Insecurity is the root of my self destruction!

So tonight I watched this weeks episode of Project Runway. I am not going to say who went home as not spoil it for those who haven’t seen it yet but I will say that the person sent home really caused a lot of emotion for me.

As I sat down the computer I broke down into tears… I am still struggling to keep it together. While I am upset that the person was sent home, I know the reason why I am so upset is that it has triggered something inside of me that I relate to.

This designer has shown that he/she a lot of talent and creativity but their self doubt got the best of him/her. Tonight’s episode reminded me how self destructive insecurity can be. It can twist and turn you until there is nothing left to give.

That is what my self doubt has done to me. I literally wanted to yell at the screen to get this person to snap out of it. I was so angry that he/she was blowing his/her chance. I was wanting to yell at myself.

I am my worst enemy. I have been the one standing in the way of my happiness and success. All me. 100%!!! I didn’t believe in myself or my craft. You can have a hundred people tell you one thing but all it takes is one voice to drag you down.

Well I am done with that shit. I am done self destructing. Done listening to the voices that tell me to give up. The ones that tell me I am not good enough. Ugly. Fat. Worthless.

Fuck it, I am fabulous. I’m beautiful damn it, as Bette Midler says!!!

Sure I’ve been knocked down, kicked around… It was my choice to stay down. Well I am getting back up. It is my time to show the world what I have got. As it is for the designer that was eliminated. We are not our failures. They make us stronger, give us the fight to do better next time. One of the many things I have learned from the death of my Mama is that there is still time to make my own, find my way.

I am doing it for me and my Mama.

These voices in my head that drag me to the ground, I am evicting them. Your rent payment bounced a long time ago and it is time to leave my head!!! I have a new tenant that believes in me and wants to see me succeed. Someone who will lift and hold me up.

I am strong, not weak like the voice has made me believe. Strong enough to say enough is enough. It was really interesting to watch Project Runway and see myself up on the runway. It was like I was the one being sent home. I felt so defeated. It was like I was watching my life unfold on that stage. The television became a mirror.

The good news is that I now can see the culprit for all my crash and burns. I have been able to look myself in the eyes unafraid. Once you can look your fears, failures and disappointments straight in the eye, you have nothing else left to fear.

I feel my fight growing stronger than ever before. Before I allowed hurt and pain to set me afire, burning me to the core… Now I am learning how to use that aggression, despair, anger, pain, disappointment and agony as fuel. Fuel my passion… my determination… my strength… will to fight… Rather than turning that flame into unhealthy choices, I am finally turning them into positive ones.

My 100th Post Belongs to My Best Friend Forrest!!! Happy Birthday My Dear Friend!!!

20257_104259692933049_4049697_nToday is my best friend’s birthday. I thought it was appropriate to have my 100th post on this blog be dedicated to my dear friend.

Though he is much more than a friend to me, he is like my brother.

We met years ago on Male Survivor. Instantly we became friends. Have you ever met someone that from the get go you were the best of friends? Well that was Forrest and I. There was something that brought us together. I can remember early being drawn to him, like I had known him for years… though we had just met.

He has been there for me through many dark days and helped pull me back into the light. He has listened to me cry, listened to me rant. Our friendship means the world to me. I can’t imagine my life with him in it. Honestly I am not sure if I would be here today if it wasn’t for his friendship. I met Forrest at a very dark period in my life. I was kicked to the ground and unsure if I could ever get back up.

I had gave up on the world, gave up on myself. The world around me was dark, scary and painful. He helped show me there was light, kindness and love left in this world. He became the hope I so desperately needed.

He was someone I could count on, someone I could trust. He was there for me when I needed someone the most.

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This summer we met for the first time, after years of talking on the phone and online. When my Mom was in the hospital fighting for her life, he had his sister drive him four hours just to be with me for a few hours. It was such a scary time for me and having him there meant the world to me. It was exactly what I needed. Having him there allowed me to regroup and gave me the strength I needed to make it through losing my Mama.

He has taught me the meaning and value of true friendship. He listens and gives me feedback when I need it. He is gentle, kind and loving. He has showed me that there are some truly wonderful people out there in this world.

He puts up with me when I am difficult and demanding, which is pretty frequently.  🙂 He loves and see me for who I am inside. He values me as a person. He sees the best in me, even when I struggle to do so.

There are few that I let into my inner circle. This circle includes my Mama, Sister, my nieces, nephew and Brother-in-law. They are my family and they mean the world to me. I would do anything for them. I would protect them with my life, as I would for my best friend Forrest. He is my family.

Forrest is good at taking care of others. He has a heart of gold. He is one of the strongest people I know.

happy_birthday_best_friend_comments_1274880942Happy Birthday my dear friend. I wish I was there to celebrate your day with you. We could go out to dinner and celebrate the day with laughter, cake and good friendship.

I hope you know how special and beautiful you are. You deserve the world and I hope I am able to give to you what you’ve given to me. I am so honored and blessed to call you my best friend. I love you with all my heart brother!

Huggs

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Outreach is the KEY in preventing Suicide! Be Someone’s Light!!!

Suicide-by-Heart-jbieberluver94-21933234-900-602So this isn’t an easy topic for me to talk about but I feel it is something that needs to be said. I have been wanting to write about suicide for a while and something happened recently that has brought it to the forefront of my mind. I started to write about it today but stopped myself as it was just too much. Then I heard that the country artist Mindy McCready had killed herself and then I had to write this.

I found out a few days ago a friend of mine tried to commit suicide. Instantly my heart dropped to the ground when I heard the news. I felt very helpless over the situation and felt like there was more I could have done to help this person. I knew that the person’s situation was very dire and that help was needed. I also knew that the person was suicidal. Anytime someone talks about suicide I take it very serious but in this situation there wasn’t a lot that I could do as he/she had no phone and he/she lived over an hour away. I also didn’t know where he/she lived. I really wanted to rescue the person but knew that I was in no place to do so.

All I could do was offer my support via facebook and let the person know that I was there, and hope that they were okay.

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My friends situation reminded me of how blessed I am to have the family that I do and how different my life would be with out them. I am also reminded that many are not as fortunate as I am when faced with a difficult situation, so many don’t have a place to turn to when they are knocked down. For some suicide feels like the only rational solution to bring them relief from the pain. Their pain is so severe and no relief is in sight.

Hearing the news that my friend attempted to kill him/her self was a chilling reminder of my own personal experience with death. I have never tried to kill myself but I have came close to heading down that route. It gives me the chills to even admit it. Having suicidal thoughts at various times in my life were the norm, it brought a sense of relief to the pain. I know that probably sounds crazy but it is the reality of it all.

Personally I believe anyone who tries to, especially those who succeed, kill themselves have lost their light. There is nothing connecting them to this earth, no beacon to pull them out of the darkness. The one thing that has kept me tied to this earth was my nieces and nephew. During some very dark moments in my life those three beautiful children kept me safe. When everything else was dark, dismal and hopeless, they were my sunshine. I can’t imagine where I would be without them. Honestly I wouldn’t probably still be here.

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My last biggest bout with depression, after a very bad breakup, was probably the deepest depression I had ever suffered. After I moved back to Michigan, I literally felt like I was going to die. I am so grateful that my Mom and sister talked me into coming back home, and that my sister and her husband opened their home to me. I have suffered from depression for a big part of my adult life but this was the first time I wasn’t sure I could get back up, nor did I want to.

I felt so broken and defeated that I was ready to give up. It was the closest to suicide than I had ever been before. Previously I had thought about it but this was the first time I had a plan. I felt so low that I couldn’t even see or feel my niece’s and nephew’s light. I felt so alone. You get to a point in your life when you continue to suffer over and over, that you begin to think there is no end or relief in sight. Death begins to be the only solution for the suffering and pain. The pain blocks out any reasoning, rationale or relief. All you can see and feel is the pain.

Suicide-Statistical-Map1The only thing that kept me from doing anything was knowing the suffering and pain that would come to my family. As much pain as I felt I could not inflict that grief upon my family. As low as I was, I knew what my suicide would do to them and I could not lay that burden on them. They were my hope and I held onto them.

So many don’t have that option. Mental health is still seen as this taboo subject. Getting help is buried in so much red tape that it gets in the way of true healing. With depression comes isolation and irrationality. You get trapped in this pitch black jail cell, with no way out. There is no release only pain.

I urge anyone who knows someone that is suicidal to take it serious, it is a desperate cry for help. For many that is the only way ask and get help. So when you get that SOS signal please don’t ignore it. You could be the difference between life and death. If you see someone drowning, you would rescue them… so why isn’t the same done when you see someone drowning mentally???

Light House in Stormy NightBe a shining light for someone who needs it. You could be their only lighthouse. A beacon out of the darkness. The only hope they can see. If you see someone deeply depressed, take action… Show them love and kindness, and be firm. Don’t wait until it is too late.

Do whatever it takes. If you have to call the police to keep them safe, do it!!! Sometimes people need intervention to get them out of bad situations, especially if they are in an abusive relationship.

There is help out there, as well as some very caring individuals. You are not alone.

tumblr_mcq5jsn8IW1qck0geo1_500There are some great organizations out there for those who are struggling with suicide and/or depression. One of them is The Trevor Project which offers support to those who are struggling in the gay community and need someone to talk to. The Trevor lifeline is open 24/7 and is free to call 1-866-488-7386. 

They have trained counselors around the clock that offer help to those in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk. It’s free and confidential. While it is geared towards LGBT youth, anyone can call and they will gladly talk to you.

They also offer online chat on select days/times for those who are not suicidal. As well as Trevor Space which is a social networking site for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth ages 13 through 24 and their friends and allies. The Trevor Project also has a program called Ask Trevor. Ask Trevor is an online, non-time sensitive question and answer resource for young people with questions surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity. You can browse the published letters or submit your own letter.

Make sure to like The Trevor Project’s facebook page as well.

LogoAnother program for those who need someone to talk to is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you feel like you are in crisis, no matter how big or small, they want you to call. They are also available 24 hours a day. They also have information like finding a therapist, as well education material. They also have a program for youth and veterans. As well as a facebook page.

The numbers listed above are also available for friends and family of loved one’s who are suicidal. They can help you with resources in your area for those who suffer from depression and/or suicidal.

How To Be Helpful to Someone Who Is Threatening Suicide

  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
  • Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
  • Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
  • Don’t dare him or her to do it.
  • Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
  • Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
  • Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/Someone

The main thing is to be aware of the person’s feelings and what they are going through. Those having a crisis sometimes perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control.

“If you experience these feelings, get help! If someone you know exhibits these symptoms, offer help!”

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Both the Trevor Project and The Suicide Prevention Lifeline are for those in the USA. For those who live outside of the United States a great resource is the International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders.

When you are drowning in the pain and darkness of it all it seems impossible to see past the grief and suffering. There is help out there, as well as hope. You are not alone. You are loved and of value. If you are surrounded by darkness, get out… Search for the light. Trust me I know how it is to be up to your neck in muck. It is a scary, unsafe place to be. You are worthy of love and help. There are kind people in this world. I know it may not seem like that is the case, especially if you are surrounded by negative people but there are true angels out in this world. Hold on. I believe in you. You matter.

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Being Mindful

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present.

This is a topic that has taken precedence in my life recently. Mindfulness is the key to unlocking all my gifts, abilities and strengths. The more mindful I become the better equipped I am with taking on challenges.

Staying present hasn’t always been my strongest ability. As a survivor of sexual abuse I mastered the art of dissociation, in order to cope with bad situations. As a child staying present was too dangerous, so I learned how to go far away. As I grew up I never learned how to float back down to earth safely.

I coped with bad feelings and situations by going up in the clouds. It never dawned on me that there was an alternative. It was almost like I had created an alternate personality for myself. I guess I became an ostrich who hides their head in the sand. That was how I stayed safe because to face the present meant facing the past… and that was just too frightening.

Now that I am in therapy, I am able to stay present to face the past… That is the only way I will be able to heal and move on, and that is exactly what I am doing.

I didn’t just float away from the abuse, I floated away from life. Anything difficult I would float away to cloud nine. The more years that passed the more concrete and imprinted it became into my conscious and subconscious mind.

I must remind myself that I am no longer that 10 year old boy trapped in a dark and scary room. I no longer need to escape to be safe.

As I become more mindful of both my surroundings and myself, the more alive everything else becomes. It is like I am looking through a brand new pair of eyes.

Staying present affects me in many different ways. One way I have noticed how mindfulness has affected me is in my eating habits. As I start to become more healthy I have noticed that when I eat I take big bites and don’t chew my food. I really have to think about my food when I eat because if I don’t I will just go into automatic shovel mode. I am really having to rewire my brain.

One of my favorite foods is pizza. One day during therapy I was craving pizza. I really wanted it. I felt guilt over wanting it. My therapist told me that if I really wanted it, to have a slice but when I was eating it to really savor every bite… Allow myself to fully be present while eating the pizza. So I ordered me a baby pan from Little Caesars. When I ate the pizza, I thought about every bite and doing so allowed me to really appreciate what I was eating. It was like I was eating pizza for the very first time, it was so delicious.

The more disconnected and dissociated I feel, the worse I feel mentally. I notice the longer I go without leaving the house, the worse I feel. I get depressed and all I can see is darkness.

I am learning I thrive on connection, without it I suffer immensely. I guess most people do. Keeping myself in that bedroom where the abuse happened only causes me more pain. Hiding only hinders me.

Eating healthier has opened the door to other areas where I can learn to be more mindful. Over the weekend I started to feel very depressed. It was the first time I have felt that much darkness since my Mama passed away in September. I started to not care about anything again. I didn’t want to leave my house, nor did I want to go to therapy.

Monday morning came around and I had to force myself to leave for therapy. As I was driving everything I looked at was dark. I am not quite sure what I did but I started to notice I was out of my body and I started to feel the steering wheel with my hands. I could feel myself come back into my body and I started to feel better. I was able to lift that heavy weight off my back and within a matter of minutes I felt fairly decent.

One thing that has helped me get more grounded, especially when I feel like I am not in my body, is to name the various items around me. Yesterday while we were driving to my nephew’s basketball game I noticed feeling out of sorts. I started to say in my head the different things I saw as we drove by. Doing this helped to ground me more.

Now that I am working on trying to stay more in my body I notice that I am feeling things more intensely and that causes me to go into danger will robinson mode. Again this is where mindfulness comes into play. I must remind myself that my feelings will not be the end of me. I must try to calm the storm and just wait it out, eventually the storm will pass.

When you try to learn a new pattern, especially one that has been hard wired into your brain for years, it take’s time and practice to overcome the old patterns. Falling back into the old patterns is bound to happen. The key is to be mindful when that happens and not let it overcome you. Like for example yesterday, I went over my calories by 200. It was a choice that I consciously made.

Previously that day I had ate a 800 calorie double cheese burger from Wendy’s, so obviously that put my calories at a higher level. In a hurry I didn’t check the calorie content of the burger and I just ordered it not realizing how high the calories were. Once I had sit down with my food I looked up the calorie content, instantly my mouth dropped to the ground. I could have taken off a patty but I decided to eat it, as I didn’t want to waste the food and the money. This is a particular issue that I will have to work on at a later date. I go into a panic at the thought of wasting food. I am not quite sure where I got this?

So later on that evening I started to feel some panic and pain over the death of my Mama. I needed comfort, so I over looked the calories and ordered a baby pan from Little Caesars. Now I would have been alright if I had only ate one. Even eating both of them put me at my limit of calories for the day but after eating both I wanted something sweet so I ate a granola bar worth 190 calories.

Stuffing my feelings out with food is a huge issue for me, so I have to understand it is going to take a lot of practice and back stepping to overcome this challenge. The key is not beating myself up over it. The more guilt and shame I feel the more I will try to cover it up with food.

I noticed when I was eating breadsticks (I ate three) thinking that I didn’t care about my calorie limit. All I cared was they tasted good and they made me feel better. I need to be mindful of habits like this because this is exactly what gets into trouble, the need for comfort out ways the consequences. I kind of had this fuck it attitude last night. Honestly that worries me because that is the attitude I have had for a very long time.

I finally able to see the consequences of my choices and they have a big enough weight to help me make better choices. I am worried because I do not want to go back to my old ways. I like the person I am becoming. I also like the way I feel from making better choices and shedding the pounds.

So I just have to acknowledge what occurred yesterday and keep moving forward. The fact that I was aware of what happened yesterday shows my progress. Previously I would have not thought twice about medicating my feelings with food. Honestly I would have went well over 200 calories over my limit. It would also have carried over to the next day but I am not going to let that happen.

Being mindful has helped me learn about my choices, feelings and who I am. I just have to keep doing what I am doing, keep my eye on the prize. As more time passes I will have worked hard to overcome these challenges and will have reinforced my healthy choices so that they become more natural. Eventually the tide will turn.

Deep Sorrow

So I have been working really hard with becoming more healthy not just with my food choices but in all areas of my life. As I stop turning to unhealthy methods to cope with my feelings the more the feelings hit me. I have ran and hid from my feelings most of my life. Escape was a quick and easy way to cope with pain. I first learned it when I was sexually abused at the age of ten.

I am no longer trying to soothe my pain with food, sex or anything else. I am feeling my emotions as they hit me. It isn’t easy. It is raw and painful. Trust me I want to drown out my sorrow and pain with junk food but I know that will only cause me more heartache down the road. I just can’t do it anymore.

I deserve more that that. The only way I will truly heal is if I go through the emotions, feelings and pain of it all. Covering up all the bad feelings doesn’t make them go away it only adds to your pile of turmoil and trouble, making it even more painful on you in the long run.

Tonight I’ve had to deal with the fact that my Mother died over five months ago. I have been hiding from that fact but it always catches up to me. There is a lot you can hide from, a lot that you can avoid but missing someone isn’t one of them. Time is not on your side when it comes to that.

Tonight I feel deep sorrow. The kind that makes you ache with every fiber of your being.  I have to face the fact that I will never get to see my Mom again in this lifetime. It doesn’t mean that she isn’t with me, it just means it will be different.

No amount of heart ache I have felt over the various breakups I have had in my lifetime comes even close to the amount of pain, grief and sadness I have felt (and feel) from the death of my Mama. Actually no other hurt for that matter.

I also feel anger. I am angry at God for taking her. I am angry that he didn’t heal her body! I am angry. Down right angry!!! I am angry at the hospital. I am angry at my father for treating my Mama so poorly for so many years. I want answers, that I know I will never get. I am pissed off that not everyone embraces the light and feels the need to tear others down. I want justice, that I know I will never see in my lifetime… I want people to pay for the bad deeds they do to others.

I am angry at myself for putting up with less for so many years. But those days are over! Fucking over! Life is a choice, too many people find it easier to turn their backs than to do the right thing. Well fuck that. I am going to use this to fuel my flame to make sure that justice is served, that those who are abused… belittled… put down… are able to see the light of day.

My Mama was strong. People tried to knock her down all her life and she kept on fighting. Me and my sister are just like our Mama. No matter how many times we get knocked down, we always get back up. It might not always be pretty but we do…

So I am going to battle through all these horrible gut wrenching feelings. When you are going through hell, they say to keep on going… and that is what I am going to do… But the fact of the matter I am no longer in that hell… Now it is just time for me to heal.

My strength is my shield and my love is my sword. There is not any amount of war, weapons or opponents that will defeat me for I am not alone in this fight. I have my Mama, sister and so many others on my side…

Unraveled Heart

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Unraveled Heart

by Derek Stephens

 

my heart’s come undone

unraveled pile of yarn

leaving a hole in my chest

open and exposed

raw ripping pain

there I lie unraveled I’ve become

gasping for air

choking on grief

holding on for dear life

as I dangle from the edge

hanging from a thread

with no needle in sight

my hands become weak

my body sore

no where to go but down

I give in and let go

falling I tumble

drowning in mid air

I reach out for help

but no one is there

flashes of memories

all seems like history now

free falling plummet

straight to the ground

crash burn fish out of water

tangled in my own yarn

cutting like barbed wire

strangling and piercing

covered in blood

numb with no feeling

desperate for comfort

to soothe my horror

begging to be awoken

eyes wide open

consumed with anger

questions unanswered

wondering why

if. if. if.

only

left unraveled

million puzzle pieces

miles of yarn

no needles in sight

gather I must

string back together

my big ball of yarn

the last pieces of my unraveled heart…

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The World is Your Oyster!!!

So in therapy yesterday I had the realization that I am capable of doing anything I want, as in my dreams are a reality. This was a monumental moment for me, as previously my dreams were clouded over by extreme doubt. Anything is possible.

Without dreams your world becomes a very dismal place. Dreams are aspirations, where you want to go.

In the world we live in it is very easy to have your dreams turns into nightmares. If you listen and believe the naysayers you will always live your life in their shadows.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

So shine brightly, even if everyone around you is trying to turn off your light. The harder they try to pull you down, the brighter you need to shine your light. Everyone has that light, some just chose to not use it.

I have been thinking deeply about that, those who choose to let their light shine in a positive matter versus those who hide their light and try to drag others down. Prior to my Mama dying I was the person in the middle, hiding in the shadows. I let other people extinguish my light. I felt broken and useless.

Now I realize I was only scared, hiding from the light. The light will protect me and the darkness only hurts me. Seeing my Mama battle her illness and the bravery she had facing her death, gives me courage to come out of darkness. I want to live my life in honor of her. I want to make her proud.

Last Sunday I watched the Super Bowl. I usually only watch it for the commercials but this time I actually watched the game. When I heard the San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver say that no gay person would be welcome on his team, I instantly wanted the Ravens to win. He went on to make other homophobic comments. Previously some of the players of the 49ers made a “It Get’s Better” video in regards to anti-bullying. Now two of the players who are in the video linebacker Ahmad Brooks and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga have denied making the video. Then when they were showed the video with them in it they said they didn’t realize the aim of the production was to fight the bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens.

This is a perfect example of someone not being lead by their light rather by their fears and hate. Anybody who is in the public eye has a great opportunity to make a difference, especially with children. Those like Culliver are only wasting their opportunities.

Thankfully there are those unlike Culliver who stand up to injustice and embrace their light with courage. Linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens Brendon Ayanbadejo is a prime example of someone embracing their light by coming out in support of equality. For someone in the sports world to stand up to the rampant homophobia and fear that exists is a true act of bravery.

Brendon has vowed to use the Super Bowl as a platform for marriage equality and anti-bullying, saying “This isn’t a fight for gay rights, this is a fight for human rights.” Now this a true champ in my eyes.

After winning the Super Bowl XLVII he was interviewed in a video produced for The Respect for Marriage Coalition, where he spoke out in defense of  lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

“Being the first pioneer publicly accepting same-sex marriage in the three major sports was difficult at first but the more people scrutinized me and ridiculed me, the stronger I became for the issue,” Ayanbadejo told Simmons, who has also been praised by a number of advocacy groups for his own defense of LGBT rights. “It was like lifting weights; the resistance made me stronger, stand taller and speak louder for LGBT rights!”

Brendon urges others, “Join me and the majority of Americans who support marriage equality — it’s the right thing to do.”
Think about how much good he is doing for the gay community but it goes much further than that. His light will travel to many unexpected places, touching those who so desperately need to hear his message. Ayanbadejo’s message isn’t just for gay people but everyone as his message of acceptance is universal. Plus the courage he exhibits by standing up and doing the right thing, even when it brings him heat, is another way that he is making a difference.
Just like in Marianne Williamson’s quote The Deepest Fear, “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
So I am making a conscious effort to embrace my light fully, even if that means taking heat for it. There are so many people out in this world trapped in the darkness and need that light to help them out of the dark. I am no longer that scared little boy, stuck in the bedroom where the bad things happened. I am a strong, loving adult with the skills to rescue myself when need be. I must constantly remind myself of that.
You are worthy. You are beautiful. You are capable of greatness. You deserve so much in your life. You are lovable. You matter. There are people out there who embrace all of that and more. Those who share their light with others. Not everyone in this world are leeches. If you find yourself surrounded by them venture outside your world. Trust me it isn’t an easy task when you are consumed by darkness but the more you try the better it will get. At first the light will be frightening but the more you embrace the light the more comfort it will give you.
As a good friend of mine pointed out it isn’t about perfection but persistence. Keep at it. If you fall down, get back up and keep getting up even if it takes you a while. Healing is about the journey, not the destination. Keep moving forward even if it is one small step at a time. Taking a step backwards is not the end of the world, just take another step forward. Falling down doesn’t mean defeat, use it to fuel your flame to power you.
Embracing yourself for who you are and the light you possess takes practice, especially if you have hid it for most of your life. I remind myself that I may not be there yet, but I am closer than I was yesterday… We will get there… Together!!!
The world is our oyster, now it is the time to go out and get it!!!

Lung Neuroendocrine/Carcinoid Cancer Patient Conference Sat Apr 13th

Lung Neuroendocrine/Carcinoid Cancer Patient Conference

Welcome to the world’s first Lung Neuroendocrine / Carcinoid Cancer Patient Conference! Sponsored and produced by CCAN – the Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network, with cooperation from Dr. Eric Liu and Lovable Lungnoids, this history-making event will take place Saturday, April 13th, 2013 at Vanderbilt University in beautiful Nashville, Tennessee!

Last April my beautiful Mother was diagnosed with a rare cancer called Carcinoid. At the time we had never heard there was a type of cancer called that. Less than 1% of all Cancers is carcinoid. Obviously getting the diagnosis of Cancer automatically instills a great sense of fear in everyone involved. The next few months were a troubling time for our family, as no one in Michigan wanted to remove her tumor. Two months later we still didn’t have a treatment plan and we felt like we were just getting the run around.

The problem with the rarity of NET Cancers comes misdiagnosis. On average patients are treated 3-7 years for the wrong disease. Most NET patients are diagnosed when the cancer has already spread. Early diagnosis dramatically improves outcomes. Physicians are often not aware of current diagnostic & treatment options. Others treat net tumors like a typical Cancer with radiation and chemotherapy, when it isn’t effective in treating the tumor.

My Mom most likely had her tumor for over eight years. As slow growing as it was, it grew enough to block part of her airway. Early diagnosis is crucial in prognosis. It is very common for patients with NET cancer to get passed around from Doctor to Doctor before finding out that they have NET Cancer.

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One of the leading experts in the field is Dr. Eric Liu, who is the Director of Vanderbilt’s Neuroendocrine Center. He is a wonderful advocate and gift to the Carcinoid community. He was my Mother’s cheerleader and was the first Doctor to treat her like a person. Dr. Liu is a deeply caring and very special doctor, from welcoming patients with a hug to participating in support groups.

For those who have gone months and sometimes years waiting for a diagnosis and treatment plan, Dr. Liu is a beacon of hope for those struggling with NET Cancer. He has worked tirelessly in furthering the awareness and research of NET Cancers.

This conference is his vision of hope and progress for bronchial and all carcinoid patients and everyone whose life is affected by neuroendocrine cancer.

Dan GranbergOne of the keynote speakers of the conference is Dr. Dan Granberg, who is a specialist in endocrinology and internal medicine with more than 20 years experience in endocrine oncology. He treats many patients harboring neuroendocrine tumors – patients referred from all over the world, including European and Asian countries, the U.S., Canada and Australia.

His special interest is in neuroendocrine lung tumors and targeted irradiation therapy. He wrote his doctoral thesis on bronchial carcinoids. He has published more than 30 articles and is the author of a number of book chapters on bronchial carcinoids and neuroendocrine tumours. He is currently involved in several research projects in the field of neuroendocrine tumors  He holds the position of Chief Physician at the Department of Medical Sciences, Endocrine Oncology at Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden.

walker-ronaldAnother speaker at the conference is Dr. Ronald Walker, who is a Professor of Clinical Radiology & Radiological Sciences at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. His research is focused on molecular imaging of cancer both to improve early and accurate diagnosis and to provide rapid assessment of tumor biology with physiological imaging. He strives to use new tools to identify the risk level of an tumor at time of diagnosis, thus allowing up-front treatment decisions that will provide superior, safer and more cost-effective treatment strategies for each patient. One of his goals is for research that can lead to improvements in medical care that can ultimately be deployed with affordable, preferably off-the-shelf technology in community hospitals throughout the US so that everyone can ultimately benefit from the contributions he is able to make to the care of patients suffering from cancer.

Dr. Liu and Dr. Granberg will be meeting with patients the two days before the conference, April 11th and 12th. This is going to be a very rare moment to get to meet with both Doctors. They are advising patients to wait until February 6th to make an appointment with the Doctors. You can contact Vanderbilt at (615) 322-2391 or 877-936-8422.

Saturday’s (April 13th) Conference will feature informative expert lectures, an open forum with doctors and patients, social fun, and the chance to really connect with others who understand and share the experience of carcinoid cancer.

loveableAt the end of the conference will be the very first Lovable Lungnoids Support Group meeting. Lovable Lungnoids is a support group on Facebook. Started by Kym “Possible” O’Connor, a lung carciniod (aka “lungnoid”) patient, two weeks before her life-saving surgery, the group is now in it’s ninth month and has over 250 active members. Lovable Lungnoids is a place for lung carcinoid patients to not only find information and resources, but has become a caring family of patients encouraging one another daily.

You are welcome to join the group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/lovablelungnoids/

If you are coming out of town and need a hotel CCAN was able to get discounts to two nearby hotels, Courtyard Vanderbilt/West End and Hilton Garden Inn Nashville/Vanderbilt. To find out more details visit: http://tinyurl.com/netcancer

1The Lung Neuroendocrine/Carcinoid Cancer Patient Conference is sponsored and produced by CCAN – the Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network. Maryann Wahmann is a carcinoid patient, founder and president of the Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network (CCAN). She is an incredibly devoted advocate, making herself available 365 days a year via the CCAN’s hotline! CCAN, the Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network, has produced over two dozen conferences benefiting thousands of patients and their families. For the past 9 years CCAN has provided information and support to NET patients and caregivers through e-mail, their web site, and toll free phone number 866-850-9555. Their phone line is open 7 days a week 9 am – 9 pm EST, 365 days a year!

To help with costs of this conference you can also make a donation to CCAN: http://www.carcinoidawareness.org/ccandonations.html

Please help spread the word and let everyone you know about the Lung Neuroendocrine/Carcinoid Cancer Patient Conference on Saturday April 13, 2013 9 am to 5 pm at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center 2220 Pierce Ave Nashville, TN 37232. Please feel free to print off the flyer at the top of this page and post it where you live, especially if you live in the Nashville area. I have included links to the pdf and gif versions below.

Link to pdf version of Conference flyer

Link to gif version of Conference flyer

To register for the conference and to find more information about it visit: http://tinyurl.com/netcancer

Did you know that one of the most famous people in the world died from a NET Cancer? Yes that is right, Steve Jobs the co-founder of Apple had a type of NET Cancer. Also Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, died of Carcinoid cancer. Carcinoid cancer took over his liver – he did not die of liver cancer as most media reports. It was Carcinoid cancer. Both Walter Payton and Audrey Hepburn also died from a form of NET.

For more information about Carcinoid/NET Cancer visit:

http://www.carcinoidawareness.org

Please share the Facebook Event Page with all your friends:

https://www.facebook.com/events/600217073327669/

As well as another post of mine about NET:

https://rainbowhealingspirit.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/netcancerday/

Aren’t We All Just Warm Bodies?

WarmBodies-OneSht21Tonight I went with my sister and a friend to see Warm Bodies, and it got me thinking about a few things. I wonder if I was the only person in the movie theatre to see the deep metaphors hidden behind the story-line of the movie?

The big message I took from the movie is that love can save the world. Hey if a zombie and a human can fall in love, anything is possible right? For me this theme of love conquering all hit me very deeply. Love is the spark that can jump start any dead heart. Obviously life isn’t that literal but it really hits to where our world is at these days.

Sure the zombie Apocalypse is not here but we definitely are in need of some rescuing, mostly from ourselves. We accept things as they are, unwilling to step outside of our comfort zones to change. We go by what we are told and not by what we personally feel. If someone tells us something it must be the truth, well that isn’t always the case.

The other theme that was evident to me was this idea of change, becoming something better. Surely humans don’t eat other humans but so many of them are zombies. They don’t eat brains but they walk in drones looking to feed. They are so unaware of what is around them. Zombies do not communicate, they do not have feelings. They just look for their next meal, digital connection. Personally I have fallen in and out of zombism a big chunk of my life. I would say we don’t know better but I think most of us do. The thirst and hunger to numb out outweighed any consequences that resulted from our kill. As in the movie, not all zombies are bad and even zombies can change. That’s if you want to.

The biggest fears is turning into bonies, creatures who have lost all signs of humanity. There are even modern day bonies in the world we live in today. People so out of touch with reality, so void of love that they go around sucking the life forces out of anyone they can prey on.

I guess the movie also plays on this idea of good versus evil, and shows that the lines sometimes are often blurred. Just as in life nothing is as cut and dry as we think they are. In the post apocalyptic world in Warm Bodies there is no hope for the zombies to ever change. Life has turned into a kill or be killed place for survival. Thankfully as horrible of a world they live in, there are still a few souls who hold onto hope… Those who believe in the power of love. They take a stand and end up saving the world.

Sure our world isn’t in as horrible of shape as in Warm Bodies but we certainly need some healing. There are people who are seen as lost causes or the unimportant. Those who get left behind. If we lose sight of humanity, what kind of world is it worth saving? If you only look in saving and caring for yourself at all costs, even if it means stepping over someone else, how much of a life is that?

People talk about the end of the world. If and when that were ever to come, we would be the cause of it. Just look at the world around us between how we treat the earth and our neighbors. We pollute the earth, bomb our enemies and often don’t think about the consequences of those actions. All we care about is bettering our lives and protecting what we believe is ours. Just watch turn on the news or read your facebook feed, and you will see there is a lot of hate in this world.

That is why it is important that those of us who believe in love, stand up and show the world the strength and power that love has. There is another way. They say be the change you wish to see in the world and that really is true. Change starts with just one heart beat. That is all it takes for a ripple to multiple and touch other people. One faint heart beat turns into two, as the heart begins to beat louder and faster. Until eventually you are brought back to life.

For if you love someone or something, you are willing to risk all to save it. That goes for anything in this life. If you care about the world around you, you are more willing to protect it. If you care, you are more likely to take better care of the person, place or thing. I notice that with myself as I start to love myself. The more I love myself, the more I want to take better care of myself. As I tend to my own garden, the rewards will only multiple… extending far beyond my garden.

I am glad to be a warm body with a strong heart. Someone who see’s the good in people and believes in the power of love. There are some things in this world that are unknown and often times we feel lost. I am confident in the end that love will always find a way.

No Wonder So Many People are Turned off to God!!!

So the whole receipt situation has really got me pretty riled up. I am sure most of you have have seen the picture of the receipt floating around the internet where a Pastor from Atlanta wrote on her bill at Applebee’s, “I give God 10% why do you get 18?” She then crossed out the 18% tip calculated already on the bill. When the Pastor found out that the picture had gone viral on the internet she called Applebee’s to complain saying that her reputation had been ruined and wanted the server responsible fired.

The Pastor got her way and the server who took the picture was fired… After the news that the employee was fired the story went even more viral with many people threatening to boycott Applebee’s. I think many people are angry for a couple different reasons. One of them being the general lack of regards for those who work in the service industry. Many people don’t realize or don’t care that workers make considerably less than minimum wage. Then there is this idea that being a server is easy. If you have ever worked as a server you know how untrue this is. Being a server is tough. You are constantly on your feet moving a million miles a minute while often having to deal with difficult customers. Then there is the times you get stiffed on a tip or left very little.

Secondly people are upset over the whole using God to justify your bad behavior. How often do you see this? If you are gay and live in a religious family you see it fairly often. Look how the gay community is treated all because God says it to be so. Does God really say that behavior is acceptable? I mean where in the bible does it say that it is okay to pay someone less than they are worth.

Sure this is situation isn’t as extreme as some people who are religious but it is just another case where people put God in a very negative light. A friend of mine told me to try not to stereotype pastors because of this situation and my thought was it is hard to not do so when so many you encounter are just like this. I mean look at the Catholic church and how they treat homosexuality. Plus you still have the sexual abuse scandal. Even look at the Boy Scouts of America. I am sure their reasons for not allowing gay people into their organization is fueled by their religious views. They also have had their own sexual abuse cover up scandal.

So with all this information how can you expect people to come flocking to church when the message you send the world is the opposite of love and acceptance??? I mean come on now, no wonder so many people don’t believe in God. Even in Texas a legislator is trying to pass a law that makes ever Senior recite that they believe in God before they are allowed to graduate High School. When people are forced to believe something, many will run for the hills.

Personally I still struggle with my spirituality. I hear these kind of messages and I instantly cringe and pull away. For years I stopped believing in God. The idea of burning in hell for being gay (something I couldn’t change) was just too much to handle, so it was easier to come up with an alternative where there wasn’t a God. There was also a time where whenever I heard someone say God or Jesus I would start to have a panic attack. I know I am not alone.

Honestly it is rather sad and such a loss that so many people are told they are not worthy of our higher power’s love. That to me is the greatest abomination. These people who use God to spread their hatred, discrimination and disgust towards others are really doing a huge injustice to the world. They are so caught up in their own beliefs they don’t realize what they are doing. They feel the only way they will ever feel safe is if they convince the world of their beliefs. They are so lost, that they don’t see that they are the ones who need to be saved.

While I still struggle with my beliefs and my spirituality, these are some things I have come to realize. God is love. God doesn’t care what you call him/her. Yes, I don’t believe God is a gender, or at the very least God is both essences. Church is not required to get into heaven, nor is reading the bible. Church can be helpful for community and fellowship.  Even Atheists believe in love. Love is universal. God is not just some exterior force, it is deep within us… Everyone is worthy of that love. Being of God is being humble, living a life of love and service and not forcing your views down other peoples throats. It is how you treat people into this world that will have more of an impact than the amount of days you go to church, the number of prayers you say and the times you have read the bible. I am not say that it isn’t helpful for some, it’s just that it is not everyone’s way.

Living a life in fear, is no way to live in this world. Fear breeds hatred.

I do believe not everyone in the faith world is like this pastor and others but that is why we need others to stand up for what is right. That is why I created this blog to show others that their is another way, that you don’t have to accept what others have told you about God. For me the message behind God is love. Even when I thought I didn’t believe I still was spreading the message of love. That is the one thing that will unite us all. Personally I am not religious, I don’t go to church and I don’t read the bible. I am deeply spiritual. I am still learning to unearth my spirituality. I struggle daily, though not as much as before. When the these voices are loud and repeated enough it is very easy to get them into your head. They eventually will seep into your belief systems as well. So it takes a good amount of time to heal but I know that I am worth it.

You are too, we all are. So if you are like me and have been at the hand of someone religious spreading their hate please know that you are not alone. Discover what works for you. Take the time to build your spiritual foundation. As you start to sweep away other peoples cobwebs and dust, you will start to see your own spirit sparkle again. You were meant to shine brightly. If your life is filled with those religious types who spread fear and hate, look elsewhere for your guidance. Your world goes much farther than the confines they try to keep you in. There is a world out there with those you believe in love and acceptance, who aren’t controlled by the terms they use to label it.

If you see someone struggling with finding guidance, reach out to them as a fellow human being. Honestly you can do more good in the world by living your life as an example. My beliefs are if you truly are in the essence of God, anyone will be able to feel it. You don’t even have to bring God, religion or spirituality up. For me it is being a good person, spreading love and helping those around me. That to me was the message Jesus was trying to share with the world. Rather than learn from his example, many have turned his legacy into the opposite. They lost the true meaning and have become the people who crucified him on the cross. All because of indifference, fear and intolerance. When it comes down to it they killed him because of his beliefs and the love he had for God and mankind. Isn’t that the same thing many do to the gay community? Sure they don’t nail us up on the cross but they might as well with the harm their hatred causes.

The world could use a lot more love, care and light. Sadly many people don’t believe they are worthy of that. They have been scared away by damaging, fearful messages. I will say it again it doesn’t matter what you believe in when it comes to spirituality, god and religion, if you believe in love, kindness and taking care of others… we are all the same. Even if you don’t believe in God, you have a place in this world. Love is universal. Love is the key and the lock, and it is deep within us.