. The work life balance in the US is terrible, we spend our work days focusing on getting home to spend our time at home focusing on work. Losing the time with family and friends, draining ourselves.

I challenge you to live in the moment. Live for your happiness and work hard to move towards the life you want to lead. Don’t quit when it gets tough, keep pushing. Because if you don’t rise to the challenge you might never know where your climb will take you. The top of every mountain ends with a breath taking view… find yours.

(Not my image but courtesy of a friend)

Don’t give up on me.

Don’t give up on me… that sentence can hold so many different meanings depending on who you are saying it to.Whether it’s a loved one you are worried about losing, a friend you think you are pushing away… but tonight on my way home a song by Andy Grammar with that same title came on Pandora and it hit me…

don’t give up on me… is something we need to say to ourselves, something to remind us that we have to push through what ever crap we are dealing with and keep trying.

There have been so many times in my life where (unknowingly) I have given up on myself, given up on something I was doing just because I lost faith in myself, i was told i wasn’t good enough or talented enough… or smart enough, granted every path I have taken has lead me to where I am and who I am.

But even recently there are times when I have felt so drained… so exhausted that through lack of interest I have given up on myself…. that’s why the song hit me. It showed me the power of the negativity i was giving myself… and reminded me to not give up, because as long as I keep trying, I am not failing. I am learning.

If you step with purpose in the direction you want to go, every movement will take you where you need to be. Just don’t give up.

Some say the soul of the city’s the toll of the bells…the bells of Notre Dame!

I am compelled to make a post about the on going fire at Notre-Dame cathedral. Maybe because it is a place I have dreamed about visiting… because it’s an architectural beauty, because of the history within each brick.

I am addicted to history… addicted to cathedrals and addicted to exploring religious sites and buildings during my travels. Notre-Dame is always on my bucket list.

Today we are reminded of how long historical monuments can stand around us, to the point where we are so accustom to them just being there that we forget the chance of tragedy, forget that it could be changed or ruined at any moment. We are reminded of the fragility of time…

The cathedral has lasted through battles and world wars. It was more than just a place of worship but an icon for many from every religion, background and race.

The cathedral is a historical monument, it holds treasures and secrets beyond public knowledge. No matter the scorch marks, there is so much history within those walls.

whatever your religion maybe, you can appreciate the heart and soul that goes into the design of cathedrals, Notre-dame is a marvel in its own class.

Hopefully the building can be saved, hopefully it’s treasures were removed safely and hopefully no lives are lost battling the fire.

I encourage you to explore the wonders around you. Visit monuments, museums, cathedrals, churches and state parks. Explore everything you can while it is still around, you never know when it could disappear… or be engulfed in flames that can’t be contained.

We will hear the bells toll again from the towers of Notre-dame, it will take time, it will take patience but the story is not over.

Love is like a tree: it grows by itself, roots itself deeply in our being and continues to flourish over a heart in ruin. The inexplicable fact is that the blinder it is, the more tenacious it is. It is never stronger than when it is completely unreasonable.