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Are you the healthiest you can be? Its your choice: March 6, 2016

Are you the healthiest you can be? It’s your choice: March 6, 2016

Are you the healthiest you can be? If not, what decisions can you make to change that? Optimal Health is the most important asset you can have in life. Keeping in mind that the 3 dimensions of Optimal Health (Mental, Spiritual, and Physical), all work synergistically with each other. It is impossible to be in excellent physical health and poor mental health.   For example, research has shown that stress leads to disease and illness. Stress is a mental issue that greatly affects our optimal physical health. Stress causes the release of a hormone, in our body, known as cortisol. Cortisol increases inflammation, throughout the body, which makes us more prone to many diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

I am reminded of a time in my life when I wasn’t healthy. I was disconnected spiritually, I was in poor condition physically, and I was a wreck mentally.   I finally realized that I was a wreck mentally because I was disconnected spiritually and I was in poor condition physically because I was a wreck mentally. No separating the three. For me it started with my spiritual being.  Through a process of silence, meditation, prayer, and reconnecting with a spiritual center, I was able to begin to heal myself spiritually. The rest is history. The mental being and physical being had to come in alignment with my spiritual being. We are all spiritual beings having a human experience. The problem for me is when I start to think, feel, see, and do things the human way instead of the spiritual way. I get it twisted and it takes a constant mindful awareness to keep it straight.

Spirit is unconditional love for every living being.  Spirit is truth. Spirit is compassion. I am working on always knowing that I am a spiritual being. Do I get caught up in the human experience at times? Yes, but those humans experiences only lead to lessons learned. They only draw me closer to my spiritual being. The closer I stay connected to my spiritual being, the closer I stay to optimal health.

Who wants to have illness and disease? It is imperative then that we understand that the connection to disease and illness lies in the spiritual and mental dimensions of optimal health. I trust this will encourage you to think about where you are in each dimension. If you are unhealthy, ask yourself the tough questions about your mental and spiritual health. Are you holding onto negative emotions?   Making decisions falls under the mental health dimension. Are you making the best decisions to be physically healthy? Are you exhibiting the true virtues of a spiritual being? Think about it.

Make a conscious decision to evaluate your every thought and action then ask yourself, am I coming from a place of a human being or spiritual being. It is my desire to always come from a place of spiritual experience in my life. I trust this will encourage you to do the same.

See you next Sunday for my weekly Sunday blog.   Peace and blessings!

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Winter Silence: February 28, 2016

Winter Silence 

As we near the end of winter, I think about the silence that winter brings. Longer days of darkness, no more birds chirping, no more leaves rustling in the trees, no more kids running around outside, or cookouts by the pool. I also think of winter as a time of hibernation. A time when people typically spend more time indoors.

February 2015 in the middle of the cold winter, I moved out on my own, for the first time in about 24 years, after a challenging and difficult break-up from someone I loved dearly. I went from living in a 6-bedroom/5-bath house, to a tiny one-bedroom apartment. I was afraid, sad, and lonely. I was afraid of the silence. I pondered the question why am I 52 years old and alone? I wondered if I would be alone for the rest of my life. It was a dark  silent time.

Life is kind of like the ocean with our surface mind being like the waves, on the surface of the ocean, which are always moving and never still or silent. If you go deep into the bottom of the ocean, however, it is calm, still, and silent. The same is true for our minds. If we go deeper into our minds, it is calm and still.

This past year has taught me that at the center of my being is a place that nothing or no one can disturb without my permission. For the first 6 months of living alone I was living on the surface. I was in the surface mind. Worried, fearful, lonely and sad. After a period of time, I realized that I could go into my deeper mind where there was peace, calmness, and silence. I could go to the center of my being. The past year of silence and being alone has lead to tremendous self-healing, a beautiful reconnection to my spiritual being, and great personal growth. Turning inward to my deeper mind and diving deeper into the ocean has helped me reconnect with my inner sanctuary. Something we all have inside of us if we take the time to be silent. Do not look for a sanctuary in anyone except yourself. I was looking for my sanctuary in other people not being aware that it was inside of me all the time.

As the time recently came for me to sign a new lease on my tiny modest apartment in the city, I found myself back in my surface mind experiencing sadness and realizing that I would be alone again for at least another year. As much as I tried to go back into the deeper mind, I struggled. I stayed on the surface for about 3 weeks, sad and miserable. Then my dear friend and life coach, Greg reminded me that by signing a new lease I just bought myself another year of self-healing, another year of focusing on my spiritual connection, and another year of independence. What a beautiful thing to realize for myself. It changed my whole outlook on the situation.

Silence is where our answers come from. The answers to all our tough questions are already within us. We just have to be silent and ready to receive the answers. They may not be the answers we want to hear which has sometimes kept me from asking.

You can experience Winter Silence year round. Sit aside several times a day to just be silent and focus on your breathing. Focusing on your breathing will keep your surface mind from wandering. On exhalation, dive deep into the ocean, deep into your mind. There you will find peace. There you will find answers to your questions. There you will find silence. This takes practice and consistency but the benefits have been life changing for me.

How do you connect to your inner sanctuary? How do you connect to the center of your being? Do you practice silence? I would love to hear about your experiences as well. It is my hope that you all have a week of connection to your deeper mind, the center of your being, your inner sanctuary. Have a peaceful week and I’ll see you next Sunday for the weekly Sunday blog.

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Peace and blessings

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Walls or Bridges: February 21, 2016

Walls or Bridges: February 21, 2016

Walls divide and bridges connect or bring together. Recently there has been a lot of talk among one of the current presidential nominees about building walls.  We allow many things to build walls between us such as religion, politics, race, sexual orientation, and gender. We also allow many emotions to build walls between us such anger, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, and the need for power.

We are ALL created by one source and one power which makes us ALL part of the same source. We are ALL created equal and in the image of God.  When we make a decision to exclude someone based on our differences, we exclude ourselves from God because we are ALL part of his creation.  God is all-inclusive. God is love. God is source. Since we were ALL created by one source, we have a responsibility to love that source in its entirety.

It is not important or realistic to think that you have to agree with everyone else’s views, beliefs, or ideas. What is important is that we build bridges to connect us, by loving ALL without judgment. Remember bridges connect and bring together. We can agree to disagree but at the same time respect others.

Writing this makes me think of my dear Mom. She was a devote Christian who lived the life instead of talking about the life. She lived by example. In her many years of caring for the sick, at the hospital where she was employed, she provided the same loving care to ALL people regardless of their religious belief, race, gender, or sexual orientation. She would often tell me stories about her patients and their different lifestyles, beliefs, or rituals. She was so compassionate and none of the differences made a difference to her. She chose to build bridges instead of walls. She chose to come together instead of separate. It will always be the thing that I remember and respect about her most. I always knew that Mom did not agree with my lifestyle from her Christian point of view. It made no difference in the way she looked at me and loved me. The beauty is, it wasn’t just me. She truly loved all without judgment. She did let the differences make a difference.

Are you building walls or bridges? Do you love ALL of God’s creation or just those who see things the way you do? Our similarities are far greater than our differences. We ALL experience hurt, sadness, and pain. We ALL breathe the same air. What can you do to build more bridges and tear down more walls?

I make a conscious decision to practice more bridge building, to see ALL life as part of God’s creation, to love ALL, to respect ALL. I put the word ALL in capital letters each time in this sharing of my thoughts in an effort to emphasize the importance of the word. Make a commitment with me today to work to build more bridges in every area of your life. It is sure to lead to a happier, more fulfilled life.

See you next Sunday for my weekly Sunday blog. Thanks as always for your support and don’t forget to enter your email address and sign up to follow my blog.

 

Peace and blessings

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Letting Go February 14, 2016

Letting go, or releasing something, can be a negative or positive experience depending on how we choose to view it.  It is always our choice. Letting go is often vital for our personal growth but can be challenging.  It takes courage and faith because we can’t always see what lies ahead.

There are many things that we choose to hold onto in life that keeps us from growing and moving forward.  I like to call them unhealthy attachments.  We may be holding onto old thoughts, personal experiences, past relationships, negative emotions and feelings, or current job.  It is easy to get stuck in our comfort zone and allow fear to keep us from changing. When we hold unhealthy attachments, we prevent ourselves from fully experiencing the present and the future.

I recently left a job that could be considered a cakewalk in terms of nursing positions.  It was about a 2 out of 10 on the stress continuum.  However I was not challenged, inspired, or motivated.  I also did not feel appreciated by my manager.  I was, however, comfortable. It was easy money. It was difficult to make a decision to leave such an easy position, not knowing what the new position would be like. Ultimately, I made a decision to step out of the boat and into the water.  It took faith and courage. The new job is going great with a lot of new learning and growth.

What are you holding onto that is keeping you from moving forward, learning, and growing?  Are you in a toxic relationship or just holding onto a relationship because it is comfortable?  Are you holding onto negative feelings such as anger, resentment, jealousy or bitterness?  Are you choosing to hold onto negative thoughts?

Deciding to view things positively will empower you to make the right decisions and let go. Negative thoughts and self-criticism do not make us better.  They only continue to make us feel stuck and unable to move forward.  Let go today of whatever is not serving your better good.  Move forward knowing that what lies ahead is something beautiful.  Move forward knowing that you are enough.  Choose to let go of whatever is having a negative impact on you and taking up precious mind space.  Remember, new beginnings are always possible, no matter what.  It is your choice and yours alone.

 

Peace and blessings

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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.