Personal Struggles: February 5, 2016

Personal Struggles

Having grown up as a Pentecostal gay boy in a very small rural Virginia town, I think I know just a little about personal struggles. Having to hide the person I really was for fear of rejection, mockery, condemnation by the church, judgment, and social isolation was challenging. I kept that closet door pulled tight and just pretended to be the person I thought others expected me to be instead of being my true authentic self. Even through my fear based efforts to hide it, I was still called names, isolated, and at times laughed at. So, I am sure people knew but I dared not admit it. I kept pretending I was someone else.

That was then

Not only did I grow up hiding my true identity but I also grew up in a home without indoor plumbing for the majority of my childhood. Going to the out-house in the middle of the night to use the bathroom wasn’t ideal, especially on those cold winter nights with snow on the ground, but it was our reality at the time. The one thing I always had growing up, and through her entire life, was the unconditional love and support of my mother.  It is what sustained me.

After I graduated from high school, we left the small rural town and moved to Asheville, North Carolina. Yay!!!!! That move started the major transition in my life. In the midst of poverty, I was able to work hard and put myself through nursing school. Again, I was motivated by my mother’s love and support and I wanted more than anything to make her proud.  After nursing school I met my first true love.  He turned out to be very abusive both mentally and physically. I stayed in the relationship for 3 years.  Can we say co-dependent.  It was then that I decided to come out of that closet and tell my family I was gay. It was well received by most of my family with the exception of a few who thought it necessary to continue to judge and condemn me. That was difficult but I knew as long as I had the love and support of my mother, I’d be fine.

I later met the real love of my life and we spent the next 18 years of our lives together. In 1999, approximately 7 years into my relationship with him, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness and was not expected to survive. I was hospitalized and on the brink of death. Lucky for me, I had him and my family for support. After 18 beautiful years, the time had come to redefine our relationship. I grieved for a good year even though we were still great friends. Just as I was getting past that somewhat, I received a call at work one day that my Mom had lost her life in a car accident. My most precious gift was gone. I was done. I was suicidal to the point of having a well thought out plan for taking my own life.

Six months after my Mom’s death I met the third man in my life. Was I ready for a relationship? No. I was still very much grieving the loss of my mother. He was, however, an incredible human who got me through the first holidays without Mom. He was a great support. I fell in love with him but unfortunately the relationship ended after 2 ½ years most likely due to my unresolved grief and other issues. The compounding effect of all the loss was taking its toll on me. I was back to being suicidal, depressed, lonely and hopeless.

This is now

After being hurt by the church so bad, it had been about 20 years since I had been to church. I knew it was imperative that I get back in touch with my spirituality if I was to survive. Keeping in mind that spirituality and religion are completely two different things. I still wanted nothing to do with religion.  I stumbled into The Spiritual Living Center of Atlanta 2 months after the break-up from my last relationship. The moment I walked in the door I felt enormous love, warmth and acceptance. I am still attending today and am now a member.   I’ve come to realize that the sun is always shining even when we can’t see it. Even when the sun has rotated creating darkness, it is still shining. Even though the time in my life was incredibly dark, the sun was still shining. I couldn’t see it at the time but I am grateful to be in a greater awareness of it now. We have a choice in life. We can stay in the darkness of our past with whatever loss and personal struggles are there, or we can move into a more beautiful now. I was awakened to the fact that I must be my true authentic self in order to obtain optimal health. Secrets lead to sickness.

Remember, that was then, this is now. You can overcome any personal struggles in your own life. It is my hope that you will know, and feel, the sun shining in your own life even during times of darkness and personal struggles.

Have a beautiful week and I’ll see you next Sunday for the weekly Sunday blog.

5 Simple Steps Toward Optimal Health: January 31, 2016

     5 Simple Steps Toward Optimal Health 

There are many steps or things that can be done to achieve optimal health. Different things work for different people however, there are proven steps that work for everyone. In this blog post I will discuss 5 steps, which if practiced consistently will help improve the 3 dimensions of optimal health: mental, spiritual, and physical.

Step 1. Drink 16 ounces of warm or room temperature lemon water upon awakening.

The general consensus in the literature, regarding the benefits, is overwhelming. When you think about it, your body has been asleep for 8 hours with no hydration. Drinking water, with a whole fresh squeezed lemon in it, first thing in the morning helps flush the digestive system and re-hydrate the body. Lemons also stimulate stomach acid and bile production, which lead to a happy liver and lymph system.  Other benefits of lemons include the fact that they contain vitamin C and potassium, which give the immune system a boost and aid in the production of collagen for healthier smoother skin. On a personal note, it has given me more energy and kept me regular. 🙂

Step 2. 15 minutes of meditation/reflection time each morning.

Research shows that starting your day with stillness is therapeutic. Before I started meditating, I would wake up and grab my phone to check my messages and emails as well as social media sites like Facebook. This started my mind racing with non-stop thoughts, planning, and organizing. Once I changed that practice and started with stillness, it really set the tone for my day and led to a more focused optimistic day. It can be very challenging to slow down and control your thoughts, so it takes practice. For me, I had to make a commitment to wake up 30 minutes earlier than normal to make time for this important practice. Find a comfortable place to sit quietly and undisturbed. Focus on your breathing. I like to feel the belly rise with each breath in and imagine it giving more space for my internal organs to breath. I think about breathing in life, happiness, health and prosperity, and breathing out disease, negative feelings and thoughts of lack. It is only in this stillness that I have been able to really get in touch with my inner guidance.

Step 3. Get Moving.

Again, remember you have been lying still for 8 hours. After hydrating the body, it is important to move the body. You can do things that work for you such as a nice 20-minute power walk, gentle stretching of the whole body, yoga, or weight resistance training.   The benefits are a boost in your metabolism, increased and improved energy both mentally and physically, and better sleep at night.

Step 4. Avoid Sugar

Sugar has been referred to as the silent killer and with good reason. It contains no nutrients and has no benefit to the body. It’s just empty and quickly digested calories that pull vital minerals from the body during digestion. It also stresses the liver and pancreas. Sugar gets converted to glycogen in the liver. Too much glycogen gets converted to fat and leads to fatty liver disease. The pancreas secretes insulin when we eat sugar, which stresses the pancreas overtime and leads to disease like diabetes. Other harmful effects of sugar are increased bad cholesterol, thickening and stickiness of the blood, weight gain, sleep trouble and cravings. It is crucial to eliminate sugar from your diet if you want to be in optimal health. Especially things like sodas, sweet tea, and high fructose corn syrup to name a few.

Step 5. Perform Random Acts of Kindness

Random acts of kindness have tremendous benefits mentally, spiritually and physically, impacting all dimensions of optimal health. It makes you feel warm emotionally and that feeling produces a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin reduces the levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system. That explains why kindness is good for the heart. Kindness is also contagious and finds its way back to us.

In conclusion, there are of course many other necessary steps toward optimal health but this is a great place to start. Consistency is key to achieving optimal health. Set a goal to be consistent with these 5 steps and track your progress for 30 days. It’s a guarantee that you’ll be a healthier, happier and more fulfilled being. I challenge you to start today. I hope you will share your experience with me at the end of the 30 days. See you next Sunday as we continue on our journey towards optimal health.

If this post has motivated, educated, or inspired you, I hope you will share it. I would also be honored to have you as an email subscriber, so my weekly Sunday blogs come straight to your personal email. You’ll need to click in the leave a reply box and leave a reply. You will then be prompted to sign up by, adding your email address and clicking in the box that says, “notify me of new post”. The last step will be to go to your personal email and confirm your subscription. Your support is vital and appreciated.


Peace and blessings


Knowing Thyself


As I start a new week, I pause to think about and evaluate my relationships.  Specifically, I think about my relationships with the environment, my co-workers, friends, family, and most of all myself.  I also think about my relationship with the Oneness, which I define as everything I see, touch, smell, and hear.  I invite you to do the same.

I ask myself, are my relationships healthy?  What contributions am I making toward my relationships?  Are they positive or negative contributions?  For example, in looking at my relationship with the environment, am I aware of my environment and things I could be doing to make it a healthier one?  In looking at my relationship with myself, am I treating myself with loving kindness?  Am I taking care of my physical and mental being in an effort to achieve optimal health?

Research has shown that a healthy diet and active lifestyle lead to greater longevity and increased happiness.  It is about valuing ourselves enough to take care of our bodies and nurture our minds with positive thoughts.  What we put in, we get out.  If we put positive thoughts and energy into our minds, we get peace and happiness in return.  If we put good nutrient dense foods into our bodies, we get good health and lack of disease in return.  It is the whole cause and effect law in action.  Our thoughts and actions (which are the cause), lead to the effect or the outcome.  What I have found true for myself is that, the way I feel is a direct effect of my thoughts and/or actions.

In conclusion, it is important to ask ourselves these questions and to evaluate, and think about, our relationships.  Again, it is about all our relationships that help us create a happier, more balanced life that leads to optimal health.  Today I stop to reflect on how I can foster better relationships and I hope you will be encouraged and inspired to do the same.

As always, your comments and feedback are so appreciated and welcomed.  I look forward to hearing from you. Have a peaceful week and I will see you again next Sunday where I will share more of my thoughts.