An expert in getting back up again – writer, speaker, teacher

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Three Things to Handle in 2016 to Make Sure Your Life Doesn’t Suck

Most of us make resolutions drunk on champagne and the belief that with hope as our guide, we can make the impossible possible.


How Joss Whedon Saved Me from Homelessness,Unemployment and Low Self Esteem

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its brilliant creator, Joss Whedon, brought a blonde female super hero into our living room on Tuesdays for six incredible seasons.

I initially balked at the idea of this young girl saving the world; I decided to take it on as my guilty pleasure once it hit syndication in the fall of 2001.

Besides all of the snappy one liners, cute outfits, butt kicking and hot boyfriends, this show spoke to me about the human condition in a very specific way.

Given the responsibility to save the world, she dealt with the worst in human beings in the worst environment ever: high school.

She is required to keep her identity a secret (hazards of the job)and navigate two extremes (high school and preventing the world's destruction by battling the forces of evil) without them intersecting.

When the series ended: she had battled a bazillion bad guys, stopped umpteen apocalypses and died twice.

She took care of friends, dealt with her own self doubt and raised a teenage sister.

It was the final season that really catapulted me into the rabid fan I am today.

In one episode she states: "We will seek out our darkest, biggest fears and face them".

Fast forward seven years and I am broke as hell, with no job and sleeping on a friends floor (21st Century version of homelessness).

On more than one occasion, I would remember a powerful line from the show to get me going and inspire myself to keep on pushing.

I love saying that Joss Whedon inspired me and gave me insight (via a fictional world) that all things are possible. I could go on about how the writing was so great or the character development was outstanding and why his fireplace should be overflowing with Emmys.

Instead, I choose to focus on what I learned from this show.

Joss Whedon allowed us to look for and expect power in all the forgotten and dismissed places in the world.

Whedon forced me to push past the limits of my imagination while viewing Buffy's weekly trials and allowed me to use this in my real life crises of finding work and a stable living environment.

Remembering that many people did not appreciate nor understand Buffy yet greatly needed her thinking and muscle to save them, I reminded myself that although people didn't see my gifts that didn't mean they were nonexistent.

When I was told fifty times in one day that I had no marketable skills, I fought back (using the chutzpah gleaned via Buffy Summers) by sharing my skill set and why it was significant.

I requested assistance (from the 50th person I spoke to that day) in learning the new verbiage that would allow me to be heard and my skills seen.

In a huge battle scene with a formidable and seemingly unstoppable foe, Buffy remembers her greatness and takes on the beast with these wonderful words: I always find a way.

After some time, all of the Buffyisms and hard work paid off.

I landed a great job that I took from part time to full time with benefits in less than a year, moved into a condo , bought a car and met a wonderful man who I eventually married.

Surviving and thriving despite adversity takes dedication and an unwavering sense of your own power and abilities.

Surviving and thriving forces us to dig into our inner resources (courage, perseverance and determination) and change the course of our lives.

Make this your motto: I always find a way.


It’s Ok to Cry : Why Men Should Seek Professional Help with Childhood Issues

As a black man, there are certain things I am supposed to know and not need.

As a gay man, there are certain things I should crave.

As an artist, my psychosis (according to popular legend) is what makes me create and is the excuse for anything dangerous, self hating or odd that I exhibit.

Every black boy who then becomes a black male in society is traumatized to some degree.

We are herded into institutions that fear and shame us that are run by people who don't understand us nor make attempts to address our particular sets of needs.

Many times I have heard educated, black folks who are raising our beautiful black boys refer to them in ways that indicate they (black male youths) are violent beasts who need constant watching over, correction by adults and can't be trusted to make great decisions.

I have rarely heard anybody say that young black males need the same thing everyone needs: Love, a sense of belonging, and guidance based on the belief in their inherent goodness.

What I have heard offered for young black males is that they need "structure"(translation : domination and an obsessive approach to their subjugation early and often so that they will not be problems or a bother to anyone).

Having survived childhood and now thriving in adulthood despite all of the obstacles and dumb ways that people tried to "make me into a man", I know from a lived experience that a whole lot of shit goes down when people are around men.

Men, listen up! There are a gazillion ways we can fight back, reclaim our humanity and make the world a better place all at the same time.

I am a firm believer in therapy and that it works.

We must build our love army with folks that have nothing vested in our not being " right in the head".

It is imperative that we marry, partner and befriend people who want and expect the best for us.

While it is not sexy or socially acceptable to crave and fight for mental health, it is needed.

We, as men, must demand that our pain be heard and addressed.

As men who want to change the world and ourselves, it is our duty to seek out and adamantly commit to our mental health and emotional maturation.

We can't be wonderful partners in world change when we haven't changed ourselves.

It is time for men and those that love them, not lust after them or need to manipulate them but deeply love them to demand that we make mental health a priority.

When men decide to be healthy in all incarnations the world will change.

It is not ok that men are left to figure things out.

We won't.

This is an arena that we have been conditioned is not our right and it should be organized and maintained by someone else.

Every male I know, myself included, has childhood wounds that cause problems when there are attempts to establish relationships that demand closeness, vulnerability and trust.

So much of what prevents men from fully showing up is our shame.

Professor Brene Brown states that shame in men shows up in a distinct way: don't be perceived as weak.

Many men feel the need to control others perceptions of them by: having all the answers for everything all the time.

I would love to challenge this frightening and limited stereotype by simply showing up and saying : I don't know.

As men, it is imperative that we refuse to suck it up, pretend things don't hurt when they do and demand that our emotional needs are met without having to bargain away parts of our soul to do it.

Seeking the help of a professional counselor allows us to reevaluate our childhoods and determine the best course of action for addressing our needs.

Gentlemen, it is ok to cry. We have to change ourselves first and then the world.

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